|Falling into Her Arms by Laylah Hunter|
The angel Ambriel never expected to be caught up in the rebellion against the Tower to Heaven. She found the passion of the rebel Keteb persuasive and inspiring. Captured by the Tower, Ambriel finds herself alone but for the decidedly un-tender mercies of the Inquisitor. Were it not for her love of Keteb, Ambriel would have broken long ago, but she has found that obedience is less satisfying than the fall from grace, so long as there’s someone there to catch you. (F/F)
Once she begins to speak to them, Ambriel doubts she will be able to stop. She can at least hold out a little longer. Perhaps by the time she must confess, her treason will do no harm: the rebels will have moved on, found new routes to travel and new strongholds to defend. Ambriel hopes—but no longer prays—for that much stamina, and keeps her silence.
Her confessor bows over their clasped hands, weeping; her tears sting where they fall on Ambriel’s burns. “Oh, child. You could be healed, if you would but speak,” the Power says.
Ambriel stirs, biting her tongue. The words that rise to her lips are no confession but an outburst: Why could I not be healed now? She clings to that thought, and the answer she knows the Power would never give her: because this is the way of the Tower, to reward only obedience and punish every dissent.
The Power is still speaking, but Ambriel squeezes her eyes shut and does her best not to listen. She thinks of Keteb, of dark tangled hair and a knowing, crooked smile, the heat of a thigh pressed between hers and the smoky sharpness of stolen kisses. She holds to those memories, retreating into them to shut out the unwelcome present. The present fades until her confessor concedes this session and leaves her be.
As the door closes, leaving her alone again, Ambriel’s binding thorns spit sparks and hiss back to life. The memories of Keteb dissolve into tatters at the fresh onslaught to her nerves. Come back, Ambriel almost cries out—but it would be the confessor who heard her, not Keteb, and she forces the words down.
When the light fails, some vague time after that last session, Ambriel flinches reflexively. The light of the Tower may dim but it never goes dark, and now all the electrical systems seem to have failed: the light, the low hum of climate control, the binding thorns, all shut off at once. Distant shouts reach Ambriel from the lower levels, then a low rumble that could be thunder—or an explosion.