Everything beyond that was strangely undamaged.
The librarian wasn't at her station, but a folding card table had been set up for her next to the burned spot. The table was depressingly bare, save for a new lamp, a pencil jar, and a gray pad of sticky notes.
Luce and Penn gave each other a that-sucks grimace before they continued to the computer stations at the back. When they passed the study section where they'd last seen Todd, Luce glanced over at her friend. Penn kept her face forward, but when Luce reached over and squeezed her hand, Penn squeezed back pretty hard.
They pulled two chairs up to one computer terminal, and Penn typed in her user name. Luce glanced around just to make sure no one else was nearby. A red error box popped up on the screen.
"What?" Luce asked.
"After four, you need special permission to access the Web."
"That's why this place is always so empty at night."
Penn was rooting through her backpack. "Where did I put that encrypted password?" she mumbled.
"There's Miss Sophia," Luce said, flagging down the librarian, who was crossing the aisle in a black fitted blouse and bright green cropped pants. Her shimmery earrings dusted her shoulders, and she had a pencil poked into the side of her hair. "Over here," Luce whispered loudly.
Miss Sophia squinted at them. Her bifocals had slipped down her nose, and with a stack of books under each arm, she didn't have a free hand to push them up. "Who's that?" she called, walking over.
"Oh, Lucinda. Pennyweather," she said, sounding tired. "Hello."
"We were wondering if you could give us the password to use the computer," Luce asked, pointing at the error message on the screen.
"You're not doing social networking, are you? Those sites are the devil's work."
"No, no, this is serious research," Penn said. "You'd approve."
Miss Sophia leaned over the girls to unlock the computer. Fingers flying, she typed in the longest password Luce had ever seen. "You have twenty minutes," she said flatly, walking away.
"That should be enough," Penn whispered. "I found a critical essay on the Watchers, so until we track down the book, we can at least read up on what it's about."
Luce sensed someone standing behind her and turned around to see that Miss Sophia had returned. Luce jumped. "I'm sorry," she said. "I don't know why you scared me."
"No, I'm the one who's sorry," Miss Sophia said. Her smile practically made her eyes disappear. "It's just been so hard recently, since the fire. But there's no reason for me to take my sorrow out on two of my most promising students."
Neither Luce nor Penn really knew what to say. It was one thing to comfort each other after the fire.
Reassuring the school librarian seemed a little bit out of their league.
"I've been trying to keep busy, but ..." Miss Sophia trailed off.
Penn glanced nervously at Luce. "Well, we might be able to use some help with our research, if, that is, you - "
"I can help!" Miss Sophia tugged over a third chair, "I see you're looking into the Watchers," she said, reading over their shoulders. "The Grigoris were a very influential clan. And I just happen to know of a papal database. Let me see what I can pull up."
Luce nearly choked on the pencil she'd been chewing. "I'm sorry, did you say Grigoris?"
"Oh yes, historians have traced them back to the Middle Ages. They were ..." She paused, searching for the words. "A sort of research cluster, to put it in modern layperson's terms. They specialized in a certain type of fallen-angel folklore."
She reached between the girls again and Luce marveled as her fingers raced across the keyboard. The search engine struggled to keep up, pulling up article after article, primary source after primary source, all on the Grigoris. Daniel's family name was everywhere, filling up the screen. Luce felt a bit light-headed.
The image from her dream came back to her: unfurling wings, her body heating up until she smoldered into ash.
"There are different kinds of angels to specialize in?" Penn asked.
"Oh, sure - it's a wide body of literature," Miss Sophia said while she typed. "There are those who became demons. And those who threw in with God. And there are even ones who consorted with mortal women." At last her fingers were still. "Very dangerous habit."
Penn said, "Are these Watcher dudes any relation to the Daniel Grigori here?"
Miss Sophia tapped her mauve lips. "Quite possible. I wondered that myself, but it is hardly our place to be digging into another student's business, wouldn't you agree?" Her pale face pinched into a frown as she looked down at her watch. "Well, I hope I've given you enough to get started on your project. I won't hog any more of your time." She pointed at a clock on the computer screen. "You've only got nine minutes left."
As she walked back toward the front of the library, Luce watched Miss Sophia's perfect posture. She could have balanced a book on her head. It did seem like it had cheered her up a little to help the girls with their research, but at the same time, Luce had no idea what to do with the information she'd just been given about Daniel.
Penn did. She'd already started scribbling furious notes.
"Eight and a half minutes," she informed Luce, handing her a pen and a piece of paper. "There's way too much here to make sense of in eight and a half minutes. Start writing."
Luce sighed and did as she was told. It was a boringly designed academic Web page with a thin blue border framing a plain beige background. At the top, a header in a severe blocky font read: THE
Just reading the name, Luce felt her skin warm.
Penn tapped the monitor with her pen, snapping Luce's attention back to her task.
The Grigoris do not sleep. Seemed possible; Daniel always did look tired. They are generally silent.
Check. Sometimes talking to him was like pulling teeth. In an eighth-century decree -
The screen went black. Their time was up.
"How much did you get?" Penn asked.
Luce held up her sheet of paper. Pathetic. What she had was something she didn't even remember doodling: the feathered edges of wings.
Penn gave her a sideways glance. "Yes, I can see you're going to be an excellent research assistant," she said, but she was laughing. "Maybe later we can theorize a game of MASH." She held up her own much more copious notes. "It's okay, I've got enough to lead us to a few other sources."
Luce stuffed the paper into her pocket right next to the crumpled master list she'd started of all her interactions with Daniel. She was beginning to turn into her father, who didn't like to be anywhere too far away from his paper shredder. She bent down to look for a recycling bin and spotted a pair of legs walking down the aisle toward them.
The gait was as familiar as her own. She sat back up - or attempted to sit back up - and smacked her head on the underside of the computer table.
"Ow," she moaned, rubbing the spot where she'd hit her head in the library fire.
Daniel stood still a few feet away. His expression said that the last thing in the world he'd wanted to do right now was run into her. At least he'd shown up after the computer had logged them off. He didn't need to think she was stalking him any more actively than he already did.
But Daniel seemed to be looking through her; his violet-gray eyes were fixed over her shoulder, on something - or someone else.
Penn tapped Luce on the shoulder, then jerked her thumb toward the person standing behind her. Cam was leaning over Luce's chair and grinning at her. A bolt of lightning outside sent Luce practically jumping into Penn's arms.
"Just a storm," Cam said, cocking his head. "It'll blow over soon. Shame, because you look pretty cute when you're scared."
Cam reached forward. He started at her shoulder, then traced the edge of her arm with his fingers all the way down to her hand. Her eyes fluttered, it felt so good, and when she opened them, there was a small ruby velvet box in her hand. Cam flipped it open, just for a second, and Luce saw a flash of gold.
"Open it later," he said. "When you're alone."
"Cam - "
"I went by your room."
"Can we - " Luce looked over at Penn, who was blatantly staring at them with a front-row moviegoer's captivation.
Finally snapping out of her trance, Penn waved her hands. "You want me to leave. I get it."
"No, stay," Cam said, sounding sweeter than Luce expected. He turned to Luce. "I'll go. But later - you promise?"
"Sure." She felt herself blush.
Cam took her hand and pushed it and the box down inside the front left pocket of her jeans. It was a tight fit, and it made her shiver to feel his fingers spread out on her hips. Then he winked and turned on his heel.
Before she'd even had a chance to catch her breath, he'd doubled back. "One last thing," he said, gliding his arm behind her head and stepping close to her.
Her head tilted back and his tilted forward, and his mouth was on hers. His lips were as plush as they'd seemed all the times Luce had stared at them.
It wasn't deep, just a peck, but Luce felt like it was much more. She couldn't breathe for the shock and the thrill and the public viewing potential of this very long, very unexpected -
"What the - !"
Cam's head had spun away, and then he was hunched over, clutching his jaw.
Daniel was standing behind him, rubbing his wrist. "Keep your hands off her."
"Didn't hear you," Cam said, drawing himself up slowly.
Oh. My. God. They were fighting. In the library. Over her.
Then, in one clean movement, Cam lunged toward Luce. She screamed as his arms began to close around her.
But Daniel's hands were quicker. He swatted Cam away hard, and shoved him against the computer table.
Cam grunted as Daniel grabbed a fistful of his hair and pinned his head down flat.
"I said keep your filthy hands off her, you evil piece of shit."
Penn squealed, picked up her pencil bag, and tiptoed over to the wall. Luce watched as she tossed her dingy yellow pencil bag once, twice, three times in the air. The fourth time, it went high enough to nail the small black camera screwed into the wall, The hit sent the camera's lens swerving far to the left, toward a very still stack of nonfiction books.
By then, Cam had thrown Daniel off and they were circling each other, their feet squeaking on the polished floor.
Daniel started ducking before Luce even realized Cam was winding up. But Daniel still didn't duck quickly enough. Cam landed what looked like a knockout punch just below Daniel's eye. Daniel wheeled back from the force of it, jostling Luce and Penn against the computer table. He turned and muttered a woozy apology before careening back around.
"Oh my God, stop!" Luce cried, just before he leaped at Cam's head.
Daniel tackled Cam, throwing a messy flurry of punches at his shoulders and the sides of his face.
"That feels good," Cam grunted, popping his neck from side to side like a boxer. Still hanging on, Daniel moved his hands around Cam's neck. And squeezed. Cam responded by throwing Daniel back against a tall shelf of books. The impact boomed out into the library, louder than the thunder outside.
***P/S: Copyright -->Novel12__Com