“And he trusted you, just like that?” asked Kitty, stunned beyond belief.
“No, not ‘just like that’. Seth didn’t have much choice at that point. It was literally, either come with me or roll over and die in the tunnel. His body was going through some rather large changes and he’s never known how to just slow down and take it easy.” Anita pursed her lips and frowned.
Kitty fastened on the one thing that had captured her interest, “Changes? What kind of changes?”
“Just some changes. The only thing Seth tasked me with telling you, was what he was. Anything else you’ll have to ask him about. I don’t want to overstep my boundaries and tell you something he might want to keep to himself.” The older woman stood and pushed her chair into the table.
“He keeps everything to himself,” mumbled Kitty, standing also. “Why did you decide to stay with the church? If you were in love with Seth, why didn’t you run off with him?”
Anita paused, “Because…I’m not the one for him. And I’m not sure if there ever will be. He doesn’t allow himself to feel for anybody. It’s his defense mechanism.”
“But, doesn’t he know? I’m sure if you’d have told him…he likes you, I can tell,” smiled the young woman, following in the wake of the elder.
“He knows, Kitty. He just puts it out of his mind, like every other dangerous feeling. I’m content with my lot. I thank God every day that I’ve had the pleasure of having him in my life…and I even thank Him for the pain of un-requited love. It let’s me know I’m still alive and my heart is still beating.” She laughed lightly and seemed for a moment, the young novice of twenty again. “This is your room for tonight. You can go back in the morning if you like. Demons are less apt to draw attention to themselves in the daylight.”
“Thank you, Sister Anita, for everything,” said Kitty, hugging the nun briefly before sequestering herself in the bedroom.
Anita sighed and continued down the hall to her own bedroom. She leaned heavily on the door after it shut and lowered her head, closing her eyes. Long buried memories rose to the surface and threatened to overwhelm her with emotions.
“I’m guessing you told her then?”
The woman startled and clutched her bathrobe tightly to her, “Seth!”
“Sorry.” The half-angel looked sheepish. “I hate it when Gabriel sneaks up on me...I guess I’m learning bad habits.”
“No, you’re just being true to your nature,” she excused, taking in his entirely undoctored appearance.
“It’s not in my nature to be intrusive and poof in and out of other people’s houses in the middle of the night,” he muttered, starting to fold his wings back. He stopped when Anita cleared her throat and shook her head. “How did she take it?”
“She wants to know more,” said Anita, crossing to the window and parting the curtains to look out on the moonlit snow. “But, I’m not the one who should tell her.”
“What did you tell her...exactly?” he asked, gazing at the nun’s profile.
“I told her precisely what you asked me to. Kitty knows what you are and that’s all.” Anita pretended to examine the edge of the curtain in her hand.
“There’s something else.” Seth narrowed his silver eyes at her.
The nun hesitated before responding, “She wanted to know how I met you.”
The nephilim growled and shifted his wings in an agitated manner, “Why did she want to know about that?”
“Don’t do to her, what you did to me. Don’t shut her out because you’re afraid of feeling something.” The nun’s tone was as cold as ice.
“Katherine has no future with me! No woman has a future with me! You wouldn’t have had one either!” he protested, resisting the urge to put his fist through the nearest wall.
“And I didn’t have one without you!” shouted Anita, a few hot tears making their way down her cheeks. “Why do you think I stayed at St. Mark’s? It’s because I couldn’t bear to go through the rest of my life without seeing you!”
Seth sat stunned into silence. It felt like his mind had just imploded.
“Kitty is going down the same road I did fifty years ago and trust me...the feelings don’t lessen with time,” she whispered, using the sleeve of her robe to wipe her cheeks.
“Apparently not,” muttered Seth, folding his arms.
“Please don’t act like you didn’t feel anything at the time. It’s one of the reasons you went away. I didn’t see you for years after I took my vows...” Anita sat on the edge of the bed, as if her sudden outburst had drained her. “Do you even remember that day?”
Seth nodded, “I remember.”
* * * *
*April 11, 1960*
Anita sat on the bank of the Hudson River watching the water flow swiftly by. It was the spring and everything seemed to be in a rush. Even time itself was moving as fast as the water in the river.
“This time tomorrow you’ll be a nun. From Novice Anita to Sister Mary Anita…that’s quite a change.”
The young woman smiled and turned her head to acknowledge the new party, “Hello Seth. I don’t think I’m going to be much of one for the formal ‘Mary’ title. I’ll probably be more like Sister Bernadette and drop it entirely.”
“What are you doing down here? I thought you’d be at the church all day preparing for the big event,” he continued, settling himself next to her on the grass.
“Sometimes I just think better sitting by the river,” she replied, running her fingers over the white veil in her lap. “Do they need me back at St. Mark’s?”
“No, I came to find you on my own. I have some news.” Seth lightly brushed the blades of grass, smiling as they tickled his palm.
“It must be good. You’re in a better mood,” laughed Anita.
“It is. I’ve been ‘found’ so to speak.” He held up a hand to silence her outburst of panic. “I had a visitor last night in the form of the angel Gabriel. He’s going to be my...mentor. I think that’s the best word for it. Anyway, God apparently has a job for me to do and Gabriel is going to teach me the skills I need. Like how to control myself a bit better than I do now.”
“You’ll be going away?” Anita frowned.
The half-angel nodded, “Temporarily, you know I have a house here so I’ll be looking in from time to time.”
Anita tugged at the silver rosary on her belt. She took Seth’s hand and wound the chain around his wrist until the prayer beads twisted and caught, holding it in place.
“What’s this for?” he asked, examining the rosary closely.
“So the angels will always be with you...and so you won’t forget me,” she murmured, giving in to her impulse to hug him tight. She sensed the brief hesitation before he returned the embrace.
“How could I ever forget you?” Seth favored her with another of his extremely rare smiles.
“I don’t know. You’ll be out in the world without me and seeing much more interesting people. It’s a possibility I’d get lost in the shuffle.” Anita gently placed a hand on his chest.
“Anita, when are you going to learn...I hate people,” he murmured, cupping her face in his large hands.
“Including me?” she whispered, her heartbeat speeding up, knowing he was going to kiss her.
“Everyone except for you,” he concluded, closing the distance between their lips.
“I feel privileged,” she breathed when they parted, running her fingers through the silk of his long hair.
“You should,” he said, pulling her into his lap for another kiss.
Anita’s veil lay beside them on the grass, the vows she was supposed to take on the morrow completely forgotten in the midst of her finally acknowledged love. It had started the day she’d found him and did nothing but grow in the following months.
“I love you,” Anita whispered when they stopped again.
Seth drew away from her. It was as if the declaration had snapped him out of a trance. His gaze traveled from the abandoned veil to Anita’s flushed cheeks and swollen lips.
“This is wrong,” he muttered, looking anywhere but at the woman in front of him. “I have to go.”
“No, wait!” But it was too late. Seth was already gone.
* * * *
“I would have run away from everything that day just to be with you,” said Anita, tucking a piece of her still short hair behind her ear. The red, however, had since faded to a silver gray. “And I think maybe, you wanted me to.”
The mattress sank further as Seth added his weight to hers, “Maybe, but I also needed you right where you stayed.”
Anita nodded, old age and wisdom tempering the short-lived passions of youth, “I know. God has His plan for all of us, eh? But, sometimes our feelings get tangled up in those plans and make a mess of them.”
“That’s why it’s easier not to feel.” Seth tucked his wings out of sight.
“Please don’t make the same mistake with, Kitty,” begged Anita.
“I can’t make any promises I might have to break,” he replied, kissing her innocently on the cheek. “Forgive me?”
“Always,” smiled Anita, shaking her head as he vanished. “Love makes fools of us all.”