It shouldn’t take this long.
Monty let out a huff as he slumped back into the sofa. His body was tired, aching from the usual morning training he and the other angels took part in–but his mind was restless, overwhelmed by the conundrum that was the lost girl currently asleep in his bed.
While the twins had enough rooms to spare, none were set up to accommodate guests, so Monty insisted that Lizzie take his bedroom for the night. He had made sure to remove sleepwear for the night, athletic wear for the morning training, and casual wear for his academic and advisor responsibilities prior to showing their guest around, his intention to allow her sound sleep without interruption.
His clothes for the coming day were stuffed inside an olive-toned backpack resting on the round center table of the living room; he had since showered and changed into a sage grey t-shirt and a pair of lightweight navy sleep shorts. His six-foot frame was draped along the length of the sofa, his feet lounging over the arm at the other end. His own left arm was pulled over his face, covering his eyes in an attempt to induce sleep–an attempt in vain.
It doesn’t make any sense.
He knew the boundaries of their colony. He had seen the map of their borders and outposts plenty enough to know the truth. Their claimed territory was beyond that of the original city of Savannah; their reach went as far south as Fort McAllister and as north as the wildlife refuge that shared their namesake, but technically sat on the other side of the Georgia-South Carolina border. Everything between those two points and the ocean was under their protection, and they had outposts at Lanier, Richmond Hill, and Limehouse. All the land south of them was deemed “no man’s land,” overrun by scavengers and too dangerous to travel. Florida–alas, what was not underwater–was completely abandoned.
If Lizzie’s brother looks as disheveled and scarred and she did when I found her, Monty reasoned, then our lookouts would have reported them as bandits. They wouldn’t have made it past our border, let alone to a park in the middle of Savannah.
“No! Clint said here. He s-said angels. Please don’t leave me with more humans!”
He intentionally brought his sister here, the royal advisor speculated. I get wanting to keep her safe, but our lookouts are a mixture of angels and humans. He could have tried the border and asked for Frankie… But there’s no way in hell he could have outrun our angel scouts. There’s no way two humans could’ve hopped the border–
“Don’t you think I would’ve gone with him if I could’ve? I fell asleep in his truck and when I woke up I was in a park in the middle of nowhere.”
Monty frowned at his own thoughts. If Lizzie was sleeping when he moved her into the colony, then that means he had to find a gap in our sentries, hop the border, and avoid interaction with guards or colonists while carrying her. There’s no way he–
His arm dropped as he shot up into a sitting position, recalling Chris’ message from earlier in the evening.
“What do I tell Frankie? The council’s been looking for you, so he wanted me to bring you in.”
Frankie wasn’t the one looking for me, he realized. The council was. Which means he wasn’t asking for me to be brought in to be briefed on my calling on Alexa and Chris–and if he wasn’t looking for me, then that means he didn’t even feel two new humans enter the colony.
As sitting prince, Monty’s cousin had gained the rank-related ability to sense the presence of every living being in their territory. How the hell did they get in, then? Did he sneak in with some new arrivals–and if he did, did he bribe them to make it work? Threaten them? And if that’s how he did it, maybe he’s still in–
Monty’s energy spiked, prompting him to grab his sketchpad and open it to Leah’s page. The empty space she left behind now had words scribbled across; the fox had sent in her report. His juniper eyes scanned the page, widening as he ingested the words. His heart was pounding so loudly in his ears that he almost didn’t feel the presence of the angel who had reached out to him.
Monty! Alexa’s abrupt shout had made him jump. Outwardly, he let out a curse, but he said nothing through their connection, allowing her to continue. You’re needed at Fort McAllister, now.
The royal advisor was on his feet and sifting through his backpack, pulling out his intended casual wear. Who’s out there already?
Frankie and Sal, Cici and Nat, Connor and Cassie, Ricky and Sam… The psychic trailed off in a manner that told him what she was going to say. The council is out there, Monty–your dad is there.
Figures, he sighed. Send Chris over, I’ll be ready to go in a couple minutes.
He made his way to the first-floor powder room, dressing as he expected her to sever their mental link. She did not.
You’re… Not going to ask why we’re meeting out there?
I already know why, he told her. I just got a report from Leah when you reached out.
You sent out Leah? Why? When he did not respond, he felt her reluctance as she said, Sorry. Not my place to question you.
Alexa, if a psychic doesn’t question their superiors, then the entire group is fucked, he grunted. Chris filled you in on the situation with the kid in the park, right?
Okay, good. All I can say for now is that I had to clear up some suspicions. I’ll bring you guys up to speed once I know for sure.
Alright, she conceded, cutting their link just as a thunderous crack shook the house. Monty, fully dressed, emerged from the bathroom and ran across the living space, opening the door for the porter.
“Just a head’s up–you may or may not kinda sorta be in trouble,” whispered Chris as he shut the door behind him. The alarm to Mona’s car blared from the garage, forcing Monty to fish her keys from the bowl by the door. “But I swear, I didn’t say anything to anyone except Alexa!”
“I know, man,” Monty insisted, his eyes lowered as he hurriedly slipped on his sneakers. “It’s cool. I’ll deal with it.”
He could feel the porter’s eyes on him; an assumption that was proven true as he stood and met the younger teen’s suspicious gaze. “I saw Leah out there, Monty. What’s going on?”
“I’ll tell you and everyone else once I know for sure,” he repeated the vow he had made to the psychic, hoping the porter would be easier to appease. He led him out the front door, locking it behind him. “For now, we just need to get there and assess the situation.”
They flew down the steps two at a time, the car alarm more apparent than before. Monty aimed the remote on the key ring at the garage and shut off the siren without so much as a sideways glance. Once they were on the driveway, Chris turned and reached out to his superior but Monty shook his head and continued onto the street. He then took off south, the padded bottoms of his footwear smacking against the asphalt as he ran.
It was only a few seconds until the footfalls of the porter caught up with him. While Chris was physically fit, his ability made other means of transportation futile, so by the time he made it to Monty’s side, he was out of breath.
“Why are… What are we..?” he wheezed, struggling to keep up.
“I’m taking Mona’s keys,” explained Monty between breaths. “So I’m not going to leave her… With the car alarm going off… Like some dick.”
It was as they followed the road’s curve and found themselves in view of the local marina that Chris declared, “Dude, we-we’re far enough!”
The porter reached out and took hold of the advisor’s wrist. Lightning descended from the heavens and struck the porter; it traveled through his body and branched out, wrapping around the royal advisor.
The black water of the neighboring creek disappeared. The trees that lined the road faded from view, and the street beneath their feet fell away as they rode the lightning to their destination.