Excerpt from Almost an Angel


     "I do not want love or a wife," James said firmly.
     "Everyone wants love, James."
     He looked closer, finally seeing the small red blood vessels in Carolly's eyes and the slight puffiness in her cheeks. Just as he feared. She had been crying. "What about you?" he pressed. "Do you want love?"
     "I'm dead, James. Dead people don't love."
     "You breathe," he whispered. Then he lifted his thumb to caress her beautiful neck. "Your skin is warm." He pushed aside her high collar to stroke the pulse at her throat, wishing he could press his lips to it instead. "Your heart beats. You are alive."
     She pushed away from him, but not before he saw new tears form in her eyes. He moved to follow her, but her obvious pain kept him from doing so. He did not wish to hurt her by forcing his attentions on her; and so he watched helplessly as she walked unsteadily away from him, half falling into a large maple before steadying herself with one hand on its rough bark. When she spoke, her voice held such flat certainty that part of him wanted to believe her.
     "In the last ten years, I have died six times. First in a car crash, then of TB. I've been beaten, stoned, and shot in the back. And I've suffocated from pneumonia." She turned, pinning him with her angry, wounded gaze. "I'm dead, James, and I will keep dying until I become an angel. And nothing you or I can do will change that."

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