Must be a newbie. After a century on the job, I could tell one a mile away. “And I should let you borrow my cell phone because, why?”
He was wearing a white button down shirt under a black wool jacket. The knees of his jeans were frayed to faded thread. Blue black hair fell to his shoulders. He was young, and dressed up for the last day of his life. “I need to make a call.”
“Got that. Where’s your phone?”
“I don’t know.” He looked past me, to the Saturday crowd on the first floor of the mall. “Lost it.”
“Where was the party?”
“My friend’s house,” he said. “Josh was driving me home.” His dark blue eyes were veiled under long black lashes. He bit his lip and smoothed his hair back. “But something happened.”
I said it as gently as I could. “How long ago was that?”
His face went almost pale enough to match his shirt. “I’ll ask someone else.”
I grabbed his arm before he could get away and held out my phone. “Here.”
He took it and stood there looking at me. When he saw I wasn’t going anywhere, he turned his back on me and walked away.
I let him dial, and let him talk for a minute. His shoulders hunched, he pressed the phone to his ear hard and shouted a name. Definitely a newbie. “Bad connection?”
He turned around so fast, he almost spun right off the balcony. His eyes were red, as if he’d been crying the whole time his back was to me. “He didn’t hear me.” he said.
“Nobody in that world can hear you anymore, Casey.”
“How do you know my name?”
“Guardian. And you committed a Forbidden Act.”
“No.” He backed into the railing, and not taking his eyes off me, he slipped off his dress shoes and jumped. No one in the crowd saw him land on his bare feet and take off like a track star.
I caught up with him in the parking lot. He was picking glass and rock out of his feet. “It still hurts when you do stupid stuff,” I said.
He tensed, as if he was thinking about running again. I flew behind him, so when he turned around, I was already there. He backed up. “All I did was make a phone call.”
“You can’t,” I said. “But you’re too new to know that, aren’t you?”
“It’s that easy to tell?”
“I’m guessing about a month. Maybe two?”
“I called my house. I know we’re not supposed to contact loved ones, but - - ” He looked up at me. “I just wanted to hear Charlie’s voice, you know?”
“You’re making it harder on yourself.”
“First time I ever wanted to hear him yell at me.” He laughed. A tear tracked down his cheek. “He couldn’t hear me.” His shoulders sagged. His hair fell into his face. “Now what?”
Now maybe I was about to lose my wings, because after eons alone, Casey’s soft eyes stole my heart. I’d do anything to see a smile on his soft lips. I healed his feet, then slipped my fingers through his. “Let’s go to McDonald’s. Good place to talk about eternity, and other stuff that doesn’t make the papers.”