A few days later, Orlando returned to work. Even though he found it difficult to go on without Angelia, the bills had to be paid. He also continued to go to class, even though it hurt him to do so.
In his astronomy class, the Wolfe triplets were conspicuously absent which made him wonder. Felice, on the other hand, was there, and this time, she seemed to be watching him. The students paid attention to his lecture on the Sun as usual, but Felice…Felice was watching him. His every move. His every breath. It was almost like she was expecting him to do something. But what, he didn’t know.
Sae and her friends came up and gave their condolences. Orlando idly accepted them and collected his things for his next class. The faster he got through the day, the faster he could go home and wallow.
Suddenly, when all the students were gone, the door came closed with a loud bang. The shades snapped shut in ominous efficiency.
Orlando looked up cautiously. The room was very dark and all he could see were teeth and a white shirt that gleamed in the near darkness.
“Who are you and what do you want?” Orlando called out.
A golden-white light illuminated the room, then condensed into a ball. Felice, her arm outstretched, balanced the ball of light on her palm. Her hair had come loose and was wafting around her face. She looked serene…and dangerous. Orlando, not knowing how to respond, walked up to her and stopped two feet short of her hand.
“Felice…” He trailed off. He looked into her composed brown eyes. “What…? What is this?”
“My power,” she said simply. “I came here for a purpose, Orlando. I think it’s about time you knew exactly what that purpose was.”
Orlando’s eyes widened. “You know about Angelia!” His eyes narrowed. “You had something to do with her kidnapping, didn’t you? That’s why you were here, casing me out.”
Felice’s eyes gleamed with anger. “Don’t be crass,” she snapped in a voice that hid her anger. “I would never do anything to hurt the woman I’ve been assigned to protect since birth. You had better get to know me than that.”
Orlando’s anger rose despite her fervor. Felice sensed it, but she was not afraid. At best, he would probably hurt himself. But Angelia would maim her…along with a few others that she thought it wasn’t best to think about at the moment. Finally, his eyes glowed golden—the sign Felice was waiting for. Using all her strength, she was about to thrust the ball into Orlando to finally awaken his powers when—
The windows shattered, and a gust of wind threw Orlando on top of Felice. The light disappeared, and the grainy illumination of the overcast day replaced it.
“What the hell…?” Blinking, Orlando tried to get his bearings when he spied a familiar female form climbing into the classroom.
“Amanda,” Felice muttered, and climbed to her feet. She stood in front of Orlando as the young dark-haired woman strode into the room. She tried to knock Felice down, but Felice rebounded and sent a high kick to her temple. Amanda’s head snapped back, and she fell to the ground. Felice turned to the door and it opened. She looked down at Orlando.
“Move, you baka!” she cried. “Go! Save yourself.”
The eyes were a different color, but the emotion in them was the same. He obeyed Felice’s terse order and climbed to his feet as Amanda came back to her senses. He didn’t look back. He didn’t think Felice wanted him to…
When he was in the hallway, a big explosion came from the classroom.
And something occurred to him at that moment that made him hesitate.
I could have saved her.
Angelia had been taken right in front of his eyes, and still he had tried. That jerk-off detective had been pestering him, and somehow—and he still didn’t get how he did it—Orlando had scared him into hauling ass out of his hospital room. And now…he had bailed on a young woman who would need his help. He couldn’t be a coward anymore! It was time to be a man, like Cameron said. He had to admit, the man had a small point given the circumstances.
With determination, he started back, but a familiar person came running out of the classroom!
“Orlando!” yelled Felice. “Go! In the other direction! We have to get out of here! Amanda’s not going to stay down for long…”
Just as Felice said that, Amanda came limping out of the classroom, blue-green eyes blazing with anger.
“You bitch,” Amanda growled. “That was my manicure!”
Felice glowered and was annoyed that Amanda would be concerned with something so asinine. “I think I would be remiss if I didn’t attack your pedicure as well,” she said wryly, making Orlando’s eyes roll. She gathered an attack in her hand and released it like a bowling ball. As she intended, it knocked Amanda over, and Felice shoved Orlando to action.
As they exited the building, Orlando turned to Felice, who seemed to be going for a particular destination. Before he could speak, she led him to a motorcycle on the side of the building and mounted it with skill and speed. She threw him a helmet and looked up at him expectantly when she was done fastening her own.
“Oh! Well!” He donned the helmet quickly and climbed on behind her. “I suppose we should be going…” Felice gunned the engine. “Um, where are we going exactly?”
Felice said nothing. She leaned forward and they sped off.
* * *
After they had been on the road for about an hour, Orlando decided to re-try the question.
“So where is our destination?” Orlando asked through his helmet.
Felice stopped at a stop sign. “It’s a secret for the moment. I don’t want you to know yet. I just want you to ride, and not worry about it. I’m going to keep you safe.”
When she said it, he believed it with all his heart.
Their destination was an old house near the shoreline. It was a two-story house with blue shutters. It looked like it had been abandoned and the weather had been taking it down ever since. When Felice parked the cycle on the porch, she took the extra helmet and placed it with the other one. Orlando stepped around rotting boards and followed Felice inside.
The inside of the house had fared much better than the outside. The wooden floors were waxed to a shine; the walls were clean, but bare. There wasn’t much furniture, from what he could see. The living room was totally empty save for two rapiers and a punching bag. Felice passed the living room by and walked into a room that Orlando assumed had been the study. The room had a bed with two pillows and a blanket, along with a fireplace that looked like it had been lit recently. Felice discarded her jacket and hung it on a nail near her bed.
“It’s very Spartan,” Orlando remarked diplomatically.
Felice unbuttoned her cuffs and rolled up her sleeves. “I figured that you would say that,” she muttered.
Orlando was puzzled by her comment. She gestured to a chair nearby, and he sat down. She sat down on the bed with her legs crossed. She leaned toward him and raised an eyebrow. After a silent moment, she inhaled.
“I owe you an explanation,” Felice murmured. “And being a member of the Royal Court of the Cloud Nine Kingdom, I am bound to give it to you.”
Orlando remained silent because he knew that Felice would explain just what she meant about being bound by…whatever it had been.
“First of all,” Felice started, “Orlando, I am not from here.”
“Well, that’s quite obvious,” he commented in a deadpan tone.
Felice stared at him sternly, then continued. “By that, I mean I did not originate in this lifetime. I…come from the future.” She paused when he seemed shocked. “It is possible where I come from to time travel. Not to mention that the circumstances called for it. I had to be here when you awakened.”
Orlando nodded solemnly. “So…are Angelica Wolfe and her sisters from the same place as you?”
“We are all from the Cloud Nine Kingdom. This is our second trip here to the past. Angelica, her sisters, and I serve as members of the Royal Court under Queen Angelia.”
Angelia… Her smiling face appeared in his mind’s eye and that feeling of protectiveness was reborn. “Is Angelia…?”
Felice shook her head. “Queen Angelia was named after the Angelia you know. She was born here, in this time. As far as that’s concerned, she’s where she’s supposed to be.”
“And you’re not?”
“As you have insinuated, it is impossible to travel through time,” Felice replied. She shrugged. “Your time isn’t my time. I am not used to your ways. Where I come from, things are different. And I have spent my life within our parameters, not the ones here.”
“And just how old are you, Felice?” Orlando inquired.
Felice raised an eyebrow and stared at him with unblinking brown eyes. Apparently, she didn’t like to be asked her age.
“Um, I suppose that’s a sign that I should shut up,” Orlando muttered.
* * *
“What?!” bellowed Danie. “He’s what?!”
Minako winced. Breakfast out at Belvidere’s had been Cassandra’s idea, given the present circumstances. Minako, Danie, and Rei were going to go find Orlando and talk to him when Angelica and Lina showed up with bad news. And it seemed that Danie sure had some power in her lungs when it came to belting it out.
According to Angelica, some very strange events had taken place at the Academy this morning. Orlando was gone. So was Felice. The police was out looking for them, but Angelica figured that they didn’t want to be found. Or Felice didn’t want them to be found.
“Don’t worry, Danie-san,” Lina said. “I think Felice took him into isolation herself, given what happened at Angelia-san’s apartment.”
Angelica sighed. “If I know Felice, she’s gonna start the training. I wouldn’t worry about exploding any time soon, Danie-san.”
“Well, that’s a relief…”
“But that means that we should figure out how we’re going to save Angelia-san,” Minako remarked.
“I think we should wait until Felice returns with Orlando,” Rei commented.
Danie tore into her omelet with renewed vigor. “I say, we just eat and then we figure out what we need to do.”
Seeing Danie’s point, Minako and Rei murmured similar sentiments and then started their breakfast. Angelica sat down and yelled for a waiter. They all sweatdropped and continued eating.