Hold Me Now – Chapter 22

Intro/Index
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Chapter 22

Gail, I need to talk to you.”

Gail turned to look over her shoulder as she crossed the college campus. Cecil fell in step beside her and smiled, his hands pressed into his pockets. Gail raised an eyebrow at him and glanced around, seeing other students walking around. “What are you doing here? You usually wait until I’m alone to talk to me so I don’t look crazy.”

You don’t really have to worry about that,” he said with a shrug. “I’m visible to others right now.”

What? Why? I thought you didn’t want anyone else to see you around.”

Cecil shrugged again. “Well, Haley knows about us now and Cynder seems to think if we stay out in the open like this we’ll be more likely to get that demon to come out.”

That sounds like a terrible idea,” Gail said with a frown. “Have either of you ever actually killed a demon before?”

Cecil stared at her for just a moment before turning his face away, casually gazing off into the distance as they walked. Gail let out a sigh and shook her head.

You do realize if you lure that demon out while you’re in public there’s a better chance of innocent people getting hurt, right?”

It would have already hurt other people if it wanted to,” Cecil muttered. “I don’t think we’re putting others in danger by doing this. The only ones who are in danger are you and Haley and that’s only because we’ve been close to you for so long.”

You’re not making your case any better, you know,” Gail said with a frown.

Cecil rubbed his face and shook his head. “Please just trust us. I think Cynder knows what he’s doing since he has direct orders from Raphael. I still can’t get in contact with Gabriel to ask for his advice.” He let out a sigh and turned his face to the ground. “It’s a bit troubling.”

I have no idea what you’re talking about, you know,” Gail murmured. “Look, I’ve got to get to class. You can’t come with me.”

Oh, I wasn’t planning on it,” Cecil said with a smile. “I’ll wait for you, though, and be here when you get back.”

Gail stared at him a little suspiciously before nodding her head and making her way to class. Thoughts of what could happen if Cecil and Cynder’s plan failed kept swimming through her head. The demon’s eyes kept flashing in her mind, making it even harder for her to concentrate. She scrubbed her face with the heels of her hands and sighed heavily.

Matters were complicated further as she went to lunch that day. Cecil met up with her again as he said he would and they were joined shortly by Haley and Ivan. Haley stared at Cecil a bit oddly but didn’t say anything. Ivan stared even longer at the tall man standing by Gail’s side.

Who’s this?” Ivan asked. “I’ve never seen him around campus before.”

Oh, uh…” Gail stared at Cecil for a moment, glaring at him rather furiously before saying, “He’s not a student, he’s just… an old childhood friend who came to visit.”

Oh,” Ivan said as he looked Cecil up and down. “How come you never told me about him before?”

I don’t see why she’d need to,” Cecil said, making direct eye contact with Ivan. “I’m sure there’s plenty of people you know that you’ve never told her about. Why would she need to know?”

Ivan’s face turned a little red and he jerked away from Cecil’s gaze, looking at Gail instead. “I just, I would have thought you’d mention if a friend was coming to visit you, that’s all.”

It was sort of a last minute thing,” Gail muttered. “It’s not like it’s a big deal.”

I, uh… no, I guess not.” Ivan cleared his throat, looking rather uncomfortable. “Oh hey, I just remembered I have to go and do something real quick. I’ll eat lunch with you guys some other time.”

If you say so,” Haley said with a slight roll of her eyes. Ivan nodded his head and, just before taking off, gave Cecil another once over. Cecil crossed his arms over his chest and frowned once Ivan had gone.

Is there a reason you’re still friends with him?” he asked. Gail sighed and shook her head.

Why don’t you try telling someone you don’t want to hang out with them anymore,” she muttered.

You know, I wasn’t so sure about this at first,” Haley said as she looked at Cecil, “but I think having him around is great. Maybe a little weird, but still great.” She smirked and Cecil blushed faintly.

Yeah, well I probably shouldn’t stick around while you two eat, just in case people ask anymore questions.”

You just don’t want to eat anything yourself,” Gail said.

Well there’s that, too,” Cecil confirmed with a nod. “Regardless, I do have some other business to attend to, actually. I’ll see you two later when you get back to the apartment.”

Bye, Cecil,” Haley said with a little grin and a wave of her fingers. Cecil walked away from them and disappeared from sight. The two girls went to the cafeteria to eat, sitting down at their usual table with no signs of Ivan around, much to their relief.

Didn’t realize he was going to be hanging around us this much after I found out about them,” Haley said as she started to eat.

Yeah, neither did I,” Gail said with a sigh. “He said it’s part of their plan to lure that demon out. Sounds like a terrible plan if you ask me.”

Well he did get rid of Ivan at least,” Haley said with a smirk. “That wins points in my book.”

I thought you were Ivan’s friend,” Gail said, raising an eyebrow.

Well, ever since he started saying all those things to you and not leaving you alone about it, I’ve kinda stopped wanting to be around him myself. Not that he’s noticed.”

Gail snorted. “True. I told Cecil about it when it all started and he was convinced that Ivan would be a terrible choice of person for me to date. He seemed very adamant about it, actually.”

Sure it’s not just because Cecil likes you?”

Gail nearly choked on her food. “Please tell me you’re joking.”

What? Are you saying it’s not possible at all?”

He’s an angel, Haley. I don’t really think romance is a thing with them.”

Haley raised an eyebrow and shrugged her shoulders. “Well, you’ve been interacting with them more than I have but I wouldn’t rule out that possibility. He seems really attached to you.”

He’s my guardian, that’s kind of his job.”

You sure?”

Haley!” Gail glared at her from across the table. “You know how I feel about romance, please stop.”

Alright, you’re right, I’m sorry. I got a little carried away.”

Gail huffed and shook her head. “Besides, Cecil is more like… he reminds me of my brother, actually.”

Aw. I didn’t know your brother all that well, you know. Are they a lot alike?”

Actually yeah, they are.” Gail rested her chin on her hand and sighed a little. “Kind, wanting to help, a little shy, coming across as happy on the outside but really sad on the inside.” Gail bit her lip and looked away. “They’re very much alike.”

Haley nodded her head. “You two do seem to get along really well together. It’s kind of cute, actually.”

Gail snorted and shook her head. “How are we cute?”

I dunno, you just are.” Haley smiled a little sadly and rested her chin in her hand. “You know, Gail, I’ve been wondering something. I know you don’t feel romantically inclined toward anyone, but I’ve sometimes been afraid that you’re going to end up alone. I’ll always be here for you whenever you need me, but… you know what I’m saying?”

Gail frowned a little and nodded her head. “Yeah, I know.”

But you have Cecil now, so I’m happy for that! You won’t have to worry about being alone.”

I guess not.” Gail sighed a little and let her gaze become unfocused. “I’m still not entirely sure what I’m going to do after graduation anymore, to be honest.”

You’ll think of something,” Haley said with a smile. “Janae and I haven’t talked about it any further, either. We still have to make our own plans. We both want to go into fashion design so maybe wherever we end up going, we’ll go there together. But I don’t want to leave you behind if you don’t know what to do.”

Gail gave Haley a sad smile. “I know you won’t do that to me. Hey, we’ve still got a few months before graduation. We can think about it more in that time. Until then we need to focus on finishing up here, right?”

Right.” Haley smiled back and reached out to take Gail’s hand, giving it a little squeeze. “I have no doubt no matter what happens, we’ll both make it through.”

I certainly hope so.”

When classes were done for the day and Gail returned to the apartment she found Cecil stretched out on the couch holding the cat against him and rubbing its ears. He glanced up as she came in and smiled. “Welcome home. How was your day?”

Fine,” she said as she stared at the two of them. “Looks like he’s taken a liking to you.”

He’s friendly in general,” Cecil said. “By the way, have you talked to your landlord about him yet?”

Gail stiffened and sighed, then shook her head. “No, not yet. I should probably do that today.”

Cecil sat up and set the cat on the back of the couch. “I could go with you to help if you like. I could probably make the conversation easier that way.”

Gail stared at him, opening her mouth as if to protest but closing it again and shaking her head. “Well, Haley went out somewhere with Janae and I don’t know when she’s going to be back. I don’t really want to go alone, either. Yeah, I’d like that.”

Alright, let’s go then.” He gestured to Gail to lead the way. Gail went to get the letter Isaac had given to her that stated her need for a pet. She and Cecil went out the door together to go talk to her landlord.

They knocked on his door and waited for about a minute before he answered. He looked at both of them and frowned, settling his gaze on Gail. “Do you need something, Ms. Wellers?”

Yes, this is about the matter we talked about the other day,” Gail said. “And I really am so sorry that I didn’t do this sooner. I should have done this from the start instead of going behind your back, but please take a look at this.”

She handed him the letter and he started reading it, and as he read he snorted rather derisively. “Ridiculous,” he said. “This is just an excuse to go against the rules. I thought it was very clear that there were to be no pets in this building.”

Gail opened her mouth to say something but Cecil stopped her with a hand on her shoulder, a smile on his face. “She isn’t making excuses, that’s a letter from a reputable counselor who wouldn’t give something like that to her unless she really needed it. You really should take it seriously. Someone’s mental health isn’t a matter to be taken lightly.”

The man stared at Cecil, looking like he wanted to protest but not seeming to have any words to do so. He frowned and shoved the letter back into Gail’s hands. “Fine, fine, you can keep that damn cat. Just don’t let anyone else know about it, and you’d better keep it clean in there.”

I will, don’t worry about it. And thank you.”

He huffed and closed the door on them. Gail turned to Cecil and he smiled at her. “Well, looks like it all turned out well in the end, didn’t it?”

Did you use some sort of magic or angel charm or something to get what we wanted, or was it really that easy?”

I’m afraid I don’t know what you mean,” Cecil said, sounding completely innocent. “Anyway, shall we go back?”

Yeah, let’s.” She smiled a little and headed back to her apartment with him. “Thanks for your help, Cecil, I don’t think I could’ve done it without you.”

It’s what I’m here for, after all,” he said with a bright smile on his face.

And you’d better not leave me again.”

Mm.” He shook his head and murmured, “No promises.”

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