ARC TWO: NEW RIVALS
ON ANGEL'S WINGS
Chapter Thirteen: Flashback
"Well, hello stranger."
Madeleine raised her gaze from her
folder of scribbled literature notes, casting the speaker a frown.
"What do you want, Luca?" She asked
wearily. "I'm trying to study. I've finals coming up in a week and I
really need to focus on this if I'm going to have any hope of passing."
"You didn't come to our run through
last night." Luca ignored the unwelcoming tone in his companion's
voice, dropping down onto the grass beside her and leaning up against
the broad trunk of the willow tree, glancing absently at the folder.
"Is that your writing? I thought you were neater than that."
"No, it's Santi's." Madeleine's frown
deepened, and she shut the folder with a snap. "Not that it's your
business. And I'm sorry about last night, but I do have exams almost on
me, you know. I want to pass."
"You're one of the smartest girls I
know." Luca observed. "Why are you cribbing off Santi's notes?"
"Because I missed a class or two
lately." Madeleine snapped. "What is this, the third degree? Why are
you even here, anyway? You're not a student here any more. Are you
hunting me down?"
"More or less." Luca nodded his head,
unabashed by her tone. "I wanted to be sure you were all right."
He pursed his lips.
"I heard about Jared."
"Oh, did you?" Madeleine sent him a
cold look. "And now you're here to tell me that you told me so? That
you said he was a jerk and insincere and that he'd only break my heart?
Spare me. Consider it said."
"Nothing like." Luca shook his head.
"I never would do that, Mad. Actually..."
"Actually, I'm trying to study."
Madeleine interrupted him, sending him a tired look. "And I'm already
much too far behind because I let myself get distracted. Please, Luca,
unless you've something productive to say to me, leave me alone? I need
as much time as I can get."
Luca pursed his lips, eying her
thoughtfully for a moment. Then he nodded.
"There's a rumour going around that
the jerk knocked you up then fled campus." He said quietly. "And if
it's true, I want to make sure you're not on your own."
Madeleine looked startled.
"Who in hell told you that?" She
"Assanti." Luca admitted. "I ran into
her in town the other day - she told me that you'd pretty much turned
into a hermit since the break up and that she was worried about you -
that you'd been tired and snappish lately and had I noticed anything.
Assanti being the girl she is, I guess she told me everything."
Madeleine sighed, closing her eyes
"I'll staple her jaw shut." She
muttered. "What in hell did she think you could do about it?"
"Well, I don't know. But maybe she
thought that, with us being friends, I might be someone else you could
confide in." Luca suggested softly. Madeleine snorted.
"Yeah, that would be good." She
acknowledged ruefully. "But you broke my heart, Luca. I'm not about to
start telling you secrets about the guy who replaced you."
"Fair enough." Luca held up his
hands. "But if you are in trouble, Mad, let me help. Clay and I both -
we are your friends and we do want to support you if you need it."
Madeleine was silent for a moment.
Then, at length, she shook her head.
"I'm not pregnant, Luca." She said
quietly. "Yes, there was an...incident. Yes, for a while I thought I
might be. But I got my period this morning. That's why I've been tired
and snappish. A combination of overwork and hormones. Nothing else. I
She shrugged her shoulders.
"And even if there had been, I
wouldn't have asked you to help me fix it." She added. "I'm stronger
than you think...and I would have stuck it through."
Luca eyed her keenly.
"I know how strong you are." He
assured her. "But I can't pretend I'm not glad that that's the case.
Contrary to our history together, I don't like seeing you hurt."
"The irony in that sentence is
overwhelming." Madeleine observed dryly. She stretched, stifling a
yawn. "I haven't slept a whole lot this week for headaches, in truth.
I'm really worried about my exams. I lost a few lessons here and there
and Santi's notes are fine but deciphering her writing isn't always
easy and it's making my eyes go funny."
She bit her lip.
"Not that there's any pressure or
anything, but I've put in to go to grad school. Late admission." She
added, eying him doubtfully. "Harvard. To do politics."
Luca's eyes widened.
"You're serious?" He asked.
"Wow...that is pressure." Then, as he registered the full implication
of her words, he frowned.
"You want to leave Connecticut."
"It's not like Hartford is my
hometown." Madeleine shrugged her shoulders. "I only ever came here for
college, we both know that. In a few weeks, that'll be done with."
Luca's frown deepened.
"So you want to leave the band?"
"What band, Luca?" Madeleine sighed.
"It's us messing around but it isn't like we even have a name or a set
amount of dates with clubs or anything like that. I love singing - you
know I do. I just don't know whether it really has potential for the
future. If I could get into this course, Lord knows where I might end
up - the opportunities are endless. But..."
"But you don't think that the band is
going anywhere." Luca sighed. "I get it."
Madeleine shot him a sidelong glance,
guilt touching her heart as she took in his expression. She pulled a
"Oh, I didn't mean it quite like
that." She said. "But Harvard is never a chance you turn down, and the
careers lady, she thought I had a real shot of getting in. The whole
idea really excites me. I love the band - and hanging out with you and
Clay - but that's all it seems to be. Hanging out."
Luca pursed his lips.
"And if it was to be more than that?
What then?" He asked. Madeleine eyed him curiously.
"What do you mean?"
"Well, Clay's been working on scoring
us some local club dates through a friend of his." Luca said simply.
"And we also discussed the idea of diversifying. Stefana is dying to be
a part of this and she's a damn good guitarist - we've never had anyone
to play a lead part really and my bass limits Clay's writing. Plus her
friend Marissa is really hot on the music front, too. She and Clay have
been hanging out more and more and he says she's got the makings of a
really pro writer...between them they could revolutionise the kind of
music we put out. Plus she plays keys and plays them damn good. With
your voice, we could even generate a following. We need you...badly."
"Obviously a lot more than you need
Madeleine looked pained, running her
fingers absently through the blades of grass and plucking a daisy, idly
toying with it.
"Stefana?" She murmured. "And you
think she's a team player?"
"I think you don't even know my
sister, so don't judge her on hearsay." Luca scolded. "I was the one
who broke your heart, Mad. Not Steffi."
"I wasn't thinking of that."
Madeleine objected, but her expression belied her words. "I was
thinking more of the fact that she's a felony waiting to happen. Or was
it a different Stefana who wound up in the hospital last March because
she got involved in a brawl and someone had a gun?"
"Stef was caught in the crossfire."
Luca said crossly. "She was hurt and she could have been killed. Sure,
she shoots her mouth off, but Mad, she's not a monster. And she plays
"Oh, I'm too tired to argue with
you." She said sadly. "Right now, Harvard is a big leap and a jump
considering how behind I am. I haven't decided what I'm doing after
graduation yet. There's something else on my mind, Luca - something you
don't know about."
"Which is?" Luca cast her a curious
"I had a phonecall this morning from
my sister." Madeleine pursed her lips.
"Anne Marie?" Luca looked startled,
then, "Oh! Are you an aunt again?"
"No...no. She's not due for another
month." Madeleine shook her head. "No, it's something else. Mom had a
phonecall last night from Tante Regine, in Los Angeles. Apparently
she's had word from the military that her partner is missing in action
- he's been missing for almost a month and they really fear the worst.
They think they're looking for a body rather than a man, if that makes
sense...he went out on manoeuvre in a dangerous zone with four other
men and all of them have vanished. It's possible they've been taken
hostage - but Tante Regine is in a state over it. She and Russell are
very close, and she has noone else close at hand if the worst news
"Oh God." Luca looked dismayed. "And
they've heard nothing?"
"Nothing good." Madeleine shook her
head. "She's asked me if I would go to California as soon as my exams
are up, give ma tante some moral support. She can't go herself, of
course - the baby is too close and Mom's not been so well herself
lately. So I said I would. I haven't managed to get through to Tante
Regine's phone yet, but I must, so I can book flights and everything
else. Hopefully by the time I get there, there'll be some better
news....but just in case there isn't, I need to be prepped to go."
"I see." Luca pursed his lips. "It's
all really been dumped on you, hasn't it?"
"Nothing new about that in my
family." Madeleine looked rueful. "I haven't seen Tante Regine in years
and she may not even want company. But I figure the break may be good
for me too. Give me some time out and perspective on what my choices
are going to be. Of course, if Harvard calls..."
"You'll be there." Luca finished.
"Yeah. I guess I can't hold that against you. But if they don't?"
"Are you wishing me bad luck, Luca?"
"No, of course not." Luca grimaced at
her. "But if they don't?"
"If they don't, I'll think again."
Madeleine sighed. "Right now I just want to get through my exams and
get out of Connecticut for a few weeks, clear my head of everything
that's happened lately!"
University of Connecticut, Winter 2009
Two: Tante Regine
Three: Flashback: University of Connecticut: Winter 2011
Four: The Poem
Five: A Shock
Six: Nancy Confesses
Seven: Flashback: Break Up
Ten: Flashback: Assanti Meddles
Eleven: Pay Off
Twelve: Stefana Gambles
Thirteen: University of Connecticut: Finals Week
Fifteen: A Tiny Piece Of Truth
Sixteen: Flashback: Forever Changed
Chapter Seventeen: Secrets Will Out
Chapter Eighteen: Fall Out
Chapter Nineteen: Flashback: A New Life
Chapter Twenty: Darren Admits
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