All the King's Horses
Part I: Chapter 23

Livvie sighed and tapped her foot in frustration. “Rafe, just tell me what you did to Alison.”

“For the last time,” he responded, exasperation clear in his voice. “I didn’t do anything to her!”

Using the key that Valerie gave her an hour earlier, Livvie unlocked the door to the apartment. “Well I guess we’ll find out won’t we? She better be in here, Rafe! Because I don’t know where else she is.”

“Oh, and what? You think I kidnapped her?”

She shook her head. “I know you didn’t kidnap her, Rafe! I just think you and your angel powers or whatever did something.”

“Such as?” he asked dryly, crossing his arms over his chest and raising an eyebrow. “Please, tell me what it is you think I would do or did to Alison.”

“Well… I…” Livvie sputtered, cursing herself silently for not preparing for more of a fight from the angel. “I don’t know, alright? I’m just worried about her. Is that really such a crime?”

“No. But she’s fine. So stop worrying.”

“How do you know that she is fine?”

Rafe simply looked at her. “Alison is fine. She probably just slept in. She needed sleep, Livvie.”

“So you what… cast some spell on her to turn her into Rip Van Winkle?”

Laughing, Rafe shook his head. “Sorry to burst your bubble, but I don’t do spells. And I didn’t do anything to Alison. I wouldn’t do anything to Alison. You know that. So why don’t you tell me what’s really going on.”

“W-What’s really going on?” She inhaled sharply then silently cursed again. It wasn’t fun to fly by the seat of your pants. “What’s really going on,” Livvie repeated, hardening her tone. “Is that Alison broke up with Jamal yesterday after so much time together, and she didn’t seem to really be all that broken hearted about it. Then we find the two of you making out outside the hospital...”

“Yeah, and your point?”

Opening the door, Livvie shook her head. “We left her with you. That’s all I’m saying. You were the last person to see her.”

“No, Valerie was the last person to see her. I didn’t hurt Alison, I wouldn’t.”

“I know that you wouldn’t intentionally hurt her, Rafe…” Stepping inside, she waited until he passed her to shut the door and flip on a light. A discreet glance was cast at her watch. “But sometimes you can’t help it. I mean obviously she’s falling hard-” Her cell phone rang, cutting off her words. Perfect timing. “Excuse me for a minute please.”

Rafe shook his head, walking past her and ignoring her as he crossed to the bed. “Alison?”

The lump in the middle of the bed wiggled, groaned, sighed, then returned to it’s former state of barely breathing. The angel laughed lightly. “Alison,” he repeated, putting his knee on the bed and causing it to dimple as he pulled the blanket down from over her head. “Come on, sunshine, it’s time to rise.”

“No,” she groaned, pulling the blanket up once more.

His hand went to her hip, or at least he assumed it was her hip, and he pulled the blanket down once more. “Yes,” Rafe said sternly, a smile gracing his features. “You have to get up. We went over this yesterday remember? No hiding out.”

“I’m not hiding,” Alison sighed. “I’m sleeping.”

“Open your eyes.”

Grumbling something he couldn’t hear under her breath, she rolled onto her back, then complied with his demand. “There. Happy?”

“Ecstatic. Now. It’s time to get up.”

Alison rubbed the back of her hand over her eyes. “What time is it?”

“A little after one.” She put her arms over her head and stretched, arching her back. Rafe tried not to let himself think too terribly much about that simple little action and the way soft gray cotton of her t-shirt stretched over her breasts. “Fourteen hours of sleep is plenty. Come on… You’ll hate me if I let you stay in bed.”

“Would not.” I’d still love you, she thought with a grin. “I’d be thrilled,” she yawned.

Rafe took her hand and tugged. “You’d be up all night. That’s what you would be. Up, come on, Alison.”

“I’ve been up,” she whined lightly. Moving to lay on her side facing him. “I changed. See? I’ve been up. It hasn’t been an entire fourteen hours of sleep. Just let me…”

“Nope. Sorry. I know that trick, and I don’t fall for it. Get up. You have to convince Livvie that I didn’t do anything to you.”

“What does Livvie think you did to me?”

“I don’t know,” he whispered jokingly, sitting down beside her. “I don’t think she does either. It’s all some big scam if you really want to know. She wants me to believe that she thinks I drugged you or…”

“Do angels drug people?”

“Not the last time I checked,” he replied, rolling his eyes slightly. “Now, don’t make me leave you here alone with her. She’s up to something I tell you.”

“Probably. Think she’s been plotting with Lucy?”

“That would be my guess.”

Nodding, Alison closed her eyes again. “I think Val is in on it. She was really going on about something this morning. I’m not sure what exactly though. But then when I said that she told me I sounded like you.”

“Oh, well if you ever figure it out, tell me what she was talking about? I think she was talking in some sort of code last night. I didn’t think I even wanted to know what she was trying to say though.”

“Ditto.” She grinned up at him. “So… What are you doing here?”

“I dragged him here,” Livvie stated, choosing then to remind them of her presence. “We were supposed to meet for lunch and you didn’t show. I got worried and blamed Rafe.”

“Why in the world would you blame Rafe?” Alison asked, sighing as she finally sat up. She leaned back, her weight resting on her hands behind her. “All you had to do was call, you know.”

Damn. “I tried,” Livvie lied. “There wasn’t an answer.”

Alison looked at Rafe and resisted the urge to roll her eyes. “I guess Valerie must have turned off the ringer for me. She probably shouldn’t have. Frank might have been trying to call again.” A quick wink let her angel know what was coming. “Oh! Maybe I should go and see, I bet I need to. Their probably swamped…” Alison barely had a chance to make a move to get out of bed before a hand clamped down on her arm. Her smile to Rafe said one thing – victory.

“No!” Livvie said quickly, too quickly she realized a moment afterwards. Her cringe wasn’t nearly as well hidden as she would have liked to think. She removed her hand from Alison’s arm in a flash. “No, you… you don’t have to do that,” she said, slower than before. “I mean, there really isn’t anything to worry about, you know, they were pretty slow over there just a little while ago, and… Rafe was right, before… he said that you needed sleep and that’s very true…”

“But fourteen hours of sleep is plenty,” the blond argued, barely concealing her smile when she turned to face her friend. “He was right about that too. He's a very smart angel. Besides, weren’t we supposed to have lunch?”

“I... I can't. I just got a phone call from my dad. He said that we really needed to talk. Sorry, I’ve got to cancel lunch today. Maybe tomorrow though?” Backing away slowly, Livvie clutched her purse and cell phone tighter with each lie.

“Maybe breakfast,” Alison suggested with a smile.

“Yeah! Yeah… Maybe! Anyway, you two have fun. And be good! I'll see you later.”

It wasn’t until the door shut behind her that the other two burst into laughter. “That was too easy,” Alison giggled. “I was almost sure that Livvie was a better liar than that…”

“I was pretty sure most people in this town were better liars than that. Her and Lucy are pretty transparent in what they’re doing.” Shaking his head, Rafe stood again and held out a hand for her.

She pouted as she watched his hand. “You were serious about making me get up?”

“Yes.” He tilted his head to the side, catching her gaze. “Alison, you can’t hide from the world in bed for the rest of your life.”

“I’m not hiding!” Her pout grew when it became clear he wasn’t buying it. Taking his hand she tugged until he sat down beside her. “Really, Rafe, I know what you’re thinking. And that’s not what’s going on.”

The angel raised an eyebrow at the remark. “What am I thinking?”

“That this is about me breaking up with Jamal.” She lowered her eyes to their hands. “But it’s not, alright. It has nothing whatsoever to do with him, and you shouldn’t worry so much about it. Alright?”

“Hey, worrying about you isn’t something that’s just going to go away.” Putting his free hand under her chin, her brought her eyes up to meet his. “I care about you, Alison. And I care what you’re feeling. I just want you to be happy, you know that don’t you?”

“Yes. But I can’t have what makes me happy, Rafe. I mean… I know that. I know that…” Her gaze left his once more, her eyes settling on the phone beside her bed. She wet her dry lips and darted a tentative glance in his direction. Taking a deep breath, she forced herself to continue. “I’m just trying to deal with it, you know? But I know… I know that I can’t have what I really want.”

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