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   Chapter 35

Damsel[ed] No Rescue Required By m i c h e l l e p a k Characters: 12758

Updated: 2017-12-12 12:04


I wake up first, eyes squinted, earlier aches setting in under my skin and leaving a knot in my jaw. My nose throbs. The side of my mouth pounds, dry blood flaking off my face when I touch it. Every nerve in the back of my neck screams, strained like a cluster of wild ponies stamped over it. Luce has a good swing. He should“ve joined the baseball team while he had the chance, then maybe the Cosmonauts wouldn“t have sucked so much.

I roll my head back. Bits of glass stick out of my neck like quills. They ooze blood and I hiss under my breath. The blackened ceiling fading in and out of vision. Giant lights shine down at me, and at this angle, they look like the eyes of monsters, like the building itself will gobble me up. I almost laugh. This, this is hell. For me. For Luce.

But hey, who said power would come easily?

Animals bark and growl as I shift on my side, piercing my eardrums in a way that makes me wince. "Shut up, shut up, shut up," I say. "You don“t know a damn thing about pain. Not a thing." I run my fingers down the thread of my jeans, the blood flaking there, too. Hot lights burn, pouring down on my skin.

A sweet and flowery smell masks the worst of the room“s stench, like the strongest, cheapest perfume that can be bought at the Dollar General. My head spins. My stomach clenches, lunch sloshing around in there waiting to be thrown back up. Ugh. I hold my forehead, easing to my feet in a way I hope won“t make my knees give out under me. "Stupid Lucifer, stupid father, stupid Ceres..." I curse everyone that lead to my being here, with a bunch of lab animals and a dumb, passed-out half-brother.

Swiping the glass away from my neck, I stride toward Luce. He“s easy to spot, slumped on the floor, his black wings spread. I fluff mine out and comb the dust out between the feathers. His look all wrong, the bones curved all the wrong ways to make them look like two little crescent moons. The bottle lies half-shattered a few feet out by of his hands, his palms open toward the sky, his fingers half curled as if about to ball into fists but didn“t quite make it. His chest rises and falls with a drugged calm, one eye sealed shut, his patch crooked, the strap tangled with a loose strand of hair. It“s a lot shorter than it was, his hair, I mean, cut to taper down to the back of his neck, but it“s still pretty long for a guy.

I grunt and yank the patch off, easing his head off the floor and untangling the little strap that keeps the thing intact. I“ve seen enough of the stupid patch on Owl. I“d rather see whatever gore is left of his eye than that thing. "Besides," I tell Luce with the tiniest hint of a shrug. "That“s not gonna help it heal. You need to get some light in there." Which probably isn“t true. There“s probably a reason for the ugly patch, why he“d keep the eye covered, but if I blind him for a good, well, I“m not gonna be the one crying over it.

The sweet smell clings to him. The wolf, the experiment, whines and noses my shin. My fingers twitch to slap the thing away, but I let the animal sniff at me. Hell, I even talk to it. I never liked silence much. I never liked being alone much, either. "What are you looking at, project?"

I grab Luce by his wing, digging my fingers around the bladed bone for grip. Mine jolt, tingling just a little as if out of sympathy. If there“s one thing I can say about my precious, dainty angel wings, it“s that they“re tough. They“ve grown strong and sinewy overtime, powerful by long flights and nights spent out on the lam.

But his? His are fresh. Rows and rows of new nerve endings unprotected by much. Every touch will hurt. Every bruise will ache for weeks. The skin beneath the feathers is as fragile as a baby“s, and even the feathers themselves are pretty brittle. I yank one out and rol

and that hand happened to have the crushing force of a tank. I dig my heels into the ground, struggling and thrashing and calling for help. That dude. The drug guy, he should be here, floating around. Where is he?

It“s useless. It“s all useless. I“m sucked back, knocked around like a leaf in the wind. My wrist jerks up, my back slammed against a cage. Luce“s eyes are closed, his hands squeezed together at his chest. Focused. Concentrated. He grins. A bar snaps, the animals howling and crying so loud I want to curl into a ball and squeeze my eardrums out. The gleaming metal bar, rusty at the tips and a flash of gray before my eyes, swings through the air, and I wince, holding up a free hand to protect my face.

It does nothing. The bar hits my raised wrist, slamming it back against the cage. I squirm, blistering white hot crawling up and down my skin. The metal twists with an ear-piercing shriek, wrapping around my arm, sliding and squeezing like a hungry boa constrictor. I don“t know what I say, exactly. Except I know I“m shouting. And cussing. Lots of cussing. He bows his head and a shard of glass slides from down the row, shrieking as it drags down the concrete as if tugged by an invisible string.

It flies into Angelos“ hand and he smiles, crossing his arms over his chest, the shard dripping in a yellow film. He looks like a genie, standing with his eyes closed, chin buried in the collar of his shirt, flames crackling from his body. It“s insane. Insane. Genies are shut up in bottles for a reason. Too much power throws off the balance of the world. And telekinesis? That“s simply too much.

"Shut up," he says, cracking one eye open, his good one. His voice, once smooth and cool, like it usually is when his aura is out, shakes.

"You don“t tell me what to do, Luce!" I tug at the bar, but it“s metal. I“m stuck. Stuck with this psychopath who has a grudge against me. It feels cool against my skin, but my forearm tingles from being held up so long.

"Shut up. I“m the one asking the questions now, okay?" He draws in a long, shuddering breath, both eyes open now. I stare at the blackened one, trying to accustom myself to it. Not to flinch. Not to shrink away. I tug at the bar. "You aren“t going anywhere, Poison. Not until I know what happened to Gats."

And for a second, he looks in control. Like he“s the one pulling the aura“s strings, not the other way around.

The aura flares, sprinkling my face with heat. And with a flourish, he smirks, jabbing the shard at my neck. "So start talking, pal."

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