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   Chapter 52

Damsel[ed] No Rescue Required By m i c h e l l e p a k Characters: 12045

Updated: 2017-12-12 12:04


Nope. Nada. No way. That didn“t happen. How could it?

Every battered bone seems to creak the words with me. The air is stuffy and thick, the little shop squeezing all the oxygen out of my lungs. My teeth gnash against the inside of my lips, my heart straining against my ribs, my eyes pinned open against the searing heat behind my skull. I growl deep in my throat and hold a shaky breath, Fallout scooping Poison in his arms like a little kid. The remorse, the horror, it“s all clear on villain“s face. Something about it makes my chest go tight, makes me think of Angel.

Natalie shuffles through the door, her mask hanging lopsided on her face. Smart girl, coming back instead of trying to take Owl on by herself. Kepler bats her leg and wines. I force a weak smile, hiding my fists. My knuckles hurt from squeezing. My insides feel ripped raw, the loneliness of death, followed by coming so close to taking my friends back home, all to find it for nothing. For them to be pulled away from me. For Gats to take my hand and try to drag me to Owl. She took him from me. She hurt him and molded him into her little pet.

He“s not her little pet.

And Angel“s not hers to take.

My wrists already ache from the cuffs, though the pain is slight compared to the sting in my chest. I suck in a breath. She won“t get away this time.

Poison twitches. "Ceres." His voice is raspy and weak, scraping at the insides of his throat. It barely sounds out. "I have to get him. We need him."

Fallot brushes his fingers through his son“s burned feathers. Poison looks over his shoulder at me, his chin tucked against his father“s neck, his eyes cloudy with a sort of wistfulness that looks foreign on him. The pain doesn“t seem to fit his cocky demeanor, his ceaseless jerk-er-y.

"Why did you do that," I ask Fallout, my teeth still gnashed together so my words come out an angry growl. If he hadn“t held me, I could“ve chased after them. Maybe I could“ve saved Angelos and Gats, too. I pace. "Fallout, we need to get them."

He forces a smile. Now, in the dim light of morning, he looks so young. I blink a couple of times and shake my head. His eyes art bright, his wrinkles gone, his graying hair no as black and shiny as Angel“s. Could be from his powers. "We have to wait." His voice is smooth, taut from stress as he fidgets with his fingers. "Figure something out. You can“t take her head on, kid, and you know it." His jaw“s squarer than Angel“s, his cheekbones sharper, and in his youth he looks pretty handsome. The observation makes me want to kick myself, even when the orange-haired girl pops her head through the door, spots Fallout and whistles with two fingers.

he shoots her a look and her face flushes red. Then she touches her fingers to the holes in her sweater and smiles, her lashes batting.

"Where were you?"

"Sir?" She laughs and tosses her hair out of her eyes, all her weight crooked on one hip like a teen pop star. "I and Mathias decided to stay out of the way of your flames. Some of us can“t handle the heat." She licks her lips and smirks, an eye traveling appreciatively up the curves of his body, settling on his shoulders, his neck, where a ragged scar cuts down his throat. Poison squirms and rubs the dirty streaks off his face with the back of his sleeve, kicking out of his father“s grip. My eyes dart around the room for something to free my hands with. If I“m saving Angelos, I might have to do it alone. Jaylin looks at me. I can“t hold her gaze. Angry at her, at the villains, at the world. Anger hasn“t gotten me anything to show for it, excep

look! Get some patience, woman. You“re turning seventeen, and you have to save millions of people from Owl and her psycho followers. And while you“re at it, get a grip, too! "I have a tracker on him."

I blink. "What?"

"I have a friend, kind of a bit of a genius. He, uh, made a tracker for Angelos and hooked it into his phone." He drops the cuffs and traces the scars on my arms. "I just locked myself out, so..."

His eyes are puffy with new tears and it takes his threat level down by a couple of notches. He clears his throat."If we find him, we can find Angelos."

Jaylin snaps her fingers by her temple. The air is thick with tension, the words coming out awkward and empty. "Your friend? The guy named after the goddess, right? Demeter, or something—"

He glares. "His name is Ceres."

"The same goddess, hon. Who cares?"

I roll my neck, my shoulders, anything to shake the creeping staleness from my limbs. His fingers still linger on my skin, and I can“t find enough energy in me to even feel uncomfortable. I have to learn to deal. Natalie holds her belt, staring holes into her shoes. Jaylin and Poison glare at each other, tensed as if preparing for a fight. Not that they will. No time, and no one“s in the mood anymore. My wrists flex against the cuffs.

"Alright," I say. "Let“s find this guy, then. You heard Owl“s threat. We don“t have much time."

"Do we have a plan?" Natalie“s voice is so soft it barely carries, even in the dead silence. Fallout and his lackeys haven“t said a word in minutes, resigned to listening to our sulking. She looks down at me, her head at a gentle tilt so her ponytail slides down her shoulder, strands of blonde hair slicked to her neck with sweat.

I force my head straight, my teeth ground down again. I have to unset my jaw, and it already hurts. My smile is fake and must look it, but I“m going to at least try to look like I have my "spit" together. Yeah, I“m qualified for saving Starlight City. Totally. "We make it up as we go along, sweetie." I would ruffle her hair, but my hands are still cuffed. "Now, does anyone know how to break these things?" I jangle the chain. "We“ve got some kicking butt to do." I lean back on my heels and toss my hair back, trying, failing to look the confident I don“t feel.

Looking at the faces around me, I can tell no one buys it. But we have a start, and right now, that“s all that matters.

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