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   Chapter 65

Damsel[ed] Some Rescue Required By m i c h e l l e p a k Characters: 14290

Updated: 2017-12-12 12:04


Gats.

Someone needs to rewind.

Before Hev and Angel made their equally dramatic entrances, before Owl told me that my foster parents are the same people who abandoned me all those years ago. I want someone to rewind back before today, before yesterday, before the weeks Heaven had been asleep, before Heaven and I dragged Angel up to that roof in the first place.

I want to rewind back to when everything felt normal. Maybe it wasn“t normal, sure, how normal can two rich adopted brothers be? How normal could even Heaven be, a social outcast who lied to us on the daily so she could strap on armor and save kittens from trees?

But now, there“s nothing. Nothing normal to grasp onto, no shred of logic to pull me out of this, whatever this is. When Owl tells me Juniper is my mother—that my freakishness is all her fault— the thought that she“s lying only feels like a wishful fantasy. I squeeze the sword so hard I can“t even feel the blood in my fingertips, can“t feel anything but my pulse. The world is spinning faster than usual, and I“m so light headed I just want to curl up with my hands over my face. I want to breathe.

"What." It“s not a question. It just comes out, a croaky gasp of a sound while I remind myself how breathing works. Air in, air out. It“s not that I wouldn“t want Juniper as a mother, it“s that she hid it from me. Lied to me. She squirms toward me, still bleeding, speaking so fast that I just stand there, listening, my grip on the sword tightening, tightening.

"It“s true, honey, it is. I would“ve told you earlier but we didn“t know if we had to let you go again. And we didn“t want to raise your suspicion." Beads of sweat cling to Juniper“s lashes. "We didn“t want you to think anything was wrong."

Wrong. What an understatement, now that all the skeletons have been dragged out of the closet. If I dare even think hat. There must be more, there always seems to be. And yet I“ve cried so much today I can“t even think of crying anymore. I feel like a kid. And it“s scary, so scary. The world is so much older than me, all the people out to get me. The cherry on this twisted sundae? The world I“ve known has been lying to me all along.

"You sent me away." My voice trembles, and out of the corner of my eye, Owl“s knowing smirk grows across her face, her gloved hands folding demurely in her lap. She settles in a creaky oak chair, and with her in it, it looks like a throne. I gasp. The air is stuffy, choking me.

"We wanted to protect you." Storm opens his eyes, dry blood browning his lips and throat. His eyes are piercing through his broken glasses, and yet I can“t face the intensity of his gaze. All of me feels empty, my back, my shoulders, my legs like I“ve melted away. Not even enough strength to stand, let alone run away like my heart begs me.

"Do you always hurt what you“re trying to protect?" Owl asks. She curls a strand of her ponytail around her forefinger, other hand cupped under her chin. The gesture so innocent and so young it breaks my brain, just a little. This immortal woman, this creature, acting so human.

The henchmen mull by the door, scattering like birds when Heaven“s thrown into the room. For one horrible second I think she“s dead, watching her roll and thump like that, but then she springs up, off her knees. She looks so fragile to me now, thinking of all the other, older, stronger people guarding us. Her scent makes me gag, her usual gentle vanilla musk buried in the stench blood and charred skin. I recoil, and when the woman calls her a prisoner, I find I do have enough strength to run. The sword thumps and drags on the carpet as I stagger for her. So much sorrow, so much regret. She wanted to hold me and I wouldn“t let her, but now that she“s a prisoner, I don“t have to be the one to hurt her. So I fly to her, wanting to hold her, bury my face in her neck and breathe in the softness of her scent underneath the burn. I want to feel her against me and know everything is okay.

Her dark eyes are hard. She looks at me, glares. My heart freezes in its cage, and so do I.

"Stubborn little thing," Owl says. The chair creaks when she stands. Heaven breathes heavily, each harsh gasp echoing off the walls. She crosses her arms over her shirt, singed hair thrown bac

wers it. It falls flat on the carpet with a “thunk.“ It flashes again, laughing. Another mrow leaves my throat, croaky this time.

She throws me down. I hit the floor hard, my back arching a little too late for me to land on my feet. The impact jolts me on my side, the steel-toe of Owl“s boots jabbed into my rib. Heaven looks on, her hands offered out, open and empty. "Please. He“s my friend."

"You selfish little girl." I can just imagine her crooked smile. She has Heaven in a corner, and both of them know it. How could I let this happen? "You“re willing to let your citizens die, all so you can have your boyfriend."

Heaven winces, wounded. But it flashes by so fast I wonder if I imagined it all. The drapes flutter, a leathery thup-thup-thup, like the beating of wax wings.

"You really are your mother“s daughter, aren“t you?"

Heaven steps to her. My side throbs with a fresh wave of pain and I stifle a groan.

"You know nothing about my parents."

Owl squats low, her shoe still buried in my ribs. She reaches out and takes the sword in one hand, arching it up and down in a few brisk chops. I can“t help but twitch.

"Your father died on his knees, begging."

I struggle, a weak, sporadic series of flails. We have children. Could it be? The super begging for his wife to be spared for his children?

Hev grits her teeth. Her fingers curl up and then fall flat again as if she has to remind herself not to clock Owl. "Stop–lying!"

"And Nebula died trying to save him. Him and her children. It“s funny, isn“t it? How time passes in cycles." She whistles and lifts her foot off me. And yet still I can“t move, lying in a heap on the bristly carpet. Blood taints my sense of smell, a drowsiness stealing the best of my thought processes. I want to sleep and dream, to take myself away. The sword cuts a smooth path in the carpet.

Heaven“s head snaps up. Her eyes flicker with recognition. "Yeah, it is, isn“t it?"

"A stubborn little hero fails to save her city, and she and the person she tried to save dies in the process." Owl laughs, harsh. My entire body prickles with gooseflesh. "Last time, my organization fell apart. This time, it won“t."

"No." Heaven flings her arms out wide, but her voice is smooth and even. "Let him go. He did nothing to you. I“m the one you want. Your henchmen just got the wrong guy." Her voice rises, smooth and deep. Her Galaxy voice. "Kill me if you must, but let him go."

"Oh, Heaven." Owl“s voice is smooth and breathless, matching Poison“s. It makes me shudder on the floor as Storm stirs, his eyes bloodshot and wide as he struggles to speak behind someone“s smothering hand. My eyes fall shut, the lull of sleep suddenly too much. I want to get away. Need to get away. "Do you want to die?"

And her voice is fragile in the emptiness, in the thickening silence. "Yes."

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