MoboReader> Adventure > Damsel[ed] Some Rescue Required

   Chapter 70

Damsel[ed] Some Rescue Required By m i c h e l l e p a k Characters: 16919

Updated: 2017-12-12 12:04


We herd our small flock into the alley and hope no one says anything to anyone about what happened or what they saw. Mayor Curtis is in a horrible state of shock, but she manages to cuss out Juniper and Storm, who tell us to leave before things get uglier—they“ll call a Taxi.

The first expression Gats manages is a glare that he throws at them. Heaven has finally put him down, and as soon as she does, he curls up against the sword, his head tucked against the blade. Blood, still wet, clings to his face.

Kepler was sitting outside, listening to the whole thing go down with her snout tucked between her wolf paws. She finds me, panting. It“s a happy reunion between us, as happy as one can get between a panting wolf and a boy who watched his mother die. If I can call Owl that. It“s still hazy, like I dreamt it all.

Heaven sets Jaylin down beside me, casting just one suspicious look over her shoulder. It softens when she catches Jay“s eye, a tight smile worming its way on her tensed face. But it only lasts a second. She grabs Gats and squeezes him into a bearhug. It“s long and silent and would be awkward in any other situation, but the two hug each other so hard it“s like they“re afraid of being torn away. "I“m so sorry you had to..." she starts, but she never finishes.

Heaven doesn“t cry, or at least, when she does it“s rare and out of frustration rather than grief. So listening to her cry at all, even if only a little, makes me feel uncomfortable. Like I“ve walked in on something I shouldn“t have.

"We should go," I say to Jaylin, my mouth so close to her ear my cheeks tinge with a hot flush.

"Yeah." She leans against me, one arm wrapped around my shoulders and neck. Her hair brushes my skin, so soft I want to run my fingers through it. The thought makes me blush. We had a long talk about our relationship while I was still in chains. And now, I don“t want to say anything about it at all. Everything hurts and all we“ve said feels distant now. I like her in one way and she likes me in another. The sun is a glowing splat across ther smooth blue sky, and its warmth seeps into my skin. Right now, Jay and Kep are all I can think about without everything getting foggy and dim.

"Can you stand." I don“t mean to speak in such a clinical tone, but right now, a new headache rolling in, the image of Owl crumpled dead on the floor seared behind my eyes, that“s the only way the words come. A clipped, monotone robot voice.

"Angel, I“m in physical, mental, and emotional pain."

"Well," I say, swiveling my head toward Heaven and Gats. Hev“s shoulders quake, her tattered shirt cackling against her skin. That girl goes through clothes faster than Clark Kent. "That makes four of us."

Jay eyes me up and down, scraping dried sweat off her eyelid with her thumbnail. Grit and blood streak the back of her hands in long lines down her fingers, like chalk outlines. Above her temple, a gash of black blood. I“m cleaning it off before I even know it, nails scraping at the lines of gray drawn up around it. She lifts her eyes, the right corner of her lip curling up into a smirk. The other seems too tired even to twitch, so she just stares at me, giving me that haunting half-smile. "Talk somewhere private?" she asks. "Like Death Tower?"

For what I think is the first time, the name doesn“t faze me. Looking back on it feels almost like a sort of nostalgia. I let a long sigh. "Well, Jay, I“d have to fly us up there."

"Good on your wings?"

"Trying," I say, noting the ebb and flow of our dialogue. It sounds rhythmic to my tired ears, something I want to keep up for the sake of the melody. "I think it“s easier when I“m not running for my life."

"Won“t hit the ground like last time?" She bats her eyes at me, her voice reverberating with a sweet, innocent softness. I wish someone would conk me on the head so I could forget everything.

Wish I could just wake up to this pretty girl flirting with me and that I didn“t have to live with the things I“ve seen, things I“ve done, and the feelings crammed down where I try not to think of them. Danger still lurks in every shadow. No time to let my guard down.

"If you don“t knock me out with sleeping gas before I take flight." I bat my eyes back at her, though it feels awkward and I probably look like I have something stuck in my eye. In truth, I want to cry. Can“t even explain where the impulse comes from. My mother, maybe, though I don“t want to feel that way about her. Not after everything she“s done to me and my friends.

Hev and Gats stagger out of the alley. Or, to be more accurate, Hev staggers and Gats clings on with one hand, his stolen, bloody sword dragging on the concrete. It leaves ugly brown streaks on the pavement, and I watch them leave.

Kepler nuzzles my shoe, and I stroke her starchy coat while Jaylin hugs her. Her face pressed into the wolf“s back, the embrace so fierce and loving for a split-second I want to be on the receiving end. Kepler sighs contently. I can“t imagine Jaylin hurting that wolf, not even to scare it,

n in. I kiss her. A light peck on the lips at first. Hot sun scorches me through my wings, but the cocoon of feathers make even the afternoon sky the blackest night. Her response is a sluggish one at first, as if she just woke up from a nap and oh, hey, there“s a guy kissing me. But then it builds. And we“re not just kissing but making out, eyes open. My arms wrapped around her, tightening. Her hands running up the back of my neck and through my hair. I can taste her faded strawberry lip gloss as we press up against each other, scrambling for better handholds. Heat and salt and strawberry and cotton. A barrage of feeling, taste, all at once, balled up with a ticklish tingling running up and down my body like the world“s most pleasant poison.

I“ve never kissed like this before, maybe fantasized about it once or twice before dubbing it lame and going back to tossing and turning in my sweat-drenched pajamas. This is feverish, my breathing ragged for the first time in weeks from something that isn“t trying to kill me. It“s nice. Finally, I close my eyes and stop hugging. I play with her hair as we sink lower to the ground in our delirium. Funny, the stuff I do.

We“re on our sides now, kissing. A medicinal thing. Making out on a sidewalk corner because you watched someone die, someone you hated but were supposed to love. Someone cruel but someone connected with you in a way you can“t unravel no matter how hard you try. The hole“s grown bigger now, an unnamable ache hammering every part of my body. The raw grief stings my good eye with tears, so I kiss Jaylin deeper, trying to figure out how this stuff works. Hev and Gats have it down pat, but I“m inexperienced, and I think, so is Jay. But nonetheless, it feels pleasant. Feels like something to fill the hole. She kisses me back harder, and I realize it“s Jay filling some of that pit, not just the kissing, though the kissing is nice. Jay saved me, and I just hope I saved her too.

"I“m so confused," I say when we finish, lying there on the pavement. We“re curled against each other, her hand in mine. My heart still beats a little faster when I think of what we“ve done, but I won“t let it distract me. "I think of you one way, then another, then we make-out." I sigh.

She shrugs against me. "We have time to figure it out. With people wanting to kill us, next time. You and your empire."

I knit my eyebrows together, looking for any sense of how she“s feeling. She looks a little woozy, her eyes rolling up like she just jumped off the same emotional carousel I did. I find her hand and squeeze it. "We“re in this together?"

"King and queen." She tips my head up and kisses me again, lighter this time, on the nose. I scrape myself off the concrete and sway to my feet. I feel like I“ve been sleepwalking, and I“ve finally woken up. Kepler weaves between my legs like a fish and I help Jay up.

"This is going to be weird," I say.

"Yeah, but we“ve gotta try, right?"

We don“t kiss again. My hand is on the small of her back as we head deeper into the labyrinth, we walk, and we try not to think. Her head leaned against my side. The smell of sweat and the city, mingled under a sun too hot for spring. The streets come alive again, and I close my eyes.

Fight back. We“re going to fight back.

But right now, all I want is to feel Jay“s hand in mine and know we“re going home.

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