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   Chapter 18 NO.18

Damsel[ed] Rescue Required (3 of the Damsel[ed] Series) By m i c h e l l e p a k Characters: 9913

Updated: 2018-04-10 10:18


Angelos.

"I don't hate you, " I tell a trembling Shiro with his thin wrist still clamped in my fist. "But if you wake up Gats or the guardians I'm...I'm gonna hit you, you know, with super-strength."

Half of that's true. I don't hate him. I don't even blame him for trying to kill me. If Owl slept in the room adjacent to mine, wouldn't I try to kill her as well? I mean, killing's bad. I don't condone killing. Don't sue me. But I admire Shiro, because a thousand suckers will tell you they'd murder a tyrant to save innocent lives, but I doubt a single one of them would act on it if given the chance. But Shiro tried, and he was willing to face the consequences. He looks at me, eyes blazing. As black as they are, they're lit up even in my darkened bedroom. He's scared of me. He hates me. But his face is blank as I stumble out of bed, dragging him with me out the open door and into the living room. All I can really tell by his grimace is that he isn't happy.

I fluff my wings and spread them gently, flexing each aching muscle until I can feel the burn in my frown. The veins light up the apartment in a hissing purple halo, and the feathers drape Shiro in shadow.

"I promise there's more to this Syndicate thing than it seems."

"It seems like a lot of kidnapping and torturing to me." Shiro doesn't bother to lower his voice. And I don't bother pretending anymore that I'm gonna hit him. I lead him out of the apartment and let the door sigh shut behind us. We're both wearing pajamas. Him, in the pink-lamb bottoms and white V-neck I saw him sporting this morning. Me, in basketball shorts and an undershirt with slits cut into the back.

"I'm not the one doing it."

"Yeah." Shiro nods, glaring down at my hand squeezing his wrist. "That's what your followers do, don't they? They stabbed my best friend and left her to die."

"Oh." I don't even flinch. Don't even slow my strides. It scares me how hardened I've become, but I don't have time to mull over my angst issues, because we've arrived at Heaven's door. I rap softly, just below the peephole. "Hev?" My voice is a whisper. "Someone just tried to kill me—again."

The door flies open, hitting hard on the nose and smashing me flat against the wall. I make a little yelp, an 'ow, ow, ow' squealed under my breath.

Heaven tears me from behind the door and tugs my cheek, as if checking my face for bruises. "Did they hurt you? Are you okay?"

No more crisp clean shirts and makeup, she's back to wrinkled hoodies and sweatpants that smell like a locker room. Her eyes stop over Shiro and widen. "Did they try to hurt you, too? Angel, you're holding him too tightly! His wrist has gone all red!"

Shiro glances down at his feet, but he only does so a second. Then, he lifts his head and meets her gaze. There's a calmness to his methodical movements, and it's a calmness I have to admire. He carries himself with purpose, like he's considered every move he plans to make. It unn

matching hoodie, faded gray, and the spiral notebook open across the floor. She hates hoodies. "I...Oh." I scratch the back of my neck. "Well, do you want me to come?"

"No!" noth girls shout, simultaneous. Has me flinching with my hands in front of my face in a boxer's guard. Heaven softens her voice, smiling so widely it has to hurt.

"It'll be dangerous, " she says, "you've been through the wringer. Sit this one out."

"Oka—"

"Totally, babe. Lots of danger. Too much for your pretty little skull to take." Jaylin smirks up at me. I still can't get over her use of the word 'pretty'; I keep expecting her to be talking to someone else. Even 'babe' puts me on edge. But I smile anyway, since I should appreciate the miracle that is having a girlfriend. Proof there might be a God, yeah? "How about a kiss for luck?"

I oblige, twice on either cheek, a Gats move if I've ever made one. I rise from my stoop and wave at the boy who's curled on the couch and pulling up threads from the cushions. "Come on Shiro, let's go home." And all I can think, as Shiro stares at his red red red wrist is that Heaven must be right about Toby sleeping like the dead. All night, I've heard only soft snores from the other room.

Heaven, head hung, smiles sadly. "Yeah. We'll save him. Good night, Angel. Shiro, don't try to kill him, he's a good guy—in more ways than one."

Shiro stares down at his wrist. "Uh-huh." The sarcasm drips.

My heart plummets. I don't want the girls to go on a dangerous mission. I want them to stay here, where they're safe. How am I supposed to live like this? Knowing my best friend and girlfriend are going to get hurt, maybe captured, tortured, while all I can do is offer them a kiss and a dopey smile?

I can't. I can't live like this.

As soon as I lead Shiro back to his couch and his breathing becomes regular under the quilts, I snatch Gats' keys off the bar.

Hev and Jay aren't the only ones who can play this dangerous game.

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