"Looks like I was right, sweetheart."
Those were six words I never ever wanted to hear out of his mouth again.
"Right about what? Maybe you made them give me so much of that regrowth formula that it warped the wings."
I didn't know what was worse, knowing that I was one of them from birth-that was only possible if I was adopted- or that I was something completely different. I realized abruptly that the pain was gone, completely, not even a whisper of it was left. If I didn't know any better, I'd say that I was never in any pain to begin with. In fact, I felt different. My body seemed different. I felt stronger, like I was pumped on adrenaline and the lights seemed brighter, I could smell the medicine and the sterile smell of the room seemed stronger. Everard's scent of pinewood and sage was infinitely stronger even though he hadn't moved at all. He was almost three feet away, that smell shouldn't be that strong.
"You're not a Drakhenae or a human. You're the experiment from Operation Phoenix."
I stared at him, my mouth agape, then I snapped it shut and scowled. "I'm not an experiment."
He waved his hand. "You know what I mean."
"I'm not the experiment."
"You don't prove a negative, idiot."
In a blink I was slammed to the wall, I hand on my throat. I actually had to look up to see him, since he seemed to be at least five inches taller. I couldn't remember the last time I had to look that up. "You can waste my time denying everything I say, or you can cooperate and you won't spend your life here in chains. It's that easy."
"What? You're threatening me now?"
"I'm giving you a choice."
"That is not a choice," I snapped back. Then added, "Idiot."
His nostrils flared and his gaze darkened. What right did he have to be angry? I glared right back and snarled. Because of him, my world was turned upside down and had no way of righting itself back. I realized that I was seething, my fisted hands shaking. And something in me woke up. This time I knew I wasn't hallucinating when the shadows on the walls began to move, snaking across the room before they sprung on Everard, taking the shape of a willowy creature that wrapped its hands on his throat. He watched them, eyes wide.
He stepped back and let me go. I stared at the shadows, curious, I reached out to touch one bony finger, but I only ended up touching Everard's skin. So I was right, they didn't have an actual physical form. The anger disappeared and then they let him go and slithered back, becoming normal once again.
I turned my attention to Everard and blinked. Twice. The shadows were choking him mere seconds ago and he just said amazing?
"What was that?"
He shrugged. "You should know, you did it." Then, "So your anger triggers the shadows."
I stared at him. And stared some more.
"You purposely got me mad."
He turned around and looked at me. I didn't like the way he was looking at me, as if he found hope for something. I was exhausted and wanted him to leave. I looked to the bed and grimaced. It was half covered in blood. My blood. Oh well, I'd just sleep on the floor.
Without a word, he turned and went to the door, pulled it open and stepped out. I let out a breath and curled into a ball on the cold, hard floor. I groaned when the door opened again.
"What are you doing?"
"Trying to sleep. Go away," I snarled.
"Get up and follow me."
The door closed again, and I thought about just ignoring him. I gave up the idea and stood up. Outside the room, I found him walking briskly down the hall. I struggled to keep up, trying to match his long strides instead of looking around, the added weight of the wings didn't help. He stopped at the elevator and pressed the button on the wall. It dinged and opened, and luckily this time there's no awful music.
"Where are we going?"
"Stay put and you'll find out, sweetheart."
Another nonanswer. I crossed my arms and leaned back. From the elevator, I knew we were in the basement before and were now headed to the fifth floor. He didn't say a word and neither did I. When the doors opened again, I wanted to let out a sigh of relief, instead I struggled to keep up, again. He walked down the hall, then opened a door to his left. I followed him inside. It was a bedroom with a massive four poster bed in the center, with the window behind it and two small armoires on either side. A mirror hung in the wall, and in it I made out my reflection. My hair was a mess, the waves tangled, my eyes looked bleak, my face too pale, the freckles standing out oddly.
"Do all prisoners stay in rooms like these?"
"No. This is mine, sweetheart."
I looked around the room again. There was no personalized touch in the room, no paintings or pictures and everything was the same color-beige.
"And this is a military base, we don't have prisoners. If you were a human who we managed to turn into one of us, you would've had a room in the barracks with the rest of the soldiers, or you would've been assigned to the inspector sector and you'd be a detective of the army. Most females don't like living in the barracks."
"Why can't I sleep in a room in the barracks tonight?"
"Because the Commander doesn't know what you are, and I would like to keep it that way, sweetheart."
"Don't call me that," I snapped, stepping further in the room.
He leaned against the wall, arms crossed over his chest, the picture of arrogance. "Call you what?"
"I'll call you whatever I want."
"No, you won't."
"Try and stop me."
He smiled, as if arguing with me entertained him. I focused on something else. The bed. My body screamed at me to just lie down and sleep forever.
"I'm not sharing the bed with you."
I sat on the bed and pulled off my boots as he stepped outside.
"You don't have to worry about that. And don't try anything because I will catch you if you do and I'm waking you up tomorrow. Early."
With that he closed the door behind him. I took off my bloodstained clothes, the shirt was ripped in the back anyway, and barely managed to crawl under the covers before I passed out.
I startled awake, and didn't recognize any of my surroundings. My bed wasn't this comfortable, where was I? Slowly the events of yesterday return and I remember. Oh, right. I was officially stuck in Italy. Someone banged on the door, hard. So that was what woke me up. I turned around and peeked out of the blindfolds of the window. It was not even the crack of dawn yet. The banging continued.
"I'm awake," I hollered.
"If you don't open this door, I'm coming in."
I flipped on the lamp, and on wobbly legs I got up, disoriented, and for a second since I felt like sacks were tied on my back. Then I remember that I had wings now. I looked in the mirror. The tips dragged on the floor. The feathers were auburn, more red than brown. From the front, one couldn't even be able to tell that I had wings. I tried to lift them so they could show and wouldn't drag on the floor. They didn't respond.
When he started banging on the door again, I gave up and wrapped the sheet around me. I pulled open the door to see Everard, dressed again in cargo pants, black boots, and black shirt-no insignia this time.
"When you said early, I didn't think you meant this early."
"Here are some clothes, bathroom is there." He pointed to a door.
I took them, clenched the sheet tighter and darted to the bathroom. It was a state of the art bathroom, sparkling clean with a giant bathtub attached to the wall. I dropped the sheet and turned the water on and almost cried out in joy at the feel of water pouring down my bloody, sweaty skin. Up until now, I didn't know how good it felt to shower and be clean.
When Everard banged on the door, shouting at me to hurry, I shut the water off, toweled dry and put on the clothes he gave me. A shirt and pants. I had to wear my underwear, the lining still stained with blood and the pants were two sizes too big. I had a twenty six inch waist. The pants were a thirty four, maybe bigger. I had to roll them up four times then cinch it together and use my hair tie to keep it in place. The shirt was a similar story, and it took me forever to get it over the wings and then get the wings through the slits in the back. For the first time in years, I was wearing clothes bigger than me.
I stepped out of the bathroom, arms crossed over my chest. Everard looked me over once in his clothes. I arched a brow, then glared when I saw him fight the urge to laugh.
"Don't worry, Marie and Anne are getting things for you."
"Great," I mumbled. "Now, why did you wake me up before dawn?"
"Follow me, sweetheart, and you'll find out." He headed towards the elevator. "You'll like it," he called over his shoulder.
I let out a breath and followed him.
"So, what are we going to do?"
He turned to me and smiled. I didn't like that smile, it spoke of promises and things I wouldn't like.
"We're going outside."