I Am No Prey by Amal Clare May 25, 2021

14- Complications (Part 2)

Daniel's POV

I rushed past the doors, trying to reach her before she hit the floor. Heart in my throat, I grabbed her ankle and yanked her to me.

Holding her tight, her wings drooping and head lolled back, I left the wind tunnel and tried to assess the damage. I cringed again. It was bad. Her wing-the one she'd slammed against the glass-was bent at an odd angle and an ugly bruise was forming on her forehead. I needed to take her to the medic for the wing, and pulled out my phone, preparing to dial for Marie when her wing started moving. 

Phone in my hand, I watched as her broken wing started fixing itself, moving back into place, and when I looked at her face, the bruise was shrinking instead of growing. Joshua wasn't kidding when he said she was designed to take almost anything, making her the perfect war tool. 

Her eyes fluttered open and she winced. She sat up and reached to touch her head. 

"How are you feeling? God, please don't do that again, you scared me," I asked her, wondering whether I should tell her about her wing. 

"How long was I out?" she mumbled. 

"Ten minutes. I think, with that kind of hit, you should've been out longer." She must've been out for less than three minutes. 

"What happened?" 

"I barely had time to turn the thing back on so you didn't fall to the ground. I think you were right, I'm a bad teacher." 

"I'm always right." 

I grinned, but it fell when I remembered what happened her. If it wasn't for her...abilities, she would have a broken wing right now. "No, seriously, how are you feeling?" 

"I'm fine, really." 

She looked at the wind tunnel, and I saw a steely determination in her eyes. 

"Let's do it again."

I laughed and stood up. "Wow, you're determined. I have to give you that." 

"You have way more than that to give me." 

I could think of many things. "What are you suggesting, Cerise?" 

She flushed and stepped back. "That's not what I meant and you know it." 

Shame. "First, your form was wrong, you need to keep your legs together and body straight until you get used to flying. Second, if you're horizontal, then you can't stay in place, which is what you were trying to do earlier." 

"You didn't think of telling me this before?" 

I winced and rubbed the back of his neck. "Now that you mention it, there are hundreds of things I'm remembering that you should probably know." 

"Great," she mumbled. 

Instead of letting her climb to the door, I scooped her into my arms, one under her knees and the other around her waist, not feeling the additional weight at all as I flew to the door. Even when we landed, she still kept her arms wrapped around my neck. 

"You can let go of me now, though I'm perfectly fine if you don't want to, I've been told at times that I'm irresistible." 

She rolled her eyes and let go, easing onto the floor. "What's wrong with the ladder?" 

"My way was faster. You'll see, once you learn how to fly, you'll want to do nothing else." 

"So is your second attempt at teaching me going to be that you show me first?" 

"Yes." 

I stretched out my wings, and grinned when her attention snagged on them. 

"Wow. What's your wingspan?" 

"Eighteen feet," I answered proudly. "You're going to find it that Drakhenae men are very competitive and sensitive when it comes to wingspans." 

She rolled my eyes. "Men are always sensitive and competitive when it comes to body parts." 

I looked at her suggestively. "I promise you that I have nothing to worry about in that department." 

She groaned. "TMI, I really didn't need to know that and weren't you about to teach me how to fly?" 

"Sorry to stop you from getting a chance to admire me while I fly." 

I shot into the air, beating my wings. Even though this wasn't wide open, blue sky, I was still flying, and like always, it still felt amazing.

"Pay attention, Cerise," I called. 

I started going through the positions, showing her how it was all in the wings. After going through all the positions, I made her repeat my instructions.

"You're a quick study," I said and landed next to her."What's the key to switching positions and going faster?" 

"Rotating your wings slightly, depending on what you want to do." She answered immediately. 

I nodded. "And banking left or right?" 

"Tipping one wing down or the other and leaning in that direction." 

"Great, now show me how you rotate your wings." 

She did.

"Jump," I told her. "But don't expect to get all the positions in a day." 

She stretched out her wings as far as they would go and then shot up. With my heart in my throat, I watched her go through two of the positions and start turning, banking left and right, going in a perfect circle. She kept at it until she got the grip of it. Eventually, she flew higher and did what I had shown her in order to fly in place, completely vertical. With her wings beating slowly behind her, the feathers rustling, she looked angelic. If her wings were white instead of auburn, I would've easily thought her to be one. 

"What did you say about not getting all the positions?" she asked with a smirk. 

I beat my wings and joined her in the air.

"That was only two positions I showed you, not all of them." 

"What else is there? Flying backward and upside down?" 

I nodded. "And more. You should see what our acrobats can do." 

I flew higher, to the top of the wind tunnel and she followed. 

"Watch this." 

I tucked in my wings and dived. I heard her give a cry of surprise which cut off when I abruptly snapped open my wings. Ever since I could, I would always do this, dive. I loved the adrenaline of it, of falling and snapping my wings open at the last moment. 

"Show off," she muttered when I reached her again. 

"That was nothing." 

She rolled her eyes and landed on the platform."So humble." 

"At least I didn't bore you with the physics and formulas of flying."

I landed beside her and like before, her attention snagged on my wings, her brown eyes dilating, but this time, she reached out and stroked the sensitive inside of my left wing. Heat pooled low in my abdomen and I tensed, shuddering. She stopped and pulled her hand back. 

"Are you all right?" 

"Fine. Wings are just..." 

I reached over and brushed my knuckles on the insides of her wings, feeling satisfactory when she shivered. 

"It would suck if your wings weren't sensitive like ours." 

She rolled her eyes and reached for the doors. Like before, I didn't let her climb and flew us down. 

"I could've flown down," she muttered. 

"Yet you still haven't let go, not that I want you to of course." 

She let go, a blush creeping over her cheeks. One I didn't harass her about and stepped into the hallway instead. 

"We're going to have to be quick because the first group of soldiers come back from patrol around now." 

We hurried to the elevator with no incident, and my hand was on the button for the fifth floor when I heard footsteps. 

"Hey, Daniel, hold the elevator, will you?" someone called. 

Without thinking, I wrapped a wing around her shoulders and snaked an arm around her waist, tugging her closer to me until her side was flush against mine. I used one of my wings to cover hers. When she placed her head on my shoulders, her lips brushing my neck and soft breath fanning over my skin, I tensed and my breaths became noticeably tighter. Damn. It took me a while to realize she had done that to hide the lack of scales on her cheeks. Shame. 

Whoever it was stepped inside. "Well, Daniel, it's about time you got with someone." 

She placed a hand on my chest and started inching it down. I tensed further. "Tell him to go away." 

I covered her hand, stopping it's path. If she went any further, I would not be held responsible for what would happen next. "He's only going to the second floor." 

A short while after I said that, the doors opened. He left, chuckling under his breath. She didn't move away immediately and I felt her take a deep breath, chest expanding and lips moving closer to my skin. I shifted and pressed the button for another floor, moving away. I tightened my hand on her waist, not wanting to let go before realizing what I was doing and pulling my hand back. 

A short while later and we stopped on the third floor. She shot me a look

"Come on," I said, holding the doors open. "Everyone who stays on this floor isn't here now." 

She followed me out, and I waited a total of two seconds before the questions came.

"So the soldiers come and go on patrol?" 

"All the soldiers are divided into groups," I answered her. "Some of them patrol, others move around the city, making sure laws are enforced, there are investigators, spies, and many other...jobs the soldiers are assigned to do." 

"And the ones who stay here?" 

I shrugged. "They're usually the ones with no family or too many troubles back home." 

I didn't want to think about my past, what had happened, and she didn't ask any questions. 

I opened the door to my room and motioned for her to follow. Her eyes scanned over the room and she walked over to the pictures. She looked at the picture with my mother and sister. Both looked so happy and...alive. 

"My mother and my sister," I explained. 

"They seem nice." 

"They really were." 

She turned around and looked at me, but my eyes were on the picture. Every time I saw that picture, I felt hollow, empty. Like someone reached in my chest and took away everything that mattered. 

With no warning, she reached over and wrapped her arms around my middle. I forgot how to breath. I couldn't remember the last time someone...touched me, in any way. Not a total caveman, I wrapped my arms around her too and took in a shuddering breath. 

"I know what it feels like," she said. 

I nodded and let out a breath. "Well I brought you here for a reason other than using family photos for you to hold me," I said. 

"And what is that?" 

"I had to get something." 

She let go of me and I turned to the mess on my desk, looking for what I'd written down moments ago. After rummaging for a few seconds, I found it. 

"It took some time, but I managed to note all the schedules of the soldiers who stay here and the ones who drop by." I handed her the paper. "The best time during the day is usually in the evening." 

"Thank you." She paused, a tell tale frown tugging at her brow again. "Why are you helping me?" 

Mainly to get you out of Everard's hands. Except was it still that, really? "I had my reasons before, but I think they're starting to change." 

In the elevator, she was quiet, and eventually asked me what I meant by that. I already regretted having told her. 

"Don't trust Everard," I told her instead of answering.

The doors opened and she stepped out. "I don't trust anyone here." 

I ignored the jab of pain I felt at that. But it was true. She shouldn't trust Everard and she shouldn't trust me either. I didn't tell her anything and the door closed, leaving me to wonder how in the world this girl was slipping past my defenses.