I Am No Prey by Amal Clare May 25, 2021

21-Not a Monster

Today is the day, I told myself when I slowly woke up. I should have probably got up and figured out how we were going to bring Easton with us. Escaping was one thing, bringing him along? That was another thing entirely. 

But right now, I wanted to stay in bed for the rest of the day. I was deliciously warm, and I figured summer must be starting.  Summer in Italy was amazing then. That was, until my blanket moved. My eyes shot open and I saw that Everard was still here. His arm was wrapped around my waist, keeping our bodies flush together, and he had a leg thrown over mine. One of his wings was wrapped around my body, and for a moment, I stared at it, wanting to reach out and touch the smooth purple-black scales. Before I did just that, a stupid idea, I shifted my attention, praying he was still asleep. 

He was, his sandy brown hair tousled and sticking in all directions. With his peaceful expression, lips parted in sleep, and obscenely long eyelashes fanned across his cheek, he looked...younger. I didn't know why, for a moment, I wanted to reach over and brush his hair off his face, or trace his sensual lips. I didn't know why and I didn't like it. I didn't like that I was thinking that way, because after everything, I hated him. I remembered Easton's face, sickly thin and pale, and the familiar anger I felt towards Everard rose again. 

I knew that if I tried to get up he'd probably pull me back or go over whatever boundaries I didn't want to be crossed. I never exactly shot him down before- I definitely didn't when I was leading him on. So instead, I threw his wing off me and pushed him off the bed. I was shocked when it actually worked, and he fell on the floor with a thump and a muffled curse. He stood up, eyes bleary with sleep and glared at me. If I didn't hate his guts, I would've laughed. 

"At least you didn't attempt to stab me." 

"I don't have a weapon as you can see, sadly." 

The closest thing I had to a weapon was the plates I ate on. 

"You could've always stabbed me in the eye with the wires you have." 

Wires? How did he know? Especially since I kept them in the band of my underwear. This took creepy to another level. 

"Careful. You're giving me ideas," I ground out, debating whether or not to actually stab him in the eye. 

Since when did I get so incredibly violent? Wasn't like it mattered anyway. I sighed and went to the armoire, pulling out clean, fresh clothes, sure that my hair and the feathers on my wings were a mess. Another routine I added long ago- brushing my wings. It sounded strange in my head. I left the room quickly, and slammed the door harder on my way out. Not nearly as hard as I wanted to though. 

"Well good morning to you too," I heard him say, his voice muffled through the door. 

I slammed the bathroom door too and took the longest shower in existence. Then I brushed my hair twenty five times, and I brushed my feathers until every single one was straight. By the time I got out, Everard was gone, and I let out a sigh of relief. One less thing to worry about. Wringing my hair and trying to dry my wings simultaneously, I stared out the window. It was too late to go for a run, something I had come to enjoy, and I debated whether to brave going to the wind tunnel. I could if I wanted to, since I would be able to conceal my wings and add scales over my cheekbones with shadows, but I was afraid that it was a bad idea. There were very few females here on a daily basis. When I had asked, he simply said that the men were...rough and so they preferred taking up jobs that didn't need them at the base often, like sleuthing. When he had said that, I glared at him, snapping that women could be rough too. He clarified that most of the men who stayed at the base on a daily basis had issues, some being a voracious appetite for certain...things, and that the women were smart enough to take the job, but not stay in the base and have the men waste their time. 

Half of me wanted to go down anyway, and punch anyone who attempted to harass me. The other half, my logical half, reasoned that it would probably only get them on if I did that and some might try to touch my wings or face. My inner feminist wanted to get down there more now. 

I crossed 'going to the wind tunnels' off my bucket list of possible things to do instead of panicking about all the way everything could go wrong. 

"You're making me nervous just looking at you." 

I jumped and looked away from the window, turning around. I let out a sigh of relief when I saw that it was just Daniel, leaning against the wall with his arms crossed over his chest. 

"How long were you standing there?" 

"Long enough." 

"That's not creepy at all," I deadpanned, looking out the window. 

A few moments later he wrapped his arms around my waist, which was only possible because my wings were open. Complications. 

"Careful," I warned when he started drawing slow circles over my stomach. 

I already felt the tell tale tingling in my arms- a sign of whenever the fire was about to come. But it was getting easier to control.

One hand went lower while the other went higher, and I felt my breath quicken. But he stopped and pulled away. 

"As much as I would love to throw you on the bed and take you here and now, I actually came here for a reason, or rather, an important one." 

"And?" 

"I need to leave now, I'll get back from your window, and then we fly like hell. I put down all the stops that we'll go by in case something goes wrong"-he handed me a paper- "their the ones with less security, and cameras because when Everard catches on...let's just say there's a reason he's the second. We-" 

"There is a slight.... complication," I interrupted. "We're bringing someone with us." 

"What the hell? No. There's a reason you were caught every time you tried to escape, you know that, right? And it is going to be very suspicious to Everard if he finds someone in your room waiting." 

"We're bringing him along," I volleyed back firmly. 

"I don't care if I have to throw you over my shoulder, it's already risky and a slim chance we'll actually make it out, you bringing someone along is only going to narrow it down further!" 

I turned around, not backing down. "He's just a kid, Daniel and they turned him into a lab experiment! And I'm not going to be okay with that and leave him here where they can do whatever to him!" I yelled. 

He blinked. I think that was the first time I yelled at him, and if it meant he'd bring Easton along, then I'd do it again. 

"Okay," he said. "Okay. How are you going to make sure Everard doesn't find out?" 

I couldn't help it, I grinned. "Leave that to me." 

He clearly couldn't help but look worried and I grinned harder. "If we're caught either way, I'm a dead man, so might as well as be heroic at it and agree with you." His phone rang and he pecked a kiss on my forehead before leaving. 

I glanced at the clock before pulling my socks and shoes on. Still no sign of Everard, and I hoped it stayed that way. Marie and Anna were probably down there now, but it was now or never. The ride down was over too soon, and I was a bundle of nerves as the door opened. 

Please be alone, please be alone, I repeated in my head over and over as I opened the door to Easton's room. No such thing as luck. Marie was fussing over Easton's vitals while he was sulking. When he saw me, his entire face lit up in a grin, and Marie scowled. 

"What are you doing here?"