I Am No Prey by Amal Clare May 25, 2021

27-Like an Angel

I ignored what he implied and looked around. The place was beginning to look more and more like a castle out of a historical novel as he led me down hallways and spiraling staircases. Instead of ignoring one when we passed, he tugged me up the steep stairs and like a boy on Christmas, grinned as he bound up the stairs. After a few steps and the heels were killing me. I let go of his hand and climbed the stairs at a much more normal- at least normal for being in heels-pace. 

Daniel stopped and looked at me inquisitively. "What are you doing?" 

"I am trying to not get a sprained ankle or butcher my poor feet." 

I should've told him to get me flats, reasonable flats. I didn't need the heels anyway, I was tall en- 

My train of thoughts was interrupted when Daniel swept me off my feet, literally. Keeping one hand beneath my knees, the other around my waist-not my shoulders since wings made that virtually impossible- he climbed the rest of the stairs. 

"Maybe that's why heels were invented," he mused. "So women had an excuse for being carried around like brides."

"Heels were actually invented for men who were shorter than their wife," I corrected him. "Not these kinds of heels obviously,"-I kicked my foot lazily in the air- "more like boots with...heels, but you get the point."

He gave me a look. "You can't be serious."

I shrugged. "I read it somewhere. Of course, the book could've been wrong about that, since I've never actually researched it and I read it in a fictional book." 

He laughed. "Cerise admitting she could be wrong, hell must've frozen over."

I punched him lightly in the arm. "Don't push it." 

We reached a landing and he kept walking down the hall to another set of stairs, this one more narrow. By now he was breathing more heavily, so slightly I only knew because my entire side was pressed against his front. In fact, he looked far from how most did after only a few seconds of carrying an eighteen year old. A six foot tall eighteen year old with definitely more than one curve. 

"I'm heavy, put me down," I said, even though my feet were still aching. If he did listen, I'd just take the heels off and walk around barefoot. 

He laughed at that, a full, head thrown back, kind of laugh. "I can do this all night." 

"You would get tired eventually." 

"Being around you makes me anything but tired." 

I didn't doubt that for a second and instead of daring him to prove it, I focused on my surroundings. As we made our way up, the stairs became more narrow and led to what I was assuming was the roof or a balcony since there was sunlight streaming in. A few seconds later, my suspicions were confirmed when we walked onto a part of the roof. From here, I could see the entire city, the lights almost making it look like the sky. Before, I would've been slightly terrified, or cautious to stay away from the edge out of fear of heights. But now? Being this high up and remembering how it feels to have the wind blowing in my face, my wings beating and being utterly free? I practically jumped out of Daniel's arms and into the air. 

I cursed his vise-like grip when I didn't get far. "Let me go!" I squirmed. "I want to fly!" 

God, I probably sounded like a kid demanding to play outside, but at that moment I couldn't care less. Not when all that open sky was practically calling to me. 

"I'm se-"

My reply was cut off when he threw me in the air. Actually, tossed me in the air. 

"Daniel!" I shrieked as I hastily opened my wings and frantically beat them, flying for dear life. 

He only laughed and shot in the air after me. "Race you!" he called. 

"To where?"

He pointed to the tower of a building in the distance and I shoved him before racing to the spot. Call it childish and cheating, I didn't care. Besides, his wings were larger than mine, it was only fair if I had a head start. No sooner had I thought that did he grab me by the ankle and yank me back midair. 

"You cheat!" I faltered and gained my balance, flying after him with revenge. Too late, he had won. 

We raced again after that, and again, mainly just laughing at each other and cheating, but man was he competitive. I didn't care. I hadn't felt this light in a long time, too long. In fact, I couldn't remember the last time I laughed this much...even if a piece of me felt missing. 

My thoughts broke off when Daniel hing back, letting me win this round. I touched the spike extending from the tower and turned back, facing him. 

"What was that for?" 

He shrugged and grinned. "Figured I might as well let you win this round. Wouldn't want to damage your ego too much."

I scoffed, he definitely had the bigger ego by far. "How chivalrous of you." 

He snorted and came closer to me. His powerful wings stirred the air, pushing the wind in my face until he got even closer. 

With the mask on, I couldn't gauge his expression well, and only knew from his eyes that he was deep in thought, or not thinking about anything at all. 

"What are you thinking about?" 

"I just noticed that with your wings, you look like an angel."

I must've dropped the shadows on them at one point, and was relieved to know we were too high up for it to matter. 

I scrunched my nose. An angel? I was pretty sure an angel would have white wings, and wasn't as stubborn and reckless as me. Right now, I definitely didn't look like an angel with the seductive mask, tight dress, and the heels. As if hearing my thoughts, his gaze travelled down, tripping over my lips like they always did before going lower. I flushed and shivered, feeling his gaze on me like a caress. 

"Okay, maybe a very naughty angel."

My laugh came out strangled and breathless. 

"Voglio baciarti proprio ora." 

He'd said that before, the night at the plaza before he kissed me.

"What does that mean?"

This time, he answered me. He dragged his gaze from my lips to my eyes. The look in his eyes was heated, sparking, and I knew that if the mask was off, he would have that hungry look on his face. 

"It means, I want to kiss you right now."

"I like it better in Italian,"I murmured breathlessly.

"Voglio baciarti proprio ora," he repeated and moved closer, tilting his head until there was barely a breadth of distance between our lips. I wondered how we were still flying, it was like kissing and running at the same time, one just didn't do it. But neither of us moved closer to the buildings as I waited for him to kiss me. No, needed him to kiss me, to erase the memory of someone else's touch. 

"So, can I?" he asked, his breath fanning over my lips, close enough that it felt like a caress. An almost kiss. 

If I wasn't so tensed, I would've scoffed, "Daniel asking for something he wants? You didn't ask last time."

Instead, I grabbed his shirt and crashed his lips against mine. He groaned in approval and returned the kiss. He took my bottom lip between his, tasting me before moving up and exploring my mouth with his. But I wanted more, because his touch, his taste, wasn't erasing anything. If anything, I was acutely aware of all the things that made Everard different from him. Kissing Daniel right now wasn't making me forget, it was making me remember. 

I pressed against him harder and felt him push us to the building, my back hit the wall and then we slid down to the balcony floor. My fingers went to his wings, brushing against the leathery skin. He shuddered and kissed me harder, and I knew my lips would feel bruised until the morning, maybe longer. The fact that my lips still felt sore already from when Everard kissed me would only add to it. Ugh. Everard again. 

Daniel broke away first, chest rising and falling as he panted, and rested his forehead against mine, as if he couldn't bear to put too much distance between us. Guilt churned in my stomach. I didn't deserve it, I didn't deserve any of it. 

"You went into your head again," he murmured. "What happened?" 

I cleared my throat. "Nothing." 

He brushed my hair away from my forehead and smoothed it back. "Don't hide things from me now, we're past that. You know you can tell me anything." 

"Just thinking about what happens now," I lied. "When we reach Venice, what's going to happen, if there is a chance of me getting back to Paris. See my friends and family again, explain things to them." 

His gaze turned distant. "We'll figure something out," he said after a while. "You'll see, it will all work out." 

I was getting tired of hearing that, and it wasn't like I was thinking of any ideas. But I nodded anyway, and looked to the city below. It was getting late, but the streets were only more crowded with people. 

"What time are we going tomorrow?" 

"In the morning." 

"We should get going." 

He nodded and pushed off me, taking off into the sky. I followed him, managing to keep up. We didn't say anything on the way to the motel.