Home > End of Days (Penryn & the End of Days #3)(10)

End of Days (Penryn & the End of Days #3)(10)
Author: Susan Ee

I could lie, but . . . I sigh. We all have to accept our faults eventually. And mine is that I’m a terrible liar.

‘I – um . . . saw things through your sword. Not intentionally. Not at first.’

‘Things?’ He crosses his arms and glares at me. ‘What kind of things?’

I chew my lip as I think about what to say.

He then looks at his old sword lying on the counter. The shine on Pooky’s blade seems to dim a bit under his glare.

‘My sword showed you her memories of me?’

My shoulders relax a little. ‘So you know that she can do that?’

‘I know that she used to be loyal to me and that I trusted her.’ He’s talking to Pooky Bear, not me.

‘I think it was an accident. She was just trying to teach me how to use a sword. I mean, I had never held one before.’

Raffe continues to talk to his sword. ‘It’s one thing to be forced to give up on a bearer because you think he may have fallen. It’s another to expose his private moments.’

‘Look,’ I say. ‘It’s weird enough having a semisentient sword without being in the middle of an argument between you two. Can you please just let it go?’

‘What did she show you?’ He holds up his hand. ‘Wait. Don’t tell me. I don’t want to know that you’ve seen me dancing in my underwear to my favorite music.’

‘Angels wear underwear?’ Oh, man, I wish I hadn’t said that. I’m just digging myself in deeper and deeper today.

‘No.’ He shakes his head. ‘Figure of speech.’

‘Oh.’ I nod, trying to get the image out of my head of Raffe dancing to some rock song, possibly buck naked. ‘Well, speaking of weird things, the hellions came through the sword.’

‘What?’

I clear my throat. ‘That hellion you saw on the lawn and two others crawled out of Beliel through the sword.’ I still have hope that I won’t have to confess it all, but he must have gone through angel interrogation school because he gets it all out of me.

He frowns and paces around the kitchen as I tell him what happened.

When I finish, he says, ‘You can never trust Beliel.’

‘That’s what he says about you.’

He rummages through the trash bag he dropped earlier. ‘Maybe he’s right. You shouldn’t trust anyone.’

He shoves a mix of canned food and first aid supplies out of the bag. He plucks bandages, ointments, and tape and walks over to me.

‘Where did you get those?’

‘Alcatraz. Thought they might be useful.’

‘What else did you find there?’

‘An abandoned mess.’ He probes his finger gently along my wound. I flinch. ‘I just want to make sure there’s nothing broken,’ he says.

‘Did you know that could happen? That hellions could come out through an angel sword?’

‘I’ve heard stories but always thought they were myths. I suppose a demon might have some insight into such things. Beliel must have figured he could try to lure some hellions out to help him.’

His hand is gentle as he wipes antibacterial lotion on the cuts. ‘You need to be careful. The hellions are going to be everywhere you are from now on.’

‘What do you care? You’ll be out of my life the second you get your wings back. You’ve made that pretty clear.’

He takes a deep breath. He presses a gauze pad on my shoulder. I wince. He gently strokes my arm.

‘I wish it could be different,’ he says, taping up the gauze. ‘But it’s not. I have my own people. I have responsibilities. I can’t just—’

‘Stop.’ I shake my head. ‘I get it. You’re right. You have your life. I have mine. I don’t need to be with someone who doesn’t . . .’ Want me. Love me.

I have enough of those people in my life. I’m a girl whose dad left, leaving us with an out-of-service phone number and no forwarding address, and whose mom . . .

‘You’re a very special girl, Penryn. An amazing girl. An I-didn’t-even-know-someone-like-you-existed kind of girl. And you deserve someone who treats you like you’re the only important thing in his life because you are. Someone who plows his fields and raises pigs just for you.’

‘You’re matching me up with a pig farmer?’

He shrugs. ‘Or whatever it is that decent men do when they’re not at war. Although he should be able to protect you. Don’t settle for a man who can’t protect you.’ He rips a piece of tape from the dispenser with a surprising amount of force.

‘You’re serious? You want me to marry a pig farmer who knows how to use his pig poke to protect me? Really?’

‘I’m just saying you should pick a man who knows that he’s not worthy of you and who will dedicate his life to provide for you and protect you.’ He presses another piece of gauze next to the first one. I wince again. ‘And make sure he’s kind to you and treats you with respect in every way. Otherwise, he can expect a visit from me.’ His voice is hard and unmerciful.

I shake my head as he rips off another piece of tape. I don’t know whether to be mad at him or to joke with him.

I move away from his touch, hoping that might take the edge off my confused emotions.

Raffe sighs. He reaches out and runs his fingers gently along the last piece of tape that he put on my bandage.

I wait for him to continue. When he doesn’t, I wonder if talking about what’s happening between us makes any difference at all. Maybe what I really need is a little space to figure things out. I grab the sword and a can of tuna and head out the back door.

10

Outside, I stand in the sun and let the warmth soak into my bones. I take a deep breath full of the scent of rosemary and slowly let it out.

My dad used to say there’s magic in the warmth of sunlight. He used to tell us that if we close our eyes, take a big breath, and let the sun soak in, we’ll see that everything is going to be okay. He usually said that right after Mom had a day-long freak-out session of yelling and throwing things around the condo.

Hell, if Dad’s technique can work for one of Mom’s marathon fury sessions, then it should work for the apocalypse. Guys, though, that’s another matter. I’m pretty sure that Dad wouldn’t have a technique that could handle what’s going on with Raffe.

There are tiny yellow flowers dotting the hillside of the island, reminding me of the park that we used to go to with my dad before he left us. The only thing out of place is the small group of monstrous scorpion-tailed beasts and the little stitched-up girl with bruises all over her body.

 

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