Home > End of Days (Penryn & the End of Days #3)(13)

End of Days (Penryn & the End of Days #3)(13)
Author: Susan Ee

He smiles at the memory. ‘Half of us joined him as a lark while the rest of us landed to watch and heckle. We started throwing things at him – twigs, leaves, mud, whatever we could find – because everyone knows that a tornado should have debris.’

He has a mischievous look in his eyes as he remembers. ‘The ones in the air, they flew over to a tree that I swear must have been diseased, because it had these rotten oranges still on the branches. They started throwing them at us, and it turned into a giant mud and orange fight.’ He chuckles as he gazes up at the sky.

His face is relaxed and happy in a way I’ve never seen. ‘We had orange pulp caked in our ears and hair for days after.’

He watches the angels flying away from us.

I can almost see the lonely years creeping back to him like shadows at the end of the day. The happiness seeps out of his face, and he’s back to being a hardened outsider traveling in an apocalypse.

‘You’re sure this human doctor can transplant wings?’ he asks.

‘That’s what Beliel said.’ Of course, Beliel said a lot of things.

‘And you’re sure he’s at the Resistance camp?’

‘No, but I’m pretty sure he was rescued off Alcatraz by the Resistance. If he’s not there, maybe someone will know where he is.’ I have all kinds of worries about going to the camp and trusting the doctor who messed up Paige in the first place.

I sigh. ‘I can’t think of a better plan. Can you?’

He looks at the angels for a little longer before turning and heading into Macy’s.

It’s not a bad idea. Paige and I both need to change into some real clothes, so we might as well go shopping while we wait for the sky to clear. We leave the locusts outside and follow Raffe into the store.

Inside, the electricity is out, but there’s enough sun coming through the huge windows to light up the front part of the store. Many of the racks are drunkenly leaning or scattered on the floor. Clothes of all colors and fabrics spill into the aisles. In the windows, naked mannequins lie on top of each other in sexual poses.

Someone has sprayed graffiti on the ceiling. A crude knight stands alone with his sword drawn against a fire-breathing dragon that is ten times his size. The dragon’s tail disappears into darkness where the window light fades deep into the store.

Beside the knight are the words ‘Where Have All the Heroes Gone?’

It looks to me like the artist thought the knight didn’t stand a chance against the dragon. I know just how he feels.

I look around and try to remember what it was like to go shopping. We walk through the special-event dresses. The racks and floor are covered in silky sparkle and shine.

This would have been my year for the prom. I doubt anyone would have asked me, and even if someone had, we couldn’t have afforded one of these dresses anyway. I run my hand through the shimmery fabric on a rack of full-length gowns, wondering what it would have been like to go to the prom instead of a masquerade ball full of killers.

I catch Raffe watching me. The light behind him halos his dark hair and broad shoulders. If he were human, the girls at my school would have died just to be in the same room with him. But of course, he’s not human.

‘That would look good on you,’ he says and nods to the movie-star dress in my hand.

‘Thanks. Do you think it’ll go well with combat boots?’

‘You won’t always be fighting, Penryn. There will come a time when you’ll be so bored that you’ll wish you were fighting.’

‘I can only dream.’ I pull out the dress and lay it against me, feeling the soft, sparkly fabric.

He steps over and scrutinizes me in my pretend dress. Then he nods his approval.

‘How do you think things might have been . . .’ My voice dries up. I swallow and keep going. ‘If you were human, or I was an angel?’

He reaches out as if he can’t help himself and runs his forefinger along the shoulder of the dress. ‘If I were human, I’d plow the nicest farm for you.’ He sounds completely sincere. ‘Better than anyone else’s. It would have golden pineapples, the juiciest grapes, and the most flavorful radishes in the entire world.’

I just stare at him, trying to figure out if he’s joking. I think he’s serious. ‘You haven’t been to a lot of farms, have you, Raffe? Most of us aren’t farmers anymore anyway.’

‘That wouldn’t diminish my little human commitment to you.’

I smile a little. ‘If I was an angel, I’d tickle your feet with my feathers and sing angelic songs for you every morning.’

He scrunches his brow, looking like it pains him to try to envision this.

‘Right.’ I nod. ‘Neither of us have any idea what it would be like to be in each other’s world. Got it.’

He looks down at me with sincere eyes. ‘If I were human, I would have been the first in line for you . . .’ He looks away. ‘But I’m not. I’m an archangel, and my people are in trouble. I have no choice but to try to set things straight. I can’t get distracted by a Daughter of Man.’

He nods a little to himself. ‘I can’t.’

I hook the dress carefully back on the rack and make myself listen to what he’s telling me. I just need to accept the situation.

I take a good look at him, steeling myself to see determination and maybe even pity. But instead, I see turmoil. There’s a battle raging behind his eyes.

A tiny light of hope flares in my chest. I don’t even know what I’m hoping for anymore. My brain can’t seem to keep up with my heart.

‘Just this once,’ he says almost more to himself than to me. ‘Just one moment.’

Then he leans down and kisses me.

It’s the kind of kiss that I’ve been dying for since I was born.

His lips are supple, his touch tender. He strokes my hair gently.

He licks my lips – a probing, wet glide – then touches my tongue with his. Electric sensations zip from the tip of my tongue down to my toes and back again.

I feel like I’m drowning in him. Who knew such a thing existed? I open my mouth and grab him tighter, almost climbing into his arms.

We kiss wildly for what seems like a year, for what is only a millisecond. My breath is ragged, and it feels like I can’t get enough air. My insides are melting, flowing like lava through my body.

Then he stops.

He takes a deep breath and steps back, holding me at arm’s length.

I groggily take a step toward him on pure instinct. My eyelids feel heavy, and I just want to get lost in the sensation that is Raffe.

 

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