Home > End of Days (Penryn & the End of Days #3)(4)

End of Days (Penryn & the End of Days #3)(4)
Author: Susan Ee

They were under Raffe’s command, his loyal soldiers. They clearly look to him to help save them despite their choice to break angelic law by marrying Daughters of Men.

One face catches my eye. His bound form is familiar.

I strain to see him better, and eventually, I do.

It’s Beliel.

He looks fresher than I’m used to, and his usual sneer is gone. There is anger in his face, but behind that, there’s genuine pain in his eyes. He grips Raffe’s hand for a moment longer than the other Fallen did, almost shaking it.

Raffe nods to him and continues toward the earth.

Lightning flashes, and the sky rumbles as rain drips down Beliel’s face.

When I wake up, the sun has moved across the sky.

I don’t hear anything unusual, so hopefully, Paige is still asleep. I get up and walk toward the open window. Outside, it’s still sunny, with the breeze blowing through the trees. The birds sing and the bees buzz as though the world hasn’t completely changed.

Despite the warmth, though, when I look outside, I get chills.

Beliel still lies chained to the garden gate, shriveled and tortured. But his eyes are open, and he stares right at me. I guess he could be completely thawed from his paralysis by now. No wonder I had a nightmare about him.

But it wasn’t really a nightmare, was it? It was more like a memory of what the sword showed me. I shake my head slowly, trying to make sense of it all.

Is it possible that Beliel could have been one of Raffe’s Watchers?

4

The room is warming from the sun. I guess it’s probably around noon. It feels glorious to have a break from all the craziness.

I’m not prepared to give up on my precious sleep yet, but a glass of water sounds good. When I open my door, Raffe is sitting in the hallway with his eyes closed.

I frown. ‘What are you doing?’

‘I was too tired to walk to the settee,’ he says without opening his eyes.

‘You’re keeping watch? I would have taken my turn if you’d told me. Who are we worried about?’

Raffe snorts.

‘I mean, any specific enemy at the moment?’

He’s sitting facing Paige’s door. I guess I should have known.

‘She won’t hurt me.’

‘That’s what Beliel thought.’ His eyes are still closed, and his lips barely move. If he wasn’t talking, I would have thought he was asleep.

‘Beliel is not her big sister, and he didn’t raise her either.’

‘Call me a sentimentalist, but I like the idea of you in one piece. Besides, she’s not the only one who might be interested in your tasty flesh.’

I tilt my head. ‘Who told you I was tasty?’

‘Haven’t you heard that old saying? Tasty as a fool?’

‘You made that up.’

‘Huh. Must be an angelic saying. It’s to warn the foolish about things that go bump in the night.’

‘It’s daytime.’

‘Ah. So you don’t deny that you’re foolish?’ He finally opens his eyes with a grin. But his expression goes slack when he sees all of me.

‘What are you wearing?’ He scans over my outfit.

I was so comfortable that I’d forgotten I’m wearing the cropped T-shirt and stretchy shorts. I glance down at myself, wondering if I should be self-conscious. I’m reasonably covered except for my midriff, and I guess I’m showing more of my legs than usual.

‘This coming from a guy who runs around shirtless all the time?’ Of course, I kind of like him shirtless and showing off his six-pack abs, but I don’t mention that.

‘It’s hard to wear a shirt when you’ve got wings. Besides, I haven’t heard complaints.’

‘Don’t let it get to your head, Raffe. You haven’t heard compliments either.’ I want to say that we have plenty of guys who look just as good as he does, but that’d be a total lie.

He’s still scrutinizing my outfit. ‘Are you wearing men’s shorts?’

‘I guess so. But they fit.’

‘Whose are they?’

‘Nobody’s. I found them in a drawer.’

He reaches over and pulls a thread off the frayed leg. It unravels, slowly winding its way around my thigh and incrementally shortening the already short shorts.

‘What would you do if you had to make a run for it?’ His voice is husky as he stares, mesmerized, at the unraveling thread.

‘I’d grab my shoes and run.’

‘Dressed like this? In front of lawless men?’ His eyes drift up to my midriff.

‘If you’re worried about pervs breaking into the house, it’s not going to make a difference whether I’m in this outfit or in baggy jeans and a sweatshirt. Either they’re decent human beings or they’re not. Their actions are on them.’

‘It’ll be tough for them to take any action while I’m pummeling their faces. Disrespect will not be tolerated.’

I half smile at him. ‘Because you’re all about respect.’

He sighs as if a little disgusted with himself. ‘Lately, I seem to be all about you.’

‘What makes you say that?’ I wish my voice didn’t sound so breathless.

‘I’m sitting on the hard floor outside your door while you take a cozy little nap, aren’t I?’

I slide down the wall to sit beside him on the hallway floor. We sit with our arms almost touching, letting the quiet settle around us.

After a while, I say, ‘I think sleep would do you some good. You can take the bed. I’ll keep watch for a bit.’

‘Not a chance. It’s you who’s at risk, not me.’

‘What is it that you think is going to get me?’ My arm rubs against his when I shift to look at him.

‘The list is endless.’

‘Since when did you become so protective?’

‘Since my enemies have determined that you’re my Daughter of Man.’

I swallow. My throat is dry.

‘They have?’

‘Beliel saw us together at the masquerade. Even with my mask on, Uriel knew it was me on the beach with you.’

‘So am I?’ I whisper. ‘Your Daughter of Man?’ I can almost hear my heart pounding. It beats even harder when I realize that he can probably hear it.

He looks away from me. ‘Some things just can’t be. But neither Uri nor Beliel understand that.’

I let my breath out – slowly, controlled. He might as well have said that I don’t understand it either.

‘So who exactly would be coming after me?’ I ask.

 

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