What's That Sound
This Isn't The 1800s
Your Average Girl
Don't Make Me Go
Dress-Up Game
Alone With the Enemy
Some Strange Magic
You Only Live Once
What Are You?
A Wrong Turn
A Deal's a Deal
The Secret Inside
Helicopter, Helicopter
Mind Your Manners
A Maze and Delight
The Lost Seed
A Secret Escape
Getting Hot Inside
Seriously, What The
Got a Bad Feeling
Let's Try Something
Breathing is Overrated
In the Meantime
Nice Day for a Drive
Can't Turn Back
Some Strange Magic
At first the fight began with a lot of growling and posturing, the serpent and strange wolfcat beast staring off against each other. Neither opponent moved from their corner, standing with palms out and strange light glowing.

But soon it became apparent that even the fighters behind their animals were in danger. I could hardly stay in my seat when the serpent lunged. It aimed for the wolfcat's throat, coiling itself up and then springing, a powerful surge powered by ten feet of lean muscle. When the wolfcat blocked with a flashing swipe of its mighty paw, I gasped as blood poured out not from the snake, but the man wielding it's body. The large man clutched at his side with one arm, the other still directing the strange light towards the snake.

The crowd booed and jeered, several of those around me standing and shaking their arms at the spectacle. I couldn't be certain if they were upset because the man was hurt, or because they'd expected him to do better. It kinda seemed like the latter.

Either way, I was still having a hard time believing what I was seeing--the strange light, the animals fighting, the way the injury had transferred--I hoped it was just a strange show. Actors, that was what this had to be. It was staged and rigged with special effects. It had to be. Didn't it?

Speaking of which, the large man was straightening, holding his glowing hand in the air to show he was alright, then turning and sweeping it towards his snake. This time when it lunged, the wolfcat was a second too slow, and the serpant's fangs pierced into its collar.

The black-haired boy didn't move. His own neck was bleeding, a dripping red visible even from this distance, but he stood his ground and swept his wielding arm with precision force towards the opponent. As his wolfcat pounced, the crowd stood again. It was hard to see what was happening through the wall of bodies, but there was a lot of booing and jeering again.

"Let's go," said a cool voice from beside me. Mercurius had stood, but he was facing the aisle instead of the front.

The look on his face was unreadable still, a cold indifference. But I thought I detected something else there, in the downcurled corner of his mouth. Disgust?

With Mercurius in the lead, the crowd parted around us. From the way the announcer came back up over the yelling, it was clear the fight was over. But who had won, I wasn't sure.

Not until we were almost to the door and I saw the black-haired by standing beside a small table by a door at the side of the entry hall.

He had one hand over his collarbone where blood dripped from beneath, the other leaning on the table where he waited. The attendant, a disinterested young woman, held up a small envelope "Congratulations," she said, but her tone was dry. "You survived this time. Let's see if you're so lucky next."

As I passed, he glanced up. Our eyes met for a fraction of a second, long enough for me to register his surprise.

He opened his mouth as if to say something, but then the attendant was saying, "You want your winnings or don't you?" And he wrenched his eyes away as Mercurius dragged me towards the door.

One of the bobby pins fell with a dull clink as I hurried to catch up, a pretty one with a jewel embedded, but there was no time to stop and pick it up.

The last thing I saw of the black-haired boy was a scrutinizing glare as he glanced back up and his eyes locked onto Mercurius's hand around my wrist.

Then we were through the door and out into the crisp, night air.

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© Hopeful Romantic ,
книга «Just a Kiss».