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
What Are You?
With Chance's help, I scrambled up over the lip and onto the roof.

Brushing myself off, I said, "You know, next time I think I'll just take the stairs."

The roof was flat and wide, almost as large as the footprint of the entire house. From up here, you could see all the way down to the waterfront during the day. This time of night gave a good view of the stars and city lights. Kinda romantic, yeah?

Also a good place to hold parties. Not that I had any.

Chance stood at the edge of the pool, looking out over the water and down to the hills beyond.

I thought this was the part where he would tell me what the heck was going on. When a minute went by and he still didn't say anything, I decided I was going to have to ask for myself.

But instead of anything actually helpful, he said, "I'd stay away from that family if you know what's good for you."

"What--who?" Then, "It's not like I wanted to go out with that stuck-up jerk."

Turning back to look at me, he said, "He give you a reason for bringing you there?"

Finally, maybe I would get my chance to ask about the fight.

"No." I shook my head. "Mercurius and I didn't exactly talk much. Shouldn't you be telling me how the heck you got up here and why you were passed-out on my balcony the other day and what all that crazy stuff at the fighting arena was?"

He laughed, but not like it was truly funny.

"Alright, alright." Pulling up one of the pool chairs, he said, "You might wanna sit down for this."

"Are you about to tell me all that magic-looking stuff was real?"

"Maybe."

Oh boy. I took the chair he offered. "Then let's start with the wolfcat."

"Wolfcat?" He laughed for real at that, eyes sparkling. "It's called a Lyoken. That's my family's animus."

"Animus." That word tasted familiar. One of my friends back home had taken advanced psych and wouldn't stop talking about things from class. "Isn't that some sort of psychology thing?"

"Not in this case. It's the spirit link to our ancestors, the embodiment of our energy."

Ah--well that just explained everything. Or not.

Either way, I'd be lying if I said I didn't think this whole thing was kinda totally cool. I mean, I'd always wished magic were real. Now what if... It was?

"Lyoken," I tried the word out. "Okay. So then what was that--the fight?"

"Ah that," Chance said, shifting his weight. "It's what I do."

"Like a job?"

He shrugged, looking away like he was embarrassed, "You could call it that. I fight for money."

Somehow I'd kinda thought as much. But still, it made my heart ache in a way I hadn't expected. I mean, it was like I was worried or something but here I was having just met the guy. The bad feeling was creeping up in my gut again.

"And your... Animus, it fights for you?"

"Each opponent controls theirs. The stronger the link, the better you do. Of course, I'm only a, uh," he wouldn't make eye contact when he said, "I'm only half."

Wait. "Half what, exactly?"

Finally he looked at me again. "Demon."

Uhhhh.

"Demon?" Under any other circumstance, I would have laughed. But I couldn't, not with the way he leveled his gaze with mine and stared intently into my eyes so deep my face burned. He was serious.

So here beside me under the stars was Chance, a guy who said he was--at least in part--a demon. A very human-looking, very attractive guy, I might add. He was lean and muscular under the sleeves of his shirt and had the kind of smile that made my breath catch in my stomach when he looked at me. Which, consequently, he happened to still be doing at that moment.

I really wanted to ask about the kiss. But looking at him--there was no way. It's weird how it happens but the more I thought about it, the more I talked myself into thinking it was some sort of strange accident and he'd not meant to kiss me at all. He probably wouldn't even like me or anything. I mean, we had just met and all.

And then I wondered why I was even thinking these things. But I couldn't seem to help it. Trying not to think thoughts--well, that never really works out so well for me.

"Well anyway," Chance said, "Just came to return your hair thing."

"Wait!" I grabbed his sleeve as he turned away. I guess I was afraid he was just going to leap off the roof or something and disappear again. And maybe he would have. But he looked more confused than annoyed, so I said, "You didn't answer my other questions."

He pulled away from my grip, saying, "It's late."

That was when I saw the sharp line of the cut at his collarbone was unbandaged and still bleeding.

"Your injury--let me help you."

He glanced behind us, at the dark hills and lights. Then he took a step closer.

"We're dangerous, you know," he said, "If you knew what's good for you, you'd stay away from me, too."

But even as he said it, his breath drew close to my neck, to the curve where it met my shoulder. I could hardly breathe as he whispered, "Maybe we can make a deal."

And then he'd pulled back, stepping to put several feet of cold air between us.

"You've got an energy you shouldn't. It draws me in. Not something a human should have, and it'll lure other demons, too." The sparkle in his eyes was gone now, replaced with a darkness I couldn't read. Then a slow smile soread up half his lips, tweaking at one corner. "Then again. How about a deal?"

Aware he was--so he said--some kind of demon, I asked, "What kind of deal?"

"You help me, I help you."

I wanted to feel his breath on my neck, for him to run his fingers through my hair and pull me close to him, to feel his lips on mine.

So what did you expect me to say?

Of course I said, "Sure. Why not?"

And he laughed, saying, "You're a bit reckless. But I like it. Okay then--"

I wasn't expecting it when he pulled me against him. A... Hug? It felt good to be pressed up against his chest. Safe and warm.

Okay, to be honest, I'd been wanting him to kiss me again. But this was a start.

"You lend me your energy, I'll give you my strength. I'll protect you."

I wasn't entirely certain what that meant, but it sounded good.

"Yeah. Let's do that." I stuck out my hand. "Deal."


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© Hopeful Romantic ,
книга «Just a Kiss».
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