Rocked by Love (Gargoyles Series)(6)By: Christine Warren
He’d grown accustomed through the centuries to attracting human attention, but mostly those who saw him felt either revulsion or terror at his appearance. Of all his brethren, his natural form appeared the least like those they were summoned to protect. His short, thick legs and arched back made him as comfortable moving on four limbs as on two, and his flat nostrils, heavy brow, and forward-thrusting jaw gave him a bestial, almost apelike visage. Add in the wings, the fangs, and the razor-sharp talons, and humans either loathed him or feared him. Mostly, he cared not which way they leaned.
But this female didn’t try to scamper away the moment he gazed on her, and Dag found himself unsure of what that meant. How was he to act in a situation he had never before encountered?
He chose to glower, but then, he almost always chose to glower. Settling back on his heels, he pressed his knuckles against the floor between his feet and ruffled his wings just to remind her of what he was. What he could do to her if he decided to name her an enemy.
“Now, human, I have saved you from the Order’s attack dogs. You owe me a debt. To repay the value of your life, you will reveal to me if you are my Warden and what latest threat the Seven have brought from the Darkness. I am a Guardian, and I will do my duty to keep the Demons at bay.”
If anything, the female went even more still. She seemed almost to stop breathing, and her dark eyes opened so far the whites shone in the dim moonlight. Her jaw fell another full inch, a look of utter shock suffusing her features.
“Warden?” she repeated in that unexpected rasp. “The Order, the Seven, the Darkness, a Guardian.” She shook her head and scrambled suddenly to her knees, leaning forward to stare at him intently. “How do you know those terms? What do they mean to you?”
Dag felt his brows knit together as he stared down at the tiny human. “They mean everything. I am a Guardian of the Light, sworn to protect your world from the evil of the Seven Demons of the Darkness, and if you do not know this, then you cannot be my Warden. But if you are not, then tell me how I was summoned from my sleeping?”
“Sure, sure, absolutely. Just as soon as you tell me which rabbit hole I fell down, because all of a sudden I have the feeling that I am very late to the party.”
Dos lebn iz nit mer vi a kholem—ober vek nikh mit oyf.
Life is no more than a dream—but don’t wake me up.
Kylie pinched herself hard enough to leave a bruise, but nothing changed. She still knelt in the bell tower of some ancient Boston church, and she’d gotten there by being flown in by a creature out of a Disney cartoon series.
Flown. As in picked up in a set of wickedly sharp talons, lifted clear off the ground, and carried through the air without the benefit of a cramped seat, an air-pressurized cabin, and a minuscule bag of complimentary pretzels.
If this turned out to be some kind of weird, mugging-induced hallucination, and she was really in a hospital bed somewhere having herself a nice little coma, she was going to be hella disappointed.
This was the most amazing thing that had ever happened to her!
You know, provided it was actually happening.
She shifted forward, easing an inch closer to the giant, inhuman creature that filled her vision, and winced when her muscles protested. She definitely felt like she’d just been attacked, and wouldn’t she be pain-free if she were in a coma? If not, it sounded grossly unfair, so she was going to assume she was alive and the sight in front of her was real.
She wanted so badly to reach out and touch him, just to prove it. Her fingers actually twitched as she struggled to control the impulse.
“You speak nonsense, human. I saw no hole,” the creature intoned, its voice so deep she felt it almost more than she heard it. It vibrated through the planks underneath her and up through her body like an earthquake. “You appeared to fall as a result of the nocturnis’ attack, not because of some misstep.”
Huh. Well, this was certainly proving to be an articulate monster, she decided with a blink, and that had to be more evidence on the side of reality. After all, given her tendency to abuse two languages—English and Yiddish—equally, why would her mind conjure up a figment of her imagination who spoke more precisely than she ever did?