Rocked by Love (Gargoyles Series)(7)

By: Christine Warren



And really, where would she have gotten the idea of being carried off from a random attack in a park by a living gargoyle? Even the statue she’d walked past hadn’t looked like this. The gray stone of the carving had been weathered beyond belief, the features and details of the original nearly worn away by time and the elements. It looked more like a misshapen blob of natural limestone and not at all like this chiseled, three-dimensional work of Gothic art. When had she acquired the skill to think up a sculpture this vivid?

He looked like he should be perched atop a spire at Notre Dame. With his stony gray skin, animalistic features, and enormous batlike wings sprouting from his back, he defined the cultural image of a gargoyle. He sat crouched in front of her, and considering she’d bet that he topped out around seven feet when standing erect, she couldn’t complain about his decision not to loom over her.

If her bubbeh had taught her better manners, she’d have thanked him. Well, okay, if the manner lessons had stuck with her, because heaven knew her grandmother had tried.

Muscles bulged and rippled every time the creature so much as drew breath. Muscles on top of muscles, so that he radiated the kind of power that could rend limbs from bodies or uproot ancient oak trees. He probably couldn’t open a door without ripping the thing from its hinges, yet he had carried Kylie with care, not so much as pricking through her coat with the claws that looked like they came from some kind of predatory dinosaur.

Maybe that was why, when she looked at what should have struck her as a monster, she felt no fear. Fascination, curiosity, even awe, but no fear. So either she instinctively trusted the thing not to hurt her, or she was just seriously out of her mind. Even on her best day, that was a tough call.

Then her memory stirred, reminding her of the first words he had spoken to her, the words that had sounded eerily familiar. She’d read those words in Bran’s notes, but what did they have to do with this impossible being? The tingling under her skin told her there had to be a connection. Nothing this unbelievable could be chalked up to pure coincidence, right?

She refocused on his words and watched him closely. “Okay. You used that word again. That ‘nocturnal’ word. What does it mean?”

“Nocturnis?”

She nodded.

“The nocturnis are the enemy,” he growled, making the floorboards vibrate again. “They unite as the Order of Eternal Darkness, serving the Seven in their never-ending attempts to return to this world and seize it for their own.”

The bell in Kylie’s head went DING!DING!DING! and she shivered as if a cold wind passed through her. Neither reaction had anything to do with the bell next to her or the night air surrounding her, or from the fact that a living gargoyle stood between her and the only way down from the tower, a hatch above a narrow stairway. No, this was all from the pieces of an unknown puzzle suddenly beginning to come together. A few more, and she might even have a frame laid out to start filling in the picture of Bran’s secrets.

“And the Seven are … what?” she prompted.

“The Seven Demons of the Darkness.” The gargoyle’s jaw worked, clicking his fangs together ominously. His eyes narrowed as he studied her. “Your ignorance of such things betrays you as an ordinary human, not a member of the Guild, but I do not have time to waste. If my slumber was disturbed, it can only mean that the Seven are stirring. I must find my Warden and assess the current threat.”

He shifted as if to turn away from her. Kylie felt a surge of panic and reached for him. No way could she let this creature slip away from her, not after he’d come this close to answering so many of her questions.

“Wait!”

He ignored her, moving into the open archway and ruffling his wings in preparation for flight.

Hauling in a breath, Kylie took a gamble and hoped like hell she wasn’t tangling herself up in a lie when she called after him. “What if I told you that I knew a Warden, and that I have information he was collecting on the guys you’re talking about? What if I could get you even more?”

The creature hesitated and turned his head to gaze back at her over his shoulder. He didn’t step down from the ledge, but he settled his wings once more against his back. “How did you come by such information, human? If you claim ignorance of so much more.”

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