Soul Fire(9)By: Juliette Cross
“Quite a set of lungs you’ve got there.”
“It’s okay to admit your fears. It’s natural for a land-lover to fear heights. Take a chance and open your eyes. You might enjoy the view.”
The challenge was enough for me. I cracked one eye open. Then the other. The sight took my breath away. We skimmed below the clouds. The stars were giant gems winking through the cloud cover, so close I could reach out and touch them. The city glittered in a myriad of lights, like crystals by candlelight.
“Oh, my,” I breathed in a whisper.
I felt his eyes watching me, but couldn’t peel my gaze from the view below. If I had wings, I’d never come down. How unbelievably thrilling.
Lucius began to descend slowly. “I take it you live near campus?”
“Yes. Cade Heights. Emerald Isle Villas.”
I ignored the condescending tone. How he knew the place was the most luxurious in college residency was another mystery about the man. I didn’t question. He descended lower, circling over Emerald Isle, my stomach fluttering at the sudden drops. Without a word, he banked straight up into the clouds. My heart lurched.
“Wait! Where are you going?”
“You have a villa on the top floor, don’t you?”
“Your brother and his friends are waiting on your balcony.” His voice dropped low, edged with danger.
“What? How could you tell? You saw them from here? Are you sure?”
He slanted an arrogant glance at me.
Dragon eyesight. I forgot.
“Damn. I thought my brother would wait till morning to chew me out.” He must have been seriously pissed to let himself into my apartment and wait for my return. “Look. I’m sorry. I know you’re ready to be rid of me, but can we go somewhere in your district and I’ll call Sorcha to come get me.”
Without responding, he angled a hard right back in the direction we’d come. We flew over buildings to the Morgon district. Because my eyes had been shut when we shot out of Acropolis, I hadn’t noticed ornate tile designs decorated each flat rooftop. “That’s cool.”
“What is?” He banked left toward the outskirts of the city.
“The rooftops. Sort of a bulls-eye to know whose house you’re at from above.”
He chuckled. “More like a house number, but yes.”
I watched someone land on a distant roof. “What if there’s no moonlight? How can you see it in the dark?”
“I’m a Morgon. I can see in the dark.”
“Oh. Yeah. I forgot.”
He dropped suddenly as he aimed for a particular rooftop. The Nightwing crest was known to me—a circle of three black dragons, wingtips touching, a flaming heart at their center.
“Are we—are we going there?” I stammered.
I looked at him for the first time since we’d taken flight, his face close to mine, trying to ignore the alluring masculine scent of him. Hard, high cheekbones and square jaw set in shadows, the wind gusting black hair away from his face. Magnificent, powerful wings beat above us. Reality suddenly slapped me in the face. I’d placed my safety, my life, in the hands of a Morgon man. Not just any Morgon. One of the Nightwing clan—the most powerful and most hated by my family. And he was taking me to his private home, straight into the dragon’s lair.
Lucius landed with a gentle thud, setting me down within the tiled circle of his clan’s crest. Without a word, he walked across a large terrace scattered with cushioned seating, small tables, and tall potted palms whose fronds rustled in the breeze. He walked through a set of thick columns that led under a high-ceilinged awning. Pulling a remote from his back pocket, he clicked, and a steel door slid up, opening a wide archway into his home.
Left alone, I took in my surroundings. The Nightwing crest sat dead center of the terrace—a mosaic of black, cream, and crimson tiles—the grandeur and size as intimidating as the Nightwing clan itself. I’d seen the symbol enough times on letterhead in my father’s office, knowing he did business with Morgons. Business is business, he’d say when I asked why it was okay to do commerce with them, but never socialize. His turn of phrase never had answered my question. I dared not step on the crest, afraid to cross some invisible line that would take me farther into a world I didn’t belong.
Lights flicked on from where Lucius had disappeared. I stepped closer, looking into a huge open room with wide, backless sofas and chaise lounges covered in umber and black suede throw pillows. Sconces cast a golden light on stone walls. Apparently, Gothic décor was a Nightwing thing.