LOVER IN STONE, Installment No. 11

Installment No. 12  #hell #gargoyle
Angelia stood with Merrick’s pack in her outstretched arm, watching the Chimera sift through his emotions, seeing his mistrust shift to resentment as he reached toward her. She felt a pang of sadness for him, especially after having seen how affectionate and unguarded he’d been with his fellow Gargoyle only moments before.
The greeting had been a private moment, and one she guessed not many on the outside ever had the chance to see. That Merrick would let her witness it? A squirming twinge played in her belly, expunging the sadness, as she recalled the easy smile on his handsome face.
Like Darken’s eyes, Merrick’s had glowed warm, reminding Angelia of smooth-worn rocks on a sun kissed beach. He had looked down on her without masking his joy at seeing his friend, and her heart had stuttered at the sight of him.
If only she could elicit such affection from him.
Okay, so for now she’d be content with the bone he’d thrown her by not hiding his affectionate side, and ignore the tormented rage he was currently exuding the closer he got to her.
She was brave, darn it. She’d give him a bone, too.
“We should be going. The longer we take getting started, the—”
“The farther down we’ll have to go,” he snapped, snatching at his bag. But she didn’t let it go, and they both stood holding the bundle between them, united for an electric moment.
Was she feeling the heat of Hell, because it was getting awfully warm under her clothes.
Merrick’s smooth jaw ticked, his nostrils flaring like he was smelling something.
Dear God.
Angelia released her grip, and stepped off to preoccupy herself with adjusting the straps on her own backpack, making sure it fit snug, making sure the Chimera couldn’t see the flush on her cheeks, which she was sure was there, if the burning of her face meant anything.
She didn’t dare look at him, but started off, too self-conscious to look back. Yet each step that led her closer to Hell fluttered her heart, tingled her skin, like she was nearing her destiny. Which she felt certain was somehow entwined with that of the Scriptum.
And with the Chimera. Who was nothing like she imagined him to be.
Aside from her inexplicable fascination with the Kynd, Angelia knew she was just as prejudiced in her thinking as the rest of the world. She thought the Chimera chosen to guide her would look as hideous as those fashioned by the hands of man and mounted onto old buildings and churches.
Surprise, surprise.
She hadn’t expected him to have a Gargoyle form, or to have a physique like he posed for GQ in his spare time, or to have eyes that left his soul wide open when he let his guard down.
Not that she’d meant to, but she had seen the depths of his anger as she’d gazed into the slate of those eyes, and had felt like a trespasser. Never mind she’d yearned to drop the bundle she was holding to kiss those tortures out of him.
Well, she couldn’t overlook that part, actually—her cheeks still burned hot enough to remind her. So, she trucked along, oblivious to her surroundings while images of the Chimera and his leonine grace dominated her thoughts.
****
Merrick didn’t immediately follow Angelia. He stood as if planted as he waited for his heart to slog back to its natural rhythm.
Which it wouldn’t do so long as he kept thinking about the woman’s kind gesture and utter lack of retaliation. If she’d have just plunked his bag at his feet, he’d have understood. He would have bitten out some sarcastic comment and dragged her delicate ass down the path after that damned book.
Instead, she’d been nice, and that scraped at his rage without feeding it, confusing him. Ergo, his rapping heart.
Angelia’s backside grew incrementally smaller while he stood grounded like an idiot.
Finally taking off after her, he lied to himself that he didn’t want the view of that round ass a lot closer to him than it was.
He was merely concerned she was getting too far ahead of him for her own safety. They weren’t yet in Hell, but the rim around it contained its own dangers. For being one of the Literati she seemed awfully blasé about stepping across the threshold into the Vestibule.
Surely she wasn’t ignorant about what resided in the antechamber to Hell. It didn’t matter that all around them, stretching as far as the eye could see, was nothing but vast prairies of trampled grass, and an unattainable horizon, charred blood red.
The grass beneath their feet wasn’t merely crushed, it was macerated, the dents and crescent prints of unshod hooves and bare feet tattooed into the pulverized sod.
Yet, still the human walked on.
Undaunted or unaware?
Merrick wasn’t sure, but his mane thickened so the ends of it curled along the collar of his leather jacket. He wanted her safe.
For the deal I’ve made with Anton.
Yes. Of course, that was the reason why. It had nothing to do with the way his eyes kept drifting downward to watch her wiggling ass. Nothing whatsoever.
The woman swatted at bothersome flies, slapping one of the biting insects at her neck, which piqued that unfamiliar urge to protect her and made his chest too tight.
Scanning the plain they traveled across with renewed wariness, Merrick ignored his body’s reaction, and loped to catch up with her, even though he hadn’t a clue what he would say once he closed the distance.
He didn’t do small talk. He had spent too many centuries by himself to have mastered the art of chatting.
Yet, the second the smell of lavender drifted into his nostrils, his tongue loosened like a flapping sail in a stiff wind. “So, how does a human find herself as one of the Literati, anyhow? You’re no withered husk.”
~S.C. Dane
~Installment No. 12 coming March 7, 2015

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