LOVER IN STONE, Installment No. 20

 

INSTALLMENT No. 20 #Angel #eyes #grenade
She spun around so fast he had to lean back or bump into her. “He’s Kynd?” Surprise brightened the blue in her dark eyes, her cheeks flushing with it.
And screw him, but he wanted those eyes grazing every inch of his body so his skin could bloom like that.
“Yes, unlucky bastard. My work is a walk in the park compared to his.” He smelled her heat rising between them, the tendrils of musk soaked within it. She was a fertile woman, sensual, inadvertently stroking his Kynd soul. He mourned the loss of her ink-like irises as she turned forward to watch where her booted, but dainty, feet were going.
She took mincing steps, as if she was reluctant to be far from him.
And I crave it.
When she spoke, every cell within him tuned into her. “I believe it, considering all you do is watch souls walk by. You don’t have to row.”
She jested, yet her words were the pulling of the pin on a hand grenade. His body stalled out as his rage exploded, swallowing him whole in its shrapnel cloud.
He knew she joked. He even saw the twitch at the corner of her mouth. She was kidding, God damn it. But he bristled anyway, like she snicked the business end of a knife across the meat of his heart.
Instantly, she noticed and stopped, like she was a frigging barometer attuned to him. Beautiful blue eyes blinking upward, she turned into the brunt of his fury.
Her breath clogged, and she took three steps backward.
Fear washed the earlier blush from her cheeks, and the sight of it ripped at him sharp, like a fist with talons. Merrick shook his head once, hard enough to rattle some sense back into it.
“I’m sorry,” he growled, trying to rein in that sudden outward surge of his rage. His muscles trembled with the effort. “I wasn’t expecting—”
He couldn’t breathe enough to form words. Hell, he hadn’t been prepared for her comment in any way.
“N-no, I’m sorry, Merrick. I wasn’t thinking.” Even with the pounding of the blood in his head, he heard the stammer in her apology, saw her hand lift like she was going to touch his arm, then drop to her side.
He watched that shining confidence leak out of her pretty eyes, and the sight of it hit him low in the gut. He didn’t like that her self-assurance could be so easily bruised. Then lost. As if it were a fledgling bird, easily battered by the winds assailing it.
Yet, he couldn’t bring himself to coddle her. She stood brave in front of him, he wouldn’t take that away from her.
What he could do was get a stranglehold on his rage and give her an explanation. One she deserved.
“It’s been too long,” he hissed like a leaking gas pipe. His knees unhinged as though they were suddenly tired from lugging their burden, and Merrick dropped his ass onto the nearest rock.
Angelia sloughed her pack, too, and sat on that. She kept her head down while she fiddled with a twig, as if acutely interested in the peeling of its bark. Merrick studied her profile, the delicate slope of her nose, the silken wisps of hair kissing her temple and cheek. The sight of her in that affected studious posture helped him get a grip, helped him to dredge up his confession.
“It’s been too long, Angel. I’ve done too much.”
She let out a breath without looking at him. Then, as if he hadn’t just alluded to his violent nature, she abandoned her pack to sit closer to him. Like it was safe to do so.
Pushing her away for her own welfare wasn’t an option. Not when having her close eased him the way being with his Kynd did. Lord knew, he could use the frigging help.
Except with Angelia there was something more than what he shared with his brothers—a resonance. Which he didn’t want to look too close at, not when he could barely keep his shit together.
He let go of the breath he’d been holding, drawing in a hint of the honey-lavender sitting at his knees. He fisted his hands so he wouldn’t touch, wouldn’t stir her scent by dragging his rough fingertips across her soft skin.
No. Better he confessed, so she would keep a healthy distance away from him, no matter how badly he craved and needed her beside him.
Reluctant to cause the wariness he knew he should, Merrick’s words barely squeezed out through his clenched jaw. “It’s our punishment, Angel. Kynd aren’t Witnesses anymore.” His damned breath shook as he sucked it in. “We do things. Things we were never meant to do, but must.”
“But that would mean—”
“God is a rat bastard?”
The corner of her lip twitched, working miracles on his equilibrium. “Yeah, but I was going to say it would mean you don’t just sit on the Archway counting souls.”
Merrick didn’t answer her; he stared off at the Castle.
Because what could he say that wouldn’t frighten her more than she already was?
Nothing. No words could lessen the mortification of the slaughtering, of the butchering he’d done to guard Hell.
She placed her palm on the flat of his thigh.
Grounding him.
Offering comfort.
And picking at the scab protecting his heart from the colossal agony of his loneliness.
He hadn’t felt comfort like this for more than two thousand years, and it scared the shit out of him. His entire body went rigid trying to dam two thousand years’ worth of pain he shouldn’t release.
Certainly not onto an unsuspecting human woman who was only offering simple consolation.
Merrick gave a gentle squeeze of her fingers as he removed her hand to stand up.
But he didn’t release his grip.
He gazed down at the woman who had chosen to kneel beside him.
Angel.
She was, too, looking up at him with those dark blue eyes, as if she trusted him to a certain degree. But she held herself very still, lest one move from her unleashed whatever emotions he barely contained.
Pain. A lot of it. Fury. Confusion. He felt like a bomb waiting for one hair to detonate him, he was that tense. Hell, he’d already pulled one pin. Wasn’t he sitting on a rock bleeding all over himself from a recent discharge? The woman was smart to be wary; it was what he’d wanted.
Fear draped over her like a cold, damp blanket—he felt it in the icy chill of her fingers.
God damn him for it. Wary. He’d wanted her cautious, not terrified.
Merrick shivered, choking a firmer grip on the leash of his rage.
She might be human, but he wouldn’t make her his whipping post.
Because he would hate himself even more if he did. Which he hadn’t thought possible, but there it was. He was a violent beast, and had been for the last two millennia, laying waste to too many Others to count.
Ghouls. Demons.
Vampires.
What would she think of him then if he told her that? When he confessed to murdering the beings who gave her shelter, who lived amongst her as though she were one of their own.
Thanks to God and his divine punishment, Merrick had been reduced to a base and vile creature. No different from those he was forced to savage.
God bless him, he had become the very thing he’d been condemned to kill.
~S.C. Dane
~Installment No. 21 coming Tuesday, April 7, 2015.

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