We walked, our shoes scuffing and squeaking on the floor. First, the noise of the floor waxer stopped. Then, bank-by-bank, the lights in the building went out. I shivered, and it wasn’t even cold. Instinctively, I reached for his hand, and though he didn’t shy away from me, he tensed like a spring as my fingers closed around his.
“Relax,” I said.
He paused, looking at me with eyes glinting like coals in the low light. “You have no idea,” he said. “I hurt mortals like you without even trying. Plus, I made a promise to keep you safe, and that includes from me, so please; keep your distance.”
He tried to extricate his hand from my grasp.
“I don’t care what you are, or are not,” I said. Stubbornly, I held onto his fingers, daring him to refute me.
He opened his mouth to speak; instead we heard the scratching of claws on plaster down the corridor to our right. Collin shut his mouth, cocking his head to listen.
“Stay here,” he whispered, and moved toward the sound in the dark.
I huddled close to the wall, my eyes straining to see where he’d gone. The hairs on my neck and arms raised, prickling through the sleeves of my thin turtleneck. The scratching noise continued, scrape, scrape. Skrrrsh. Scrape, scrape. I felt for my gun.
The scratching noise stopped, and I expected him to rise out of the blackness like a specter to tell me it was okay. Just a flyer on a bulletin board, flapping against the wall in the air from a vent above.
Any minute. Any minute he’d appear beside me, and whisper to keep moving.
He didn’t come.
I waited, hanging onto the grips of my .380 until my sweaty hand was slick on the plastic.
He didn’t come.
Maybe something had happened to him, I thought. How long had he been gone? I wasn’t sure, and I found myself walking quickly toward the room I knew best: Dad’s office. Even in its disrupted chaos, it would be a comfort.
* * *
“Shit,” he hissed into the black corridor. Further down the hall, the scratching continued, moving away ever time he stepped toward it, pausing, tantalizingly close when he paused. The damn thing had been a decoy, and now he wasn’t holding up his bargain. He turned fast and began to run back the way he came.
He reached the spot where he’d left her and felt cold. Cursing again, he took off for the place he thought she would be.
He really didn’t have the right to pray, being what he was, a former, discarded demon.
But it couldn’t hurt, and so he prayed he would find her first.
* * *
(This piece is part of an ongoing serial story. You can catch up on the plot via the Serials page. If you liked this work, please consider purchasing one of my other stories, or some of my music for your collection. )