Kissed by Fire(3)

By: Kimber White


Shae sobbed as she slid her knees under the old man’s head. Professor Marvin, I thought. His skin had turned gray, and he looked up at Shae.

“Go with him,” he whispered. “It’s going to be all right now.”

The man’s face changed. Any trace of terror melted away. He looked at peace. He looked at me.

“Call an ambulance!” Shae yelled. For the first time, she looked up at me. “Don’t just stand there.”

Marvin’s eyes met mine. His held no fear, no sadness. Just grim acceptance as he curled his withered fingers around Shae’s wrist. She wore a round medallion on a gold chain around her neck. A locket. It swayed near Marvin’s nose. She quickly tucked it into her shirt.

As Shae softly wept, I stepped around her and checked the alley. The wolves had retreated, but they weren’t gone. There could be more. I sensed there were. Professor Marvin had a point. Shae needed to go.

“Shae,” he coughed.

“Shh, don’t try to talk. Goddammit! Why aren’t you calling 911?” She yelled at me.

I turned to face her.

“It’s too late,” Marvin whispered. “It’ll be all right.”

“Who were they?” I asked. I sank to my knees so the old man could read my face. There was a moment. No more than a second or two. But, his cloudy eyes widened and he gave me a grim nod. He knew. My God, he knew what I was.

He reached for Shae, sliding one hand to the back of her neck. He pulled her down and whispered something in her ear. A tear slid from her cheek and splattered on his shirt. It made a dark circle and spread to join the blood.

I felt something. It pricked along my spine and stoked the flames inside of me again. Magic. The old man was trying to heal himself or at least cling to a few more seconds of life. No sooner had I felt it before it leached back out of him. His breaths became a telltale rattle. In the distance, the wolves began to howl.

I gripped the old man’s free hand. He had a surprising amount of strength in his grasp. So there went the last embers of his own magic.

“They’re coming back,” he said, locking eyes with me.

Swallowing hard, I nodded. We understood each other. With a cold, sick clarity, something else occurred to me. Was it my magic that had drawn them here in the first place?

“Time to run again, honey,” he said, turning his attention back to Shae. “I’m sorry about it all.”

“Marvin, stop. Don’t talk. Let me just get you to a hospital.”

Her grief unspooled, wrapping around me and squeezing my heart. She was beautiful. Her long, red hair framed her face. She made my heart stop and quieted my dragon for just a moment. The rising howl of the wolf pack brought him blazing back to the surface.

They were coming back.

“Go!” Marvin drew his last ounce of strength to pull himself out of Shae’s lap. He pushed her toward me.

The wolves burst through the broken window again. Their numbers had doubled. Even I might not be able to fight off a full pack in human form. I needed my dragon. Now.

Instinct and my own bloodlust fueled me. As Professor Marvin slumped back to the ground. I wrapped my arm around Shae’s waist and pulled her to me. I had magic of my own and it was time to use it. It was just enough to confuse the wolves, blinding them to my presence. It would only last a few seconds, but that was all I’d need.

Drawing in a fire breath, I let my dragon out. I held Shae against my chest and let my wings unfurl. Then, we rocketed into the sky.





Chapter Two





Shae





This had to be death. Or a spell. Or my DNA had finally kicked in and I heard the voices everyone said plagued my mother. I couldn’t breathe. Couldn’t see. My stomach flipped worse than any roller coaster I’d ever ridden.

Blazing heat swirled around me as I held on. So that was it. I couldn’t be dead yet. I was still fighting to get a grip. I’d been on an airplane only once when I was seven years old. My ears popped now like they had back then. We were gaining altitude. Something held me locked in place. An arm?

I felt along it. It was hard as steel but scaled and hot. I got brave enough to open my eyes then instantly regretted it. We flew high above Chicago’s skyline. The twin spikes atop the Willis Tower were directly below me. We swooped toward them, then banked hard left.

I screamed. Great wings beat on either side of us. In some separate corner of my mind, I observed it as if I weren’t really here. His wings were every color I’d ever seen, almost like fish scales in the light. But golden, mostly, beating with fierce power and spanning so wide I couldn’t see the ends of them. I looked up. The creature’s long neck arched as he scanned the skyline. It occurred to me we weren’t actually going anywhere, just circling the city. I couldn’t decide whether that was good or bad.