“I could ask you the same question,” he replies, raising his eyebrow at her.
“Secret hideout that’s not so secret anymore,” I murmur under my breath.
“So what can you not go through again?” He asks.
My eyes go wide. “How long have you been listening?” I ask angrily.
He shrugs. “Not that long. So?”
“In case you haven’t noticed already, I don’t have any wings,” I start and his eyes flick to my shoulders.
“What happened to them?”
“The Council had them taken off.” I suddenly realize that I am not wearing my hoodie and my body is on display in my tight tank top and shorts.
“Because they didn’t appreciate my sense of humor,” I deadpan.
He chuckles. “Well aren’t you just a little ball of sass,” he remarks.
“Do you need something? Or are you bothering me just to be a dick?” I snap.
He shrugs. “I was just flying by when I saw you, decided to come and say hi.”
“Hey I’ll see you later Ana,” Diana whispers in my ear. I whip around to stop her but in a single sweep of her wings, she’s gone.
I look back at Daniel, my heart beating in my throat. “How did you see us?”
“With my eyes.”
I purse my lips in annoyance. “Well no shit but the canopy is so thick you can’t even see the sky,” I mutter.
“I have my little tricks,” he replies with a cheeky grin. “So what are you?”
“What are you talking about?”
“Well you can’t be a normal angel. Even high-borne angels don’t look like you,” he says, his gaze wandering up and down my body. His eyes are filled with lust and I take a few steps back.
“They do if both their parents were high-borne. Now what about you?” I ask, peering at him suspiciously.
He smirks and crosses his arms over his chest, making his muscles bulge. “That’s a secret I don’t plan on sharing anytime soon.”
“Then don’t expect to hear mine,” I tell him and he lets out a low whistle.
“Definitely a little ball of sass. Well I won’t tell anybody about your secret hideout if you do something for me,” he offers.
I glance around the clearing, my hands growing clammy at the thought of losing my sanctuary. “What do you want me to do?”
“Are you fucking nuts?” Diana shrieks.
My hands fly to cover my ears and I wince. “Damn you’re loud sometimes,” I grumble.
“Why the hell would you help him sneak off campus?”
“Because otherwise he’ll tell everyone where my hideout is and then I’ll lose the only place I can go outside the school to escape my tormentors,” I say exasperated.
“You’re insane,” she mutters, plopping down onto her bed.
“It’s not like it’s hard to sneak out.”
She throws me a concerned look but I just shrug. “When are you going?” She sighs in defeat.
“Sundown, so in a few hours,” I say, climbing into the top bunk. I lay down with my eyes closed for a while before Diana speaks again.
“What time is dinner?” she asks.
I laugh a little. “Dinner is at sundown as well, you can get anything you want, the chefs here are amazing,” I tell her, rolling over so that I can peer down at her.
She is staring up at me, a small smile on her face. “Good, I’m tired of the poor excuse for food they gave us at Rehab,” she says, her nose wrinkled in disgust.
“I’m going to get some rest, feel free to busy yourself with anything you can find in the room, just please don’t wake me up,” I murmur, burying my face into my pillow.
I close my eyes, slowing my breathing until everything goes dark.
I rocked back and forth, hugging my knees to my chest. Tears ran down my cheeks, over the swollen bruises starting to form.
I heard banging on my door, followed by incoherent yelling. I grabbed the sink to pull myself up onto shaky legs.
I slipped my hood up before pulling open the door. Julie and Jakob immediately pushed into the room. “What the hell Luciana? You could have exposed yourself!” Jakob scolded and my head hung in shame.
“I’m sorry, I didn’t want to, they just kept calling me a criminal, saying I should be in prison, that I should be dead,” I mumbled, my voice quivering as more sobs threatened to escape.
“Jakob! That’s not important right now!” Julie said sharply, slamming my door shut and yanking down my hood.
I looked up at him and his eyes widened. “Look, I’m sorry—but what if they found out? We would have to put her in the prison,” he hissed.
Julie glared at him. “But they didn’t find out! She just needs to be more careful in the future. Right now you should help me patch up her injuries,” she told him and he raised his hands in surrender.
“Fine, Ana where is your first aid kit?” He asked me and I pointed to my bathroom.
“Top drawer on the far right,” I muttered, allowing Julie to push me down onto the couch.
I took my hoodie off completely and Julie gasped.
Jakob had the same reaction when he reentered the room with the kit. “How long has this been going on?” He asked.
My hands folded together in my lap. I dug my nails into my palms and kept my eyes cast down to the floor. “Since I got here. It started getting worse just a few weeks ago though. They come after me during gym and again after classes. I don’t know how but one of them has a knife, another one has a glove with metal on the knuckles.”
Jakob opened the kit and Julie helped him to clean my face. I let out a sharp hiss as they dabbed antiseptic on my split lip and the scratches covering my face and arms.
They cleaned up the knife gash on my arm, wrapping it tightly in bandages. They put compression bandages around my most likely cracked ribs, also littered with bruises.
Lastly, they gave me several pills that were supposed to stop the pain. I laid down in my bed and promised to try to get along better with the other kids before they finally left.
I slowly open my eyes and sit up. My room is almost dark, the only light coming from the digital clock on the table.
Diana is nowhere to be seen.
I jump down from my bunk with a groan. My head pounds and my muscles ache in protest.
Ignoring the pain, I pull my hoodie back on and put my hair in a braid down my back, tucking it into my hood before slipping on my combat boots.
I put my contacts in before leaving my room.
The hallways are nearly empty since it is dinner time, making me sigh in content. Nobody to stare at me, to point at me, or make my life absolutely miserable.
I walk to the bottom level and out into the courtyard. Everything looks almost haunted in the eerie light, even the sexy angel on the other side.
“What took you so long?” He asks.
“What made you so sure I’d even come?” I scoff.
He smirks. “I’m very good at telling when someone is lying,”
I roll my eyes. “Yeah okay,” I snort.
I lead him through the courtyard towards the forest, but instead of going through it, I walk along the edge.
It leads to a massive iron gate, stretching a several meters high and topped with spikes that look fake but are sharp enough to easily cut through flesh—I should know, when I was ten I tried to climb over the damn thing.
“How do you plan on getting over?” Daniel asks and I smirk. I walk up to the iron bars and slip between two that are just barely big enough.
“By going through it,” I say, watching as Daniel flies over in seconds.
“How did you manage to fit through there?” He asks and I smile a little, leading him through the forest that now stretches dozens of meters in all directions.
“Years ago I bent them a little to make the gap just wide enough for me to fit through,” I shrug.
“How many times have you snuck out of here?”
“Considering I have been here for almost ten years, and I sneak out about every few weeks, oh probably over a hundred times.”
“Why don’t you just leave then?”
“They’d come find me if I went further than the human town or stayed out for too long.”
“Huh. Well I’ll have to start sneaking out with you on your trips every few weeks,” he decides.
“As long as you keep my secret I don’t care what you do,” I mumble, taking a turn past a massive maple tree. The forest gradually thins and I spot a familiar dirt road.
“So how far away is the human town?” Daniel asks after we’ve covered a few kilometers.
“It’s another hour of walking, don’t tell me you’re tired,” I snort.
He sighs heavily behind me and I roll my eyes. What a pretentious little baby.
Suddenly I feel his arms wrap around my waist and before I can ask him what he is doing, a gust of air hits me and my feet are no longer touching the ground.
“Oh my god—oh my god!” I gasp, tightly grabbing onto Daniel’s arms as the ground moves farther out of sight.
We move extremely fast and I can feel my heart racing with both excitement and fear. The wind blows my hood back, whipping my hair around and filling me with chills.
I squeeze my eyes shut as we plummet towards the ground.
I can’t breathe. My heart races and my stomach is in my throat. I want to scream but I can’t even open my mouth.
I carefully peel my eyes open when we stop moving.
Daniel gently sets me down on the dirt road. “Are you alright?” He asks, walking around to look at my face.
“I don’t know,” I admit, staring down at my shaking hands.
“When was the last time you’ve flown?”
“When I was eight and had wings dumbass,” I snark.
“Well that’s a given but you’ve never flown with someone else or anything like that?” He asks and I shake my head.
“Well there’s a first time for everything I suppose.” He shrugs and I throw my arms around his waist with a grin. He freezes.
“Thank you,” I murmur and quickly pull away from him, my cheeks flushed. I tuck my hands into my pockets and turn away, smiling to myself at the shocked look on his face.
I walk the rest of the way down the dirt road, taking slow breaths to calm my shaking legs.
We are at the edge of the town in just a few minutes.
I turn back quickly. “Hey do you know how to—” my words falter when I see that Daniel’s wings are gone.
“How to what?”
I shake my head. “Nevermind.” I lead him down the sidewalk of the town’s shopping center, noting that there are fewer people than usual. “So uh, where do you want to go?” I ask.
I glance at him nervously as he suddenly takes the lead. My eyes widen as we come up to a really expensive looking store. “Daniel what are we doing here?” I ask but he waves me away.
He suddenly turns and heads towards the back. I follow behind him quickly. He reaches the back door and I stare at him.
“Are you going to break in?” I hiss when he starts jiggling the locked door handle.
“Yeah, why? You going to try and stop me?” He challenges with a smirk.
I smash my boot into the door and it slams open with a resounding bang.
“No.” I walk past him into the dark store. I rifle through a few shelves, noting that I was right about it being expensive.
Daniel searches around the store before finding a dress and handing it to me. “Here put this on,” he says.
I take it with a small frown but then shrug and search for a dressing room. I snatch a pair of shoes in my size on the way to the back of the store. I close the door to the dressing room and carefully slip into the dress.
I gasp when I see my reflection in the mirror.
It is black silk and lace with a sweetheart neckline. The straps are thick and cross in the back. Every inch of the dress fits my curves perfectly and makes my cleavage more prominent.
I step into the shoes, grateful for the tiny heel.
I walk out to where Daniel is standing and his eyes widen when he sees me. “Wow, you should dress like this more often,” he says.
I snort. “Right cause this is a totally appropriate outfit for school. Now why are we dressed so nice? Where do you want to go?” I ask, noticing he is wearing jeans and a fitted black shirt. Even through the clothes I can see his defined muscles and sculpted chest.
“It’s a surprise.”
“You don’t even know where anything is in this town!”
“Every little town is the same, it won’t be hard to find what I’m looking for.”
I groan in annoyance making Daniel smirk.
“Come on let’s go,” he says, putting his hand on the small of my back and leading me to the back door.
Just before we leave, I rip the tags of my dress and shoes and toss them in the trash. It is dark outside but I can still see everything clearly.
Daniel leads me down the sidewalk, seeming to know exactly where he is going. I watch him with confusion as he takes me to a building where dozens of people are lined up outside, all dressed nicely as we are.
“You brought me to a nightclub?” I ask and his smirk grows wider.
“Yeah, do you have a problem with that?” He replies with a raised eyebrow.
“Uh well not really—hell I could definitely use a drink right now—but you still haven’t told me how you knew this was even here?” I demand.
He chuckles. “Now is not really the time to go into that,” he says with a slight shake of his head.
I put my hands up in mock surrender. “Fine, don’t tell me,” I snap.
My attention turns towards where Daniel is leading me. He goes straight to the VIP line and my confusion only grows from there.
The bouncer takes one look at him before nodding and allowing us both in.
“What the hell? Do they know you?” I hiss under my breath.
“It’s still not the time for me to go into that,” he says.
I roll my eyes with a huff of frustration. “You know this secretive and mysterious attitude is just annoying as fuck.” Inside the club is pulsing with music and pure energy. People are everywhere, grinding against each other and getting wasted.
We walk straight up to the bar and the bartender immediately comes over. He sees Daniel and seems like he’s about to say something, but suddenly his eyes go foggy and he closes his mouth.
I look sideways to see Daniel’s eyes glazed over as well and I blink hard, shaking my head. But when I open my eyes again, it’s like nothing happened.
I think I’m going insane, I decide, pursing my lips in annoyance.
“What can I get for you two?” The bartender asks and Daniel looks at me expectantly.
“Something strong,” I mutter and he hands Daniel bottle of a liquor I don’t recognize. He takes two shot glasses as well before leading me to a table away from the crowd.
I sit down with a relieved sigh. There are fewer people over here and it isn’t as overwhelming.
“It is loud in here, that is the only thing that isn’t very fun,” he says with a small shrug.
“You know, a bottle isn’t going to be enough unless that’s some fancy supernatural shit,” I say as he fills the two shot glasses.
“What makes you say that?” He leans back, looking at me curiously.
“I don’t even get drunk on fire-water anymore, I doubt a bottle of human liquor can do the trick,” I murmur. He glances skeptically at me and I throw back the shot. It doesn’t even warm my throat. I roughly set the glass down with a bored half smile. “Nothing.”
“Well then let’s drink for a different reason, not to get drunk,” he suggests, downing his own shot. “Know any good games?”
“We could play Never Have I Ever?”
“What the hell is that?” He asks and I chuckle.
“You say something you have never done, and if the other person has done it, you have to take a shot. If you have done it, you have to drink too. And then you have to explain what happened if you have done it,” I explain and he smirks, refilling the glasses.
“Alright, you first,” he says.
I hum as I think of something fun. “Okay, never have I ever worn a fancy dress before tonight,” I say and he laughs.
“Do I look like the kind of guy who has worn a dress before?” He scoffs.
I look at him through narrowed eyes and he scowls before taking the shot. “Wait—what!” I shriek.
He rolls his eyes. “I was like fourteen and completely wasted, a bunch of my friends thought it would be funny to trick me into putting on a dress. I didn’t even remember the damn thing until they showed me a picture the next day,” he tells me and I laugh.
“You have fun friends. Okay your turn,” I say, pouring another shot for him.
“Never have I ever been beaten in a fist fight,” he says.
I nod a little to myself. “Huh, well I can’t say I’m surprised.”
He cocks up an eyebrow but I keep my glass on the table. He leans back with a small chuckle. “Really. You’ve probably never been in a fist fight have you?”
“Hundreds. You forget, for ten years now, I have attended a school full of stuck up bitches and assholes who think it’s funny to pick on the girl with no wings,” I retort. “Plus it’s not a loss unless I actually fought back—taking a beating so I wouldn’t get thrown in prison doesn’t count.”
His eyes widen a little. “Yeah okay that’s fair.”
“Never have I ever done drugs.” I am a little surprised when he doesn’t drink, but he doesn’t seem to be when I drink to my own question.
“Never have I ever smoked,” he says and I glare at him irritably as I swallow another shot.
“You didn’t explain,” he says, looking at me expectantly.
“I’ve tried many ways to get rid of the pain in my back, but nothing worked so I tried to overdose and kill myself, that didn’t work either,” I breathe out tiredly.
“It still hurts?”
I nod, shifting uncomfortably in my seat.
“So what all did you try?”
“All the human stuff. Cocaine, heroin, meth, I tried it all. I didn’t get addicted to it and it didn’t affect me at all so I stopped,” I admit and he nods.
“Never have I ever been in love,” I say and he hesitates before drinking.
“I feel like I should drink a few shots for this one,” he mumbles.
“Just tell me the first one,” I offer.
He nods. “So I was about sixteen, this girl—she was absolutely gorgeous, unbelievably smart, athletic, kind—she seemed a lot like you actually,” he starts and I catch the underlying tone of sadness.
“What happened?” I ask gently.
“She died, she was in a pretty terrible accident that left her suicidal. She drowned herself in a lake a few weeks later,” he says.
“I’m sorry,” I murmur.
“It was years ago, I’ve learned to live with it. Never have I ever been tortured,” he says and I frown, taking another shot.
“When I was eight—right after they took my wings, they did a lot of testing on me to see how it affects angels under eighteen. They cut me and waited to see how long it took me to heal, gave me injections and watched how I dealt with hallucinations—though I'm pretty sure that one was more like payback,” I mutter the last part under my breath, too quiet for him to hear in the club.
“I saw the scars and wondered where they came from,” he admits, jerking his head toward my bare shoulder.
I crane my head to look at the faint lines that stretch from my neck to my shoulder before frowning. “That’s clever but fucking rude,” I mutter with a small glare.
“Sorry.” He shrugs, but his smirk makes it look sarcastic.
I fill our glasses to the brim before leaning forward and matching his gaze. “Never have I ever killed someone,” I say, almost as a challenge.
And we both take the shot.