Chapter Six: Petrova
“You brought me here… Another risk… What if someone finds out?” I thought of when he started talking to me.
I replayed it like a movie reel in my head for the briefest time, how he spoke. The warmth in his voice that somehow made me feel safe even though it could have been the most dangerous thing in the world. “Do you know who I am?” Such a softness, such a safeness in that smile that made me forget about stranger danger, because he wasn’t one, I knew him in a way, even though it could have been a trap and I could be very dead right now. But when he asked me to really think about how I knew him even though I had denied it. I remember looking around and not really seeing anything even though there was something I was missing.
I remembered how I had seen his presence in the final ritual of the sway before I completed the ascension. I remembered the energy but there was something I was still missing. Even when he said “I am your angel. I have broken so very many rules for you.” Even though his smile was calming and nonchalant. Then I saw it.
“There was someone else there.” I said to him out loud. Finally seeing the dark jacket and jeans, the cap that made it hard to see his face.
“Yes.” He answered, a panic rose in my chest. What had he done? He was risking everything. If that man saw Arielriele then he was exposed.
“You brought me here anyway?” I felt my breath quicken. I struggled to find the words.
“Yes I did. Do you remember the man following you?” Sort of yes but not in a way that seemed to mean much. The harder I tried the cloudier the picture.
“Not really…” I swallow but that doesn’t make me feel better, the panic is rising too high. It was clouding my thoughts.
“There was a man-” I remembered.
“He had something shiny, the light bounced silver from something in his… he had a knife” I realised why Arielriele had taken me then. “You brought me here away from that?”
“In that moment, this was the safest place for you, the safest place you could be. I needed to talk to you, I hope you don’t think I was lying about that. But the man wasn’t just a man.” I saw the frown forming on his face.
“How do you mean?” I asked searching his face like it would tell me the answer. “Was he possessed?”
“Sort of. Now you know why it was safer to bring you here than have that conversation down there.” He smiled trying to calm me but I don’t think it was working.
“Did he see you?” I ask hoping I wasn’t going to be the reason Arielriele was going to be cast from the heavens.
“No. All he saw was you turn a corner and disappear from sight alone. He was a monster of corruption; he was going to try to rip the goodness from you. Tonight is the last night that our bond could be corrupted and destroyed.” I wondered for a moment how he knew this much.
“Was he going to kill me?” I couldn’t help but ask.
“No, he would have pushed you to kill him whatever way he could. He was under a spell; a curse I imagine. So when you disappeared he would have woken, or he will when the deadline is reached. That is why you have to stay here a bit longer, if you aren’t on the radar he can’t find you.”
“What will happen to him?”
“I don’t know. I don’t know what spell was used.” He took my hand in his, his thumb traced my knuckles so gently for a moment.
“How do you know all of this?” I couldn’t help but ask. What else was I meant to say?
“Do you really think I wouldn’t watch over you, I saw him follow you from the bus, I watched him, I watched you. I couldn’t not protect you, especially not tonight when you would be at greater risk.” His thumb moved and with a slight fidget, his thumb began to tickle my palm while he spoke.
“Why did you take the risk?” I sound a bit angry, I suppose I am.
“How could I not?” He stayed calm, almost as though he could weather any storm. As if the risks he takes meant nothing, like there was never going to be any consequence on his shoulders.
“I could have taken care of myself.” Now I just sound like a defiant child not wanting to be taken care of.
“Perhaps. But I wasn’t willing to take that risk.” He grinned, I couldn’t help but feel more infuriated.
“Does everyone feel the need to make decisions for me?” He just sat silently, leaning to rest against the corner of the chair, still holding my hand. “You watch over me? Right?”
“Of course, why? Are you worried about what I have seen?” His grin quickly turned into a smirk.
“No… Wait… Yes now I am. But that isn’t what I meant. I meant do you know about the doppelganger?” His smirk faltered.
“Yes I do” he sighed. “You share a destiny with her. Just as I share one with you.”
“I hate the word destiny. It makes it sound like you have no control over anything.” I take my hand to wrap my arms around myself, I don’t feel cold, just exposed.
“Some things we have no control over.” He smiled like there was more he wanted to say, but he didn’t speak it. “We should probably get you home, the final hour has passed. You and I, we are linked for good, our bond can’t ever be broken now. Even if we wanted now, it is impossible. Does it feel any different to be my bearer of burdens?”
“I don’t know? Not really…” I sighed.
“I don’t know quite the ritual my brother used exactly, so I had to sort of, improvise some parts of it with us.”
“You experimented on me?” That made it sound, sordid.
“When you say it like that, it makes it sound… cheap.” Well that was a better word.
“I didn’t mean it like that.” I try to make it right.
“I know. What are you thinking?” His voice was soft and comforting.
“Whether that was the only experiment.”
“Why? Would you like another?” He grinned that boyish grin and leant a little closer, “you wondering what it’s like to kiss an angel?”
“I have a… whatever it is.” Trying to sound offended.
“An arrangement?” His eyebrows rose a little. “I know. But, you’re technically not breaking any rules if there are none to break.” His grin was so cheeky, an impossible challenge. I stood up from the seat looking around as if I had brought a coat, even though I hadn’t taken my bag off.
He caught my hand turning me back around, he was standing now, facing me. “Do you want to kiss me?” He asked. I let myself take in how close he was stood next to me, how his hand was still holding mine, how it felt to have his skin touch mine. The tingle of warmth that seemed to bubble between us. I knew I was smiling, I shrugged my shoulders.
“You know, its ok if you want to kiss me, you can just say.” I challenged him. I liked this feeling, this flirty feeling.
“I want to. But you have a… situation.” He was looking to me for clarification.
“Ward has made it clear, we are not in a relationship. In our line of work, getting attached to someone is risky.” I said, as cold as it was.
“That is not what life should be about.” His face filled with brightness and hope and naivety, “life should be about hope and love and freedom and passion.”
“Not all of us can afford the risk” I say flatly. I know I don’t love Ward in this moment, I had been wondering for a while if I was breaking my rules but in this moment I just knew. Ymirxi was right. life should be about passion and freedom and love. It could be about all those things. But letting myself have those things? “Not all of us can pay the price of heartbreak.”
“Not everything ends in heartbreak.” He said sounding like an eternal optimist.
“Just most things,” I smiled. He returned my smile moving closer, just a fraction. I looked into those brown eyes and just let myself stop thinking for a moment. Just a moment I promised myself. He leaned closer, his face so close to mine, his breath was warm on my cheeks, his hand slipped around my waist.
“Do you want me to kiss you?” He asked, I stopped resisting. Rather than answer his question, I kissed him.