Gaia (Wings of War Book 2)

By: Karen Hopkins



And the angels who did not keep their proper

domain, but left their own habitation, He has

reserved in everlasting chains under darkness for

the judgment of the great day.

Jude 6

I bounced in Sawyer’s arms as he ran. The canopy of leaves and branches gave us little protection from the gunshot blasts raining down from above. I hated being carried like an invalid, but Sawyer was strong, and I was exhausted from healing him and the great bear. I probably couldn’t have run, even though my life depended on it.

The sound of something crashing through the brush beside us pounded in my ears as loudly as the helicopter’s roaring engine. I peeked under Sawyer’s arm to see the giant black bear thrashing his head in pain as he barreled through everything in his path. I’d spent the last of my healing energies saving him from the Demons’ bites and a dozen previous gunshot wounds. There was fresh blood pouring from the old wounds. Everything I’d done was in vain. We were all going to die anyway.

Ivan panted close by, but I couldn’t see him in his wolf form. I smiled sadly knowing that even though he could veer away to make his own escape, he wouldn’t leave. He was too honorable to abandon us.

I had no idea where the swarthy Demon who’d saved my life was, or the red-headed Demon, either. For all I knew, they’d retreated to a dark, scary place somewhere. They were Demons after all. Although sometimes it was hard to remember the fact. They looked like the rest of us, except more beautiful. Even I couldn’t claim to be entirely human now. I was a Watcher, a descendant of an Angel. The Demons were, too, only their ancestors were the Angels who fell from grace.

Sudden pain shot through my leg, spreading outward. I was hardly able to wiggle in Sawyer’s tight grip, but I managed to stretch my fingertips to touch fresh wetness seeping through my jeans. Blood. One of the bullets had hit me.

Sawyer’s breathing became more labored, and his pace slowed. His hair tickled the side of my face, distracting me from the pain. Sawyer’s muscles bulged around me, the epitome of strength. Not long ago, he’d been a broken and bloody mess, dying before my eyes. Ila had gifted me with the last of her earth energy when she’d passed away. That energy was the only reason I’d been able to heal Sawyer.

It was ironic that now, after Ila’s sacrifice, and winning the battle with the Demons, we were going to be taken down by humankind. The ones who seemed so weak to me ever since I’d discovered I was something other than human were much more powerful than I’d realized. Helicopters filled with snipers could take out Demons and Watchers alike. I couldn’t blame them though. We were monsters—even though we were the good ones.

In this part of the forest, the trees were older, their branches thicker and leaves denser. The cool darkness that surrounded us seemed to invigorate Sawyer, reminding me of his true nature. The wind made by the helicopter couldn’t bend these trees as easily as the younger, thinner ones. We had a momentary reprieve.

“We’re almost to Ila’s, I think,” Sawyer huffed the words out, sliding to a stop.

The scent of the thick carpet of decaying leaves was heavy, and I wrinkled my nose as I turned my head to look around. The sound of the helicopter was loud, but fading. The path of swooshing, rippling leaves overhead moved away from us.

“They’re leaving?” I asked.

An explosion of color to the right got my attention. Ivan straightened back into his fifteen-year-old human body. The magic the first Watchers gave the Growlers made their change easier, swifter, and they were able to carry the cloths they’d been wearing as humans with them. It was wondrous enough to give me a headache thinking about it, but this time, I let the shock of it go. I would contemplate the way it worked later.

Ivan bent over in his torn jeans and blood-stained t-shirt, trying to catch his breath. I struggled with Sawyer, intent on helping Ivan, but Sawyer growled in my ear. The threatening sound stopped me.

It was then I saw the bear. He staggered and collapsed onto the forest floor. His giant body made an easy target, and the shooters had taken advantage of it.

I tried to reach out with my mind, searching for Angus. I’d sent him away with the last ounce of my energy when the rain of bullets began falling. There was fuzziness in my head for a long breath, and then sudden clarity. My dog had just jumped over a crumbling part of rock wall. He had made it safely to Ila’s valley. Cricket was in front of him, tossing her head and pawing the ground. Both of my animal friends paused to look back into the woods. They were waiting for me.

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