Rocked by Love (Gargoyles Series)(5)

By: Christine Warren

Swooping in, Dag caught her in his powerful grip, but this time he tempered his strength, careful to keep his claws from biting through cloth and into flesh. Two powerful beats of his wings lifted them high into the sky over a city glistening with light and movement. He needed to move away from here swiftly before the noise of the brief skirmish drew more humans to the site. His kind had been summoned into this world to battle the nocturnis and their demonic masters, but they attempted to remain unseen whenever possible.

He glanced around quickly, noting both familiar and unfamiliar landmarks below him. He knew not how long he had slept since his last waking, but he could see that many years had passed him by. The small settlement he remembered had been called a city by its inhabitants even then, but it had paled in comparison to the older and larger European capitals he had known. Now, though, it appeared to have grown into itself, stretching much farther than the boundaries in his memories.

It took a moment to orient himself, but he recognized the closest building as the home of his former Warden. He did not doubt that the man had by now passed into the next world, but at least by sighting it, Dag knew where he was. He had not been moved in more than three hundred years.

The trip to reach the rooftop of the four-story mansion of the Houghton family could barely be called a flight. He hovered a moment over his old landing spot before recoiling in disgust. The detritus and building debris he might have ignored, but the sharp, sulfurous stink of tar could not be borne. He needed another spot to land out of sight of humans, and quickly, judging by the rate at which the rigidity of shock and fear had begun to leach from his human burden. She would not remain quiescent long.

Dag glanced around, his gaze finding a familiar sight in the crowded skyline. A church spire rose into the night, the open archways of its belfry providing an easy entrance and exit as well as an excellent vantage point from which to observe those passing below. He could reach it in moments and slip himself and his human charge inside before the chances of being seen became too dangerous.

Changing direction with a twitch of his wings, he covered the distance of more than a mile in seconds. He had to draw up and hover for a moment in order to set the human female safely on the floor inside the bell tower, because his full wingspan would never fit through the arched openings. With his rear claws free, he dug them into the stone of the portal and perched long enough to furl the appendages before hopping in after her.

Half a second after her feet touched the floor, her bottom followed. Her grunt nearly echoed in the cavern of the church bell, but she made no other sound, just stared up at him with wide, dark eyes.

Dag returned her gaze, finally taking notice of how tiny the female actually was. Oh, he had known she weighed so little he had barely noticed as he lifted her from the ground and flew her to safety; but he was a warrior, strong and hardened by battle. He could have flown a military tank that short distance.

No, the human wasn’t simply light, she was little. He couldn’t remember the last time he had encountered a human so small unless it was a child. This female, though, appeared fully grown, with mature curves visible even through her heavy garments. Still, the top of her head had barely reached his collarbone before she collapsed, even though he stood among the shortest of his kind. He doubted the human could boast so much as five feet of height. He literally was twice her size, but somehow she didn’t appear to be afraid of him.

In fact, if he were forced to label the expression on her unexpectedly strong features, he would have to say she looked fascinated. She barely blinked, her gaze devouring him in long, thirsty gulps.

Those dark eyes dominated her face, wide and heavily lashed, tilted just the slightest bit at the corners. Her brows, too, were heavy, but gracefully arched and almost black against her fair skin. Her nose suited her face, strong and straight but not too large for femininity. It perched above a cupid’s bow of a mouth now half open in astonishment. Her chin dipped toward her chest, a rounded point that indicated a mischievous and determined nature.

Overall, her face gave the impression of a lively spirit and a strong will, the type of human who spoke definitely and often. Thankfully, for the moment she remained silent, but he wondered how long that would last.

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