The stairs were rickety as they tripped up them, breathless with excited laughter.
“What on earth is that smell?” Shelly asked, covering her nose with her sleeve.
“It’s Mardi Gras, babe, do you really want to know?”
Curt laughed as he reached back to steady her for the final step. His hand skimmed the curve of her waist before settling on her elbow. She giggled a little, but didn’t pull away.
“Nice one, Curt.”
The slithery voice fills me with loathing. I immediately draw my sword. “Stand down, Nagendra. You have no place here.”
The stench of the abyss wafts toward me as he laughs. “Ah, Sieghard. Where else would I be tonight?”
He tweaks my wing as he passes me, intent on keeping pace with the two people now pressed against the window. “Don’t worry, she’ll be fine when Curt’s done with her. She might even have some fun in the process.”
The tip of my sword touches his left elbow and he jumps back, hissing obscenities. The touch of my weapon is ice to him, chilling and fiery-painful.
He turns instead to the young couple.
“This place is awesome, Curt! How did you manage to get this good a view without anybody else?” Shelly was glued to the window, but she bumped Curt with her hip to get his attention. “C’mon, you have to tell me.”
Curt drew her close for a kiss, breaking her concentration on the parade outside. “How badly do you want to know?”
His voice was husky, inviting. She leaned into the kiss, exploring a bit further than ever before. After all, it was the night for such things.
“Shelly, you know where this is headed,” I whisper, flashing my sword toward Nagendra, who is sidling up to Curt. He’s been working toward this with the boy for weeks. Now I just have to keep the plan from blossoming into action.
“Yes, Sieghard, she does know,” Nagendra teases, nudging Curt’s hands a little lower. “Look at her. She likes it.”
His knowing smile is too much for my temper.
“You will not harm this child of God!” I proclaim, thrusting my blade into Nagendra’s arm.
The demon screams as the white light pierces him. Curt eases up a bit and I take the opportunity with Shelly.
“Remember, Shelly. You want to save this.”
She pulled back, giving an uncomfortable giggle. “Now tell me how you managed to find this.”
Curt caught his breath, his eyes struggling to stay on her face. “I-I know a guy who likes to be in the crowd. He said it’d be empty.”
She glanced back at the window. “Maybe we should be out there, too. More excitement.”
“I don’t know about that.” Curt drew her close, reclaiming the territory lost in the exchange. “We could make some excitement of our own.”
The crooked blade Nagendra carries slices at my left wing, bringing the sulphurous burning of a weapon of the underworld. I shy away from Shelly, cradling the wing with my sword arm. Nagendra closes in for another strike, but I counter, catching him off-balance and forcing him to yield ground.
The dark sword sweeps mere inches in front of me. Nagendra attempts a lunge, opening himself to my blade. I thrust forward, connecting with scaly skin and withered sinew. His recoiling screech rings in my ears as he gives a wild swing, nearly decapitating me.
“You shall not touch this child of God.” I repeat through gritted teeth. My sword flashes forward once more, holding steady at his throat.
“Look, Curt - no, okay? I said I wanted to wait.”
“I know, babe.” He heaved a sigh. “I just thought maybe – with us bein’ together so long and all…”
“This isn’t just something I dreamed up to tease you,” Shelly protested, touching his face gently. “I haven’t been into the whole God thing very long, but this is one thing I’m sure on.”
“Promise you’ll explain it to me one day?” Curt asked, stepping back in defeat.
“You imbecile!” Nagendra hisses, trying to resist as my sword pushes him toward the door. “This will only bring my Master’s attention to these two.”
“Then go tell him of your failure,” I command, flicking my wrist. The blade penetrates his shoulder as he turns to run.
As his smell fades, I look back to Shelly, cradling my injured wing. She is at peace. Crisis averted – for now. I can already tell I’ll be working overtime with this charge.
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