Where I Live (Part 13)

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I threw him as hard as I could, making my bike swerve in the process, and he managed to spread his wings before he hit the ground. I didn’t see if he flew away. In my mirror, I saw the other biker falter for a few seconds as he stared in Kole’s direction, but then he shook his head and poured on the speed, easily catching up. His front wheel came inches to the right of my back wheel and sped up too. He matched my speed. He pulled up on my right side and kept looking at me, then forward, then back at me as if thinking I would surely turn before we hit the end of the road.
I didn’t.
To my complete and utter surprise, he didn’t either.
We both went over the cliff.
With the speed we were going, even without a ramp, we didn’t drop for a few seconds. Kicking away from my bike, I felt the wind ripping at my clothes and hair and wondered what it must feel like to fly. For a few seconds as I seemed to hang there in the air, I was jealous of Birds of Prey. But then, those thoughts flew out of my head as something wrapped around my ribs and my angle was sharply corrected. My first thought was, Holy crap! That guy was a Bird!? Shortly following that thought, I spun on instinct and slammed my elbow into his chin. Using the momentum to spin as I fell, I saw what I hadn’t expected.
Ethan.
My eyes widened as I fell backwards and he hovered for a second or so, his hand to his chin. Then, as he angled down towards me and with his pure white wings spread wide, I thought for the second time that he looked like an angel. The thought distracted me until I remembered what position I was in and that there was a lake coming up faster and faster below me. I didn’t think I could spin around again without leverage, so I pulled my arms in, holding them flat against my chest and stomach like I was going down a water slide. Ethan dove down to me and wrapped his arms around my shoulders and waist, supporting me as best he could. My legs angled straight out because of the speed we were going and I did my best not to stiffen up, trying to make it easier for him to carry me, but I was distracted.
My head was turned to the side, pressed up against his shoulder and because my eyes were stuck looking in one direction I could see his pure white wings flapping. Up . . . down . . . up . . . down. I could feel his shoulder moving slightly against my cheek, muscles working with each heavy stroke. Though I was a Jungle Cat, suited for land, with his arms around me, keeping me up, I felt oddly . . . comfortable. We were soaring high above the ground, suspended by nothing but the wind under his wings, but I wasn’t afraid. I knew he wouldn’t drop me.
A thought struck me and tears sprung unbidden into my eyes. I trusted him to keep me safe, but, even though he trusted me now, if he knew what was going through my head every time I was around him he would have every reason to hate me, to be afraid of me. He had saved my life on several occasions, had put his life on the line for me and had left the safety of Kole’s house to help me. And all I could think about was what it would feel like to bite down on him again.
“Kryn . . . are you . . .” His grip tightened, he held me closer. “Don’t be afraid. I won’t drop you, I promise.”
His words didn’t help at all, actually made me feel worse.
“Are you hurt?”
Hearing the worry in his voice, I buried my face in his shirt and shook my head.
I felt him lose a little altitude. “We can land if you want.”
I shook my head again and after a moment’s pause, he angled back up. I lost track of time as we flew, but it seemed like forever. He kept apologizing when he had to shift his grip, trying to find a better hold and I felt useless. The tears slowly stopped as we flew, but it didn’t make me feel any better. I could feel myself starting to shake again and hoped he didn’t notice, but with us being so close together, he must have.
When we finally landed, Ethan set me down carefully, flapping his wings until I was on my feet and he had moved back a yard or so. He landed gracefully and pulled his wings in, fixing his jacket so they were covered. I realized that he hadn’t just ripped through the material but had pulled the jacket back enough that his wings could come out underneath the back of it. It must have created an uncomfortable pull on the jacket’s arms. When he was all settled, he looked at me, concerned but a little apprehensive.
“Here,” He pulled my hat out of his back pocket and tossed it to me. “I caught this. . . D-Did I . . . hurt you?” He asked slowly.
I shook my head, wiping away the tears from my cheeks. “Lost my bike.” I gave a small smile and a short laugh as I fixed my hat. “Can’t believe I managed to keep this thing but lost my bike.”
It took a few seconds, but when he smiled back, he didn’t look happy. “I’m sorry.”
I paused, surprised. “For what? Saving my life for the fourth time?”
“Third,” He corrected mildly, “And no. . . You told me to stay inside the house . . . and I followed you anyway. . . Are you mad?”
“You saved my life. How could I be mad?”
“You would have survived the fall.”
“Yes, and then I might have been killed by the psycho maniac that tried to run me off the road.”
“Yeah, but –”
“No, but’s.”
“But –”
“What did I say?”
He quickly shut his mouth and Kole touched down softly a few feet away. “What do you think you were doing!?” He cried in outrage as he glared at me.
“Driving off a cliff?”
“You could have killed me! You could’ve gotten yourself killed! Then who would save all those people!?”
“Déjà vu. . . You should have been here a second ago. We were just talking about that.”
“Why you little –!?”
He ran at me but Ethan grabbed the hood of his jacket as he went by, nearly choking him. “Simmer down, Kole. Let’s set the ‘could have’s aside. Did you guys get what you went out for?”
Fixing his collar angrily, Kole pulled a folded slip of paper out of his pocket. “Right here.” He held onto it, not wanting to show us just yet. It was like he thought if we knew what was on the paper we wouldn’t need him anymore.
“See? If I had kept you on the bike, we wouldn’t be able to read that paper, now would we?” I thought I was being rather logical.
He glared at me, then his gaze softened as he looked at the paper in his hands. “I guess so.” He mumbled.
“Now that that’s solved, we have another problem. I just lost my bike . . . how are we supposed to get back to your house? I don’t fly.”
“I could probably carry you that far.” Ethan said, looking a little sheepish.
“Um . . . thanks, but no thanks. If it absolutely comes to that, I’d do it, but I prefer to keep my feet on the ground.”
“We don’t have to.” Kole said, making both Ethan and I look at him.
“What do you mean?” I asked.
“The library the website was updated at isn’t very far from here. The town is that way,” He pointed off in a direction to my right, “If we fly . . . it won’t take long.”





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