“Why did I allow you to talk me into this?” Marcus rubs the back of his neck as he paces beside me. It’s impossible to read his expression in the near-darkness.
“Relax,” Selima says. “You’re going to love it. Tell him, Lucy.”
Marcus moves to the other side of the clearing. A chorus of sounds ring out through the woods, the skitter of nocturnal animals moving over a blanket of twigs, leaves and brush. Two owls hoot, hoot to one another.
“But I tried this before. Twice. It was a disaster.” He clears his throat. “Maybe I can’t fly. You know…like…some protectors can and some can’t.”
“Why didn’t I think of that?” Selima says, her tone mocking. “While every protector I’ve ever known can fly, you’re the one exception. Silly me.”
I burst out laughing then clamp my hand over my mouth, certain Marcus is glaring at me through the darkness.
“Let’s get this over with,” Marcus mutters.
“That’s the spirit, little brother!” Selima says. “I need to change. Lucy, can I get my other shirt?”
I toss Selima what can be best described as part T-shirt and part string bikini.
I thought it would be better in the dark, not seeing them go through the change. Marcus groans, and I visualize the skin splitting along his back, feathers scraping muscle and bone as they struggle free. I imagine his pain and shudder. Selima whimpers once. Did she just morph instantly?
“You ready, little brother?” Selima calls out.
Sliding my cell phone from my pocket, I select the flashlight app and wave it like a wand in front of me. I gasp as Selima is illuminated. While Marcus’s wings are gray and white, Selima’s are white with what appears to be a large, black spot on the left wing.
“Beautiful,” I murmur.
Marcus moves into the light and studies his sister’s wings. “It’s like you have an extra eye.” He points to the black spot. “Creepy.”
Selima shrugs. “You ever hear of the evil eye? This is the opposite. It keeps me safe.”
“Says the girl who works for demons,” I say.
Selima arches an eyebrow at me before returning her attention to Marcus. “I want you to forget what you’ve tried before. Assume it’s all wrong.”
Marcus snorts. I expect him to come back with some smart aleck remark and am relieved when he stays quiet. Why’s he fighting this? Doesn’t he understand how lucky he is? He can heal people. He can control other people’s emotions. He’s strong and fast. And now he’s going to learn to fly.
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