Burning Skies Page 47

Parisa shook her head back and forth. “I can’t believe I actually slammed the ruler of Second Earth against a plate-glass window because of power I released from my arm and hand.”

Havily laughed. “It was the highlight of my day, let me tell you.”

Parisa smiled, but her gaze shifted in the direction of the exotic dome over Warrior Medichi’s property. “Well, I think her mist is beautiful. It reminds me of a very fine white lace.” She was silent for a long moment, chewing on the tender pasta, then asked how old everyone was.

Her eyes widened when Havily gave both Endelle’s and Marcus’s ages. “Medichi of course is younger. He ascended around AD 700.”

Parisa laughed and shook her head. “You know what’s funny? Of all the things you’ve told me, for some reason speaking of having lived in terms of centuries has made me dizzy.” She lifted her hand, palm facing both of them, and added quickly, “I’m fine. I swear it.”

Havily laughed, Marcus as well. “Parisa, the pasta kills,” he said. “Thanks for cooking. I would have offered but when it comes to culinary ability, I’m basically cooking-challenged.”

Havily glanced at him. Now, why did he have to be such a nice guy? Why couldn’t he have said something offensive, or not been grateful that Parisa cooked, or worse, bragged about what a great cook he was? Why couldn’t he just man up and give her a reason to dislike him?

“You’re welcome,” Parisa said. She then drew in a deep breath. The fork that twirled her pasta slowed and stopped.

Havily noted the serious frown between her brows. “What is it?”

Parisa met her gaze. “I know that there are bad guys out there looking for me, but do you think there’s someplace we could go so that I could try out my wings? I mean, I don’t want to make anything difficult for either of you, but if you only knew how much I long to fly—”

“Absolutely,” Havily cried. “I haven’t flown for a week and I know exactly what you mean. I get a little antsy, even irritable, if I don’t take to the skies on a regular basis. But you haven’t really flown at all yet, have you?”

She shook her head. “Just that little jump off the railing, which was really more of a floating experiencing than anything else.”

Havily felt relieved. Supporting Parisa through her first few flying experiences was just what she needed to get some distance from the warrior beside her. “I’ll bring over a couple of my flight suits. They’re made with halters. I’m sure one of them will fit, although it might be a little snug through the chest.”

Parisa grinned. “Thank you. I can’t tell you how much this means to me.”

After the dishes were cleaned up, and Medichi’s dinner put in the warming oven, Havily returned with Parisa to their rooms. She folded the suits from her town house, gave Parisa one, then changed into her own.

When she left the bedroom she shared with Marcus, he was standing at the end of the hall, near the rectangular table, as though he’d been waiting for her. He opened his mouth to speak but Parisa exited her room at the same time and called out, “Yes, it’s tight, but I think I can manage.”

Havily’s gaze fell to the beautiful long line of cleavage that overflowed the haltered top then dropped to examine the waist, which was loose. “I can adjust this for you,” she said. “The clasp is in the back.”

Parisa put her hands on her hips and turned around. Havily adjusted the waistband, making it snug. “There’s an entire industry geared to women’s flight apparel.”

“I can just imagine.”

“There. I think we’re both ready. Let’s fly.”

As Havily turned toward Marcus, she saw that his gaze was settled on Parisa’s cleavage—and why wouldn’t it be, since the snug fit pushed her breasts up and out? Still, she rolled her eyes.

Directing Parisa toward the front door, she let her get in front of them a few paces. When there was sufficient distance, she elbowed Marcus. “Do you have to be such a guy?”

He looked at her, startled, then glanced up at the ceiling. “Sorry, sweetheart. Old habit.”

“Yeah, well, get some new ones. And what’s with the sweetheart?”

“Darling?” he suggested.

“Aack,” she cried, and walked faster, moving ahead of him.

“You know,” he called after her, “for a second there you looked just like Endelle.”

She ignored him and focused instead on teaching Parisa the basics of flight.

Havily wore an emerald-green flying halter, boned to support her breasts and tight around the waist to keep the whole thing from sliding around while she maneuvered through the air. The black pants, snug at the ankle, were a stretch knit that gave ease of movement.

Her back itched and tingled, the wings ready to come.

She stood opposite Parisa, whose breaths were high in her chest in anticipation, her amethyst eyes glittering. The un-ascended non-ascendiate hopped from one foot to the next. Her flight suit included the same black pants, but the halter was a sexy boned creation made of super-soft black leather. She really couldn’t blame Marcus for staring. The woman’s cleavage was spectacular.

Both sets of feet were bare since they’d be practicing on the front lawn beneath the shelter and protection of the enormous dome of mist.

Havily smiled then closed her eyes. She hadn’t mounted her wings in over a week and she tried to fly often. Her preferred place to take to the air was off the Mogollon Rim, near Thorne’s house in Sedona. Though it had taken a good decade to gain real confidence, she loved launching from the two-thousand-foot cliff and flying through the canyons, catching the currents, floating, feeling the eddies tease her wings as unexpected drifts of air appeared from hidden canyons.

Yeah, she loved it.

Parisa, already filled with the longing for flight, would be crazy about the Rim. Maybe one day they could fly it together.

Havily took a deep breath and spread her arms wide. This was the moment she treasured, in her opinion the most important gift of ascended life, the blessing of flight.

Her wing-locks hummed, vibrated, and wept with fluids to ease the emergence of the feathers and attendant mesh superstructure from the locks. As the wings began to glide in a swiftly flowing sweep out of her back, she arched slightly then gasped. The sensation, so much like ecstasy, caught her behind her knees. She honestly would have fallen but the wings themselves kept her aloft. Once extended, she opened her eyes to find herself staring at Parisa, who had pressed her hands to her cheeks, tears shimmering in her eyes.

“Your wings are so beautiful,” Parisa cried.

Havily preened. “I know.” Her wings were light brown and speckled with dark brown spots in increasing numbers toward her back. A light green about two inches in diameter formed a band a few inches from the tips of the outermost feathers. She turned this way and that. The movement of course sent her rising off the ground a few feet as the curve of hundreds of feathers caught air. She gave a flip of both wings and twirled in a spiral. She drew her wings in and landed on her feet.

Parisa clapped her hands. “Oh,” she cried. She closed her eyes, and a moment later she mounted her wings.

Havily sucked in her breath. “Whatever mine are, yours are majestic.”

Parisa threw her arms wide. “I need to fly,” rushed from her lips. She lifted her wings then flapped.

“Wait!” Havily cried. She had made the same rookie mistake, flying straight up into the air without either instruction or practice.

Havily launched after her and, as the resulting forward spin threw Parisa in what could be a deadly maneuver for the mortal, Havily caught her bare feet and gave a downward tug. The movement forced Parisa to lift her arms, which brought the wings up and out. The resulting parachute effect permitted the untried ascendiate to drop gently back to earth.

As soon as Parisa touched down on the grass, she brought her wings in close and dropped to her knees. “Well, that was foolish,” she cried. She took deep breaths.

Havily floated down beside her and also brought her wings to close-mount, chuckling. “I tried to warn you but you took off so fast. Sorry, I should have said something ahead of time. As much as you think you’ll know what to do, there is still quite a bit of skill involved.”

Parisa looked up at her, a hand pressed to her chest. “I was so sure I could do it.” She blinked several times. Her cheeks were flushed and Havily could almost hear the loud hammering of her heart. “I hate to think what would have happened if I’d fallen to the ground.”

“You have no idea. I spent a week in the hospital in my early days. Broken feathers, or feathers ripped from mesh, hurt like a bitch.”

Parisa started to laugh then covered her face. A few more breaths and she rose to her feet once more. “Okay. Teach me what I need to know.”

* * *

Marcus folded a lawn chair from the pool area to the front patio. The moment of sheer panic he’d experienced when Parisa’s first flight resulted in an out-of-control forward roll had dissipated as he watched how Havily, with a piece of clear thinking and expertise, pulled on Parisa’s feet and brought her safely to ground. Genius.

He locked his hands behind his head and smiled. His woman had chops.

These were two beautiful women, lean and fit, and both pairs of wings were exquisite.

Parisa’s royle pair still stunned him. He wondered what her wings could possibly mean for Second Earth. There were several myths surrounding royle wings, primarily indicating that a vampire who presented royle wings had the capacity to bring peace to a land, a quality that the first ascender, Luchianne, had.

Marcus snorted. He was very old and he knew one significant truth about Luchianne: She brought peace to the land by battling death vampires from the time the first vampire used his fangs to take dying blood. So, yeah, Luchianne had brought peace, through her ability to wield a sword.


Well, Parisa’s wings weren’t exactly his concern and certainly not what kept his gaze fixed on the women. Yeah, he was a man. He enjoyed watching the women move, backs arched in short climbs or dives, breasts thrust forward.

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