Stricken (The War Scrolls Book 1)By: A.K. Morgen
Oh, Aaron. God, how she missed him.
“Ah,” Killian murmured, and then, “I’m sorry.” He sounded as though he genuinely meant it.
Aubrey cleared her throat, forcing tears back. “So the shifters were infected?” she asked.
“They were.” Killian tapped his fingers on the arm of the chair. “Your brother was a shifter, but you’re not?”
“No.” Unlike Aaron, she’d inherited no Talent from their mother. Whatever angel blood still flowed in her veins was weak, almost nonexistent.
“He knew of the Fallen?”
“And he told you about them.”
She didn’t like the way he said that as if Aaron had violated some law. He hadn’t, and he wouldn’t have had to anyway. The Fallen thought they operated beneath the radar, but virtually everyone with angel blood knew about the warrior angels who governed them from the shadows, supposedly as penance for mating with demons eons ago.
Aubrey didn’t know if that story was true or not, but if the Fallen had mated with humans to create Nephilim like Killian and Elioud like her and Aaron, maybe those whispered tales about demon alliances were also true.
Killian drummed his fingers on the arm of the chair, his face a study in impatience.
“No, he didn’t,” she said, pulling her mind away from stories of the Fallen and back to the subject at hand. “He didn’t tell me anything about the Fallen.”
“And yet you know enough about them to recognize one on sight. How?”
“Do you want the long or the short version?” She perched on the edge of the bed, confident Killian wasn’t an immediate danger to her. Truthfully, she wasn’t sure she had the energy to care if he was. She felt as if she’d been punched in the stomach and was still winded.
La Morte Nera was real. Her dad would have—
“The short will do for now, I suppose.”
“I was attacked one day. One of the exiled Fallen warriors helped Aaron save me.”
Aubrey swallowed. “A Nephilim boy.”
He’d toyed with her for three days, punishing her for her humanity, blaming her for his messed-up life. He’d hated who he was. Not angel like the Fallen and not human like her but something else, caught between two worlds without being accepted into either. “Weak and pathetic,” he’d screamed at her.
Aubrey shuddered as she always did when remembering how close to death she’d come. The attack had been senseless. Even now, she didn’t understand why the boy had picked her. Out of the hundreds of people out there with blood like hers, why had he chosen her? Hurt her? She wasn’t sure there was an answer. If there was, it had died with the Nephilim boy, killed by her brother and the fallen angel he’d enlisted to help him save her life.
Killian leaned back in the chair and frowned. “Yet you’re not running from me.”
Aubrey laughed at his assessment of the situation. “Maybe I’m tired of running,” she lied. Or maybe she’d realized she couldn’t run far or fast enough. Besides, where did he expect her to go if she tried? “And you’d have killed me already if you wanted me dead. I think.”
He didn’t attempt to reassure her that he wouldn’t kill her later. Instead, he said, “Why are the Elioud after you?”
“I don’t know.”
“Well, that’s bound to complicate things.”
“You think?” Aubrey rolled her eyes. “And here I thought we were done stating the obvious.”
Killian watched her, his expression indecipherable.
Ah, crap. She drew a deep breath and squeezed her eyes closed. If she kept it up, he really would kill her. She cracked her eyes open and looked at him. “I’m sorry. That was rude.”
“You’ve had a rough night, and my feelings aren’t that easily hurt,” he said. He stared at her for a moment, his gaze less severe, almost sympathetic. “We’ll figure out what’s going on.”
“We’ll figure it out?” Aubrey asked, shocked. “Why would you help me?”
“Why not?” He pinned her with his serious gaze, and then that cold mask dropped into place, obscuring any emotion. “You weren’t doing so well on your own.”
The last thing she wanted was to tie herself to this Nephilim warrior for any length of time, but he was right. She hadn’t been doing so well on her own. The things chasing her were nothing like Aaron. They weren’t protective big brothers who adored their little sisters or rowdy teenaged boys who flirted shamelessly with their friend’s baby sister. They were not human or animal but something else. Something more frightening than even her Nephilim tormentor had been.
If there were more of them out there, she didn’t stand a chance on her own. And there was no one else to help her. No one at all. So she didn’t really have another choice, did she?
“How do I know I can trust you?”
“You don’t,” Killian answered. “But like you said, you’d already be dead if I wanted you that way.”
“And if that changes?” she asked, wary.