By: Sherrill Quinn
Published By: Ellora's Cave
Available in ebook here
Hailey was partway down the steps of the back porch when the thing busted through the rear door. As she sprinted into the yard, its lumbering footfalls pounded behind her, gaining rapidly. Then she heard a whoosh and the flapping of wings.
Really big wings.
Instinctively, she dropped to the ground and covered her head with her arms. Air ruffled her t-shirt as the creature’s claws skimmed her. Holding back a sob, she jumped up and took off toward the wooded area that acted as a natural barrier between her and the houses on the street behind her.
Maybe she could lose the thing in the trees. After all, he’d have a hard time following her in there. At least, she hoped he would.
She glanced over her shoulder and saw the thing hurtling toward her, wings folded back and clawed hands and feet stretched forward like some vicious bird of prey. Crimson eyes seemed to glow as its wide mouth stretched in a hideous grin.
Hailey screamed and ducked, but not fast enough. Immense bird-like feet latched onto her shoulders, and the creature pulled her into the air. She screamed, clawing at the talons digging into her flesh, turning her own nails into weapons, scraping along the skin of its ankles.
It was like running her nails over solid, rough-hewn rock.
The creature flew straight up with slow, heavy flaps of its wings, taking her above the roof of her single-story home. She kept trying to loosen its hold. Tilting her head back, she looked up to meet its gaze.
A forked tongue flicked out and licked over its lips. “Nothing like a soft, but crunchy, female for lunch.” Its voice rumbled through her like trains on the nearby tracks. “Wish I had some ketchup.”
She struggled, jerking her body this way and that, grunting with the effort.
“Or is this a little piggy I’ve got?”
Clearly a comment about the noises she was making, which she ignored. “Let me go!”
“Nuh-uh.” Its grip tightened.
She gasped at the pain and smacked at its unforgiving flesh.
“I got my orders,” it went on. Now at least forty feet in the air, it turned and started to fly toward the west. She didn’t know where it planned on taking her, but anywhere with this…this thing wasn’t good for her.
She heard a roar like a sudden upsweep of wind. Immediately following that, a deep voice bellowed, “Let her go!”
Hailey looked down into her back yard and gasped. It was him. Her dream lover.
Her captor gave a funny little jump, like it was startled, and a growl rumbled from above her. “You have no claims on her, incubus,” it snarled in a voice that was gruff and guttural. The creature hovered in the air with steady, slow flaps of its wings.
Hailey couldn’t take her gaze off the man standing below them. He was real! He was real?
Well, hell, why not? She was being carried away by a gargoyle, for crying out loud. Why wouldn’t her dark dream lover be real?
At least she knew now she hadn’t been imagining things, hadn’t been losing her mind.
Going forward…who knew? This might stretch reality beyond the capacity of her little peabrain to accept.
“This one’s mine,” the winged creature snarled. “If you’d done your job…” It trailed off and tightened its talons, piercing her flesh as it flew higher still. Hailey cried out. She felt blood begin to drip down her arms, her back, and instinctively struggled. Then she realized that if she did get free, she’d plummet to the ground. Trying to ignore the pain, she stilled, her breath coming in gasping cries, her heart pounding so fiercely she could feel the beat pulsing behind her eyes.
“Yeah, I’d be careful, little human,” the stone-thing muttered. “You might survive the fall, but not without harm.”
“Like you’re not planning to hurt me anyway?” she asked, her voice coming out as wispy as smoke. Being carted away by a thing her senses were telling her was real—and her brain still refused to compute—terrified her. For God’s sake, these things were supposed to be short and squat and attached to buildings. Not flying around terrorizing innocent women.
Repeating over and over There are no such things as living, breathing gargoyles wasn’t doing a bit of good.
“Don’t make me come up there after you, Chuck.” The man’s voice was impatient and carried in clear, harsh tones from the ground. “I’ll chisel you a new ass if you don’t let her go. And you know I can.”
As talons dug even deeper, Hailey closed her eyes against another wave of pain. Then just as suddenly as she’d been grabbed, she was let go.
“Catch her if you can,” she heard the gargoyle yell as he flew off.
As she hurtled toward the ground with sickening speed, her gasp turned to an ear-splitting scream. Before she could splat on the grass like a bug on a windshield, strong arms caught her. Her momentum carried them both to the ground.
She lay against a wide, warm chest covered by a pristine white t-shirt and fought to catch her breath. And her mind.
Demon of Her Dreams, copyright 2007 Sherrill Quinn. All Rights Reserved.