Sacrifice (The Gryphon Series Book 3)(8)

By: Stacey Rourke

I shook my head and tsked. “That’s a scary lookin’ dude.”

“I’ve got this, lovey.” Caleb kissed the top of my head and murmured into my wet, sandy hair. “Why don’t yah make sure everyone else makes it tah safety?”

“I’ll get them to safety, then I’m coming right back. You don’t get to have all the fun without me,” I said with a half-smile and pulled myself away to go wrangle the panicked masses.

Or … formerly panicked masses.

“Uh, Caleb?” I pointed.

He turned and gaped. “Blimey! They’re like zombies!”

“Very well behaved zombies.” The running and shoving stopped. The crowd slowed and walked in-land in an orderly fashion. Two gentlemen hoisted the man still sprawled on the ground to his feet. They draped his arms around their necks and ushered him along. The crowd parted and moved seamlessly around a bronze-skinned figure on the rise of a small sand dune. His hands were shoved casually in the pockets of faded jeans. The pale blue shirt he wore hung open to showcase sculpted abs.

“Miss me?” Sun-bleached hair fell across his forehead as Rowan gave me a cocky leer.

I should’ve known. Leave it to Rowan to turn a stampeding crowd into a bunch of trained circus monkeys without lifting a finger. An ex-member of the Dark Army, he had a talent for mind control. Fortunately, his power only worked on me when he touched me. A fact I found out the hard way. (I don’t wanna talk about how.)

Rumor had it that before being turned into a half-demon member of the Dark Army he was a real life pirate. Occasionally he even broke into a bit of the lingo. Personally, I thought it was just a gimmick he used to impress girls. However, he was about as trustworthy as a pirate. Everything he did or said was in some way self-serving.

His bare feet sank into the sand as he sauntered over. Turquoise eyes gave me an appreciative once over. Caleb noticed and tensed beside me.

The intimacy of his gaze prompted me to cross my arms over my chest. “What are you doing here?”

“Could ask you the same thing, Poppet.” One golden eyebrow rose. “Shouldn’t you be drudging through snow-covered mountains, saving the world all by your lonesome?” He ran is hand through his hair, leaving it in a tangled mess of waves.

“I got the night off.” Even I was surprised by my sharp and unforgiving tone. I guess Rowan brought that out in me.

Another bolt of lightning struck, this time close enough to rain sand on us. We shielded our heads until it passed.

“I’m guessin’ your friend there missed that memo,” Rowan said, then nodded at Caleb. The two had a very long history. For a couple hundred years, they were the closest thing to a friend each other had. “Cal, always good to see ya, mate.”

“Been too long, brotha.” Caleb stared out at the shadowy creature moving across the water like a tropical storm and brushed the sand from his shoulders. “Maybe we could save the reunion   for af’er ya use that nifty talent of yars on that thing?”

“Wish I could.” Rowan shrugged and shook grit out of his shirt.

I caught myself staring at the specks of sand that clung to his tanned and toned chest and quickly averted my gaze to the menacing shadow dude. Odd that I found that the safer option …

“I tried for him before I went for the crowd. Can’t reach him. He must be pure demon, my ability is human specific. Without a hint of humanity in him, I can’t break through.” He bumped me with his shoulder. “You might want to think about that, lass. Maybe you’re not as human as ya think. Could explain that touch factor.”

I chose to ignore his attempt to get under my skin—right after shooting him a ‘do me a favor and drop dead’ glare. “So if we can’t control him, what’s the plan?”

Caleb’s jaw flexed and his hands clenched into fists. Darkness fell over his features, giving him a dangerous and deadly appearance. “Row, get her out of here. I’ll handle this.”

“Uh, hello?” I snapped and shoved one hand onto my hip. “I’m the Chosen One, remember? Not some meek little girlie-girl that needs you to protect her.”

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