“What are you doing?” he asked, a smile in his voice.
I shrugged one shoulder.
He grinned. “Are you going to stand there and watch me sleep?”
My nose wrinkled. What did he think I was? A creeper? “No.”
“Then come on.” He patted the bed next to him. “I don’t bite. Unless you want me to.”
The kind of heat that flushed my face could fry eggs. Dez laughed deeply. “I’m kidding, Jas. Come on. I’m tired and I won’t be able to sleep without you getting in the bed.”
I cocked my head to the side. “Really?”
“Yeah,” he replied, yawning. “I’d be too worried about you being uncomfortable. And possibly staring at me while I sleep.”
“I’m not going to watch you sleep!”
I crept forward, until I was halfway up the big bed. He yawned again, casting his attention to the TV. Dragging in a deep breath, I grabbed the edge of the covers and slid in, settling on my back.
My chest was rising and falling so fast I swore I could see the blanket move.
“Good night, Jas.”
That was it? He was seriously going to sleep and wasn’t going to, I don’t know, test out this bed? I should’ve felt relieved, but... but I was disappointed in a way. “Good night.”
Seconds stretched into minutes and then Dez rolled onto his side, facing me. I held my breath. Another handful of seconds ticked by and then my body moved without my brain really catching up to it.
I rolled onto my side, and our gazes locked. There was a foot between us, but the space felt nonexistent as we stared at each other. In that moment I didn’t think I’d ever be able to sleep, but the beauty of his blue eyes and the slight smile on his lips was the last thing I saw before I slipped away.
Even dedicating a full day to touring New York City the following day, there was no way I could visit every museum, see every street I’d only read about or visit all the landmarks. We’d spent an ungodly amount of time in a toy store that seemed to have everything.
That night, together, we flew over the city to Ellis Island and then back to the Upper West Side, landing among the majestic statues of our kind and gazing down at the shimmering lights of the cars and street lamps below us.
I thought about that morning and felt warmth bubbling in my chest. When I woke up, I’d been half sprawled on him, my leg thrown over his and my head nestled in the crook of his shoulder. Unless he had dragged me over him in the middle of the night, which could be plausible, it had been me that had sought him out. He hadn’t seemed to mind, though. His arm had been secure around my waist.
Waking up like that had been... well, it had been more than nice.
“We can’t stay here long,” Dez said, stretching out his wings until they brushed over mine. I shivered at the intimate contact. “The clan is hunting and, while your father approved of this trip, I doubt he’d be happy to know you’re out here at night.”
I nodded as I leaned forward, my hands digging into the ledge. My senses were going off left and right. There were a lot of demons moving around down there, more than I imagined there would be.
“How many do you think are here?” I asked, glancing at Dez. “Demons, I mean?”
He tipped his head back, eyeing the stars. “Hundreds. Mostly Fiends like the one we saw yesterday. Some will be Posers and maybe an Infernal Ruler or two.” He stood, twisting his head from side to side, working out a kink in his neck. “They’ll come across an Upper Level demon at some point tonight. Whether they capture it is the question.”
Once a demon was captured, it was promptly sent back to hell or interrogated. I wasn’t supposed to know about these things as females were kept out of politics, but there’d been many times over the past, while suffering a never-ending case of boredom, that I had eavesdropped on my father’s conversations. I knew that there were locations in the city where demons were questioned, using tactics that had frozen the blood in my veins.
Tension radiated from Dez. It was palpable in the air. “You want to be out there, don’t you? Hunting?”
“It’s hard not to.” He glanced down at me, his eyes a deep blue and lips a dark gray. “It’s ingrained in us.”
So they said. I turned my attention back to the ground below. Carrying out my desire to hunt a demon here would be too risky. We could run into a clansman and that would bring this little trip to an end. Still, the idea of that many demons out when there wasn’t even a quarter as many Wardens to handle them was disturbing.
A cool wind tossed my hair and teased the thin membranes in my wings, causing them to flutter restlessly. “Why are there so many?”
“No one knows what went down in hell or why so many demons were cast out.” Dez turned and reached down, offering me his hand. “But the numbers are growing. They’re up to something—something big.”
I placed my hand in his, letting him pull me up. “But we’re going to stop them.”
He smiled as he hopped down on the rooftop and then placed his hand on my hip. I didn’t need the help, but he insisted and I let him. “Do you want to head back to the hotel or go down to the streets?”
It was late and I knew as the hours went by, a battle of sorts would take place in the streets and even in the skies. As badly as I wanted to be out here, I wasn’t stupid. A female Warden would end up being a demon magnet and getting Dez in major trouble. My desire to experience both a hunt and more of the city would have to wait.
“Let’s go back.”
Heading to the other side of the building, I darted in front of him, tossing him a grin over my shoulder. “Beat you back to the hotel?”
His laugh was deep and rumbled through the night. “It’s on.”
Vaulting the ledge, I hit air and spread my wings, using the burst of wind to carry me up. I didn’t have to look behind me to know that he was right there. I flew up between the two skyscrapers, my laugh lost in the rush of air as I soared over the building. We shot up, circling a long and thin antenna. Dez gained on me, but I dipped, gliding down, past so many floors I lost track in the fall.
It was like old times, when we were kids and would race over the mountains, back to the mansion. I glanced over my shoulder, spying Dez through the strands of my hair. The chase was different now in a way. My muscles quivered in anticipation, and not of winning the race.
We were neck and neck as I nosedived over the top of our hotel. As I’d done above the mountains, I let gravity do its thing. I tucked back my wings and the world spiraled as I picked up speed. Lights. Darkness. Lights. Darkness.
“Jasmine!” Dez’s shout became a mere whisper.
At the last second, a heartbeat before it would be too late, I unfurled my wings and flipped, touching down in the alley on my feet. Chunks of asphalt flew in the air at my impact, startling a man walking a dog at the end of the alley, sending them both scurrying down the street and into the night.
Dez landed half a second later and was in my face even quicker. “What in the Hell were you thinking?”
“I won!” I twirled, arching my wings. “That’s what I’m thinking.”
He caught my arm, stilling me. His eyes blazed with fury. “You could’ve killed yourself pulling a stunt like that.”