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Part 12

(Paranormal Apprehension Agency Serial)

Archer stood over the last harpy, who was gasping on the floor, clawed hands up in front as if she could ward off the final blow. “We just followed orders,” she gasped, blood bubbling up from her beaky mouth.

“Prince Lessian doesn’t give you orders,” Archer said, his voice a low, rich rumble. He wasn’t doing anything scary, standing in a calm position, arms at his side, expression neutral. But the ominous feeling in the air was strong enough that I found myself keeping back a few paces. Even Rufus did the same, pausing and lowering to sit and wait out this final scene.

“I control the Faerie court of darkness,” Archer continued. “I’m the one who deals in creatures such as yourself, and you should never have touched what was mine.”

Mine. That word should have me snarling and snapping at his blatant ownership, but for some stupid reason heat curled in my stomach. Heat that could not be attributed to the rune on my stomach.

There was something about Archer in this moment. His eyes, flaming silver, was the only visible show of power. But he was scary.

The harpy started to howl then, this keening cry, but Archer’s expression never shifted. Not even once. As the silver in his eyes brightened, almost glowing, she started to choke and splutter.

He was killing her without even laying a hand on her, and I never saw him sketch out a rune or anything.

This was the power of his damn mind, and I was not sure why that just deepened the heat in my gut.

I needed help.

Swiping across the rune on my stomach, I released the energy, since apparently I didn’t require help with warmth while Archer was in the room. Not that I’d ever tell him that.

The dark prince already had too much control of me, and knew I would be dead in five minutes without him. Maybe ten, if I worked really hard at surviving.

I needed him and he knew it.

“I escaped, you know.”

The words burst from me.

As the harpy choked out her final breath, going still, Archer shifted his gaze to me. One slow movement, that was far too smooth for a normal being to make. Almost as if his neck and head were attached to his body differently than how mine were.

Like I really needed another reminder that despite our similarities, we were still vastly different creatures. Especially in the power scale. 

He didn’t speak, stepping forward instead, until we were mere inches apart. I hated that I had to look up to him so dramatically. It felt like a disadvantage. But shying away from meeting his blazing eyes was even worse, so I craned my neck like the badass bitch I was, and met his eerie gaze.

“I escaped without your help. Garfield here found me halfway down the mountain.”

Rufus snorted. “Five feet from the cave entrance, but I’m not surprised that a pathetic human like yourself can’t judge distance.”

I couldn’t shift my gaze to glare at the cat. “I’m not a human,” I muttered.

“Could have fooled me,” he muttered back.

Meanwhile, Archer remained silent. So freaking silent.

Scary motherfucker.

“Come,” he finally said, turning to leave the cave.

And like a good girl, I almost did… and then I followed him from the cave.

Rufus smirked at me as he moved as well, and I had the sense–once more–that the fluffy beast could read my mind. All those dirty dirty thoughts.

Archer led us from the cave in a completely new direction again, and despite my small knowledge of this area, I was starting to see that there were many entrances and exits from this place. It made it hard to trap the harpies, but whatever Archer did, he’d managed to keep them in one place long enough to wipe them out.

“Does he know that the light Prince was on his way here to take me?” I ask Rufus, feeling unsure about addressing Archer while he was in this mood. It was an indirect way to let him know anyway, since I was sure he could hear, even being a few yards in front of us.

“He knows,” the cat rumbled back. “He knew before you did.”

Right. Hard to believe, but whatever. Not my issue, as long as everyone was in on the plan to avoid DNA Donor for as long as possible.

When we got outside, I immediately started to shiver, the warmth of my rune no longer active. Archer was standing on the edge of a rocky outlook waiting for us to approach, and when we did, he spun and placed a hand on my chest. The movement was so quick I could do nothing more than gasp.

If he’d wanted to kill me, he’d have achieved it before I even knew my time was up.

Tricky fae. Their speed was enviable… and terrifying.

Warmth bloomed under his touch. “More effective than the clumsy rune you were using,” he murmured, and I huffed, shaking off his touch.

“It was completely effective,” I shot back, rubbing at my arms, even though I was perfectly warm now.

“It was draining you,” Archer said with a snarl. “You risk yourself too much.”

Our gazes held for a beat, his no longer silver, but he was somehow still intense. “Risk myself?”

“Stay alive,” was all he said, and then he broke our moment, stepping off the mountain.

Stay alive. He needed me to stay alive, so he could use me for his end game. There was nothing else in that statement, and I forced that truth to the front of my mind as I followed him off harpy mountain.

The next few hours were not fun, trudging down a mountain, through blizzard like conditions, with two silent males. But, at least I wasn’t captured and on my way to being murdered by the fae prince, so that was something.

Always find your silver linings.

When we finally made it off the mountain, it was to end up back in a forest, but it didn’t look or feel like the one I’d been taken from. This was darker and more ominous.

“We’re actually closer to my territory here,” Archer told me when he set us up for the night. “No one should attack in this area.”

“So the harpies really were betraying you with their actions, since they all but live on your doorstep?”

The prince’s controlled the creatures in their part of Faerie, apparently.

Archer’s chest rumbled, even as he took a seat on a log near the small fire he’d created from thin freaking air. “I don’t tolerate disloyalty. I’m not an unfair ruler, but if you have an issue, you come and speak to me. You do not attack when my back is turned.”

Nope. Apparently that got you unalived.

He fell into silence then, and even Rufus was silent, until he eventually slunk off and returned a while later with two small hare-like creatures. They were skinned and roasted over the fire soon after, and I drifted off to sleep warm, safe, and content. Three things I had not expected to be experiencing this night after waking in the harpy hold.

Should have known it wasn’t to last. Just as the sunlight tinted the sky in shades of pink, a shadow washed over us in the clearing, and I surged upright just in time to see a damn giant about to attack. It was so huge, two massive fists lifted above it’s head as it stood over us. 

Rune’s were already sketching across the ground before me, my fingers moving faster than my brain. Just as the beast moved its meaty hands to attack, I managed to slam the first of my shields into place.

I cried out at the blow to my energy, my body lowering to the ground with the hit, but thankfully I wasn’t alone this time. Archer would back me up. 

Or so I thought.

The dark prince in question got to his feet and wiped a hand through my shield like it wasn’t even there.

Wiped the shield and let the giant right into our midst.

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