Chapter, 16, Part 1
Cassie took a deep breath and folded her wings. She hit the ground with an audible crack to her knee. She winced and tried not to vent her feelings in a shout. She stood with a groan and tested out her knee. Probably just bruised on top of bruises. She still hadn’t gotten the landing down, and she was still just practicing in the wide training area with the fans.
Two stupid months and I still can’t do this, she thought. Everyone else was making some progress with their powers. Caleb was thriving in the environment. Cassie thought it was mostly because he had his big brother around again. Even Sam had started some training in the three weeks since their rooftop conversation. He was getting even better at controlling the fire.
She limped over a bench by the wall and chugged some water. She was alone in the room for the moment. Lunch was the only time of the day when she could work without someone watching her. And she really didn’t like the added pressure that brought. She swiped a towel across her sweaty forehead and pulled it around her neck as she sat. Captain Santos had said they were getting closer with a lead on Amelli for the past three weeks as well. She was getting tired of the same story. But what if they really had nothing and Mariah really was lost?
Her hand found the smooth bore of the bullet casings that formed her cross necklace. She’d just have to trust. Didn’t mean it was easy, but her mom had drilled the lesson home and after all this time, Cassie knew there had to be Someone looking out for her. She sighed and pushed herself to stand. Might as well try again.
She was two feet off the ground when she heard her name frantically called by Luke. She knew him enough by now to know nothing was seriously wrong, but he was excited about something. Guess I better see what he wants. “In here!” she shouted and folded her wings and didn’t even notice when she executed a near perfect landing.
Luke burst through the doors to the training gym.
“There’s someone here!”
“What do you mean?” she asked.
“Someone who heard the signal!”
“Holy crackers!” Cassie almost fell over.
“Yeah! Doc wants you ASAP. The dude asked about you since you said your name on the broadcast.” Luke was practically jumping up and down and Cassie was about to join him.
“I didn’t even really think it would have worked!”
“Think later, go now!” Luke grabbed her arm and hustled her out the door.
“Who is it?” Cassie regained control of her arm as they hustled down the hall.
“No idea. Gate guards escorted him in and straight to Doc. I was the closest one around and he sent me to get you.”
“The others know?”
They skidded to a halt outside Dr. Braxton’s office and Cassie took two seconds to look at herself. She was in workout clothes and hadn’t even though to pull her loose t-shirt over her tank top.
“Crap, I look terrible!”
“You’re only a little sweaty and stinky.” Luke gave her a thumbs up and then knocked.
“Come on in,” Braxton’s voice cheerfully called. Luke invited himself in with Cassie and they both got a good look at the newcomer.
He wasn’t tall, maybe about 5’9”, but compact. A backpack rested beside worn biker boots tucked under faded jeans. He wore a leather jacket and dark hair was pushed up to the top of his head in an unruly ridge. Cassie estimated him to be a little older than Josh. He turned to them and flashed a smile, his whole bearing exuding confidence.
Braxton stood and was practically rubbing his hands together in delight. “Cassie, Luke, this is Declan Kelly.”
Declan extended a hand to Cassie first. “How’s it going?” he asked in a rolling Irish accent. “I take it you’re Cassie.”
She gave a nod and returned the hand shake, still warily sizing him up.
“I’m Luke,” he butted in.
“Hey, man.” Declan shook Luke’s hand.
“Where you from?” Luke wasted zero time.
“Dublin. I heard your message about a week ago. I’d just…uh, been fired, so I decided to check it out.”
Braxton cut off Luke’s next questions. “Declan here was just explaining his ability to me.”
Cassie couldn’t help her eager look. Luke’s enthusiasm for their capabilities had rubbed off to a certain extent. Besides, this was someone new! Luke, in contrast, looked like a kid in a candy store. Declan chuckled when he saw their expressions.
“This one shouldn’t come as much of a shock to you,” he addressed Cassie. “Still, easier to show you.” He glanced around the room. “Stand back.”
All three did as ordered as Declan shrugged out of his jacket. His words finally registered with Cassie. Not a shock to me. Does he have…? Declan pulled his shirt over his head and a pair of glossy black wings slowly extended from his shoulders. There was barely enough width to the room to allow their span. Cassie stared as Luke eagerly slapped at her shoulder and hyperventilated as if she couldn’t see what was right in front of her face. The wings vanished with a smooth roll of Declan’s shoulders and he pulled his shirt back on in almost the same fluid movement. Cassie watched, a little jealous. She still looked like she was getting electrocuted whenever she retracted her golden wings.
“Incredible!” Braxton exclaimed. “We had never really considered the possibility of repeat powers.” He also looked like he was about to start hyperventilating. Declan just looked slightly amused at everyone’s reaction.
“This is so awesome!” Luke grinned.
“Indeed!” Braxton agreed. “Now, I simply must tell the others. Cassie, everything checks out with him so why don’t you and Luke take him to meet the others.”
Thanks to Merry for suggesting Kelly as Declan’s last name! And thanks for the other suggestions as well! Y’all are awesome. So what do y’all think of Mr. Kelly? 🙂