âThatâs her good side.â
I force myself to laugh to fill the silence bound to take hold of Dylan. He stares at nothing in particular, avoiding my eyes like Iâve turned into Medusa. He fidgets with his shirt sleeves before leaning on his elbows.
âSo...â I adjust my loose bun, tightening it. Awkward silence settles between us for a moment as I figure out what to say next. âI donât want to be blunt, but how are you even possible? Iâve always thought angels were ethereal, androgynous beings. Not exactly the type to hook up with mortals.â
âI guess Alana has never explained the mechanics in making a baby,â Dylan says, smirking.
My mouth drops open. Iâm absolutely mortified. âWh-what?â I stammer, covering my heated cheeks with my hands. âI know that already. She saved me three years ago, not ten. I meanââ
âI was joking.â Dylanâs lips curl into a mischievous grin. âYouâre cute when youâre embarrassed, you know.â
I swallow hard to calm my nerves. âYeah, well, youâre not so hot when youâre making fun of me.â Could I be any more of a dork?
Dylan smiles, his adorable dimples flashing again. I begin to wonder if he has any flaws; maybe a scar or a freckle to show his human half. It would make me feel better about my Plain Jane features. I guess itâs better than sticking out in a crowd. I get enough attention from demons as it is. There isnât a big need for me to get attention from humans too.
âGood to know,â he chuckles. âAnd to answer your question, some angels decide that freewill and mundane emotions are the way to go. The Veiled Realm is full of possibilities.â
âI thought angels wereâwere pure,â I say.
âForget everything youâve heard. Itâs usually a distorted version of the truth. And remember to be careful. The truth really can kill you.â
My breath catches as Dylanâs fingers rub my cheek. I flinch away. His worry for my suffering is too hard to grasp. Could he really know where I fit or who I should be? My pounding heart echoes in my ears. I swallow the sour taste of my pride and bury my anger and vulnerability deep inside. It takes every ounce of my strength to stay still. Iâm not sure if I should slap him and make him stop or simply run away with him.
âCami,â he says. âLook at me.â
I lift my gaze, staring into his eyes. And then a thought hits me like a burning comet falling from the sky. Dylan isnât trying to rouse the pain in my soul or carry me into a new life. He is showing me options I have that I was never aware of. I donât have to run forever. I can find my place in the world. My cheeks warm, and my nerves settle.
Yet, his efforts are futile. I would never leave Alana, and thatâs why my emotions have gotten out of control. I refuse to live a life without her, even if it makes me an outcast in both worlds.
âYouâre beautiful.â Dylan tucks strands of my dark hair behind my ear. âI wish I didnât have to go.â
âMe too.â My shoulders hunch in disappointment. I knew this moment would come. Dylan has a life to go back to. I should be used to meeting people and never seeing them again, but Iâm tired of that. Why canât I be normal?
âYou could come with me.â Dylan cups my face in his hands. âAlana isnât the only one who can keep you safe.â
âIt isnât possible. This is the only way I can try to be normal. Itâs for the best.â I would love to run away from this life, but I canât trust Dylan. Iâve known him a few hours, and it would be crazy to even consider it. I like him, but I also like chocolate, reading, and not being bothered by demons, too.
âYeah, for the best,â Dylan mumbles.