Seth came awake slowly, his body not wanting to let go of its blissfully dreamless state. The periods of rest when he didn’t dream were so rare that he wanted to cling onto them with every fiber of his being. But, something was tickling his ear and forcing him into consciousness.
“Wakey, wakey, Seth. I want to make sure I’ll still be able to use my arm when the circulation comes back.”
“Mmff.” Seth gave a bit of a snort mixed with a yawn and finally opened his eyes.
“It’s about time! You know I’ve been trying to wake you for the better part of ten minutes? You sleep like the dead!”
“The dead don’t sleep,” he yawned, tucking in his wings and staring at his bedfellow with green and silver eyes.
“Well, good morning Mr. Literal,” said Kitty, sliding her arm out from under him.
“Afternoon,” he replied, laughing when she slapped his bare shoulder.
“Whatever,” she snorted, shaking her arm to get rid of the pins and needles.
Seth watched the action propped up on his side, “Will it recover?”
Kitty nodded, “It should. I mean, it only went to sleep because you were on top of it.”
“Mm, yes, about that--I repeat the question I asked earlier, why are you here?”
“Well…” Kitty reached over and brushed some of the tear dust off of his cheek and held her hand out for inspection. “That’s why.”
Seth’s eyes narrowed and he brushed his cheeks roughly, almost slapping himself in his hurry to get rid of the glitter, “Stupid.”
“Why? Why is it stupid to cry about something? You were having a nightmare.”
“It’s stupid because crying doesn’t solve anything. It only shows weakness and I’m anything but weak.”
“Crying doesn’t make you weak, Seth. Just as hiding all emotion doesn’t make you strong. I don’t think you’re weak for having a heart.”
The half-angel raked his fingers through his hair, sighing gustily but otherwise remaining silent. He flinched when Kitty touched his arm but, for once, didn’t pull away.
“I-I went to the library yesterday before-” Kitty broke off, swallowing hard and clearing her throat. “Anyway…I…had the librarian help me find a particular article in an old issue of the Times.”
Seth gave her a look, “And what did you read?”
“You already know what I read. I shouldn’t have to tell you,” she murmured, tucking a piece of hair behind her ear.
“You’re right. I do know but I want to hear you say it,” he replied, staring her down.
Kitty shook her head, swallowing harshly.
“You couldn’t leave well enough alone, could you? You just had to see…had to poke around in my private life. Are you satisfied now or is there anything else you want to know?” He continued to stare at the apologetic young woman, making her squirm uncomfortably.
“I want to know a lot of things. But, I think I’ll wait for you to tell me the rest on your own.”
“You’re too kind.”
Kitty winced at the thick sarcasm in his voice. She’d hurt him with her snooping. Investigating a past which seemed to be both public and private at the same time. However, if he wanted her to back off she would for the time being.
She reached out to touch his arm again, “I’m sorry about what happened to your mother.”
“Don’t,” Seth barked, moving away.
Kitty bit her lip, her hand hovering in mid-air.
He looked back at her, intense pain flaring in his eyes and then disappearing, “I know, but just don’t.”
She nodded, seeing the wild animal in him tensed to lash out or spring. His muscles were corded so tight it amazed her they stayed inside his skin. She knew he was exercising an insane amount of control to remain in his human form.
“Seth, take it easy. You’re going to burst a major artery or something and I never took advanced first aid.”
“Why do you have to turn everything into a joke, Katherine?”
“Defense mechanism I suppose. Everyone has them…you seem to have them in abundance.”
Seth squinted his eyes at her but kept his silence.
“I mean, that is why you call me, Katherine. You can’t ever let anyone get close. You have to hold people at arms length and heaven forbid you call someone by a nickname-”
“That’s not why I call you, Katherine.”
The young woman paused, taken aback by his soft tone of voice, “Surprise me, then.”
“I don’t call you, Kitty because that’s the name of a little girl…and you are anything but a little girl.” His eyes were full of a liquid heat which was quickly doused by a cold shower of practicality. “Besides, it doesn’t suit you.”
“You’re the only one who thinks it doesn’t.” Kitty clicked her tongue against the roof of her mouth and smiled. “I don’t even think of myself as Katherine to tell you the truth.”
“When I was a child, I thought as a child…I’m paraphrasing of course,” said Seth, pulling his hair back and looking for an elastic band.
The young woman pursed her lips and scowled, “You don’t have to quote the Bible at me, Nephilim.”
“What did you call me?” he asked, securing his ponytail and raking her with another one of his unfathomable stares.
“Nephilim?” she replied, her answer sounding more like a question in her confusion.
“Huh.” Seth pulled a dark colored Pink Floyd shirt over his head and rummaged through his chest of drawers for a pair of jeans.
“Why? Is that significant?” Kitty tucked her hair behind her ear.
“No. It’s odd but not significant. Do you mind?” He motioned for her to turn her head.
“I don’t mind,” she smiled, leaning her chin on her hands. “Hey!”
Kitty suddenly found herself seated on the carpet outside of Seth’s bedroom door. She scrambled to her feet and yelled through the door, “That’s not funny!”
“It wasn’t meant to be,” came the muffled response.
The brunette leaned her back against the door and slid down it with a sigh, “You know, if it wasn’t for the way you look at me sometimes, I’d seriously wonder about your sexual preference.”
“Nothing. So, why was it odd again?”
“Why was what odd?” asked Seth, pulling open the door.
Kitty tumbled backwards with a mild shriek of surprise. She stared up at the man who now towered over her and turned red with embarrassment, “Why was my calling you a nephilim odd?”
“Anita called me that once upon a time…what’s wrong?” His charge had placed a hand over her heart and turned decidedly pale.
“I think I’m going to die of shock. You answered a question without giving me a hard time.”
Seth chose not to reply. He stepped over the reclining girl and straddled her. Taking hold of her forearms he pulled Kitty smoothly to her stocking feet.
“Thank you…” She acted as if she wanted to say more but fell silent instead. Placing a hand on his chest, she tilted her head back to look at his face. “Have you ever wanted something but knew you could never have it?”
“All the time.” Seth’s voice had deepened to a low rumble.
He leaned down and whispered in her ear, “I want a normal life and that’s something I’ll never have.”
“Hey, who needs normal?” she said, shivering at his closeness.
“I do and before all’s said and done you’ll want it too.” The half-angel shook his head.
“No, I won’t. A ‘normal’ life doesn’t have…it wouldn’t have…” Kitty stopped, afraid of shattering the fragile moment and making him withdraw from her.
Seth looked at her, his face carefully expressionless. But his eyes spoke volumes, telling her he knew precisely how she was going to end that sentence.
Kitty felt a burst of sudden, irrational anger. Her hurt at being quietly shut out of Seth’s life and the pain of Anita’s murder blended together and caused her to lash out at him for the second time in twenty-four hours, “Go ahead and run away! I can see in your eyes you’re just dying to!”
Seth’s gaze turned icy and he gave her a curt nod. He stumbled back as she shoved him and then vanished.
Kitty wiped her eyes, the anger evaporating and leaving tears in its wake. How could God have played such a cruel joke? Making her fall in love with two men she couldn’t keep.