For an instant, he wasn’t able to make sense of what was happening—how could he be airborne for so long?
And then he landed on Hagan’s car.
The sound of the shattering glass was awful but nothing like the pain. It shot through Kaeden like a bolt of electricity and then smoldered. His back had flown straight into the windshield, and the force had knocked his head backwards, slamming it into the roof of the car. He was vaguely aware of his back burning and could feel his t-shirt getting sticky with blood, but with the blinding pain emanating from the back of his head, he was well beyond his pain threshold and couldn’t really feel anything more than hazily. With each beat of his heart, though, his head seemed to explode a little more.
But he needed to move. The man was still here. How could he have been so strong? Hagan’s car had been yards away, hadn’t it? The memory wavered, and he couldn’t focus on it. No, he needed to focus. With some difficulty, he forced his fluttering eyes to stay open and saw the man moving toward him. The strange, hesitant posture Kaeden had noticed before was gone, replaced by a confident, casual stroll that warred with the twitchy scowl he wore on his face. Kaeden tried to move, but everything felt so heavy. Had he damaged his spinal cord? Had he hurt the part of his brain that dealt with movement? Which part was that again? He couldn’t remember. He couldn’t think. All he could even marginally focus on was the man walking toward him.
And then that became all too easy.
That can’t be right.
Kaeden refused to believe he was seeing what he thought he was seeing. He was too practical to entertain the notion that he might be dreaming—he hurt too much to be dreaming—but maybe he was hallucinating? He had hit his head pretty hard. He blinked a few times, trying to banish the image, but it remained. Suddenly, against all logic and reason, a pair of leathery blue wings protruded from the man’s back. What the hell is this guy?!
Kaeden began hyperventilating and was alarmed when this brought up blood.
The man was now less than three feet from Kaeden, and up close, he saw that his forearms up to the elbows had changed too, now of the same blue leather as the wings, the nails black claws. He laid one mutated hand on the right side of Kaeden’s rapidly rising and falling chest, holding him down. Kaeden raised an arm to try to bat it away, but there was no strength behind it, no coordination to the movement, and the man just laughed and pressed down harder, digging his nails into Kaeden’s chest. Kaeden cried out in pain, but it came out a gurgling, choking sound as blood again found its way up his esophagus.
“Shh,” the man purred, his left hand poised just above Kaeden’s heart. “Just close your eyes and picture heaven. Then it won’t hurt as much.”
In the single instant following those words, Kaeden had a moment of clarity where everything except a single string of thought faded into the background: the man, thing, whatever it was—it was going to kill him.
For more from Cerberus, check out the Solace book series on my website.