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Once the Kynd existed under God's grace, bearing witness to all things passing. Until the Schism when God and Lucifer clashed and the archangel was flung from the heavens. Refusing to choose sides, the Kynd were damned, too, forced to bear witness without the touch and comfort of another, their honorable name disintegrating into the dust of history. Now they are remembered merely as gargoyles and chimeras, and in their deaths, they become monsters of stone—Grotesques. Their Chosen Ones can save them. But after enduring centuries of solitary madness, who could love something so doomed.
Perching on the building’s ledge was pathetic. Darken knew that. It was so damned typical of what the rest of the world expected of him and his Kynd, he wanted to fling himself off the granite wall fifteen stories to the concrete below.
The landing wouldn’t kill him, but this was about the symbolism.
Craning his neck farther out to get a peek at the parking lot beneath his roost, he watched a light snow fall. While the humans in their cars chased the moments of their lives hither and thither, the wet tarmac below became a square, black pool framed by fresh white.
So not symbolizing what his world was about now. Nothing black and white about it, not since he’d severed ties with Death and snubbed his nose at God to save his brotherkynd, Merrick, skidding his world into a one-eighty.
He was no longer a burr stuck to Death’s cloak, severing souls with the scythe he’d carried. Now his weapon leaned in the corner of a spacious bedroom suite, gathering dust.
Just the way he preferred it. He was through with killing, especially since doing it called in the very reapers he wanted to avoid.
Severing souls from their dead or dying bodies bit ass, but so did sitting on this snow-covered ledge, some two hundred feet above the rest of the world. The only thing keeping his clothed ass in this cliché was the man sitting beside him.
His fellow Kynd, and in this particular case, a chimera made up of three creatures—gargoyle, vampire, and grizzly bear.
“Hey, Urick, maybe she’s not coming. Maybe she had other things to do, or the roads are too slippery.” Even as he spoke, he scanned the area below them, watching headlights glide through the night as cars navigated the little city of the Maine Medical Center’s campus.
“She’ll come.” The answer billowed on a puff of frosty breath, ringing with more determination than actual belief.
Darken pulled his attention off the ground below to his brotherkynd, who perched beside him. The bear chimera stood over six and a half feet tall with shoulders wide as a bank vault. Since joining Darken and the others, he’d shaved his long hair, hardening his edges so he looked like what he was—one tough son of a bitch. Though he didn’t have to, the giant of a man wore human clothes on this frigid night, when he could have shifted into his heavy pelt to protect himself.
Except this vigil wasn’t about the comfort. It was about appearances, and though the woman Urick watched for night after night would probably never glance out the window to see him, the bear chimera wanted to make sure she didn’t see him as…a frigging bear.
Human beings did not fall in love with animals. At least, not in the sense Uri wished for.
“Christ, just go in and introduce yourself the next time you see her. Quit hovering like a ghoul.” Despite the insult, Darken kept the barb out of it. He knew damned well why Uri didn’t just go inside. Like the rest of the Kynd who had decided to sever themselves from God’s eternal punishments, the chimera wasn’t wrapped tight enough for human company.
Entering a busy hospital was tantamount to a species’ suicide. The scent of blood alone would likely send the bear of Urick’s chimera into a frenzy. Never mind the vampire portion.
Jesus, Uri was so doomed. Especially if that was his Chosen One who came almost every night to visit the sick kids in the Oncology ward. Darken rested a rough hand on his brother’s massive shoulder and gave a tender squeeze.
Roosted in their shared silence, their breaths puffed around them as they gazed through the glass, watching the purposeful business of the staff.
“I am a ghoul.” Growled so low, Darken almost missed the curse; yet, he knew it came from the most ragged part of Urick’s heart.
He didn’t answer. Instead, he kept his eyes on the elevator, hoping like hell this woman would show to ease the chimera’s mood.
No such luck. And once tapped, the bear’s volatility was hard to cap. Just like the rest of them—the five Kynd who’d dared God’s wrath. None of them were wrapped too tight after thousands of years of torture.
“I’m a fucking loss, man. I can’t even stand in the same room with a human without sizing them up for a meal.” Uri couldn’t, but now wasn’t the time to agree with him. Too bad the gargoyle third of the chimera wasn’t strong enough to make him vegetarian like the rest of the Kynd.
“You do just fine with Angelia.” Merrick’s life-mate, who had remained with them even while the angel chimera had been getting his ass kicked in Hell. She had needed to be with the Kynd as much they had needed her. She’d been their tie to Merrick. Along with having some kind of mojo with that eerie—chunk-of-tome-penned-by-God-Himself—Scriptum, it made her one necessary human to have around.
Besides, she stilled their battered hearts when little else could.
“Angelia doesn’t count.”
No. Darken guessed she didn’t. She was Chosen. A special woman in extraordinary circumstances, yet so down to earth she warmed and rooted every one of them, no matter how fucked up they were.
“Then feed before you come here. Jesus.” As he cussed, Darken stiffened, readying himself for a swift cuff from the bear chimera. He wouldn’t be jumping the fifteen stories to a painful near-death, he’d be thrown instead.
A menacing growl eddied around them, but no bulldozer of an arm struck out to fling him off the ledge. Maybe Urick was getting better after all. Discretion kept him from pointing that out. It wasn’t exactly accolades. The bear was right, he was fucked.
Darken sat tight on the ledge beside his comrade, both immersing themselves in the silence they’d kept a few moments before. The snow continued to fall, capping their shoulders and heads, turning them into white dusted mounds. Still, Uri’s woman didn’t show.
And they were running out of night. “Bear, man. I’m sorry.” He was, too. He liked hearing the rapid beat of the chimera’s heart whenever they happened to see his suspected Chosen One.
Once, they’d positioned themselves so Uri could watch her interacting with the children, and Darken would never forget the smile on his brother’s face.
It was why he endured night after freezing night of perching on this hospital’s window ledge. He wanted to bask in the peace that radiated from the chimera whenever they watched the human woman.
But it wasn’t happening tonight.
“Come on, bear. I don’t know about you, but I do not want to get caught up here when the sun comes up.” Neither did the chimera, he suspected. Not only would he turn to stone like the other Kynd, Uri was part vampire. The sun wasn’t his friend on a couple of levels.
Darken clapped his hand onto the wide shoulder, spraying snow like it was powdered sugar.
“I thought tonight…” Uri let his protest trail off into a snarl.
Yeah, they both were hoping to see her, for their own reasons. God, he was such a shit, sometimes. He should be out searching for his own Chosen One, not siphoning the magic from his brother like a voyeur.
He could leave Merrick and Angelia, trusting they were both safe now that they’d mated and Merrick was free of the Kynd’s curse. But leaving the bear on his own wasn’t safe for anyone.
Especially if it turned out the human woman wasn’t Uri’s Chosen One.
What a mess that would be.
“I know, Uri. Come on.” Sympathetic to his brother’s plight, he tugged on his shoulder to get his ass in gear, and offered him a sharp-toothed grin. “If we’re lucky, maybe I’ll run over a deer on the way home.”
The bear chimera frowned, but an accident like that wasn’t such a bad idea. Vehicles could be replaced, and his brother could use the bloody nourishment.
Not that it was meant to be. There had been no Bambi to flatten with the truck, so they’d made it home in typical fashion. To spend the day with empty stomachs, their bodies immobilized in stone.