Saving Thomas: A Midway Novel Book Two (Hidden Wings)
I didn’t know how long I’d been out, but it wasn’t long enough for my body to heal. I couldn’t move without pain coursing through every part of me. I was bruised and broken, blood coated the ground beneath me.
Every few hours they’d enter, soaking me with a bucket of cold water. Then, I was brutally beaten until I was unconscious, then left alone until it all started again.
In my mind, I tried to find a place of reprieve, a place I could disappear, but there was no place that could escape the pain.
The last beating was one I didn’t think I would ever recover from. It was then I wished I’d never been given wings. They held a sword to my leg, and said that if I didn’t call my wings, they’d chop it off. The only thought that entered my mind was that if I ever made it out of here alive, I’d need my leg to surf. I could grow my wings back, even though it would take some time. But I couldn’t grow a limb back.
How many days had I been in this prison cell? There was no sense of time here because there was only darkness—an eternal darkness slowly swallowing up my sanity, adding to the unending torment. With eyes open or closed, it didn’t matter. It was all the same to me. They’d quenched all light, only bringing torches when they came to torture me.
Each time they asked me to help them lure the Nephilim from the protective barrier of the Gray home, but my answer never changed. No matter how much pain they inflicted, I would never give them up. I would die before I did.
When they forced me to call my wings, I prepared for pain. But I never expected a level of pain so intense I prayed for death. When they held my beautiful wings out to the sides, and hacked them off with a sword, I thought my time was up.
Wings were magical, connected to the very fiber of what we were made of, and who we truly were. When they severed my wings, it was like they cut me in half, and with that, severed my hope and any will I had left to live.
It had come to the point that I just wanted to fade from existence. They’d beaten the very will to live right out of me and I didn’t know how much more of this torture I could endure. My ankles were still clamped with a heavy manacle. The skin underneath was raw and felt infected.
I knew it would be a matter of time before they’d come and start the beatings again, and now, I just wanted them to end it. No one knew where I was. I wasn’t even completely sure. I suspected, by the sulfuric stench and the humid conditions that I was in the Underworld.
Closing my eyes, I heard a rustling outside of the door.
“Open it,” a female voice said with authority, and in a few moments, the door swung open.
I could barely open my eyes when I saw a pair of feet walk in.
“Get me a rag and a clean bucket of water,” she ordered.
The feet, in black heels, stopped next to my head and then took a knee in black leather pants. She was Fallen, her scent unmistakable. But she was also wearing a floral perfume that was so much more pleasant than the stench of sulfur.
“Damn brutes. What the hell have they done?” she exhaled. More footsteps entered and placed a bucket next to the woman. “Release his bonds, then leave us.”
I felt pressure on my ankles as the man released the shackles. He then exited and the door shut behind him.
Without saying a word, the woman dipped a rag in the bucket and rang it out. I flinched as she brought it near my face.
“This won’t hurt,” she said, before gently pressing the rag to the side of my cheek, gently wiping away the blood and grime. It felt nice. I’d forgotten what a gentle touch had felt like, being accustomed to brutality for countless days.
Who is she? Was she sent as another torment . . . to clean me up before another beating?
She continued to wipe my body . . . face, neck, and arms. I stayed quiet and let her, but when she tried to turn me to my back, I pulled away from her.
“I’m not here to hurt you,” she said softly. The torch on the wall gilded her face. She was pretty, shoulder-length raven hair. But her eyes…they were a dark crimson, almost the same color as her full lips. “For hell’s sake. They weren’t supposed to beat you to death.” She almost sounded pissed.
She slowly helped me to a sitting position and handed me a flask. “Its non-toxic water,” she said with a grin.
I took it and emptied the contents in seconds, not realizing how thirsty I was. “Who are you?” My voice exited in a rasp.
A low laughter rumbled from her chest. “Not your fairy Godmother.”
She was witty.
Just when I thought she wasn’t going to tell me, she pulled a pouch from behind her back, reaching inside to pull out bandages and a tube that looked like toothpaste.
“My name is Mariel,” she said, tending to my ankles.
I tried not to move as she cleaned the raw flesh with the wet rag. She then squeezed some ointment from the tube onto her fingers and rubbed it on. The stinging pain immediately subsided, then she carefully wrapped the bandages around the wounds.
“Do they know you’re here?” I questioned.
“Why wouldn’t they?” She glanced up to me with a raised brow.
“I just thought—”
“Yeah, I know what everyone thinks about women warriors. But, I just happen to be Lucifer’s sister.”
“Sister?” I breathed, mostly to myself. The Underworld had many well kept secrets.
“Funny right? No one ever mentions the King of the Underworld’s goddess and gorgeous sister. The one who really runs the show down here.”
“Why are you tending to me?” I had to ask why Lucifer’s sister was being nice to me. Was this a good cop, bad cop move? Trying to use both methods to throw me off?
“Because this,” she gestured to my beaten body, “is not what was ordered. I am not fond of Beleth’s barbaric methods.”
Beleth must have been the leader. “What was the order?”
“To hold you until we reached a bargain with the others.”
“A bargain . . . meaning you want the Nephilim.”
“Not me,” she said, shaking her head. “They want the Nephilim.”
“Why? To kill them?” The sudden exhale of breath sent pain shooting through my chest. I curled forward, my ribs still bruised and broken.
“I’ve been trying to fight those who want to kill the half breeds. It was never our plan to murder them. My nephew, Ethon, was a Nephilim, so why would my brother send out a decree to have them slaughtered? He may be wicked, but he loved his son and wouldn’t have done anything to risk his life.” She squeezed more of the ointment on her fingers and began to rub a bit of it on each of the wounds on my arms. “Lucian, on the other hand, did just that. Even now that he’s gone, there are others who were loyal to his cause and still upholding his views and laws he set, regarding the Nephilim.”
“Nephilim are beings, living and breathing. They don’t deserve to die for the sins of their immortal father’s.”
“I know,” she sighed. “Believe me, I know.”
My left eye was swollen shut, my head splitting. But after she rubbed the ointment on my lip, bruised cheeks, nose, eye, and then gently massaged it into my temples, the pain started to numb.
Her hands were warm and gentle, so contradictory to the other Fallen.
“I’m sorry they took your wings,” she said.
I shook my head. What they did was unforgivable, even for an angel like me. Not sure of her true intentions, I was wary of her visit.
“If you don’t mind, I’d like to clean your back,” she said, wringing out the bloodied rag.
After pausing, I decided to let her do it. The pain continuously radiating through my body was from the severing of my wings. Slowly turning my back to her, she dragged the bucket closer and carefully wiped around the wounds.
“So, has the immortal bond revealed your mate?” Mariel asked.
I hated that she was asking personal questions. The last thing I wanted was for the Fallen to know anything about my personal life.
“No,” I replied.
“Well, that’s too bad. There is nothing like the feeling of finding the one person in the universe to share the rest of your life with.” She laughed to herself. “My brother thinks I’m a hopeless romantic. And I have to admit that he’s right. Being in the Underworld, I have to portray the badass warrior woman on the outside. But that’s just a façade.” The washcloth touched the wound and I jerked forward. “Sorry. Let me put some of this ointment on it first.”
“What kind of ointment is it?”
“Magical, isn’t it?” she whispered. “If they knew I was using this on you, I probably would never get access to this medicine again.”
“What is it?”
“It’s for our warriors. If they are injured in battle, they are stitched up and this is rubbed on the wound. It doesn’t heal it, but it takes away the pain so they can continue fighting. If Beleth knew I was rubbing this on your wounds, he’d never forgive me. So, please. Let’s keep this our secret.”
I nodded, thankful for her kindness. “I’m a pretty good actor.”
A loud male voice boomed outside the door. “Where is she?”
“Speaking of the demon,” Mariel huffed. She quickly threw the ointment into her bag and tucked it into her suit. Then, she began bandaging my back.
I leaned forward, my head resting between my bent knees, just as the door crashed open.
“Mariel, what the hell are you doing?” Beleth growled.
She finished tying off the bandage before casually standing. “I’m cleaning up the mess you and your idiotic scum created,” she rumbled back.
“You are not allowed in this area.”
“And, you are not in charge,” Mariel said, stepping forward to meet him. “Don’t forget who rules this world, Beleth. I would have you banished for your insolence.”
Beleth didn’t respond, but his loud and ragged breath was more than enough of an answer.
I guessed Mariel did have some clout in this place and I was beginning to like her.
Beleth exhaled loudly. “You know I’m the best at what I do. Sometimes there are measures you need to take to get a job done.”
“And what measures have you gained by beating this angel senseless?”
I glanced up to see the anger in his eyes as he glared at her. “What concern is it of yours anyway? If it ends with the result we wanted, who cares?”
“I do. What if the tables were turned and you were the one used as a bargaining tool? Would you turn on your brothers? And if you didn’t, would you think being tortured senselessly for being honorable was okay?”
“This is none of your business.”
“I’m making it my business,” she said firmly. “If I find you’ve laid a hand or a weapon on him again, that same beating will return to you, threefold.”
“This is bullshit!” he spat. “Lucifer will hear about this.”
“Yes, be sure he does. It’ll save me the trip.”
With a loud roar, Beleth stormed out and slammed the door behind him. Mariel turned to me and laughed. “Men—Fallen or mortal—they’re all the same. You should be safe for the time being. I’ll be back shortly with some provisions.”
As she turned to leave, I called her name, and her head twisted back.
“I just hope that if my mate were in the same position, someone would do the same for him.” She gave a sad smile and walked out.
I was clean and the pain now manageable, but my mind was spinning. Lucifer had a sister, and she was cool. She was the yin to his yang, and that’s why he kept her secret. If anyone knew Lucifer had a decent, kind-hearted sister, maybe it would ruin his wicked-ruler-of-the-Underworld persona.
Just when I felt like my life was going to end, hope came in the most unexpected way, from the most unsuspecting person. I wondered how many people knew of Mariel, because I’d never known that Lucifer had a sister. But then again, I never knew he had a son either.
I kept wondering if Alex got the message. I wasn’t even sure if it went through because the phone was knocked from my grasp. I just wished there were a way to make contact with them. Yes, I was on the threshold of death, but I was alive.
No one had entered after Mariel left, and I wondered when Beleth would storm in and dole out my next beating.
The quietness of the cell was a small victory that allowed me to rest. I just had to keep holding on. For however long that would take, I’d just keep breathing and surviving.