My assignment tonight is cuter than most. He’s asleep at his desk, his cheek stuck to the open page of a textbook. Strands of sun-bleached hair lie across his forehead, and his lips—which I may or may not have been admiring for the past half hour—are parted.
I slide off the window seat and creep across the room. It’s bigger than I first thought, and with couches and a television arranged to form a separate sitting area, it’s more like a hotel suite than a regular bedroom.
Great. More places for things to hide.
I shrink into a shadowed corner and wait. For what, exactly, I’m not sure—the Seers never See more than a glimpse of what may happen. The boy’s steady breathing fills the room. A breeze lifts the curtain, and I catch the flicker of a streetlight on Draven Avenue.
There she is! With a hiss, the serpent woman streaks across the room, lamplight reflecting off her scaly skin. I stretch my arms into position and feel the prickly warmth of the bow and arrow as they materialize in my hands. I pull back and let go. The arrow flies across the room in a shower of orange-gold sparks, finding its mark in the reptiscilla’s shoulder.
She cries out, stumbles, and twists in my direction. Her black eyes bore into mine. “It’s happening already,” she whispers.
She rips the arrow from her shoulder—a move that must have really hurt—and lunges for the boy. I toss my bow aside and dive toward him too, knocking his sleeping form to the floor. He’s awake now, which isn’t ideal, but at least he can’t see us.
I roll off him and spring to my feet, just in time for the reptiscilla to throw herself at me. We’re on the floor. She buries her fangs in my arm, but I barely register the stinging pain. I hear Tora’s voice in my head: Bend your knees, arch your back, thrust your opponent right off.
I hurl my body over and pin the reptiscilla down by her throat, my free hand already reaching into the air for another arrow. I bring it down swiftly, straight toward her heart.
But she’s gone.
Thankfully. I hate it when I have to kill them. With a heavy breath I collapse against the nearest wall, still gripping the arrow. The cord that held my hair back has come undone, and tangles of purple and black fall in my face. I push them away, and begin to feel the tingling ache of the reptiscilla’s bite.
“What . . . the hell . . . was that?”
I raise my eyes. The boy is looking at me.