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Griffin Feathers By Deborah McNemar

Damien Morrow has never fit anywhere.

Griffin Feathers

Damien let himself into his studio, letting the door fall closed with a clang behind him and aiming his keys at the chipped coffee mug on the nearest table. He missed.

It had been a long night. A good one overall, but long. He was drained. The gallery people had been very pleased with the turn out. The buyers had been free with their money. The critics had even seemed pleased for the most part though the truth of that would be found in the morning’s paper.

Star had seemed please with his painting of her. He’d first sketched her when she had fallen asleep on the futon months ago, a trusting angel in denim. The rest had come to him as he’d worked, snippets of detail so clear he could practically touch them. Tonight, he had watched her pick out those details, the forms he’d spent so many hours perfecting. Then she’d seen the Centaur.

He wasn’t sure why he’d included the Centaur. It had simply seemed to work its way into the shadows under his brush, taking life and form with every stroke. He’d seen her spot it and he knew he’d lost her.

He snorted, shrugged out of his jacket, dropping it over a stool, and jerked off his tie. He’d never had her to lose her. They’d been friends. Nothing more.

He picked up a brush from the table, letting it spin between his fingers. He didn’t feel like painting tonight. He didn’t feel like doing much of anything.

Pine. Ash. Aspen groves shivering in the breeze.

The scent caught him, making him think of spring rains and gilded leaves. He lifted his head, frowning. Someone was here.

A sharp sting in his left butt cheek brought him off the chair with a yelp. His searching fingers found a slender shaft embedded in his flesh and he pulled it free as he turned.

She stood on the stairs, an artist’s wet dream done in shades of gold, russet and brown. Her waist length hair glimmered gold, touched with crimson fire. She was dressed in slim fitting leathers and her almond shaped eyes were narrowed as she raised her bow again and took aim.

Damien jerked aside. Too late. Another dart lodged in his thigh. He yanked it free with a curse. He’d be damned if he’d sit there and let her turn him into a pincushion.

He rolled, coming to his feet in a lithe move. Moving fast, he went for the stairs, intent on taking her down.

She saw him coming and vaulted the railing to land cat-like in a fighter’s crouch on the floor of the studio.

But Damien had his own share of cat in him. He dove over the railing and took her down in a flying leap. Her bow clattered across the floor, out of reach now. They rolled, each battling for the upper hand. A stool went down with a crash and Damien cursed as they hit a workbench.

He tangled her legs with his, pinning her with his weight. It was a struggle but he managed to catch her wrists, pinning them over her head. Damn, but she was strong, all lithe muscle and sleek grace.

Her eyes were green. He stared down at her, momentarily arrested by the sight. The cool, misty color was at odds with her fiery coloring. It reminded him of a fairy glade on a summer day.

Nausea washed over him in a wave, tunneling his vision. He fought back the grayness but it was a losing battle. His vision narrowed until the world vanished altogether.

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