The Gravity Engine

The Gravity Engine by Kylie Chan

Book: The Gravity Engine by Kylie Chan Read Free Book Online
Authors: Kylie Chan
 
     
    Michael waited quietly on the bench in the gardens of the medical facility. The garden was paved with red stones, and raised planter boxes held fragrant flowering shrubs. He looked at his watch; nearly time. He picked up the paperback next to him and pretended to read it, surreptitiously checking the path every thirty seconds. It was a few minutes before he realised he was holding the book upside down and he quickly righted it.
    He checked his watch again; she was late. Michael stayed very still and tried to avoid fidgeting as he pretended to read the book.
    He heard them talking before he saw them and sagged with relief. Clarissa’s carer was pushing the wheelchair and Clarissa was a small, curled-up shape lost in the chair holding her. She stopped talking as they came into view and didn’t meet his gaze. He turned back to the book, wishing that he could watch her with his Inner Eye, but she was an ordinary human and his Inner Eye could easily kill her.
    He peeked at her over the top of the book and d isappointment flooded through him again. Since she’d had the kidney transplant he’d hoped she’d regain some of her old strength, but she appeared as fragile and transparent as she always had: a shrunken, delicate, spun-glass figurine, twisted and deformed from the torture she’d suffered. Her hands were still rigid claws and her eyes were sunken and hollow, with the wide, unfocussed stare of those who’d been truly broken by the horrors they’d experienced.
    For a moment he saw her face against the light, and he was thrown back to a vision of the woman he’d known and loved : strong, clever, vibrant and full of life. She’d suffered no idiocy from him and been a formidable partner and challenging lover. She’d been his whole world, full of courage and intensity, and had reacted with pragmatic curiosity when she’d found out about his father, the Tiger God of the West, and the complex nature of his Celestial family ties. Instead of being frightened she was curious and intrigued, asking him to show her his abilities and revelling in the feeling of going flying with him. She’d loved being engaged to a ‘superhero’ and had adored his tiger form. He promised to always protect her from the demon menace, and she trusted him completely.
    T he demons had taken her and performed vile experiments on her to create a clone that had completely fooled him for weeks – until it exploded. The Dark Lord of the Northern Heavens told him that the original was probably dead, breaking Michael’s heart. Then the Dark Lord had infiltrated a demon nest and been shocked to find the real Clarissa a prisoner in the labs, patiently waiting for Michael find and rescue her. She came back a ravaged husk, nearly blind and unable to walk. Everything that had happened to her had been because she’d known Michael and he hadn’t protected her at all.
    The carer wheeled Clarissa out of sight through the garden and he leaned back on the bench and wiped his eyes, the novel forgotten.
    Clarissa’s psychologist appeared out of nowhere and sat next to him. ‘What do you see when you look at her?’
    ‘I see the good times we had together before all this happened. And a million regrets that I believed the Dark Lord when he said she was dead. I would have tried to find her – it never occurred to me that someone as powerful as him could ever be wrong.’
    ‘You’re still blaming the Dark Lord?’
    ‘No, of course not.’ Michael leaned forward, his elbows on his knees. ‘I blame the Demon King. And myself, for not protecting her enough. He had her and my mother both —’ His voice cracked. ‘Both of them. My mother is dead and Clarissa is broken. The Demon King has a massive debt to me and I will ensure that it is paid.’
    ‘And what about Clarissa?’
    Michael studied his hands. ‘I’m willing to wait for her as long as it takes.’ He looked up at where she’d been. ‘It tears my heart out to see her like this, but at

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