“Why did I let you talk me into this?”
Daniel chuckled, holding onto me. “Oh, come on. You said you liked it!”
I gestured to the black wings strapped to my back. “You didn’t say anything about costumes.”
“All part of the fun, Ria.” He guided me around the rink as I tried my hand at skating backwards.
“I didn’t see you dressing up!” I pouted, giving him a small push.
He held me at arm’s length, giving me a once over. “I think it suits you, you know, with the white dress and everything.”
I looked down to hide a smile. “Why couldn’t the wings match?”
A voice caught up to us as a red-clad figure hovered near. “Looks like Danny boy didn’t tell you about the song.”
Daniel froze, glaring at Evan. “You don’t know the meaning of surprise, do you?”
He smirked, placing a hand on my shoulder. “I just wanted to see the look on her face, and it was worth it.” He exited the rink laughing and sank down at a bench to watch us.
I shook him. “Does this mean we’re performing? I thought you said it was random.”
He turned back to me, leading me to the other side of the rink. “It’s rare, but some people will just wait for all the others to leave and volunteer. I was hoping, maybe…”
“Is that why I got these wings? You planned this?”
“I just wanted to surprise you. I thought you’d-”
The lights flicked off, and an alarm wailed. Daniel grabbed my hand, trying to shove through the crowd. The sea of bodies flowed toward the nearest exits, and I lost my grip. The crowd separated us, leaving me to find another way out as beams darted around the rink.
“I don’t think so, wouldn’t wanna ruin Danny’s hard work.” Evan swept me out into the middle of the rink.
I tried to skate around him, but he yanked on the wings. I cried out as I fell backwards, landing on the ice at his feet. The fall knocked my flower crown from my head, and it skittered across the frozen glass. The black wings softened the impact, but when I made my way to my feet, I caught sight of how they’d bent. Daniel raced over with the spotlight chasing him before it shined on all three of us. The announcer’s voice boomed and echoed with the speakers.
“It looks like we have some familiar faces performing tonight, and it looks like we already have a song. The trio will skate to Tears of an Angel this evening. You have two minutes before we get started. Good luck!”
Daniel took my hand, trying to lead me away from the center when Evan blocked us.
“Come now, you wanna be a good sport, don’t you, Danny boy?”
Daniel growled, trying to push past him. “Don’t start with me!”
Evan rounded us, picking my flower crown up from the ice. I held my hand out as he came near, but he lifted it out of reach.
“You’ll have to work for it.”
Daniel tried to snatch it away, but I grabbed him, ushering him back.
“Let’s just do it. Get it over with, right? Then I’ll get my crown back, and we can go.”
“Are you sure? You shouldn’t have to-”
“I hope you folks are ready to go in three, two, one…”
Soft, foreboding notes filled the room from a piano playing over the speakers. Daniel led me through patterns on the ice as Evan hovered around us. A woman’s voice flowed into the room as Evan hooked his arm with mine, tearing me away from Daniel when I finished a turn.
He wrapped his arm around me, crushing the wings in his grip as he grasped my other hand. I swallowed a lump in my throat as I pushed his arm lower to spare the black wings.
“A dark angel, I see.” He rested his hand on the small of my back, faking a slip so it dipped lower.
I reached out as Daniel passed us, and he grabbed my hand. Evan refused to let me go, clutching my waist. He shifted positions, keeping one hand in his while he held onto me. Daniel held my free hand, and we skated as a group for a moment before he let go. He rounded Evan and stopped in front of him, forcing him to make a sharp turn to avoid a crash. Daniel caught me then, leading me away from him.
“I’m really sorry about this, about-”
“Don’t.” I kept my eyes on our feet, so I wouldn’t have to meet his gaze. “Let’s just finish this.”
He didn’t say another word, reaching to straighten the wings as best he could. Evan sped back in, attempting to snatch me away for the last part of the song, but his hand caught my wings, ripping them from my back. The crowd gasped as black feathers scattered and the broken wings flew across the ice.
His eyes flickered from the black-feathered mess to me. “Ria, are you okay?”
I pulled away, turning to skate out of the rink when Evan dropped to one knee. He offered my flower crown as the song drew to a close, and I reached out for it.
“Wait!” A blue flash caught my eye as it stopped beside him, and Daniel dropped down to his knee as well.
He revealed a silver leaf crown beaded with bud around the band. My hand covered my mouth and tears streamed down my face. I skated over to him as the crowd awed.
He stood up, threading the silver band through my hair as he adjusted it to show the leaves. “Of course I did. This isn’t how I planned to give it to you, but-”
“You won’t be getting this back!” Evan tore the white flowers from the crown, tossing them away as he left.
Daniel reached down to retrieve the flowerless corpse of a crown, but I stopped him.
“I’ll replace that one, I promise.”
“You just did.”
I linked my arm with his as he scooped a black feather and white flower up from the ice.
He tucked them under the silver crown on either side, kissing the top of my head. “Beautiful angel.”
I smiled, touching my lips to his. “I’d much rather be grounded with you, if that’s alright.”
“I wouldn’t have it any other way. I’m not letting you slip away.”