Book 3 in the Fallen Angels Series – Coming soon on May 29, 2018!

Pre-order your copy here: iBooksKindleNookGooglePlay and Kobo.

 

Chapter One – Asa (Fallen Angels 3)

“The scent of demon is so thick, you’d think they were roasting them,” Laylah called over the night breeze.

Asa lofted a little higher above the city, coming level with the shadow angeling flying beside him. “The humans?” he scoffed. “If they could manage that, they wouldn’t need us.”

The moonlight glinted off her black wings. They were flying mainly on magic as they patrolled Seattle, but a fair wind off the harbor made for easy gliding. He relaxed into a steady pace beside her as he scanned the streets below.

“Admit it—you enjoy being around them again. The humans.” A laugh danced in her voice. “I see how you look at them.”

“That is far from Truth,” he said without breaking his visual search. Demon scent hung like a haze over the city—the entire nightscape seemed infected with it—making it difficult to pinpoint a source. The fae and their machinations and lies… they had been using vampires to infect the humans with demon essence, changing their DNA until their darker sides were ascendant. It skirted the deep-magic bond that kept the fae from actually killing the humans they loathed and feared. But they were desperate to stop the humans’ technology lest they break into the immortal realm and stop the fae’s endless cruelties and sex parties. Asa would just as soon the fae were wiped out—angeling and fae were ancient foes—but he doubted the humans would accomplish it, even with their device. Apart from the demon-infected, they were too pure of heart. He could sense their thousands of souls even in the darkest night, shining with that impossible allure, the Virtues in all their glory singing to him as they did to every angel and angeling.

He was created to love them, but Laylah was wrong—being among them again was torture, not pleasure.

Asa caught a whiff of vampire, but it quickly faded into the miasma of demon, human, and angeling, both light and shadow. There was no telling any of it apart.

“They don’t Tempt you?” Laylah pressed, cocking an eyebrow as they glided over the glaring neon of the streets below. “Even a little?”

He kept his gaze on a straggle of drunken humans walking the nightlife. “No.” Humans were nothing but Temptation. But he was only truly Tempted once in the way Laylah meant—the sin of Lust—and that wasn’t even what caused his Fall from the light into shadow. Not directly anyway.

“I don’t believe you,” she said.

“I do not care.”

Laylah put on a burst of speed, cutting in front of him and blocking his view of the streets momentarily. He had to pull up to avoid colliding with her, arcing high then looping back. “Do you wish my blade in your back?” he hissed as he shot past her again.

“See?” she gloated, and it rubbed him raw even though he couldn’t say why.

He glowered but reduced his speed again, allowing her to catch up. It was to make the scanning easier, he told himself, not because he cared what her point was.

She knocked wings with him as she came alongside—a friendly touch he tolerated from few angelings. In Truth, only from her. Theirs was the sole friendship he would count in his ten years in Razael’s Regiment, other than the angel himself.

“You see them just as I do,” she chided him. “Beautiful. Tempting. We’re risking our lives for this lot…” She swept her hands across the city. “Why not take a taste while we’re here?”

“Because we’re not here for tasting.” He scowled. Her fall was from Lust—as for most in shadow—and there was no lack of indulgence in that Sin back in their Regiment. Light angelings couldn’t touch light-kind, but among the shadow, literally nothing was untouchable. But Razael, their leader, was unlike other dark angels—he operated by a code, and that code strictly forbade the creation of new members of their cursed lot. Razael rescued the Fallen, he did not create them. “And what if Razael knew you were tasting humans?”

“It’s not as if I will get with child!” She tossed him a look like he wasn’t right in the head.

In Truth, all this time among humans probably was messing with his mind. And sex with humans wasn’t strictly forbidden—merely the creation of a new child, a pure soul, born into a world largely unworthy of it. That was a conscious choice, separate from the act itself.

He dropped his voice—for in Truth, he knew better the dangers of tasting the forbidden fruit of human love than she did. “It’s not wise, Laylah.”

“Not wise?” She arched her brow again. “Or do you simply not wish me to experience the pleasure… without you?” The flirtation was there, in her eyes, as it always was—seeking after him until she tired and went with another.

“I am not jealous—”

“No,” she cut him off, words sharp. “You never are. But you are in need of a good fuck.” Her wings beat the air, buffeting him with their wind.

He sighed. “We have a job to do. You’ll have to slake your Lust with demon killing tonight.”

Her anger still simmered. “You enjoy a good demon slaying as much as I do,” she accused, and that was probably true.

“Not as much as I’ll enjoy shadow blood on my blade.” He returned his gaze to below. They weren’t just patrolling for demon-infected humans—or the vampires who had infected them. The true threat on the streets was other shadow angelings, specifically those from Elyon’s Regiment, although he could have garnered more allies by now. Elyon’s lust for the destruction of humanity was escalating, undaunted by the recent ambush Asa had helped the light angelings orchestrate. Elyon loathed humanity, believing rightly that God loved them more than angelkind, but how was that anything but logical? Humanity at its worst had nothing on the depravity of the shadow realm. And Elyon’s Regiment was the worst among them—as Asa knew first-hand. Vengeance was a Sin, but one Asa would gladly indulge in. He could smite a hundred of Elyon’s angelings, and the dark angel still would hardly pay for his atrocities.

“I can’t scent anything from this height,” Laylah complained, her wings twitching with frustration. “Call me when you’re ready to break that Chastity vow.” Then she banked away, dipping down to skim the roofline.

She was probably right—not about the sex, but about the scenting.

Asa tucked his wings and dove. The ground came up fast. He flexed his wings to brake then glide above the rooftops. Laylah drifted south, and he soon lost sight of her midnight wings and black-clad body. He was armed with battle gear as well, not that any mere clothing would stop an angel blade.

A noise—a voice—rose above the rush of wind in his ears and caught his attention. He couldn’t make out words, but it sounded of distress. He banked toward it, peering into the shadows of alleyways and darkened corners where the streetlights were out. This part of Seattle was run down, half abandoned warehouses, half humans packed too numerously into apartments—this was where the desperate and the hungry lived. The vulnerable.

The cry came again—to his left. He sped up, toward the alley ahead, and dipped a wing hard to swerve into it. Below… a woman held up against a wall by a man.

They were having sex.

Asa pulled up short, hovering in the air above them, still cloaked.

He hadn’t indulged in the sexual act himself, but he’d seen every variant in the shadow realm—often, it was difficult to discern from violence. Not that rape didn’t occur in Razael’s Regiment, but seldom—his dark lord forbade it. And Asa wasn’t here to interfere in the acts of humans, no matter how depraved. The man did not stink of demon, so…

Then the woman cried out, “No! Please! Stop!” and everything in Asa jolted to stillness. The cruelty of memory slammed into him, and he was transported back ten years. The time of his Fall. Not from Lust… but from Wrath. He hadn’t witnessed the rape of his beloved, but he imagined it thus—a dirty back alley, an act of violence, her pleas for help unanswered… unanswered because he never heard them…

This isn’t his Ellie…

He didn’t care.

Asa roared a righteous cry, screeching vengeance from the sky as he dropped like a stone upon her attacker. His blade would have no effect on a human, so it remained in its sheath. He would rip this man from his violent intent and toss him down the alley. And endeavor not to kill him. Maybe.

Just as Asa reached the man, who hadn’t even turned at the sound of Asa’s cry, so intent was he on his vile act… he shifted.

What?

Power pulsed through the air, slamming Asa back into the brick wall opposite the pair. The man had transformed, losing the rough jeans and ragged jacket, now standing in a long, shimmering white coat that draped to his knees. The woman had changed as well—she now wore a flowing white dress and a smirk, her helpless cry transformed into a laugh.

Glamour.

Worse… those ears were far too pointed to be human.

Asa scrambled to get his feet under him. Even two fae against a single angeling—his odds were still very good. He launched himself from the wall, going for the male first, but the female shot something that glinted gold. He ducked, but it snagged his wing—and seared him, burning pain straight through his blood feathers. What magic is this? A golden lasso pulsing energy cinched tighter on his wing as the female yanked. Genuine fear raced through him as the male surged more energy against him, knocking him down. Asa tried to twist away—opening a portal might be his only escape—but the golden leash held him still in the human world.

He roared his anger, whipping his wing forward to jerk the female fae from her feet and send her bashing against the wall of the narrow alley. Then he yanked his blade from its sheath and slashed at the golden magic-bond. No use. Instead, he pulsed an energy attack at the male—who was attempting to bind him with a second golden lash—sending him flailing down the alley. Asa grabbed hold of the magic tether with his hands, the magic searing him and making him growl through the pain, but he reeled in the female, dragging her across the floor of the alley as she still had hold of the other end. Her eyes went wide, and she dropped it, but she was already close enough. He lunged and grabbed hold of her before she could twist away, drawing his blade quick against her neck.

“Release me or die, fae,” he hissed in her ear.

With a flutter of her fingers, the golden magic that bound him disappeared.

Honor alone made him shove her away rather than slit her throat.

A decision he instantly regretted as four shadow angelings decloaked above him.

One threw his angel blade before Asa could move—it embedded in his chest, a blow that forced him to stumble back. Two others dove down on him. He screamed his warrior cry and lurched into the air to meet them. A single powerful slash of his blade took one by the neck, leaving his head to tumble to the alley below. The other kept a sly distance, grabbing hold of Asa’s wing so he couldn’t twist away. Asa spun in the air, but couldn’t wrench him loose. A third aimed his dagger true, catching Asa full in the chest again, but Asa’s blade in return took him right between the eyes. He fell. Asa sent the one with a hold on his wing bashing against the brick wall. His grip was loosed…

It was only a moment of release, but that was all Asa needed.

He twisted, opened an interdimensional doorway folding space and time, and slipped through. He’d fled the alley, once again cheating the death that seemed to haunt him. With a pulse of overpressure, he arrived at the rendezvous spot near the humans’ citadel of science and their infernal dimensional-travel machine. It was a rooftop heavily guarded by light angelings and the coordination zone for those like him who were in shadow but drafted to the cause.

He hoped they wouldn’t kill him.

He sunk to his knees and stared dazedly at the two shadow blades protruding from his chest. Already his blood gushed from his body as if it no longer wished a home there. The first blade came out easily enough—just a slicing pain that nearly sent him crashing head-first into the rooftop. The second fought him, and by the time he wrenched it free, he was screaming as if being disemboweled.

His hands were drenched in his own blood.

A light angeling dropped onto the rooftop beside him. Through the haze of pain, Asa could barely see him.

“Holy magic, Asa.” The voice he recognized—Tajael. An angeling out of Markos’s Dominion. They’d fought side by side more than once.

“Not fatal.” There was blood in his mouth. So much blood. It gurgled in his throat. “Probably.”

Tajael knelt beside him. “Lie down.” He was gesturing to someone else, someone above the rooftop.

Asa couldn’t lift his head. He didn’t lie down so much as… fall. Face first. He felt it more in the twin wounds on his chest than the gravelly scrap against his cheek.

“Angels of light,” Tajael cursed, then turned him over. But there was nothing an angeling of light could do for him—everything light was poison to shadowkind. Had the two blades been made of light, not shadow, he would already be dead.

His eyes struggled for focus as he stared blankly into the sky. Above him flitted a heavenly host. Light angelings and shadow. Circling and hovering, dark wings and white, mixing and blurring against an endless starry night. Asa imagined the End of Times would look so. Only with more blades. And screaming. And death.

His death might come sooner than that after all.

“It is not your time,” Tajael said.

Had Asa spoken that aloud? His mouth worked, but he heard nothing, only felt the dribble of blood running from it.

A rustle next to him. “Holy fuck, I leave you alone for one minute…” It was Laylah.

He smiled, and it tasted of iron. “Ambush.” Holy angels of light—his wheeze sounded like death. “Fae… ambush…”

“Sure it was, tough guy.” Laylah was poking at him, which was both painful and unnecessary, it seemed to him. “Now shut up so I can heal you.”

Then her mouth found his, and he almost laughed. All these years, Laylah wished for kisses from him—no, that wasn’t right; she wished for fucking—and now that she had him prone on a rooftop, that was all she could think of.

He was delirious.

That became quickly clear as the surge of energy pulsed through him. Of course, Laylah was giving him a life kiss, not some mere sexual act. A dark blessing from a shadow angeling. Probably the only thing that could snatch him back from the abyss. He felt it coursing through him, remaking his wounds, knitting his flesh. Easing his pain until he was lightheaded with the lack of it. The blood would take time to replace itself, restoring his magic as well as his life. But he would live. He could feel it now.

When she was done, she sat back on her heels, looking drawn.

Holy magic… he must have been close to death for it to take such a toll on her.

He struggled up to sitting. Tajael helped him. A small cheer went round above him, his angeling audience applauding his recovery. It still felt strange to have such things in mixed company—shadow and light working together. But it was good to hear, nonetheless.

“Looks like you’ll live,” Laylah said, scouring him with her gaze.

He wiped his bloody hand on his leg then reached to wipe the blood from her face—a smear she acquired when she saved his life. “Thank you,” he said softly.

His touch moved her—too much—so he withdrew his hand. He would tell her again when they didn’t have so many onlookers. He glanced at Tajael, who was watching them closely. “But all should be warned. The fae are here… and they’re posing as human.”

Tajael frowned. “Is this part of Elyon’s counter-attack?”

“I’m unsure. But they are certainly working with his forces.” Asa winced as he worked his way to his feet. His body was rescued from death, but healing would take time. “I need to warn Razael.”

Tajael nodded. “We’ll double our watch here, make sure the fae aren’t trying to infiltrate operations at The Point.” That was the company building the dimensional travel machine—the one which would bring humans to the immortal realm.

As if humans had any place there.

But his opinion on such matters was unimportant. He served Razael, and even more important, would devote his last breath to defeating Elyon. And if that dark angel wanted the humans stopped, then Asa was all for them succeeding… and taking the fight to Elyon in every possible way.

Asa gave Tajael a nod, then a grateful look to Laylah. “Will you return with me?”

Concern lit her eyes. She looked to say something, but then merely nodded.

They definitely had need of discussion. But not here.

He tipped his head, then together, they twisted, opened a separate interdimensional doorway for each, and slipped through, returning home.

 

 

Book 3 in the Fallen Angels Series – Coming soon on May 29, 2018!

Pre-order your copy here: iBooksKindleNookGooglePlay and Kobo.