BUY LINK (It’s FREE)
A fateful car accident, a strange Abbey ruled by an even stranger Abbess, an
insane Demon, a world where right and wrong becomes dangerously twisted, and a
confident, rebellious teenager . . . .
Dayton Blainey is a foul-mouthed,
grief-stricken young woman forced to live with a religiously eccentric aunt who
favors her moral older sister. But when Dayton’s life becomes intertwined with a
dangerous stranger, she suddenly finds herself at the center of a war fought
since the beginning of time.
Trapped between what she believes is right,
and a forbidden attraction, Dayton must come to terms with betrayal and her
surprising lineage to stop a war before it even begins.
The Time has come when He will come looking. She is ready. I have faith in her. She is her father’s daughter. She carries my blood. And I will never forgive myself for feeding her to the wolves.
“Remind me again why we’re watching this?” I asked Monroe breathlessly, my face stuffed unceremoniously in my pillow. A popcorn kernel hit me on the side of the head and my stomach heaved. I didn’t see how she could eat.
“You have to ask me that?” Monroe remarked as I looked up just in time to see the girl on the portable DVD player yell profanities at the priest next to her bed. My face hit the pillow again.
“Oh!” I groaned as Monroe laughed before moving to plop down beside me.
“How many people can say they’ve watched the Exorcist while inside a church?” Monroe asked cheerfully. I saw her point. My stomach didn’t.
“I’m very glad you’re so easily amused,” I complained as Monroe reached over and hit the pause button. I refused to glance at the screen. I had never liked horror movies. I wasn’t starting now. I was your typical cry during a Gerber commercial, chick flick, over-sensitive kind of gal. If that made me a romantic, then so be it.
“We’ve got to work on hardening you up,” Monroe said with a grin. I threw my pillow at her.
“Speak for yourself. Let’s watch a tamer classic. Maybe a little Gone With the Wind?” I suggested gamely while leafing through Monroe’s overnight bag. She always brought her entire house in one piece of luggage. It was like being best friends with Mary Poppins. I kept expecting her to pull out a coat rack, coffee table, and lamp. Monroe claimed being prepared was an essential part of living. I was convinced being under-prepared led to adventure. We tended to debate the issue. I found the Margaret Mitchell-based film and held it up.
“Hell, for that matter, let’s just fast forward it to the end so we can watch Rhett walk out the door.”
Monroe gasped in delight at the suggestion, jumping up to lift my hand theatrically before feigning a faint on the bed. I sprawled out next to her, and we both reached a hand toward the ceiling. Our other hands rested forlornly against our hearts.
“Frankly, my dear, I don’t give a damn!” we both cried out in unison, our gaudy southern accents sorely overdone as we collapsed into a fit of giggles. We are, admittedly, cheesy “closet” performing artists who love to dramatize things for fun. And I was definitely seeking laughter over goose bumps. No more Exorcist for me tonight. I had to live in this dank, stone fortress my aunt called home. And while Aunt Kyra coveted the Abbey, it was obvious I didn’t share her love for the place. It was simply a place to sleep. The only way I could handle its monotonous gloom was to constantly re-imagine it in my head. Even now, I saw the stone walls transform in front of my eyes, becoming a foreboding dungeon protected by a fire breathing dragon. Only I wasn’t a damsel in distress and I wasn’t holding my breath for my knight in shining Armani.
“Stop it, Dayton,” I whispered to myself as I glanced over at Monroe. She got to go home. I envied her that. A familiar sense of depression and foreboding filled me, and I let myself sink into the mattress before growing still. Our giggles still echoed around us. Monroe must have noticed the change in mood because she rolled over onto her side and propped her head up on her fist.
“There you go again,” she said quietly. “Where do you go when you do that?” I turned my face away, determined not to bring down the mood. I didn’t want to ruin our moment. They seemed to come fewer and further between the older we became.
“What do you mean?” I asked vaguely. Monroe snorted.
“You know exactly what I mean.” I turned my head back toward her.
“I’m being Rapunzel, my tower a lifeless dungeon of doom,” I joked dramatically, waving my hands the same way I’d seen Marshall Duncan do when he narrated a school production of Romeo and Juliet the year before. Monroe gave me the look. I rolled my eyes.
“I don’t know, Roe. I’m just having a blah-ness moment. Sometimes, I get this feeling . . . I don’t know. Really, let’s just let it go,” I begged. Monroe sat up and tucked a pillow beneath her chin. She hugged it. I knew she expected a better response, but sometimes it’s just easier to feel rather than broadcast an emotion and I met her expectant stare with one just as stubborn. I stared until she broke eye contact. It worked every time. She grumbled profanities, something about stubborn-ass red heads, as she reached out and picked at a piece of fuzz on my comforter. She was funny about things like that. Obsessive compulsive even.
“You know, since the funeral—” she began hesitantly. I cut her off.
“It’s not about my parents.”
Monroe shrugged and looked down at her hands. I hadn’t meant to snap at her. I just didn’t want to give her the wrong impression. I reached over and patted her leg.
“I’m sorry . . . it’s just not about them,” I said distantly, my mind wandering as I glanced around the small bedroom. It was a drafty room constructed almost entirely of stone, mostly bare with the exception of a small wooden desk and a cheap plywood dresser. The bed was the main focal point. It was twin size with purple satin sheets and a deep violet comforter. Beside it, there was a small wooden table with a stack of composition books. Crumpled paper littered the floor. Each piece held a discarded thought or idea. One sheet was turned up and I read the line I’d scrawled on it in my head. Ludicrous is He, a tyrant that rules the past you see. I looked away.
“It’s the Abbey,” I said quietly. Monroe looked up, startled.
“The Abbey?” I nodded. It was definitely my dungeon, my own personal Hell. It was filled with nothing but grieving memories and little affection. I’d never shared that thought before but speaking an emotion made it real. I hadn’t wanted that. Reality reeked. I watched Monroe a moment, imagining her as a fussy psychiatrist with tiny, wire rimmed glasses perched on the tip of her nose. The image was missing the legal pad and pen, but it still made the whole “spilling of mental deficiencies” easier. My bed became an office corner lounge.
“It scares me,” I said. “Something about it . . . I don’t know. It’s like the walls themselves are waiting for something. Watching.” Monroe shook her head, her eyes round.
“Waiting for what?” she asked. I frowned.
“I don’t know. It’s just a feeling.”
“Are you trying to scare me?” she asked pointedly. I looked her straight in the eyes. I never lied to Monroe. She knew that. A simple shake of my head told her I wasn’t. She looked around the room, her eyes troubled. We’d gone from watching a scary movie to me creating the plot for one. I was regretting it.
“Waiting for what you think?” she asked again. Maybe she felt it too. I honestly didn’t know, so I shrugged. It was, like I said, just a feeling. Sometimes it was suffocating. It had me counting down the days till I graduated, mentally marking the stone walls of the Abbey the same way Edmond Dantes recorded his time of imprisonment in The Count of Monte Cristo. I loved that book. If only I had my own island of treasure to discover minus the need for vengeance.
“And then there’s my aunt,” I said, moving away from the Abbey subject. I was afraid the walls could hear. Sometimes they seemed to close in on me. Maybe I was going crazy. Monroe found another piece of fuzz.
“Lady Ky is intimidating,” Monroe said, using the nickname she and I had given my aunt years ago. I didn’t disagree.
“And disappointed in me.” It surprised me to admit that. The psychiatrist image was working too well. I hadn’t meant to say it. Monroe removed the pillow and leaned forward, her expression thoughtful.
“What makes you think that?” she asked. I pointed out another piece of lint. She scowled at me but didn’t reach for it. I shrugged again.
“There’s always some reason to feel not good enough,” I said. “She has very high expectations. And I don’t seem to be what she wants me to be. Amber is, I think.” Monroe scooted off the bed and walked over to my desk. I could tell she knew what I was talking about. She had seen the way things were at the Abbey, but she didn’t seem to know what to say. And I was more than ready to let go of the whole conversation. The Abbey was a whole world of its own, a society ruled by little affection but iron clad rules. The halls were always full of black robed, short-haired sober women who seemed intent on a purpose no one else knew about. It was eerie, and it tended to make most people uncomfortable. Even Monroe seemed tense when she stayed. I didn’t blame her.
“We need to do something to your room,” she said, changing the subject as she reached into the back of my desk drawer. Her hand came out holding a dumdum lollipop and a piece of gum. The gum, she popped into her mouth, the dumdum, she handed to me. I took it gratefully. Mmmmm . . . pineapple. Monroe watched my face.
“Tastes like the tropics, right?” she asked with a grin. I laughed.
“Tahiti,” I added as I rolled the sucker around on my tongue. We did this often, pretending we were somewhere other than Lodeston, Mississippi. Monroe loved this game.
“There’s sand the color of pearls and water like turquoise. And coconut scented suntan lotion—” she continued. I picked up where she left off.
“We have Bahama-mama size cold, fruity drinks with those little toothpick umbrellas and huge padded lounge chairs—” Monroe began fanning herself desperately.
“And Paul Walker is rubbing lotion into my back,” she said with a sigh. I laughed. Monroe was obsessed with Paul. She told me he reminded her of those sexy surf dudes in the old Gidget films. Only Monroe. There weren’t many sixteen-year-olds who’d even know what those films were. Paul was ooookay, but I, personally, found the dude from Clash of the Titans more appealing. Sam Worthington. He just had sex appeal. Or maybe it was Perseus I found alluring. I did have the uncanny ability of falling in love with book and film characters. Who wouldn’t want to rub up against a sexy, tortured demi-god?
“You are impossible,” I said laughingly. She grinned.
“Touché.” I stuck out my tongue. She danced around the room, pretending to waltz with her invisible “Paul.” She was tall enough and elegant enough to make it look like a ballroom demonstration. I rolled my eyes and lay back on the bed, staring up at the ceiling as Monroe sang softly under her breath. We stayed that way awhile until my dumdum had completely melted and I’d thrown the stick on my bedside table. That was the great thing about our friendship. We didn’t always have to be talking or stay busy to enjoy each other’s company. I closed my eyes briefly, letting myself drift off into my own daydreams. The bed was comfortable beneath me, the satin sheets warm, and my body began to slacken.
A blood curdling scream woke me.
What the hell? I flew upward, my heart a heavy drum in my chest, to find Monroe pushed up against my bedroom wall. She had a hand clamped over her mouth, and her face was bone white. Her eyes were glued to my bedroom window. I climbed off the bed and moved toward her.
“Monroe?” I asked carefully, my gaze following hers. My heart beat twice for each step I took. Sweat made my neck feel cool. The curtains were pulled back and dusk was beginning to fall outside. Purple and pink weaved through a semi-dark cloud strewn sky pierced by a rising crescent moon. Nothing seemed out of place.
“Th-there was a man at your window,” Monroe stuttered. I turned toward her, my eyes wide. My heart skipped a beat before resuming its too quick staccato.
“What?” I asked. Monroe came unfrozen, her hands flailing in agitation.
“A man, Dayton. A fucking man,” she breathed as she moved shakily over to my curtains, hiding in the fabric as she searched the yard beyond. I moved up behind her, and she jumped as I looked over her shoulder. A man? Really? I wasn’t slow. It just seemed too unreal. My bedroom was on the second floor.
Monroe began shaking. I was close enough to see the goose bumps lining her shoulders, and I stiffened. There was no doubt she was telling the truth. I grew numb. The prickly sensation of being watched gripped me,
“What did he look like?” I whispered. Monroe let go of the curtain and slid down to the floor. Her breath was coming fast. I stayed standing.
“It was just his face. I saw it briefly. Dark hair, dark eyes—” My bedroom door flew open.
“What in God’s name!” my sister cried out as she marched into the room. Monroe and I both looked up at her, startled. Amber’s face was pale. I glanced quickly at Monroe and found she had turned to face me as well. The unspoken words were there. “Are you going to tell her?” my eyes asked. “Don’t say anything!” Monroe’s eyes shouted back. Mine narrowed. “Why not?” Amber moved over to the window.
“What’s wrong?” Amber asked, her gaze moving between us frantically, settling finally on Monroe’s pale visage.
“Monroe?” Monroe pushed to her feet.
“I’m okay,” she said unsteadily, “I thought I saw a mouse.” Amber didn’t say anything, but her eyes narrowed. It was a lame excuse. I glanced at Monroe quickly before looking down at the floor. I wasn’t good at lying. It was a good thing Amber didn’t question us further. Weak or not, the excuse was plausible. Mice liked the Abbey. I looked at Monroe again. She shook her head.
“What are you doing in here?” Amber asked, her gaze moving to land on my bed and Monroe’s portable DVD player. I cringed. The screaming girl was still plainly paused in mid-action. Very few electronics, unless approved, were allowed at the Abbey. It corrupted the soul. Amber stared at the image on the screen. Neither Monroe nor I answered.
“Put it away before anyone finds it. Please. You know the rules, Dayton. The Order is already pushed to its limits with you,” Amber whispered. I knew that.
“And after last year . . .” I pushed away from Monroe and stalked over to the bedroom door. It was already open, but I held it wider, my knuckles white with the desire to shove Amber through it. Logic stopped me. I wasn’t mad at her. I was angry at the memory.
“I know, Amber,” I interrupted. I was weary of being reminded of my flaws. Last year had been a mistake. Monroe and I had gone with a group of friends to a bar called Everett’s on the edge of Lodeston to celebrate our friend, Lita’s, birthday. We’d used fake I.D.’s, put back more than the legal amount of alcohol, and managed to wreck Lita’s brand new car on our way home. At the scene of the accident, marijuana had been discovered stuffed inside the glove compartment of her candy-red Sentra. It had not been a good evening. All five of us involved tested positive for THC, spent a few days in Juvenile Detention, had our licenses temporarily suspended, and came out of the incident with tainted records and months spent on parole doing community service. Not to mention our friend, Conor Reinhardt, had to spend six months in physical therapy for a leg injury. He still limped occasionally.
“Everything’s fine. We just had a scare,” I said as I motioned for her to leave my room. Amber glanced at us warily. The reminder of last year’s incident had brought the color back into Monroe’s cheeks.
“We’re fine,” Monroe echoed me. Amber took the hint.
“I’m just down the hall, Dayton,” Amber said as she walked out the door. I slammed it behind her. My irritation with Amber was evident. I knew she loved me, but I wished she’d find a new way to show me she cared. Being pushy was her preferred method. It annoyed me. Monroe walked toward me.
“Why didn’t you tell Amber about the face in the window?” I asked. She looked down at the floor.
“I wasn’t sure it was real,” Monroe answered. She didn’t have to say more. We both knew she had a talent for seeing things no one else could see. Visions her mother called it. Her parents considered it an esteemed gift. As practicing Wiccans, her family valued the rare ability. Sometimes it frightened Monroe, mainly because she couldn’t always discern vision from reality. She’d never admit it though. She saw it as a failing. I felt it meant she was incredibly powerful. The more real a vision appears, the more ability you must have. The concept made sense to me.
“Let’s put in a comedy,” I suggested lightly while moving over to the bed. Monroe nodded. I’d never admit it, but the window incident had me freaked out. I kept glancing over at the side of my room. Monroe settled in next to me, and we went through her movies, popping in one we knew we’d both laugh at before settling in for the night. The sky outside my window grew darker, the crickets outside grew louder, and my Grumpy Care Bear nightlight made up for the lack of light as the sun faded completely. Sleep came to us. The dream engulfed me. But, used to it as I was, it only woke me up once that night. I stared at my bedroom window as I came to. My heart was beating fast. The window mesmerized me. Maybe it was a mix of the dream and Monroe’s vision but I could swear that I saw a face. It seemed familiar to me, and I squinted. It was gone. One blink and it was no longer there. Grumpy Bear scowled back at me. Weariness carried me away again.
Vengeance is the path of the Damned. It is not a path taken lightly. For a Naphil, it could mean ransoming his soul.~Bezaliel~
Dayton Blainey is caught between two worlds: Heaven and Hell. Bound to a Demon she’s beginning to care about, she is thrown into an adventure she may not survive.
But she will try.
Separated from her friends, she is forced to use powers she just discovered she had while surviving the wrath of a Demon queen.
She will be tested.
And in the search for a ring that may unbind her from Marcas Craig, Dayton will discover that the bond between an Angel and a Demon goes much deeper than blood.
She will endure.
We are defined not by what is expected of us but by what we do with those expectations. The trumpet of war has sounded. The journey has begun. There is no doubt she will exceed my expectations.
We had made the wrong choice. I was convinced of that. No matter how much easier being unbound would make our lives, it wouldn’t erase the fact that we should have stayed behind. I should have stayed behind. Moving forward meant I had to admit I was having feelings I didn’t want to have, it meant admitting that even after we completed our mission I’d still be in danger, and it meant admitting I was terrified. The carpet we were on tilted upward and I gasped.
“What’s the carpet doing?”
I put my hands on Marcas’ jeans and gripped hard. This carpet ride was a terrible idea. An absolutely terrible idea! And I was not enjoying it. This whole journey was a messed up bag of horrible revelations and misguided decisions. We’d stolen the flying carpet in Italy from a group called the Swords of Solomon in order to retrieve a mythical ring from Egypt, and I had spent the first few minutes of the ride too engulfed in shame to notice how close the stars were getting. I could hear Marcas gritting his teeth from behind me.
“I’m beginning to feel grateful that you don’t have claws,” he complained.
I ignored him and dug my nails in harder. We were too fucking high!
“You have got to be shitting me!” I exclaimed as the flying carpet kept climbing higher and higher. The moon was huge now. At any point, I was expecting to find myself fighting for air. The moment never came, but it didn’t stop my anxiety attack. I backed into Marcas. He gripped my arms hard.
“Breathe easy, Dayton. The only way you’ll find yourself suffocating is if you panic. Your father’s blood keeps you safe. The oxygen will not get too thin for you. The air is your domain.”
He pulled hard at my hands, and I slowly began to let go of him. The air was my domain? That was a lark! What kind of twisted sense of humor did the universe have? Being a Naphil didn’t make me like heights. I didn’t like this at all! The carpet climbed a little higher and my nails dug back in. Oh, my God! I was going to be sick! How the hell could I be half-Angel and afraid of heights?
“They should have books for this kind of thing,” I muttered irritably. I heard Marcas snort.
“You can’t write a book about something that’s never existed before.”
Loneliness gripped me. I hated being the only one of my kind, hated hearing I was alone in my sane but incredibly messed up Naphil world, and hated knowing that I was a liability because of it. I knew Marcas knew I hated it. I knew he did.
“I was talking to myself, Craig.”
“Then try doing it in your head. Not out loud.”
I cringed. Talking out loud was a habit of mine. I did it as much as I bit my tongue. I was sick of him trying to tell me how he thought I should behave just because I bothered him. Hell, he bothered me too. In soooo many different ways.
“You’re an asshole, Craig,” I muttered. He “hrrummphed” from behind me.
“What gave you that impression, Blainey? My demonic parentage or my witty tête-à-tête?”
I ignored him. He didn’t normally talk to me in such a joking, almost carefree manner which led me to believe he was only goading me to distract me. This suspicion made me feel funny. Was the bond drawing us closer, or was I beginning to like him a little? I fought with the feeling. I should hate him. I wanted to hate him. I even needed to hate him. And I hated even more that I couldn’t hate him. My final conclusion: I needed therapy.
I brought my knees up to my chest and wrapped my arms around them protectively. The flying carpet we were on was big enough I didn’t have to look at the ground below if I chose not to, but it didn’t stop me from trembling uncontrollably.
My emotions were everywhere. I was swamped with guilt, terror, anger, restlessness, bitterness, worry, love, and a loneliness that ate away at my gut. The fact that I was on a flying carpet with an absolutely expressionless, smartass demon I was beginning to care about didn’t help matters any. The carpet leveled out, and I closed my eyes briefly. Finally! I would have cried if we’d continued upward. Fuck not having books on this crap!
“I’ll write a Nephilim handbook for dummies,” I grumbled.
The chance of other sane Nephilim couldn’t be all that small. Look at me. I wasn’t supposed to exist. A chill permeated my bones, and I shivered. The carpet was moving at a surprisingly fast rate of speed with absolutely no turbulence. We were incredibly high now and I struggled to forget how thin the air was. I didn’t need to dwell on the fact that I should be having trouble breathing.
I looked up at the Demon at my back and sighed. He seemed content. I wanted that feeling, but it wasn’t going to come, and I shouldn’t expect it to. I wished I could close my eyes and forget why I was here, but I couldn’t.
Memories assaulted me: The Abbey, my birthday, the ritual, Marcas, Italy, Maria, the SOS, the battle, the carpet, and now the journey leading us to the ring. Egypt. For a girl who was afraid of the dark and heights, I was now dealing with a lot of both in unnatural quantities. If the ring was in the uppermost level of a spider-ridden dark pyramid, I was going to hyperventilate. Even with my new night vision.
“You can let go now,” Marcas grunted, and I realized rather belatedly that my nails were still plugged into his legs. I pulled away sheepishly and folded my hands into my lap.
He didn’t respond. The air around us was getting slightly warmer. I had to talk or I was going to go insane.
“How does the carpet know where to go?” I asked Marcas curiously.
He groaned. I didn’t care if he wanted silence. Babbling made me feel better and there was still so much I didn’t understand.
“As one of Solomon’s artifacts, it can detect the location of any object the King once used.”
I looked down at the rug.
“Like a homing device?”
“Ooookay,” I said slowly.
I could tell he wasn’t in the mood for conversation. Maybe the battle was weighing on him too. Not likely. Maybe he was thinking about Egypt. What did he have to worry about? Maybe he was conjuring up different ways to kill me.
“Or maybe he just really doesn’t like talking,” I told myself dryly. Well, phooey on that. I had a lot on my mind. The blurry image of his mother as the poison dripped down my neck suddenly swam before my eyes.
“She’s going to kill me, isn’t she?” I whispered.
Marcas looked down at me. His forehead creased.
“Your mother,” I said.
I looked up at him. “No matter what happens with the ring, she is going to kill me, isn’t she?”
Marcas ran a hand over his face. He looked tired, but I didn’t feel sleepy so I knew he wasn’t as weary as he appeared to be. That was one good thing about the bond. He couldn’t pretend to be too tired to talk. If he was, I’d be the one doing all the sleeping for us both.
“She won’t kill you,” he answered.
I searched his face. He was lying to me. I turned to face him carefully, my body trembling with the effort. I was absolutely terrified of falling off the carpet. Marcas reached out and steadied me as I finally managed to complete my spin. I sat with my legs crossed Indian-style just inside the protective triangle created by his thighs. His gaze met mine.
“Don’t lie to me, Craig. I’m not scared of her.”
It surprised me to know I meant what I said. I really wasn’t afraid of her. Death, maybe . . .then again, maybe not. Afraid, no. My emotions were so overwhelming. I now understood what Marcas meant when he’d said he was not seeking death, but it wouldn’t be unwelcome if it happened. I was so conflicted. Marcas’ eyes narrowed.
“You should be scared of her, Dayton. She doesn’t make threats lightly.”
I shrugged. On some level, I was afraid. It just wasn’t a priority right now.
“I’m not afraid of death,” I muttered.
As soon as the words left my mouth, I knew it was a lie, a false attempt at bravado. After the battle, I’d begged the light to save me because I didn’t want to die. Why now was I suddenly craving it? Was it the betrayal I felt I’d committed? Was it fear? I wasn’t going to lose my friends! They were going to be just fine. Right?
I glanced down at my knees, but was startled to feel Marcas forcing my chin up with his finger. His face was closer to mine, and I could see the way his midnight blue eyes flashed red momentarily.
“You’re so naïve,” he whispered.
My face grew hot. Naïve? Who was he kidding? He made me sound like a child. This past week and a half had erased whatever remnants of childhood I’d had left in me. There were only memories now tainted by betrayal, lies, and blood.
“I’m not naïve,” I insisted. Marcas didn’t move.
“Aren’t you? You’re misplacing your fears,” he said.
I shook my head, effectively removing his hand.
“What do you mean?”
Marcas’ eyes glowed again. I hated when they did that. It disconcerted me.
“My mother isn’t offering death, Blainey. She’s offering you damnation.”
I felt my body go numb.
“Damnation,” Marcas repeated.
I placed a hand on each of his legs, bracing myself.
“I don’t understand.”
Marcas looked over my head at the stars surrounding us.
“She’s planning to kill you before we’re unbound.”
So? I didn’t get it. She was planning to kill me, period. It didn’t matter when. His gaze moved back to mine.
“You’re bound to a Demon, Dayton. My blood is in your veins. If you die before we are unbound, you will be damned for eternity. Your soul will not rest in heaven.”
I froze. My fingers dug once more into his legs. He gritted his teeth but didn’t remove them. I knew my eyes were round.
“That’s not possible, right? My father . . . I-I have Angel blood in me as well.”
Had Damon, Marcas’ brother, damned me? Had my own aunt damned me? Something flashed in Marcas’ eyes. He seemed conflicted.
“You are tainted, Blainey. Demon blood can’t enter heaven. Your father’s blood won’t help. He is no longer welcome there as it is. He fell.”
My mouth opened of its own accord, ready to argue a case I knew was futile. It didn’t make sense that I’d be damned for other people’s decisions, but none of this made sense. None of it. I wanted to cry, but I couldn’t.
“It’s not supposed to make sense,” Marcas said.
I stared at him. How did he keep doing that?
“Can you read my mind?” I asked him. He drew back.
“Not the way you think. Your face—”
“Is an open book?” I finished.
Conor had told me that once. Marcas’ jaw tightened.
“I don’t like being interrupted, Blainey,” he said, his words dripping acid. I snorted.
“Screw your pet peeves! I could care less what you don’t like. Let’s talk about what I don’t like, shall we. I don’t like any of this, Craig. Not a damn bit of it! This whole thing is wrong. I left my friends battling Demons sent to kill me, only to find a ring that will do nothing more than unbind the two of us and possibly kill me. And, oh wait! It gets better! Now I discover that, if the ring kills me, it may not be such a bad thing. Why? Because if the ring purges me of your blood, at least I have a shot at Heaven.”
Marcas’ expression never changed. He just watched me as I threw my tantrum. It should have taken some of the fun out of throwing one, but it fanned my flames even more. How could he remain so cool? Oh right. He wasn’t the one with a soul on the line. I blew a strand of hair out of my face and glared.
“What am I doing?” I asked Marcas quietly, the adrenaline caused by my anger ebbing away quickly. It left me drained.
“What point is there in continuing this stupid mission we’re on when it won’t do anything more than unbind me and release you?”
Marcas looked away.
“We’re getting the ring, Blainey,” he answered shortly. I frowned.
“It’s not going to help with the war, is it?”
He shook his head. I had known that. Deep down, I had known that.
“But it will keep the two of us from being pawns in it,” he said.
I scooted in closer to him. He was wrong.
“We’re going to be pawns in it anyway, Craig,” I pointed out. Marcas faced me again.
“But we’ll be where we’re supposed to be, Blainey. Opposing sides. It will keep the balance.”
I stared at him. He wanted to be enemies? I wasn’t sure I could do that. Maybe at first. But now . . . .
“You’d want to fight me?” I asked him shakily. Why did I care so much if he did?
“I’d want to release you.”
“Damn it, Blainey. Yes. Release. Everyone deserves a choice. Heaven or Hell? No one should have the choice taken from them. No one!”
I watched Marcas quietly as the vehemence of his tone made his skin go hot and his eyes redden. I had to release his legs suddenly. The heat was too much. What was he saying? That his mission was not the ring? That this whole thing was about giving me a choice? My heart clenched. I watched the emotions that suddenly played across his face, and my body cried out with the shock. For a moment, his face was completely readable, completely open. He looked at me and his face shut down. But I had seen enough.
“Is this about Sophia?” I asked. Marcas recoiled.
“Fuck, Blainey! You aren’t Sophia! Quit trying to be!” he hollered.
My blood boiled, and I slapped him. Both of us froze. My hand stung. I looked at my hand and then at Marcas’ face slowly. His eyes narrowed. I dropped my hand.
“I’m not trying to be anyone,” I whispered defensively.
Had I really just slapped him? His jaw was tight. I could see the effort it took him not to retaliate. Demons weren’t chivalrous. He didn’t give a damn if I was a woman. I could see he wanted to be violent. I had slapped him before at Maria’s. I knew doing it again was pressing my luck. What was it about him that made me want to strike out?
He swallowed hard before suddenly taking my wrist in his hand. He gripped it, and I had to fight not to bite down on my tongue. His grip was punishing.
“Sophia had a choice. She made hers. That makes the two of you as different as night and day. You don’t have one, Blainey. You are not her. You don’t have a fucking choice. That was taken away from you. It’s time you realize that,” he muttered dangerously.
I felt my heart break. I was going to Hell. Right now, if I died, I was going to Hell. Something dawned on me, and I tried pulling away from Marcas.
“And yet your mother wants me dead because of Sophia,” I said calmly.
My eyes stayed locked on his. His grip tightened. I gritted my teeth. I would not be cowed. His grip proved what I already suspected. I wasn’t Sophia, but she still haunted me.
“Lilith’s not afraid of me. She’s afraid you will choose sides. She’s afraid you’ll care about me enough that you’ll fight with the wrong side. You did once before. I wouldn’t be the one causing the balance to shift. You would!” I said hoarsely.
The pain his grip caused was beginning to bother me. I felt my inner light move down my arm and Marcas pulled away as if burned. I knew it didn’t affect him the way it did other Demons, but my light didn’t like it when someone hurt me, and it still hurt. Even if the two of us were bound. I’d learned this truth in my battle with Lexi. I could see a faint mark developing on Marcas’ cheek, and I felt overcome with guilt. I had Marcas’ strength now. I might even have acquired some of my own. It gave me the ability to hurt him even if he was stronger than me. I reached out tentatively and touched the faint hand print.
“Is any of this even about me?”
He pushed my hand away.
“What do you think, Blainey?”
I stared at him, confused. Lilith’s Demons were after me because they wanted to send my soul to Hell. Was it because she was afraid Damon’s ploy would cause Marcas to fall for another Angel? And what about the Angels Marcas once insinuated may want me dead too? I hadn’t encountered those yet, but I didn’t doubt him. Why would they want me destroyed? Were they afraid I’d become insane like the Nephilim before me? Were they afraid I’d make my father’s choices? And what about Damon? Did he still plan to use me? I couldn’t do this. I needed to take it one step at a time. Lilith first.
“You’re right. I’m not Sophia,” I said coldly.
I wasn’t going to let Lilith make me afraid. I did have the right to choose. And I wasn’t going to let her take that from me. No matter how afraid I was.
Marcas glanced away from me. I watched the way his jaw tightened, the way his facial muscles bunched as he stared out at the land below us not obscured by the carpet. I let my gaze move down his jaw to the neck and chest below it. He was all man in appearance. I kept forgetting he was also a monster.
“I’ll eat you up.” I murmured, my thoughts suddenly swamped with memories of my favorite book as a child. I was Max on his journey to where the wild things are. Marcas was my wild thing.
I let my gaze move carefully to the side of the carpet as my hands found their way back to Marcas’ jeans. I really really didn’t like heights. The carpet was getting lower and in the distance I could see the lighted pyramids guarded by the great Sphinx. The sky was lighter, the air somewhat warmer. My long sleeve shirt was suddenly too heavy. There was desert beyond the carpet’s edge. Egypt.
Love can overcome many odds. And while this emotion is worth many trials and tribulations, it can also lead to death.~Bezaliel~
It is a love that is forbidden . . .
Dayton Blainey is the only sane Naphil ever to walk the face of the Earth, and she’s in love with a Demon she’s been bound to by blood.
Can love triumph over fate . . .
Marcas Craig is the Demon son of Lilith and Cain. He has a destiny he has turned his back on for Dayton.
There is only one choice . . .
Kidnapped by Marcas’ insane twin brother, Damon, Dayton has become a pawn in Damon’s fanatical attempt at securing his own redemption. The Seal is now in the hands of a mad Demon, there is a civil war brewing in Hell, and Dayton and Marcas’ love could destroy Earth.
In the end, will love conquer all?
Damon has powers that rival his twin. But, as with so many men in history overlooked in favor of their siblings, Damon became jealous. The jealously fueled the bloodlust, the bloodlust fueled guilt, and guilt fueled his insanity.
In the movies, the women kidnapped are always sexy, in heels, and yelling frantically for someone to save them. And eighty percent of the time, if the kidnapper isn’t the man the woman falls in love with, he’s plain outright crazy. In my case, insanity was all I had going for me. Though I’d like to think I had a tad bit of sexy going on too.
“You are much quieter than the last time we met,” Damon said.
His tone was laced with amusement. I didn’t give him the satisfaction of answering. I had finally been at what I believed was the end of a journey for me: standing on the High Place of Sacrifice in an ancient place called Petra refusing to wear a ring I knew could unbind me from a Demon I had been bound to with blood. The decision had been a life-changing one. It would strip me of Heaven’s protection, but it would keep Marcas from being trapped forever by the Seal. It was something I could live with because I knew now, without a doubt, that I was in love with Marcas. I was in love with a Demon whose refusal to stand with Lucifer had caused a Civil War in Hell.
And his brother was ruining it! Worse still, the hot rush of anger I felt at being held by the Demon I knew killed my mother made my whole body catch on fire. The heat of it was unbearable. I wanted to destroy Damon, to take from him what he took from me. And yet, I knew that was impossible. He didn’t love anyone enough for me to hurt him the way I’d been hurt. Damon had possessed my aunt, killed my mother, drawn my sister into his brainwashed cult, and then bound me to his brother. And just when I thought I couldn’t be hurt worse, I’d fallen in love with Marcas only to be taken by Damon.
And Damon had the Seal of Solomon.
The Seal was a ring made of brass and iron with four jewels surrounding the inscribed name of God. It had the power to bind Demons and gave the wearer control over the four elements. It was a magical ring that linked Heaven with Earth and had been worn by the ancient and wise King Solomon. And now it was being worn by a Demon who believed that redemption for his race was possible by combining my blood with his in the form of a child.
I should be scared, but I was honestly too angry to care. The anger would wear off eventually, and I’d be left terrified, but for now I let myself be angry.
“You will do great things for an entire race, Dayton Blainey.”
Damon’s voice was low when he said it, and I knew by the way the air changed, the early morning shifting to late afternoon that he had somehow used the ring to transport us to Lodeston, Mississippi. The air was heavy with humidity, the faint smell of honeysuckle and the sound of crickets always present here, even in the dead of winter.
There is something about Mississippi that never changes no matter the season, no matter the year, no matter the time of day, no matter the holiday. It is forever frozen in a time capsule. Even with the ever present construction going on as cities expand, the people are always the same, the reason for choosing to live in a state sometimes forgotten still unchanged.
“I don’t want to save an entire race of Demons,” I finally said as I searched for the Abbey below. We were close. So very close.
Damon chuckled against my back. He seemed to find my lack of enthusiasm amusing.
“Then what do you want?” he asked.
It was a dangerous question.
“I want to kill you.”
I said it with a confidence born of losing too much too fast. It was a dangerous answer.
“And you think you could?”
There was still an air of amusement to Damon’s voice though I sensed the danger that lurked beneath. My rebelliousness seemed to please him in an indefinable way which made me less inclined to be defiant. I was in no mood to entertain him.
Below us, the Abbey came into view, its imposing form a stark reminder of why I was here. There was no one present on the lawns or in the gardens, and I knew without having to check a watch that the Sisters would be sitting down for the evening meal. The Abbey was nothing if not predictable.
“Are you afraid?” Damon whispered into my ear as our feet touched the browning grass below.
I shivered as I fought to keep my eyes forward, my face turned toward the door now closed in front of us. I reached out and touched the wood, my hand sliding along the grain to rest against the door’s knob. It was cold, a reflection of the temperature outside. It had been September when I left. I was guessing it was around November now.
“Disgusted maybe, but never afraid.”
With that said, I shoved the door open. The Abbey’s bare entrance hall welcomed me. The only sign of life was a light shining across the stone floor further down the hall, and I knew by the angle it came from the refectory.
Damon’s sharp intake of breath from behind me made me wonder if I was still amusing him or if my crass denial of fear had made him angry. I welcomed his fury.
I felt numb as I took a step forward, my legs shaky. I could handle being killed. I couldn’t handle the idea of Marcas’ brother being near me, touching me. He had plans for me. I knew this, and I forced myself to withdraw, to not think about what he intended.
In the end, Damon didn’t yell, didn’t start breathing in the heavy, uneven sighs that usually denoted anger. He just stepped in behind me and shut the door.
“They’re expecting us.”
I didn’t doubt this. The Sect was his now, the Sisters and the workers who frequented the Abbey all pawns in his hellish game.
“Walk, Dayton,” Damon ordered.
I dreaded facing my aunt, looking into the face of a woman I only saw as weak. Had she even tried to fight him? Did she care that Damon had murdered her sister?
I moved toward the refectory slowly, my feet hesitant as I finally approached the door. It was an old door made of oak, and I leaned against it briefly for support. I was tired. I was still weak from mine and Marcas’ battle with Lucifer, and I was heartbroken. It was a hard combination to overcome.
“If you’re thinking about him, stop. You’re mine now.”
I stood frozen. I knew he meant Marcas.
“I’m bound to him.”
Damon laughed as he leaned over, his chest against my back as he propped his hands on either side of the door, ensnaring me in his arms. It was a possessive gesture.
“I have the means to sever that bond. We will forge a new one.”
His breath tickled my ear causing the hair on my neck to rise as he pushed open the already cracked door to reveal the long, scarred dining room table I had spent the last seven years sitting at, cleaning and eating. It was crowded with Sisters, seated quietly, their heads bowed modestly. Aunt Kyra was at its head, her eyes looking directly into mine as we entered. She looked happy, pleased even.
“Rise!” she called out, and the Sisters stood as one.
Aunt Kyra moved away from the table. There was food piled high on the dull mahogany surface, but no one touched it.
“Come. Sit by me,” Aunt Kyra said, her hand motioning to the spot on her right. “You must be hungry.”
Her words were cheerful, but I ignored her, my eyes riveted on the spot to her left. Standing demurely, her eyes averted, was my sister. She was dressed simply, dark blue jeans and a pink v-neck blouse. She had lost weight and there were purplish shadows underneath her eyes.
“Are you hungry?” Aunt Kyra tried again.
A hint of her old impatience was beginning to creep into her voice.
“I don’t require it.”
I made myself look away from Amber just in time to catch Aunt Kyra’s baffled expression.
“Food,” I supplied. “There are a lot of things I no longer require. Food is one of them.”
Even after coming into my power, even after realizing that Angels didn’t need human sustenance to survive, the food still smelled good. The only reason I turned it down now was because I couldn’t make myself sit at the table. It would be as if the past month and a half hadn’t happened, and I wasn’t a good enough actress for that. My aunt wasn’t swayed.
“You should still eat,” she said simply.
“No!” I said the word with enough force it echoed throughout the refectory. “Is it really customary to pretend nothing has changed?”
Damon moved along the wall, his grin obvious as he skulked through the shadows. He glowed, the Seal making his body stand out even against the darkest corners. Most of the Sisters sighed as he glided past, their eyes glassy. Only Amber seemed unaffected.
Aunt Kyra’s eyes grew hard. My disobedience wasn’t to be overlooked.
“You will not disrespect me at this table.”
I stared at my aunt in disbelief.
“And you’d have me respect you? Now?”
Aunt Kyra’s face went blank, overcome by a dull glassiness, and I caught a glimpse of Damon behind her, his hand lifted.
“Take her to the basement!”
Aunt Kyra was the one to issue the order, but Damon was the one to puppeteer it. Aunt Kyra was nothing more than a rag doll controlled by a Demon. My jaw tightened, and I knew Damon saw my resolve. It was obvious he wanted me to fight, my spunk a challenge for him. And so I did nothing.
He raised a brow before clapping his hands silently, a congratulatory gesture missed by all but me as two of the Sisters approached. I could have fought them, could have used my power to throw them backward, but this wasn’t their fault. Damon had the Seal. He had power I had no desire to test just yet, and he would kill any of the Sisters who failed him. Of this, I had no doubt. So I simply stood there and let them take me by the arms.
“This is for your own good,” Sister Mary said matter-of-factly as she nodded, almost as if she were trying to convince herself that what she was doing was right as she and Sister Elizabeth led me out of the refectory.
The halls beyond were dark, the lights in the Abbey unused. My night vision took over without any prompting, and I stared at the stone hallways lined with occasional dark rugs, threadbare and almost black from age as we came to a door at the end of the corridor. I had only been in the Abbey’s basement once years ago when I was sent there to retrieve a jar of preserves. I had been afraid of the dark then, but the stairs I found myself staring down now no longer intimidated me.
I took each step one at a time, slowly but with building confidence as we approached the bottom.
“He has you brainwashed.”
I said it softly but firmly as the Sisters released my arms. Their eyes darted around the room, the look in them reverting quickly from insane to normal to confused then glassy. They were fighting for control and losing.
“He will bring the world salvation.”
The Sisters said it as one. Damon had turned them into clones.
“He’s a Demon.”
I don’t know why I kept trying to break through to them. I guess I hated to see the two women being forced to serve what they were supposed to hate.
Sister Mary cocked her head.
“He’s a Demon seeking redemption. There is nothing holier than redemption.”
They turned as one and moved up the stairs, their black robes swishing against the floor as they hurried away from me. And then the basement door snapped shut, and I was left alone.
I scoped out the room, my eyes searching the area. Three walls were lined with shelves packed with canned foods and dried goods. Only one wall was bare of the wooden ledges, and it was cluttered with old furniture, boxes, and a closed chest. I moved toward it, letting myself slide to the floor, my back resting against the trunk. My head fell to my knees.
“Marcas,” I whispered.
I wasn’t calling out to him. I wouldn’t want him to take the risk of coming here when the ring could trap him. It just felt good to say his name. It was a promise to myself. I wouldn’t let Damon bind me to him. I’d kill myself first. I would never and could never be his.
“Dayton . . . .”
My head snapped up. It was Marcas’ voice, far away but audible, and I concentrated on it.
My name came again, fainter this time. And then . . . .
“I love you.”
The three words were so faint, I wasn’t sure they were real. More than likely, they were a figment of my imagination, nothing more than wishful thinking. But I grasped onto them nonetheless. Real or imagined, those words wouldn’t let me die.
Interested in more Marcas and Dayton?
The exciting New Adult culmination to the Redemption series coming 2014!
There is a prophecy forbidding Angels from ever being with Demons. Love cannot exist between the races. The prophecy wasn’t supposed to concern Dayton Blainey and Marcas Craig, a hybrid Demon ruler and a naphil.
But there are those who believe otherwise …
Torn asunder by a fear much bigger than themselves and the beginning of celestial war, Marcas and Dayton will fight for a love that never should have existed.