Angel in ChainsBy: Cynthia Eden
Thank you so much to all my fantastic readers!
Thank you for the support that you have given to
my Fallen series.
And I hope you enjoy Az’s story!
Living in hell sucked.
Azrael, once the most powerful Angel of Death to grace the golden floors of heaven, hunched his shoulders against the sharp wind that blew off the Mississippi River and funneled into the twisting streets of New Orleans.
He’d fallen six months ago—fallen and burned—and he still hadn’t gotten used to the stench that could fill the alleyways. Especially during Mardi Gras.
Why did humans worry so about dying and facing the devil in hell? This mortal realm was hell to him. With the voices, always crying out, the bodies, always too much, the sins—
Everywhere. No matter how hard he tried, there was no escape from the mortal sins that surrounded him.
More than enough sin to tempt an angel whose wings had burned away when he fell.
The scream broke through the night, close, and Az’s head whipped to the left. Over the odor of rotten garbage, stale cigarettes and old booze, he caught the scent of . . . fear.
And animal. Not just one beast, either.
“Stay away from me!” The voice again, a woman’s, and now he could hear the fear mixing with rage in her screamed words.
Even as hard, biting laughter floated to his ears, Az found himself heading toward the mouth of another alley. Heading toward the sound of her screams.
As he rounded the tight corner, Az saw the men first. Three of them. Big, hulking guys who’d closed in on their prey. Az couldn’t even see the woman, but he knew she had to be in the middle of the half-circle of men. A brick wall waited behind them, trapping her. There was no place for her to flee.
Az entered the alley and waited.
The cold whisper of Death hadn’t come to this place. Not yet. If it had, Az would have felt the presence of another Death Angel. He always could sense his own kind, even if he wasn’t ruling the cold bastards anymore.
But Death wasn’t there. So the woman wasn’t about to die, at least not yet.
Just then, the woman shoved through her attackers, and he saw her face. Wide, desperate green eyes, pale skin, dark red lips and—
“Help me!” She yelled the words at him.
Az didn’t move. For thousands of years, his job had been to watch those who were dying. To wait until the last moment—and only then had he been allowed to touch. As a Death Angel, his touch killed. It took the soul straight from the body, and he carried that precious burden to the realm that waited beyond this world.
His job . . .
He’d watched innocents die. Seen them slaughtered in times of war and peace. Seen murderers walk the earth, killing over and over, and he—
“Asshole, help me!” She snarled at Az, and he blinked. “Don’t just stand there staring,” the woman snapped. “Help—”
A guy with black hair and a leather jacket grabbed her around the stomach and hauled her back against him. “He knows better than to go gettin’ involved, Jade.” A heavy drawl coated his words. “Knows that if he tries playin’ white knight . . .” The guy looked up with a crooked grin that flashed too-sharp teeth, “he’ll get himself killed.”
That was when Az noticed the claws that had risen to wrap around the woman’s throat. Not normal human fingernails. Instead, two-inch long, razor sharp claws sprang from the man’s hand.
So not just regular mortal jerks. “Shifters,” Az muttered as he rolled his shoulders. Interesting. Perhaps the night had just picked up for him.
All three guys were sporting claws and toothy grins. But the woman—no, no sign of claws or fangs from her, and she smelled . . .
He frowned. He’d recently developed a taste for the sweet fruit, and even ten feet away, he could catch the female’s heady fragrance.
His body tensed.
“Back away!” Another man snarled. This one had a dark, tribal tattoo that snaked up his arm and the side of his neck. “Back away or start bleeding.”
Az didn’t back away. He kept his hands at his sides. Finally, a challenge. And here he’d been bored for days. “Let the woman go.” His voice rang out, calm but strong.