Angel of Darkness(5)

By: Cynthia Eden


Az shook his head. “No.”

Fear gripped him. “What? I didn’t touch her, I didn’t—”

“You confess to disobeying your orders.” Az’s face tensed. “You disobey—”

She was dead? Determined to get back to Nicole, Keenan spun away from Az. No one else would take her over, not after what he’d risked.

“You knew the penalty for such an act.” Az’s words froze him.

Yes, he knew he had to answer for taking the vampire’s soul, but—

“I’m sorry, Keenan. You ... you were a good angel.”

Wait. Keenan whirled back around to face the blond angel. “I didn’t—”

“No, you did not. That’s the problem.” And there was sadness cloaking the words, when there was never any emotion in the angel’s voice. Never much emotion in any of them.

No love. No fear. No hate. Only duty. That was the way it should have been.

Except when I looked at her, I ... felt.

“Temptation can destroy us all.” Az’s all-seeing bright blue gaze raked him. “You had the chance to obey. You knew when the moment of her death was at hand, but you killed one not on your list.”

“He was a vampire!” The rage was new—something that had developed only when he saw the pain Nicole suffered. “He was torturing, killing, he deserved—”

“We all get what we deserve.” Az’s chin lifted. “Beware, my friend, this will hurt.”

What?

“I’ve heard it’s the fire that makes you scream the loudest.”

There was no fire—

The wind hit Keenan again, wrapping around him, but this time, its grasp felt like the edge of a hundred blades.

Az watched him with a hard stare. No more emotion. Maybe it had never been there. “Did you think we did not know the lust you held in your heart?”

What would angels know of lust? What would they know of anything but following orders, protecting the weak, living in that vast, blank world of nothing?

“Why do you think she was given to you?” Az asked.

And he finally understood. A test. One he’d failed because he hadn’t been able to watch Nicole slip away.

“You broke our rules. You took a life not yours to extinguish.” Az’s cold voice floated to him. “And you failed in your duty.”

To take Nicole’s life. But, no, Az had told him that she didn’t live; he’d said—“ Where is she?” He’d had to shout to be heard over the fury of the wind.

But there was no answer. Nothing but the wind howling. And then the fire came.

The fire ripped through his body, starting at his feet, burning up, up, even as Keenan fell, plummeting from the sky.

Expelled from my home.

He flapped his wings as he tried to fight that controlling wind, but—

He cried out in agony as the fire spread to his wings. This was no phantom fire—real flames ate at his skin and burned his flesh. Burned his wings, his wings—No!

He’d never known pain, but after this day, he would never forget it.

The wind stopped. His body hovered in the air, his shoulders hunched and his wings burning. He tried to move his wings, tried—

He dropped, falling straight for the earth below, and he burned as he fell. Burned and burned.

Az had been right. The fire made him scream the loudest as he became the one thing he’d always dreaded.

A Fallen.





Nicole St. James screamed and bolted upright. The night was quiet around her. Too quiet. Stars glittered above her and, for a moment, she didn’t know where she was. Didn’t know—

The alley.

Pirate’s Alley. She’d taken a shortcut on her way home. She’d wanted to get inside that church. After hearing her doctor’s news and crying all day, she’d needed to get inside.

But the doors had been locked, and she’d taken the shortcut home.

Her hand lifted to her throat. When she swallowed, it burned, and her fingers touched something wet and sticky—blood. But she didn’t feel any wound. The skin was smooth.

She glanced around as her heart drummed way too fast now. She’d been attacked. She remembered that. One man. He’d shoved her up against the side of the alley, and then—

There was a dead man beside her.