Authors: Jenny Schwartz
Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #Paranormal
Filip needed her?
Sara didn’t stop to ask Andrew questions—not that he’d have answered them. Imagine being so close-mouthed that she hadn’t even known he was Khan’s guardian angel? There hadn’t been a hint of his presence when Khan tortured Filip or when Filip threatened to kill Khan. Andrew had the discipline—and ruthlessness—to let his charges live with the consequences of their decisions.
But Todd hadn’t chosen to have an accident and to suffer the agony of broken bones and infection and their treatment.
That little boy. So brave and so young. How were his family? How did you survive losing someone you loved?
Her heart clenched. If Filip was hurt, died…
The world whipped past Sara and she landed with a jolt at the billabong. She staggered and grabbed at a low-hanging gum tree branch. Her left foot slipped on the gravel but she managed to bring herself to a stop an inch from the water.
She glanced around, but instinct had led her wrong. Filip wasn’t here. The billabong was cold and dark, the water still. Around her the desert spread out, silently waiting for dawn.
“Idiot.” Sara let go of the branch. Filip wouldn’t have brought Jay here. She’d be in Vince’s house. Not that her father would be there to meet her or reassure her with a hug. He was flying to Melbourne, intent on killing Khan.
Sara was pleased to think Vince would be disappointed. Afghanistan wasn’t safe, but Khan would have the advantage of home ground if Vince held onto his grudge and sent thugs after him.
But why had Andrew said Filip needed her?
She whisked herself into Vince’s house and received a shock.
Vince was at home.
“How long does it take to rescue one girl?” Vince raged at Filip. His grey hair stood up in angry spikes. He wore a blue shirt with black trousers, and a discarded jacket hung over a library chair. He ignored his daughter.
Jay clung to Filip’s hand a minute before retreating to a wingback chair and curling into its shadows.
“Never mind.” Vince dismissed his daughter and her rescue. “I decided to have Khan brought to me here, rather than hunt him in Melbourne.”
Filip understood. If Vince flew to Melbourne, he’d have been following Khan’s orders. Even the hint of such a suggestion would give the man indigestion. Having Khan brought to him underlined their respective power. Filip hoped like hell that Sara got out first. When Vince’s hired muscle arrived, there would be a bloodbath because Khan wouldn’t go quietly.
“Khan’s gone.” Sara blinked into sight. She stood beside Filip and he had to resist putting an arm around her. It was dangerous to parade your vulnerabilities to Vince—and love did make you vulnerable.
Knowledge that he loved Sara slid into Filip’s mind as unstoppably as a tidal wave. It was just there, a fact of life. When he saw her, his heart beat faster, his skin came alive to her touch. She brought him joy.
He breathed in the scent that was pure Sara.
“That bastard doesn’t deserve angel protection,” Vince spat.
“Nor do you.” Jay uncurled from her chair. She stopped a step from Sara and glared at her father. “You order around a djinni like he’s a slave. I’m glad Khan escaped. I’m glad.”
Vince raised his hand.
Jay tipped her chin, daring him to slap her.
Don’t try it, Vince.
He felt Sara tense beside him. He guessed they both felt responsible for Jay.
“You slut.” Vince’s fingers curled into a fist. “Like your mum. Did you sleep with Khan? Is that how he caught you?”
“No! And Mum wouldn’t sleep around if you showed her some love, some decent human kindness. But I don’t think you’re capable of it. Khan’s family died on your boat. He lost his wife and son. Your smugglers can’t even keep people alive.”
Vince lowered his hand. “I’ve dealt with them.”
“More killings?” Jay challenged. She was shaking.
“I sacked them.” Vince paused. “How did Khan catch you? I don’t want it happening again.”
“I was leaving the library. It was dark. I’d been
” She stressed the last word.
“All right,” Vince conceded. Belatedly, he asked. “Did Khan hurt you?”
She shook her head.
“Then when the plane returns it will fly you back to Melbourne. Someone will follow you for a few weeks, until I’m sure you’re safe.”
“Do you care, Dad? Do you care about me or just that someone dared to take what was yours?”
“Of course I care.” He cast a quick embarrassed glance at Filip and Sara. “You’re my daughter. Look, you’re upset. Go to your room, sleep. Everything will look better in the morning.”
“Dad—” But her mouth wobbled, choking further words. Jay rubbed her eyes.
Vince patted her on the shoulder, awkward in the role of carer. There was no doubt though that he directed her to the door. He wanted Jay gone and his world back to normal.
She hesitated, then went obediently.
“Now, angel.” Vince made a swift return to business, his voice harsh to discount any earlier hint of softness. “Where has Khan gone?”
“That’s his business.” Sara looked beyond Vince to Jay, who had turned in the doorway. She smiled. “He’s safe.”
Vince’s eyes narrowed. He scowled at Sara, then Filip.
Filip bared his teeth in an unamiable smile. “Want me to kill Khan?”
He felt Sara stiffen beside him.
He knew how to handle men like Vince. His challenge would remind him that killing Khan would be a waste of his third and final djinni wish.
Sara stayed silent, but she glared at Filip.
Jay didn’t stay silent. She erupted back into the library. “I thought you were a good guy.” She’d been betrayed at every turn, threatened, hurt, forced to grow up. Now her anger found a focus. Palms against his chest, she pushed Filip.
He didn’t move.
He looked over her head at Vince. A shudder went through Filip. Vince wasn’t watching his daughter. He was assessing Sara.
“Sssh.” Filip gripped Jay’s shoulders, holding her still. Danger hung in the air.
Sara, concerned for Jay, hadn’t seen it. Filip, his heart given to Sara, could sense it.
Vince had had his tail twisted too often tonight. He’d need to prove his power.
“Djinni, my third wish—” Vince pulled the djinni bottle from the pocket of his discarded jacket.
“Get the hell out of here,” Filip said to Sara.
She blinked up at him, shocked and unaware. And damn her, she didn’t vanish.
“Djinni, hold the angel here.” Vince used his last wish.
Filip’s control cracked. For centuries he’d been bound to human whims. He’d endured, turned inward, developed survival strategies of manipulation and ironic detachment. But the same fate for Sara was unimaginable. Even though Vince’s wishes would fail at the end of his life, she faced years of imprisonment.
Sara turned to Filip and smiled. “We’ll be together.”
“I’ll be damned first,” he swore and lunged for Vince.
As Filip’s hands closed around Vince’s throat, Jay scrambled to her feet. His deadly lunge had knocked her over.
The horrid sounds of a man losing air and life rasped in the room.
“Filip, no!” Sara cried.
Jay dove for her father’s feet and picked up Filip’s djinni bottle. “Don’t kill him,” she gasped.
Filip’s strong fingers tensed, shook and locked open. He directed a murderous look at Jay. She shrank back from him.
Vince dropped choking to his knees.
“I couldn’t let you kill Dad.”
“He ordered me to imprison Sara.” By his voice, Filip made it an unspeakable crime.
“I know.” Jay hugged the djinni bottle. “And I’m sorry. I—It’s my second wish. Let her go free.”
Sara didn’t feel any different. After all, it wasn’t as if Filip could have held her against a legion of guardian angels—a fact he seemed to have forgotten in his rage.
On the other hand, he would always hold her. She loved him and her love bound her to him more securely than any magic or curse of Solomon’s devising.
The fire died out of Filip’s eyes. His face lost its terrifying wildness. He reached behind him and clasped Sara’s hand. “Thank you, Jay.”
Her tearful expression wavered into a smile.
On the floor, Vince grabbed the arm of a chair and hauled himself upright. His eyes fixed on Filip. “Jay, give me the bottle.”
She shuffled out of reach. “You’ve used up your wishes. I have one left.”
“Then wish the djinni to his comrades in hell.”
“No!” Sara started forward.
Filip swung her back, tight against him. She looked up at him, then followed his gaze to Jay.
The girl looked from Vince to where Sara and Filip stood together.
“Filip, I wish you free.” She threw the djinni bottle on the floor and it shattered against the hardwood. Sapphire blue glass glittered bright and sharp.
“You stupid girl! What did you do that for? How could you let them go free?” Vince shouted.
“Because she has the courage of a lion and the compassion of an angel. Because she is your daughter in strength, and her own person in honour,” Filip said.
Sara hugged Jay. “Thank you.”
Jay returned her hug before drawing back to face her father. “I’m going back to Melbourne. I’ll become a doctor, with or without your support. I can’t change who you are or how you live your life. I disapprove. I hate it. But I’ll always be your daughter. I just hope…I’d like to go to Afghanistan with you one day. I want to see what Khan was escaping and why people are desperate enough to trust you. I’d like to help them.”
Vince sat down heavily on a sofa. “God, you sound like Mum.”
“A very bossy woman. We’re all lucky she’s dead.” Vince wiped his face with a handkerchief. “All right. You become a doctor and I’ll take you to Afghanistan.”
It was a concession to far more. It was an acceptance of Jay’s independence.
She burst into tears. “Thanks, Dad.”
Sara squeezed her shoulder, but her attention was on Filip. Jay had just given them a miracle. “You’re free.”
“Is it a problem that I’m free?” Filip raised a quizzical eyebrow.
“Idiot. No!” Sara leaped on him.
His laughter rang out, rich and deep, full of joy. They dematerialised in the midst of the sound and rematerialised in the hunger of kisses.
It was minutes before Sara blinked her eyes open and saw their new surroundings.
An enormous bank of windows let in the glory of the rising sun breaking across the white curling waves of the Gold Coast. Closer at hand, a sinfully large bed tempted.
Filip paused a breath in his ear nibbling. “It was the largest bed I could find.”
Sara laughed, then gasped as he picked her up and tossed her onto the bed. He followed her down and she welcomed him fiercely, wrapping arms and legs around him and rolling on top. She looked down into his eyes, warm and loving. “Got you.”
“I’m a willing prisoner, angel.” He stretched beneath her weight, bringing their bodies into interesting contact. “I’m exactly where I want to be.”
“Mmm. You’re a pushover, though you frightened Vince.” Sara kissed Filip’s nose, his mouth, his throat. She straddled him more securely as he moved.
“That bastard. He doesn’t deserve Jay’s loyalty.”
“He’s her dad. She loves him.”
“Huh.” But Filip couldn’t argue the power of love.
He wriggled his hands under Sara’s shirt and covered her bare breasts, massaging with a slow luxuriance that triggered tremors. She ripped off her shirt and stared at his hands dark against her fair skin. She had given herself into his keeping, just as he was hers to treasure—and pleasure.
She smiled and vanished all their clothes. Now a simple nudge and he’d be inside her.
“In a hurry?” He tweaked a nipple.
He might tease, but she could feel his tension.
“Should I be?” She leaned down and licked his mouth. He was hers. She loved the flavour of him.
“Anything you want,” Filip promised.
“You. I want you.”
“Then take me.” He returned her earlier words.
Excitement shot through her.
Filip groaned. “To see you hungry for me…”
“I’m starving.” But she was new to physical loving. She fumbled the alignment, and he slid hard and full along her folds. Pleasure shivered over her skin.
Filip groaned again and gripped her hips. He thrust up and his tip entered her. It was enough. She slid down, taking more of him, taking all of him.
Experimentally, she squeezed.
Triumph and desire glittered in Filip’s eyes. “Ride me.”
He forced the rhythm to slow and strong until she learned the action of moving with his thrusts. Then there was only heat and need and a wild seeking for one another that broke between them as he spilled inside her.
“Found you.” Filip rolled them sideways and buried his face in the curve of her throat. “Mine.”
She smoothed her hands over his back. “Mine.”
Outside, the Pacific Ocean lapped against the beach, the storms far out to sea forgotten. Peace after passion.
There would always be passion between her and Filip, but they would also bring each other peace. Not soggy contentment, but the true satisfaction of love shared and desire burning.
Sara smiled. There would be wild excitement.
“Have you ever made love to an angel before, Filip?”
He pulled back far enough to see her face. “No.”
“It wasn’t a trick question.” She smiled at his caution. She accepted that he’d have had other lovers before her. But she was his future. “I want to share an angel loving with you.”
“Hmm?” He traced a lazy question mark over her bare breast.
“An angel can choose her form—human, alien, spirit. I mightn’t be very steady when I dematerialise, but I can be pure energy. I want…” She wanted to touch every part of him, to feel him in bone and muscle, heart and soul. “Let me show you.”
She shimmered, lighting the room brighter than the sunlight playing over the ocean.
Filip closed his eyes against the brightness, then shuddered as the light blazed into his body. Sara. He could feel her. Not body, but her happy energy. She quivered along his every nerve and sank deeper. Her pure spirit invaded his soul. He felt her delight as he opened to her, felt her tears as she touched his scars and shadows, and then, both were banished. There was only Sara.
The joy was so intense, the freedom so powerful, that his spirit-body followed her instinctively into the energy of angel loving.
They met as pure energy, exploding in patterns of glory that the room couldn’t contain. They danced out over the ocean, weaving patterns of light and whispering sound. In their bodies, orgasm ended, but this angel loving crested only to rise higher. The intensity of union would have been terrifying, except this was Sara. Close was never close enough.
They drifted back to body form wrapped in one another.
Sara’s smile was sweet and satisfied. He kissed her to taste it, and registered the moment when she realised he was lodged inside her, hard and full. Her smile widened.
He withdrew so he could have the pleasure of re-entering her.
She arched up, more abandoned now, confident after angel loving that what pleased her would please him.
He took her with agonising slowness, and she punished him with kisses and nips, breathless pleadings and restless, roving hands.
“Sara!” He shouted as her climax gripped him.
Her arms and legs tightened around him. They were in this together.
“What will you do now you’re free?” Sara asked.
Their pillow talk drifted between lazy talk of the future and foreplay. Room service had provided a meal. The hotel computer said Mr. and Mrs. Geni occupied the penthouse suite.
Filip lay back against a haphazard pile of pillows and cuddled Sara on his chest.
“I think I’ll undertake an advanced course of study.” He kissed her fingers. “You’re complicated, angel. I’ll need to spend a lot of time with you exploring what makes your breath hitch and your eyes cross, why you scream sometimes when I’m inside you.”
“As if you don’t know!”
He grinned. “I believe in being thorough and I’m all for equality of the sexes. You can have equal time to explore me.”
“Well, in that case…” Her free hand started explorations.
“And then, I think I’ll help people.”
She stopped teasing and wriggled round to study his expression.
“I know what it is to be trapped. Like Khan was trapped in Afghanistan, losing hope, losing life. I was trapped by a curse. Humans are trapped by war and violence, by their own fear. I can give them a way out, an option to choose courage. It takes courage to build a new life.”
Sara smiled slow approval. “You’re going to go into competition with Vince. I’m marrying a people smuggler.”
“I’ll do it legally.” He squeezed her suddenly, feeling young and joyous. “I’ll be a hope smuggler.”
She kissed him breathless. “I think it’s a great idea. Khan can help at the Afghanistan end—oh. Did I tell you he knew the cure for Todd’s bone infection? I’ll have to give it to Jay as a gift for her medical studies.”
“And Todd?” Filip caressed her back.
“Sara, I’m sorry.”
“Yeah.” She hid her face against his shoulder a moment, then raised her head and held his gaze. “Promise me we’ll never stop trying to help people, that we’ll always care.”
And Sara believed him.