Read Binding Fire: Paranormal Romance (Bad Boys of the Underworld Book 3) Online
Authors: Mallory Crowe
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Copyright © 2015 by Mallory Crowe
Mallory Crowe (2015-12-01). Binding Fire (Bad Boys Of The Underworld Book 3)
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Pain flooded Muriel’s mortal body as she lay immobile on the cold stone floor. The screaming agony of ruptured organs and fractured bones flowed through her with every breath.
She cursed her own vulnerability. Just days ago, she had been one of the most powerful creatures in the universe. She could defeat an entire army of lesser demons with her bare hands. One cold look from her would cause humans to quiver with fear. Now, just a handful of Azazel’s men rendered her powerless body irreparably damaged.
Through the pain, she creaked out a defiant smile. It didn’t matter anymore. She had distracted the demons, thereby allowing Samuel and his mate to escape sure death. He would survive and stop the apocalypse, just as the prophecies foretold, and her self-sacrifice would earn her way back into Heaven. As soon as her mortal heart stopped beating, she would have her wings back.
Her lungs forced a breath up and out of her throat and she tasted blood mixing with the air on her tongue. The hard tip of a boot slammed into her ribs, and Muriel steeled herself against the pain and now familiar sound of bones breaking.
. The harder they beat her, the faster she would rise as a gloriously powerful angel.
Another foot kicked her in the side of the head, and her entire world went black. She regained consciousness and instinctively rolled into the fetal position even though she knew she was already as good as dead.
A rough voice shouted, but she didn’t have the energy to look up. Blood poured from the newly opened head wound, and she wasn’t sure whether she could see, even if she tried. The menacing presence of the demons surrounding her retreated; she rolled onto her back and fought the urge to cough up more blood. Every cough put pressure on her cracked and broken ribs as the shooting pain threatened to pull her back into unconsciousness.
A demon stood over her. She felt his looming presence.
Why didn’t he strike?
She tried to see him then. She focused on opening her swollen eyelids, but she couldn’t get them to move. She might not be able to see him, but his presence was still there. Still promising pain. “It’s not every day we get a fallen angel down here.” The demon’s voice was surprisingly close to her face. He must have been kneeling just above her.
A shiver of fear snaked through her, but she shook it off. Pain didn’t scare her. She was secure in the knowledge that she had sacrificed herself to save a mortal and would be getting her wings back.
“All of your organs are bleeding inside your body, yet you still manage to look smug,” he sneered above her. “Fucking angels,” he muttered.
She would have loved to tell him where he could shove it, but it was impossible for her to speak, what with the blood filling her lungs and all.
He whispered close to her ear; his warm breath sent a shiver down her spine. “Did you really think we would let you back into Heaven?”
A few drops of warm liquid fell against her lips. Adrenaline surged, giving her the strength to open her bruised eyes. She tried to evade the blood, but he was much faster than her.
One fist curled in her hair as a strong wrist with a neat gash through the veins was pushed against her mouth. His forearm blocked her nose. “Drink up, my angel.”
Muriel willed herself to suffocate before she ingested any of the vile substance, but her damn mortal instincts caused her mouth to open and lurch for air to aid her injured lungs. Even before she took her first swallow, his blood trickled down her throat.
The substance quickly traveled through all corners of her being as she screamed against the wrist still being forced to her mouth. Her own ice blue eyes met the dark eyes of the demon as she committed his features to memory.
She was no longer an angel, so she could not feel her soul, but she knew that drinking a demon’s blood would forever darken even the purest soul. As the dark magic filled her, healing her wounds and soothing her pains, her soul was being corrupted. Destroyed.
The demon smiled and drew his bloody wrist away from her. “’Til we meet again,
” he mocked.
In the space of a heartbeat, he was gone, transported to only God knew where. When she glanced around the dark basement, Muriel saw that all the demons were gone.
As the pain of the savage beating left her body, it was replaced with a simmering rage that no true angel would ever feel.
Every angel knew that a soul tarnished by demon blood could never enter Heaven. The demon ensured Muriel would never get her wings back.
She let out a gut-wrenching scream loud enough to cause the earth to quake. No matter if she had to move Heaven and Earth, his soul was hers.
Five Years Later
Muriel couldn’t believe her eyes when he walked into Alexander’s Restaurant, flanked by three other demons. Though each one was eye-catching in their own right, it was the one who led the pack who drew her attention. He was gorgeous, but that wasn’t surprising. Demons relied on good looks to lure mortals to sin and depravity.
He easily surpassed six feet, and his dark hair and eyes were purposefully sculpted for seduction. Thousands of innocents had doubtless thrown themselves at his feet in the past. She couldn’t suppress a scowl at the thought.
Muriel was no innocent. She supposed she lost any innocence she might’ve had long before she lost her wings. As an angel, her mission was to make sure that destiny unfolded as it was meant to, despite the free will of mortals.
She was essentially a soldier, and she had been a good one. She used to walk into a room, and all beings within hearing distance would go silent with respect. On the few occasions she allowed mortals to see her, they bowed at her feet.
Now, she was lucky if they deemed her services good enough for a twenty percent tip. Pride was a very human emotion that she’d grown fond of. She was proud of her angelic self and she wanted it back. There was no shame in being a waitress, but she never chose this life. She hated that he’d taken away her choice.
It was ironic she was so angry at the demon for taking away her choice to be an angel considering angels, by their very nature, had no free will. When given orders, they followed. No questions asked.
Even now, Muriel couldn’t say she regretted how she lost her wings. She needed to keep her human charge alive, no matter what. He was destined to stop the apocalypse, and she was tasked with protecting his destiny. When a mortal tried to kill him, she used a non-lethal telekinetic blast to push him back. The fact that there was a window right behind the attacker was just a sad coincidence.
She was accepting of her temporary mortal status, fully believing that she would regain her angelic powers soon enough
, as long as she sacrificed herself for a mortal. The son of a bitch who just walked into her diner apparently had other plans.
Muriel reached into her apron pocket to grasp at the cold metal hidden inside.
Angie, the other waitress at Alexander’s, nudged Muriel in the shoulder. “When’s the last time you saw that much tall, dark, and handsome all in one spot?” she asked mischievously.
Muriel pondered the question before she realized it was rhetorical. She mentally shook her head at her confusion. Five years living as a mortal and she could still get tripped up over such small things.
“That many attractive men is never a good sign,” pointed out Muriel, not wanting her friend to get wrapped up with demons.
Angie was a sweetheart who was waitressing on top of taking care of two kids and a husband and still managed to take a night class on the side. Her thick black hair was tied up in a tight bun, but somehow she still managed to look soft and feminine.
She also had the good fortune of being able to eat all of the greasy restaurant food she wanted without gaining an ounce. Muriel would eat one plate of fries and have to spend the weekend in the gym just to even it out.
Now that she was mortal, she took extra good care of her body. She only had a limited number of years before her soul would fade away into nothing, and she was determined to get the most out of it, even if that meant going to the gym five times a week and not taking advantage of the free meals offered by the restaurant to its waitresses.
Angie frowned at the men. “You’re probably right. One or two crazy hot guys in a group is the standard, I believe. But four of them is too much. Think they’re gay?”
Muriel stifled a laugh and a couple of the demons stiffened. Unbeknownst to Angie, the demons could hear every word they were saying.
Angie smiled at Muriel’s attempts to hold in her laughter. “It doesn’t matter anyway,” she pointed out. “I’m a married woman.”
That would do nothing but encourage the demons. They loved all sin, and with their good looks and skills in the art of seduction, adultery was second nature to them.
Muriel studied the demons. The one who had forced his blood on her was obviously the alpha of the group. Through her research, she had discovered his name. Kier.
She didn’t like to think of him as that. To her, he was still the beast that had taken everything from her. He didn’t deserve a name.
He was the demon she was going to make beg for his life.
It took all of Kier’s concentration to avoid looking behind him at the fallen angel. Her name whispered through his mind. Muriel.
, he thought.
There was a good reason that demons didn’t go around sharing their blood with angels, and he had learned the hard way.
Angels and demons did not mix. As if they didn’t naturally hate each other enough, too much time spent in the other species’ presence would taint the souls of both.
Most species didn’t pay much attention to their souls, but for celestial beings, souls were their most important asset and were to be protected above all else. An angel’s white soul was their key to Heaven and a demon’s black soul was their key to Hell. If a soul was too gray, there was a chance that the being would be locked out of both realms. Until they could do enough good or evil deeds to earn entry back in, that being would be grounded on Earth.
When he made Muriel drink his blood, her soul had turned irreparably gray. Not completely evil, but not redeemable either.
Though he was still cashing in on the benefits of besting an angel, he had underestimated the cost to himself. He knew that the intimate act of feeding his blood to Muriel would damage his soul, but at least he was still allowed to enter the gates of Hell at will. It was the other side effects that left him reeling.
It was his conscience. He’d lived centuries without giving a damn or feeling a twinge of guilt, but ever since the night he met Muriel, it had subtly lurked in the back of his mind.
He might not be volunteering at the local food bank any time soon, but he had grown an aversion to the harder sins. He couldn’t even remember the last time he enticed a really juicy murder.
All he could bring himself to convince the mortals to dirty their souls with was the light stuff, like adultery and drug addictions. No other demons had noticed yet, but it was only a matter of time before the power he gained from corrupting a fallen angel wore off and everyone realized that he wasn’t pulling his weight anymore.
The conscience wasn’t the only side effect. Muriel was the other one. She was always with him in some way. The night she drank his blood, her anger and despair filled him. All he wanted to do was stalk out into the night and cut down as many of his own demons as he could. Not that it would make him feel any better. It was him Muriel was raging at.
Empathy wasn’t a good trait for a soul-sucking demon. Luckily it had faded with time, though it never completely diminished. Every once in a while, he would feel a foreign twinge of happiness or sadness and know that somewhere on Earth, it was what Muriel was feeling.
He had been tempted to track her down thousands of times but was convinced that the more time he spent away from her, the weaker her pull on him would be. He kept himself from her every day for the last five years. This time, he gave in.
He blamed the low-level demons with him. Haskel, Roth, and Eli had brought up the idea of tracking down and tormenting the angel he had ruined. It was a perfectly normal and evil thing for a demon to do. They had no way of knowing how many times in the past Kier had fought his urge to find her.
He didn’t have sufficient willpower to refuse them, nor could he muster up an excuse as to why he didn’t want to torment her without hurting his badass image. Now he was just feet from her.
She was different from what he remembered. More human. She had only just fallen when he had tainted her. Her hair still held the shine of Heaven; her body still held the glow of immortality.
Now he wasn’t sure whether he would even know she was fallen if he hadn’t seen her before. Her hair was the same dark brown with streaks of red and gold that shone under the lights, and it still fell well below her shoulders, but the cut of it was blunt now. Less natural looking. Her skin, although still holding the youthful appearance of a female in her twenties, had aged.
Mortal or not, she looked just like sin to Kier. The standard outfits these waitresses wore had the strange effect of covering everything necessary, yet leaving little to the imagination. The tight black t-shirt was high necked but hugged all of her curves just enough to show exactly how generous Muriel’s breasts were.
An apron, with pockets to hold a small order pad and pens, covered the front of her hips and hung down about an inch below where the short, but not indecent, black shorts stopped, revealing the tanned and muscular legs of a woman who took care of herself.
Fallen angels tended toward the extreme, either preserving their mortal bodies as well as possible or else abusing every vice they could to speed their damnation. Obviously Muriel was protective of her mortal body and wanted to keep it around for a while.
Kier had to admit he approved of her body. His cock was especially pleased with it, uncomfortably straining against his trousers at the thought of just how strong those legs would be, and how tightly they would squeeze him if wrapped around his waist.
He shifted, willing the erection away. The three demons with him couldn’t know of his thoughts. Demons didn’t want to fuck angels, fallen or otherwise.
A shift in the air told him she was approaching the table. He couldn’t prevent his muscles from stiffening in anticipation as he savored her scent. Despite the greasy food served at the diner, she still managed to smell like a forest at the beginning of spring.
As she came into his view, he was impressed with her poise under pressure. Hell, he couldn’t even feel any fear coming from her. “Hi boys,” she said in a low, sultry tone.
Kier realized that even though he felt as if he knew her from his one-sided connection, he had never heard her speak before. Her voice wrapped around him and pulled him deeper into the trance she unintentionally put him in.
Her light blue gaze swept the table, studying each demon, spending extra time on Kier but refusing to meet his gaze. “Are you having fun observing a fallen in her adopted habitat? I hope so, but unfortunately I can’t entertain you tonight. So why don’t we make this whole thing go by quickly and I’ll get started by grabbing you all some waters,” she said in a pleasant voice. She turned to walk away, as if there weren’t four demons staring at her.
Not one to be ignored and unwilling to let her go so quickly, Kier shot out a hand and grabbed her wrist. She gasped and he wondered whether she felt the same electricity that he did. At first, it was as if his palm had been burned, but then the burn melted into a dull heat that tingled up his arm.
He wanted to touch her with other parts of his body to see whether it had the same effect.
“If you don’t serve us, we’re going to kill every single person in here,” he said in just as pleasant voice as she had used.
She slowly turned and this time did meet his eyes. “You know what you want, or did you need a couple more minutes to look over the menu?” She smiled, still showing no trace of fear.
Kier knew exactly what he wanted. He wanted to bend her over the nearest table, one fist in her hair and one pushing down those teasing shorts as he shoved his entire length into her scalding warmth in one fierce stroke. She would scream, but it would be a scream of pleasure because in this fantasy, she wanted it just as much as he did.
“I’ll have a burger,” was all he managed to say, struggling to appear unfazed by her presence.
“Did you want fries with that?” she asked, her irritation now audible.
“What about what you want, Muriel? Do you even know?” He didn’t know what he was doing. What he was saying. He just knew that he wanted her and wanted her to want him back.
He wanted her to want more.
Her calm façade slipped, and, though he couldn’t see it, he felt a mix of fear and anger swirl within her. She pulled her wrist free and he let her go without a fight. “Fries it is.” She walked back to the relative safety of the kitchen.
Two hours later, Muriel discreetly spied on the table of demons from the kitchen. All other patrons had left long ago, when the diner should have closed. She didn’t know what the demons were still doing there and didn’t want to guess.
Angie put on her jacket and Muriel was relieved that she was getting herself to relative safety. “Are you sure you don’t want me to stay?” asked Angie.
Muriel shook her head, wishing Angie would hurry. “It’s just a table of four. I can handle it.”
Angie looked over at them uneasily. “You looked kind of, I don’t know, off-kilter around them. And that one guy grabbed at you. I can just call Scott and tell him that I’m working an extra hour,” she offered.
Muriel blushed at the memory of Kier’s large hand wrapped around her wrist. She hadn’t thought anyone had seen him do it. “He’s probably used to women loving it when he touches them. It’s no big deal.” She knew he’d been trying to make her uncomfortable with his touch. Hell, he’d grabbed her to tell her that he had no problem killing everyone in the restaurant, so uncomfortableness had been accomplished.