Authors: Rose Wulf
She had just long enough to think that she really hoped she
hadn’t just made a huge mistake when the wind shifted.
“Praying, are we?”
Izzy’s mouth went dry. That wasn’t the voice of the angel
she’d briefly met.
Darr wiped a trail of blood from his lips and kept his eye
on his enemy. Zahk had fled around the time he’d told Izzy to run. Leaving just
him and Creed. His former master. The face—the voice—of most of his nightmares.
The problem with Creed wasn’t his fondness for slaves. It was his power. Creed
was rumored to share the blood of an old and powerful demon, one of Satan’s
closest subordinates. Which meant he had power and poison to spare.
“What’s the matter, slave?” Creed taunted with a battle
crazed smirk. “Give up so soon?”
“Never,” Darr swore, shoving to his feet. Creed had him
outclassed, but the bastard didn’t have his motivation. If Darr fell there
would be no one to protect Izzy.
Creed sprang forward without warning, curving a veritable
blade of dark energy around his hand and releasing it with a vicious swing of
his arm. Darr rolled and let his shoulder slam into the bottom edge, grinding
his teeth against the pain as the rest of the attack shattered.
The beautiful thing about dark energy was that any demon
could use it. There was no ‘specific flavor’ attuned to one demon or one
bloodline. So when Creed’s homemade weapon shattered, Darr was in the perfect
position to gather the pieces and mold them into something new. It took only a
tiny bit of his own energy to fashion the sphere and even less to hurl it
straight at Creed’s rotten head.
He didn’t expect it to work, but he hoped it would be a
good distraction. If he was really lucky, it’d even slow him down.
“Zahk.” Somehow, Izzy was less than surprised to see that
she’d been followed. “You son of a bitch.” She wanted to gouge his eyes out for
betraying Darr like he had.
Zahk’s lips twitched. “Right back at you, whore,” he
returned. “I always knew that story about the bond was bullshit.”
“Would that really have held you back?” Because frankly,
she doubted it. A lot.
Zahk shrugged and stepped closer. “Not my call. And Creed’s
a little busy killing your toy.”
“He’ll fail,” Izzy snapped. “Darr’s strong. He’ll survive.”
“Hmm.” Zahk crowded her against a tall tree trunk. Leaning
in close he whispered, “And do you think that’ll be enough for him? Once you’re
dead, I mean?”
Izzy swallowed heavily.
“I for one would kind of like to see,” Zahk continued,
reaching out and playing with her hair. “Any last requests?”
Izzy thought about spitting in his face, or seeing if she
could land a knee in his undoubtedly tiny balls, but before she could more than
begin to decide the decision was taken from her.
“Demon.” The voice was harsh and threatening. Full of
Zahk turned his gaze reflexively, his eyes bulging when he
realized who had called to him. He released her and landed a foot in the tree’s
shadow, but it was too late. Kai was standing too close to miss when he drew
his sword. Zahk screamed, the sound wet and sickening, before disappearing
forever in a burst of black demonic flame. Leaving behind nothing but an
unusually blue scorch.
Kai turned to Izzy, flickering sword at his side, and
wasted no time getting to the punch line. “Where is Creed?”
Darr bit back an outcry of pain as Creed’s newly acquired
spear of splintered wood impaled him. It had missed his heart, and probably his
lungs, but not by much. Instead of lingering on the pain, Darr grabbed hold of
the spear and jerked it straight back. He managed to tear a good chunk out of
Creed laughed loudly. “That may be the best hit you’ve ever
landed on me!” He glanced toward his bleeding, gouged arm with a sick grin. “I
might be impressed. It’s a shame you don’t see the value in torture.”
“One of the many things we’ll never agree on,” Darr
returned tightly. His chest hurt like hell and though he’d survive, he was
going to be weaker than he’d been in decades. For a while, at least—and that
was assuming he lived through the fight.
“That has to hurt,” Creed said, mock-cringing as he studied
the wound he’d inflicted. Then he lifted his stare to Darr and his lips
twitched. “Let’s see how much more I can hurt you.”
Darr braced himself, debating the wisdom of drawing on more
dark energy to fight with over reserving his power. He almost didn’t notice
Creed freeze. But freeze he had, right in his tracks. Creed’s expression curved
into an angry snarl and he straightened.
caught his attention?
An image of Izzy immediately filled his mind and Darr
realized Creed was now staring in the direction she’d fled. He reacted on
With a roar Darr launched and tackled Creed to the ground.
They tore into the topsoil with their impact, dragging back several feet, each
struggling to get the upper hand. Until Creed threw his weight into nearly
knocking Darr off balance and Darr’s shoulder slammed into a tree.
“Thanks,” Creed said a moment before disappearing into the
shadows around them.
Darr barely had a moment to process what had happened
before the reason why made itself known.
“You let him escape.” It wasn’t a question. And it wasn’t
Darr looked over, landing on one knee, and realized that
itch to run had been because there was a damned angel walking up. The same
so-called warrior angel who’d bailed them out of the problem at the resort,
supposedly in the name of chasing Creed. This time he wore battle leathers and
wielded a sword at his side—a sword surrounded by flickering white-blue flame.
Izzy. She bolted from behind the angel, running to him and dropping to her
knees at his side. “You’re hurt!”
Ignoring the angel for a moment, Darr dragged his gaze up
and down Izzy’s figure. She had some scrapes, but aside from her head injury
there was nothing too bad. Nothing an unplanned flight through brush couldn’t be
to blame for. “Are you all right?”
Izzy frowned and tears pooled in her shining eyes. “I won’t
be if you die, you idiot.” There was no venom in her voice. Just unsteady
wavering and concern.
Knowing it wasn’t smart, especially in his weakened condition,
to continue ignoring the angel, Darr looked back to him. Kai hadn’t moved a
step. He still held his sword, at his side in a semi-relaxed state that
instinct insisted was an illusion. Just one glance into this being’s eyes was
enough to assure
that he was
not to be fucked with. “Why are you here?” Shouldn’t he have gone after Creed?
Kai’s eyes narrowed almost imperceptibly. “Isolde prayed
for assistance. She offered Creed in return. Why did you let him escape?”
“I said I knew where he was,” Izzy interrupted. But her
voice betrayed her. She recognized the danger in this situation, too.
“It isn’t like I was
to,” Darr reminded. “He had the upper hand.”
And while that didn’t surprise him, it did infuriate him.
Creed was older, from a stronger line, and had fought his way to a position of
power in Hell. It was natural that Darr wouldn’t stack up to him, but damn if
that didn’t do a thing to make him feel better. Instead of dwelling on that,
though, Darr refocused on the current problem. It wasn’t nearly out of the
question that this angel wouldn’t decide to kill him.
And what would happen to Izzy if he died?
Izzy held her breath as Kai studied Darr. In the moment
praying for help had seemed like such a good idea, but now … now she was
terrified that she would be responsible for the death of the person she loved
most in all the world. Such a tragedy would kill her. She wanted to fall to her
knees between them and plead for Darr’s life, but she didn’t dare. Darr would
be insulted and this angel didn’t seem like the kind of man who had much
tolerance for—well, anything.
Has it really come
down to this?
When she was a child, believing herself newly bound to a
dark and powerful demon, Izzy had envisioned herself untouchable. Finally free.
Even when her father’s work and increasingly questionable methods endangered
her life she had never really been scared. Never felt held back or infringed
upon. Because Darr was with her. This man with more power than she knew how to
describe and just enough control to pass for human when necessary. As her
father pulled away, Darr became her everything. Her rock, her savior. She fell
in love with him like it was inevitable, and when he’d finally touched her …
the best way to describe how she felt was ‘pure bliss.’
How could something so right, so perfect, so
, be cut down now? When it had
barely gotten off the ground? How would she survive losing him?
She’d nearly forgotten herself when Kai finally spoke
“It is against my nature to let a demon survive in this
realm.” Flicking his blue gaze between them, he added pointedly, “Twice.”
Darr grunted under his breath and pushed to his feet. He
was moving slower than usual.
he is. He has a giant hole in his chest.
He made no move to step forward.
He held his ground at her side, fists unclenched. Facing his fate head on.
Izzy’s heart clenched and she could barely draw a breath
around the lump in her throat. There was no stopping the tears, so she focused
on holding back the sobs.
“But I feel inclined to make an exception in your case,”
Kai declared, his tone detached. He narrowed his eyes on Darr and added, “Make
no mistake. Your service in protecting this innocent heart is what has earned
your freedom. Betray her, corrupt her beyond salvation, or become more of a
danger than a savior, and I will make you cease to exist.”
“What…?” The breathless question was past Izzy’s lips
before she could think better of it.
Kai looked back to her calmly. “You prayed for assistance.”
A smile threatened to tip her lips as more tears spilled
over. If she’d been strong enough to stand, she might have run to hug him
without a thought. “Thank you.”
Kai tucked his sword into the slim sheath on his waist with
a faint nod. A moment later bright wings sprouted from his back and stretched
wide. Each white feather was outlined by a thin, beautiful layer of
nearly-white blue flame. Like some kind of holy fire. A single flap of those
massive wings shot him skyward with all the force of a rocket. And then he was
Izzy released an audible gasp of breath and slumped.
He didn’t die.
She hadn’t gotten her
lover killed. In her peripheral vision she saw Darr reach up, toward his chest,
and finally remembered his wound. It was bad.
Only, when she turned to look at it, he was prodding solid
He lifted a smile to her and knelt in front of her. “Healed
by an angel. Who’d have guessed?”
Hours later they lay in Izzy’s large bed, Darr’s arm curled
around her torso tightly. Her ear pressed over his heart, listening to the
steady rhythm it had fallen into, she whispered, “I’m so glad you survived…”
Darr pressed his lips to her hair. “I won’t leave you that
Izzy smiled and pressed her fingertips into his chest. “I
don’t want you to leave me ever.” Even though he surely would. What sort of
self-respecting immortal kept an old, wrinkly, maybe wheelchair-bound lover?
And someday that would be her. Hell, her grandmother had had Alzheimer’s, so
there was always the chance she would, too. Or one of any number of other
things. So she just had to make the best of this time while she had it.
“Izzy,” Darr began, his quiet voice almost urgent. “There’s
something I want to ask you.”
Pushing back her depressing thoughts, Izzy lifted her head
enough to find his eyes. He’d made no move to release her so she stayed as she
was. “What is it?”
“There are … other types of life binding spells,” he
finally said. It was obvious he was choosing his words carefully so she stayed
silent. Waiting. “There are one or two which unite two souls for all time. They
do mean dying together, yes, but that doesn’t have to be a bad thing.”
Izzy frowned. “How couldn’t it be?”
His hand came up, thumb landing along her lower lip
tenderly. “I don’t
you, Isolde Duchane. I would rather bind our souls so tightly that we can never
be torn apart.”
Her heart rammed against her ribcage as she began to
suspect his angle. His
“The choice is yours completely.” He paused, swallowed
audibly, and added, “You could refuse outright, of course. Or you can choose
one of two varieties. We can tie our lives to your lifespan … or to mine.”
Izzy blinked. “But … wouldn’t I still age?”
Darr shook his head. “Not a day.”
Then it was no contest. She knew exactly what she wanted.
With a smile splitting her face and a tear slipping free,
Izzy pressed her lips to his and murmured, “Let’s live forever, lover.”
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