Lyzander has done many distasteful things in his life. One has haunted him for the past twenty years. Now, the little girl he sheltered from those who killed her family has become his savior. When she seeks to avenge the murder of her loved ones, he finds himself saving her all over again.
Kelana has an agenda, and if mating with the angel warrior Lyzander will bring her closer to completing her mission, then she will gladly take him to her bed. When her father discovers the abomination he created is still alive, he proves more powerful than she imagined and it will take everything at her disposal to survive.
Release date: May 22, 2017
Print pages: 184
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Bound By Darkness
The stench of burning flesh cut off his air. Biting pain sliced across his torso, and Lyzander quickly realized he was the one on fire. Even with his eyes swelled shut, he knew his skin blistered, turned to charcoal, and peeled away exposing bone.
His body convulsed.
Muscles tightened and released, sending him crashing against a cold, hard surface. What the hell was happening to him?
Laughter tinged with evil rang in his ears. He tried to speak, but something was wrong. Tongue. Wasn’t he supposed to have one?
“What’s the matter, angel? Demons got your tongue?” More snickering, followed by a piercing pain, as if a red-hot poker had been shoved into the bottom of his foot.
His throat raw, he was positive he’d been screaming for hours. Where the hell was he?
“Pry his eyes open. Let him see his captors,” someone yelled.
Hands grabbed his hair and placed some kind of strap across his forehead. Next thing he knew, his eyes were forced open. The burning he experienced matched that of his skin. Water filled his eyes and made it hard to focus, not that he was sure he wanted to. A dark figure bent over him, and finally, he was able to make out a female figure through the fog.
“Well hello, Lyzander. Do you remember me?” She touched her finger to her cheek. “Oh, my bad. I forgot we cut out your tongue. No worries. You’ll heal in a few days, and then we can start over again.” Her red lips curved upward, revealing a set of pearly fangs. “I can hardly wait.” Her tongue darted out and ran across a point. “I’m feeling hungry, but I’ll wait until you’re more awake. In the meantime, please enjoy your stay.” She disappeared, and thankfully, the device that had been holding his eyes open was removed. Once again, he was in the darkness, and this time the pain pushed him into unconsciousness.
Lyzander snuggled into the softness that blanketed him. The scent of fresh linens, hung out on a sunny day, tickled his nose. It was his favorite smell.
He blinked then opened his eyes. White walls were basked in the sun shining through the picture window. He pushed himself to sitting and noticed he was naked. He rubbed his eyes and wondered why in the hell he was suddenly having nightmares. The pain was vivid, but when he looked himself over, there was no indication it had been real. Scraping his fingers along his jaw, he scratched at the scruff as he threw the covers the rest of the way off and crawled out of bed. Halfway across the room he stopped.
He turned, doing a one-eighty. It looked like his bedroom, but he suddenly realized his home above had been destroyed. Hadn’t it?
He scratched his head and squinted. What was the last thing he remembered?
Fighting. First the Sitori, and then his own brethren had turned into fallen zombies. After that? Things were a bit fuzzy. Maybe a shower would help clear his mind. He flung open the bedroom door and stepped into...
“What the fuck?”
“Good morning, warrior,” the silky voice purred.
“Aezyla.” He couldn’t choke out any more than that. The demon stared at him, her black eyes full of hatred. The feeling was fucking mutual.
“You do remember me. I’m glad to see you healed. It pleases me that you’re quick to recover.” The smile she presented was so evil he shivered.
“Healed?” Memories rushed him. “It was you who stood over me. That wasn’t a fucking nightmare.”
“Oh, it was very real, and I enjoyed every second of it. From cutting out your tongue, to watching your flesh blister and pop open from the burns. I think your screams of agony were my favorite though.” She slunk forward; her leathery wings twitched as she laughed. “And I look forward to inventing new ways to torture you.”
Panic filled him as his gaze darted from her to the two large demons who had slid in next to her. He tried to summon his own wings, but they refused to obey.
He stepped back.
The room he had exited had been replaced by a dungeon. The two males ascended. Each grabbed an arm and shoved him backward. Shackling his wrists over his head, they pulled the chains until his feet were off the ground.
The weight of his entire body caused the cuffs to slice into his skin, and blood trickled down his arms. He was helpless. His power gone.
“Am I dead?”
Aezyla laughed. “No, my pet, but you’ll beg me to kill you over and over. You could have shown mercy to my family. Instead, you slaughtered them. Now you will pay with an eternity of suffering.” She grazed a red nail down his cheek, slicing him open. “The first angel to actually be dragged into Lulerain in centuries. Demons are offering me a fortune to have a go at you. I stand to become quite wealthy.”
Acid curdled in his gut and raced up his esophagus. How had he ended up here? Lulerain, the pit of Hell where even demons feared to tread. He squeezed his eyes shut and prayed this was only a nightmare, but it wasn’t. His prayers would go unheard. No angel had ever returned from Hell, and no one had ever heard of one surviving the wolves of Lulerain. Lyzander was about to become Hell’s plaything. He was beyond screwed.
Kelana shifted her weight and adjusted the weapon at her side. The guards pretended not to notice her, but she knew they studied her. Dissected every nuance about her. She couldn’t blame them. After all, when Lucifer had been imprisoned, Hell had broken loose. Greed took over, and many demons with unscrupulous intentions vied for a piece of the demonic pie. Even Kelana herself could be placed in that same category. The very reason she was here seeking an audience with the Angel of Death was for her own personal gain. The trick would be keeping her little secret. She certainly had no desire to piss off the woman now in charge of Hell. Rumors had spread quickly throughout the realm how Ashley, their new mistress, could kill with a mere thought. If someone pissed her off, she made sure he suffered. The woman showed no mercy to those who crossed her or an innocent. However, those Kelana sought were far from innocent. They were murderers. Vile creatures who slaughtered innocent women.
Kelana swallowed, pushed the fear so far into the recesses of her being no one would ever see it, and turned on her charm.
“I wish for an audience with the Angel of Death,” she purred in her most seductive voice and flashed a smile. The guard closest to her smiled back.
“Well, pretty one. What do you want with our mistress?” His black armor creaked as he bent his towering body down to speak to her.
“I have business I wish to discuss.” She wet her lips. “Perhaps we can meet up later?”
He looked her over, his gaze landing on the blade at her hip then traveling to the one strapped to her thigh. “You know how to use those?”
She batted her lashes. “A girl has to protect herself.”
He straightened. “You may enter, but make sure to stop by on your way out.” He winked and she simply smiled and nodded.
Gathering her wits, she crossed the threshold of the open door, making sure to add an extra sway to her hips. As she followed another guard, she studied the decor. It appeared the new keeper hadn’t taken time to redecorate. Either that or its new owner had the same twisted taste as Lucifer. His touch was everywhere, from the wall paintings depicting more than a thousand ways to torture a soul to the sexual tastes of every demon in Hell. The black marble floor reflected the distasteful wrinkle of her nose. Maybe the Angel of Death meant to keep the reminders of such carnage around as a warning to others.
Her escort led her into a room that was so out of place, Kelana had to do a double take to make sure she was still in the palace. The floor was a soft cream tile and the walls decorated with pictures of landscapes of the human world. Near the large hearth––which sat cold––lay a hellhound. Must be the famous Wraith she had heard so much about. Seated in a chair to the right of the hearth was the Angel of Death herself.
Kelana stopped dead in her tracks and stared. The angel wore black leather pants, a pair of heels Kelana would kill for, and a pink tee. Her blonde hair curled around her shoulders, but the most impressive thing was the pair of black wings speckled with gold dust. Intimidating wasn’t the word for the aura this angel emitted.
“Come have a seat,” a soft voice beckoned, and Ashley pointed to a pair of pink damask covered chairs. Kelana nearly snorted.
Pink in Hell? Who would have thought?
She quickly obeyed and took a seat in one of the chairs then waited to be addressed. With no idea what protocol was concerning the new leader of Hell, she felt it best to let the angel lead.
“So, you are a marked female. Rather unusual considering your species, isn’t it?”
Kelana’s heart leapt into her throat as she glanced at her left bicep. The silver bangle she wore to cover the feather marking was still in place. So, how the hell did she know?
“I can sense what you are.” The angel smiled. “Kinda one of my gifts. I’m Ashley by the way.”
Kelana instantly felt at ease and wondered if the angel was working some kind of magic. Apparently, there was no need to lie about her heritage since the woman across from her already knew what she was. “My name is Kelana, and my father is an angel. My mother was half human and half succubus. I have often been told that I should not bear the mark, yet I do.”
“I see.” Ashley stared at Kelana’s arm. “Is it true that you grew up in this realm?”
Of course, the Angel of Death would know everything about the demons in her world. “Yes. My grandmother lived here, and my mother wished to be close. She embraced her demon side more than her human.”
The angel leaned forward. “Is it also true that you are an exceptional warrior?”
Kelana lifted a shoulder. “I don’t like to brag, but I have killed a few demons.” She quickly held up a hand. “Evil, of course.”
“Of course. So, tell me what I can do for you?” Ashley rubbed the wood on the arm of her chair with her thumb.
Might as well come right out with her little lie. “I wish to have the Tribunal recognize me so I can mate with an angel.” Well it was sorta true. She did want to mate, but not for the reasons most did. Her agenda, however, must remain hidden if she wanted to survive to carry out her task. “I should have been summoned by now but I haven’t.” Her mother had told her when she reached her twenty-fifth birthday, someone would come for her. That day had passed three years ago, and she was tired of waiting.
“I don’t blame you. I know what it’s like to be different, and I despise the fact the fathers are encouraged to never have contact until their daughter is grown.” Ashley sighed. “The Tribunal is currently out of commission and being reorganized. With everything that has happened, perhaps that is why they haven’t summoned you. You are special. A unique individual and I don’t doubt they have the perfect match for you.” She offered a smile. “I would love a friend in this godforsaken place. Maybe we can help each other.”
Oh, goody. Should Kelana be ecstatic that the keeper of Hell wanted to be her bestie? She had no friends. Women hated her beauty and sex appeal, and men couldn’t stay away from her, but having this woman on her side couldn’t hurt. It was why she was here.
“I have a proposition,” the angel stated.
Kelana’s curiosity piqued. “Go on.”
“Rumors have reached me that an angel is being held in Lulerain. With everything going on here, I need someone I can trust to go and find out if it’s true. You have skills and a desire to prove yourself. Rescuing an angel could go a long way in getting the attention of the others.” She leaned forward. “I can trust you, can’t I?”
Hmmm, interesting. Lulerain was the pit of Hell. A place only the worst of the worst were sent and not where one wanted to pick as a destination for recreation. While risky, it could also give her the mate she was looking for. She only needed to get in and get both of them out alive.
“I have resources and know people who will talk for a price. If there is an angel in Lulerain, you can trust me to get him out.” Not an exact lie.
Ashley leaned back into her chair. “You pull this off and I’ll also offer you lands of your own to govern.” Ashley waved her hand in the air. “It’s no secret that this place has become a war-torn zone. I need good demons to keep an eye on and protect those areas where the lesser demons live. I can’t be everywhere at once.”
Now that wasn’t something she’d been expecting. Ruler of her own domain? Why not. She had no intention of staying in the clouds after her mission was completed, and this was the perfect place to take refuge.
“I’ll do it.”
Ashley smiled. “Perfect. Anything you require. Provisions, an army, and weapons are at your disposal.”
Kelana shook her head. “I work best alone, but my provisions are low.”
Ashley stood. “Granted.” Concern etched lines around her mouth. “If you find one of the angels in there, please get him out. I shudder to think what they are doing to him.” She flared out her black wings. “My trust must be earned. If you think to cross me in any way, I would rethink that matter.”
Kelana rose to her feet, not doubting for one second the woman in front of her would dole out justice in spades. “I have no intention of crossing you. I will find your angel.” Even she had to wince slightly at the thought of what torture one of the heavenly bodies would endure in such a place. But she quickly reminded herself how much she hated angels. Their pompous better than everyone else attitude. Most of all, she despised them for what they had taken from her.
They had murdered her mother and grandmother right before her eyes, and for that they would pay the price.
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