On a mission to gather intel on an emerging species. Tegan's partner, a beautiful young angel, stirs desires the archangel has avoided for decades. When he discovers Rhea's little secret, his world threatens to collapse around him and forces him to confront a past he thought he had left behind.
Rhea has always wanted to visit the mortal realm, so when she is offered a mission with Tegan, she jumps at the chance. Second thoughts arise when she is commanded to seduce the archangel. Higher powers want Tegan's son; she just wants to help him forget his broken heart.
Deception collides with fate as the two angels unravel the truth, only to discover they have been the pawns of providence. Events have been set in motion. Now it is up to them to either allow the past to repeat itself or let fate finally take its course.
Release date: January 15, 2018
Print pages: 174
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Tempted By Darkness
Tegan spread his wings, jumped into the air, and swung his blade, taking the heads off two demons. Blood sprayed and coated his white T-shirt. He’d intentionally worn that color so he could see the fruit of his battles.
“Damn, Tegan. What’s gotten into you?” Eli asked as he wiped his own blade clean. “You’ve been in a pissy mood for months. Does it have anything to do with that female you had me watch over?”
Tegan drilled his gaze into the hunter, his fingers white around the hilt of his blade. “That woman is never to be mentioned again.” He couldn’t bear to think of her. His anguish made him want to carve out his heart. “Do yourself a favor, Eli. Stay away from the human females.”
“Well, that may be a little difficult since I like sex. A lot.” Eli chuckled.
“Don’t we all, but I will never father another daughter. It’s wrong. So wrong.” He wiped his blade on the grass then raised it into the air where it disappeared. Right now, his Ana was seven months along. Had she forgotten him yet? Would their daughter have her eyes? Just thinking about these things made him want to kill again. Somehow, he had to pull his life together. His brethren needed him. Fortunately for him, common sense overrode the voice in his head that said Fuck it all. What would he gain if he gave up now?
So many nights he almost went to Ana. If he remained cloaked, he could look in on her. Watch her sleep. See the swell of his child in her belly. He’d only want to touch her, though. Sing a lullaby to his daughter as his mother had to him when he was a small child. It was times like these he missed his mother terribly. She would have understood his pain. The sting of how his father had taken her away bit into him and drained the life out of him. Several hundred years ago, his father had succumbed to the darkness. When Lucifer had taken his father’s soul, his mother, in a desperate attempt to be with her mate...had given up her own.
Tegan had taken his father’s life and with great pleasure. He blamed him for his mother’s fate. However, when it came to ending hers, he tossed his blade aside and walked away. He committed one of the greatest sins by allowing her to live, but he simply couldn’t end her life. A small part of him hoped, prayed she was still there somewhere, and maybe one day would come back to him. He’d not seen her since that day, but rumors came round that she was Lucifer’s mistress. He refused to believe it.
Now, he’d lost another woman he loved. His Ana. He clenched his jaw, dropped to his knees on the warm grass, and looked up to the heavens. “I swear on this day. My heart will belong only to me, and love will never sink its talons into it again.” As he knelt there, trying to regain his composure, he silently condemned the Seven to Hell. The women of the Tribunal who had chosen his fate. Decided that he would father a daughter, a nephilim who would one day grow into a woman and become an angel’s mate.
A daughter he’d never have a hand in raising.
Was it the Seven’s fault that he fell in love with Ana? That wasn’t part of any plan when an angel was sent to procreate, but for some reason it had happened to him. Fate was a nasty bitch and he despised her. Deep in his soul, he knew Ana was his. They belonged together and somehow he had to find a way. Damn the Seven for threatening to abort the baby. It was the only reason he didn’t give up his wings and become mortal.
The loss of their daughter would devastate Ana.
Instead, he was forced to walk away. Leave the woman he loved to wonder why he never returned.
Tegan stood under a maple, its leaves twisted green and silver in the pending storm’s breeze. He’d managed to hold off the rain as he watched––invisible to those around him––while they buried the love of his life. His miserable, fucking life.
Several of Ana’s family and friends gathered close to her sister, Vivian, who clutched the tiny baby in her arms. His daughter. A child fated to become the mate of an angel. Until then, she’d be raised by her human aunt.
He moved closer, still invisible to others, and looked at the sleeping child. His anguish cut deep. “May you one day forgive me for the pain I have caused.” He understood better than most the bitterness of losing a mother.
He brushed a finger across her soft skin. “I love you, Ashley.” He’d sworn off love, but this was his flesh and blood. How could he not love her? A tear dropped onto her tiny cheek, and the heavens split open. His tears, the rain that fell on this awful day.
He wrapped his golden wings around his body and began to fade away, unable to bear the sight of even one speck of dirt on his love’s casket. His gut wrenched as his daughter opened her eyes and looked his way. For a brief moment, they connected. He was mesmerized by eyes that matched his. Perhaps one day he’d see her again, as an adult. She might even become the mate of an angel he knew. Would she hate him? He wouldn’t blame her if she did. He deserved it.
It took every ounce of strength he had to break contact and remind himself he would only endanger his daughter if he lingered. As an elite in the Maker’s army, he had a duty to humanity and to his hunters. For the third time in his life, he abandoned a female he loved.
May the realms of Heaven, Hell, and the mortal world never feel the wrath of his pain.
Tegan sank into a backless chair, his wings folded against him. It was all he could do to sit still while he waited. The Maker had summoned him, which meant something was wrong. It wasn’t often the goddess called a special meeting with him unless something was amiss.
The door to his right opened and the Maker entered. Tegan rose to his feet and gave a bow. “My Domina.”
She stopped in front of him, her silver gown swirling at her feet. “Tegan, it has been a long time since we have talked. Just the two of us.”
“Sit. I have an assignment for you that we must discuss.” She moved to a chair across from him and poured a glass of iced tea. “Would you care for some?” she asked, holding the crystal pitcher over an empty glass.
“Please and thank you.”
She poured. “Ashley is doing a wonderful job bringing life to the new Tribunal. You should be proud of her.”
“I am very proud of my daughter. She has adapted to her new life well, considering...” Considering she grew up without her mother, with no idea what she was until Eli was cast out and saved Ashley from a hellhound attack. The two mated and his daughter fulfilled her destiny by becoming the Angel of Death. Finally, he and Ashley were starting to bond as father and daughter. It pleased him and was far overdue.
“Your sacrifices have not gone unnoticed. Now, for this mission.” Quick change of subject. “We suspect that the vampire Cade awakened is creating more of her kind. They have been keeping themselves well hidden, but we believe there is a community of them in New York City.”
He nodded. “You want me to take them out?”
“No. Father and I want you to get close to them. We have no idea how many there are and what they are up to. So far, they have remained under the radar. You will be moving into a home that has been setup for you to observe. Of course, you are going to have to hide what you are. Appearing mortal is important. At this point, we need to determine what their intent is. If they remain peaceful, we can’t simply wipe them out. It’s a delicate balance when a new species emerges.”
“Of course, I understand. I shall leave right away.”
The Maker shifted in her seat, and he knew what was coming next would be distasteful. “Father is sending one of his own on this mission with you. You two will act as husband and wife to help keep up appearances.”
And there it was. His mouth tightened, but he kept a steady hand on his glass. “I assume she is a warrior?” Last thing he wanted was to go on a mission with a female, but there was no way for him to argue the point. At least not without being disrespectful.
“No. While Father assures me Rhea has been trained in combat, her duties have been those of his assistant.”
“Why is he sending her?”
She set her glass on the table. “Apparently she requested a chance to see the world outside of her own.”
Oh, even better. A damn tourist. “I’m not a travel guide. I’m a hunter,” he managed without too much sarcasm. Lucky for him, the Maker didn’t bat a long lash.
“I realize this is rather unusual, but would you have me tell my father no? Rhea is a beautiful girl, and I don’t mind saying you two might hit it off. She is a pure angel, Tegan.”
His pulse pounded in his jaw. Were they fucking with him again? Pure female angels were rare and usually resided in the Otherworld. There had not been a female angel born to a mated couple, ever. Babies were male, so the few females that had ever existed were a creation of the God himself. It was why angels had to impregnate mortal females. Those unions bore daughters known as nephilim, and they were the chosen mates of the angels. His own daughter, Ashley, had come from such a union, except he had loved her mother and had wanted to spend his life with her.
“Are you commanding me to mate with this Rhea?”
The Maker’s gaze narrowed. “I would never command such a thing and neither is Father. But you must realize your bloodline needs to continue. You might consider Rhea as your mate. She would be a perfect choice, considering her purity.”
Tegan suppressed his growl. His damn bloodline. It was a curse to carry the DNA of both the Maker and Lucifer. The children of the Almighty himself. Tegan’s mother was a daughter of the Maker and Tegan’s long dead father, a son of Lucifer. The entire family tree was one fucked up mess in his opinion, and it had all been a long thought out plan to eventually create Tegan’s daughter, the Angel of Death. Now they wanted sons from him? He hadn’t been with a woman since Ana, and he sure as hell wasn’t starting with this Rhea. His dick would stay tucked inside his pants where it belonged. End of story.
“I’m happy to hear you’re not commanding me. I would hate to disobey.” He’d go on this mission. He would even play along and pretend he had a wife, but that was as far as it would go.
Rhea dipped a finger into the cool lake water and traced circles until the images came into view. This time, the image that emerged was a jagged mountain range that filled the skyline with a backdrop as blue as the one above her right now. She concentrated on the image, but the moans of two angels in the grass behind her making love tempted to pull her from her mission, but she refused to let it. Too great was her quest. Rhea needed to find him and knew he would be in the mortal world.
Others laughed at her, gently reminding her that she was a pure angel. One of the few females created by the Almighty and could have her pick of any number of males. There was no such thing as a fated mate for her. However, she knew deep in the very essence of her soul that they were wrong.
There was only one man for her and theirs would be a love like no other. He waited for her; she only had to find him.
She was pulled from her daydream, and the world she viewed in the lake vanished. Rising to her feet, she smoothed her gown. “What is it?”
Gina, a young angel who had tragically died many years ago and came to the Otherworld, looked at her. “Are you using Father’s link to the mortal world again?”
No sense in denying it. “Yes.”
She let out an impatient sigh. “He has requested your audience. Immediately.”
“Oh. I wonder what’s going on.” She had been given leave to have the day to herself. Had Father become angry at her use of his power? She had been visiting Trath Lake and calling upon the power to open a window into the human realm. Her hope was to finally find him, but so far that hadn’t happened.
“No doubt you’ve made him angry. You know it is forbidden to peek into the mortal world for your personal gain.”
Rhea didn’t care. “I guess I’d better hurry and face my punishment.” She picked some grass off her dress before she took to the sky and flew back to the temple. As she looked down, she couldn’t help but sigh at the sight of couples walking hand in hand or kissing. All of them in love and it made her heart ache for a man she had yet to meet. When she finally landed outside the stark white building, she pulled back her shoulders and walked up the stone steps. Once inside, she hurried to meet her fate.
Kneeling on the cool, marble floor, Rhea was thankful the gown she wore provided a slight barrier. She held her wings high, yet tucked to her back and her head slightly bowed, gaze glued to the floor. Even though she had been here her entire life, to gaze upon the Almighty directly was painful. Instead, she focused on the light surrounding her.
“Rhea. I am going to send you to the mortal plane.”
Her heart raced and she suppressed a gasp. Was she finally going to find her true love?
“There are stipulations of course,” he continued. “You are going on a mission with an elite hunter by the name of Tegan. There is an emerging species in the mortal world that we need to monitor.”
Rhea’s breath caught. She was going to get a chance to witness the growth of a new species as well? She could scarcely contain her excitement. “I am very excited, Father.”
“You will be posing as the hunter’s human wife. Both of you will be shielding your divine powers while you move into a mortal home in the vicinity of this new species. It is the best way to blend into the environment.”
“Of course, Father.”
“There is another matter of great importance. Tegan’s bloodline is unique. The hunter refuses to mate and have sons, therefore you will seduce him and come home carrying his child.”
A lump formed in her throat, thick and heavy. “Father, you know that I am pure.” She tried to hide her blush but felt the heat rise up her cheeks. She was no innocent in the matters of sex, as it was something done openly in the Otherworld. She’d seen couples in the throes of bliss along the riverbank and only this morning on the shores of Trath Lake. She had imagined what the touch of a man would feel like while she had brought forth her own pleasure. It wasn’t as though there were not men here who would gladly taint her. Rhea was a romantic and wanted to save herself for him.
“I realize you are a virgin, but this needs to be done. We cannot take a chance of losing his bloodline.”
She worked her bottom lip. “What of his daughter? Will she not carry on the line?”
“Not the same. If you do not wish to fulfill my command, I can find another and you can stay here and continue your duties.”
Rhea wanted so badly to explore the world. Had spent many hours staring through the waters of Trath Lake, where she could watch the mortal realm. She had been fascinated by their evolution in the short time she’d been watching, and now a new species was emerging. It was a once in a lifetime chance, and perhaps if she did this, Father would let her stay and search for her mate. However, it went against everything she believed to deceive the hunter. “I will do your bidding.” The words spilled forth before she could even stop them. Shame caused her to drop her head further. Seeing the world was apparently more important than her morals.
“Very well. Your body will become fertile when the time is right.”
“What if the hunter is my mate?” She could hope––though the chances were slim––that this man was her destiny. It would make things so much easier.
“Mating will be between you and the hunter, and I give you my blessing but be warned. His heart belongs to another who left her mortal life long ago. It seems he cannot let her go.” The light began to dim. “Pack only what you must have. Everything else will be provided for you. You leave in the morning.”
Rhea rose to her feet. Before she gathered the few items she would take with her, she wanted to go to their vast library and learn everything she could about the angel Tegan.
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