Making a deal with the Devil is the least of his problems.
Zaphkiel, a chain-smoking, hard-drinking archangel, never intended to unleash the sun demon upon the city. Bad enough his boss wants him dead, and this recent crime is the perfect excuse. The timing couldn’t be worse. Somehow, Zaphkiel’s executed lover, Caliel, is alive and reincarnated as Sean. Zaphkiel is thrilled to be reunited with Caliel again, but will his lover feel the same when he learns Zaphkiel’s darkest secret?
Hired by Lucifer, Sean wants nothing more than to fit in. But how can he compete when the Devil’s friends include archangels and a Tarot reader, and he was born without special abilities? Or so he believes. The Tarot hints there may be more to him than he realizes.
Recruited by the Devil to find the two pentacles sun demon Sorath plans to use to destroy the universe, Zaphkiel and Sean find themselves pawns in a game of power and control. If the archangel gives his boss the pentacles, Ophaniel will overlook his crime. But Zaphkiel knows he can’t trust either Ophaniel or Sorath, and the deal he’s made with the Devil could cost him not only his life, but also the lover he believed gone forever.
M/M sexual practices, occult themes, some violence, graphic descriptions.
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Word Count: 35,263
The stench of decay and rotten eggs hit Zaphkiel the moment he teleported on the front porch of the blue Victorian house in this Highlands neighborhood. Sulfur. A demon lurked behind those walls.
He pulled a small container of mentholated balm from his suit coat pocket and swiped a dab under his nose.
Despite the sultry weather, apprehension chilled him. He could dispatch a lesser evil spirit without problem. A more powerful one? Zaphkiel shuddered. High-ranking devils required more energy and strength of will, and his superiors had stressed the importance of following protocol. One misstep and an angel could become demon fodder.
He steeled himself to confront whatever waited inside. The front door showed no forced entry. Window blinds hid the scene inside. Too bad he lacked X-ray vision.
Centuries working in celestial law enforcement, and he never lost that adrenaline-fueled anxiety in unknown situations. Heart beating jackhammer loud, palms damp, he twisted the doorknob.
The door didn’t budge. Zaphkiel concentrated on the lock, maneuvering the tumblers. The lock clicked and the door swung open onto a living room decorated in thrift-store chic. A sitcom played on the TV, sound muted.
He stepped inside, senses crackling on high alert, body poised to transform. Unlike priests or exorcists, he’d use pure holy fire to annihilate the demon.
The odor permeated the room, dripping down walls like a black ooze, threatening to seep into his pores. Zaphkiel’s stomach roiled. Never had he sensed such malevolence.
A woman sprawled against floral-patterned sofa cushions. A red slash marred her throat, dark, bloody beads glistening against pale skin. Glassy eyes stared heavenward. One arm dangled over the edge, fingers pointed toward the floor. Someone had carved 666 across her chest.
A bitter taste filled his mouth, and he fought back rising nausea. Taking a human life was despicable. Taking one to summon a demon was grounds for annihilation.
She had the same shade of blond hair as Caliel. Centuries had passed since his lover’s execution, and he thought of him when he faced such a horrendous murder. He always regretted not arriving in time to save the victims, many sacrificed to devils by clueless black magicians, themselves often demon fodder. Many occultists were misguided, lured by promises of riches, immortality, or unlimited power, but it didn’t excuse them from playing with someone else’s life. If he could save even one victim, maybe he could atone for not saving Caliel. But that chance would never heal the hole in his heart. He’d accepted death. One day he would lose, and a demon would kill him. The only request he had was to be reunited with his lover.
Energy pulsated throughout the room. The TV shorted, sparked, and blipped out. An ethereal form solidified next to him. The overhead light glinted off a shaved head. Emerald-green wings lay folded against a black greatcoat, primary tips parallel with the tops of polished jackboots. Michael was here to take the young woman’s soul.
The archangel eyed the corpse with disdain. “We received reports of a cosmic disturbance.”
“Someone’s summoning a demon, but I don’t think they’ve succeeded yet.” Zaphkiel wished he sounded more confident.
Michael marched up the stairs, boots clomping on wood steps. “Have you checked the rest of the house?”
“Not yet. Just got here.” Zaphkiel hurried after him. “Did Azrael send you?”
“Yeah. Ophaniel told me you were investigating. Any idea what we’re dealing with?”
“At the moment, no.”