Revenant was one fucked-up fallen angel.
No, wait…angel. He’d only believed he was a fallen angel.
For five thousand fucking years.
But he wasn’t an angel, either. Maybe technically, but how could someone born and raised in Sheoul, the demon realm some humans called hell, be considered a holy-rolling, shiny-haloed angel? He may have a halo, but the shine was long gone, tarnished since his first taste of mother’s milk, mixed with demon blood, when he was only hours old.
Five thousand fucking years.
It had been two weeks since he’d learned the truth and the memories that had been taken away from him were returned. Now he remembered everything that had happened over the centuries.
He’d been a bad, bad angel. Or a very, very good fallen angel, depending on how you looked at it.
Toxic anger rushed through his veins as he paced the subterranean parking lot outside Underworld General Hospital. Maybe the doctors inside had some kind of magical drug that could take his memories away again. Life had been far easier when he’d believed he was pure evil, a fallen angel with no redeeming qualities.
Okay, he probably still didn’t have any redeeming qualities but now, what he did have, were conflicted feelings. Questions. A twin brother who couldn’t be more opposite of him.
With a vicious snarl, he strode toward the entrance to the emergency department, determined to find a certain False Angel doctor he was sure could help him forget the last five thousand years, if only for a couple of hours.
The sliding glass doors swished open, and the very female he’d come for sauntered out, her blue and yellow-duckie-spotted scrubs clinging to a killer body. Instant lust fired in his loins, and fuck yeah, screw the drugs, she was exactly what the doctor ordered.
Take her twice and call me in the morning.
Since the moment he bumped into her at the hospital a few weeks ago, he’d been obsessed, and now, as her long legs ate up the asphalt as she walked toward him, he imagined them wrapped around his waist as he pounded into her. The closer she came, the harder his body got, and he cursed with disappointment when she dropped her keys and had to stop to pick them up. Then he decided she could drop her keychain as often as she wanted to, because he got a fucking primo view of her deep cleavage when her top gaped open as she bent over.
She straightened, looped the keychain around her finger, and started toward him again, humming a Duran Duran song.
“Blaspheme.” He stepped out from between two black ambulances, blocking her path.
She jumped, a startled gasp escaping full crimson lips made to propel a male to ecstasy. “Revenant.” Her gaze darted to the hospital doors, and he got the impression she was plotting her escape route. How cute that she thought she could get away from him. “What are you doing lurking in the parking lot?”
Lurking? Well, some might call it that, he supposed. “I was on my way to see you.”
She smiled sweetly. “Well, you’ve seen me. Buh-bye.” Pivoting, her blond ponytail bouncing, she headed in the opposite direction.
Back to the hospital.
With a mental flick of his wrist, he changed into jeans, cowboy boots, and a NASCAR T-shirt, and turned his hair from black to brown before flashing around in front of her, once again blocking her path. “Maybe this is more to your liking?”
She gave him a flat stare. Clearly, rednecks weren’t her thing.
Giving it another try, he went ginger and short with the hair, and decked himself out in a business suit. “How about this?”
More staring. He switched back to goth biker chic and stopped fucking around. “Come home with me.”
“Wow.” She crossed her arms over her chest, which only drew his attention to her rack. Niiice. “You get right to the point.”
He shrugged. “Saves time.”
“Were you planning to wine and dine me at least? You know, before the sex.”
“No. Just sex.” Lots and lots of sex.
He could already imagine her husky voice deepening in the throes of passion. Could imagine her head between his legs, her mouth on his cock, her hands on his balls. He nearly groaned at the imaginary skin flick playing in his head.
“Oh,” she said, her voice dripping with sarcasm. “You’re charming, aren’t you?”
Not once in his five thousand years had anyone ever called him charming. But even uttered with sarcasm, it was the nicest thing anyone had ever said to him.
“Don’t do that,” he growled.
“Do what?” She stared at him like he was a loon.
“Never mind.” Dying to touch her, he held out his hand. “You’ll love my playroom.”
She wheeled away like he was offering her the plague instead of his hand. “Go to hell, asshole. I don’t date fallen angels.”
“Good news, then, because it’s not a date.” And he wasn’t a fallen angel.
“Right. Well, I don’t fuck fallen angels, either.” She made a shooing motion with her hand. “Go away.”
She was rejecting him? No one rejected him. No one. Having been raised in a dungeon, with torture specialists and executioners as his playmates, he hadn’t exactly learned the art of seduction or even polite conversation. But sex…he spoke that language fluently.
She started to take off again, and he blinked, confused. This wasn’t right. He had his sights set on her, and she was supposed to surrender. This was something new. Something…titillating. The confusion morphed into a sensation he welcomed and knew well; the jacked-up high of the hunt.
Instantly, his senses sharpened and focused. His sense of smell brought a whiff of her vanilla-honey scent. His sense of hearing homed in on her rapid, pounding heartbeat. And his sense of sight narrowed in on the tick of her pulse at the base of her throat.
The urge to pounce, to take her down and get carnal right here, right now, was nearly overwhelming. Instead, he moved in slowly, matching her step for step as she backed up.
“What are you doing?” She swallowed as she bumped up against a massive support beam.
“I’m going to show you why you need to come home with me.” He planted both palms on the beam on either side of her head and leaned in until his lips brushed the tender skin of her ear. “You won’t regret it.”
“I already told you. I don’t fuck fallen angels.”
“So you said,” he murmured. “Do you kiss them?”
He didn’t give her the chance to finish her sentence. Pulling back slightly, he closed his mouth over hers.
Strawberry gloss coated his lips as he kissed her, and he swore he’d never liked fruit as much as he did right now.
Her hands came up to grip his biceps, tugging him closer as she deepened the kiss. “You’re good,” she whispered against his mouth.
“I know,” he whispered back.
Suddenly, pain tore into his arms as her nails scored his skin. “But you’re not that good.”
Before he could even blink, she shoved hard and ducked out from under the cage of his arms. With a wink, she strutted away, her fine ass swinging in her form-fitting scrub bottoms. She stopped at the door of a candy apple red Mustang and gave him a sultry look that made his cock throb.
“Give up now, buddy. I can out-stubborn anyone.” She hopped into her car and peeled out of her parking stall, leaving him in the dust.
* * *
Blaspheme was practically hyperventilating as she drove through New York City’s crowded streets, wishing she’d taken the Harrowgate to work today. But no, she’d chosen to drive from her Brooklyn apartment to Underworld General one last time, a sentimental stupidity that had not only taken up precious time, but had also run her straight into a fallen angel who somehow, after a short, unpleasant verbal exchange at the hospital a few weeks ago, thought they needed to date.
No, not date. Just have sex.
Her entire body heated at the thought, something it had no business doing.
But gods, he was incredible. Standing in the UG parking lot, he’d looked like a giant goth biker, wrapped in leather and chains, his massive boots sporting wicked talons at the tips. Even the backs of his fingerless gloves were adorned with metal studs at the knuckles. She’d always hated the tough-guy bullshit, but Revenant had fucking owned it. She got the impression that he lived his life that way; if he wanted it, he owned it.
Even when he’d changed his look, he’d still been like something out of a magazine or movie. The cowboy boots had made her want to take up riding—not necessarily horses—and the business suit had given her some racy desk fantasies.
He wasn’t going to give up on her, was he? At least, not without a fight, which she was going to give him. She couldn’t afford to have a fallen angel sniffing around.
Cursing, she fumbled through her purse for her cell phone and dialed her contact from the moving company. Sally answered on the second ring.
“Hi, Bonnie,” Sally said, using the name Blaspheme adopted when dealing with humans. “The movers said they’ll be done loading your belongings for the second shipment to London by the end of the day.”
“Good,” Blas said. It would be nice to go directly to UG’s new London clinic directly, rather than having to use the hospital’s emergency department Harrowgate to get there. “I should be there in an hour—” The Call Waiting beep interrupted. “Can I get back to you? My mother is ringing in.”
Sally’s cheerful, “No problem,” was followed by a promise to make sure the movers would take wonderful care of Blaspheme’s things and not to worry, and a moment later, Blaspheme’s mother was on the other line.
“Hi, Mom.” Blaspheme slammed on her brakes to avoid rear-ending a piece-of-shit truck that apparently hadn’t come equipped with a turn signal or brake lights. She shot the driver the finger through her front windshield.
“Blas.” Her mother’s raspy voice came from right next to Blaspheme.
Screaming, Blas dropped the phone. “Holy shit!”
She opened her mouth again to yell at her mother for popping into the car from out of nowhere, but when she saw the blood, her voice cut out. Deva, short for Devastation, sat in the passenger seat, every inch of her body covered in blood. The broken end of a bone punched through her left biceps, and a deep, to-the-femur burn had devastated her right leg.
“Oh, gods,” Blaspheme gasped. “What happened?”
Her mother lifted her trembling hand from her abdomen, and Blas got an eyeful of bowels poking through the laceration that stretched from just above her navel to her hip bone.
The injury itself was grave enough, but emanating from it was a vibe Blaspheme couldn’t place. Whatever it was, it felt…wrong. And very, very fatal.
“I—” Deva sucked in a rattling breath…and slumped, unconscious, against the window.
“Mom!” The POS truck moved, allowing Blaspheme to whip the Mustang around a corner to head back to Underworld General.
Automatically, she reached out with her mind to find a Harrowgate, and although she located one a block away, there was nowhere to park, and no way she could abandon the vehicle in the middle of the street.
Damn, it would be nice to be able to flash like the normal offspring of a fallen angel, but that wasn’t an option for Blaspheme. It would never be an option.
On instinct, she gripped her mother’s wrist and tried to channel healing energy into her, but that talent had been rendered useless a long time ago.
“Just hold on,” she told her mom as she wove her car through the streets, narrowly avoiding sideswiping a cab and a messenger on a bike.
She whipped into the underground parking lot owned by the hospital but off-limits to the public, drove through a false wall, and practically skidded to a halt in a stall in the hospital’s hidden parking lot. Then, for a split second, an eternity, really, she hesitated.
Everyone at the hospital believed Blas was a False Angel. She could come up with an explanation as to why her mother wasn’t the same species, but doing so could raise questions. Questions from the one person she was pretty sure was already suspicious.
Just two weeks ago, Eidolon, Underworld General’s founder and chief of staff, had been just cryptic enough in his warning to stay away from Revenant that she’d been paranoid ever since.
Her mother groaned, and suddenly, it didn’t matter what Eidolon suspected. Her job…hell, her life…was at risk, but so was Deva’s, and she couldn’t let her mother die.
Quickly, she leaped out of the vehicle and ran through the sliding doors to the emergency department.
“I need help!” she barked, and in an instant, Luc, a werewolf paramedic, and Raze, a Seminus demon physician, rushed outside with a stretcher.
Moments later, Blaspheme was in an exam room, gloved up, while Luc checked vitals and Raze channeled his healing power into Deva. He seemed to be having trouble.
“Her stomach ruptured,” he said. “Dammit, there’s a tear in her transverse colon. I can heal the tears right now, but she needs surgery to clean out the contaminants.” He looked over at Blas. “It’s a huge risk, though. I know you’re aware that False Angels don’t respond well to anesthesia.”
Shit. Blaspheme did not want to reveal the truth about her mother—and potentially, herself—but she couldn’t compromise Deva’s health by sending her into surgery with doctors who thought she was something other than what she was. Maybe she could play fast and loose with the facts and hope no one dug too deep.
Blas glanced up as she prepared an IV site in the back of her mother’s hand. “She’s not a False Angel.”
Raze cocked an eyebrow. “But you said she’s your mother.”
“She’s my adoptive mother,” she lied. “She’s a fallen angel.” At least the second part was the truth.
Raze’ hand jerked, and he cursed under his breath. She understood his shock; fallen angels were rare, they were mostly evil assholes, and as far as Sheoulic denizens went, they were at the top of the food chain.
Raze’s ginger hair, longer in front than in the back, fell over his eyes as he leaned in for a closer look at Deva’s abdominal wound. “This is strange.”
Those weren’t words you wanted a doctor to say. She attempted to summon her most useful FA ability, what was commonly called X-ray vision, used by False Angels to determine the health or virility of their potential victims. As a medical professional, Blas had found a better use for it.
Sadly, it barely flickered before snuffing out. Great. Another False Angel ability was failing. How long before they were all gone and her true identity was revealed?
“What’s strange?” she asked.
“I can’t heal her. Nothing’s happening.”
“What?” Blas looked up from inserting an IV catheter into Deva’s vein to stare at the incubus. “Are you out of juice?”
He held up his right arm, which was covered in glowing glyphs from his throat to his fingers. “My power is at full charge. I’m telling you, it’s not me. It’s her.”
The vibe. What if the weird vibe coming off her mother was somehow interfering with Raze’s powers?
Raze glanced over at her. “Can you take a look inside her and tell me what’s going on?”
“I just tried,” she said. “I think I’m too emotional.”
Raze nodded, apparently buying her bullshit story for the X-ray failure.
Her mother groaned, and her eyes flickered open. Her hand fumbled for Blas’s. “Alone,” she rasped. “I need to talk to you alone.”
Blaspheme looked up at Raze. “Arrange for an OR. We’ll get her into surgery right away. And page Eidolon. I want him on this.” Despite Blas’s fears of discovery, she needed him. As the most skilled, most experienced doctor in the entire underworld, Eidolon just might be the only one who could save her mother.
Raze and Luc took off, leaving her alone with Deva.
“Mom,” she said quietly. “What’s going on? What happened?”
“Angels,” she said, and Blaspheme’s stomach churned. “I was attacked by angels.”
Which explained the vibe and Raze’s difficulty healing her. Some angelic weapons caused injury that couldn’t be fixed by supernatural means.
“Where were you?” Blaspheme squeezed her mother’s hand when Deva’s eyes closed. “Hey, stay with me. Where were you when they attacked you?”
“Home,” she rasped. “They found me, Blaspheme.”
A chill crawled up her spine. “They?” She had a sickening feeling she knew who they were, and she prayed she was wrong.
Deva coughed, spraying blood. “I think…I think they were Eradicators. They found me.” She sat up, clawing at Blaspheme’s hand, desperation and terror punching through the haze of pain in her eyes. “Which means they’re also looking for you.”