Did you read Demon Within? Here's the prologue and first & second chapters of Angel Within for you to read...keep watching this space.. more to follow...
As more ingredients burned in the fire, the flames danced higher, brightening the cave to reveal jagged walls. Another flash of violet light, followed by a cloud of vapor, rose into the air as Jana cast her spell.
‘Be my eyes, be my ears.’
She raised her arms high and marveled at the crystals in her hands before releasing them into the fire.
‘You are mine to command, mine to own.’
Finally adding the remaining elements with a flourish of hands, she smiled while watching the incandescent flames explode into the air, casting shadows throughout the cavern where she performed secretive work.
‘It is done.’
Turning to face a hooded figure behind her, the witch blew out a ponderous sigh. Although completing the first stage, the next step wouldn’t be so easy and other pressing matters required her attention.
The lustrous jewels set in her clothing shimmered under the light of the flames with each minuscule movement as she stepped towards the hooded figure. Mesmerizing and enchanting, they cast dancing reflections around the cave.
Her elegant body paused, and pushing delicate hands over her head, she smoothed long, silky hair away from her face while raising her chin triumphantly, marveling at her contrivance.
‘Now we wait.’
With deliberate steps the witch edged nearer; vivid blue eyes, illumined by the flames, dazzled her disciple.
‘Soon, I will call on you, and without hesitation your lethal hands will do my bidding.’
Acceding to its master the hooded figure bowed, ‘Yes, Jana.’
Smiling at her accomplishment, Jana’s skill was beyond reproach and unmatched by any other; her mastery in the dark arts set a paragon for those practicing the craft.
‘Go, await my command.’
Bowing low once more, the hooded figure turned to leave, but the witch slowed the departure.
‘I will make you famous Nazar!’ She threw her head back and laughed, ‘You will be famed throughout the lands as the man who killed Kai of Darkmide!
Kai’s body sent a rush of heat over Eloise when he settled close and curled his arm around her swollen belly. Nuzzling the soft, sweet-scented skin, he raked his face across her shoulder with flaring nostrils.
‘You smell so good.’
Aroused from a contented state, Eloise stirred when whispered words fell to her ear. Sighing at his touch, she curled against him and slowly turned her head. Her mouth sought his to lazily kiss him, and unable to resist his attention, her hips ground against his hardening cock.
His arm tightened, drawing her closer.
Although in her sixth month of pregnancy, her condition did not suppress her appetite for passion and Kai could not refuse her demands.
Gentle hands lowered and rested between her legs, before searching fingers slid between sensitive folds to brush gently over her clitoris. Probing fingers slid easily, and her body reacted instantly to his gentle touch. The soft caress of his fingertips awakened every nerve ending with expert precision, bringing her close to release in little time.
As he nudged the tip of his cock to her entrance, she gasped softly.
Husky words barely left Kai’s lips, ‘I need you.’
With a gentle rhythm, he rocked into her heat.
Kai’s lips pampered her flesh as they trailed down her shoulder, encouraging further gasps to escape her lips as her responsive body yielded to his touch. With every slow thrust of his hips, she affirmed her pleasure.
To touch, caress, and make love to Eloise, carried satisfaction beyond reproach.
She groaned loudly, causing Kai to hesitate.
‘Am I hurting you?’
‘No,’ A slender hand touched him, ‘Please, don’t stop.’
With delicate strokes, he gave Eloise what she needed, and quickening his pace, he ground against her with satisfying precision.
‘I love you, Eloise.’
Eloise completed him. Never in his life did he dream he would find anyone who filled the void in his heart. Lustrous chestnut hair appeared silkier, brighter eyes and radiant skin bloomed with each passing day as pregnancy reshaped her body.
Quickening breaths changed to gasps as Kai’s thrusts became more urgent. Her body shook and trembled when ripples of pleasure spread through her. Kai’s release followed hers and he groaned loudly against her neck in satisfaction.
Lying in loving embrace, husband and wife, king and queen, they drifted into a comfortable sleep.
Hours later, Eloise abruptly lifted her head from the pillow, subconsciously aware of the empty space next to her. She frowned at the sight of Kai at the window seat, idly gazing out.
‘What are you doing over there?’ Dragging the fur off the bed, she moved towards him.
Ignoring Kai’s orders, she approached, ‘I know what’s troubling you.’
‘I couldn’t sleep, and didn’t want to wake you. There’s no trouble.’
Eloise wrapped the fur around them as she climbed up next to him.
‘You will be cold, return to bed.’
‘Not if I have you.’ Eloise touched her fingertip to his cheek, ‘You miss your home.’
He frowned, ‘I’m fine.’
Pulling her close and tightening the cover around her shoulders, his gaze fell to silky hair caught by the moonlight. Falling against his chest, the soft tresses caused contented eyes to fall shut.
‘You should visit Blackhill, you miss your friends.’
Kai stiffened, ‘You want to send me away?’
‘Never, however, if seeing Sabe and Kiera will bring comfort, I would send you away.’ Eloise’s gentle smile caused a deep inhalation.
His chest expanded then fell slowly as he exhaled, ‘I’m not leaving you.’
Delicate fingertips swept over his hair as she smoothed a stray lock away from his face. She wished she could smooth away the furrows gathering on his brow despite his denial they existed. Her eyes searched the flawless skin; now bronzed and smooth after the scars were erased by the angel Anael. She was now able to study his face without her stomach twisting, wondering how much pain he endured at the hands of the slavers, and it brought a smile to her face.
She sighed when penetrating green eyes narrowed, questioning her thoughts.
‘Not a single scar.’ Her finger idly traced over his brow, then down his cheek and across his stubbled chin.
He grasped her finger and kissed the tip, ‘You miss them?’
‘No.’ Shaking her head gently, her eyes enlarged with her smile, ‘I never thought they marred your handsome face,’ she paused while examining his features, ‘and I’m proved right. Scars or no scars, you are without question the most beautiful man I’ve ever met.’
Chuckling, Kai pressed his nose to hers, ‘Thank you, and I know what you’re doing,’ he whispered, ‘and it’s not working. I’m not leaving you.’
Appreciating his compulsion to protect her, and their unborn son, she feared his happiness would suffer as a result. He worried unnecessarily and realizing there would be no victory, she sighed.
‘Beros and Anna will attend my needs, and furthermore, we are under no threat, you need not worry.’ She pulled from the warmth of his body, but confronted with a scowl as she faced him, she sighed in defeat.
‘I would not trust Anna with my horse, let alone my unborn son.’ He pulled her towards him to settle.
‘She means well, she’s carefree, ambitious, and is eager to please.’ Eloise raised a brow, ‘You make her nervous.’
Kai grunted. Admitting he had no patience with her faults, he puffed out a breath, ‘Come on, we need sleep.’
Gathering Eloise in his arms, he settled her in the bed before he nestled behind her once more.
While the people of Brightstone welcomed him as the new Monarch, there were those who feared his reign. After all, he was a former slave, barbarian, and feared warrior, and the graphic details of past incidents at Darkmide still caused concern for some. However, the concern was momentary. He won them over quickly, and they considered him a just and fair Monarch, much to Kai’s relief, although he struggled to accept the title.
Cursing loudly as her boot slammed against the side of the oak chest, Kiera’s brows narrowed and her cheeks flushed with heated frustration; still her sword eluded her. Pillows and furs from the bed covered the floor. Although knowing it wouldn’t be in her bed, she still searched there.
Yelling in defeat, she kicked out and sent a pillow flying through the air towards the opening door.
Dodging the missile, Jace grinned, ‘Should I come back later?’
Kiera’s mood instantly lightened when greeted with a timid smile, ‘I can’t find my sword!’ She blew wayward hair out of her face.
Jace scanned the rack of weapons against the far wall; an empty space caused his brow to arch. Kiera was meticulously tidy regarding her swords and weapons, and knowing how cherished each implement was, he tried to comfort her anxiety.
Even when angered, she remained stunningly beautiful; and despite a heated glare from fiery eyes, they still captivated him.
He watched her puff out an agitated breath, and then he removed wayward silken black locks from her face.
‘I’m sure it will turn up. Maybe you left it in the courtyard yesterday?’
Immediately regretting his words as Kiera’s scowl honed in on him, he braced himself.
‘I do not leave my swords anywhere!’ Sighing with both hands on her hips, her voice softened, ‘It’s my favorite, the one you bought me. If someone’s stolen it, I’ll…’
Jace silenced her with a kiss, stilling her threat. Kiera melted against him and for the first time that morning, relaxed. It was still early and as she was already in a rotten mood, it would prove to be a taxing day.
However, with just one kiss from Jace, he pacified her fretting. He always brought out the best in her, turning her thoughts from dismay with gentle words and caresses.
Standing six-foot-four, dark blond hair falling around his shoulders and vibrant green eyes, Jace could melt the frostiest heart.
‘Thank you, I needed that.’
‘I assure you, my act was completely selfish.’ Jace smirked and ushered her towards the bed.
‘We have a little time before leaving for Darkmide. I will continue if you’d like?’
Although tempting, Kiera knew once they started it wouldn’t be long before she tensed and pulled away from his advances, as usual.
Her eyes lowered, and Jace realized there would be no hope. His lips pursed in a straight line as he released her and pulled on her hands as he stepped back.
‘It’s alright; you don’t have to say anything.’
‘I’m sorry Jace. It’s difficult for me to forget.’
He kissed her forehead and smiled, ‘I know. We have time.’
Kiera wanted nothing more than to have Jace make love to her. His magic touch set her body alight with a burning fever when he kissed her, but she still couldn’t let him in.
‘Have you eaten?’ Kiera changed the subject and moved towards the door taking Jace with her.
‘Yes, I’m ready to go.’
Reluctant to push, Jace smiled and accepted it would take time for her to forget the troublesome past, but worried he’d never get closer. While the relationship was good, he feared she would never feel comfortable with him and lowering his head, he led them out of the room.
Kiera was fifteen when she barely escaped being raped by three men, only one of whom remained alive. The terrifying experience was never far from her thoughts. Tigan’s cold, grey eyes and menacing grin still haunted her dreams. She and her brother, Sabe, had joined a gang of bandits to their regret, led by Tigan, a famous mercenary.
Images of Sabe struggling to fight off her attackers were still vivid. Her chastity remained safe, but the touch of a man still reminded her how close the ordeal had been. If not for her brother, Tigan would have added her name to his list of conquests.
Kiera vowed no man would ever touch her without consent, and those who tried paid dearly. Unmatched by anyone with a bow and equal to most men with a sword, Kiera stood a valiant warrior. Slender, and dressing always in leather or suede trousers, a fitted waistcoat, shirt, and high boots, with numerous concealed weapons, she turned heads because of her dress code and beauty. Olive skin and black hair gave an exotic appearance; large, dark eyes, sultry and captivating, would hold most men in fixed gaze.
Jace and Kiera prepared for the ride to Darkmide, and were greeted by Sabe and Nazar as they left the villa and walked into the courtyard.
Since Kai left to reside in Brightstone, attacks on nearby villages and towns increased. Tigan’s followers grew in number; and since his sights seemed set on Blackhill, Sabe had stepped up training for the warriors and new recruits, sending them to a camp just outside Darkmide.
‘Good morning, dear sister.’ Sabe grimaced when greeted with Kiera’s knitted brows. ‘Although it appears it’s not.’ Grinning, Sabe waited for his well-deserved scowl.
‘My sword is missing.’
Kiera snatched the reins from the groom, mounted, and then glared at her brother before turning her face away.
Sabe puffed out a long breath. Whoever had taken it was either stupid or looking for a fight. Sabe turned to Nazar. ‘I hope you’re paying attention, Nazar. Remember what I told you about my sister’s famed temper?’
Nazar lowered his head and grinning wryly, attempted to stifle a chuckle.
‘I’m glad you find it amusing,’ Kiera snapped, before spinning her horse around and racing out of the courtyard.
Once again, Sabe fulfilled his duty and managed to annoy his sister, and now everyone would suffer under her wrath and rotten mood for the rest of the day; another personal victory.
Jace shook his head. ‘You’ll pay for that. Drinks are on you for the night.’
Bowing low, Sabe presented his apology. ‘Aren’t they always?’
Nazar laughed and slapped Sabe’s shoulder. ‘You, my friend, should be more cautious with your words, otherwise you will find yourself out of pocket once more.’
Nazar mounted, then raised a brow to Jace and hoped he could turn Kiera’s mood around, or it would be a long day. Only knowing each of his new friends a short time, he’d grasped quickly when to stay quiet.
Nazar recently moved to Blackhill after leaving his home in the East a few years earlier. He had travelled to lands in the West because details of Kai’s triumph over the fallen angel, Adramelech, had reached his ears. Eager to find adventure, he’d sought out Sabe. After discovering Kai moved to Brightstone to take up the throne with Eloise as his queen, Nazar inquired if there was need of a skilled swordsman and Sabe advised a position had just become available. When Nazar showed off his skills with bow, sword, and spear, Sabe eagerly offered him the position. His throwing aim was unmatched by anyone.
As tall as Sabe and with long, black hair falling past his waist, the younger females at the house fussed around him. It was unclear whether it was his chiseled features and winning smile that attracted them, or his lean physique. Often exercising in the courtyard, bare from the waist up and displaying intricate tattoos covering his back, he always drew in a crowd. His fighting techniques were unlike anything anyone had seen at Blackhill.
Nazar spurred his horse, attempting to catch Kiera, who was now out of the city walls.
Just outside Darkmide, Jace and Kiera’s training camp for Blackhill’s warriors received a visit at least once a week. After learning Tigan’s followers increased rapidly, they thought it prudent to have warriors in the region, deterring any attacks near to Blackhill and its surrounding villages.
Jace and Nazar caught Kiera and after a few hours, they reached the edge of the camp. It was quiet; there was no one watching from the vantage point, and drawing nearer, the reason became clear.
As the training camp came into view, they halted suddenly, confronted by the horrors before them. Blood covered the ground, the once green pastures now awash with deep red pools, but there was something much more horrid.
The bodies of the fallen lay, and were placed in a circle, except four, which were inside the ring of bodies with their feet pointing outwards. Symbols carved into their naked chests were prominent as the blood pooled in the wounds.
‘Oh, no!’ Kiera covered her mouth as she stared at the carnage. Jace quickly moved to her side. ‘Why would anyone do this? It’s…’
‘A witch.’ Nazar interrupted as he walked around the circle of dead bodies. ‘This is dark magic, an offering, I am certain.’ Heavy eyelids closed as he took in a deep breath. ‘Their souls will find no peace unless the bodies are burned.’
Kiera frowned at Nazar. ‘How do you know about dark magic?’
‘Where I am from, it is common. The dark arts are tempting to the weak-willed.’
Brushing a hand through his hair, Jace stared down at the warriors. Saddened at the sight, he shook his head in disbelief. ‘You said it is an offering... to whom?’
Nazar crouched low and picked up a dagger. Stained in blood, he showed it to Jace, who studied the blade.
‘This was made at Darkmide by the smithy who made your sword, Kiera.’
‘You mean my missing sword?’ She frowned, ‘Let me see.’
Kiera didn’t recognize the dagger, but searched for other weapons left behind. They checked each body of their fallen warriors, but nothing else remained.
Letting her eyes flutter closed, she thought of each warrior in turn and bid a silent farewell to them before her eyes opened. ‘We should head home.’
Turning towards the South, Nazar paused before glancing over his shoulder to address Kiera and Jace.
‘Xanderstone’s mountains hide many bandits and thieves, and now it appears, a witch is there too.’
‘Tigan is a pig and has no honor, but I can’t see him resorting to witchcraft.’ Kiera turned to Jace, ‘Come on, we should hurry. We’ll return with more warriors and bury our friends.’
‘No! We must burn them now.’ Nazar urged, ‘I will stay. You and Jace return to Blackhill.’
Jace didn’t agree. ‘You can’t stay out here on your own, it’s not safe.’
‘Go, do not worry. They will not return, I am sure of it.’
With reluctance, Jace and Kiera left Nazar to watch over their fallen warriors and lay them to rest. Speeding towards home, they had little time for conversation. The gruesome scene preyed on their minds. Although they didn’t doubt Nazar’s insight into the cause of the crime, it didn’t make any sense.