Authors: Courtney Allison Moulton
|A Dance with Darkness: An Angelfire Novella (HarperTeen Impulse)|
|Moulton, Courtney Allison|
Sophie Jordan’s breathtaking digital original novella set in the world of Firelight.
For Az, it’s supposed to be a fun summer vacation with her family. Nothing complicated. Just a quick trip to test the waters as she prepares for a year on her own. That all changes when she rescues a drowning girl and meets Tate—the most gorgeous human boy she’s ever seen. Tate throws her heart, her plans, and her life into upheaval, but the closer she gets to him, the harder it is to hide the secret of what she is.
With no hope for a future together, the last thing that can ever happen … is love.
This stand-alone digital original is perfect for those new to the Firelight series as well as veteran fans.
I PULLED THE HOOD OF MY BLACK CLOAK OVER MY head and ducked out of the tavern and into the night, my shoes treading lightly on the damp cobbled street. A carriage passed me, rockily swaying side to side, the horses’ hooves
on the pebbled road, and I lost sight of the demonic reaper I’d been pursuing. I was silent as I crossed the street and moved into the shadows. When I saw the reaper again, he was staring right back at me.
Then he was gone.
I broke into a run. Any pace but a steady walk was difficult to accomplish in a dress. I glimpsed my quarry make a sharp turn down a narrow alley and vanish into blackness. I was careful as I followed him. My sight was superb in the dark, but there were shadows in this alley that no light touched, and where there was no light, anything could hide. I held my breath to listen closely for footsteps. A door thudded shut up ahead and I darted for it. A soft halo of light surrounded the entrance.
It would be unwise for me to follow the reaper into a building that had more than shadows to hide its monsters, but I was unwilling to give up now. I’d waited all night for him to make his appearance in that tavern—a place where humans too often entered never to be seen again—and I would not let him go. I could not allow him to reap any more souls to fill the ranks in Hell. As an angelic reaper, I was duty-bound to kill as many demonic reapers as I could find.
I called my sword, the silver blade shimmering out of nothingness into being, and I pulled the door open just wide enough to slip my body through the threshold. I found myself inside a candle shop, but the chandler was nowhere to be seen. Beyond a long counter on the far wall was an opening to another room I could only assume was the workshop. I turned my head to take in the rest of this room, finding tables and cabinets filled with lit candles of different colors lining the walls, giving the room a golden glow and lighting the eyes of the two demonic reapers behind me. Footsteps called my attention back the other way. Another reaper entered the room from the chandler’s workshop, followed by three more. Two would have been no trouble for me, but now I was surrounded by six demonic reapers. I had walked into an ambush.
I didn’t wait for them to attack. I struck left instead of forward, surprising them and giving myself enough room and time to gain the momentum I needed to bury my blade in the neck of one of the reapers. I hadn’t been able to gain quite enough momentum to sever his head completely, but the reaper was incapacitated enough for me to yank my sword back out and cut the throat of another reaper whose blade narrowly missed cutting my own. His body turned to stone.
. I turned around to grab the back of the first reaper’s head and dashed his face into the wall, crushing bone and flesh and finishing him off. His stone body shattered when it hit the ground.
I felt steel bite my skin and heat flow down my arm. I gritted my teeth from the pain and cracked my elbow into the nose of the reaper who had cut me. Something crunched in her face and she gargled gruesomely before dropping.
. Hands grappled and tore at the net holding my dark hair close to my scalp, freeing the locks to grab hold of great chunks of it and rip my head back. I drew a sharp gasp as my body was jerked violently by my hair. I swung wildly with my sword at whoever dragged me backward, and my eyes shot wide as one of the demonic reapers appeared in front of me and raised his sword just beyond the reach of my own. I kicked at him and my foot hit his gut with a dry thud. He snarled at me before raising his sword again and drove the blade toward my head. In the last instant, I wrenched my body to the side as hard as I could, dragging the reaper hanging on to my hair. The sword plunged deep into the soft, tender hollow between her collarbone and neck and she released a strangled, wet scream as blood showered from her wound and down her body.
The owner of the sword gaped in horror as I untangled myself from the dying reaper’s grip and yanked his blade from the body before it turned to stone. With two swords in my hands, I slashed at him, but he managed to regain his composure in time to rock back on his heels and avoid my strike. The sixth reaper charged at my left and I swept a sword between us, slicing a deep gash across his chest. He staggered away and I drove toward the other remaining reaper. His blade caught mine and he shoved his power into me, but I had more. My own power erupted, forcing itself in every direction and whipping my hair around me in a violent gale, and I pushed him off my swords just before I crossed them both and slashed, splitting his torso wide open.
I felt a sharp, agonizing rip in my body and looked down to see a blade plunged through my gut. The final reaper had recovered more quickly than I anticipated. Fiery pain rolled through my belly like a billowing inferno and I almost fell to the ground. If my knees buckled, then I was dead. I was not ready to die yet. I’d come too far to accept death now. I stepped forward, pulling off his blade, and the pain reignited full force. I turned to him and my eyes took him in. He was bigger than I was, stronger, and older by a century at least.
He kicked me, driving his boot right into my healing belly wound and cracking deeper things, and I doubled over with a gasp of pain. He raised his heavy sword high over his head and brought it down, but I caught it with one of mine. There was no way I would win a battle of brute strength against him like I had against the last reaper. I pushed my sword into his as he forced all of his might into mine. I wouldn’t last more than a heartbeat, but that was all the time I needed. I let up, and he lost his balance as his body carried him forward. My second sword buried itself into his chest with precision, giving me an inch between metal and heart. Skill trumped brute strength any day. I tossed the sword I’d claimed from one of my fallen foes to the wooden floor with a clatter. The reaper I skewered lowered himself to his knees, gritting his teeth in pain; he had accepted death. Pathetic. I leaned over him and grabbed a fistful of his tunic.
“Who are you working for?” I growled into his face. “Why are you in London?”
“I will tell you nothing,” he spat. “Take my fingers, my eyes, whatever you wish. I will not betray my mission.”
My lip curled. If I tortured him, I was certain I could get something useful out of him, but I knew I didn’t have that in me. I may have been built for violence, but I wasn’t built for cruelty. “Then you have no purpose.”
I released his tunic only to twist my sword right into his heart. His head lifted in agony and he opened his mouth to let out a low whine. He fell, crumpling to the ground, and his body shuddered for several long moments as he slowly turned to stone.
I slumped, exhaling and then wincing. One of my ribs was broken. Possibly two. I looked down to examine the wound through my belly. My dress was shredded and I could see the wound struggling to heal. I needed to eat in order for my body to regain the energy it needed to heal my wounds.
“You killed six of my best men,” came a voice behind me, and I spun around. Another reaper stood in the doorway to the chandler’s workshop and I wondered how long he’d been standing there. He was demonic, without a doubt. With the other reapers gone, I could feel the pressure of his dark power shoved into every inch of my body like I was sinking through deep water.
Though my breathing was ragged and I couldn’t quite stand straight, I prepared myself to continue fighting. I lifted my sword and poised it at the final reaper. “I have a seventh heart left to take tonight.”
His smile was slow and wide. He was beautiful—that I had to give him. His eyes were blue like poison, brighter than any jewel—like blue diamonds that did not reflect light, but generated their own from tiny stars burning within. “Very bold,” he said, those eyes flashing. “Very bold, indeed.”
My smile matched his as I hid my pain. “I did just kill six of your best men, did I not?”
He laughed and put his hands on his hips. “Now what? You’re wounded, exhausted, and you still have the master of your fallen opponents to contend with. Still bold?”
I did not falter. “Always.”
He vanished suddenly and reappeared directly in front of me. His hand grabbed my sword wrist and twisted, forcing me to cry out, but I didn’t drop my blade. His other hand grabbed my free arm and held it tight. His strength was unfathomable. Fighting him was hopeless and suffocating, like being buried alive. I ground my teeth together, breathing rapidly.
“Who are you, little angelic reaper?” he crooned, his face close to mine.
I lifted my chin to look right into his poison-blue eyes. “The wolf does not tell the stag her name before she takes his throat.”
He dipped his face closer to mine. “If the wolf asked for the stag’s name, he would gladly give it. Especially when entranced by such an exquisite she-wolf with emerald eyes.”
I would not take his bait and ask him his name, but deep inside, I wanted to know who he was. He was powerful and he had to be important if he was master to others. I knew nothing about him other than that he was demonic and he was older than all of the reapers I’d put down tonight combined. He had both my hands trapped and I was in a vulnerable position, yet I felt no threat. I had survived many battles, defeated many enemies, and I knew what it felt like to face someone who wanted to taste my blood. This demonic reaper had no interest in killing me. I had to know why.