Authors: R.K. Ryals
Series Book III
Copyright © Regina K.
is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are products of the
author's imagination or are used fictitiously and are not to be construed as
real. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, organizations, or persons,
living or dead, is entirely coincidental
I dedicate this book to the
people who have helped me the most through this entire process. To my sister,
Sabrina Williams, who is the most amazing sister in the world, who reads
chapters at 2 a.m. just because I want an
Audrey Welch, an amazing photographer and an even better friend.
, an amazing author who diligently
takes the time to produce the cover art for each of my books as well as
accompanying book trailers. Just amazing! To Melissa Wright, author
extraordinaire who beta reads with a diligence and enthusiasm I greatly admire!
She lends an ear for author vents and made up dirty words. To Melanie Bruce,
who scrupulously edits each
I couldn't ask for a
better friend and partner in crime. And to the amazing people I have met along
the way for their encouragement and interest in my books. You are all simply
Damon has powers that rival his twin. But, as with
so many men in history overlooked in favor of their siblings, Damon became
jealous. The jealously fueled the bloodlust, the bloodlust fueled guilt, and
guilt fueled his insanity.
In the movies, the women kidnapped are
always sexy, in heels, and yelling frantically for someone to save them. And
eighty percent of the time, if the kidnapper isn't the man the woman falls in
love with, he's plain outright crazy. In my case, insanity was all I had going
for me. Though I'd like to think I had a tad bit of sexy going on too.
"You are much quieter than the last
time we met," Damon said.
His tone was laced with amusement. I
didn't give him the satisfaction of answering. I had finally been at what I
believed was the end of a journey for me: standing on the High Place of
Sacrifice in an ancient place called Petra refusing to wear a ring I knew could
unbind me from a Demon I had been bound to with blood. The decision had been a
life-changing one. It would strip me of Heaven's protection, but it would keep
from being trapped forever by the Seal. It was
something I could live with because I knew now, without a doubt, that I was in
. I was in love with a Demon whose
refusal to stand with Lucifer had caused a Civil War in Hell.
And his brother was ruining it! Worse
still, the hot rush of anger I felt at being held by the Demon I knew killed my
mother made my whole body catch on fire. The heat of it was unbearable. I
wanted to destroy Damon, to take from him what he took from me. And yet, I knew
that was impossible. He didn't love anyone enough for me to hurt him the way
I'd been hurt. Damon had possessed my aunt, killed my mother, drawn my sister
into his brainwashed cult, and then bound me to his brother. And just when I
thought I couldn't be hurt worse, I'd fallen in love with
only to be taken by Damon.
And Damon had the Seal of Solomon.
The Seal was a ring made of brass and
iron with four jewels surrounding the inscribed name of God. It had the power
to bind Demons and gave the wearer control over the four elements. It was a
magical ring that linked Heaven with Earth and had been worn by the ancient and
wise King Solomon. And now it was being worn by a Demon who believed that
redemption for his race was possible by combining my blood with his in the form
of a child.
I should be scared, but I was honestly
too angry to care. The anger would wear off eventually, and I'd be left
terrified, but for now I let myself be angry.
"You will do great things for an
entire race, Dayton
Damon's voice was low when he said it,
and I knew by the way the air changed, the early morning shifting to late
afternoon that he had somehow used the ring to transport us to
, Mississippi. The air was heavy with humidity, the
faint smell of honeysuckle and the sound of crickets always present here, even
in the dead of winter.
There is something about Mississippi
that never changes no matter the season, no matter the year, no matter the time
of day, no matter the holiday. It is forever frozen in a time capsule. Even
with the ever present construction going on as cities expand, the people are
always the same, the reason for choosing to live in a state sometimes forgotten
"I don't want to save an entire
race of Demons," I finally said as I searched for the Abbey below. We were
close. So very close.
Damon chuckled against my back. He
seemed to find my lack of enthusiasm amusing.
"Then what do you want?" he
It was a dangerous question.
"I want to kill you."
I said it with a confidence born of
losing too much too fast. It was a dangerous answer.
"And you think you could?"
There was still an air of amusement to
Damon's voice though I sensed the danger that lurked beneath. My rebelliousness
seemed to please him in an indefinable way which made me less inclined to be
defiant. I was in no mood to entertain him.
Below us, the Abbey came into view, its
imposing form a stark reminder of why I was here. There was no one present on
the lawns or in the gardens, and I knew without having to check a watch that
the Sisters would be sitting down for the evening meal. The Abbey was nothing
if not predictable.
"Are you afraid?" Damon
whispered into my ear as our feet touched the browning grass below.
I shivered as I fought to keep my eyes
forward, my face turned toward the door now closed in front of us. I reached
out and touched the wood, my hand sliding along the grain to rest against the
door's knob. It was cold, a reflection of the temperature outside. It had been
September when I left. I was guessing it was around November now.
maybe, but never afraid."
With that said, I shoved the door open.
The Abbey's bare entrance hall welcomed me. The only sign of life was a light
shining across the stone floor further down the hall, and I knew by the angle
it came from the refectory.
Damon's sharp intake of breath from
behind me made me wonder if I was still amusing him or if my crass denial of
fear had made him angry. I welcomed his fury.
I felt numb as I took a step forward, my
legs shaky. I could handle being killed. I couldn't handle the idea of
' brother being near me, touching me. He had plans
for me. I knew this, and I forced myself to withdraw, to not think about what
In the end, Damon didn't yell, didn't
start breathing in the heavy, uneven sighs that usually denoted anger. He just
stepped in behind me and shut the door.
"They're expecting us."
I didn't doubt this. The Sect was his
now, the Sisters and the workers who frequented the Abbey all pawns in his
"Walk, Dayton," Damon ordered.
I dreaded facing my aunt, looking into
the face of a woman I only saw as weak. Had she even tried to fight him? Did
she care that Damon had murdered her sister?
I moved toward the refectory slowly, my
feet hesitant as I finally approached the door. It was an old door made of oak,
and I leaned against it briefly for support. I was tired. I was still weak from
' battle with Lucifer, and I was
heartbroken. It was a hard combination to overcome.
"If you're thinking about him,
I stood frozen. I knew he meant
"I'm bound to him."
Damon laughed as he leaned over, his
chest against my back as he
his hands on
either side of the door, ensnaring me in his arms. It was a possessive gesture.
"I have the means to sever that
bond. We will forge a new one."
His breath tickled my ear causing the
hair on my neck to rise as he pushed open the already cracked door to reveal
the long, scarred dining room table I had spent the last seven years sitting
at, cleaning and eating. It was crowded with Sisters, seated quietly, their
heads bowed modestly. Aunt Kyra was at its head, her eyes looking directly into
mine as we entered. She looked happy, pleased even.
"Rise!" she called
and the Sisters stood as one.
Aunt Kyra moved away from the table.
There was food piled high on the dull mahogany surface, but no one touched it.
"Come. Sit by me," Aunt Kyra
said, her hand motioning to the spot on her right. "You must be
Her words were cheerful, but I ignored
her, my eyes riveted on the spot to her left. Standing demurely, her eyes
averted, was my sister. She was dressed simply, dark blue jeans and a pink
v-neck blouse. She had lost weight and there were purplish shadows underneath
"Are you hungry?" Aunt Kyra tried
A hint of her old impatience was
beginning to creep into her voice.
"I don't require it."
I made myself look away from Amber just
in time to catch Aunt Kyra's baffled expression.
"Food," I supplied.
"There are a lot of things I no longer require. Food is one of them."
Even after coming into my power, even
after realizing that Angels didn't need human sustenance to survive, the food
still smelled good. The only reason I turned it down now was because I couldn't
make myself sit at the table. It would be as if the past month and a half
hadn't happened, and I wasn't a good enough actress for that. My aunt wasn't
"You should still eat," she
"No!" I said the word with
enough force it echoed throughout the refectory. "Is it really customary
to pretend nothing has changed?"
Damon moved along the wall, his grin
obvious as he skulked through the shadows. He
the Seal making his body stand out even against the darkest corners. Most of
the Sisters sighed as he glided past, their eyes glassy. Only Amber seemed
Aunt Kyra's eyes grew hard. My
disobedience wasn't to be overlooked.
"You will not disrespect me at this
I stared at my aunt in disbelief.
"And you'd have me respect you?
Aunt Kyra's face went blank, overcome by
a dull glassiness, and I caught a glimpse of Damon behind her, his hand lifted.
"Take her to the basement!"
Aunt Kyra was the one to issue the
order, but Damon was the one to puppeteer it. Aunt Kyra was nothing more than a
rag doll controlled by a Demon. My jaw tightened, and I knew Damon saw my
resolve. It was obvious he wanted me to fight, my spunk a challenge for him.
And so I did nothing.
He raised a brow before clapping his hands
silently, a congratulatory gesture missed by all but me as two of the Sisters
approached. I could have fought them, could have used my power to throw them
backward, but this wasn't their fault. Damon had the Seal. He had power I had
no desire to test just yet, and he would kill any of the Sisters who failed
him. Of this, I had no doubt. So I simply stood there and let them take me by
"This is for your own good,"
Sister Mary said matter-of-factly as she nodded, almost as if she were trying to
convince herself that what she was doing was right as she and Sister Elizabeth
led me out of the refectory.
The halls beyond were dark, the lights
in the Abbey unused. My night vision took over without any prompting, and I
stared at the stone hallways lined with occasional dark rugs, threadbare and
almost black from age as we came to a door at the end of the corridor. I had
only been in the Abbey's basement once years ago when I was sent there to
retrieve a jar of preserves. I had been afraid of the dark then, but the stairs
I found myself staring down now no longer intimidated me.
I took each step one at a time, slowly
but with building confidence as we approached the bottom.
"He has you brainwashed."
I said it softly but firmly as the
Sisters released my arms. Their eyes darted around the room, the look in them
reverting quickly from insane to normal to confused then glassy. They were
fighting for control and losing.