Read Uriel's Descent (Ubiquity #1) Online
Authors: Allyson Lindt
“Come on.” Ari’s expression melted into something grotesquely angelic. “It’ll only hurt for a moment and then never again.”
Ronnie swung, but whatever gave her the knowledge to fight was gone. She faltered. Ari stepped back long before the blade reached her.
Who was Ronnie kidding? With Metatron cowering, she was a joke. “I’m sorry,” she said to no one in particular. Her voice melted into the pouring drops.
“Aww, she wants absolution,” Ari mocked. “Death bed repentance doesn’t work, unless you mean it.”
Arrogant assumption. Ronnie clenched her jaw. “I’m sorry I’m not her. I’m sorry I never can be.” She was sick of people expecting it of her. She sucked in a deep breath, and the weapons in her hands solidified. “And I’m tired of everyone overlooking me, in favor of fawning over a memory several thousand years old.”
The words carried every frustration she held inside, and she knew this was all her. There was no doubt to whom the feelings belonged. The ground shook with her realization, accompanied by her tremendous roar that rattled the buildings.
“This is still my life.” Ronnie lunged forward, all hesitation gone.
Ari dodged, tossing the occasional fireball, but for the most part, she stayed on the defensive. “It’s not yours. What life? What you do isn’t living, and no one’s going to remember you after tonight.”
Ronnie’s calculated swing caught her in the arm, and vibrant red joined the dark night. Ari recovered quickly, ducking under the sword as she slid behind Ronnie.
The next few seconds moved in slow motion. Ronnie whirled in time to see a softball-size flame form in Ari’s hand. Behind Ari, power surged through Michael. The glow of faith enveloped him until he was almost as bright as daylight. He held his palms together and then moved one hand up and one down, and his sword appeared between them.
He lunged, and the blade sliced through Ari’s middle. His weapon sparkled and then vanished into nothing, taking her with it as the glow around him faded. And just like that, it was over.
Ari’s destruction didn’t rid Ronnie of the roaring emotion inside her, but it did snuff the confusion. An eerie, sound-dampening blanket draped the night, muffling the cacophony. Ronnie stuck a finger in her ear. A melody of sirens cut through the haze, accompanied by a concert of terrified screams.
Nope, hearing is fine.
She stared at Michael, not sure what to say. She didn’t even know what to think.
Wow, I am screwed up in the head.
“Is Izzy okay?” That was a good start.
“He’s been better, but he’ll be all right.” Michael crossed the space between them, rested both hands on her cheeks, and then kissed her deeply. Her confusion quieted, and she sank into the peace. She memorized the soft sensation of his lips against hers. She’d stay wrapped in this forever if she thought it would solve everything.
Too bad that wasn’t a real solution. She broke the kiss long enough to mutter, “I’m still not her.”
He caught her lower lip between his teeth. “I don’t want you to be.”
“But what if I’m no one?”
“You’re someone. I promise you. It radiates from every inch of your essence.” He traced a damp strand of hair off her forehead. The simple touch hurt almost as much as having Metatron ripped from her but in an entirely new way.
That was enough. It would have to be. Ronnie couldn’t process any more in that moment. The adrenaline evaporated, and exhaustion rushed in to take its place. “Okay.” She slumped against him. “Thank you,” she whispered.
He kissed her forehead, and before she passed out, she was aware of his arms encircling her, catching her.
* * * *
Michael lay Ronnie on his couch, and sank onto the floor next to her. It was a simple trick to draw the water from her soaking clothes to dry her, but he didn’t know how to wake her up. Physically, he felt more alive than in centuries. So much power coursed through him, but mentally, he felt ancient.
Ronnie’s apartment was another casualty, proof Arial looked for Ronnie at more than just Izrafel’s place. Michael didn’t look forward to breaking that news to her. If he hated the idea of hurting her with something so trivial, he was screwed when it came to more.
When he saw Ariel fighting Ronnie, a fear he never expected to feel again surged back. Terror that someone he cared about was about to lose their life. The objectivity he hoped for by trying to keep his distance while staying in her life remained elusive. He was still falling for her.
When he and Metatron were in love, they could have stayed angels and still been together. No rules prevented it. Living as a mortal was a different experience than temporarily assuming a mortal form, and it was one they wanted to share. An ideal he abandoned when she vanished.
He realized now, he’d been dangerously close for the last several decades to making the same decision. Spending more time in his physical body. Shunning the politics of the heavens. But experiencing the world through Ronnie’s eyes reminded him he wasn’t living. Simply existing.
Outside, sirens and rain still sang in painful symphony. He blocked it all out, sinking into the darkness of the living room.
His phone rang, startling him. A glance at the caller ID told him it was Lucifer. “Yeah?”
“Is she safe?”
Michael glanced at Ronnie, pleased to see her still curled up in a peaceful ball. How did such a simple sight warm him to the core? “What makes you think I know?”
“Because it’s been less than twenty-four hours since I asked you to walk away from her, one of heaven’s former best and brightest tried to burn the city to the ground, and you’ve finally owned up to who you are. Welcome back, by the way.”
He meant the power Michael drew on to destroy Ariel. Izzy was wrong. An angel could be killed. The new knowledge filled Michael as he witnessed the struggle. He stripped her of the cherub she stole from Izrafel, shattered her own essence, and forced her to fall before slaying her.
Michael didn’t have a comeback, and wasn’t in the mood for Lucifer’s all-over-the-board conversation. “Izrafel confirmed who Uriel is.”
“He’d know. But then again, you already knew too.”
“Why did you do it?”
Something chimed in the back of Ronnie’s thoughts, and she struggled to push aside the haze of exhaustion and claw her way toward it.
Somewhere in the background, she heard Lucifer’s voice. It was muted, and Ronnie realized it came from Michael’s phone. “What makes you think it was me? What good would it possibly do me to drive one of my own insane and then drop her in the middle of a situation as volatile as Ubiquity?”
That was what Ronnie wanted to know. That she heard him at a distance, through a phone, must be why it sounded as if his voice held regret. There was no way Lucifer did something without a backup plan.
Wait, how do I know that?
“I know that.”
“Oh, good. You’re done whimpering and cowering.”
“I knew you’d miss me.”
“I was hoping you’d tell me,” Michael said.
“I won’t. Is Ronnie safe?” Lucifer asked.
He called to check on her. The thought warmed her. He might be lying and keeping the key to her sanity a secret, but at least he still cared.
“If you won’t tell me what’s going on, will you tell her?” Michael’s voice was a combination of threat and hope.
“No.” The line went dead.
Ronnie shifted on the couch, unable to keep quiet anymore. “Did you really think that would work?”
He tilted his head back to rest it on the cushions. “I didn’t. But sometimes I can’t help trying anyway.”
That made her smile. She really was falling for him. And they didn’t even have to jump into anything. They had the rest of eternity to figure this out. She rearranged herself to rest her head on his shoulder. “I probably would have done the same thing.”
“And you might have done a better job.”
“I doubt it. He’s the reason I’m like this to begin with.” She hooked a hand around Michael’s arm. “Thank you for coming for me, for sticking up for me, for everything.”
“I didn’t save as much as I should have.”
Ronnie didn’t want to know, but she needed to. Given who Ari took her cherub from…her gut sank as she remembered.
Please let him be all right.
“Izzy?” Michael hadn’t really answered her question earlier.
“His church is gone. Your apartment is gone. She tore large chunks of the neighborhood up looking for you.” He rested his cheek against hers. “Izrafel will be okay. He says every inch of his body was dissected by a laser—or might as well have been—when she separated him from his cherub, but he survived. He might not like mortality, but beyond that, he’s just got a couple broken bones.”
She exhaled in relief. Best news she’d heard all day, at least given the circumstances. Not the lost apartment thing, but she didn’t own much, and could find a new place. Izzy was okay; that was what mattered.
They sat there, Ronnie on the couch and Michael on the floor, time ticking away, not saying anything.
She finally broke the silence. “We need our rest.” She would have rather kept him there, but she couldn’t ask him to sit up with her all night.
“Do you want a real bed to sleep in?” He stood and offered his hand. “As opposed to the couch?”
He didn’t mean…? No, he couldn’t. Maybe his bed? Anticipation fluttered in her chest, rising above the horrors of the night. “I wouldn’t complain.”
“You can stay in the guest room.”
She couldn’t ignore her disappointment, but she also wasn’t about to turn down the offer. She followed him to one of the doors. He gestured to the room. “You stay here as long as you need. Not just tonight, but until you find a new place. The room is yours indefinitely. If you want to wash some of the dust off, there are clean towels in the bathroom, and you can snag something to wear from the drawers or closet.”
She couldn’t to talk herself out of wanting him. She forced the question out before she could take it back. “Will you help me?”
She stepped closer, thumbs hooked in her belt loops, pulling down the waistband of her jeans a little. She needed something to go right. She needed him. An ache of longing grew in her chest, and she tried to hide it with flirty words. “Washing the dust off.”
She watched him through her eyelashes, gauging his reaction. He hadn’t said yes, but he also hadn’t said no, turned her away, or left. With any luck, she wasn’t about to humiliate herself. She pushed her luck a little more. “I know angels aren’t celibate, and those kisses we’ve shared…they steal some plausibility from the
temptations of the flesh
He rested a hand on the small of her back. His voice was heavy, sliding down her spine and seeping into her. “Right now, I don’t want anything else. I’d love to help.” He stripped her top off.
“Good.” Relief and lust flowed through her. She ran her fingers down his chest, undoing each button she encountered along the way. “Because I was thinking…” She nudged his shirt off his shoulders and let it fall to the floor. “We’re a series of false starts. Entirely too many of them. Even if tonight is just tonight, I’m tired of stalling out. I need you close.”
“You’ve got me. Here, now, just us.”
She unbuckled his belt, and his slacks dropped to the ground. He led her to the master bedroom and then through to the adjoining bath. She paused in the door and took it all in—tile, glass, a huge shower. It was as big as the guest bedroom. “So this is where you keep the opulence.”
He pulled her into him and reached around to unbutton her jeans. Shoving them to the floor with her panties, he kissed her shoulder. “There are things that immortality has taught me not to take for granted. Indoor plumbing is one of them.”
That made a good amount of sense, and she might have been more impressed with the logic, if she wasn’t drowning in every touch and caress as his hands roamed her body.
He nudged her toward the walk-in shower, shedding the rest of his clothing as they walked. He opened the glass door and closed it when they were both inside. The bathroom may have been decedent, but his naked form was opulent sin. Chiseled body, the little trail of hair leading the eye down past his stomach to his impressive assets… Talk about a positive self-image. He turned on the water and tested it—she assumed for temperature—before switching it over to the nozzles dotting the other three walls.
She sighed and leaned back against him as the water cascaded over and around her. His hard length pressed into her ass, tempting her. “This is nice.”
He squirted a dollop of body wash into his hand from the dispenser on the wall. The sharp scent of soap filled her head. He settled his palm on her stomach.
She gasped, her back going rigid, and then giggled. “It’s cold.”
“Not for long.” He ran his lips up her neck and sent pleasant chills down her spine. He slid his hands over her torso and then lathered along her hips and waist. Each new touch spoke to something both familiar and new. Metatron knew Michael’s caress but not like this. Ronnie only had internet images, her imagination, and play with the vibrator for comparison, and they were in a different league. He traced along the bottom of her breasts, eliciting a moan.
temptations of the flesh
thing was bullshit. She had no doubt. Every brush, stroke, and graze was deliberate. She didn’t care about his past. This was now and with her.
When there was nothing else left for him to lather, he glided his hands over her breasts. The feather-light slide made her senses plead for more. She ground against him, and he slipped his fingers over her nipples, pinching and rolling them between his fingers in time to her moans.
He moved one hand to her stomach and then lower. A throb spread between her legs. Intense and vivid. Sharper than anything she felt playing with herself. With soapy fingers, he found the strip between her legs. She whimpered at the spike of pleasure when he dipped between her folds. She thrust her hips to get closer to his touch, but he pulled back, teasing.
Her head felt as it if were floating away, and her every sense heightened. When he finally rubbed her aching button, his fingers gliding around it without friction, she let out a soft cry.
He stroked harder, and breathy inhales punctuated her whimpers. She was close, but she wanted more than this. Wanted him. He glided along her slit and then dipped two fingers inside her, pumping in time to her thrusting. The smooth penetration stretched her and catapulted her to the edge of climax, holding her there until her thoughts fuzzed and stars danced in her vision. So incredible.
He pulled out and found her swollen nub with ease. She squirmed and pressed closer. Her breathing was barely more than short gasps. She bucked her hips against his hand when she peaked, her screams echoing off the tile.
When his touch became too much, she grabbed his wrist and guided him from the overly sensitive area. Her legs threatened to give out. It was a new kind of weakness; one she could see herself becoming addicted to.
He laid a series of soft kisses along her neck, erection digging into her lower back. She still wanted more. She turned to face him, leaning one shoulder against a wall, and traced a finger down his chest. “What’s next?”
He hesitated, and wounded disappointment dug inside her. Would he to tell her that was it? Her heart threatened to burst from her chest when he wrapped his hand around her wrist and pinned it to the wall. He tangled the fingers of his other hand in her hair. Yanking her head back, he kissed her. The slow build was gone, and flames raced over her skin at his intensity. Not a shared angelic power, something more primal. More human. He ground his lips into hers.
She slid against him, memorizing every inch of his bare flesh while their tongues explored each other. A wave of hunger replaced her exhaustion, starting in her belly and traveling lower, begging to be filled with something more. He broke the kiss with a grunt, and need ached below her waist. He released her wrist and hair to grip her hips. His fingers dug in hard enough to feel in her bones. He lifted her and pressed her back against the wall. She bit the inside of her cheek in anticipation and wrapped her legs around his waist. Another cry tore from her throat when he thrust inside her. It was frantic and fast and exactly what she wanted. He bit her shoulder, and she fell into the exquisite combination of pleasure and pain.
She rocked hard against him as the frantic pace built. She didn’t know which of them finished first. It blurred together, grunts and screams and pleasure, until her throat was raw, her breath was gone, and she didn’t know if the dampness on her forehead was water or perspiration.
He lowered her to her feet, and she wobbled. He reached out a hand to steady her. With his other palm braced on the wall behind her, it looked as though he sought the same kind of stability. He rested his head against hers, heavy breathing matching hers. The gesture weighed on her, significant and reassuring, despite its simplicity. She buried her face in his chest and inhaled, memorizing everything. The weakness in her limbs, the hum on her skin, and the scents of body wash and sex.
“That was incredible.” He slid his hand along her back, his voice vibrating against her cheek.
She nodded in agreement, not sure she trusted herself to speak. After a minute or two, they broke apart to rinse the soap away, turn off the water, and then step from the shower. He brushed the droplets from her skin with a fluffy towel, each touch gentle. She didn’t interrupt the attention or speak. She wanted the moment as it was.
When they were dry, she urged him toward the bed. “You’re not going to make me sleep alone, are you?” She winced at the trace of hurt and panic in her question. That was supposed to be seductive.
“I’m not.” He lay down and tugged her next to him, guiding her head to rest on his shoulder.
Michael heard the trace of hurt when Ronnie asked if she had to sleep alone. He couldn’t have told her no even if she didn’t look wounded by the possibility of rejection.
He lay there, listening to her breathing until it became steady, and she drifted off. He suspected sleep would elude him tonight. This was why he didn’t want to let her get close. Now, he didn’t want to let her go. He wasn’t sure if he’d been created to fall hard and fast, though two times over the course of his lifetime hardly seemed like a habit.
But the impulse with Ronnie was almost overwhelming. To keep her safe. To take her away from all this. To stop playing the stupid games Lucifer and Gabriel did, and go experience a mortal life. Maybe Ronnie would stay by his side. Maybe they wouldn’t last. Her joy for living made him want to see more the way she did.
When he saw her fighting Ariel, a dangerous question teased him. If it came down to it, would he let the rest of the world burn to save Ronnie? He would have for Metatron. Not directly, but his falling would leave the world to fend for itself. It was the kind of selfish decision he would have leaped on back then, but couldn’t allow himself to now. He couldn’t give himself to someone completely—not the way love deserved—and guarantee he could still do his job.
He lay there until light crept through the windows, burning the night into his memories. Saving it for the wonder it was. Knowing it couldn’t happen again. He untangled himself from the sleeping demon curled up against his side and then pulled some clothes on before making his way toward the kitchen.
He padded to the fridge, grabbed the juice, and then slammed back what was left. He tossed the empty carton in the trash, rehearsing what he had to say to her, or trying to find a script at least. Everything inside was raw, and he couldn’t numb any of it.
The kitchen door squeaked, and he swiveled toward it.
Ronnie stared back, cheeks bright pink. She had found one of his clean shirts, and it hung halfway down her thighs, taunting his imagination. As the seconds ticked away, neither spoke.
Ronnie finally cleared her throat. “Can we talk?”
He nodded. Never good words, but one of them needed to say them.
She gave him a tiny smile and slid onto a stool on the other side of the breakfast bar.
Michael watched her, not having any idea what to say or how to say it.
“I’m— It’s just… I want to ask you something, but only if you promise to be completely honest with me. Give me a straight answer. I’ll know if you don’t.”
Honest. He could do that. It would hurt, but it was the right way to go about things. “Only if I get the same in return.” He stepped to the bar and slid his hand across the granite to cover her fingers.
She smiled. “Sounds reasonable.”
He traced tiny circles over her skin, marveling at how delicate her fingers were. It was time to ease off the intimate contact, but it wasn’t as if it would hurt less stopping now or five minutes from now. “I promise. Straight answer.”
“Doyoustill loveher?” Ronnie’s question tumbled out so quickly the words ran together. “I mean, you promised to be honest, and I need to know. If Metatron was here instead of me, would you give her another try?”
Michael opened his mouth to say no.
She cut him off. “You can’t answer so quickly. I know how she feels about you. I don’t care if the answer is yes or no. I mean I do, but regardless, I’m not going to believe you unless you’ve put some thought into it.”
It was a reasonable request, and something he’d already put so much thought into. Still, her question tugged at things he tried for centuries to hide from himself. Thoughts and emotions spun in his mind, mingling with memories, feeling old and distant. “I wouldn’t give her another try. She’s in my past.”
Ronnie’s aura flared and fractured for a moment, but the gold and red won out, her shoulders relaxed. “What did you want to tell me?”
He didn’t want to do this, especially with the tentative calm between them. But even as the bright morning poured through the windows, chasing away last night’s shadows, he knew it was the right decision. It had better be, as much as it ached. “I know we said this last night, but it’s important we both agree, and I’m sorry I have to do this.”
He forced iced through his veins, but it didn’t numb the sting of what he had to say. “I can’t walk the line between serving Him, and loving someone else. Some agents can. I’m not one of them.”