Angelic Anarchy (Heaven on Earth Book 1)

BOOK: Angelic Anarchy (Heaven on Earth Book 1)
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Angelic Anarchy
Book One of the Heaven on Earth Series
J.P. Epperson
Wicked Peach Publishing

P
rinted
in the United States of America

Wicked Peach Publishing LLC, Dallas, GA

First Edition

Copyright © 2016 JP Epperson

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, without the prior written permission of the publisher, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law. You must not circulate this book in any format. Thank you for respecting the rights of the author. This is a work of fiction. Any resemblance of characters to actual person, living or dead is purely coincidental.

Professionally Edited by KT Editing Services. Cover Art by PhatPuppy Art Studios. Cover Typography by The Font Diva.

www.jpepperson.com

For my loving husband Keith, who has encouraged me to follow me dreams wherever they may take me.

Also, for my family both near and far, who have supported me all along on this journey.

Chapter One

S
calding
hot water traced the scars along my back as I placed my hands against the stone shower wall. As a warrior angel I have survived several years of battle, but not unscathed. I have many battle wounds—most of which reside on my back and arms. Wounds from human weapons we tend to heal without a problem; wounds by the weapons of angels and demons are not so forgiving.

After weeks of searching for him, last night I finally caught up with the demon I had been hunting. He put up a ferocious fight and my muscles were still aching despite the heat of the shower but I would be getting briefed on my next case soon so reluctantly I reached out and turned off the faucet.

Just before I stepped out of the shower, I froze. The air changed, and I knew that I was no longer alone. Don’t ask me how I knew because I couldn’t tell you. Not really. There was no pop, or bells; no flash of light, breezes, or anything like that. It was as if there was just the slightest shift in the air. I braced for attack, reached my right hand behind my back, and unsheathed a sword that wasn’t there a moment before. My heavenly relics—my weapons—are always there when I need them and never when I don’t. Where they go when I am unarmed, I have no idea. All that matters to me is that they are there when I reach for them.

With my left foot, I kicked open the glass door and stepped out into the empty bathroom, dripping wet. Utterly naked but for my sword. I peeked around the door and slowly entered my bedroom.

“What do you want?” I said to the empty room, making my voice as calm as possible.

“Relax, Beauty, I’m completely unarmed,” said a humored voice without a face. “You’re looking just as scrumptious as the last time we faced each other.”

A dark-haired figure walked in, full of ease, and leaned against my bedroom door, crossing his feet. He had an apple from my dining-room table in his hand. I spun my sword, placing the tip of it into his throat the moment he walked through the door. He brought the apple to his mouth, rubbed it against his shirt, and took a big bite, looking as though he didn’t have a care in the world.

It was Colton. My heart leapt in my chest. It had been a few years since I’d last seen him.

Just as beautiful as he was the day he walked away . . . Except that now he was a demon, of course.

I struggled to keep my icy composure. “Give me one reason not to sever your head from the rest of your body, Colton.”

“I could tell you, but you wouldn’t believe me. Why don’t you just ask Evangelina and she can tell you herself? You know I couldn’t have entered without an invitation from one of you.”

I put more pressure on my sword, letting the tip slightly pierce his neck. Two small drops of blood dripped down his throat as I asked, “What have you done to her?” My mind raced. Evangelina was always one step ahead, but what if something had happened? Surely she wouldn’t have invited Colton into my home for no reason? Not after . . .

I felt that shift in the air again and there she appeared. At first appearance, Evangelina seemed dainty. She was a petite five-foot even, blue-eyed, strawberry blonde—sort of how you might expect an angel to look. She had an uncanny knack of always appearing whenever I needed her—and even when I thought I didn’t. Her blue eyes were the color of the sky on a perfect summer day. When she focused those intense bright eyes on you, it could be very difficult not to look away as if you had done something naughty.

With my sword still pressed firmly against Colton’s neck, I waited for her to speak. She was looking at me like a mother might look at a misbehaving child. I fought to keep the relief off my face as I realized she was unharmed.

“Belleeza, he is here on my command. He will be accompanying you on your next mission. I’ve just received your new orders.”

“I’m sorry, what? I think I must have misunderstood you,” I said, with acid practically dripping from my words. I prayed that I
had
misunderstood her. There was no way I could work with Colton. Evangelina knew that for sure. Colton flashed me a grin and took another leisurely bite of his—
my
—apple. Evangelina simply raised her eyebrow and pursed her lips together in reply.

“You cannot mean what I think you mean, Evangelina,” I said, my hands gripping the sword more tightly. “The last time a demon got their wings back was half a century ago.’ I glared at Colton. ‘And as for him—I will never trust him at my back again!”

“Remember, Belleeza, I am only the messenger.” Her tone was patient as she answered my cries of injustice. “And yes, I do mean exactly what you fear. I’m not thrilled to have him at your back either, but it’s orders. He has already been stripped.”

I knew that, of course. I knew Colton had lost his wings and his abilities.
How could I forget it?

“I’m aware of that, Evangelina,” I said, trying to keep my voice measured and my grip on the sword steady, “but that doesn’t explain why he’s in my apartment.”

Colton had finished the apple now and he twirled the stem in his fingers. “I’m a
viator
now, Bea—Belleeza.”

I scoffed. A viator. He was in the transition period. When an angel falls and is stripped of their wings, they have one last chance to get back to Heaven. One last chance at redemption before they are condemned to Hell forever.

“Do you
really
think you’re capable of performing a selfless act, Colton?” I asked. It came out harsher than I had intended . . . but it was true. It sounds like an easy thing to do, but it’s almost impossible to understand how hard it is for a viator to perform a deed and not be thinking about trying to get back to Heaven. Few had been successful.

Colton looked hurt slightly, but he shrugged and just gazed at me. I shifted uncomfortably.

“Put down the sword, Belleeza, he is not to be harmed. Let’s get you covered so we can discuss your new mission.” Evangelina headed into the bathroom and came out with two towels. I reluctantly sheathed my sword, which then vanished from sight. Suddenly, I was very aware of my nudity. Normally it wouldn’t have phased me, but I
loathed
Colton. No one likes to be naked in front of an enemy. It gives you an unwanted sense of vulnerability.

I was revolted the moment I realized I felt vulnerable. I lifted my chin and made deliberate movements, with my eyes focused intently on Colton’s. I used the smaller towel to wrap up my now-curling wet hair, and then used the large towel to cover my body. I tied it against my breasts slowly, never taking my gaze from Colton’s.

His eyes widened. I hated that I noticed how attractive he looked leaning against my wall, from his tousled hair to his tan, muscled body. I knew there was a set of washboard abs underneath his shirt. He swallowed, licking his bottom lip before slightly biting down. His eyes filled with heat as his gaze found mine. My nipples hardened as my body reacted to his. I felt a tinge of self-satisfaction when I realized that I still affected him the same way he affected me.

As I drank in his body, memories fought for attention in my head. So many years of history . . . and now he was no longer a warrior angel, and I was no longer
his
warrior angel. I felt a lurch in my stomach when I forced myself to remember why. He’d played me. He’d betrayed me.
I would never let him do it again.

I noticed Colton was still watching me, his eyes still roaming over my now-covered body.

“No need to be shy, Beauty,’ he said, grinning. ‘It’s nothing you haven’t shown me willingly before.’

I flew at him faster than the human eye could see.

Chapter Two

E
vangelina beat me to him
. One second she was with me, and the next she was just there, shielding Colton from me. She held a hand up against each of our chests, determination etched in the creases of her forehead.

“Colton, you’re not going to get back home anytime soon if you keep provoking her like that.”

His dark-chocolate-colored eyes lost the humor they had held a moment before. If I didn’t know him better, I’d say I saw a flash of fear in them.

“Belleeza, who are you? You are a warrior! You’re going to have to work together. It’s just the way it is.” Evangelina shook her head.

“I’m sorry, Beauty. I thought if I kept things light, it might make this easier for you.” He paused and there was an awkward silence. “So, Atlanta, huh? We always said we wanted to live here one day—”

“You were wrong. Look, this is a waste of time and you know it! No small talk. I’m not sure what you’re really doing here, but you’re not going to get whatever it is you came back for. You may not be a demon now that you’re a viator but you aren’t an angel either. If we are going to have to work together, you call me by my name. You do not get to call me anything but Belleeza. Nicknames are for friends and lovers. Something we will never be again.”

He looked like I’d struck him; like my words actually hurt him. It was a nice show, but I wasn’t buying it. His skills in deception were far superior to mine—something he’d proved when he betrayed me.

“Evangelina,” I said, turning my back to Colton. “I know he wasn’t your choice. You’re right, we need to focus on the mission. Why don’t you take him to the breakfast table and help yourself to a cup of coffee while I get dressed? Then you can tell me all about my new assignment.”

* * *

O
nce I was alone
, I went to my closet and started pulling out my clothing for the day. Dark blue boot-cut jeans and a white tank top. After I was dressed, I added a pair of boots. The kind you see many construction workers wearing. Not the least bit stylish, but I find steel-toe boots leave a bigger mark when I need to kick someone.
Personally, the bigger the bruise the better as far as I’m concerned
.

I completed the look with a cross necklace, the only jewelry I owned. It’s a small obsidian cross with a tiny black pearl in the center. It lies on a silver chain, falling just along the line of my cleavage.

I dressed and then attempted to get rid of the frizz in my hair. When I was satisfied, I applied my usual makeup: blush, mascara, and light lip gloss. What can I say? After being on Earth for so long, even angels can start showing signs of vanity. The longer we are on Earth, the more bad habits we pick up. That’s why angels can fall from Heaven. We can be tempted just as the humans can be. We aren’t bound by the Ten Commandments since we were created long before them, but we do follow them in a way. We cannot kill humans—although sometimes it can’t be helped, so for us it’s a case-by-case basis. Sex isn’t forbidden for us, but sex without love is frowned upon—while sleeping around could eventually lead to falling.

I walked into the kitchen. Both Evangelina and Colton were sitting quietly at the breakfast table. I poured myself a cup of water and joined them. From the solemn looks upon their faces, Evangelina must have given Colton a lecture while they waited for me.

How can I work with him after all we’ve been through?

There are stories of demons that try to get their wings back so they can get to Heaven and open up the gates for all demons. If that ever happened, Heaven and Hell would go into a full-on war and the damage would be too great. The casualties would be many, and they would not consist of only angels and demons. Thankfully, it’s impossible. You cannot do a selfless deed in the name of God while trying to compromise Heaven. The two sides cancel each other out. It doesn’t stop hundreds of foolish demons from trying, however.

I sat in an empty chair in the corner of the room. Colton sat in the other corner. As I took my seat, Evangelina silently passed me a manila folder across the table. I opened the folder to an eight-by-ten photograph. It was the young, handsome face of a teenage boy. He looked about fifteen, maybe sixteen. I pushed the photograph to the side to review the rest of his paperwork, but there was nothing else.

“Uh, Evange? I think you may have dropped the rest of the kid’s file. There’s nothing here. What are we hunting him for?”

Evangelina looked away, and I could swear I saw some of the brightness in her eyes dim before she spoke.

“There is no mistake, Belleeza, and you are not hunting this boy. At least not in the usual sense,” she huffed. “This case is unlike any case we have ever had and it is strictly need-to-know. And all you need to know is that you must find this kid and bring him back safely. Anselma will take over from there. That is the boy’s full file. The only other information I received was given to me in person with strict instructions that it should only be repeated once—to you and Colton—and then forgotten.”

I nearly spit out the water I was drinking. Evangelina was always in the loop. What could Anselma
possibly
have to do with this kid? She was one of the most respected angels in history–an original, an archangel, one of the first Angels of Destiny. I fired out questions at rapid speed.

“So what is this kid’s name? And what does Anselma have to do with any of this? Where should we start? What do we have to go on? We don’t even get a name?”

“I’m afraid the only other information I received on this case was given to me this morning by Anselma herself.”

I watched as Colton’s eyes widened and then shifted back to normal. He shut down his emotions as quickly as they formed. I had to admit: if I held up a mirror, I would not have been surprised to see the same look upon my face. Anselma did
not
deliver messages personally.

Colton and I both kept our mouths shut and waited for Evangelina to go on. I think we could both feel the heat that was her temper begin to rise, looking for a target.

“You may get further with your questions, Belleeza, if you start with Colton.”

Colton looked puzzled as his chin quickly popped up off his folded hands. I felt my face tighten and my eyes slimmed into an accusing stare.

“How would I know anything?” he said. “I was literally just stripped and accepted as a viator.”

“That’s precisely my point, Colton. Do you not find it odd that every day for more than four years you have been pleading with the Angels of Decision to grant you viatorship and that for four years, they incessantly denied you?”

That bit of news surprised me. Colton had become a demon not quite five years ago. That meant he had been trying to come home almost immediately after falling.

Evangelina went on, “Then, suddenly and unexpectedly,
they
request a meeting with
you
, grant viatorship, and partner you with Belleeza for a classified mission. All I know is that there are no coincidences—especially that big.”

“I can promise you I know nothing about this boy or this case,” Colton replied. “Under no circumstances am I involved in this. I understand why you’re apprehensive but I’m telling you I honestly don’t know anything about this case or the boy.”

“Anyway, let’s put that aside and focus on the details we
do
have from Anselma.” Evangelina glanced down at the papers on the table. “The boy lives with his foster parents in a small town outside Boston. Who he really is, I don’t know, so don’t bother asking. He was last seen three weeks ago leaving school on foot to head home as usual. You are to find him and bring him back safely. I will alert Anselma once he’s been found and she will take over from there. Any questions?”

“No questions, we’ll head to Boston tonight,” I said.

“Very well. Good luck, my dear. God be with you.”

Evangelina stood up, walked to my side, and gently touched my cheek. I saw a flash of worry followed by fear in her eyes before she vanished.

Colton spoke, breaking the silence. “Is it just me, or does this mission feel . . .”

“Suspicious,” I finished for him.

He grinned. We used to finish each other’s sentences. We used to be so harmonious in battle that fighting side by side resembled a rehearsed ballet dance.

“Exactly,” he answered. “For one we don’t usually get called for the search and rescue cases, we get called for the search and destroy cases. I mean we only get the highest-level demons. I can’t wrap my head around why they would give this case to us instead of a guardian angel.” We? We hadn’t been a we in a long time.
Why do I have to love the way that sounds…
I was silent even though he said exactly what I was thinking.

“So, Belleeza, you’re in charge. You lead, I’ll follow.”

I rolled my eyes in response. I could not afford to forget that it was a demon sitting across from me now. Even if it
was
Colton. Or perhaps
especially
as it was Colton.

“Look, Beauty . . . no, let me finish,” he said, silencing me with palms out as if to say
look, I’m harmless.

“You have no reason to trust me,” he continued, “and you may never trust me again. But I swear to you by the hand of God that I never wanted to hurt you. I will spend the rest of eternity trying to prove myself to you again.”

I felt a tug on my heart. I’d be lying if I said I didn’t lie awake at night sometimes . . . more than sometimes . . . imagining what it would be like to go back to the way we were. But a bigger part of me was now an ice-cold hardness.

Unfortunately,
that
part of me did not believe in second chances.

“Let’s get ready to go,” I said, coldly, and turned away from him.

BOOK: Angelic Anarchy (Heaven on Earth Book 1)
2.1Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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