Authors: Felicite Lilly
Copyright © 2015 by Felicite D. Lilly
All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce, distribute, or transmit in any form or by any means. For information regarding subsidiary rights, please contact Felicite Lilly directly through the copyright office or
First Edition December 2015
To you, my friends, my family, my readers.
Without you all I wouldn’t be who I am or where I want to be.
Thank you…for everything.
When Delaney upsets Mastema, he is on a hunt to find her. In an attempt to hide, she travels to Ireland and finds sanctuary in a strange village. As the impending battle with Mastema draws near, she has to rely on her circle of friends and the residents of the mysterious village to help her. Friends become enemies, enemies become friends and Delaney's life will never be the same...
“Cause I can’t make you love me, if you don’t, you can’t make your heart feel, something it won’t, here in the dark, in these final hours, I will lay down my heart, if I feel the power, but you don’t. No you don’t. I'll close my eyes, Then I won't see, The love you don't feel, When you're holding me, Morning will come, And I'll do what's right, Just give me till then, To give up this fight. And I will give up this fight.”
, I can’t make you love me/Nick of time
I lay on my back, in the dark, staring at the log covered ceiling. It was a nice ceiling, but it wasn’t giving me the answers I was searching for. Aggravated was a mild description for how I felt.
“Come on. Anything. What am I supposed to do?” I blew out a frustrated breath.
I had asked for guidance on the book; Where I fit in; If I could really keep my people safe; What I was going to do about Az…The list was endless, but those were the ones I was most concerned with in that moment. I also wondered about Serafine. Where did she fit into all of this? And why in the world would she not want Mastema to know she was around?
“Serafiiiine?” I said timidly into the dark. I didn’t want Mastema to hear me. “Serafiiiiiine?” I said a little more loudly.
I heard her rather than saw her. There was a pop as she stepped out of the corner that was covered in shadows. I jumped. She had scared the crap out of me, even though I knew she was there because I had felt her magic, I still hadn’t known where she would be coming from. Kind of like in scary movies when you hear the buildup of the scary music, but you don’t know where the threat is going to jump out from.
I had my hand over my heart since it was trying to pogo-stick out of my chest. I took a breath to keep my heart where it was rather than it jumping up my throat or out of my chest.
“Well, I officially have to pee now,” I said.
Serafine smiled down at me where I lay on the bed, then sat next to me.
“You’re always good for a laugh, Laney.”
“It’s what I strive for in life.”
“What’s up? I really shouldn’t be here.”
“Why can’t you be here? You’re my Guardian Angel so you should be able to go where I go, right?”
“Try me. I eat complicated for breakfast.” I sat up, propping two of the three hundred pillows that were on the bed behind me. I folded my hands in my lap and smiled expectantly at her.
“Mastema can’t know I’m here. I used to,” She paused groping for the right words, “work for him. He would be very upset if he found out I was here.”
“You’re not telling me the whole truth. I can feel it.”
“Bottom line: he
know that I am around.”
“Whatever you say.” I knew what my next step would be. Az had been with Mastema for years before giving it up for me, he would know who Serafine was.
“Is everything okay?” She asked. I could feel the genuine concern coming off her.
“How did you get stuck with me?”
“I didn’t get stuck with you, Laney. I fought to be here for you. I could’ve gone anywhere. But I knew you would need me eventually.”
“I asked for answers and you give me more questions.”
“When you’re away from here, we’ll talk more. I have to go.” She stood abruptly. “Mouth shut. Seriously.”
“Me? Come on.” I crossed my heart and locked my mouth with my invisible skeleton key. Serafine stepped back into the shadow and was gone with a pop. A few heartbeats later I heard a light knock on my door.
“Come in!” I said cheerfully. I should’ve tried to sound groggy so whoever it was wouldn’t know I’d been awake. The door cracked open and Az’s face entered the room. Ask and you shall receive, I guess, since he was just the person I wanted to talk to.
“Are you alone? I thought I heard voices.” Az’s head swiveled from its place at the door, searching for a voice he wouldn’t find.
“You may need to see someone about that.”
“You’re right. There is something wrong with me,” Az said. I patted the bed and he came in the room, shutting the door behind him. He didn’t sit on the bed, though. He stood by the heavy wood door like he was ready to bolt. I couldn’t blame him.
I had invited him to sit on the bed with me, because that was natural for me to ask of him, but it shouldn’t be anymore. The memory of our love had been wiped from Az’s memory since I’d asked Kai to cast the protection spell over my group. My heart tore whenever Az was near me. His eyes didn’t shine for me like they used to.
“Try not to worry about how you feel. It’ll ease with time.” I hoped I was speaking the truth, but the hollowness of my words resonated. And who the hell wouldn’t worry about themselves? If you thought you were going crazy, you’d worry. “Can I ask you a question?”
“Of course.” Az didn’t hesitate. There was no discomfort in his demeanor, just loyalty.
“She worked in Hell for a long time. Long before my time began. She isn’t a Demon, though. It was debated what kind of supe she was, but no one could figure it out. Not that we asked Mastema.”
“Is that all?”
“She was Mastema’s Mate, and then she was killed. After her death, Mastema just
There was the card Serafine was holding so close to her vest. The card I knew I would need to use, eventually. I wondered momentarily if having this knowledge was a blessing or a curse. But I chalked it up and knew that working on the book for Mastema wasn’t going to be complete misery. I had something to hold over his head, too. Just as he was undoubtedly going to hold Az over mine. Glad Mastema had no clue Serafine was around, but he would. And once he knew, I had no doubt he would do anything to find out where she was.
Funny thing: I was the one with the closest connection to her. It was the first time I could honestly say I was looking forward to seeing Mastema’s face. I had to wait until the right moment. But it was coming.
“Are you some kind of medicine man? Cut the demons out of my head, You can’t kill something that’s already dead, Just leave my soul alone.”
, Weighty Ghost
I wanted to be done with this assignment. I had no issues reading the language in Mastema’s book but I hadn’t moved as quickly as I should’ve been. I’d been distracted. What could possibly distract me away from the ancient book? Az was sitting across from me and I found myself studying his face, repetitively. The crease in his brow was going to be a permanent fixture on his face soon. But no matter the wrinkles or creases, I loved him.
I studied the gloves he was wearing. The first time he’d touched the book it had been like an acid burn to his hand. I could touch it, no problem. But if anyone else tried to touch the book – we had Mastema test the theory as well, to my delight the book gave him the same reaction as Az – they were met with a violent reaction to their skin. Our work around was the gloves Az was wearing.
I would translate word for word and Az would make sense of it. We had a good set up. Could I have gone faster? Absolutely. But again, distraction = Az. We had been working on the book for about 6 days. We had three pages, almost four, completely translated and ordered so it made sense. I couldn’t help being distracted. Looking at Az was painful, but I couldn’t stop myself. He was still the man I loved even though he lacked the knowledge of the relationship we’d shared. He could remember incidents, like the nights we’d worked together keeping order within our organizations, but he’d forgotten the intimacy we’d shared those nights.
I wanted to help him understand but knew I couldn’t. We’d worked hard, before the spell I’d asked Kai to cast, to not hide anything from one another. Now sharing any of it with him would negate the protection spell and obliterate any chance of us ever being together again. So, what had I been doing a lot of? Translating the book, while trying not to stare at Az, and skiing. It had been a magnificent release and a great way to keep me in shape since running around the top of a mountain was out of the question.
Just as Az went to raise his head, I quickly went back to reading the pages in front of me.
“Delaney?” Az said. I shivered. His voice still did things to me.
“Yes, Azrael?” I said without looking up. After a few beats passed, and the silence was heavy, I found Az’s eyes on me. His head was cocked to the side and he was studying me with that damned furrowed brow again.
“If you keep frowning like that, your face is going to stay that way.”
“I’ve heard that somewhere.” Az was still holding my gaze but I dropped mine.
No kidding you’ve heard it. I’ve said it to you a million times.
Please, remember. Please…
“It’s true. You should try and smile more often.” I said instead.
“Nothing much to smile about, I hate being here.” Az mumbled under his breath as he started working again. It was in those moments that I broke. And not in an abstract, “Oh, I’m so sad right now” way. I could feel a physical piece of me breaking, a deep pull at my flesh when everything was already strained.
I couldn’t disagree with Az, though. There wasn’t much to smile about anymore. If I was honest with myself I knew a lot of my previous smiles stemmed from Az and our relationship. I was having a hard time being blocked off from everyone, especially Az. I stood before I realized my intent.
“I’m going to ski for a bit.” I said. Az rolled his eyes at me, frustrated.
“Again, Delaney? I guess it has been, oh,” Az looked down at his wrist where his invisible watch obviously sat, “four hours already.”
“I need this.” I said. Trying to conceal my pain. I forced myself to swallow the words I could not say, the love I could not show. I allowed the ache to consume me silently.
Az waived his hand, keeping his eyes glued to the pages I had translated lying in front of him.
“You’re going to go anyway. Don’t let me stop you.”
He was right. I would. So I did. I walked out of our work den and nearly ran into the Devil. Mastema was blocking my escape. I went to move around him, but he stepped as well, keeping me trapped.
I had been avoiding him as much as possible since we had gotten to the cabin, but he insisted on having daily meetings. Mastema was no fool, he knew there was something wrong between Az and I no matter how hard we had tried to hide it from him.
“Excuse me.” I said, trying to keep the grinding hate out of my voice.
“Off to ski again?” Mastema said lightly. I looked up into his dark dead eyes and felt iciness creep into our conversation. No matter how hot it was inside, the cold still consumed. I could not understand how my Az had ever been friends with this evil
“Yes.” I figured the shorter the answer the better. I had the art of minimal speaking down. I was a pro.
“Mind if I join you?” Before I could stop the shock, my eye brows raised.
“Why would you want to go skiing with me? I figure you wouldn’t want to be outside in the cold.”
“And why would you think that?”
“Really? Well, you live in Hell. You know, hellfire, endless heat. And you keep this place as hot as Hell.” I finished with a wave of my hand over my outfit. I was wearing my short thin bed shorts and a thin white cami.
“Maybe it’s strategy. Maybe I like the outfits that come with the heat.”
“I somehow think it is a mixture of both.”
Mastema laughed. I was only being honest. My honesty amused him...most of the time.
“I’ll ski with you. You need company.” He said.
I wanted to argue with him but didn’t have the energy. Arguing with the Devil was like walking in a circle, going nowhere.
Mastema had been trying to figure out the wrench that had been thrown into Az and I’s relationship for some time. I had given up Az and I’s love for the safety of my people. That was the wrench that I would never divulge to Mastema.
I shrugged in response to Mastema. I turned from him and headed toward my room to change and heard Mastema call from behind me.
“I’ll meet you in the kitchen when you’re ready.”
I didn’t stop or pause to respond.
Once I was sweating profusely in my ski gear, I headed toward the kitchen. Turns out if I didn’t leave out of my balcony exit, as I normally did, my clothes were overcome with sweat. My ski gear, that was made to block out sub zero temps and keep the heat in, combined with the heat radiating from the furnace and fireplaces, was unbearable. Of course, when I showed up in the kitchen Mastema looked like he was enjoying being bundled up in his ski gear, no sweat penetrating his disarmingly innocent face.
I walked toward the back door without pause.
I heard a snap of fingers from behind me, and suddenly I wasn’t so hot anymore. In fact, I was cooling off quickly, since we now stood at the peak of the mountain, a trek that normally took me about thirty minutes. There had been no indication of a transport either. I guess I shouldn’t have been surprised by that, though. He
Mastema. Instead of addressing what he had just done, I pulled my ski goggles on, and looked down and shook my feet to make sure my skis were in place and on tight enough. They were. The Devil was handy to have around at times.
I looked around me and appreciated the white sloping sides of the mountain, dotted with green pine trees. There were a few spots bare of the powdery white snow, exposing jagged black rock underneath. It was part of what I loved about the mountains since I’d been stuck there: they were beautiful, but underneath it all, they were also very deadly. I grabbed the poles out of the snow and pushed off down the hill. I felt…free.
Speeding down the side of a mountain helped me deal with how out of control I was feeling. I knew crawling back into my self like I had done the last time I lost Az was no longer an option. I had too many people relying on me. So this was my new way of coping. This was me getting away from it all when and how I could.
I looked over and saw Mastema gliding easily down the hill. I had skied this slope many times and knew it well, so I had a chance to study Mastema. He looked serene. Maybe I wasn’t the only one who needed this. There was a small clearing that I could and did take breaks on. It was a nice place to just pause and absorb. I took a route off the main path and pushed toward my clearing. At the edge of the drop-off at my little haven, I always stopped at the very last moment, sliding sideways with a swish of snow that went over the edge. I did it for the thrill, the rush and the reminder that a part of me was still mortal, I thought it was at least.
The first time I found this clearing had been a complete accident. I dodged hitting a squirrel on the slope and ended up almost going over the edge of the slope. I fell on my ass, and after I got over the fact that I had almost gone over the edge, I looked around me. I could see down the side of the drop off and there were puffs of smoke coming from other villas around the mountain. It was peaceful and helped clear my head. I thought that maybe Serafine had brought me here. But I hadn’t seen or heard from her since her little visit to my room four days ago. I stopped and enjoyed this place when I could.
As I sucked the freezing air into my lungs, resetting my brain, I felt Mastema come up next to me.
“Thought I lost you for a minute there, Delaney.”
“And yet, you are.” Mastema said all too insightfully.
“Can you just, shhhh? Just for a minute.”
I know, I just told the Devil to be quiet, but he was ruining this for me. I looked over to him and he was quietly looking out onto the mountain. I wondered briefly what he was playing at. The Devil is not nice. With a twitch of his finger he could kill me. He wanted something.
“Alright, what do you want?” I said.
“I thought we were being quiet.”
“You don’t listen to me. You’re not nice. What do you want?”
Shit. He had figured out I had a connection with Serafine faster than I had expected he would. Maybe he hadn’t figured it out. Maybe he had cast his line to see what bit.
“And people in Hell want ice water.”
“Ah, so you do know who Serafine is then?”
“Az is my Mate. We do talk on occasion.” Man, I was pretty good on my toes right now. I was even impressing myself with how quickly the lies came.
“So her scent in your room…?”
“You must be confused. You are a couple thousand years old, right? Maybe you should get your sniffer checked out.”
“She is, was, my Mate. I cannot forget her, any piece of her, ever. It is no mistake.” He stabbed each word precisely.
“I don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“I tried to get Az to tell me if he had seen her around you, but he hasn’t seen her. He doesn’t really seem to remember anything about you and him being together, either. Rather strange for a Mate.”
My temper flared. I didn’t know how he’d gotten Az to talk, not that it would be all that difficult with the amount of power Mastema possessed but I was still pissed about it. I could feel the wave that brought my temper out, breaking the dam. I stepped toe to toe to with Mastema and got in his face.
“You do not speak to my Mate without me present. Are. We. Clear?”
are we, Prophecy?” The way he drew out the word protective snapped my mouth shut. He had to have known the spell I had cast and the effects the spell had left behind. Why I had ever thought I could keep my people safe from him was stupid.
“I protect what is mine. Isn’t that what you did with your
I knew the second my temper slipped that I would end up saying something stupid. I just didn’t know how stupid it would be until it left my mouth. I was standing toe to toe with the most terrifying creature I had ever encountered. I guess I hadn’t really grasped how powerful he was until then.
I watched in horror as Mastema morphed from the Jensen Ackles look-a-like, to a creature three times the size of a hump back whale and all consuming in power. He still looked like the terrifying spider eyed, sharp toothed, evil incarnate he was, but he had become
of it all. Jesus. I didn’t know if I was dumbfounded or stubborn, but I didn’t move.
As I watched in slow motion, Mastema’s mouth came toward me. Simultaneously I saw and heard the gnash of Mastema’s teeth and felt two arms wrap around me and pull me backward. I closed my eyes, not wanting to see my body in pieces. Instead of pain, I felt the pull of a teleport. I landed on top of a hard male body. When I opened my eyes again I found we were laying on the floor of my room in Mastema’s little cabin in the Swiss Alps. Smartest place to retreat to? No. Better than being eaten by the Devil? Absolutely. I pushed myself up and off of my rescuer and stood, feeling my body to make sure I was still together. My skis were in pieces all over the floor.
“At least I’m not dead. I should probably pack a bag and run,” I said, without turning around.
“I actually felt him. The last time I felt that kind of energy from him…” It was Az’s voice. And now I was thoroughly confused. How had he felt Mastema?