Her Deadly Angels by Ginna Moran
“GOD, PLEASE FORGIVE me for my sins. I know I deserve the path I walk and the fate of Hell that burns at my back, but please, I’m asking you to show your mercy. I’ve changed.” Elias quietly prays the words on the other side of the closet door, his soft voice sounding like a broken man.
I’ve been listening to him talk to God since the fog from my mind cleared. He’s been going on and on, and the sheer annoyance of having to listen to him sobers me up from the intoxicating effect Dante had on me in our moment of passion. Anger grips my chest just thinking about Elias’s brutal interruption. How could we have been bested by someone like him? I know Dante is freaking the fuck out. Kase might even do something crazy. His wrath might ruin the world for me.
“God, please.” Elias’s desperate pleas get under my skin the longer he rambles, sharing with the universe all the reasons why he should get salvation. How he’s been righting his wrongs and doing the almighty’s work.
But fuck. I want to holler at him. He’s not the good man he claims to be. Good men don’t kidnap people, no matter who the woman is. They don’t hurt them like he hurt me, injuring me with a blessed arrow of some sort to steal me away from Dante. They also don’t slap a measly bandage over the wound nor do they slap the remaining medical tape over people’s mouths to shut them up. At least I managed to lick the adhesive enough to get it off my lips. But I won’t scream. Not yet.
“I don’t know what else to do to prove my loyalty, love, and unwavering faith toward you, your Almighty Grace,” he continues. A haggard cough bellows through the air, and he wheezes, catching his breath. He sounds awful, and it gets worse, but it doesn’t stop him. “I need guidance. Help me see what I need to do. I’ve been fighting the darkness in your name for as long as I remember, and yet, my repentance doesn’t feel like enough. I don’t feel any closer to your forgiveness and light for my recent mistakes. How can my moment of weakness undo a life of hard work? Please. It can’t end like this.”
It takes everything in me not to break it to him that no one is listening. If they were, one of the saviors would’ve revealed themselves already. Maybe. Why would they? I can imagine Cassius would claim this to be a miracle since he never got the chance to smite me. The bastard angel.
Ethereal light hazes the room through the small crack of space between the sliding closet doors, drawing my attention. I twist and rub the ropes together on my wrists, trying to loosen the knots. My assumption about Elias being a devil was completely wrong. No devil would kneel before a religious shrine, light candles, and pray for forgiveness. Nor would a devil have an aura of angelic light surrounding him—light that fades with each passing minute as my head clears. I can almost see him as the man he is.
“Lord, I’m begging you to give me a sign. A chance. Something, anything, that will bring me into your favor. I’m running out of time. I don’t know how much longer I will last. Please, God. Let her be the answer to my prayers to you. Please,” Elias says, clutching his hands together. He’s talking about me as if I will bring him a miracle of some sort, and it confuses the fuck out of me. Why would he think that? I wish I understood what is going on in his head. Maybe if I did, I could reason with him. Or maybe I can offer him a different deal, one on Dante and Kase’s behalf. Because I can’t have a savior answer his prayers. I can’t.
I hope I’m right about them staying away.
Tipping his head toward the ceiling, Elias stares upward like he’ll find the answers to his questions on the water-stained ceiling. The brown ring declares that the roof might not last through another rainstorm in this hellhole worse than where the saviors lived. I wish I knew how this supposed former angel got to this point. What has happened to him since he fell? How is it possible that he’s mortal now? And sick. Not knowing how sick he is leaves me with a dozen more questions. It’s obviously bad enough to act in desperation. The only way I’ll find out the answers to my questions is if I break free and call upon my devils to extract it out of him.
“Damn it! What do I need to do?” Elias shouts. Something crashes. “Do you want me to end her?”
I groan and yank the ropes harder. I really fucking hope he doesn’t start trying everything he can think of to get his heavenly response. It’s one thing holding me hostage and praying. It’s another trying to assume what the Higher Power wants.
Elias falls silent, and I still. The eerie quiet of the room ignites rising panic inside me. I wonder if he can hear things I can’t. Maybe one of the saviors responds to him through a telepathic link like Micah would speak to me.
With the thought of his name, I can’t help thinking about him and what he’s doing in Hell. Kase and Dante never told me what claiming a throne in Hell’s Kingdom involved, but I can’t imagine it being anything good. Lucian is a dick. Hell will get to Micah, especially being away from the Mortal Realm. I hate to even think about what kind of torture Micah might inflict on the souls that land in his newly formed level, created from his descent.
Pushing all my thoughts of Micah away, I concentrate on trying to break my hands free from the rope bindings. Unlike when Dante restrained me to his bed, these makeshift restraints feel as if they will loosen if I continue to pull and twist. Elias is clearly not an expert in any sort of bondage—or kidnapping, for that matter—because he did nothing about my legs and when I break free, only he will lie between me and my freedom. And right now, he looks like he’s drunk or something by how much he wobbles.
Sighing, Elias finally stops meditating or whatever he’s doing and pushes to his feet. He turns away from his shrine, ignoring the fact that he’s strung me up in a closet among his smoky clothes, reeking of cigarettes. I think it’s been hours since he’s last checked on me, and I’m lucky I don’t have to go to the bathroom yet. I plan to be out of here before that kind of urge overtakes me. I’d rather dislocate my thumbs than face standing in my own filth.
Elias strolls to a cluttered dresser and swipes a beer bottle from the mess and takes a swig. Coughing, he clutches onto the furniture, sounding like he hacks up a lung. He wheezes and huffs, clearly in pain now that I have a better look at him. His skin lacks any warmth or color, pale like he might have the flu. He’s on the thin side, his muscles sinewy instead of buff. I also catch sight of his hands trembling.
“Fuck,” he grumbles under his breath. “Fuck this bullshit!” Swinging his arm, he clears off the dresser, knocking the trash to the floor.
I grimace, a million questions running through my mind as he swears and trashes the place, knocking over the lamp and throwing shit off the nightstands in heaps of garbage on the carpet. Could it be possible that I was wrong, and this man isn’t the supposed angel who loved me enough that he gave me part of his essence in another life and had fallen? Maybe. But seeing his soul shining brightly, hearing him pray, and now getting a better look at him with a clearer head, I know that this man is the Elias—the one Cassius blames me for destroying.
It’s strange. It feels like a part of me recognizes him, but he’s a complete stranger. A man from another life I have no recollection of or even want to know about. If he had loved my soul enough to fall, he obviously didn’t fight for me or whatever. I don’t know. None of that matters anyway. My eternity is sealed and my soul now rests in the hands of the devils. The only important thing now is getting out of here, so Elias doesn’t figure out how to call upon the saviors to send me to Hell before I can complete my end of Lucian’s contract.
Like Elias senses I watch him, he turns his attention toward the closet and eyes me through the crack. I stop struggling against the ropes, afraid he’ll notice I’ve loosened the knot on my left wrist some, and I’m almost free. The last thing I need is for him to re-tie and tighten them even more.
But he doesn’t move from his spot. He continues to stare at me in a silence so heavy that it weighs on my soul, making me uncomfortable. I don’t even feel this exposed and vulnerable under Kase and Dante’s scrutiny. With them, I feel sexy. Desired. Hotter than the levels of Hell they rule. With this guy? Goosebumps crawl across my skin in a bad way. He reminds me of how I felt with Cassius aiming a flaming sword at my heart.
I inhale a few long breaths, calming my racing heartbeats the best I can. Elias’s light gray eyes search over my face until they finally meet mine. The beautiful color reminds me of stormy skies lit by the white glow of lightning bolts. He remains unmoving, just gawking at me like he enjoys making me feel uncomfortable and awkward.
Hanging my head, I break his stare. I consider my options as to what I should do. It might be best to wait things out. Kase and Dante will find me. I know it. I just have to survive whatever Elias has planned until they do. And right now, he’s not doing anything that scares me. If he’s Hell-bound like he thinks he is, then I doubt any savior would arrive at his call.
“You’re a creep,” I finally say, squirming under his attention. It feels better than I imagined it would to speak again. “Whatever you expect to get out of this won’t work.”
“Don’t say another word,” he mutters, glowering. “You don’t get to speak, you demon’s little slut.”
“That’s offensive to my devils. They’re far more powerful than those bottom feeders.” The hem of my dress dances along my thighs, and I try not to move too much to keep it from hiking up. I want to kick myself for thinking something so short was a good idea all because I wanted to tease Dante. At least I wore a thong. I almost went commando. “Why are you even doing this? My devils will get here before anyone can even consider answering your bullshit prayers.”
Elias remains expressionless, his scruffy face handsome without the scowl he wore when he kidnapped me. I don’t know what happened or how he—or I, for that matter—looked like in our former lives, but he still carries an otherworldly attractiveness. “What did I say about talking? I don’t want to hurt you. If the neighbors hear you, we’re going to have a problem, darlin’. You don’t want to be responsible for a couple deaths by demon.”
Demon? He’s praying to God. This whole situation is fucked. If I knew what was going on, I might be able to save myself.
I narrow my eyes, ignoring his comment. “You know, praying is useless. No one is going to come to your call because you’ve asked for forgiveness. My soul keepers said that once someone is Hell-bound, that’s it for them. You’re better off just letting me go and bartering whatever it is that you want with my devils.”
“Your devils? Mortals can’t own demonic entities.” Elias’s brows lower on his forehead with his anger. “They own you. I should know.”
Clenching his jaw, Elias strides the short distance to me but doesn’t widen the space between the closet doors. I try to stay calm under his new level of scrutiny. His eyes travel down my face and to my body, lingering on the short hem of my dress. Elias swallows and drags his gaze back up, shifting his mouth. A dimple peeks on his cheek. While he doesn’t look buff or brawny like Kase and Dante, he also looks nowhere near what the saviors look like in comparison. Elias is mortal, obviously sick, and the last person I want to deal with.
“I’m not just any mortal, fuckhead, and neither are you. So obviously you don’t know. I’ll give you one last chance. It’ll be in your best interest if you let me go unharmed.” My innate need to prove myself consumes me. I shouldn’t be the only one curious about this situation. “You don’t want to make Lucian mad.”
“Lucian?” Elias tilts his head slightly, sending his rich brown hair onto his forehead. His gray eyes rapidly blink like he’s running the name through his mind. “Who the fuck is he?”
“Most people know him as Lucifer.” I wiggle my fingers, trying to keep the feeling in my hands. “If you hurt me or give me to the saviors, all it does is guarantee your eternal punishment.”
“God will pardon my sins. He has to. I know your importance to Hell. The demons have spoken of you. You have a bounty on your soul.” Elias grips one of the sliding doors, easing it open wider, turning his fingers pale with his grip. “If the demons want you so much, surely so does Heaven.”
My expression falters, and I flare my nostrils. This is all Lucian’s fault for putting me in this situation. Had he trusted Kase and Dante with the task of helping me make the angelic brethren fall, word would’ve never gotten out. And whoever Elias is now...fuck, I need to know. He doesn’t remember our past life, his mind a blank slate the same as mine toward him. If he knew, maybe things would be different. But telling him now? I doubt he’ll believe anything I say.
“Elias, please. It’s not what you think. I can help you. We can help each other,” I beg, shaking my body against the restraints. “There is so much I have to tell you. You just need to release me and let me call my devils. They will help you with whatever it is you need.”
“Only God can save me!” Elias yells, his handsome face twisting in rage.
He grinds his teeth and punches the slider door, knocking it off its tracks. I startle and fall backwards, putting all of my weight on the clothes rod. It cracks in half, and I fall to the closet floor. Elias hollers at me, trying to open the door, but it doesn’t budge. Twisting the broken rod, I hold it between my knees and wiggle the ropes up the length. If I can just get it off, I can fight.
“God, please. I’m begging you. Save me. That’s all I ask of you. Forgive me for my sins. I never intended to go against your grace.” Elias continues to pray instead of trying to force open the closet. “I will do anything.”
The floor rumbles under my ass, and I squeak in fear, rushing as fast as I can to free myself from the binds. Elias chants his words over and over again. Bright light flashes through the crack in the door. I ignore it, bracing my back to the closet wall and using my feet to push the clothes rod away until the rope falls free. Panic tightens my chest. Shit. Shit. Shit. No good for me comes with bright light such as the glow stinging my eyes through the crack.
“Elias.” The sultry voice of a woman hums through the air. Why am I surprised? Maybe because this is the first woman I’ve encountered in the last couple weeks. “You are looking unwell. I bet your keeper just loves it. Slow and agonizing without having to put in the work.”
Elias groans without responding with words.
“Aww, baby. Come on. I don’t even have your tongue.” A purr sounds through the air, rattling the closet door. What I thought was an angel clearly isn’t. Fuck. The light must’ve been hellfire.
“Speaking to you is a waste of breath,” Elias says, his voice raspy. He coughs and wheezes like the effort to speak is too much for him.
“Not if you give me the word. Your keeper can be handled. All you have to do is ask, handsome. I heard a rumor that you got your hands on a soul wanted by all of Hell. You do know that to get the freedom you desire, all you must do is show me the woman who became angel-kissed for you. Allow me to help you, Elias. We can help each other. You don’t have to spend the rest of your pitiful life ill and in pain. I’ll take your contract as my own. Wouldn’t you prefer my brand of eternal punishment? It’ll be fun,” the woman says, the soft taps of her heels clicking over the threadbare carpet. “What do you say?”
I shift on my feet and peek through the crack between the closet doors. My breath catches at the sight of the woman—the demon—as she dangles Elias a foot above the floor. Her long blond hair twists into a braid that hangs down her back. If it weren’t for her demonic façade peeking through, revealing her true body, she’d be model-gorgeous. But the patch of rotting flesh on her cheek and her sunken blue eye leave her a freaky hot mess.
“Where is she?” she purrs.
“Fuck off! The only thing you can do for me is prolong my miserable life. My contract is binding. Now go!” Elias manages to unsheathe a blade from his jacket and jabs it into the demonic woman’s chest. “Return to Hell!”
Screeching, the demon throws Elias at the wall, sending him crumpling to the floor. She laces her hand, sharp with claw-like nails, around the metal hilt and tugs the knife free. Smoke wafts from her burning fingers, and she drops the blessed dagger to the floor.
She touches the bloody spot between her breasts and glowers at Elias. Sharp, jagged teeth extend from her mouth as she reveals her hellacious glory. “Do you really think such things are so easy, baby? I own a hundred powerful souls. Without your precious light, you can’t—”
The closet rod smacks against the sliding door with a thud, cutting off her words. I curse the damn universe, not bothering to whisper. Swiveling her neck, she turns her head at an impossible angle. I meet the demon’s yellow eyes. My muscles tighten in anticipation, and I grip the rod as if it can protect me from the suddenly raging beast charging in my direction. I move out of her line of sight, pressing myself to the other side of the empty closet. I need just a few feet of space to add force to my jab. If I get that, I might be able to survive another couple of minutes.
The floor trembles, and the gross scent of rotten eggs permeates through the air, her demonic façade grotesque-smelling instead of hypnotic like Kase and Dante’s. I don’t even have to glance at the woman through the crack to know she reveals her true body, and I bet it is as gross as all the other demons I’ve seen. Unlike my devils, who embody dark and delicious power, still enthralling in their Hell forms, the demons I’ve seen freak me out and make my skin crawl. They just look wrong and smell awful. Instead of being attracted to the alluring darkness, I’m repelled by it. I never asked, but it might have to do with the fact that my devils were once angels, and my soul knows it. Demons are creatures born and bred, created from the fiery pits of Hell. But honestly, I don’t know much more than that. It could be the fact that despite their psycho tendencies, my devils are sweet and protective.
A scratching noise claws at the closet door, and I shiver. The demon doesn’t rush to yank it off, preferring to torment me for a bit like she knows I can’t go anywhere. And while the anticipation of her attack digs painfully deep into my soul, it also gives me time to think about ways to save myself.
“Thank the devils you’ve found me,” I say, keeping my voice low. Sweat prickles along my hairline. I try to summon my bravery, but the demonic woman sets off my human instincts that scream she’s a predator, and I’m in danger. “This asshole thinks he could use me to get into the Higher Power’s good grace by offering me to the saviors. My soul keepers will heavily reward you for returning me to them.”
I clutch the rod, preparing for the worst. Demons are tricky. They don’t necessarily work together or think about anything other than what they can gain. I’m just hoping she’s smart enough to consider the consequences of hurting me compared to the possible rewards for her help.
“Return you to them? No, honey. That isn’t happening,” she responds, tapping her nail to the flimsy door.
I shuffle away as quietly as I can, realizing she knows I had moved and plans to sneak attack me. A crack sounds through the air, and I startle, deadpanning at the sight of her four-inch claws penetrating the door. Dragging her hand lower, she scratches five jagged lines down the door, letting in beams of light from the torch lamp illuminating the room.
“The reward is far greater if I keep you for myself,” the demonic woman says, hacking her nails horizontally, ripping a hole in the door. “Haven’t you heard? Lucian is offering a throne to the one who can properly control you.”
Purring, the woman jabs her arm into the closet, swiping her furry paw through the empty air. Bone-like spines jut from the inside of her forearm, curling upward. The sharp spines look as if they can gut someone if slashed just right, and the sight of them trembling and twitching twists my stomach into knots.
I do the only thing I can think of. Swinging the rod, I slam it against her arm, my strength powerful enough to break her bone. I’ve never been so thankful for one of the small perks of being soul-bound to a devil, but I’ll take what I can get. Shrieking, the demonic woman jerks her oddly bent arm out, only to replace it with her head. Long, wiry whiskers flutter from the rotting flesh of her face, her hellish glory ripping through the human shell she inhabits. Because demons must use humans to anchor themselves to this plane unlike my devils. Their angelic façades came first. It’s their devilish forms they summon instead of the other way around.
The sight of the demonic woman shocks me into swinging the clothes rod again, trying to get her away. This time, she jerks out of the way and instead of entering the closet, she locks her claws to the broken slider and rips it off the track completely.
“Stay back!” I shout, trying to jab her with the splintered end of the rod. “Lucian won’t give you a throne unless I make some damn angels fall, and there is no fucking way I’ll do it to help you.”
Snatching the rod from me, she drags it toward her. I stumble, unable to steady myself, and the demon swipes her clawed fingers at me, snagging the front of my dress. I can’t scramble away fast enough, and she yanks me toward her and out of the closet.
I buck and thrash my body, trying to break out of her hold. She bares her fangs at me, yowling like a hungry cat instead of roaring like Kase would in his gigantic feline form. Where he’s almost lion-like, this demon is like a feral stray, thinking she’s powerful for her ability to catch me like a mouse. But catching mice won’t ever prove her power. She’ll have to try harder than this to take a devil’s throne.
“Is that so?” she mutters, twitching her nose. “Maybe you’ll reconsider when I’m through with you.”
Slamming my back to the wall, the woman leans into me, capturing me in her yellow gaze. I cringe at the sensation of her rough, sand-paper tongue scratching across my cheek. My skin burns, making my eyes water. She might be a lowly predator, but she can obviously still hurt me.
“Please, you don’t have to do this,” I say, blinking the tears from my eyes. “There must be another way. We can make a deal.”
A smile widens across the woman’s face. “Or I can peel every inch of skin off you with my tongue. Maybe then you’ll realize you’ll do whatever I say. Lucian might have a contract on your soul, but I have your body. You can survive a lot, you know.” She draws her tongue across her lips, showing off the blood-red appendage with what look like hair-thin spikes. Shit. No wonder it hurt. Can I die from a thousand tiny cuts? I’m afraid I’ll find out.
“Please,” I whisper. “Please.”
The demonic woman leans closer, dragging her tongue along my jaw. I scream in pain, thrashing and trying to kick her, but she only tightens her grip.
“Help me!” I yell, tensing as she draws her tongue closer, aiming for my neck next. “God, please! Please!”
Too bad the Higher Power will never hear my prayers.
Why do I even bother?