Her Twisted Sinners by Ginna Moran

Chapter 3

RAVEN

Apocalypse

STRONG FINGERS DIG under my arms, dragging me up as the angel takes flight. Car tires screech, and I jerk my arm and punch the angel in the face as he dangles me off the ground. He drops me without a care. The bastard. I shriek at the freefall, my muscles tensing. Swooping down, he grabs me by my hair, stopping me from crashing to the sidewalk. My scalp bursts with pain, and I kick my leg behind me, doing anything I can to escape the angel. He lets go of me, and I stumble forward and land on my hands, scraping my palms on the sidewalk.

“Raven, be careful. You’re going to hurt yourself.” The musical voice stabs at me as if it’s the most annoying sound in existence. I hate when angels try to tell me the obvious. I damn well know that running away from him will end with me hurt. I’m mortal, after all. It doesn’t stop me though. I’m willing to risk hurting myself to escape.

“Stay away from me!” I yell, pushing back to my feet.

My body reacts to the sudden threat, and fire ignites in my palms. I whisper a silent thanks to my babies and spin around, staring down the righteous bastard.

His eyes widen, and he startles at the Hell power growing in my hands. I bet he wasn’t expecting as much. I bet the angelic army didn’t tell him what he’d face if he ever confronted anything that wasn’t my helpless soul. But now, my body is a vessel to unimaginable power, and I have a desire to pluck feathers. Knock off halos. I crave the destruction of those against me.

“Heaven, please calm down. You’re going to cause a scene. You’ve just broken my shield with that abominable power.” The angel strides forward, lighting his fingers with angelic light.

I thrust my hands forward, shooting Hell power at him. There’s no fucking way I’m going to let him get close to me. I can already see it in his eyes that he believes he has a right to control my existence.

“I said, stay back.” I flare my nostrils, my body tense and ready to fight. If only it wasn’t so difficult to move. My scraped hands and knees ache. I haven’t done anything extremely physical apart from sex, and even then, I rarely do a lot of work in this state. The devils are very considerate when it comes to me. They truly are the most selfless beings in the universe. It’s what makes me want to give them whatever they want. It makes me want to fight hard for them. It makes me want to destroy Heaven.

“I can’t. This is the first opportunity we’ve had to speak to you. Please, let me have just a second of your time. I don’t want to fight you. I only want to reason with you. I know it’s difficult in this...state, and you’re feeling quite deviant without your soul, but I know that you’re smart. Hear me out.” The angel drops his hands to a side, allowing his angelic light to dissipate.

Confusion scrunches my face. It’s not like an angel to want to have a conversation. Maybe it’s because they think they’ve won. I’m not exactly a huge threat...at least, that’s what he thinks. And maybe this will be my chance. If he doesn’t think I’m going to continue to fight, he’ll let his guard down. When he lets his guard down, I can fuck him up. I can show him what it’s like to ruin the forever of the devils’ love.

Inhaling a slow breath to settle my racing heartbeat, I nod my head and shake my fingers, putting out the hellfire. I know that my little demon spawn will ignite it again if I’m threatened, and I trust the babies to take care of their mama as much as I take care of them. It’s a bond unlike anything I’ve ever known, and it’s all purely emotional. I can feel it. It’s the only thing I can feel. I don’t feel any of my own emotions, but I can feel goodness the babies bring.

“You have two minutes.” I place my hands on my hips and straighten my back, even though I don’t feel threatening with my bulging belly.

Closing his wings, the angel offers me a smile. It’s far more twisted than he probably realizes, and I can’t stop the goosebumps from prickling over my skin. “Two minutes is all I need. I know that the devils have gotten to your mind, but you must think of yourself, your children, and your soul. I know you saw the state of it. Your soul is facing such despair. I’m sure you felt it being so close. But it doesn’t have to be that way. Your soul is distraught because it knows that you are resisting. All it wants is to help Heaven. It wants to help cleanse the mortal plane of the darkness. And you can help us accomplish that by finally seeing the truth.”

Rage simmers below the surface of my skin, preparing to overflow. I want so badly to jump at the angel and clobber him. I want to rip every damn feather from his wings and tell him he knows nothing about my soul. But the more reasonable, cautious part of me knows that I shouldn’t touch him. I need to keep space between us if I can. At least, until I’m ready to fight. I just need to buy a couple more minutes of time. Cassius would’ve gone to the devils to let them know what happened, and everybody will be on high alert and looking for me.

“I know the truth. I saw what the angelic army has done to Hell. You’ve let the souls get out of control, and they’re devouring everything. You’ve upset the balance of the universe. The only way you will be able to help is if you give me my soul back.” I shift on my feet, a part of me hoping the angel thinks over my words and realizes the truth to them. But I can’t hold my breath over it or I’ll die. I can see in his eyes that he thinks I’m ridiculous for saying as much. He is too lost in the light to see how dark his being has become.

“That was purposeful, Raven. Hell was growing too strong, and it’s time that we start again. Humanity needs to be reset so this plane can survive. We expect the souls to destroy Hell first and then return to the mortal plane. Once that happens, we can destroy the darkness and rekindle the light and the Higher Power’s good grace. You can help. You just have to come with me. It’ll be best for everyone if you comply.” The angel flexes his muscles, his body shifting and tensing, and I can tell that whatever I say in this next moment will lead to one or two things. He will either attack me and drag me away, or he will keep his guard down so I can destroy him when he turns his back.

“You want the apocalypse to happen.” It’s not a question. I knew that it was coming. I knew what the angelic army was doing but hearing him say he wants to destroy the universe and start over freaks me out. That’s not how it’s supposed to be. Souls make mistakes, but they’re not all bad. There are far fewer Hell-bound souls that deserve to be punished for eternity. The other ones just need guidance. They need to work through their mistakes to go to a more level plane. They need Purgatory. They don’t need to be annihilated.

These fucking righteous bastards. From the gold of his wings, I know he was once human, and he knows what it would mean. He doesn’t even care. This is why Cassius still fights. I couldn’t grasp it until this moment why he wouldn’t abandon Heaven. He still believes that his purpose is to save souls. But I don’t think he realizes the only way he’s going to be able to do that is if he jumps from grace. It is his path. I know it now more than ever.

If only his pride wouldn’t get in the way.

“Yes, in a way. It would just be eliminating the darkness. Humanity will thrive in peace after that. The mortal plane will no longer have to be a test. Humanity won’t have to worry about such a dark evil.” The angel’s jaw twitches, and light begins to glow from his skin once more.

It takes everything in me to nod my head. I’m a terrible actress, but this angel is so self-assured and full of himself that he can’t tell whether or not I’m lying or pretending.

“It’ll be a better place for my children.” My heart hurts to say the words because I know it’s not true. Only the devils and I can make such a perfect place for our family.

“Yes. You will be able to reunite with them eventually. It would be a sacrifice that will give you what you need to have peace. So please, come with me.” Stretching out his hand, the angel waits for me to take it.

This is it.

It’s now or never.

Closing my eyes, I summon my strength and bravery to slap my hand against the angel’s. Hellfire ignites in my palm once more, and I lock my fingers around the angel’s wrist and burn him, yanking him closer until I can strike him in the balls with my knee. He doesn’t expect my move and screams out in pain.

But he doesn’t stay down for long.

Charging me, he envelops me in his arms, trying to launch into the air. As if a bomb detonates inside me, hellfire shoots out from my core, knocking the angel away. I crash to my ass, and pain swells through my body. The angel hollers with his rage and pain, and he expands his burning wings, threatening me with his sheer size. But he has nothing on the devils. I’m used to people towering over me.

“If you will not come willingly, then I’ll take those precious gifts from you. You’re far enough along for them to survive. It didn’t have to be like this, but I can’t let you leave. I can’t let you do this.” Angelic light gathers in the angel’s hand, and he summons a sword. It crackles with his power.

The sight of the blade strikes fear inside me. He’s going to try to cut me open to take the twins. What a fucking monster. I can’t believe he’s going to try. I need to get out of here. I need help. Hell, help me.

“No!” I shout, gathering more hellfire in my palms. I thrust it at the angel again, praying it keeps him back. But I’m not praying to the Higher Power. I’m praying to the universe. I’m praying to my devils to save me. I’m praying to the two precious beings growing inside me to help me.

The angel grinds his teeth as fire licks over his skin and devours every inch of him, turning him into a monstrous beast. He has turned his back on Heaven, choosing to swear his loyalty to Hell to be able to fight against the dark power escaping me. His features morph, and I stare in shock at the demon now standing before me. The ground rumbles around us, and he manages to absorb the shock of my hellfire.

Fuck my life. Fuck this bastard. Fucking fuck fuck fuck. It’s all I can think right now in this moment as he aims the blade, planning to kill me first. If I die, it’s over. He will have won.

The hellfire streaming from my palm sputters out, and I gasp as the hot energy fades and ice erupts through my veins. My whole body refuses to give in. It refuses to give up. Pure light explodes from me next, and the angel’s eyes widen in shock. He underestimated me. He believed I was too close to Hell to realize that I also have the light of Heaven within me through my angelic spawn. The twins complement each other and work together, and they’re the perfect balance to protect me. He wasn’t wrong about them saving the universe. They will help. Their existence alone is enough to help me, which will help everyone. I’ve never felt so proud in this moment. It feels so real now, and I can’t believe I’ve wasted so many months already just accepting defeat. The twins prove to me that it’s not over. We can still win.

“Raven!” the angel yells, his body igniting with the fires of Hell as the world trembles around us.

I don’t stop. I savor the sound of his screams and watch as the foundation cracks beneath his feet and a Hell portal opens up. He tries to flap his wings to come at me, but they disintegrate into bones on his back. The ground explodes between us, and he jumps and misses, falling into the gaping crevice leading to Hell.

My body kicks into action, and I close the couple feet of space and stomp my feet on his fingers until he releases the edge and falls into the pits, his voice vanishing as the portal closes and leaves me alone on the sidewalk.

I heave a couple deep breaths and drop to the ground, exhaustion getting the best of me. My whole body aches, and I can’t stop the tears from pooling in my eyes. I can’t believe all of this just happened. I sent another angel to Hell, but I also know what the angelic army plans. We can use this.

I just have to find my way home.

Pushing to my feet, I rest my back against the wall of an old, abandoned building. I rub my hands over my stomach, feeling as the twins settle down and stop trying to flip out of my pregnant belly. I shudder at the memory of the angel and his sword and how he wanted to cut me open and steal my babies. It pisses me off and makes me hungry for revenge. I swear if I see another angel, I’m going to fuck them up.

“Fuck, Raven. How did you end up here?” Cassius skids to a halt in front of me, and a gust of wind from his wings blows my hair from my face.

Is this fate that he happens to land right in front of me?

Swinging my hand, I smack him upside the head, still wanting to fuck up an angel. He probably regrets that it was him who showed, and he doesn’t even know why I’m reacting this way. I’m just so angry. I have no other way to express myself. It’s as if my emotions keep flipping on and off, but I know it’s just a reaction. It’s the babies.

“This is your damn fault! You never should’ve tried to cleanse my being or whatever the fuck you were doing. I just sent a damn angel to Hell. He was trying to kidnap me, and when I didn’t agree, he was going to try to give me an angelic C-section before murdering me!” I can’t stop my voice from rising in pitch, everything that just happened crashing back on me. I swing my arm and smack him again. He doesn’t even step back out of my way.

“I’m sorry. I’m so sorry.” He stands firm in his place, not even trying to block me from hitting him.

So I swing out again and punch him in the nose. I just want to beat him up. I want him to know exactly the pain I went through because of his actions. I never needed to be cleansed with his light. I just needed to stay in Hell with my devils. I don’t care if the souls are out of control. I know that they would’ve gotten them under control.

Except if he hadn’t have taken me away, I would’ve never seen my soul. I would’ve never found out what the angelic army plans.

Damn it. There’s no way I’m going to tell him. I’ll leave it up to the other devils. I will not give him that kind of satisfaction. It’ll only make him do this kind of bullshit more often.

“Just take me the fuck home!” I yell, grabbing onto his shoulders. I attempt to climb him, but my belly gets in the way, and I dig my nails into skin. “Pick me up and take me the fuck home!”

My words finally knock some sense into him, and he lifts me up by my waist and adjusts me in his arms. We don’t stay on the sidewalk a moment longer as he bends his knees and launches us into the air, the wind whipping around me, freezing the still damp trails from my tears on my cheeks.

Cassius flies us in silence as if he doesn’t know what to say. And I know if I speak, it’ll be a long string of swear words. It’ll probably be followed by another punch. Maybe I’ll bite him. Maybe I’ll blast him with hellfire. I don’t know. All I know is that I’m so over today. I just never want to leave the damn couch again. It’s not worth it.

Except I know that’s not possible.

I know I can’t continue living as if it’s over.

I need to fight. I need to do it for my babies. I need to do it for humanity and for Purgatory. I need to do it for my future and the future of my devils.

If the angels want a war, they’re going to get a fucking war. They’re going to get a fucking apocalypse. I’ll do whatever it takes to see them fall to their knees. I’ll be the reason the universe resets, but not to destroy humanity. I’m going to destroy the angelic army and put things back in order how it should be. I’ll gather the strength for my devils to see this through. It’s the only way.

I’m so lost in my thoughts that I don’t realize Cassius lands and opens the door to our house. It’s the fifth one we’ve lived in since my devils abandoned Hell, and I can’t help looking at it as if it’s just another roof over our heads. It’s not really a home.

“Dante!” I yell, wiggling in Cassius’s arms until he sets me on my feet. “Kase! Micah! Zade! Andre! Lucian! Someone better fucking be here! Elias! Please, I don’t want to be with this asshole for another second. I need you to kick his ass and get him out of here.” I glower at Cassius over my shoulder, and he remains firm in place with a frown scrunching his features.

And the fucking pouty angel. Why does he always get to me?

I purse my lips and try not to give in to his sullen face, but it’s as if the light of my angelic spawn inside me reminds me he couldn’t have known what would happen. He couldn’t have predicted I would end up near my soul and in the path of a deadly angel.

“Angel-girl, what did the fuckhead do now?” Kase strolls from the hallway with his arms crossed over his chest. “We weren’t expecting you back for another hour.”

I blink in confusion.

Spinning on my feet, I glower at Cassius. “You didn’t fucking tell them what happened?”

Cassius straightens his back. “There was no need. I was following you.”

What the actual fuck? He didn’t even let anyone know that he lost me? And claiming that he was following me? Total bullshit.

My body tenses, my anger igniting the depths of Hell inside me. “Then why the fuck didn’t you intervene when that fucking asshole tried to—”

Lunging forward, Cassius silences me with his hand, stopping me from shouting out that an angel wanted to kidnap the twins right from me.

I fist my fingers and punch him in the cock, trying to bite his hand at the same time. He grunts, but he doesn’t pull away.

Kase growls and whips Cassius with his tail, twining it around his neck and squeezing until he lets me go. Shoving him away for me, Kase unleashes his devil façade and roars with his anger.

“Don’t you fucking put your hand on Raven like that again. I will cut it off next time.” Red Hell power ignites across Kase’s skin, and he slams his massive paw into Cassius‘s chest, sending him sprawling across the floor.

Spinning, he faces me, using his tail to pull me closer to him. I rest my hands on his big head, staring into his red-glowing eyes. He doesn’t release his devil form as quickly as usual, and I can tell that he wants to stay in it as a precaution against Cassius. Even though the angel has been with us for a while, Kase doesn’t trust him. Neither do I. I don’t think any of us truly do. We can’t trust him until he makes the right decision.

“Tell me that you don’t want me to disembowel him,” Kase says, the words guttural and deep coming from his monstrous fanged mouth.

I crinkle my nose. “But what if I do?”

“Fucking fine. I’ll tell him. But keep the bastard away from me. He can’t see as clearly as I can, especially when it comes to you and your spawns.” Cassius rolls his shoulders, ruffling his feathers. “I messed up, and I’ll accept the proper punishment for my mistake. Disemboweling me is quite extreme though, considering that Raven is safe.”

Kase heaves a fiery breath, finally managing to suppress his devil nature. “Disemboweling you is always the proper punishment, you fuckhead. And what do you mean Raven is safe? She should’ve been safe the whole time. Now what aren’t you telling me?” Pulling me closer, Kase gathers me in his arms and hugs me as if I’m the only thing keeping him from following through with his threat. I shift around and wrap my arms across his back, snuggling my face into his muscular chest. It feels so good being in his arms again. I can tell the babies love being near him because they make sure he knows that they’re aware of his presence as they kick and wiggle, pressing against my belly.

His stern expression breaks, and a smile crosses his face. He automatically reaches down and rubs his warm hand across my belly, taking a moment to feel each of the babies. I know he can see them in a way I can’t, spotting their essences, so he knows exactly where to touch.

“Get on with it,” he says, jerking his attention back to Cassius, who remains silent as he watches Kase shower me with affection.

“Raven got upset with me when I was trying to purge the darkness from her, and she walked between planes and somehow managed to find herself close to Heaven. I couldn’t get through to her until an angel banished her to the Mortal World, and there might have been a fight. But you know how powerful she is. She took care of it before I even had a chance to intervene.” Cassius shakes out his hands, bouncing on his feet as he prepares to run. I wouldn’t put it past him. He’s a fucking coward after all, hiding behind his light and morals and his inability to see the true greater picture. He still thinks there’s a chance for him to return to Heaven as normal. He needs to accept that his place is with us, and when he does, things will be so much better. I just know it. I can feel it. It’s one of the few things I’m certain of.

Kase doesn’t respond, and he continues to smile at my belly, moving his hands and tapping the spots that protrude from my skin. I don’t think I’ll ever get used to seeing my stomach look as if a demon is about to explode free, though I know it won’t. There’s nothing demonic about my devil spawn. It’s a baby. It’s half-mortal and the ultrasound proved it. I don’t have to worry about some horn poking through.

Small miracles. I won’t lie. I was a bit concerned about having to give birth to something that had horns. I don’t care if I occasionally ride on Kase’s. It’s completely different.

“I’m truly sorry. It was quite a shock.” Cassius shuffles closer, risking his bowels by trying to show he’s being earnest. “Please, forgive me.”

Again, Kase doesn’t respond. He ignores Cassius completely, dropping to his knees to kneel in front of me. He lifts up my dress, exposing my belly to him, and he brushes his lips over my skin a dozen times. I play with his hair, my anger and anxiety settling and shifting as joy explodes through me. It feels incredible. It feels as if I’m still close to my soul but without the pain and heartache I felt when I saw myself outside my body.

Cassius stops behind Kase, towering over him. “Will you—”

Kase growls, swings his arm, and punches Cassius in the balls hard enough to send him off his feet and crashing to the floor. “Just shut the fuck up and let me take care of Raven. If what you said is true, then she needs me right now. Your apology bullshit can wait. I just need a moment to make sure she’s safe and to make sure that the babies are safe too. The only way you can ever make up for that bullshit is to retrace your steps and find Raven’s soul.”

Cassius releases a breath. “I tried. They’re really concealing the location of it with all the power of Heaven. That’s what took me so long to get to Raven when she returned to the Mortal Realm. I was trying to get to her soul.”

I turn my gaze to him, finally meeting his amethyst eyes. “You were?” I don’t know why it surprises me.

He bobs his head, his frown softening his usually hard features. “Of course, I was. I want you to have your soul as much as the devils. I know you don’t believe me, and I know we don’t see things eye to eye, but the last thing I want is for you to experience an eternity of grief. Because that’s what your soul is going through right now. It’s as if you’re bound to Hell. Heaven is your Hell.”

Blinking his eyes, Cassius clears his glassy vision. I can’t stop myself from reaching out my hand to him. Now that I know what he was doing, I don’t feel so angry. I just feel sad. I feel as if no matter what we do, it might never be enough.

“I still don’t give a shit. You lost Raven, and she almost got hurt.” Kase summons Hell power in his hand. It’s not as bright or volatile as if he were connected to Hell but still strong enough to make Cassius inch back. “I’m going to fucking burn my mark on you for it.”

I cup his face, getting him to turn his attention away from Cassius. “That’s not necessary. We have something else we need to talk about. I know what the angelic army’s plan is.”

Kase cocks head. “You do?”

I swallow, the thought chilling me to my core as I think about the bastard angel’s words again. “It’s worse than what we thought. Call the others. They need to know this too. The angels aren’t just starting a war. They’re starting the end of humanity’s existence as it is altogether.”

“Fuck. I must go. I need guidance.” Cassius expels a wave of light, not giving me or Kase a chance to demand him to stay otherwise.

We stare in silence at his sudden absence.

I don’t know where he went, but I know he’s going to confirm what I fear.

This battle is going to be brutal.

I’m not sure either side can win.