Her Twisted Sinners by Ginna Moran
I CAN’T TAKE my eyes off Raven. I haven’t been gone for long, but it’s as if she’s completely changed. Her figure is fuller in the best way, and I’m dying to wrap her in my arms and kiss her belly. I yearn for just a moment alone with her. But I know I won’t get one. Not yet. I have to earn it, and I won’t stop trying to figure this bullshit out until her soul is safely back in her body. Heaven’s warriors are out of their damn minds thinking they can get away with this.
“You better give us something to prepare for, Jizz Master,” Dante says, unfurling his wings and opening his arms for Kase and Raven.
I shouldn’t be jealous that they carry her, but I can’t help myself. She always flies with them. I don’t think it’s intentional—more out of habit for her. They just know exactly how to handle the shitshow of the world and keep her safe. Even though I envy their closeness, I appreciate it as well. Raven deserves it. She deserves having the happiness she finds with each one of us. I just feel as if I need to do more. I blame myself for the state she’s in. I was only trying to help her and look at what happened.
“The angelic army is fucking with the veil. They’re trying to connect the planes and release those who have sacrificed themselves.” I couldn’t believe it when I felt the tremor of power. Mikail wants to get his companion back despite the consequences. I didn’t know it was possible, but they are trying anyways. We have to stop it. I need everyone to help. I can’t do it alone.
“These fuckheads are going to be obliterated. I’m so damn tired of them messing with shit. Raven needs to rest. She needs to enjoy this damn pregnancy.” Lucian grumbles as Andre locks his hand around his side. He lifts both Zade and Lucian off their feet.
Micah scrubs his fingers into the back of his neck, making his way closer to me. He’s the only one who doesn’t constantly glower at me. He doesn’t blame me like I blame myself over the situation. He knew that I was doing what I thought was right. He even reminded me he had been in the same place, trying to figure out what to do.
I grab him, hugging him against me. It should be more awkward than this, having him hug me back, but all I feel is the familiarity of our bond from being companions long ago. He was there for me and forgave me for all the bullshit I put him through. If Micah wasn’t here, I don’t know how I would handle all of this. He is a true friend, and I wish I could just turn my back on my grace and join him. It’s not that I don’t want to be a ruler of Hell. It’s just that I can’t figure out how to be. I’ve tried nearly every day since the moment Raven lost her soul to jump from Heaven. Every time I try though, it’s like a cord yanks me back up, and I bungee between the two places. I hate it. I hate these wings and this light coursing through my veins. I despise myself more than I ever have in my existence. The angelic army can use us against each other. I just want the Higher Power to give me answers. The silence that surrounds my thoughts and prayers leaves me anxious. What the angelic army is doing is against everything in my entire being.
“Where is Cassius? Shouldn’t he be with you?” Micah murmurs, keeping his voice low as I launch into the air, leading the way. The angelic army picked a demonic hotspot a couple miles away from here, tapping into what was once an active Hell portal before the devils cut themselves off.
“I haven’t seen him. I thought he was with you guys.” Fucking shit. I don’t trust Cassius and his righteous ways. He tried to convince me to stop attempting to jump into Hell. He thinks that I’m not supposed to claim a kingdom and that Raven needs me to hold onto grace for the sake of the twins, which is wrong. Raven needs me by her side and stronger than ever. I feel weak as a celestial being. Especially seeing how strong the devils are even if they aren’t tethered to Hell.
Micah doesn’t get a chance to respond, because I nosedive toward the dark energy radiating from a crack in the plane. I can hear the damned souls screaming for help. A dark cloud hovers over a building. It’s grown much larger even in just the last hour, and I can’t stop myself from gathering light in my palms. They shouldn’t be here. That cloud isn’t only made of darkness. It’s made from the negative energy of souls cast into Hell. Souls unable to find redemption because there’s no place in between for them. Purgatory doesn’t exist yet.
“Are those what I think they are?” Raven asks, her voice echoing over the whistling wind blowing through my hair.
“Fucking shit. We’ve got to split up. There’s a couple featherheads on the ground, and they’re already preparing to blast us with light.” Lucian growls and transforms into his devil façade as Andre glides next to me. Lucian has far better vision for soul spotting than I do, and it takes me a moment to realize what he’s talking about.
He’s right. There are at least a dozen angels summoning heavenly power in their hands, protecting their crack as a fiery figure stands beside it, pulling the souls from where they were intended to spend eternity in Hell’s kingdoms.
“We will circle in close. Don’t let any of them go. Lucian, you need to focus on sending the souls back to Hell. Kase and I will take care of Meri. The rest of you separate and send those blasted angels to the pits. Secure them there. We can’t have this bullshit right now.” Dante hisses with his words, expanding his wings to slow down.
I flare my nostrils. “Raven should stay out of—”
Micah covers my mouth with his hand, cutting off my argument. “She needs to do this. Don’t worry. She can handle such things. You must allow her to channel her power. It’s the only way she will learn to have complete control. She needs to be able to fight beside us instead of having us stand in front of her. I know it’s hard because we all want to protect her, but the best way to do so is to let her find her strength.”
“I’m all here for it but not until after she delivers...” I let my words trail off. I can’t think about it. I struggle with keeping hope when the world around us seems dark even though it’s just because the light of Heaven tries to devour everything. When Raven delivers the babies, things can change. I don’t even want to think about the consequences of her giving birth to the twins without a soul.
Micah groans and shakes his head. “The twins make her more powerful. They give her a reason to fight harder. Let her.”
I sigh and nod my head despite my innate need to do everything I can to see to it that Raven never has to throw a punch or stab with a blade, gather hellfire, or blast some monster away with heavenly light. I just want her to be able to enjoy sitting in her favorite spot with her legs curled to the side watching her favorite shows.
But the only way that will ever happen is if I get shit under control. I’m a fucking savior, for Christ’s sake. I should be able to get the angelic army in line. I should be able to beat them down and get them to see how off-path they are acting. I should know. I turned my back and fell from Heaven before. I don’t even truly know why the Higher Power returned my wings to me, but I know it has something to do with this. It has something to do with Raven and our children. And not just my angelic child. I will accept the devil spawn as mine too. These precious gifts will unite all of us as a unit. I’ve already accepted it. The others have too. It doesn’t matter whose blood runs through their veins. It just matters that we love and care for them. We will do whatever the fuck it takes to ensure they have an amazing future. An incredible eternity. We will not let the angelic army destroy their chance.
“Drop me low, and I will clear a path for you,” Micah says, twisting in my arms so that his back presses against my chest. He shifts into his devil form, and the sudden change of his weight causes us to freefall faster. He doesn’t yell or complain as I let my wings glide us toward the earth.
“I got your back, man. Just fuck them up for our girl.” I grind my teeth and flatten out my wings, slowing down our descent enough that Micah can jump from my arms and land on his giant hooves without stumbling.
I launch back into the air and spin, shooting blinding light at the angels focused on the crack, the force enough to turn their attention toward me.
They don’t see the devils arriving around them, and Andre drops Lucian and Zade next. I protect their backs, blasting a wave of heavenly light at a fallen angel who now carries the fire of Hell over his being. He hisses and growls, whipping his attention toward the sky and at me. Andre lands in front of him and whips his giant tail over his shoulder and stakes the bastard, throwing him a dozen feet into the air.
I allow Andre to cover Zade, Micah, and Lucian and I fly toward where Dante and Kase land with Raven. I haven’t seen her look so magical in a while, and the air around her radiates with fire and light and everything beautiful she summons. Her hair blows in the breeze of the angel wings, but Kase and Dante let no one near her. They let her channel her energy into her palms, and I can’t stop being distracted by her presence. It takes her whipping her attention up to me and pointing for me to realize someone heads toward me.
“Mikail!” she screams, thrusting her hands out and shooting a wave of hellfire in my direction. I freefall to the ground and land in a crouch as Mikail yells as Raven’s Hell power collides into him.
I jerk my head up and stare at the bastard, fury rolling through my very being. He’s a dead angel. I will destroy his very being, and he’ll never exist again.
Bending my knees, I launch back into the air and unsheathe my heavenly sword. He averts his gaze from Raven and the other devils and glowers at me.
“You are an abomination. You traitor! You know what must be done!” Mikail gathers heavenly light and tries to blast it in my direction.
I duck and fly under him, jerking my sword up and slicing it across the back of his calf. “You’re right. I do. It is my path to cut your fucking head off in the name of the Higher Power, the universe, Hell, and my soulmate!”
Mikail releases a loud whistle, and flashes of bright light come from every direction, smacking into my body. It’s as if he called all of the angels away from the crack of Hell to bring them toward me. It’s now that I realize what the fuck he’s truly trying to do. He’s given up on tapping into Hell for a moment to try to end me. I still have a connection to Heaven, and I can use that. He wants to stop me from being able to tap into heavenly power. Even if it means...
“Protect our girl! I have to go!” I yell, dodging out of the way of another blast of heavenly light.
It hurts my very soul to abandon Raven and the devils like this, but if I can get them to chase me for even a couple minutes, the devils can get things under control and stop the souls from seeping out. It’s a risk, but I don’t have a choice. I don’t know what else to do.
Gathering heavenly light in my palms, I blast it at the air and break through the Mortal Realm to access Heaven. The world shakes around me, and I fly as fast as I can, flapping my wings until they blur and I can dive into the portal.
Something strange happens, and one second, I feel the peace of being in Heaven and hear the battle cries of the angelic army around me as they circle me, and in the next, shadows swallow me whole, and Raven’s voice envelops me a second before she jumps into my arms, forcing me to catch her.
“You better kiss me before I smack you upside the head for that move. Micah told me what you were thinking and trying to do. You know the risk you face going to Heaven. They could imprison you again.” Raven groans, resting her forehead to mine.
I obey her command and kiss her, adjusting her to straddle me even with her bulging belly between us. Molding my lips to hers, I don’t let her pull away and savor her closeness and the taste of her mouth. I savor her body touching mine and what it feels like having two incredible beings moving and shifting between us, reacting to our presences coming together. Raven might not have her soul, but she can still touch mine in a way that leaves my body buzzing. It leaves her breathless.
Something washes over me, and I snap my eyes open and see a strange halo of light surrounding Raven. It’s not the heavenly light of our baby together, but it carries the same energy as if her soul returned to her body. But it’s different. It’s not hers. I don’t know what it is, but it mimics a mortal soul enough that it leaves me confused.
“Darlin’, what the fuck have you been up to the last day? Something light has gotten into you, and I know it wasn’t me or Cassius.” I tilt my head, searching her stunning blue eyes, wanting to drown myself in the depths of her irises.
She lifts and drops her shoulders. “I don’t know how to explain it, and it sounds really fucked up to put it into words. But I kind of obliterated a soul in Hell and somehow absorbed it.”
I blink in confusion. “That soul is pure. How could it be from Hell?”
She sighs. “Do I look like I know? You are the angel. Why don’t you give me some answers? It was as if I turned a piece of shit into a diamond. I don’t know. I don’t care. All I know is that the energy is now mine and it’s grounded to this plane.”
“I don’t even know what to say except...you are fucking incredible. Please tell me that you managed to obliterate someone who should’ve never existed.” Without even having to ask her, I know exactly who’s soul it was. She must have had a confrontation with her ex-fiancé, and I wish I were there to see it. She is right about turning a piece of shit into a diamond. Mortals think that turning water into wine is cool, and sure, it is, but it’s nothing compared to turning a blasted, foul, irredeemable soul into pure good energy.
She slowly nods her head. “Yeah. I want to do it again and again. I feel like myself when I do. I feel close to my soul even. I saw it, you know. It was by accident, but I know if we look hard enough, we can find it. I saw it through this realm. I just don’t know how to truly work it. Everything seems to be instinctual and not on command. It drives me crazy.”
I open my mouth to respond, but a flash of light cuts into the shadowy haze of this sanctuary for Raven, and I see Cassius materialize before us. He would be able to find both Raven and I because he’s been here before. He’s aware of our presence and is a master at manipulating different planes.
“Which is why I have returned. I have prayed on it and listened to everything around me. And no matter what I think, my thoughts continue to shift back to you and those precious twins. Every time I close my eyes, I keep seeing you guys on this plane. I believe it is my duty to train you how to manipulate the realms. It shouldn’t be possible for a mortal, but you are far from being one anymore.” Cassius steps closer, his ethereal light radiating from him brighter against the shadows. “Will you let me?”
Raven looks from me to Cassius. “I’ll do whatever it takes.”
I raise my hand and motion to Raven to hold on before she agrees with Cassius. “We need to discuss this with the devils first. I know what you would have to do to train her, and I’m not sure they will agree.”
Raven furrows her brows. “I don’t understand. Why can’t you ever just fucking tell me everything, Cass-hole? If Elias is hesitant, I know I’m not going to like it.”
Cassius flexes his fingers, the muscles on his arms rippling with the movement. “I have to take you somewhere holy. Somewhere the devils can’t follow.”
Raven groans and shakes her head. “I’m fucking weeks away from popping out these babies. I’m not going to spend them away from my devils and with you. There has to be another way.”
“There’s not.” Cassius rubs his fingers through his dark hair. “If there was, you know I would go with that. But right now? Getting your soul is the most important thing. You’re the one who will be capable of doing it. Please, Raven. Be reasonable.”
She whips her head back and forth, sending her hair sweeping around her face. “No, I—”
I touch your shoulder. “Why don’t we have a meeting? We can discuss everything first. I think Cassius might be right. If he can train you to properly manipulate the planes, Heaven won’t stand a chance. They can’t keep your soul forever.”
Raven sighs and looks Cassius over. “Fine, I’ll keep an open mind only if the others agree. We’re a team. We’re a family. I don’t want to waste time unless I have a guarantee that I can fix this.”
Cassius tightens his jaw, his light dimming with her words. Her sudden grief stabs into me, stealing my breath. I hurt on a soul-deep level. I wish there was more that I could do. Raven doesn’t deserve to talk about how everything might end with her bringing a new life into this world.
“I know we haven’t always gotten along, and I know that I have fucked up. I also know I don’t deserve to be in your presence. I get that, Raven, more than you know. But I want to earn it. I want to help you and humanity. Things are clearer now. Please, trust me. Trust that I will help you. I won’t let you down. If I let you down, that means I let the Higher Power down, and I would rather jump into Hell than do that.” Cassius reaches out and touches her cheek, caressing her skin in a way I crave to do. She leans into his hand like she can’t resist the weight of his skin, his closeness digging into her.
Raven sniffles and cups his hand, her emotions swelling through the world around us. “When this is over, I need you to promise me that you will stay by my side, Cassius. I need you to agree that this isn’t about Heaven or Hell anymore. This isn’t even about me. This is about the balance of the universe.”
“You’re right. It is about the balance. I’ll do anything to see this through. You have my word, Raven. I promise.” Cassius twists his hand, gathering light in his palm. He touches both me and Raven and shifts us from the plane and back to the Mortal World.
The ground shakes under my feet, and hellfire rips from the earth.
I tense as a wave of dark souls breaks free from Hell.
They burn everything in their path.