First things first, I want to thank Amber for having me on her blog and wish her a very happy birthday. Have a great one sweetie.
Frank & Cael
I had been tracking down a missing coeus, which was like a mystical listening device—this one literally a pair of bespelled Sennheiser headphones—that could be used to overhear demonic chatter, when Charming, my best friend, James Castile, called to tell me that I needed to get home.
I was lost. “To your home?”
“No idiot,” he said snidely. “You need to get to yours.”
“Well I ran by there to get the Beretta before I went to the ossuary—because you remember what happened the last time—and Cael’s fighting with someone.”
“What part did you miss?”
All of it apparently. He’d said too many things. First the ossuary was not a place he should have gone on his own. He had trouble in any kind of graveyard because with being a werewolf and all, the smells were overwhelming. But beyond that, he needed to get his PI license in order so he could legally carry and not keep borrowing one of my guns. Second, about my husband the incubus demon being in a fight…that really made no sense.
“A fist fight?” I was lost.
“No, like a really loud fuckin’ argument.”
“Oh okay,” I replied, because that made more sense as I sat up and spit out blood on the sidewalk beside me.
“Where are you?”
“I found the coeus,” I explained.
“Oh good, I’ll call Dunham and tell him he can expect delivery tomorrow. I’ll drive over in the morning and pick it up.”
It was five grand for a nothing piece of work on my part simply because I could walk through wards in the home of the high witch of the Makhai. Her name was Vesta and she had stolen the coeus and was using her coven to protect her. Her sisters, the other witches, didn’t know they were being duped but by the time I left, they certainly had.
Nothing they’d thrown at me had worked, not the spells, hexes, curses, so they had resorted to good old fashioned muscle. Witches had henchmen too. So I was bleeding again, and it sounded like my husband, the love of my life, the incubus demon who called me his…was having his own problems. I couldn’t call it an issue because no one in their right mind would actually argue with him so what in the world was going on?
“So you’re okay?” Charming prodded.
“I’m mostly fine.”
I made a noise.
“Are you bleeding?”
“Only a little.”
“Can you make it home all right?”
“Yeah I promise.”
“Okay. As long as you’re sure,” he said, checking, concerned, but also, clearly he had something, or someone, to do.
“I’m sure. I’ll see you in the morning.”
“Excellent,” he let slip before he hung up.
I groaned as I dragged myself to my feet and thought, for the millionth time, that I really needed to stop getting beat up. It was hell on my wardrobe.
As soon as I walked into the house, I could hear the yelling.
“This makes no sense!” Cael roared which was not at all like him. The incubus demon I loved did not fluster easily so the whole losing his cool thing was new.
“It does though if you think about it.”
“You can’t be serious.”
“When have you ever known an angel not to be?”
It was ridiculous after all the incredible things I’d seen in my life but getting to see a living, breathing angel was not something I wanted to miss.
Moving stiffly, I dropped my keys in the dish by the door and then limped slowly down the short hall and took a turn into the kitchen that opened out into the living room.
Cael was there, his broad, muscular back facing me, his long, thick white blond hair spilling down over those massive shoulders, and in front of him, facing me, was a man who had to be the angel in question.
I was disappointed but it was hardly the first time. Nothing had been, in my experience, as frightening or awe inspiring or beautiful as it was purported to be. Why should angels be any different? The only thing I’d ever found that lived up to the hype was Cael himself. He was the embodiment of everything an incubus demon should be: sleek, sexy, thrumming with raw sexual power, radiant with charisma and just plain old traffic stopping gorgeous. And wicked. He was most definitely that.
But the angel… he was not anything like I’d imagined. There were no wings, he wasn’t bathed in a heavenly glow of light, and he wasn’t dressed all in white. He looked more like a lawyer with a three piece Italian wool suit, the pocket square, the polished wingtips and the three hundred dollar haircut.
“Oh,” he said, and the look I got, full of concern, was kind.
Cael spun around and instantly, all the color drained from his face.
“It’s worse than it looks,” I assured him, putting the coeus—the headphones—down on the counter.
He was in front of me in seconds, mindless of his speed, blink of an eye fast, one second on the other side of the room, the next cupping my face, wincing at my torn lip, the bruises on my cheek, and more than anything, the blood on my shoulder.
“How?” He whispered, smoothing his thumbs over my cheeks.
“I had to run,” I explained. “One guy threw a knife at me, and when I came down the fire escape, the drop was further than I thought.
“Is your ankle broken?”
I shook my head. “I can walk on it so I’m gonna say it’s probably just twisted real bad.”
His eyes were full of pain.
“Baby its okay,” I soothed him. “You can heal me.”
He nodded, leaning me into him.
I sighed deeply, giving him my weight, so happy to be home, breathing him in, safe and warm with the demon I loved more than anything in the world.
“That’s why,” the angel said, moving up beside Cael.
He turned to look at him but didn’t take his hands off me.
“Hi,” the angel said, smiling at me, offering me his hand. “I’m Eae,”
“Are you really an angel?”
“I am,” he sighed. “And your mate––”
“No,” Cael ordered him, letting go of me but not moving away.
“––is no longer an incubus demon but has now, regained his divinity, and is now returned to being an angel.”
“Ta-Dah!” He said cheerfully.
“Stop saying that.” Cael demanded.
“Really?” I was shocked and excited at the same time. Mostly excited.
“You’re a member of the heavenly host now Cael,” Eae told him. “Suck it up.”
Eae turned to me, touched my cheek and then stepped back, intent on Cael once more, utterly beaming at him. “You started with the sacrament of marriage and just kept upping the ante with every declaration of love, how protective you are, how kind, how selfless…and he, this human, Frank Corrigan, loves you back in equal measure. I can feel it throbbing within him. How could you think we wouldn’t take notice?”
“No, no, no.”
“Please,” he said sarcastically like my mate was being ridiculous.
Cael looked like he was going to be sick. “Wait.”
Eae shook his head. “Can’t. It’s done already.”
“Oh come on,” Cael shook his head, wide-eyed now, terrified. “That’s not even possible and you––”
“Raphael made the change himself.”
“Oh come on. It’ll be fun.”
“He can undo it.”
“He would never,” he scoffed. “And you should be happy.”
“How the hell do you figure that?”
“It’s a gift.”
“It’s a curse,” he argued, looking frantic. “Are you kidding?”
“No. We don’t kid, that’s a demon thing. You’ll see.”
“I don’t––I won’t submit to––”
“It’s done,” he sighed and then put his hands together like he was about to pray. “Call me if you need me.”
“I’ll just be evil and he’ll change his mind.” He rushed out.
Heavy sigh from Eae. “The archangel Raphael is not in the habit of changing his mind or, I might add, making mistakes,” he explained with infinite patience. “And anyway, good luck trying to do any evil.”
“Oh no, what does that mean?”
Eae winked at him. Cael started across the floor toward the angel but stopped suddenly, and then spun around and looked at me. “This is so bad.”
Moving quickly, I took hold of his hand and looked into his face. “What’s wrong?”
His gaze locked on mine. “You’re my undoing.”
I dropped his hand and stepped back. “What?”
Cael lunged at me, hands on my face, tipping my head back to look into my eyes. “You’re mine do you understand? That doesn’t change.”
His gorgeous midnight blue eyes were all I saw. “Why would anything change?” I asked, but couldn’t help smiling at the concern of his voice and the intensity of his gaze.
“I thought that which was between two men was considered unclean,” Cael said, glancing over his shoulder at Eae.
“Ah,” he said, grinning. “That’s why you thought you could retain your demonic nature. If it was sacrilege, you’d be covered.”
“I will seriously––”
“Yeah no,” Eae volleyed back, chuckling. “All love is divine. The moment a demon becomes capable of it then they are no longer considered––”
“Only a being with a soul can love,” Eae cut him off. “I would say you should know that but how could you. Don’t worry; you’ll learn. Your human will guide you.”
Cael shook his head even as he made his way toward the angel.
“Unless you’re not choosing him.” Eae squinted. “Is that what you’re doing?”
“How did he know?” Cael changed the subject.
“Raphael. How did he know I was in love?”
“All the fallen and progeny of the fallen are his dominion.”
“And a moment ago he said to me, Eae go to Berith of the pit and deliver him.”
“No,” Cael clipped the word.
“Yes,” he said, looking at Cael fondly even as my mate rushed him. “Rage against heaven all you like, it changes nothing.”
He growled and fisted his hand in the stranger’s shirt, yanking him close so they were nose to nose. “I will not be stripped of my power when that is what my mate craves and what will allow me to protect him. I refuse.”
“There are all kinds of power,” he told Cael, “you know that. Nothing has changed but that which is asked of you.”
Cael’s eyes widened as he released the smaller man. “So you’re going to do what, retain my power for divine use?”
“You know that’s not for me to decide. And besides, whose fault is this? You knew from the second you looked upon your mate that this choice was eminent. You had the strength to walk away, to not become ensnared. Why didn’t you?”
The muscles in his neck corded. “It was lust.”
Eae laughed softly. “It was never simply that, never only that. Who are you kidding?”
“I hate angels.”
“Why?” He asked like that was nuts, throwing up his hands. “We’re awesome.”
“And arrogant and––”
“You’ll love it,” he said snidely. “And look, did you even notice that I healed your mate?”
When Cael turned to check on me, Eae gave me a quick wave and disappeared.
“Goddammit,” he groaned.
“Better not say that anymore huh?” I teased him.
He looked me over and I realized that nothing hurt beyond the normal aches and pains of my almost forty year old body.
“He even got rid of the blood on my clothes. That’s pretty impressive right? Angelic dry cleaning should be a thing.”
Cael turned away from me, arms crossed, anger rolling off of him.
I walked around to face him, taking hold his biceps. “Love.”
“This is all your fault,” he rasped, not meeting my gaze. “You have no one to blame but yourself.”
Why did he sound so scared? “So because you love me, you’re now an angel?”
“Yes,” he said gruffly, looking at something to his left. “A demon receives a soul the moment a human falls in love with him or her. I’ve been living on borrowed time.”
“Yes. I’m lucky they didn’t make me human.”
His gaze finally met mine and I saw again the hurt and fear and now, uncertainty.
“Would that be so bad?”
“You––” his voice bottomed out, “––love me because I’m powerful and frightening.”
“No.” I was adamant.
“Idiot,” I said softly, coaxing. “I love you because you’re you.”
“You’re sarcastic and funny and smart and kind and scary possessive, which makes me all swoony, and so arrogant and really loud in bed and––”
“I’m loud in bed?”
I laughed because he was adorable. “Just…quit with this. I will not stop loving you because you’re an angel instead of a demon. That’s ridiculous.”
A slow smile curled his beautiful full mouth, those lips of his made for being kissed and bitten and kissed some more.
“You’re not gonna leave me now that you’re an angel right?”
“Never,” he snapped at me. “I will never leave you.”
“So the difference is what?”
He was quiet.
“Well?” I prodded him when I thought he’d been in his head long enough.
“Instead of taking a demon to your bed, you will now take an angel.”
“How is this a bad thing?”
He shook his head. “I’m different now and you––”
He was searching my face.
“Listen, from now on, today is your actual birthday.” I told him. “It used to be Thanksgiving because you were what I was most thankful for but now…honey…you’re reborn as something completely new.”
“I don’t wanna be something new.”
“New is good.”
“Yes,” I insisted. “I promise. It’s gonna be great.”
He didn’t look convinced.
“Honey don’t look so miserable, I’m sure you can still dole out lots of punishment.”
“Are you sure?”
I leaned in and kissed him, taking my time, stealing his breath, tasting him, missing nothing, and loving the decadent moan that I pulled up deep from his chest.
“Frank,” he gasped when I finally let him up for air. He was panting and shivering and I found myself enjoying his response immensely. I had just as much power over him as he had over me it turned out.
“You can punish me any time you like baby.”
The shudder told me that angel or demon, nothing would ever change between us.