It’s time for another chapter of Her Guardian Angel (Her Angel romance series #4) as part of my Paranormal Pandemonium 2011 Blog Tour. I’ll be posting the first five chapters for FREE. You can find them all by clicking here: Her Guardian Angel chapters
Her Guardian Angel is currently available in e-book direct from my website, Amazon Kindle Stores, and Smashwords, Apple iBookstore and Kobo. It will soon be available from Barnes and Noble, Sony. It’s also available as a paperback from Amazon sites and Barnes and Noble.
Other stories in the Her Angel series are: Her Dark Angel, Her Fallen Angel and Her Warrior Angel. Details of them and where they are available in e-book and paperback can be found at my website: http://www.felicityheaton.com/ebookseries.php?series=Her%20Angel
A simple mission becomes a fight for survival in this fantastic instalment in the Her Angel series.
A guardian angel dedicated to his duty, Marcus will do whatever Heaven asks of him, but even his loyalty has its limits. When his superior orders him to gain Ameliaâ€™s trust through seduction, Marcus starts to question his mission and his feelings for the beautiful woman he has watched over since her birth.
Amelia has gone from one bad relationship to another, so when a gorgeous guy moves in next door looking like Mr Right, she hopes he doesnâ€™t turn out to be another black knight in disguise. But thereâ€™s more to Marcus than meets the eye, and when he rescues her from three demonic men, Amelia is thrust into his nightmarish worldâ€”a world where God and the Devil exist, and only one angel can save her from deathâ€”Marcus, the angel sheâ€™s falling in love with.
On the run from demonic angels and the Devil himself, aided by Marcusâ€™s angel friends and their amazing women, fighting for survival against the odds, Marcus and Amelia discover a love that will last forever.
A love so strong it will shake Heaven and Hell.
ebook price: $3.99
paperback price: $9.99
genre: paranormal angel romance
length: 110000 words
released: July 2011
Book 4 in the Her Angel series
Available in e-book from:
Author’s website: http://www.felicityheaton.com/ebooks.php?title=Her%20Guardian%20Angel
Amazon Kindle: http://www.amazon.com/dp/B005EUJIG8/
Amazon Kindle Germany: http://www.amazon.de/dp/B005EUJIG8/
Amazon Kindle UK: http://www.amazon.co.uk/dp/B005EUJIG8/
Kobo Books: http://www.kobobooks.com/ebook/Her-Guardian-Angel-Her-Angel/book-lVb0k7lC80OOiMBAOa-Ldg/page1.html
Available in paperback from:
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/her-guardian-angel-felicity-heaton/1032773836
You can now download the extended excerpt of Her Guardian Angel (the first five chapters) in PDF from my website. Just click the large “download extended excerpt” button on the book page: http://www.felicityheaton.com/ebooks.php?title=Her%20Guardian%20Angel
There was no doubt about it.
Marcus had put his foot in it.
Everything had been going well yesterday until Amelia had taken hold of his hand and he had quickly withdrawn his, and rather than making an excuse as planned, he had warned her away.
Instinct had pushed those words from his lips.
He had no desire to get any closer to her than was necessary.
Marcus raked his fingers through his overlong black hair, combing it away from his forehead, and stared into the distance across the rooftops of London.
Who was he fooling?
Not himself, that was certain.
The spark of desire her touch had reignited in him, bringing his hunger to caress her in return back to boiling point, and the warmth that travelled through his flesh, spreading outwards from the point where her fingers rested against his skin was unmistakably a sign of him harbouring an attraction towards her.
He paced the black tarred roof of his apartment building, scouring the horizon for an answer to his troubles. The problem of gaining Ameliaâ€™s trust had been all but solved until he had foolishly told her to keep away from him.
He had always been aware that his instinct to protect her ran deep in his veins but had never suspected that it had corrupted his heart too and that he would even deem it necessary to protect her from himself. Sheâ€™d had her share of pain and suffering, more than such a pure kind soul deserved, and he couldnâ€™t bring himself to add to it. When his mission was over, he was leaving Earth and Amelia behind him for good. If he used her desire against her, her heart would break when that happened. She would never understand. She would blame herself, just as she did whenever one of the vile men she involved herself with decided to leave her or did something that forced her to leave them.
He couldnâ€™t be like them.
Amelia deserved better.
Far better than him, that was for sure.
One day, she would meet the man who would become her world and who would treat her right and make her happy.
A flash of her smiling at him yesterday cut into his thoughts and deep into his chest.
He had made her smile.
Truly smile with happiness and warmth.
And then she had looked wounded, leaving him at the cafÃ© alone to ponder what had possessed him to say such things to her and why he had decided to once again intervene in her destructive relationship with her ex-lover.
In part it was a lie to say he did these things out of his sense of duty, but it was also his shield and he would not cast it aside.
The dying rays of the sun warmed his skin, the lingering heat of the day cocooning him in a soft breeze that stirred his soul as he watched the sun set over London. It was growing late. Time had passed quickly while he had been lost in his thoughts, hidden away from the hustle and bustle of the mortal realm far below him, and he still hadnâ€™t found the answers to the questions that plagued him. Questions about his mission had been joined by ones about Amelia and her feelings for him.
Why would a beautiful mortal female look upon him with such desire?
Marcus looked down at his hands and turned them palm up. These hands had killed many in the line of duty, harvesting souls of sinners and detaining them for judgement. In times past, when wars had been frequent, he had reaped battlefields and cities alike in the name of Heaven, following orders to the letter to assist the angels of death in their mission, never once feeling remorse over his actions.
He had told her to keep away from him.
She deserved better than a man who had killed so many of her kind without flinching.
A role he would gladly resume once his current mission had come to an end.
He was no better than those men who had hurt her.
If anything, he was worse.
For all their noise and disgraceful behaviour, none of them had ever taken the life of another mortal. Amelia believed him good and kind, thought that he was different to the men she had previously been intimate with, but she would never see him that way if she knew the things he had done in his past, in the time before he had lost his wings.
Since being cursed, he had led a different life. Wars had become less frequent and the angels of death had no longer required outside assistance from the other branches of angels in Heaven. His kind, the guardians, had returned to their normal duties, shepherding souls and protecting Heaven, or watching over the mortals, both in the present and in the future.
He had never seen the single pool which held the future. Only a few angels were allowed entry to the room containing it in the grand palatial house of Heaven, and those angels were sworn to silence, allowed only to speak to their superior, who in turn relayed necessary information on critical events to other high ranking angels.
His superior included.
Which led Marcus to believe that he was aware of what fate awaited Amelia.
Marcus curled his fingers into fists and frowned at the vambraces protecting his forearms, watching the way the sunlight danced across the blue armour and reflected off the silver raised edges and the silver buckles on the leather straps against his underarms.
There was something freeing about changing out of his mortal appearance and donning his armour. He felt closer to home again and distant from the goings on of the mortal world around him. He shrugged his shoulders, raising the blue breastplate of his armour and exposing his bare stomach, and then stretched his arms out at his sides and closed his eyes as he unfurled his wings.
Warm summer air tickled his silvery-blue feathers, teasing his senses, and he basked in the sunlight, absorbing the heat and allowing it to relax him and chase away his troubled thoughts.
He was a soldier.
Soldiers followed their orders.
He didnâ€™t have to think. He just had to follow orders and his mission would be over.
Marcus opened his eyes and looked at the infinite sky. The pale blue dome turned to green and then hues of orange near the horizon, scattered with ribbons of cloud that caught the fading sunlight and burned gold and pink. It was beautiful and this evening it would be his playground again, his world in which he would immerse himself to escape the mortal realm and find peace for a few brief hours. He would fly until he ached from the exertion, until he couldnâ€™t beat his wings one last time, and then he would return to his apartment and sleep until morning finally came.
Free of this world.
Five centuries without wings and every day had been torture.
He beat his wings and lifted off the tarred roof only to be struck by a shaft of brilliant white light.
Marcus closed his eyes and waited for the tingling sensation caused by the light to pass before opening them again.
He sighed at the sight of the white double doors ahead and the reception room surrounding him.
All he had wanted was to fly for a while. Couldnâ€™t they have waited? By the time they returned him, it would be deep night. These things never moved swiftly and while they could return him to the same moment they had taken him, they never did.
Marcus pushed the double doors open and marched straight to the dock, facing the same three angels who had questioned him the last time they had brought him here.
â€œThere has been a development.â€ His superior sat at the head of the triangle closest to Marcus, his sandy hair as neat as his blue armour and the large silver-blue wings tucked against his back.
The dark haired mediator and white-blond haired angel of death murmured in agreement.
â€œMay I ask what this development is?â€ Marcus hid none of his displeasure at having his plans for the evening ruined. They had brought him here and he would make the most of it. While they hadnâ€™t answered direct questions about his mission, perhaps they would answer one about the date of the event if he asked it in such a way that linked it to this development. â€œDoes it mean my mission will end soon?â€
All three angels nodded.
â€œYour final task approaches.â€ There was no lie in his superiorâ€™s expression, or that of the other two angels. â€œSoon your mission will end, Marcus.â€
â€œYou have been patient in your duty and we appreciate everything you have done for us. Once this final task has been completed, you will be free to return to Heaven.â€ The mediator to his superiorâ€™s left smiled at him and then looked across at the angel of death.
â€œYou must be relieved to know that your final task will be over soon and you can return home,â€ the white-blond haired man said.
Marcus nodded and his shoulders relaxed with the relief that swept through him but he didnâ€™t quite feel as he had expected to on hearing such good news. There was something about the appearances of all three angels, and the soft way they spoke to him, that set him on edge and filled his head with more questions than ever before.
â€œWhat is my final task?â€ All three angels had mentioned it so all three knew what it was, but the moment the question left his lips, their expressions turned stony and closed.
â€œYou will find out soon enough.â€ His superior leaned back in his chair on the raised platform. The other two angels seated slightly behind him looked at each other and then at his superior, and then at Marcus.
â€œIn the meantime, you must continue to protect her from the world.â€ Those words leaving the mediatorâ€™s lips startled Marcus into looking straight at him.
It was more than he had been told before.
â€œAm I to believe that there is someone who seeks to harm her?â€ It had always been there at the back of his mind. Why would a mortal need an angel to watch over them until a certain point in time? Why would they need a protector unless someone intended to hurt them? He had never been told to guide her on her path. His mission had always been phrased in a way that made him believe it was physical protection that she had needed in order to achieve her destiny.
â€œYou must not allow demons to interfere with her existence.â€
Marcusâ€™s gaze snapped back to his superior and he stared wide-eyed at him. â€œDemons?â€
The sandy-haired man nodded. â€œYou must keep the female safe until the event that we have witnessed comes to pass.â€
â€œAnd what is this event?â€ Marcus knew he had pushed too far again when darkness crossed his superiorâ€™s face.
â€œIt is not necessary for you to know that right now, Marcus. We need you to focus on your mission. It has become critical that you gain her trust. Your attempt failed. Your mission was clear. You will get closer to her by any means. Do you understand?â€
Marcus wasnâ€™t sure that he wanted to understand.
â€œWhat are you implying exactly?â€ He frowned at his superior, wanting him to say the words so he knew exactly what they were ordering him to do. So everyone here knew and acknowledged the order they were giving him.
â€œThe female is enamoured with you. You are to use that to gain her trust.â€
Marcusâ€™s heart raced, anger curling through his body as he looked at all three men seated before him and searched each of their faces for a sign that this was some sort of sick joke. Their expressions remained cold and fixed, hard as they stared back at him. He reined in his outrage and stifled it, unwilling to allow it to control him and give away how much he despised the thought of what they were asking of him let alone the reality of it.
He had no desire to be false with Amelia or hurt her, and they were ordering him to do just that.
â€œWhy is having her trust so important?â€ he bit out the words and then clamped his jaw shut before he could add that it was despicable of them to do such a thing to a mortal. He had no love for the mortals himself but he had principles. He was an angel, born into a race created to protect humans, not deceive them and lead them into sinning. That was the job of those in the service of the Devil.
He glared at his superior, barely restraining his fury and desire to argue. Using Ameliaâ€™s feelings in such a way went against everything he stood for, all of his principles and his honour, and was callous and cruel. He had no desire to hurt her.
â€œFollow your orders.â€
Marcus went to speak but the light engulfed him again. When it faded, he was standing outside the cafÃ© where he had shared coffee with Amelia.
He tilted his head back and frowned at the colourful evening sky. They had returned him to the exact moment in time that they had taken him. Why? It wasnâ€™t like them.
He looked down at himself and noted that he was dressed now, wearing a dark blue shirt and dark jeans with his boots. It was a little smarter than his usual attire and it was his true appearance, not a glamour they had cast upon him. They had even neatened his hair for him, combing the unruly black lengths back out of his face. Why? They had to be up to something.
The answer became apparent when Amelia walked past him, heavy white plastic grocery bags hanging from her arms.
They certainly werenâ€™t wasting any time. They had dressed him up and sent him back to the moment they had taken him so he could seduce Amelia tonight.
Marcus shook his head. He couldnâ€™t do such a thing and he doubted she would go for it even if he tried. His actions the other day had driven her away and she hadnâ€™t even looked at him the two times they had passed each other today.
Although, he suspected that her reason for ignoring him just now was because she literally hadnâ€™t seen him.
He waved at another passerby, his hand close to their face, and they didnâ€™t even flinch.
When the person had passed him and there were no others in sight, he lifted the glamour that made him invisible to mortal eyes and hurried towards the entrance to his apartment building, determined to reach it before Amelia stepped into the lift. The dull silver lift doors were closing just as he stepped into the foyer and he raced for them.
â€œHold it,â€ he hollered and was surprised when the doors opened again and he stepped inside to find that Amelia was alone.
Had she known it was him and that was why she had held the doors, or hadnâ€™t she realised? He pinched the bridge of his nose. A man could go crazy trying to figure out the inner workings of the female mind. It was little wonder he had never bothered to try before now.
The journey up to their floor passed in uncomfortable silence and it was only when they were stepping out of the lift that inspiration struck Marcus.
He couldnâ€™t disobey his orders to gain her trust but that didnâ€™t mean he had to play the cad and seduce her. He would try the friendship thing again and hopefully this time he wouldnâ€™t mess it up. Rather than using her attraction towards him, he would do something he had never done. He would lower his guard and let her in instead, and gain her trust that way, as a man would, not a devil. No deception.
Marcus reminded himself that he was already deceiving her. She had no idea what he really was and why he had been living next door to her for a month now.
â€œAmelia,â€ he said and she stopped at her door and turned to face him. Her beauty arrested his steps and his breath, chasing away some of his anger. He hesitated and then walked over to her, broadcasting as much confidence as he could manage given the unfamiliar situation. â€œI apologise about yesterday. Can I make it up to you somehow?â€
She smiled. â€œDinner would be good.â€
Like a date? That didnâ€™t sound good at all. That sounded like what his superior had ordered him to do. Marcus squirmed for a few seconds, battling the part of him that said it wouldnâ€™t be so bad to seduce her. She was beautiful and he was finding it increasingly difficult to get dancing Amelia out of his head and his dreams.
â€œHow about dinner at my place?â€ he said without thinking and the way her face lit up was all the answer he needed. It had been impulsive but it had avoided taking her out to dinner and therefore any sense that this was more than platonic.
Or had he only made it sound more like an offer of sex?
Dinner in his apartment could easily be classified as more intimate than dinner in a restaurant.
â€œGreat. Iâ€™ll be over in half an hour.â€ With that, she opened the door to her apartment and closed it behind her, leaving him standing in the cream hallway trying to figure out what he had offered her.
Perhaps he should call for assistance. He knew one angel in London. Einar was fallen thanks to his forbidden relationship with a female half-demon but that very fact only meant that he was qualified to answer Marcusâ€™s questions.
Marcus opened the door to his own apartment with the intent of calling Einar and interrogating him about women and whether he had just offered something a touch more intimate than anticipated but halted halfway to the telephone. The apartment was a mess.
He had never really paid much attention to his living quarters but it certainly didnâ€™t look like the sort of place a man should invite a woman into. He swapped calling Einar for a quick sweep of his apartment, using his supernatural speed to toss all dirty clothes into the laundry basket in his bathroom, straighten furniture, and clear the dust away before Amelia knocked on his door. If there was any time left on the clock, he would phone his friend for advice, but it wasnâ€™t looking promising. The bathroom was a mess too and so was the kitchen, and she was likely to visit both of those places.
Dinner in a restaurant suddenly looked more appealing.
Marcus stopped dead in the middle of the kitchen, turned on his heel, and gingerly opened the white refrigerator. The only thing in it was some old cheese he hadnâ€™t particularly enjoyed the taste of and a half eaten melon that had seen better days. There was no need to inspect the dark wooden cupboards. He could definitely recall eating the remaining half a box of cereal this morning whilst thinking and the carton was still on his bedside table to prove it.
Someone knocked on the door.
Marcus spun to face the kitchen doorway and looked through it to the entertainment centre in the living room. He glared at the clock on his DVD player. Amelia was ten minutes early. He cursed. No time to correct the food problem or call Einar. He scanned the pale apartment en route to the door and, satisfied that it now appeared far less like the bachelor pad it was, opened it.
His greeting fled his lips the moment he set eyes on her.
She had changed out of the short jacket, t-shirt and jeans she had been wearing in the lift and into a rather alluring little dark red dress that had him clearing his throat and searching for a compliment.
â€œYou lookâ€¦â€ What would she like to hear? The expectant shine to her eyes and the tentative smile curving the corners of her glossy cherry lips said that she was hoping to hear beautiful or similar, and he would be a liar if he said anything less. â€œStunning.â€
Stunning was apt. He certainly felt as though she had clobbered him.
â€œYou donâ€™t look half bad yourself.â€ She smiled and he went to follow suit but then she held up a bottle in front of her and he froze. â€œI only had rosÃ©. I know itâ€™s a bit girly but it wouldâ€™ve been rude to bring nothing.â€
He hadnâ€™t really taken in anything she had said whilst he had been staring at his nemesis.
Of course she would bring alcohol. It was the right response to the situation, wasnâ€™t it? A man invited her to dinner in his apartment. She brought something to make the evening go without a hitch.
He forced a smile and reached out to take it, but she drew it back to her chest, clutching it there and eyeing him closely.
â€œThatâ€™s not a good smile. Iâ€™ve seen that smile before,â€ she said with a small frown and looked down at the bottle. â€œItâ€™s really all I had but then I guess youâ€™re probably a beer drinker.â€
â€œNo.â€ He snatched the bottle from her, accidentally brushing her cleavage at the same time. Could someone in Heaven reverse the past thirty minutes for him and give him a second chance in which not to make a complete idiot of himself?
The blush on Ameliaâ€™s cheeks and the way she was staring at her breasts said it all. He had practically groped her. Considering he had wanted this evening to be little more than just opening up to her and gaining her trust through friendship, he was certainly sending out the wrong sort of signals. Were his superiors in Heaven tampering with him or something? He didnâ€™t feel at all like himself and he was currently on course for gaining her trust the way they wanted.
Still, the feel of her soft breasts beneath his fingers in that flash of a caress had his heart racing and palms sweating. He was a stranger to physical intimacy but had witnessed enough carnal matters as a watcher to know the sordid things humans did. It hadnâ€™t interested him much in the past, but the more he focused on his hand and the area that had brushed her chest and on how beautiful Amelia looked tonight, the more appealing interacting with her physically became.
The object of tonightâ€™s mission wasnâ€™t seduction. It was forming the foundations of friendship.
She stared at him, making him heavily aware that he should have said something to explain his reaction rather than drifting off into a fantasy world.
â€œThe wine you have brought is not the problem… and it is most appreciated… but… I just donâ€™t really drink.â€ He shrugged and hoped she would let it go and not pursue the subject. He wasnâ€™t sure what he would say if she asked him why he didnâ€™t drink. Could he play the role of recovering alcoholic? Would that dampen Ameliaâ€™s desire for him?
Marcus wasnâ€™t sure whether that would be a good thing or a bad thing.
â€œOh.â€ Her eyebrows rose, bringing her head up with them, and he wished she would stop looking at him in a way that left him feeling emasculated. She nodded a few times and then said, â€œSo you donâ€™t drink coffee and you avoid alcohol. Are you one of those vegan types too?â€
â€œHell no.â€ He stepped back, horrified at the suggestion. He could eat a whole cow in one sitting when on Earth. In Heaven, he didnâ€™t have to eat at all, but that certainly didnâ€™t place him in the vegan category. There was nothing wrong with abstaining from certain substances that didnâ€™t agree with your lifestyle choice, but this wasnâ€™t one of those times and he would be happy to prove it to her.
Amelia closed the door behind her and walked into his apartment, casting her gaze over everything and then him, and he felt the challenge in her look. She was trying to figure him out and he didnâ€™t particularly like the tone of her expression.
In a fit of desire to prove himself a man, he strode into the kitchen, unscrewed the cap on the wine and set it down on the counter. Another flaw in his plan produced itself as he searched the dark wooden cupboards for wine glasses but he overcame it by using two short tumblers instead. If anything, rosÃ© wine could only look more manly in such a glass, surely?
He poured two healthy glasses of wine as Amelia approached the open double doors and then held one out to her. She took it without questioning his choice of glass and then raised it towards him.
â€œCheers,â€ she said in a low sexy voice that had his gaze drifting towards her lips so he could watch her drink and then added, â€œCheers?â€
Marcus realised he was supposed to respond in kind, so raised his glass too. â€œCheers.â€
â€œOr bottoms up.â€ Amelia giggled, turned and walked back into the living room.
Marcusâ€™s eyes dropped to her backside. The deep red material of her dress clung to it, emphasising the shape of her bottom in a way that had his blood pounding through his temples again. He took a deep breath and joined her in the living room. Amelia sipped her drink. Marcus stared at his.
Alcohol hadnâ€™t passed his lips in five centuries, not since the one and only time he had dared to drink it and had awoken with a demonic curse scrawled on his back. Back then, it had been a forbidden item. Now, any angel could drink it without castigation.
Marcus had no desire to do such a thing.
He took another deep breath and blew it out, trying to psych himself up. He could feel Ameliaâ€™s gaze on him and he hoped she didnâ€™t think he was spacing out again or had noticed his fear of what might happened when he finally took a sip of the wine. Blood whooshed through his ears, drowning out all sound as he stared at the innocent looking pink liquid in the glass. Alcohol released inhibitions. It would be a good way of lowering his guard so he could grow closer to Amelia and gain her trust.
Marcus lifted it to his lips and breathed in, catching the fiery hint of alcohol in its scent, and then continued. The moment it passed his lips, a shiver raced down his spine and along his arms, and heat followed it down his throat.
The effect was instantaneous. He had spent the whole day thinking over his mission and had ignored his bodyâ€™s cries for nourishment, leaving him ravenous and his stomach empty. The wine rocketed straight to his head, sending it spinning, and a second sip only made the situation worse, lessening his control over his body.
His eyes widened in alarm when his wings pushed for freedom and he concentrated hard in an attempt to contain them and stop them from tearing through his navy shirt.
â€œIâ€™ll be just a minute.â€ He rushed into the bathroom, slammed the door, and turned to face the white vanity unit and the large rectangular mirror above it on the wall.
Marcus set his glass down and fumbled with it, almost knocking his wine down the sink, and then turned the cold tap on so fast that he had to dash to his right to avoid the spray of water that bounced off the porcelain, threatening to douse his crotch. With a grimace, he turned the tap down to a steady flow and splashed the water on his face. His wings pushed again and he ached with the desire to strip off his shirt and unleash them for a moment, to surrender to his desire to beat them and shed his mortal appearance.
Not only could Amelia end up seeing them, ruining any chance of gaining her trust, but he might not want to put them away again. He couldnâ€™t spend the whole evening in the bathroom.
His stomach growled and he pressed his damp hand against it.
If tonight was going to be anything near to a success, he needed to eat and soon, but there was nothing in his apartment. He had promised Amelia dinner. Even if she was kind enough to offer her own groceries, he wouldnâ€™t know how to cook her anything. He had never used a stove for anything other than warming basic foodstuffs, such as soup and other items that came in neat little cans with clear instructions on the labels.
This whole plan was ridiculously flawed.
His head turned again and he reached for his wine, taking a greedy gulp of it in the hope that it would dull his senses enough that his wings would relent and he would forget his desire to fly off somewhere.
That was a thought.
He looked into the mirror at the reflection of the white door behind him. Water dripped from the tip of his nose and rolled off his jaw. His heavy breathing filled the silence.
How would a human react to the sight of his wings and the knowledge that angels existed? If she knew what he was, he wouldnâ€™t be deceiving her and there was a chance that he could convince her that his reason for being here was to protect her. Would that gain her trust?
He laughed at himself.
Any sane mortal would run a mile if they saw an angel.
She would never trust him.
â€œAre you feeling alright?â€ The sound of her voice, soft through the door, roused a different sort of hunger in him. He stared at the door, picturing her on the other side, how concerned she would look and how that caring edge to her expression would only add to her beauty.
If forced, could he seduce her?
Could it be called deception if he wanted her too?
It wasnâ€™t going to happen.
Marcus dried his face on a hand towel, opened the door and smiled at her. â€œNever better.â€
She gave him a hesitant and unconvinced smile in return, and looked past him at the bathroom, her eyebrows raised high. What was she looking for? It dawned on him that she thought the wine had made him sick. He could laugh at that. The one time he had turned to drink, it had taken close to a barrel of mead to render him unconscious, and even then he hadnâ€™t thrown up.
He picked up his glass of wine, sipped it again to prove that he could handle it, and then smiled at her. Crimson spread across her cheeks, a delightful rosy tint that his smile had caused, and she held her own glass up, revealing that it was already empty.
Marcus took it from her and went into the kitchen to top it up. He took another swig from his own glass to give himself a little Dutch courage and then filled it too. When he walked back into the living room, Amelia was perched on the arm of his pale couch, her slender legs crossed at the knee, smiling at him. A different urge struck him, one that would definitely give her the impression that he was out to seduce her should she notice the effect it had on him.
He handed her the glass and stood in a way that wouldnâ€™t reveal the growing bulge in his jeans, waiting for it to pass.
Amelia toyed with the glass, delicately running her right index finger around the rim, mesmerising him and filling his head with images of her stroking him in such a fashion. She looked up at him. â€œSo what are we eating?â€
Marcus grinned. â€œAbout thatâ€¦ you seeâ€¦ I donâ€™t actually have any food that is edible and even if I did, I am not a good cook.â€
The expression that settled on her face looked decidedly like relief.
â€œSomething I said?â€
A smile teased her lips. â€œI half expected you to be this incredible cook and to show me up. Iâ€™m atrocious.â€
Marcus felt her relief sweep through him too and remembered how often she ate take away food. His gaze dropped to the bare slip of a dress she wore. Take out didnâ€™t look bad on her. She had to work out more often than he knew. He had watched her jogging around Hyde Park before and had even jogged there once or twice himself before giving up the pretence and flying above her instead, invisible to mortal eyes.
â€œHow does Chinese food suit you?â€ She took another sip of her wine before picking up the black cordless phone from the coffee table. â€œI know a great place that delivers.â€
Marcus nodded in approval and then listened as she recited what sounded like the entire menu. He didnâ€™t care what he ate as long as it got here fast and gave him some defence against the wine so he let her order some of her favourite dishes for them to share.
He paid for the food when it arrived twenty minutes later and Amelia helped him arrange the dishes on the long wooden coffee table between the sofa and the entertainment centre in the corner of the room. While he went to top up their drinks and get some plates and cutlery, she found a movie in the small collection of DVDs he had acquired in his short time on Earth, and put it into the player.
It felt far too much like a date as he sat beside her on the couch. He wasnâ€™t sure what a date felt like, but in all the movies he had watched on Earth and couples he had observed during his time in Heaven, this sort of thing was frequently classified as one. Dinner. Movie. Wine. Man and a woman. Date.
Marcus finished off the remains of his food and leaned back into the corner of the couch, bringing his wine with him. He crossed his legs and stretched his right arm out along the back of the sofa, settling his hand close to Amelia, and rested the bottom of his glass on his knee. He paid little attention to the movie playing on the large flat screen television. Amelia held it too firmly, keeping his eyes locked on her face as she laughed, oblivious to his watching her. She was beautiful, and it wasnâ€™t the wine talking.
A pure soul, full of kindness and warmth. Her internal beauty shone through, enhancing her external looks and leading him to wonder how such a pretty woman could fall for such disgusting men. She couldnâ€™t see the damage to their souls, so it was understandable that she would occasionally fall for males who were beneath her, but to always find the bad seed amongst the many decent men in the world? He had at least expected her to get rid of them the moment she realised they were no good for her, but she persevered, attempting to change their ways, as though she hoped that she could make them into a good man if she tried hard enough.
Men were resistant to change.
As were angels.
Amelia looked at him over her shoulder, her laughter dying away when she caught his gaze and her expression turning serious.
â€œDo I have something on my face?â€ she said with a hint of a smile and a blush.
Marcus wanted to say that she did and use the excuse to reach across and sweep the backs of his fingers across her cheek. He wanted to see if his touch could affect her with the same intensity that hers affected him. He shook his head instead, expecting her to go back to watching the movie. She didnâ€™t.
She turned and leaned over him, kneeling on the couch seat, and pressed her hand against his chest.
Marcus stared at her mouth, everything good in him screaming to break away and stop her. He didnâ€™t. He stayed stock still and let it happen.
His first kiss in this lifetime was a tentative sweep of soft lips over his followed by the press of her body into his. The feel of her against him sent a flood of feelings surging through him, setting his blood aflame with desire and the need to clutch her to him and possess her. It overwhelmed him and his restraint, crushing the good part that was still struggling to resist, and while he stopped himself from sliding his arm around her back and pulling the full length of her body flush against his, he couldnâ€™t stop himself from kissing her.
She moaned softly when he responded, grazing his lips against hers in a gentle caress that fanned the flames within him until he burned for her and for more. Her tongue brushed along the seam of his mouth and he brought his to meet it, tangling softly and luring it into his mouth where they danced. He couldnâ€™t remember kissing in his past lifetime but he certainly would have if it had felt like this. Warmth suffused him right down to his bones and every breathy little moan he elicited from Amelia turned the heat up another notch, until he was close to grabbing the nape of her neck and holding her mouth against his.
He breathed hard when she broke away to kneel on the sofa in front of him, her grey eyes wide and hand coming up to cover her mouth. She touched her lips, drawing his hungry gaze there, and he was ravenous all over again, starving for the sweet taste of her on his tongue.
â€œShitâ€¦ Iâ€™m sorry,â€ she said, instantly deflating his desire, and scrambled from the couch.
She was leaving?
Marcus was off the sofa and had his hand locked around her wrist before she could reach the door.
â€œWait,â€ he said and wasnâ€™t sure what to do when she looked back at him so he pulled her into his arms and kissed her again.
And damn she tasted just as good as she had the first time.
And damn he needed more.
She moaned when he backed her into the wall beside the door, pressing the hard length of his body against hers, and grabbed his shoulders. For a moment, he thought she would push him away, and then she dragged him closer still and wrapped her arms around his neck, burying her fingers into his hair.
Part of him was vaguely aware that alcohol was responsible for his current situation and that he was going to regret it come the morning but the rest of him didnâ€™t care. He had wanted to release his inhibitions and he had. He just hadnâ€™t expected that this would be the result, and right now he didnâ€™t care that he was on the verge of doing exactly as his superior had ordered.
All he cared about was satisfying his hunger to taste Amelia.
The part of him that was chanting about deception wouldnâ€™t shut up and the more he listened to it, the more he felt like a demon.
Marcus stepped back, leaving Amelia sagged against the wall, panting so hard that her breasts rose and fell with each breath, presenting him with a glorious view that had him reconsidering what he was about to say.
She slowly opened her grey eyes and smiled shyly before raking her gaze over him. It lingered on his groin and her eyes widened, pupils dilating until her irises turned dark with desire. There was a wicked edge to her eyes when they met his again and she inclined her head, her pouty come hither look almost luring him in. Desire wasnâ€™t the only thing written plainly across her face. There was expectation there too, and that alone pushed him into saying what he needed to.
â€œI think this is a bad idea.â€
Her sultry temptress look immediately dissipated, leaving the Amelia he was familiar with standing before him.
â€œYou really donâ€™t like me,â€ she whispered and the hurt in her heart beat within his.
He wasnâ€™t saying anything of the sort. But what could he tell her? He was halfway to drunk and not only did he need to get his head on straight so he was certain that he wasnâ€™t doing this because he was subconsciously following orders but he was hardly going to produce the stellar performance she expected of him.
He had been celibate this entire lifetime.
And he was damned if his first time was going to be under orders.
If something was going to happen between them, it was going to happen naturally. He wasnâ€™t going to seduce her and use her feelings against her.
â€œI doâ€¦ butâ€¦ I think the wine has gone to my head and I think it might have gone to yours too.â€
â€œAnd thatâ€™s a bad thing?â€ She glanced at the empty bottle and his half-full glass on the table.
â€œIt is.â€ Marcus ventured a step towards her and brushed the backs of his fingers against her cheek, sweeping her straight dark hair from her face. Her skin was as smooth as he had imagined it would be and the way she closed her eyes, slowly inhaling at the same time, empowered him. He opened his hand and cupped her face, resting his fingers along her jaw and bringing his thumb close to her mouth. Such soft lips. He wanted to dip his head and kiss her again but he wasnâ€™t sure he would be able to stop at just kissing if he did. â€œIt is all a little quick and I donâ€™t want you waking tomorrow feeling like crap because of what we did tonight.â€
â€œI doubt I would feel crappy.â€ There it was again. Blatant expectation. Why? Because he was handsome to her? That instantly made him Casanova?
No pressure then.
â€œAmeliaâ€¦ how about we take it slow and steady?â€
Her eyes lit up and he realised there could be another meaning in his words but he didnâ€™t bother to correct her because he wasnâ€™t about to let things get that far. His final task was coming. Everything that had happened tonight would satisfy his superior and his orders to gain her trust. He would date her a few times, keeping a suitable distance, and once his mission was over he would leave.
She nodded, tiptoed and kissed him.
Resisting was impossible.
He swept his lips over hers, tasting her again and savouring this brief contact between them. When she broke away this time, he led her back to the couch and settled there with her, his thoughts weighing him down. He watched her again, fascinated by the amusement she got from the movie and how she curled up next to him, her bare knees brushing his thigh. A deep ache to slide his arm around her shoulders and draw her closer still beat in his bones but he resisted.
He couldnâ€™t use her feelings against her.
Not when he was starting to feel something for her too.
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