It’s time for Snippet Saturday! Each week has a theme or is author’s choice. This week the theme is Author’s Choice.
Asmodeus stared at the female. Liora.
Apollyonâ€™s female, Serenity, was this beautyâ€™s cousin. That only made him more intrigued about why the Devil wanted her.
Did he intend to use Liora against Apollyon? Apollyon was the Great Destroyer, one of the most powerful angels in existence and the one who was destined to fight the Devil and keep him contained within Hell and the bottomless pit.
Apollyon was also Asmodeusâ€™s brother, or father of sorts. The first time the Devil had defeated Apollyon, he had tortured the male to the brink of insanity and had then drawn all that was evil out of him. The Devil had used that blood and a smattering of his own to create Asmodeus.
â€œYou donâ€™t look much like Apollyon. Iâ€™ve met him and now Iâ€™ve also met youâ€¦ and you seem very different.â€ She eyed him, hazel gaze curious and intense as she cocked her head to one side. Her tone had a decidedly playful edge to it, soft and light, not exactly how he had expected a mortal to react to him. She was confident, calm, and a little bit teasing.
Asmodeus stared blankly at her. This was not normal female behaviour. He wasnâ€™t sure whether she was flirting with him. He didnâ€™t think it was a possibility, but she might be. He had no experience of such things.
His shock only increased when she raked her gaze over him, thoroughly inspecting him from head to toe, her stunning hazel eyes lingering on his bare torso. His palms sweated again and he swallowed hard as his pulse picked up.
Her right eyebrow quirked. â€œWhy do you lack complete armour? Apollyon has all his armour. Why do you only have your hip pieces and armoured bootsâ€¦ are you incomplete?â€
She could see his armour and his wings? His glamour wasnâ€™t working. Had he done it wrong after all?
Asmodeus cursed and swiftly glanced around him at the other mortals.
None of the ones milling around the park were screaming or praying for salvation, so he must have done it right.
â€œGlamours donâ€™t work on me,â€ she said, as if she had read his mind and knew his thoughts.
Was he that transparent? He didnâ€™t like that she could see straight through him. He rose to his full height and glared down at her.
It didnâ€™t fluster her in the slightest. She flicked her hand upwards with only her right index finger extended. It pointed at the sky. â€œFactoid. Iâ€™m a witch.â€
Another first for him. He had never met a witch before.
Liora moved closer and looked him over again. â€œIâ€™ve never seen cloning on this level. Normally something goes wrong. Did the Devil really create you from Apollyonâ€™s blood?â€
She paused for air, frowned and canted her head the other way, her gaze rising to lock with his.
â€œAre you as powerful as Apollyonâ€¦ or less powerful?â€
â€œMore powerful,â€ Asmodeus barked and scowled at her. He was beginning to hate how she not only kept comparing him to Apollyon, but how she was making him feel inferior and broken, a mere shadow of a male.
False and unreal.
Not an individual.
He wanted to leave now.
He growled under his breath, his fangs itching to descend, and turned away from her, casting his hand out at the same time and calling a portal. The black swirling maelstrom formed before him. Heâ€™d had enough of this world. It did not live up to his expectations at all. It was noisy, bright, irritating and rude, and he didnâ€™t like how uncertain and off-balance he felt. No one respected him here.
They could all go to Hell.
Asmodeus grinned. Perhaps he could make this place Hell and teach them all a lesson they would never forget, because it would be the last thing they knew before they died. His claws sharpened. That sounded good.
â€œWait!â€ Liora grabbed his left arm and tugged it backwards, her warm hands clasping it tightly. â€œDonâ€™t goâ€¦ pleaseâ€¦ I didnâ€™t mean to sound pushy or upset you.â€
â€œI am not upset,â€ he said gruffly and yanked his arm free.
He glanced over his shoulder at her. A mistake. She was so close to him, and so beautiful as she looked up at him with a strange mixture of fear and hope in her entrancing eyes. He should leave. He would if he could bring himself to move. He felt as though she had cast a spell on him and he was powerless to resist her. His fury melted away again, leaving him calm and docile, confused as to why he had been angry to begin with. His claws shrank back and his fangs ascended.
She wanted him to wait, and so he waited.
â€œIâ€™ve been rude,â€ she whispered and then tipped her chin up and a spark of confidence broke through the fear and hope in her eyes. â€œIâ€™m sorry. Itâ€™s a flaw. My mouth just starts running and I canâ€™t stop it. Iâ€™ll tamp it down and think before I speak if you stay. Itâ€™s just excitement.â€
â€œExcitement?â€ That had him turning to face her. What was she excited about?
His mind supplied that he was the reason for her excitement. A stupid idea. No one had ever been excited to meet him. Scared. Terrified. Having a near-death experience. Or possibly a pre-death experience since he was normally there to kill them. Not excited though.
He had caught the way she had glanced at his extended claws and the fear that had followed her seeing them. There was no possible way she could be excited by his presence.
Liora nodded again. â€œI was excited to meet you.â€
That was a definite first, and it only made him feel more out of place and confused by this world and this slight willowy female before him. â€œMost people are afraid to meet me.â€
She shrugged her slender shoulders. â€œIâ€™m not most people. Iâ€™ve wanted to meet angels all of my life and Iâ€™ve studied them all I could, and then Serenity fell in love with Apollyon and I met one, butâ€¦ and donâ€™t tell her thisâ€¦ he seems very stuffy.â€
Asmodeus smiled. He couldnâ€™t help it. The sight of it seemed to bring out her smile too. It was dazzling this time, as if she had found someone she could swap notes about Apollyonâ€™s faults with and was over the moon.
â€œSo, when I heard about you, I really wanted to meet youâ€¦ because I figured essentially you should be the opposite of Apollyon.â€
Asmodeus cocked an eyebrow. â€œEvil?â€
She had wanted to meet him?
She laughed, the sound sending a pleasant shiver through his body. â€œNo. Fun.â€
Fun? He really didnâ€™t think she would see him as that if she knew the things he had done that he had considered fun. The thought of massacring these irritating mortals swarming around him was fun. Watching a demonâ€™s head melt off in one of the lakes of lava while he held him fast, forcing him deeper into the fiery magma, was fun.
He had seen what mortals considered fun in the pool in Hell. Riding bicycles. Ponies. Playing various dull sports that didnâ€™t involve severed demon heads and spears. The closest thing that mortals considered fun that he had also found interesting was hunting animals, and even that had seemed tame and dull once he had realised it involved distance weapons, not hand-to-hand combat with feral creatures capable of maiming or even killing the hunter.
Everything mortals did seemed sanitised and harmless, designed to thrill without any real risk to the participants.
No, he did not think Liora and he were on the same page, or even in the same book, when it came to what was fun.
â€œWill you stay a moment, Asmodeus?â€
He huffed. â€œWhy?â€
â€œBecause I would like to know more about you.â€
He tipped his head back and frowned at the blue sky. Pale clouds spotted it now, adding interest. If he lingered, the Devil would want to know why. He would grow suspicious.
Asmodeus found he didnâ€™t care. The Devil couldnâ€™t leave Hell. He could only send his minions to find him, and they were no match for him. Besides, they were all busy clearing up the pests and bringing him other females. Perhaps those females would keep the Devil occupied while he entertained Liora long enough to understand why the Devil wanted her in particular.
â€œWhat would you like to know?â€ he said and slowly lowered his head, bringing his eyes down to meet hers.
She was far shorter than he was. As petite as her cousin, but as different as he was from Apollyon. He had seen Serenity in the pool, had watched her with Apollyon, trying to understand the complexities of relationships and what had attracted Apollyon to the female in the first place. Serenity was annoyingly good, sickly sweet, and came across as weak and in need of protection despite the immense power she could command if she put her mind to it.
Liora was nothing like her. In a handful of minutes, she had proven herself a little bit wicked, daring, confident, and a woman who knew she could handle herself. She didnâ€™t need a male to protect her.
Strange how that made Asmodeus want to do just that.
Liora nibbled her lower lip and then cast another glance over him. Her pupils expanded to swallow some of the colour in her irises and her teeth sank deeper into her lip, tugging on it.
What did she think to make her appearance change so dramatically?
He was not used to mortal behaviour or reactions, other than overwhelming fear. Their pupils expanded then, but he knew without a doubt it was not fear that caused hers to dilate.
â€œWhy are pieces of your armour missing?â€ Her gaze darted up to his and then away, and he had the sense that she feared offending him again.
He much preferred her choice of wording this time.
He looked himself over, able to see beyond his own glamour to the gold-edged worn strips of metal that covered his black loincloth and the black leather boots and greaves that protected his shins.
â€œI have lost pieces in the years of my life, during battles in Hell against angels and demons.â€ Asmodeus took hold of one of the pointed strips that covered his right hip and ran his thumb over the battered metal that had served him well in the many centuries of his existence. He would not deny that he missed his other pieces if she asked. He had often thought about finding a way to retrieve them and complete his armour. â€œThere is no way for me to get those pieces back unless I fashion myself new armourâ€¦ or the Devil sees fit to give me replacement pieces.â€
â€œOr you steal Apollyonâ€™s,â€ she said and his eyes snapped up to meet hers, shock rippling through him. He amended his observation. She was more than a little wicked. She was positively mischievous. A blush of crimson climbed her cheeks. â€œThey would be a perfect fit.â€
â€œTrue, but I do not think the male would allow me to simply take his armour. It would be a more interesting way to complete my armour though.â€ He liked how she thought and how easy it was becoming to talk to her. He had witnessed mortals talking like this. Banter. He was making banter with her and he was enjoying it.
He also liked the idea of taking Apollyonâ€™s armour, leaving him appearing incomplete.
â€œYou would have to fight him for it. Are you good at fighting?â€ She narrowed her gaze on his, as if trying to see the answer in it.
He nodded and held his hands out. His two golden curved swords materialised in his hands. Her eyes widened.
â€œYou can do magic too!â€ She smiled and then did something he hadnâ€™t anticipated and that stole his voice so he couldnâ€™t tell her it wasnâ€™t magic as she knew it.
She reached out with her left hand and idly ran two fingers down the length of his right blade, stroking the metal and following the blunt curve. Her smile turned wicked and his heart missed another beat, and part of his anatomy that had never known a femaleâ€™s caress stirred beneath his armour.
Asmodeus cleared his throat, sent his swords away and took a step back from her. Her smile faded into a frown and he could see she thought she had done something wrong again.
He had the oddest urge to reassure her.
What was wrong with him?
Had she cast a spell on him?
The way he reacted to her fascinated and disturbed him at the same time. She had somehow calmed him twice now, erasing his dark hunger to maim and destroy, and had brought to the surface feelings and a part of himself that he had buried deep.
The longer he was in her presence, the more comfortable he felt around her, and the more he wanted to remain, but he also felt uncomfortable and wanted to leave too, and he knew why.
He had never felt his failings before meeting Liora, and the more time he spent with her, the more keenly he felt them. He was born evil, everything dark, cruel and deadly in Apollyon distilled into him. He had lived his life in Hell, doing as he pleased, trained by his master to embrace his darkest nature and inflict pain and terror upon others.
He had been happy with that life.
Asmodeus stared down into Lioraâ€™s stunning eyes, losing himself in them all over again, forgetting his mission and feeling that part of him he had kept hidden for millennia stirring again.
There was no room for good in Hell. Good was weakness. Concern and care were faults. Affection was a sin. All of them made him a weak male, one undeserving of respect and the position he held. He did not need them.
He clenched his fists and struggled against them, battling them until they were subdued and he could shove them back into the place where they would remain secret, hidden from everyone. Hidden from his master.
The Devil would think him a failure if he knew of them.
Liora frowned and moved a step closer to him, stealing his attention and bringing it back to her.
What would she think of him?
She already thought him incomplete and false. A clone. Nothing but a shadow of Apollyon.
He tried to take a step back to keep some distance between them but his feet refused to move. He stood towering over her, his fists trembling at his sides, his thoughts running at a million miles an hour, bombarding him and threatening to unleash his softer emotions again. What was she doing to him?
She lifted her right hand and his heart set off at a dizzying pace, slamming against his ribs, making his limbs shake. Weak. She made him weak. He cast a nervous glance at her hand as she raised it towards his face.
He had never known a femaleâ€™s touch.
There had never been someone he desired.
â€œAsmodeus?â€ she whispered and stared up into his eyes. â€œWhat are you thinking in there? Your eyes are swirling like gold fire.â€
A product of his emotions. They were slipping beyond his grasp and he had the strangest desire to embrace them and the sliver of good he held locked deep within.
Because of her.
What did the Devil want with her? He had a feeling it wasnâ€™t to breed with her. She was Serenityâ€™s cousin. A witch. She would produce powerful offspring and might be strong enough to bring a child to term, but she would also be likely to fight the Devil just as Erin had and refuse to surrender her babe.
Her soft hand cupped his cheek.
His eyes closed against his will and he inhaled sharply. Heat spread outwards from where they touched, surging through his body and setting his feelings free and his blood on fire.
Whatever the Devilâ€™s plans for her, they would not come to pass.
Asmodeus would not let him have her.
Liora would belong to him.
Did you enjoy the snippet?
More about the book:
Her Wicked Angel
The King of Demons and the Devilâ€™s right hand man, Asmodeus is a dark angel born of evil and created for destruction. When his master orders him to venture into the mortal world and retrieve a female for him, he seizes the chance to leave Hell for the first time, uncaring of what the Devil has planned for herâ€¦ until he sets eyes on the most beautiful woman he has ever seenâ€”a female who awakens new feelings within his black heart, unleashing passion so intense that it controls him and desire he cannot resist.
He will not let his wretched master have her. She will belong to him.
Liora is a witch with a bad reputation and an obsession with fighting demons. A mission gone wrong sees her sent to Paris to cool off, but when a dark and deadly warrior with a gaze of golden fire lands in her life, she ends up burning hotter than Hell for the wicked angel. Nothing will stand between her and the immense, forbidding male. Not her cousin. Not Asmodeusâ€™s sworn enemy and twin, Apollyon. And certainly not the Devil.
Caught up in a tempest of danger and soul-searing passion, can they survive against the odds and seize their forever after?
Available now from Amazon Kindle, Kobo Books, Apple iBooks / iTunes and other retailers. Find all the links at: Her Wicked Angel
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