The gorgeous warrior followed behind her, a dark shadow barely a few feet from her, his footsteps almost silent.
They reached a split in the corridor and Erin paused. Neither of the avenues she could take looked inviting. Both were pitch-black and voices came from one. Or was it the other? Everything echoed in the corridors and it was hard to distinguish which would lead her to a grisly death and which would lead her to freedom.
She chose the right.
The man grabbed her around the waist from behind, twisted her in his arm, and slung her over his shoulder.
Erin struggled and his arm tightened against her back, causing his thick shoulder to press into her stomach. Her organs protested, sharp pain lancing each one.
â€œYouâ€™ll fall off. I need to move fast and youâ€™re slowing me down.â€
Well, that was just rude. Erin punched his backside. God, it was like a rock. She almost purred. Could this man get any smexier?
â€œYou canâ€™t carry me and fight your way out of here.â€
He laughed, the warm timbre of it echoing around the dark walls. â€œBelieve me, Sweetheart, I can fight with both hands tied behind my back. Youâ€™re no hindrance at all.â€
He jogged down the left corridor with her, each step jolting her on his shoulder until she felt close to losing what little remained of the last thing she ate. Erin grabbed his leather belt, hooked her thumbs into the waist of his jeans and pushed herself up enough that it didnâ€™t hurt as much as he ran.
This was just embarrassing now.
It was bad enough having her rescuer belittle her.
Having him carry her fireman-style to freedom was making her wish he had left her in her cell.
Warm fresh air assaulted her, as fresh as Hell got anyway, and she looked up to see the huge black walls of the prison fortress bouncing away from her.
â€œYou can put me down now,â€ she said but he didnâ€™t hear her. Either that or he was ignoring her. She was tempted to punch him on the backside again but gave up and let him have his way.
The jagged towers of the prison slowly wobbled into the distance and were lost from view behind the spires of black rock that lined the path her hero had chosen. Vents in their sides and tops belched hot acrid smoke that stole her breath. She pulled his black t-shirt up, exposing a lean delicious back, and covered her mouth with it. How the hell could he run in this?
Erin wanted to be sick.
She counted the bounces in his step to keep her focus off the horrendous smell of rotten eggs invading her lungs and the increasing number of bleached bones that lined the path as though someone had kicked the bodies out of the way and just let them rot there. Or perhaps some smaller creature had picked the bones clean. There were grooves in some of them, as though sharp teeth and claws had scraped them. Erin hoped it had happened after death and that the screams still ringing in her ears werenâ€™t the death cries of people being eaten alive.
The man managed over three hundred steps before he finally stopped and set her down with surprising care in a wide clearing.
â€œAre you alright?â€ He held her at armâ€™s length, looking her over.
Her blood heated when his dark eyes lingered on her breasts and then the tiny shorts she wore.
â€œDo you always dress like this?â€ He raised an eyebrow.
Erin folded her arms across her chest, covering her breasts. The black pebbles of the path cut into the bare soles of her feet. â€œI was in bed when they took me.â€
He ran his gaze over her again and a touch of crimson ringed his dark irises.
Erin took a step backwards.
That had to be a reflection of their fiery surroundings. It had to be.
Mr Tall, Dark and Deadly couldnâ€™t be something straight out of Hell.
He frowned at her feet. Erin gasped as his large hands settled on her waist and he lifted her onto a relatively smoother rock on the side of the path.
â€œI didnâ€™t anticipate this.â€ He rubbed his stubbly jaw and crouched before her. His hands were gentle as he lifted one of her feet and inspected the sole, his thumbs pressing in and sending a warm jolt up to the apex of her thighs.
She placed one hand on top of his head to steady herself and tried to resist the sudden desire to comb her fingers through the long crimson lengths of his hair.
She had dated a few men with long hair in the past but none of them had dyed it the colour this man had chosen. It was like blood.
â€œI like your do,â€ she said with a smile. â€œItâ€™s pretty cool.â€
He frowned up at her. â€œDo?â€
His frown intensified. â€œWe are trapped in Hell and you are discussing my hair?â€
â€œI have to do something to take my mind off the fact that Iâ€™m trapped in Hell. What dye do you use?â€
The man straightened and even when she was standing on a rock, she was still shorter than he was. â€œIt is not dyed.â€
â€œIf you would like, I can prove it to you.â€ His smile was nothing short of salacious and he reached for his belt. â€œThe carpet matches the curtains.â€
Erin blushed and grabbed his hands to stop him from going ahead and flashing her. He looked as though he really would go through with it and while the thought of seeing every inch of this man nude was appealing, it couldnâ€™t stand up to her greater desire to escape.
The man shrugged and then did something that really challenged her ability to think straight and focus on escaping.
He removed the leather contraption that held his sword to his back, reached over his head and tugged his black t-shirt off, revealing a body so perfect that it would make angels weep. Every inch of lightly bronzed skin stretched taut over granite hard muscles. They shifted in a sensual symphony as he easily tore his t-shirt into two pieces. Her gaze ambled over him, ignoring her commands to focus on anything other than his godly form, then he upped the stakes and it was game over.
He crouched again and bent over her feet, giving her a glorious view of his strong back and the detailed red and black tribal tattoos that swept up his thick arms and down his shoulder blades. They curled there, skirting identical ridges of scar tissue.
Erin leaned forwards as he finished wrapping one of her feet in half of his ruined t-shirt and started on her other. She swept her fingers along the wide dark scar that slashed up his left shoulder in line with his spine.
The man was gone in a flash, standing several feet away from her and breathing hard.
â€œWhat the fuck?â€ he snarled and Erin flinched, her hand still poised where his back had been. â€œDonâ€™t touch me. Understand?â€
â€œIâ€™m sorry… I just saw the scars and wondered what had happened to you.â€ She hated that she couldnâ€™t get her voice above a whisper and that she couldnâ€™t look at him. Shame burned her cheeks. So much for her insane thoughts about paying back her glowering saviour with some naughty time when they made it out of Hell.
Erin stared at her feet. He had done a nice job of covering them with his t-shirt. She supposed she should thank him for coming to save her and for not doing the whole thing with her slung over his shoulder, leaving her feeling weak and pathetic. Maybe she should just ask him to point her in the right direction and she would find the way out on her own. Her gaze shifted to his sword where it lay on the ground. On second thought, he was armed and if she ran across some of those demons, he might be able to fend them off or even kill them.
â€œThank you for coming for me. I owe you my life,â€ she said and finally managed to find the courage to look him in the eye again.
He casually shrugged his wide bare shoulders. â€œYou own me nothing. Iâ€™m only here because Amelia would have come if I hadnâ€™t, and if she dies then thatâ€™s my life over.â€
â€œOh.â€ Erinâ€™s gaze ate basalt again and her cheeks scalded, her burning heart heating them. He was with Amelia. That made sense in a strange way, although it only left her with more questions about why Amelia knew about Hell, what the Devil wanted with her and how she had met this man.
A man who had taken her place, risking his life to save Erin so she didnâ€™t have to.
Erin stepped down from the rock, feeling as though someone had just popped her favourite balloon. She knew she should feel happy that her sister finally had a man in her life that had a noble and good bone in his body but she couldnâ€™t muster the emotion when jealousy was riding her.
Her amber eyes met his dark ones but she couldnâ€™t hold his gaze. It fell to the ground again. She didnâ€™t want to look at him anymore. The blood staining his face and the harsh cuts across his bearded jaw and neck did nothing to dampen his feral handsome looks.
Erin envied Amelia for having him in her life.
â€œI want to keep moving.â€ She started off without him, following the winding path that was surrounded by black jagged rocks and bleached bones and stretched into an equally dark and bleak distance.
Erin was beginning to hate black.
The man easily caught up with her in a few long-legged strides and fell into step beside her, his broadsword strapped to his back again. He cut an imposing figure as he strolled along beside her, his air casual yet throwing off a lethal donâ€™t-even-try-it vibe.
She wanted to give him the silent treatment but it had been days since she had spoken to someone and he was currently her mind and heartâ€™s favourite subject. She wanted the goods on this man, every juicy bit of them.
â€œSo… were you a captive here once too and thatâ€™s why you know your way around?â€ That question hung in the air between them.
His lip curled, revealing a flash of straight white teeth, and he frowned.
Clearly, he was still pissed at her for touching him. Well, sorry. She couldnâ€™t have stopped herself if she had tried. She still wouldnâ€™t be able to if she so much as glanced at the scars that he had evidently tattooed around, as though they were central to the design.
He was silent a few seconds longer and then looked down at her out of the corner of his eye and smiled.
Erin walked on a few paces, towards a long sloping drop into a valley below. She glanced down, seeing that the path she was on turned a corner ahead and continued close to a hundred feet below her.
He finally spoke. â€œYou could say that Iâ€™m local.â€
That unnerved her, especially when coupled with the bright crimson that flared in his dark irises, a corona surrounding his narrowed pupils.
Erin stepped away from him, backing towards the edge where it was rocky and the stones were loose underfoot. Her gaze darted down to the path far below her. Her footing was poor where she was but she didnâ€™t want to be near him until she was sure it was safe. She would sooner risk falling than being within his reach.
He frowned at her and then at her feet, and held his hand out to her. â€œCome away from the edge.â€
Erin shook her head.
If he was something terrible, then she was going to hit the slope, slide down to the path below and make a break for it. She would probably cut her bare legs up but it was better than being tortured by a demon. Had he only rescued her so he could toy with her and hurt her? Was this just another trick after all?
Her sister would never associate with something demonic and evil.
â€œDo you work for the Devil?â€ Erin shuffled backwards. His dark eyes flicked to her feet and then back to her eyes, and he stretched his hand closer to her, an impatient and concerned expression on his face. The Devil could change his appearance. This man had a voice that could melt her and so had the Devil. They were one and the same. â€œAre you the Devil?â€
He laughed. â€œHell, no. Iâ€™m not that evil. Do I look like I go around getting manicures between torture sessions?â€ He sighed and smiled at her. â€œI swear to you, Erin. Iâ€™m not here to hurt you… and I will keep you safe. Trust me?â€
â€œNo, I donâ€™t trust you. I donâ€™t even know you… you say youâ€™re local but you donâ€™t work for the bastard who held me captive, and you expect me to believe that shit?â€ She edged further away from him and he frowned, his eyes narrowing and expression switching to one of irritation. Anger flared in his eyes.
He growled, low and vicious, and the flecks of red in his eyes brightened. â€œI expect you to believe it because itâ€™s the truth. I hate the bastard who kidnapped you, and would like nothing more than a chance at separating his head from his body. Iâ€™m risking my neck to save you and you dare accuse me of being the one loathsome creature I despise above all others?â€
Erin backed off another step as he advanced one, until the balls of her feet hit the slope. Her heart thumped out a hard rhythm against her breastbone and blood rushed through her ears. His gaze locked on hers, challenging her to accuse him again, to voice any belief she still had that he was unworthy of her trust. She trembled and stared up into his eyes, searching them for a sign that he was lying to her.
His anger seemed genuine, born of hatred for a man that she too despised and disgust at being compared with him. He couldnâ€™t blame her for being cautious though, surely? After everything she had been through, it was only natural for her to think everyone in this horrible place was out to get her, and he had admitted that he was a local.
The man backed off at last, the anger in his eyes melting away together with the red, leaving his irises dark. He sighed, his shoulders heaving with it, grimaced and rubbed a hand over his face.
â€œWhat am I supposed to say to make you believe me?â€ he whispered and met her gaze again. â€œTell me that, Erin. Iâ€™ve trekked through Hell to find you, have fought and killed to reach you, have carried you and tended to you. Iâ€™ve risked my life to save you. Doesnâ€™t that make me worthy of a little trust? You think I want to be here?â€
No, she didnâ€™t. He had mentioned more than once that he was risking everything by being in Hell, by saving her, and she felt terrible for doubting him.
He held his hand out to her again. â€œI swear to you, Erin, that I mean you no harm and I am here purely to rescue you and reunite you with your sister. Will you trust me to do that? Can you trust me?â€
Erinâ€™s better judgement said not to but she slipped her trembling right hand into his and stepped away from the edge. She looked up into his eyes. They glowed red around the edges again and in the centre too, highlighting his wide pupils. His gaze locked with hers and rocked her with a jolt that reached her soul.
â€œWhatâ€™s your name?â€ she whispered, captivated by his eyes and lost in them. They had more power over her than the Devilâ€™s had. She wanted to stare into their flaming depths for all eternity.
â€œVeiron,â€ he husked, his warm breath caressing her face, and Erinâ€™s senses came alive, lighting up like an electrical storm. His masculine scent of dirt, aftershave and fresh sweat filled her nostrils. The warmth of his hand clasping hers heated her right down to her bones. The sound of his voice made her blood burn to hear him speak again. Her gaze delighted in discovering every tiny fleck of fire in his dark irises. The only sense left was one that cried out for a taste of him.
She might be losing her mind, but she knew without a doubt that she wanted this man regardless of what he was.
He was the most dangerous man she had ever met and he belonged to her sister, but there was something about him, something sensual and powerful, deadly and alluring, that she couldnâ€™t resist. He had the smile of a demon, the body of a god, and the tenderness of an angel when he let his guard down.
Her captivity had been a nightmare.
But travelling through Hell with this man at her side was going to be a worse form of torture.
Did you enjoy today’s snippet?
Her Demonic Angel
A demonic angel with a heart of ice, Veiron walks a dark path with vengeance on his mind. Nothing will sway him from his mission to destroy his master… until he risks his life to enter Hell once more to save a mortal female. The fiery beauty makes him burn with hungers he must battle and needs he cannot deny, tempting him to surrender body and soul to her.
Erin is convinced her refusal to do the Devilâ€™s bidding will see her die in a terrifying realm straight out of her nightmares. The last thing she expects is the lethally sensual warrior who breaks into her cell and awakens the darkest desires of her heart and a fierce longing to know the heat of his caress.
Pulled into an incredible world where war is set to ignite and darkness is on the rise, Erin races with Veiron to escape the Devilâ€™s legions in a journey fraught with danger and filled with passion that flares white-hot.
When Erin is faced with a life-shattering realisation and an extraordinary destiny, will their love give them the strength to battle both Heaven and Hell or will they be parted forever?
You can get your hands on the first book in this series, HER DARK ANGEL, for FREE right now on selected Amazon Kindle, Kobo, Nook and Apple iBooks Stores. Find out more at my Paranormal Romance Ebook Offers page.
If you haven’t had a chance to read any of the books in the Her Angel romance series yet, they’re all available at major ebook retailers and in paperback, and you can find the links and samples of the books at my website:
Her Dark Angel (Her Angel Romance Series #1)
Her Fallen Angel (Her Angel Romance Series #2)
Her Warrior Angel (Her Angel Romance Series #3)
Her Guardian Angel (Her Angel Romance Series #4)
Her Demonic Angel (Her Angel Romance Series #5)
Her Wicked Angel (Her Angel Romance Series #6)
Her Avenging Angel (Her Angel Romance Series #7)