Now it’s my job to clean up my mess before she creates new nasties with the White Grace and kills us all—yeah, my fault too.
It gets better. The Legion of angels have put a bounty on my head for the murder of the archangel Vedriel, which was in totally self-defense, but it’s not like they care.
There’s not a chance in hell I’m going down without a fight. It’s a full-time job trying to keep my own ass alive. So how am I supposed to save everyone else’s?
Don’t miss the thrilling continuation of the Shadow and Light series! *Recommended for mature YA+ due to language
Dark Rise is a sassy, fast-paced urban fantasy filled with demons, angels, vampires, werewolves, witches, fae, leprechauns, jinn, and shifters. If you enjoy urban fantasy books with a kick-ass heroine and plenty of action, suspense and humor, then you’ll love reading Dark Rise. Grab your copy today!
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My life was a disaster. There was no denying it anymore.
I sat in a leather armchair, whose owner made me want to gouge out my own eyeballs, breathing in the scent of wine, polished wood and musty antique rugs of her lavish home.
Yup. I was off my rocker.
But what else could I do? Jax had been abducted by the Greater demon Degamon and dragged to the Netherworld. I had tried and failed to summon him back to our dimension. Then, I almost died when an angel showed up and attempted to collect the bounty on my head—a gift from the Legion of angels—thank you very much. Like I needed more drama in my life.
Every minute I sat in this stupid, expensive chair was like a week of rigorous torture for Jax. The longer he spent in that world, the harder it would be to get him back out. If Degamon really was going to sell him off to another demon, it would get a hell of a lot harder.
I couldn’t go to the council, the angel-born group of elders and leaders. I didn’t trust them, and I couldn’t give them any information about Jax without the risk of exposing him and myself. Conjuring demons was taboo. It was the sport of half-breeds, specifically witches, and forbidden to all angel-born. If the council found out, Jax would be shunned or worse, sent to Silent Gallows—the only angel-born prison in North America.
Summoning demons was also a dangerous game. The occasional stupid human did it, and they always ended up possessed or disembodied. That’s why conjuring demons was mainly a witch’s thing as a means to increase their power by borrowing demon magic. But the catch with tasting demon power was they always took a piece of you—a few fingers, your teeth, eyes, your soul. It didn’t matter to them, as long as they had a piece.
When Jax had told me he’d been working some dangerous demon summoning rituals to try and break his contract with Degamon, I’d wanted to beat him with a shovel. But when I mentioned this to his mother, her expression had been carefully blank. I was willing to bet Mommy Dearest had known all along that her son had been dabbling in something seriously illegal.
The woman hated my guts, but she loved her son.
I knew there was nothing she wouldn’t do for him, not when she’d already lost a daughter to a demon.
I sat at the edge of the chair, my feet planted strategically in front of me, just in case Mrs. Spencer changed her mind and I had to make a break for it before she set her rich friends to kill my demon-born ass. She’d left me sitting in the den alone at least a half hour ago to make some calls.
Maybe Tyrius was right. Maybe this was the stupidest idea I’d ever had.
Tapping my foot on the rug, my blood pressure skyrocketed, and I wished Tyrius were in here with me. To have him sitting on my lap would have been a real comfort. He’d criticize the plush furnishings, rub himself on the rug to leave his scent and hair, and maybe even spray a few spots. Mrs. Spencer would love that.
It would have brought a smile on my face. But I’d left my best buddy outside by the front door like a pair of muddy Wellingtons. I was an ass.
“You should be nervous,” said a male voice in a slightly mocking tone, and I turned to see a tall man standing in the doorway. His short black hair nearly grazed the frame as he watched me, and his dark eyes held a glint of contempt and sly amusement, like I was the butt of some inside joke.
“I’m not nervous. Just anxious to get things going.” I narrowed my eyes. “It’s Louis, right? How long have you been standing there watching me? That’s really pervy, you know?”
The light wrinkles around Louis’s eyes deepened with his frown. He was dressed in a similar style to when I’d first met him, with an expensive looking gray business shirt and a pair of black pants. The P-shaped birthmark I spied through his collar was the same as Jax’s. The archangel Michael’s sigil was common to all angel-born from House Michael.
He watched me for a beat longer and then sauntered into the den, rubbing his hawk-like nose with his finger. Nervous? I didn’t think so. I think he wanted me to think he was nervous. He reminded me of a scarecrow, a very well-dressed scarecrow. Saying the dude was creepy was an understatement.
He moved with the precise and twisting grace of a snake, and I could almost imagine a gray, forked tongue in that large mouth to match his scheming eyes. The slight smile on his lips was conniving. A keeper of secrets? Probably. His over-the-top concern for Jax’s mother told me the creepy man had misplaced affection for the married woman. That could come in handy.
There was a smile on his lips, but not in his dark eyes, when he turned around to face me with his back against the mammoth-sized fireplace.
Louis eyed me beneath his thick brows. “You said Jax was abducted by a Greater demon?” He crossed his arms over his chest. “Is that so?”
I sighed really loudly. “I should have seen this coming. You don’t believe me.”
“Demons lie all the time.”
I twisted in my seat and matched my smile to his. “So do the angel-born.” No point in denying that I was part demon, though these angel-born seemed to keep forgetting that I was also part angel-born.
I leaned forward in my chair. “Tell me, L-o-u-u-u-is,” I drawled, “do you get dressed up for Halloween or do you just go as you?”
Louis glanced over my shoulder at the sound of the front doors shutting followed by the soft murmurs of voices in the hallway. Straining my ears to catch every nuance, I stiffened at the nervous pitch, the rise and fall of their voices mixing with their restless energy. That was because of me. The uneven tread and sound of soles scraping the polished floors told me there were about three.
My thoughts went to Tyrius. If any of them tried something stupid, like kicking him, I was going to go full out Rambo on their asses.
Louis looked back at me. The smile on the man’s face twitched. “You’re either really brave or really stupid by coming here.” His tone wavered somewhere between sly and derisive.
I pursed my lips. “I’m thinking… probably a little bit of both.”
“Arrogant child,” mumbled Louis as he pushed off the stone fireplace and stepped closer. “You think you’re clever. Don’t you? You think you’re smarter than everyone else?”
“Nah,” I shook my head, anger heating my face like a sunburn. “Tyrius is the clever one. I’m just the snotty sidekick with a tight ass.”
Something ugly flickered far back in Louis’s eyes. His voice turned rougher, and the smile on his face sent a chill licking up my spine.
“You want to know what I think?” pressed the tall man, his face darkening and his smile growing to show a slip of teeth.
“If I say no,” I intoned, curling my fingers into fists, “will you stop talking and go away?”
“If Jax was abducted by a Greater demon,” continued Louis as though I hadn’t interrupted him, “it was because of you, Rowyn. I think you did this. I think you had your demon friend take him.”
My mouth dropped open, my anger replaced by shock for a half a second. “You’re out of your freaking mind.” I shivered, not knowing if I had saved Jax or damned myself by coming here.
“Don’t think I don’t know what you’re trying to do,” accused the man, his jaw tightening.
“Oh, yeah? And what’s that, Einstein?”
His face was an ugly mask of anger. “To infiltrate our angel-born community by getting your dirty demon fingers around the necks of the great houses.”
I stared at my fingers. “I wouldn’t call them dirty, but they could use a manicure—”
“This is just a ploy to get close to Celeste,” spat Louis, so close to me now that the smell of cigarettes and old coffee made my stomach churn. “You can’t have her.” This guy was seriously demented.
“I’m trying to save an angel-born, you halfwit,” I growled, my nails cutting into my shaking palms. It was my turn to raise my voice. This idiot believed I was responsible for Jax’s abduction by the Greater demon. And since he and Mrs. Spencer seemed to be besties, I had the awful feeling she might agree. Swell.
Louis leered down at me. “And when I find out how you did it and can trace it back to you, don’t think you’re going to live long enough to set in motion whatever demon scheme you had going with your kin.”
“Is that a threat?” I growled, my blood seeming to burn under my skin. I barely managed to resist the part of me that wanted to jump up and kick him in the balls. Once. Twice. Okay, lots of times.
“The only reason you’re still breathing is because Celeste believes you,” said Louis, seemingly pleased at my distress, almost feeding off of it like a specter. “I don’t know why, but she does.”
“Guess she’s not as stupid as you,” I answered, feeling a tad relieved that Mrs. Spencer wasn’t orchestrating my death as we spoke. She had told me to wait here while she made some phone calls. What was taking her so long?
A deeply satisfied grin came over Louis, and his breath quickened. “You’re not as clever as you think, demon,” he whispered. His eyes rolled over me, very slowly, and I had the sudden impulse to take a hot shower. “You might have fooled Jax and seduced him with your pretty demon flesh while you flaunted your sexuality at him,” he added. “It’s hard for men to resist the temptation of flesh. But your whoring demon ways won’t work on me.”
“Thank the souls,” I laughed out loud, smacking my thigh and wishing I knew a spell to make him disappear. The hair in his nose was unnaturally long and touched his upper lip. Yikes.
Louis’s smile shifted, becoming wicked. “You’re nothing but a cheap, demon succubus imitation.”
“And that’s why you were voted Personality of the Year.” Furious, I gathered myself and jumped to my feet. I had had enough of his crap. I put myself right in his face and leaned in. Louis was a head taller than me, but I didn’t care. Flipping my jacket back, I cocked my left hip. When I was satisfied that he’d seen my death blade, I pushed my chest out until I forced him to take a step back if he didn’t want to be soiled by my tiny demon breasts.
I smiled, making a point to look down at his groin. “You know what I think, Louis? I think you’re all worked up and angry because you haven’t gotten laid in a while. Probably because the one you want… isn’t on the market.”
Louis’s ears turned red, and I swear I saw some steam coming out of them. “You don’t know what you’re talking about.”
“I think I do. We always want what we can’t have, right?” I raised a brow. “Oh. I get it. Even if she wasn’t married, she’d never give you the time of day. Not up to her standards, eh? Never desired you the way you’ve been lusting over her for years. I’m right. Aren’t I?” Creepy perv.
An ugly noise came from Louis’s throat. With a slight flick of his wrist, a blade appeared in his hand. Impressive. He might actually be worth the sweat of a fight. Almost.
The blood washed from Louis’s face, and his chin trembled in anger. “How about I kill you now and save everyone the hassle of getting their hands dirty with your demon filth. You don’t believe me? I’ll do it.”
I wrapped my hand around my death blade. “Do you see me trembling in my trendy yet economical boots here? Exactly.” I didn’t want to kill the bastard, but he was asking for it. Mrs. Spencer wouldn’t be too pleased if she found her man servant bleeding out on her expensive rug with my death blade in his gut.
Resolved, I took a calming breath and tried to rein in my emotions. But if the idiot moved, he was toast.
“What’s going on?” came a voice from behind me. Female, but not Mrs. Spencer’s. I waited for Louis to sheathe his blade back in his wrist strap concealed under his shirt before I stepped back, sheathing my own blade before it got me into some serious trouble. I turned around slowly.
In the doorway stood a young blonde woman, probably in her early twenties, athletic in a cheerleader-type way with a voluptuous chest and a face that could have been on the cover of Vogue. She had on too much makeup, like she was trying hard to hide her true beauty. Her long hair was styled in a French braid that fell past her shoulders. She had on a pair of tight jeans and a short, motorcycle-style black leather jacket that almost had me drooling.
Tension hit me hard, and I clenched my jaw when I recognized who she was.
Ah hell. I knew who she was just by the venomous look she gave me.
I was staring at Ellie, Jax’s fiancée.
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