Wings of Vengeance (Hidden Wings Series Book Five), p.1Cameo Renae
This Book is sold subject to the condition that it shall not, by way of trade or otherwise, be lent, re-sold, duplicated, hired out, or otherwise circulated without the publisher’s prior written consent in any form of binding or cover other than that in which it is published and without similar condition including this condition being imposed on the subsequent purchaser.
Published by Crushing Hearts and Black Butterfly Publishing
Editing by Victoria Schmitz at Crimson Tide Editorial
Book design by Inkstain Interior Book Designing
Text Copyright 2016 by Cameo Renae
Cover design by Mae I Design
To EVERY READER who didn’t want this series to end…
This is for YOU.
My amazing editor, VICTORIA RAE SCHMITZ aka Word Ninja.
My BETA READERS for their awesome advice:
My publisher, SARAH DAVIS,
for her extreme coolness during my whirlwind releases.
“EMMA, WAKE UP.” I BLINKED several times, trying to focus in the darkness, only to find Kade’s distraught eyes hovering close by. “Another nightmare?” he asked.
I nodded, wiping the beads of sweat from my brow and then cuddled close to him, resting my head on his chest. The beating of his heart had a way of calming my anxiety, soothing my every fear.
“Maybe you should talk to Alaine,” he whispered, pressing his lips to the top of my head.
“I’ll talk to her in the morning,” I exhaled.
“You’re shaking.” His hands rubbed down my arms. “Was it about me?”
I could sense a hint of concern in his voice.
“No,” I breathed. “It was about Alaine this time.”
I tried to erase the visions of her scorched and blistered body from my mind, but it was still there. In full color. Terrorizing me. The smell of smoke was still lingering in my nose, and the heat of the flames still felt warm on my skin.
I didn’t want to worry anyone with my troubles, but it was the third time this week I’d woken Kade with these horrifying nightmares. Every night it was a different loved one, and they were getting stronger as they progressed.
What was most unnerving was the shadowy figure with onyx wings present in every one. I could never make out the face but could sense its twisted pleasure as it watched me suffer.
I’d had enough of watching my loved ones endure horrible and painful deaths. Although they were nightmares, the pain was real and lingered for days after. It was something I couldn’t just erase. These dreams ate at my soul, keeping me tight in its cold, indifferent arms, holding on through my waking hours.
I prayed they weren’t premonitions, and I prayed Kade wouldn’t be in any future nightmares. I’d watched him suffer in real life, and it’d shattered my entire being. Now that we were bonded, watching it happen again would kill me.
I glanced over at the clock. It was four in the morning, but I didn’t want to go back to sleep.
“Where are you going?” Kade asked as I slipped from the warmth of his arms.
“To make some coffee and read the book Lia sent me.”
“You sure you don’t want to stay here with me?”
“You know I do, I just don’t want to go back to sleep.”
His hazel eyes swirled with desire. “I didn’t say we had to sleep.”
“Are you seducing me, Mr. Anders?”
A grin played on his lips as he pulled the covers down. “Maybe.”
“Well then,” I exhaled, jumping in next to him. “Coffee can wait.”
AROUND EIGHT O’CLOCK THE NEXT morning, I made my way across the lawn from our cottage to the main house. Alaine had remodeled the cottage as our wedding gift, keeping the design simple, yet elegant. We loved having a place to call our own while being within arm’s reach of family.
Being greeted at the kitchen door by Miss Lily, she pulled me into a hug and offered me breakfast. With my stomach still unsettled from the nightmare, I politely refused and headed into the foyer. The stained glass angel above had been completely reconstructed, along with the chandelier and the tiles underneath. The house was restored back to its pre-Fallen War glory. It felt as if nothing had happened here…which bothered me.
Continuing on my way to Alaine’s office, I paused right before the stairwell and stood in the area where Malachi and James had given their lives. The memory would forever be etched in my mind. It was something I wanted to forget, but I knew I never would. The thought of their untimely deaths released a rush of emotion inside of me, and I found myself fighting to hold back the tears stinging my eyes.
“Emma?” Alaine’s voice startled me. She was standing in the hallway just outside her office.
“Hi,” I answered, wiping a stray tear from my cheek. “Sorry about that. I wanted to see if you were available for a bit?”
“Emma, I’m always available for you, or Kade, day or night.” She smiled and gestured for me to enter her office. “And don’t ever feel like you need to hide your emotions. We’re all still trying to cope with the loss of our dear friends. It’s been rough on all of us. I have troubled memories every time I enter the foyer. But it also makes me appreciate what I have,” she took hold of my hand, “like you and Samuel.”
“Where is he?” I asked.
“Running errands and picking up some floodlights for the perimeter. A few were burned out, and Henry said we’d run out of spares. He should be back soon.”
She made her way behind her desk and sat down. “So, what is it you wanted to talk to me about?”
I sat down in the seat across from her and folded my hands in my lap.
“This past week, I’ve been experiencing vivid nightmares.”
“Nightmares?” Alaine leaned forward, her eyes concerned. “Tell me about them.”
My insides trembled as I thought back. “The first one started with Samuel. The next night was Jeremy and Lia, and last night, it was about you.” I looked deep into her auburn eyes.
“What happened to all of us?” She was very calm which helped my shakiness.
“You all…died.” I paused, taking in a deep breath before continuing. “Samuel was crucified to a tree in a dark forest, and by the time I reached him, it was too late. Jeremy and Lia were encased in a large glass box which was filling with water. I watched them drown and there was nothing I could do to save them.” Tears flowed down my cheeks. “Last night, you died in a fire. I couldn’t save any of you. Even with my power, I was helpless.”
Alaine reached across the table and took my hands into hers.
“It was just a nightmare, Sweetheart. We’re all still here, still alive.”
“But what if it’s not just a dream? I’ve experienced premonitions before, all of which came true.”
“If they are premonitions, they could be warnings telling us we need to tighten up our perimeter and security.”
“Yeah,” I breathed. “But, that’s not all of it.”
Her eyes narrowed. “What do you mean?”
“In every dream, someone else was there with me. It was a member of the Fallen because it had long, black wings, but their face was always obscured.” My heart was pounding. “What if it’s him?”
Her eyes narrowed. “Who?”
“It can’t be him. He’s bound to the Underworld,” she said. “So many awful things have happened to you in such a short time. Maybe returning here, where most of it happened, triggered the dreams. We all know
I sighed. “It’s seems never ending.”
“We’ll get through this,” she said, her eyes showing hope and promise.
“Yeah, I’ve been so emotional lately and can’t seem to pull myself out of it. I still can’t walk past parts of this house without crying.”
“Me too,” she breathed. “They were a huge part of our lives, and it’s difficult knowing we’ll never see them again. But their memories will live within us, forever.”
“I’m glad I still have you, Samuel, and Kade.”
She stood and walked around the desk, wrapping me in one of her warm hugs. “It’ll be all right. We’re safe here, and you are much stronger than most of the Fallen out there, especially with Kade by your side.”
After I had left Alaine’s office, I headed back to Kade. He wanted to take me away for a few days, hoping it would be a remedy to the nightmares. Maybe a change of scenery was what I needed.
I agreed, so we packed a small bag, rented a car, and drove south. He wanted to check out an old mining town at Hatcher Pass, to do some hiking and blueberry picking. It was an attempt to blend in with the humans, and try and regain some of my humanity even though it was the smallest part of me.
AFTER CHECKING INTO OUR HOTEL room, we decided to drive up to the Independence Mines.
As we reached the top of the mountain, it was quiet serenity. The three hundred and sixty degree view was full of nature at its finest. Everything was lush and green, and I could almost imagine the men from long ago, heading off to the mines.
We parked the car and walked toward a ramshackle mining camp, broken down by years of neglect and harsh weather. As a calm breeze whirled around us, I caught an unfamiliar scent. It was like nothing I’d ever smelled before. Perhaps it was perfume from one of the other hikers, but as I glanced around, no one was nearby.
The smell didn’t seem to faze Kade, who’d turned to catch a snapshot of the mountain view below with his camera. He was playing the part of tourist very well.
Glancing at the ruins again, I saw a figure in the tallest building, at an opening in the top. My eyes tried to focus on the person, but they were over one hundred yards away. What appeared to be dark eyes slipped back into the shadows.
I gasped and turned to Kade.
He put his camera down and looked to me. “It’s amazing up here, isn’t it?”
“Mmm-hmm,” I hummed, twisting back toward the opening at the top of the building.
Whatever was there a few seconds ago was now gone. Maybe I imagined things. There was no way any human would dare climb up there. It was dangerous.
I took in another deep breath, and the scent was no longer there.
“Emma, what’s wrong?” Kade’s eyes carefully studied mine.
I scanned the surrounding area. There was nothing but peace and quiet.
“Nothing. I thought I saw something.”
“Was it an animal?”
I glanced at him and grinned. “It could have been.”
“I saw a bunch of squirrels chasing each other down a ways.”
He was probably right. It must have been some Alaskan wildlife. There were lots of them in this area, and living in those old buildings. It could have been a raven, owl, eagle, or squirrel…a countless number of things.
“That’s probably what it was.” I exhaled, my mind a bit at ease.
Kade wrapped his arm around my shoulder and pulled me close.
“Are you enjoying yourself, or is this lame?”
I peered deep into his eyes, which were greener today, mimicking the surrounding wild grasses and foliage.
“As long as you’re here, even the lamest excursion would be tolerable.”
“So, what you’re saying is, it’s lame.”
I laughed out loud. “No, it’s not. I promise. I’m enjoying myself.”
“The look you had earlier told me otherwise.” He eyed me like he could read every single emotion.
“No, I’m fine. Let’s keep going.”
We followed the broken railway tracks and headed up toward an old miners’ cave as a light fog rolled in. Forty yards out, the same peculiar smell caught the breeze and swirled around me.
“Do you smell that?” I asked.
Kade turned with narrowed eyes and took in a deep breath.
“I do smell something. It reminds me of a perfume you’ve worn in the past.” He sniffed again. “It’s gone now.”
“What?” I turned to him, baffled. “I’ve never worn perfume.”
“Really?” he questioned, his brow furrowed. “That’s weird.”
“Yeah, really weird,” I breathed. “Well, I caught the same scent back at the ruins.” I was feeling a bit anxious. Something just wasn’t sitting right.
“It doesn’t smell like one of the Fallen.”
“I know. I think the nightmares are getting to me. Making me jumpy.”
“Just say the word, and we’re out of here.”
“No,” I shook my head, “we’re almost to the cave. It would be a shame to have hiked all this way and not see it.”
“Come here,” he said, pulling me close. We stood face to face, as his hands caressed my back, fingers sliding upward, pressing me closer to him. “Maybe this will help,” he breathed. His warm lips covered mine.
His kiss filled me with a heated, calming buzz, wrapping its tender coils around me, caressing my soul. He pulled back and rested his forehead against mine. “I’ll promise to keep you safe from wildlife or any other dangerous being coming your way.” He lifted his arm and flexed his defined bicep. “Not that you can’t protect yourself, but I still like to think I’m your protector.” He flashed a sexy smirk.
I smiled and batted my eyelashes. “You are, and will always be, my hero.”
“That’s reason number two hundred and thirty-one why I love you. You constantly reaffirm my manliness.” His exaggerated wink made me giggle.
“It’s what I’m here for, Mr. Anders. I aim to please.”
“And I am whole because of it.” He gave me one more passionate kiss, dipping me backward. As my head hung nearly upside-down, my eyes caught movement at the entrance of the cave. A pair of dark eyes stared at me from just beyond the shadows.
As he lifted me upright I lost my footing and fell, but just before I hit the ground, Kade’s arm swooped under me, catching my fall.
“Did you do that on purpose?” he questioned.
“No,” I said breathlessly. “I saw something in the cave.”
Kade’s head snapped up, his eyes turned pitch black.
“Stay here,” he said, handing me the camera.
I could sense it was something more than just an animal. Its presence prickled my skin, and the uneasiness I felt swept me into a memory. They were the same haunted eyes from my nightmares, only that figure was one of the Fallen, with long black wings.
I followed closely behind Kade. Large piles of rock debris framed the opening. Lying at the foot of the cave was a battered sign that read:
DANGER. Keep Out.
“Maybe we should leave,” I urged.
He turned and smiled. “I’m not afraid of a big, bad bear.”
“What if it’s not a bear, but something much worse?”
“Unless it’s a herd of Grimlock, whatever is in there should be afraid of me.”
“You’ve got a point. Knock ‘em dead, baby.”
Kade was bred to fight and if anyone were able to protect us, it’d be him. He stepped a few feet into the cave and sniffed the air.
“There’s a faint scent of something I can’t put my finger on. But it’s already fading.”
“Is it the same scent we smelled a bit ago?”
“Yes,” he confirmed.
I surveyed the area around us. It was empty, aside from a family walking way down on a trail by a small creek.
“What do you think it is?” I asked.
“I don’t know, but we need to keep our guard up just in case.”
“Okay,” I said as we headed back to the car.
Driving back down the windy road, the scenic tour had turned into a vigilant search, scouring the trees and brush for anything out of the ordinary. I didn’t see or sense anything as we made our way toward Wasilla.
After showering and getting ready, we decided to eat dinner at a nearby restaurant called Evangelo’s. A perky brunette led us to a table in the back, which had another spectacular view of towering spruce and birch trees, with more mountains peeking out from behind them. To the side of us was a fireplace.
“Do you think I’m going crazy?” I asked.
My wide eyed expression made him chuckle. “If you’re going crazy, then I am too. You’re the best part of me, and there is nothing crazy about you. The only crazy thing I see is how crazy in love I am with you.”
The waitress cleared her throat, making my cheeks blush with heat. “Are you ready to order?”
“Yes,” Kade said. “I’ll have the prime rib with a baked potato and soup, and she’ll have the eggplant parmesan.”
“No appetizers?” she asked, jotting down the order.
“No, thank you,” I answered.
“Would you like anything to drink?”
“Dr. Pepper?” Kade asked me with a shrug.
“No thanks,” I answered. “I’ll have an iced tea with lemon.”
“I’ll have the same.”
“Alright, I’ll be right back with the drinks,” she replied with a wide smile.
It was still light outside and we were able to take in the view. I loved Alaska. As I glanced across the table, the gold in Kade’s eyes was much more prominent in the sunlight. If any human eye lingered on him, they’d be able to tell he was something different — ethereal and otherworldly.
“Maybe we should head back to Alaine’s tomorrow,” he suggested, his eyes cautiously observing me.
Wings of Vengeance (Hidden Wings Series Book Five) by Cameo Renae / History & Fiction have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes