Above the flames the fla.., p.19
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       Above The Flames (The Flames Trilogy #1), p.19

           Cassandra Fear
 
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  “That must be another one of those phrases that mean something else. I’m sure you don’t really want a penny.”

  Jasmine laughed. “You’re catching on to this. I just want to know what you’re thinking about.”

  “I’m thinking about the story I shared with everyone. I’m thinking it felt good to talk about it.” Amon glanced over at her. “And I’m thinking that I’m glad I’m here, even if I’m not happy with the reason.”

  Jasmine smiled shyly at Amon, then she faced forward again, watching the road. “I’m glad you’re here too. I don’t think I could do this without you.”

  A happiness settled inside Amon when he heard those words. He’d never thought this war could bring anything good, but it did. It brought Jasmine into his life. And although he was fighting his feelings with everything he had, it didn’t change them. But he didn’t say anything, just let the silence stretch around both of them.

  He looked out the window and saw a big building.

  “What is that?”

  “That is the greatest store the world has ever seen. It has everything. Food, clothes. When I say everything, I mean it.” Jasmine pulled off the road. “It’s strange though. This is a busy area. There are no cars on the road, and nobody is entering or leaving Wal-Mart.”

  Amon searched the front of the store. He could barely see a person at the big double door entrance. “I can’t see well, but it looks like there is someone going in.”

  Jasmine pushed the pedal down and the tires squealed. The person turned around and Amon got a glimpse of red, glowing eyes.

  “Jasmine, it’s a demon,” he said.

  “I saw. We need to go check it out.”

  “Go, but beware. A place this big…there are probably a lot of demons in there.”

  “Good. More for us to kill.”

  As soon as Jasmine parked, Amon got out. She joined his side quickly after, and together they walked toward the store.

  Amon grabbed Jasmine’s hand and pulled her to a stop right before they went inside. “Remember, control your power, but don’t hold back. If you are in trouble, use your fire to kill the demons. Do not hesitate.”

  Jasmine nodded. “I won’t. Don’t worry about me.”

  Amon ran his hand up her arm. “For some reason, I do.” He let his hand fall away, and they faced forward. It seemed like they both took a deep breath at the same time, let it out, and stepped through the sliding doors. Yet another thing that was very different from his own time.

  Once inside, he gagged at the thick coppery smell. Blood covered everything. The floor. The walls. Even the high ceiling. Shelves of food were painted red, the boxes and bags of edibles not even recognizable as such.

  Amon took a step forward and almost slipped on a bloody streak across the floor. He followed the trail with his eyes, which led to a heap of bodies piled so high they almost touched the ceiling. It was a slaughterhouse. The cattle had been killed, all of them.

  “Oh my God.” Jasmine breathed the words. Her face had gone pale and her mouth had dropped open.

  “Oh goody!” a high-pitched voice said. “We’ve got visitors. Do tell me, how do you like the view? I think it could use a bit more color, don’t you?”

  Amon spun around, his eyes searching for the powerful demon. “Where are you, Bael? Show yourself!”

  “Oh, now that wouldn’t be much fun. How about you come and find me?” A long, drawn out laugh. “Best watch out, though. My demons aren’t as happy to see you as I am.”

  The sound of footsteps pounded the ground. “We have to get out of here. It’s a trap,” Amon said as he grabbed Jasmine and pulled her back the way they came. She stumbled, but he held her up, dragging her along the pavement.

  “We’re never going to make it,” she said.

  He knew she was right. The demons were right on his tail. He stopped, realizing escape was futile. “Keep going. Get out of here. Bael wants you more than me, so go!”

  “I won’t leave you behind.”

  “You will leave me behind. I told you to go.”

  “I don’t care. You aren’t my boss. Two people have a better chance than one.”

  Amon braced her shoulders, making her face him. “Don’t you get it? We have no chance. If you don’t go, you will die right beside me.”

  Jasmine looked at the ground, and then raised her chin. “Sorry, Amon. But nobody else is going to die here today. Not you. And not me.”

  “Well, isn’t this just sweet? It’s so nice that you finally have someone who cares about you, Amon. It only took—what? A hundred years?” Bael said as he joined them.

  “Just leave the girl alone, Bael. It’s me you want.”

  Bael placed a finger on one of his horns. “Actually, it’s not. I need the girl. Lucifer has some plan and yadda, yadda, yadda. The point is, you are no longer my concern. In fact, if my demons kill you, I might get a sense of happiness from that. But I’m rambling. And talking all about myself.” He grinned, showing sharp yellow teeth. “Let’s talk about you.” He pointed to Jasmine.

  Jasmine stepped in front of Amon. “I won’t let you kill him.” She stomped her foot and the ground below her turned blue. Her wide eyes found Amon’s, but he couldn’t help her. He had no idea what her power was doing.

  “Looks like the little girl has more balls than the man beside her, hmmm?” Bael asked, his eyes amused. “Interesting development, if I do say so myself. Which I did.” He cackled as his demon army came closer, surrounding him, but he held one hand up. “You guys go back inside. Make sure we’ve killed all the humans.”

  “Yeah, pretty sure you don’t need to double check. It looked like you got them all,” Jasmine said sharply.

  “My, you are feisty, aren’t you? I can’t wait to get my hands on you.” Bael jumped forward and snaked a hand out, grasping Jasmine’s arm.

  Amon tried to shove Bael, but there was no need. Jasmine’s arm turned neon blue and Bael yanked his hand back.

  Jasmine smiled, obviously pleased with herself. “Didn’t like that, huh? Maybe it will help you rethink the whole ‘hands on me’ thing,” Jasmine said.

  Amon laughed. He couldn’t help it. Jasmine raised an eyebrow at him. Bael narrowed his eyes.

  “Perhaps I’ll need to rethink a few things. Starting with my plan.” Bael’s eyes lit up. “Oh, I’ve got it.” In a quick movement even Amon hadn’t seen coming, Bael rushed past both of them, wrapped his arms around Amon’s sides and up around his neck, resting at the base. “This is better, I think. Jasmine, you will not use your power on me. Or I will kill him.”

  Jasmine gritted her teeth. “Leave him alone!” She moved forward, but Amon clamped his lips tight and jerked his head to the side in silent negation. He fidgeted, struggled to get free. Even though Bael was short and smaller than him, he was much stronger. An upper-level demon could lift a tank if he wanted. He decided staying still might be the best solution.

  “I won’t hurt him. If you come with me,” Bael said. “It’s all up to you, of course.”

  Amon shook his head at Jasmine. A frown lined her face as she looked at the ground and pulled the bottom of her silky green tank top down. When she moved her chin up, she made strong eye contact with him and set her jaw. “Jasmine, do not try anything,” Amon said.

  She gave him one of her famous half smiles, looking over his shoulder at Bael. “I will go with you. Just let him go first.”

  Who did she think she was fooling? Bael was a lot smarter than she was giving him credit for. He could read her determination like an open book. He mentally cursed her, knowing that whatever she tried would probably kill them. I’m not being a downer. Bael is too strong to mess with when he has the advantage.

  Bael moved one arm behind Amon, but kept his other arm squeezed tightly around Amon’s neck. A moment later a sharp blade pressed into his neck. He angled his head up, but the blade dug deeper, so he remained as still as possible, barely taking a breath.

  “I think your time is up. Any last w
ords?” Bael asked.

  “Yeah. Watch this,” Jasmine said.

  She reached her hand out, as if she could grab the blade. Instead, a streak of blue shot from her fingertips, snaking around Amon and straight to Bael. The knife slipped as the smell of burning flesh permeated the air. The sizzling sound hit his ears, and Amon moved forward, then turned to see Bael on the ground, clenching his teeth as his skin evaporated like water in a boiling hot pan.

  “Steady,” Amon said to Jasmine. “Focus on the anger and use it.”

  Sweat poured from Jasmine’s forehead. “He’s too strong. I can’t hold him much longer.”

  The blue fire blinked like a disco light against Bael’s dark skin. The demon smiled at Jasmine, held her gaze as he stood. Amon watched as Jasmine’s power fizzled out.

  “Well. Looks like our Jasmine isn’t as strong as she thinks she is. Very good to know.” Bael took a few steps, bent, and picked up the knife.

  Amon clenched his fists and stomped forward, the pavement grinding into the soles of his shoes. “You’ve lost this one. It’s time for you to leave.”

  “I think not. This fight has only just begun, my old friend.” Bael held the blade of the knife at the tip. “And the only one losing will be you.”

  Bael flicked his wrist. The knife flew through the air, sinking into Amon’s side. The breath rushed out of him as pain erupted. Bael moved quickly, and just as Amon grabbed the handle to pull it out, Bael’s hand came over his own and pushed down. The knife sliced through skin, and Amon cried out. The pain was like thick razor blades digging into every nerve in his side. Bael yanked the knife out of his side and blood spilled down his skin, soaking into his shirt, his pants, the ground.

  Amon panted, his heart pounding loudly in his ears. His vision blurred, but he saw Jasmine hurry forward. Saw her hand glowing. She touched Amon and an electric blue bubble shot out from her, shoving Bael with such force he flew halfway across the parking lot. “I’ve got you. Wrap your arm around me,” she said.

  He didn’t have much choice. The pain had heightened, throbbing now all around the stab wound. Jasmine removed the white sweater she wore and balled it up, pressing it against his open wound. His teeth clamped together and he grunted. “Just go. Leave me. You have to save yourself.” The energy it took to say even those few words seemed like too much.

  Jasmine frowned. “Just keep your arm around me and walk. My power is protecting us. I’m not really sure how I did it, but we can talk about that later.”

  The world spun with each step he took, but somehow he got through it. Bael ran toward them, but Jasmine’s power stayed strong this time. It sizzled like a bug zapper each time Bael touched his hand against it. “You stupid girl! How are you doing this?”

  Jasmine grinned. “Magic.”

  Bael glared, sticking his hand into their bubble. His skin sizzled, but he laughed. “It doesn’t matter how many times you get away. It will all end the same.” Then he disappeared behind them.

  “How are you maintaining this b-bubble?” Amon asked, sucking in a breath.

  “I have no clue. I’m just glad I figured it out.”

  “So am I,” he said as they finally arrived at the car.

  “I’m sorry to make you do this, but I need you to drive. I can keep us protected, but there’s no way I can drive too. We have to hurry. I don’t know how much longer I can hold this,” Jasmine said.

  Amon swallowed hard. He’d never driven a car like this. Well, he’d actually never driven a car, but he had to figure it out. He sat behind the driver’s seat. “What do I do?”

  “Turn the key and push down the pedal on the right. The left pedal is the brake. It will slow you down,” she said.

  He turned the key, and his side burned. Blood still leaked into his shirt, but not as badly. He pushed the pedal down and the engine roared. He slammed his back against the seat. “What did I do wrong?”

  Jasmine laughed. “Sorry. My fault. Forgot to tell you to put it in drive.”

  ***

  They arrived back at Beau’s house in one piece. How, Amon wasn’t sure. Driving was much more difficult than he’d ever known. He carefully exited the car. Beau and Lamia waited on the front porch, but his friend ran to his side when she saw the blood. “What happened?” Her voice was higher than normal, less sultry.

  “Bael,” he said.

  Lamia pressed her lips together and the corners tilted down. “I’ll kill him.”

  Amon shook his head. “You won’t. Not by yourself. He’s grown stronger now. Nobody will go after Bael alone. That is an order.” He sighed deeply and pain burst through his side.

  “Get Gemma,” Jasmine shouted at Beau. He disappeared inside.

  Lamia put her arm around him and helped him walk.

  “You know, I can walk just fine,” Amon said.

  “A little help never hurt anyone,” Lamia said as Jasmine came over to his other side. Lamia glared at her. “This is your fault. I know it is. What did you do to screw up this time?”

  Jasmine scrunched her forehead. “I didn’t do anything. I am the one who got us out of there.”

  “Lamia, that’s enough!” Amon barked, but it was weaker than usual. “Jasmine saved my life today.”

  The revelation shocked Amon, but it was the truth. She had saved his life. And he would forever be grateful for that. A light feeling stretched across his heart. She’d grown to trust him. Maybe even like him. He smiled despite the pain.

  Lamia fell silent, and he was glad. The stairs proved difficult to climb, but not impossible. The front door flew open just as he reached the porch. Gemma came barreling out. “Amon! Are you okay?”

  “I’ve seen better days, Gemma. Can you heal me?”

  “Yes, of course I can. Lie down,” Gemma said, pointing to the floor below him.

  It was a lot farther away than it looked. He struggled to get down, until Jasmine came behind him and put her arms under his own. She guided him down, and he laid flat on his back. “Okay. I’m ready.”

  A yellow glow shone from Gemma’s hands as she pulled his shirt up. The cut looked angry, swollen, and fire red. A warmth spread over him, a pleasant tingling sensation, almost like he was being tickled. Moments passed, and soon the cut was gone, only healthy skin left behind.

  Gemma clapped her hands together. “There. All fixed up. And pretty darn good work if I do say so myself. I’m pretty sure there won’t be a scar.” She winked and Amon smiled back at her.

  “Thank you, Gemma. You have helped to ease an extraordinary pain. How can I ever repay you?”

  “Kill the demons,” she responded. “Every last one of them.” Her voice turned hard, and Amon nodded once before she walked back into the house.

  Jasmine sat on the porch swing. He gazed at her as he, too, walked into the house. “I will kill them. All of them,” he mumbled. “Or we are all doomed.”

  Chapter 24

  Bad News Angel

  Jasmine

  A breeze warmed Jasmine’s face as she swayed back and forth on the porch swing. One foot was tucked under the opposite thigh and she hunched over, picking at her nails. Amon and she had barely escaped Bael. She knew that, and was so grateful for Gemma. If she hadn’t been here…Amon might be dead. She swallowed hard. That thought affected her more than it should. I care what happens to him. The revelation floored her. When did I start caring about him?

  All of a sudden, the wind grew in intensity, making her long dark hair fly around her face. She dropped her finger and looked up, hearing the sound of a bird quickly flapping its wings.

  Evangeline landed against the ground like she was a feather, making no noise. “Hello, Angel Blessed.”

  Jasmine smiled. She couldn’t help herself. The sight of the angel grinning at her made her lighter, filled her with a joy she couldn’t suppress. “Hello. Please call me Jasmine.”

  Evangeline frowned. “That is your name, but wouldn’t you rather be called by your destiny name?”

  Jasmine shook her
head. “No, I don’t think I would.”

  Evangeline glided up the steps and joined Jasmine on the swing. She placed her soft hand against Jasmine’s bare arm. “Why ever not?”

  Jasmine shifted to the side, out of the angel’s grasp. “Because I’m not really all gung ho about the Angel Blessed thing. I’m meant to fight an army of demons, you say.” Jasmine lifted her hand, holding her palm outward as Evangeline’s mouth opened. “Hold on. You need to know that Amon and I barely escaped with our lives today against one demon.”

  Evangeline pursed her lips. “Who did you fight today?”

  “Bael.”

  Evangeline’s eyes widened. “Ah. Bael is an upper-level demon. He is not easy to take down, nor is he easy to fight. No demon is easy to fight, mind you. But Bael, he’s much stronger than a lower level.”

  “Pretty sure I got the message. Loud and clear.”

  The door opened and footsteps tapped the wood deck. Jasmine gazed past Evangeline.

  Bub stopped halfway to the porch swing. “Hey, Jaz. Amon wants you in the TV room.”

  Jasmine stood, but Evangeline grabbed her arm. “Wait, there is something else I need to tell you.”

  “Tell him I’ll be right there.” Jasmine waited for him to disappear back into the house, then turned and faced Evangeline. “What is it?”

  Evangeline rose from the swing and paced in front of it. She rested her hand on the railing and stared at the driveway. “I’m afraid I have some bad news. I have been talking with some of the angels. They are trying to get things in order above, but almost everything in the Heavens has been destroyed. They told me they have heard talk amongst the demons. Talks of the Angel Blessed and how they need them. They want them all for their army.”

  Jasmine moved to stand beside the angel. “I kind of knew that already. Bael has been after all the Angel Blessed since he rose.” Jasmine sighed. “Speaking of, did you find the other two of us?”

  Evangeline faced Jasmine, shaking her head. “I haven’t.”

  Jasmine raised her eyebrows. “Don’t you think you should be out there looking then?”

 
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