Crushed seraphim, p.1
by Debra Anastasia
Copyright © 2011 by Debra Anastasia
All Rights Reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without prior written permission of the publisher.
P.O. Box 793871, Dallas, TX 75379
First Omnific eBook edition, May 2011
First Omnific trade paperback edition, May 2011
The characters and events in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.
Library of Congress Cataloguing-in-Publication Data
Crushed Seraphim / Debra Anastasia – 1st ed.
1. Hell — Fiction. 2. Heaven — Fiction. 3. Love Triangle — Fiction. 4. Supernatural Romance — Fiction. I. Title
Cover Design by Micha Stone and Amy Brokaw
Interior Book Design by Coreen Montagna
To T, J, and D.
You are everything.
He pulled his hand through his long hair and lit a cigarette. The rush of the smoke into his lungs did little to dam the pain that poured from somewhere in his center.
“Get dressed,” he whispered. His voice was the most compelling thing in the room; he knew she would listen.
Sitting on the edge of the couch, he ran his hand over the red velvet, creating meaningless patterns. The remembering wouldn’t stop. The woman behind him, shuffling as quietly as possible into her clothes, would never be the woman he sought to bury himself in.
He knew the speech she was about to deliver by heart. He’d heard it so many times. He took another drag.
“Um, that’s never happened to me before. I mean, I’ve never thrown myself at a man that way. There’s just something about you…” Her voice trailed off as the glow of their intercourse bled from her face.
He didn’t need to look to know her eyes were darting around his smoky room, looking for a way out.
There wasn’t an exit for her, of course.
He reached for the bottle close to his feet and took a swallow. “There is something about me, doll face. It’s between my legs, and I do believe a few minutes ago you were praying to it.”
He stood and turned to face her. The woman’s nightgown was ridiculously prissy with a high, ruffled collar.
“Where do I go now?” She clutched the copious skirt in her hand like a child with a stuffed animal.
He took another drag. The ritual was so timeworn there were almost groove marks around his next words.
“Listen, baby, only you know where you go next. Deep inside you.” He walked toward her, seducing again because he had no other choice. “When everything around you is quiet, what do you hear?” He placed his hand on her heart.
Throughout their sex he’d avoided looking into her face. But now he gazed into her eyes. They were almost familiar. He hated it there.
“I don’t hear anything when it’s quiet. Is this a trick? Is it a riddle?”
She was breathing more quickly now. The evil of which he was capable was even more potent than his sexual prowess. She could feel it.
The smoke began to swirl, almost dancing with glee. Her frantic eyes watched it, trying to get a hint as to what was next.
He took his hand away and bought time with another chug from his precious bottle. After he swallowed, he wiped his mouth with the back of his hand.
“You know where you are, and you know how you lived your life. No one is here by mistake, child. You had choices. You made the wrong ones. It’s okay, baby. I know what that’s all about.” He grabbed her arm, because he had to. This was the way it was always done.
He strode confidently through the dark smoke until he reached a very, very old wooden door. There was just a hairsbreadth between its thick planks, and the glowing, lava-colored light that emanated from behind the barrier created a phantom red jail cell on the floor.
She would struggle now — kick him, slap him, bite him. None of the physical violence affected him, but the soft cries did. Her despair became tangible.
“No! Please, no. You kissed me. You wanted me. There must be something else I can do? I’ll do anything. Oh God, please, no.”
She was hugging his arm now, kissing one of his tattoos to prove her earnestness. He hated this part. Really, he did. The woman’s dark curls reminded him of his love so much. It was designed to be that way, he knew.
“God’s already passed Judgment on you, honey. This is what you deserve.” He opened the door’s handle.
The wood couldn’t hold back all the light when it was closed, but it did keep the screams from permeating his chambers. Now they resonated from below like demented church bells.
He let go of her arm. He would not push her or torture her like his predecessor would have. He motioned for her to enter. She stood, shaking as she peered into the red-hot abyss. There was no floor, no elevator — just a sheer drop.
He stuffed his hands into the pockets of his jeans. This was the part where he always wanted to save them, the women he’d romanced and pleasured.
He wouldn’t, of course.
“I have to go down there?” She pointed a shaking finger at her destination. “What will happen to me?”
He shrugged and looked at the empty space above her head. “You’ll receive what you’ve given in life tenfold. My minions will tend to your doomed soul.”
The way her body stiffened was the answer to any regret he felt about her damnation. She’d obviously been a heinous bitch in her living days. Getting back what she’d doled out to others was scarier to her than a drop with no end. It was worse than her fear of the screams from below.
He nodded toward the space again and raised his eyebrows with expectation. The woman turned to run. But his smoke had anticipated her movements and created a wall that she smacked right into.
The gravity began then, the pull from her Judgment. It was as if unseen hands had grabbed her arms and legs. She fought the whole way, and he almost smiled at her spunk — almost.
When the woman he’d just bedded fell into the seething red forever, he closed the door to block out her screams.
His smoke was happy, swirling in delight. He’d done his job again. But for him there was no satisfaction, only the grinding emptiness of his own damnation.
He heard the monsters that guarded the gates engage in battle, and this caught his attention. Someone was coming to him. Willingly.
Leaning against the wall by his metal outer door, he waited for the visitor’s inevitable failure. The noises were so rambunctious he almost wanted to take a peek for entertainment’s sake.
His gaze landed on the damned woman’s slippers. She’d forgotten to wear them to her sentence in Hell. She might regret that later.
The slippers were quite sexy — they hadn’t matched her dowdy sleepwear. The noises of the fight beyond his door and the sight of the slippers suddenly set his memory in motion.
Years ago, one of his female minions had come to him with an unusual problem. In this very room she’d requested her release, wearing shoes similar to the ones he now saw on the floor.
“Sir, I need to beg you for understanding. I need to get to the surface.” She was gorgeous, as all his minions were.
“Violent, that’s not a possibility. No one goes to the surface. How about I just give you a mind-numbing orgasm an
He’d been smoking, of course. In the haze, her long, red hair and purple eyes were just hints of her beauty. She was out of focus.
“Sir, with all due respect, it might be possible to get out. Before your reign, a handful of minions tried it.” Violent stepped closer.
Dirty jeans and an old T-shirt never looked so good. After careful inspection of her ridiculously tempting body, he looked in her eyes. She was in serious pain. He saw that same pain every time he looked in the mirror.
“Gorgeous, I have no idea what you’ve been smoking, but I want some.” He offered her a glass of wine that she declined with a flick of her wrist.
Violent was his Minion of Sleep, and she was tremendously valuable. When his reign had begun, she was a quivering mess. His predecessor had abused her in too many ways. As the years stacked up, she began to understand that he would rule differently. This Devil would be more business and less pointless cruelty.
Violent had closed his metal door and crossed the distance so she could kneel at his feet.
“Oh great and wise Satan, I have served here in Hell for more years than anyone can count. I do not deserve mercy or redemption. But I’m asking you to let me go, to try to make it to the surface.” She kept her eyes on his old motorcycle boots.
He tossed his cigarette and lifted her chin with his finger, “Baby, since when do I have minions kneel? Please — this is insulting. Sit next to me and tell me why you feel you need to leave.”
She obeyed, as he knew she would, as she always had in the past. Violent clasped her hands together and sighed.
“Tell me the truth, baby. Anything else is just wasting my time.” He could always spot a lie. No one was better than him at that game.
“I’ve been visiting dreams — planting evil, as I should. But while I surfed from one consciousness to another, I found one I needed to keep visiting.” She clenched her fists.
Satan let her form her words while he tried to deduce what had happened. Violent wasn’t any type of avenger, and she would never want to stop a planned evil event. It could only be one thing.
“I fell in love with a man — a soul — on Earth, and I need to find him,” she confessed.
She turned to face him, and he saw she was deluded with this love.
“He has the most stunning dreams,” she continued. “He’s a painter, and he lives in his art at night. In his dreams I’ve appeared to him and we’ve loved one another. I’ll have him in my arms — if you allow it, of course.”
The whole encounter was perplexing. This sounded a whole lot like goodness, and that never grew in Hell. “No one’s made it out,” he countered. “You know that. You’ll be extinguished if you attempt it and fail.”
He reached for another bottle from the floor. This one was red wine, his second favorite next to rum.
She hopped from his couch and faced him like a fighter. He smiled as she pulled out her weapon, a short dagger. He shook his head and didn’t stand. The wine tasted luscious.
“I’m not him, Violent. The Devil before me would have punished you viciously for even dreaming of leaving. And I could.” He held out his wine bottle to her.
She sheathed her dagger and accepted the wine. While she took her swallow, he walked deeper into his room and returned with one of his best swords. It was as long as his leg and hummed as he slashed it easily from side to side.
Violent nodded and tossed the bottle. The crash was followed by the gentle sound of glass scattering. She closed her eyes and held out her palms, ready to be slashed to bits for even having hoped.
Satan came close to her and watched her bravery as she waited. She’d rather cease to exist than not feel the love she imagined existed for her.
He leaned closer and whispered in her ear. “Beautiful minion, take my sword. It is your fate to choose. This painter you love? If you make it — and I don’t think you will — he gets a piece of Hell for his very own. Is that a gift or a curse, Violent?”
She opened her eyes, and he saw her doubt. “You’re letting me go?”
“No, gorgeous, you’re leaving. You’re not mine to keep.” He kissed her on her cheek and motioned to the metal door.
It had been years since that moment, but he could still see her eyes burning with determination. He’d waited and listened to her exit from Hell in the same spot where he now stood.
He’d held his breath as he heard Violent’s screaming, the monsters making their awful crunching noises. He’d hoped she’d reach the soil. He’d have paid money to see her red hair in the sun and the victory in her purple eyes when she made it to the same realm as her dream lover.
Years went by, and he had no idea of her fate. He’d tried not to picture her skin slick and red, the color of her hair seeping from her veins while one of the beasts feasted on her. But there was no way of knowing until the day he had encountered his first half-breed damnation.
The girl had Violent’s purple eyes and readily showed her fangs to him. After a short interview he knew his minion had indeed made it to the surface. No man alive could deny a beauty as potent as Violent’s, and her painter was no exception. They’d mated and created the girl in front of him now. Celeste was the exact opposite of her name. She did not have a heavenly disposition, and there was a fascinating hunger in her eyes. Satan did not feel compelled to bed her, and she seemed to be anxiously anticipating her damned forever.
As he walked her to the old door, she smiled widely. Instead of screaming and running, she spoke casually, like they were making conversation in a grocery store line instead of standing at the precipice of all evil.
“I love pain,” the purple-eyed girl had panted with sheer pleasure.
Satan looked her up and down and couldn’t even imagine the tenfold she would be getting back. She stepped into the drop and squealed with glee on her way down.
He knew a few things for sure now: A soul could get out of Hell. It was possible, even if it was unlikely. Violent had mated with her beloved human and created a new species of half-breed minions, which seemed to be something twisted and damaged and akin to vampires. If the one he’d just encountered was any indication, he’d be seeing a lot more of them on their way to Hell. Finally, he was reminded again that his predecessor would’ve cut Violent down the moment she approached him — and he’d have done the world a favor.
The noises behind him ramped up. Whatever was coming down had some considerable talent. Satan couldn’t help but wonder if it was Violent, coming to collect her offspring after so many years apart.
When the noises ceased, he lit another cigarette. Oh well, I’ll never know what that was about.
Then just as he inhaled, a knock reverberated off the door behind him. He coughed the smoke out in surprise. He could smell the Heaven before he even opened the door. It was fresh and amazing.
Satan swung back the heavy metal door and chuckled at the sight before him. Completely, spectacularly white, an angel stood in his doorway. He wore an impeccable linen suit, and his wings extended far past the doorframe. He was gorgeous.
“Did you make a wrong turn, asshole?” Satan shook his head.
“Listen, I don’t have a lot of time. God’s coming to parlay for souls. I have a plan that will change the face of Earth, to our evil benefit. I need you to keep him here until I finish what I start.”
The angel was handsome and absolutely crazy.
“The last Devil tried that shit, and he couldn’t do it. I think you need to go back where you came from,” Satan said. “If my minions get a whiff of you, they’ll eat you for breakfast.” Satan began to close his door.
The angel stuck his foot in the gap like a pushy salesman. “That was the last Devil. You’re different. You’re smarter. The half-breeds are your work? Excellent. My hat’s off to you. I think you can keep God captive. If you do, I’ll bring Hell to Earth. Imagine that, Devil. All that innocent flesh for you and your minions — it’ll be a succulent buffet. No need to stick to the evil ladie
Satan regarded the batshit-crazy angel with suspicious eyes. The bastard was lying, he could tell. But which part was the lie? This guy was better than a politician.
Satan hated that he had such a longing to feel the sun on his face. The angel would fail, but as the Devil, he was duty bound to do his best to help in a situation like this. An evil plan cooked up by an angel? Satan was pretty sure that hadn’t happened but once before. Almost one thousand years ago, and Satan was the last to have the balls to do it.
The Devil took his cigarette and stubbed it out on the winged weirdo’s palm. “All right, freak show, I can keep God here like the other bastard couldn’t. What’s your plan?”
Everett grabbed his lapels and smiled. “I’ve rigged a Christmas Angel to visit a half-breed, for starters. Can you imagine? She’ll be a colossal failure. With her out of the way, Earth and Heaven will be mine — and yours, of course.”
“Well, you best scurry along, Everett. I hear my next customer coming.” Satan wanted to slam the door for a more impressive effect, but as Everett turned and walked away, Satan just watched instead.
The wings were mesmerizing, shimmering, and huge. As the scent of Heaven lingered, Satan remembered just what it felt like to have wings — back when he’d been more good than bad, back when God had smiled at his jokes and his lovely angel Claudette had let him hold her hand.
When he could no longer see the angel, he shut his door. Things were actually going to change — he could feel it. The Christmas Angel sent to Earth to make a half-breed vampire freak feel God’s love would never complete her mission. After all the half-breeds he’d walked to the old door, he knew they were a lost cause, a heinous, self-loathing species.
He took a leather wrap from his wrist and tied back his hair with it. He needed to work; keeping God trapped was delicate business.
Jason tracked the falling star on Christmas Eve. Its tail was exceptional and distracted him completely from the task of finding a tree in the forest to decorate for his siblings. The sparking rainbow arch scratched its mark in the obsidian sky as it broke the atmosphere and came screaming closer. Jason watched until he was sure he glimpsed the gentle form of a woman within the scorching, white-hot fire. Then he began to sprint. If he hadn’t been a half-breed, he’d have never caught her.