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       Katie's Hellion (Rhyn Trilogy, Book One), p.1

           Lizzy Ford
 
Katie's Hellion (Rhyn Trilogy, Book One)
Katie's Hellion

  Rhyn Trilogy, Book One

  By Lizzy Ford

  https://www.GuerrillaWordfare.com/

  Edited by Christine LePorte

  https://www.ChristineLePorte.com/

  Cover art and design by Dafeenah

  https://www.indiedesignz.com

  Copyright 2011 by Lizzy Ford

  Cover art and design copyright 2011 by Dafeenah

  All rights reserved.

  No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systems, without permission in writing from the author. The only exception is by a reviewer, who may quote short excerpts in a review.

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents either are products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events or locales or persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental.

  See other titles by Lizzy Ford at https://www.guerrillawordfare.com/

  You can follow the GW team on Twitter:

  @LizzyFord2010

  @cleporte

  @dafeenajameel

  Twitter hashtags:

  #guerrillawriter, #fantasy, #romance, #paranormalromance

  Chapter One

  Gabriel turned the pages of the Oracle’s book, watching as words scribbled themselves across the parchment, updating a chain of events that changed with every decision made by the Council That Was Seven. Only the long-dead Oracle possessing the book and the deities could see the Past, Present, and Future.

  He saw only the Present, like fractured scenes of a movie where the actors continually changed their lines and settings. Words leapt from the pages to form hologram-like images dancing over the book. Friends and strangers alike acted out their stilted scenes before dropping onto the page as words again.

  Show me Rhyn, he told the book.

  He always peeked at his friend, whom he'd dropped off in Hell to serve an undeserved sentence. Rhyn's powers were beyond even Gabriel to control, and the unfortunate immortal was a loose cannon that’d accidently almost destroyed the world more times than Gabriel could count.

  Gabriel's lover and master, the deity Death, materialized beside him at the Oracle's altar in the center of an ancient fortress in the Sanctuary. Each of the four Sanctuaries sat on an island straddling the human and immortal worlds and housed an immortal treasure, such as the Oracle.

  He sensed Death's disapproval.

  "I know," he said, and turned the page in the book to continue watching Rhyn.

  Death took her human form out of respect for the women of the convent-like Sanctuary that housed the Oracle. She was beautiful, a woman of sunshine, smiles, and eyes that changed from white to black and every color in between. At close to seven feet with eyes and hair blacker than night and a permanent scowl, he was what most expected Death to look like. Yet the lithe woman with the transparent skin and glow was exactly what people saw when they went: a bright, beautiful, peaceful light.

  "I want to know if--" he started.

  "Rhyn?"

  "Yeah."

  "Immortals aren’t so far off from humans, are they?" Death mused. "They share their weaknesses."

  "I know what really happened, and I hoped others would figure it out. He doesn't deserve to be in Hell," he replied.

  "You can’t interfere more than you have. How many times have I warned you about breaking Immortal Code?"

  "Does nothing bother you?" he asked without heat, knowing the answer. "And technically, I interfered by making him disappear before anyone figured out he’d saved humanity."

  Death smiled serenely and placed her small hand on the book. He met her gaze.

  "All things come to me eventually," she said, quoting the familiar words. "You, too, you know."

  "Someday."

  "And someday Rhyn. He's on my list, Gabriel."

  He was quiet, the words and holograms before him blurring as he thought. The only immortals on Death's list were those who were about to become dead-dead. He'd always hoped Rhyn would have another chance, that Hell was a place to stash the dangerous immortal until the world was ready for him.

  "He didn’t deserve what he got," he voiced, troubled. "In all my time, I’ve never felt guilt at what I do."

  "You’re my best assassin, and you’re the only one who can trespass in Hell and return. You had to do what you did. If nothing else, you know he’s safe, and so are the little humans."

  "Are you serious about making him dead-dead soon?"

  "Let me show you something," she said, and stepped up beside him. "Keep in mind, you're not supposed to be anywhere near the Oracle. Only--"

  "Deities and whatever," he finished with a roll of his eyes.

  She gave him a stern glare that made him smile. Her human form was tiny enough that the Oracle's book reached her shoulder level.

  Death's hand hovered over the pages, and she turned them quickly without touching them. She stopped and touched a page with her fingertip. An image sprung from the paper before them.

  The earth in flames, with earthquakes swallowing whole towns and buildings burning.

  Gabriel shifted, well aware Rhyn was capable of this.

  Death gave him a pointed look, waiting for him to jump to his friend's defense as he always did. It was hard with the scenes she showed him flickering in front of him.

  "The Future isn't set," he managed at last.

  "It's not," she agreed. "But if I don't make him dead-dead, there's a good chance this is the fate of the human world."

  "I can't believe there's nothing that can be done!" he replied with more emotion than he intended.

  "You're going soft, Gabe."

  "It's wrong."

  "Odd, coming from my best assassin," she said.

  He said nothing, watching the scene. Death closed the book and looked up at him.

  "Do you believe in him so much, or do you feel so much guilt?" she challenged.

  "I believe in him."

  She considered him for a long moment before turning away. He suppressed a sigh, sensing she was beyond mercy for anyone on her list. Normally, so was he. Death held out her hand, and an hourglass with black sand appeared in her palm.

  "He could be such an asset to the Council That Was Seven. Right now, he's useless to them and anyone else, just an immortal whose freakish power should've landed him on my list long, long ago," she said.

  She tipped the hourglass, and black sand began to spill.

  "I'll give him a second chance," she continued. "For you, my sweet, not for him. But I can't let him stay alive long, or you've seen what'll happen. When the sand is gone, I'll make him dead-dead, unless he can learn to control his power and to work with his brothers."

  Gabriel stared, surprised, then dismayed, at her conditions. He watched the sand that was Rhyn's life and met her gaze.

  "And, you can't break the Immortal Code to help him."

  The restriction smacked him hard, as he'd been ready to drag Rhyn out of Hell as soon as Death was gone.

  "How do I get him out of Hell?" he demanded.

  "You won't. Someone else will."

  "Who?"

  "The leader of the Council That Was Seven is about to make a decision that will alter all their paths. It involves a woman destined to be the first Ancient's mate and who's immune to immortals," she said.

  "Rhyn has a mate?"

  "He might, if she doesn't die before the sand runs out."

  Gabriel dwelled on this new information. He wasn’t really sure Rhyn would consider being sentenced to eternity with a mate much of an improvement over Hell.

  She slid the Ora
cle's book carefully into a satchel and replaced it inside the altar before placing the hourglass in front of him.

  "Immortal Code," she reminded him.

  "You won’t kill me," he remarked, hope and frustration filtering through him. "I’m violating Immortal Code by serving you, by locking Rhyn in Hell to keep Kris from killing him."

  "Take him this, and don't you dare break the Code again," she said.

  A familiar vial appeared in her hand containing what looked like sand. Rhyn's name was etched in the immortals' tongue across the top. It was his immortal powers, which Death had yanked from him when she ordered Gabriel to take him to Hell.

  Gabriel took it and smiled, cheered by the thought of the most powerful immortal ever born cursed with the self-control of a five-year-old in a room with fresh-baked cookies and no adult supervision. Rhyn couldn’t do what others wanted, not when he couldn’t control his own powers. Gabriel wondered if even a mate and a second chance could help him.

  "He tends to destroy the natural balance of everything when he’s free," Death said with some annoyance. "Maybe when he’s stabilized, he can leave Hell."

  He looked at her, and she smiled the same gentle smile she used to greet humans to the underworld.

  "But who in Hell is going to become his mate?"

  "His brother Kris will take care of it," she said.

  "He’ll make things right with Rhyn after their nasty break?"

  "Not on purpose, but yes."

  Intrigued, Gabriel relented from his stubborn position before the altar.

  A knock at the door interrupted their conversation. The leader of the convent that cared for the Sanctuary opened the door and curtseyed. Death curtseyed back, gave Gabriel a final look of warning, and followed the woman in grey to afternoon tea.

  He watched her go, wondering how he could help his friend without breaking the Immortal Code yet again. Pocketing the vial, he willed himself to the shadow world, the place between worlds. It was hazy and cool, like a beach after the evening fog rolled in. Portals to the mortal and immortal worlds glowed warm yellow through the fog like beacons. He went to the only portal that glowed black--the portal to Hell--and stepped from the shadow world into the tiny, dark cell holding his friend.

  He watched Rhyn's body contort beneath the spells of Rhyn's brother, Sasha. Without the contents of the vial, Rhyn was defenseless against any immortal. Gabriel couldn't help the feeling of deep satisfaction as he gripped the vial in one hand.

  Rhyn was being given a second chance, and Gabriel hoped he killed Sasha before the sands in the hourglass were gone.

 
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