Emma Blake, a half-demon, has to convince Cyn to help rescue her sister from powerful demons. Terrified that the Protector will kill her if he realizes what she is, she still goes against every instinct and approaches Cyn for help. Despite knowing that she is leading them both into territory so wrought with treachery, neither of them may survive.
Can Cyn and Emma overcome betrayal, the ancient rules that prevent Protectors from taking a wife, unless she is his one true mate? And if they do, will it even matter?
Emma Blake always felt at home in the shadows. It was where she lived, always concealing the truth from those around her.
Now as she hid in the doorway of an abandoned building, she couldn’t help but compare the current situation to her life. The dampness of the brick wall behind her seeped through to her skin, as she pushed further into the dark to avoid being noticed. The putrid smell of trash and urine barely registered, as she was mesmerized by the scene unfolding before her.
The scene invoked images of the endless battle forces of dark and light had been waging since the dawn of time.
Although beautiful to behold, the warrior who fought before her wasn’t exactly an angel, but he was as close to one as she would ever get. In desperate need of his help, she took a big chance sticking around; because once he caught her there were only two possibilities for her.
He’d either help her or he would kill her.
The air blew chilly on this damp, drizzly day in Atlanta, a city that for some unknown reason, in the last few years, had become a hotbed for demons. With such an influx of demons, human assaults were on the rise.
Emma continued to watch from the shelter of the doorway, as the Protector fought his aggressors. Ten huge low-level demons armed with medieval-type swords.
She tensed, but didn’t flinch as a demon’s severed arm flew past her and hit the ground next to her foot with a sickening thud.
Emma had no doubt as to whom the victor would be in the end. The fluidity of the Protector’s movements and the speed of the fight enthralled her. Her gaze locked on his biceps. Muscles bulged on his right arm, as he swung his sword in a way that seemed almost effortless. Impressive, for the weapon he wielded had to weigh at least twenty pounds.
He dodged a blow and struck out with his sword to slash through one demon’s chest. A dagger flew from his left hand and found its target in another’s heart.
As both demons fell, he already fought the next opponent.
The Protector was magnificent —she had to give him that. He was one of an army of immortal warriors trained for battle against demons. They kept a low profile, from humans, to avoid discovery. Anyone who happened upon them in battle would most likely mistake them for angels.
As she watched the Protector now, Emma could understand why people would make that assumption. He was not an angel, but a warrior that fought for good. His golden skin glistened from the rain as he fought, his long blonde hair, held back with a weatihered leather strap, flew around him like a halo as he swung his sword.
His face, a masterpiece that God surely had enjoyed creating. Perfectly arched eyebrows framed his ice-blue eyes. A shallow cleft softened his strong jaw. The sensuality of his full lips was not diminished by the snarl that remained constant as he battled.
Two demons left.
One of them looked in her direction. Did he see her?
No. I’m well hidden in this doorway.
Emma didn’t panic. The demon was more worried about his survival at this point, than feeding on her blood. The best option for him would be to run and save himself, while the Protector was distracted fighting another.
He chose self-preservation. Scant seconds later, the scent of the demon’s fear assaulted her nostrils as he raced past her.
The demon disappeared around the corner, and she debated the advantages of running as well. Once enraged, only a fool would stick around and try to talk to a Protector, they were slow to calm.
She was one of the few that could see both Protectors and demons in their true forms.
Because of her demon heritage, she was also the Protector’s mortal enemy.
The soft plop of droplets from the overhang splashed into puddles, alerted her to the sudden silence. Emma froze and held her breath. The thumps of her heart echoed in her ears, yet she chanced a peek.
The Protector stood very still. He no longer fought. The body of the last demon lay at his feet, its blue blood pooled around his boots. The body evaporated into a translucent vapor and swirled around the magnificent male.
Emma swallowed hard as the Protector raised his head to sniff the air. His actions slow and steady, as if he knew someone stood nearby. His frosty stare began to scan the alley, his eyes narrowed in her direction. She let out a breath of relief when he peered down at his left shoulder. He grimaced as he rotated it. It seemed that one of the demons had gotten lucky. A blood stain seeped through his grey t-shirt. He lifted the sleeve up and studied the wound, as if oblivious to her presence. He applied pressure with his right hand for a few moments. When he moved his hand away, the bleeding had stopped.
Emma shrank back when he raised his head and glanced in her direction again.
All air left her lungs, when he stalked toward her with an alert expression, as if he expected her to flee in terror before he reached her. The thought did cross her mind.
As the Protector came closer, Emma gritted her teeth and balled up her fists, to keep from running in the opposite direction. Her heart thumped inside her chest.
His face remained expressionless. With hands relaxed at his sides, his movements smooth, but with purpose. His sword, no longer drawn was sheathed in a scabbard and slung across his broad back.
His body loomed much larger now that he was up close. Fear surged again when the Protector stopped a few feet from her. Her blood ran cold and she could not suppress a tremble when his ice-blue eyes locked with her own and his nostrils flared. Narrowed eyes skimmed over her.
If he sensed demon first, she was dead.
At this distance, the male was magnificent. He towered over her, at least six four and he exuded power.
Emma remained tense and cursed in silence as fear seized her while she waited for his reaction. This was it, time to confront the man she’d been searching for and finally found.
Protectors had more strength than demons and although her demon half made her stronger than most humans, no way in hell could she hope to defend herself if he decided to fight.
Cyn pushed fury aside, and took a deep breath to calm. He wasn’t in the mood for more surprises. The low-levels that attacked him were less than a threat to him. What infuriated him the most was that he allowed the ambush.
Now a female waited for him, a small one at that. Just what he needed, another thing to deal with.
He’d taken his time pretending to inspect the cut to his shoulder, giving her time to run away.
At this point, he didn’t care if she’d seen him fight demons. Who would believe her anyway? As he stalked towards her, her eyes widened and she shuddered, but then squared her shoulders and held her ground.
Even more interesting, the petite woman barely flinched when Cyn stopped just a couple feet away from her and studied her.
Who was she?
The longer he watched her, the more she frightened she seemed to become. Her heartbeat picked up, her lips parted, and her breathing accelerated. The familiar scent of fear told him she’d witnessed what had just transpired between him and the low-level demons.
And, she was afraid of him.
His inner voice urged him to erase her memory and move on. Intrigue stopped him.
He tried to determine what she was. She didn’t seem like a demon. Her skin lacked the telltale blue tinge visible to Protectors.
Fully human? Perhaps, but he doubted it.
Cyn leaned forward and peered into her honey-brown eyes, as he tried to read her thoughts.
But he could not.
She could be one of the few humans that were difficult to read, or did she intentionally block him?
This is trouble. Move on.
Once again, he ignored the voice in his head.
The woman swallowed, but didn’t budge; as if afraid he’d attack at her slightest move. Not a bad assumption on her part.
He took advantage of her stillness, Cyn’s eyes traveled over her body again. In her grey business suit, she looked like she’d just stepped away from an office. Certainly, there were better places for her to go, than this alley, on such a damp dreary day. Almost as if in response to his thoughts, a rumble of thunder boomed over them.
Both ignored it.
The woman became more and more nervous as he continued to study her. Her breaths now came in small pants as she shuffled, putting weight on one leg and then the other. Her hand shook slightly when she raised it to brush several strands of golden brown hair away from her flushed, heart shaped face.
Pretty was not an adequate word to describe her. She was exquisite. His eyes lingered on her lips.
How would her lips feel under mine?
The fact that she took his breath away gave Cyn pause. After hundreds of years and many attractive women in his bed, it was rare that beauty affected him anymore.
The female narrowed her eyes at him and her nostrils flared. She interrupted his thoughts. “I know this is probably not the best time to ask, but I need to talk to you. I desperately need your help.”
Cyn’s interest spiked as she spoke. No accent, so that didn’t help him.
He didn’t answer her. Instead, he inhaled deeply and concentrated on isolating her scent that floated in the air. She smelled of tropical islands, a hint of coconut mixed with her natural essence. The heady fragrance forced him to take a step back. His entire body reacted to her.
Definitely time to leave.
Like any normal male, it wasn’t unusual for him to become aroused in the presence of an attractive female. But this reaction was different. It was intoxicating. Unlike any other he could remember.
His heartbeat quickened, his hands tingled urging him to reach out and touch her. A rush of heat coursed through his body. A feeling not too different from what he experienced in battle, but this time lust, not rage caused it. He couldn’t tear his eyes away from her.
The female, appeared normal, yet something about her, that he couldn’t quite explain, pulled at him.
A witch? He didn’t believe so.
Another type of immortal? He hoped not, he’d have to kill her if she posed a threat to humans.
She seemed to sense his thoughts, and took a step back. “Can we go somewhere to talk?” She asked him in a strong voice, yet he heard a slight quiver.
When he reached out to touch her, she held her hands up defensively. “Wait, don’t kill me, just listen to me. I need only a couple minutes to explain….”
“Believe me, sweetheart killing you is not exactly what I have in mind right now.” His fingers curled around her forearm and he drew her to him.
She yelped as if his touch burned her. She tried to yank her arm from his hold and glared at him. Her eyes flickered to his hand. “Let go of me, I am not going anywhere, it’s very important that I talk to you.”
The woman was either crazy or very brave to stand up to him. He released her forearm but kept his hand on her shoulder, to make sure she didn’t bolt. “Alright, talk.”
Before speaking, she eyed the hand on her shoulder. “My…. my sister, she’s been taken, I need your help to save her. Demons took her hostage. I know you can help her. You’re sworn to protect innocents.” Her bottom lip quivered, it made him wonder if she acted a part, but the plea in her eyes gave him a jolt.
He hated how she seemed to fog his ability to think. He shook his head to clear it.
“I don’t do rescues,” He snapped. “Why are you really here? Who are you?”
“I just told you, I’m a woman who’s desperate enough to come to you for help,” She replied.
He studied her for a moment longer before her eyes slid away from his and seemed to focus on his lips.
All of a sudden he was able to hear her thoughts. “His mouth, it’s so nice...”
His gaze fell to hers.
Thunder clapped simultaneously as he gave in to the powerful connection and drew her to him, ignoring her surprised yelp.
He mouth crushed hers. Caught off guard, she parted her lips and he dove in allowing his tongue to explore. She responded almost immediately. The woman clutched his arms and leaned into him. He hardened, aroused at the lush pliant body pressed against him.
With strength that belied her size, she ran her hands up from his forearms to his shoulders, and drew him closer. Her lips were as soft as the rest of her. The woman’s entire body molded into his now, and the warmth of it enveloped him. He closed his eyes, and allowed the wonderful feel of her to consume him. He deepened the kiss as his hands traveled down her back and cupped her butt. When he ground his hardness into her, he was rewarded by a soft moan.
Time seemed to stop as his lips traveled over her mouth. Aroused beyond thought, his fangs dropped and he used the tips, to tease her bottom lip.
The tingling on the back of his neck, alerted him of demon presence nearby. The defensive warning hauled him back to reality. He broke the kiss and raised his head to look around while he held her against him. The sound of their heavy breathing filled the quiet of the alley, until a growl came from deep in his throat.
More Demons and they were headed for them.
“Damn it,” He said, reluctant to move away from her.
When he released her, the woman swayed blinking repeatedly. An expression, somewhere between shock and disgust, crossed her face. Her upper lip curled and she covered her mouth with her hands. “Oh God! I can’t believe I let you kiss me.”
Cyn ignored her comment at first. “Demons are headed this way. You gotta go,” he told her and then narrowed his eyes at her and added, “You not only let me kiss you, but you kissed me back.”
Putting her hands on his chest she shoved him away. A light blush confirming that she heard his words.
She narrowed those beautiful golden eyes at him. “What did you expect? You killed a bunch of demons. They are going to send an army after you now.”
He shrugged, “So, what else is new.”
This female was spunky.
Too bad he’d never see her again.
He bowed his head at her. “Nice meeting you.”
Turning away, he rushed towards his Harley.
“Wait!” Emma held up both hands and shouted as the Protector ran toward a massive black and chrome motorcycle. He hesitated for a second and she thought he’d heard her.
But, without a backward glance, he straddled the seat, started the loud bike and sped off.
“Damn it! Now I have to find him all over again.” She jerked around and scanned the alleyway. He’d said demons were headed there. It wouldn’t be good to be there alone when they arrived. She hurried out of the alley.
She felt foolish. After all that work to find the Protector and getting up the nerve to talk to him, she didn’t even get the chance to tell him the rest of the information. It’d taken her almost a week to find him. Night after entire night spent skulking through shadowy alleys and streets, following demons all over Atlanta.
Now she was forced to start all over again. She dropped her head, and allowed exhaustion to take over.
It began to rain harder so she hurried across the street toward her office.
# # #
Minutes later, Emma sat at her functional wooden desk at Georgia Bank and Trust with her face in her hands and stared at the bleary words on the papers in front of her. Her thoughts far away.
When she found him again, she would not allow her attraction to the Protector to hinder her. Her priority was to find her sister.
Emma opened her eyes and scanned the almost empty bank lobby through the glass office walls. The wet weather kept most customers home this day.
It was her last day at the bank. She’d requested an extended leave of absence. With no appointments scheduled, the rest of her afternoon loomed ahead.
Since Briana’s kidnapping, the days had been unbearable for her. It was hard to concentrate at work while demons held Briana. She didn’t want to imagine what her sister went through at the hands of the evil beings.
Hostage, until she brought the ransom.
Now, after she’d failed to convince Cyn to help her, a heavy sense of hopelessness engulfed her.
“What happened?” Wendy, her friend and coworker asked from the doorway. She didn’t wait for an answer and walked in closing the door behind her. Wendy plopped down on a chair with hopeful expression on her face. Wendy leaned forward her vivid green eyes searched Emma’s face, as she waited for her answer. Emma’s mood lightened.
Wendy was the one of a handful of humans Emma had ever met, that knew about demons and Protectors. Wendy was attacked by a demon one night and a Protector rescued her. Although she’d never seen the Protector again, Wendy could describe him in great detail, which she did every chance she got. By Wendy’s description, the Protector who rescued her had an uncanny resemblance to Cyn, except for the eye color. She swore her rescuer had clear green eyes. Cyn’s eyes were a very definite shade of blue.
It was very strange that Wendy could remember in great detail what happened to her almost two years earlier. As a rule, Protectors were careful after a rescue to erase the human’s memories of the demon attack. Although Emma didn’t understand why Wendy’s memory remained intact, she was grateful to have a friend to confide in.
As their friendship grew, Emma shared more and more about the Protectors. When she confessed her own demon bloodline, Wendy accepted her disclosure without judgment and their friendship became stronger.
Head still in her hands, Emma answered Wendy’s question. “I found Cyn, the Protector. But he refused to help me.”
“Really? You gotta be kidding me. I thought they’re supposed to rescue humans, or, er innocent beings, from demons.” Wendy frowned and bit her bottom lip in thought before she continued. “What did you say? What did he say?”
“I told him that my sister is being held hostage by demons and that I needed his help. He said,” she deepened her voice, ‘I don’t do rescues,’ and left before I could say anymore. Now I have to find him all over again.”
Eyes stinging with tears, Emma threw her hands up in exasperation. “Every day that passes can only be more torturous for poor Briana.”
“You’ll find him again Emma. I’ll help you,” Wendy said. Then she stilled and studied Emma, her brow crinkled. “Good thing you don’t have any customers, you’re a mess.”
Emma’s hands flew to her hair, she hadn’t even thought about straightening herself up after the encounter with the Protector. “It’s windy and drizzling out there,” she replied, hoping Wendy did not notice her discomfort.
She could feel Wendy’s stare as she took out a compact mirror to check her hair and make-up. Her lipstick smudged from one side of her mouth to her cheek and her hair was disheveled.
“I’m sorry. I’m sure your makeup is the last thing on your mind right now,” Wendy said.
Emma’s cheeks warmed as she thought about Cyn’s kiss. She grabbed for a tissue wiped at her stained mouth harder than necessary. Wendy didn’t seem to notice her discomfort and continued to talk, “Don’t worry, we’ll find him again and explain everything. Then I’m sure he’ll agree to help to you. I’ll even help you search for him.” Wendy’s fingers played with a strand of her short hair, her bracelets jingled. “Remind him that he is supposed to help. He took an oath.”
Emma couldn’t help but smile at Wendy’s stern expression. “I’ll do that.”
Wendy’s face softened as she gave Emma a reassuring smile. “Briana is in all probability doing okay. You told me yourself, she’d been hanging out with demons lately. She might even know some of the demons that took her.”
“These demons are not the BFF type, and it’s a Master demon, Gerard that has Briana.” Emma replied, but she hoped more than anything Wendy was right.
The lobby doors opened and a pair of customers shuffled in and shook rain off their coats and umbrellas. Both headed to the tellers.
Although she and Briana were like night and day, Emma adored her sister.
Just months earlier, Emma suspected that Briana was going to Inferno, a local nightclub, and known demon hangout. She’d tried on several occasions to talk to her sister about the danger of being around too many demons, but Briana laughed off her concerns and called her a bore.
The fact that being in the company of full-blooded demons presented the possibility of her demon side taking over was a thrill Briana couldn’t resist.
Now Briana was in trouble. Big trouble.
Hostage, until Emma lured Cyn to the demons.
Desperate Betrayal, by Hildie McQueen
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