THE GALLOWS HOUSE
“How’s your back?” he asked, squatting down beside her so they were at eye level.
“I don’t feel any pain anymore. I’m afraid to look, though.”
“I’ll look if you want,” he said softly.
Bailey turned and moved her now-dry hair forward over her shoulder. Hunter’s warm breath tickled the back of her neck and a chill of excitement traveled down her spine. He was so close. Gently, he gripped the bottom of the flannel she had on and lifted, letting his fingers brush the bare skin of her back. She realized she wasn’t wearing a bra, because she had stripped everything off when she’d gotten home. Her cheeks flushed, but she didn’t move as the pads of his fingers ran over the spot on her back that had hurt so much—and so recently. Now she felt only electric tingles of excitement from his touch.
“It’s gone,” Hunter said, letting her shirt fall back in place.
Bailey turned back to face him. He was so close, centimeters from her. Their breath mingled in the air and his scent of home-baked love that made so much more sense now, filled her with comfort.
“I shouldn’t have left like that. I’m sorry.” She got caught in his eyes.
“I don’t blame you. I didn’t think it would bother you or do something like that. I’m the one who’s sorry.”
Hunter took her hands in his without breaking eye contact. He lightly stroked her knuckles with his thumbs and the electric shivers returned.
“Wait,” she said, pulling back and breaking the spell. “You didn’t think it would? Does that mean you knew there was something in your house?”
WINGING IT: Destiny Rules Series, Book 1
(Warning: contains strong language)
“Mom, I’m trying to understand this. Really. But you have to give me a break here. Fairies?”
“We prefer the term fae. Now, open the night-table drawer,” she says. She waits while I move around to the other side of the bed and do as she says. Inside is the same kind of thin stick Eyleen had, only it’s pink and instead of a star, there’s a heart at the top. Great. “Take it out,” she says.
I swallow, and gingerly pull the thing out of the drawer. I remember how it felt when Eyleen brought us here, and I don’t want to cause an accident.
“Good,” Mom says. “That is a wand.”
“Why does it have to be so… dainty?” I ask, twirling it in front of my eyes. “I mean they look cool in Harry Potter.”
“Harry Potter’s a wizard. Not a fairy.”
“So, what am I supposed to do with it?” I ask.
“Tap your back,” she answers.
I hesitate, but when she coughs, and grimaces in pain, I do as I’m told. Instantly, a searing pain spreads over my shoulder blades, and I shrug in response. Then it’s over, but something feels weird. My back itches, and it feels like something is pressing against my skin. I reach back with my free hand to scratch it or swipe at it like a bug, but my fingers meet something soft and flexible. I grab hold and yank.
Then I’m screaming, partially from the intense pain, and partially from the shock. Shit. Shit. Shit. I wave the wand on instinct alone, and a full-length mirror appears in front of me, just like I wanted. I twist around to get a glimpse, and there they are. Two symmetrical, slightly pointy, iridescent protrusions about three feet long and half as wide.
I have wings. Freaking fairy wings. “Shit!”
“I’m sorry, Mom, but SHIT. I have wings.”
“Shh! If they hear you, you could get grounded, and then we’re really in trouble.”
“Who are ‘they’?” I ask, still trying to scratch at the base of my wings. Naturally, they’re in the hardest place to reach. “And why do they itch so much?”
SOUL CONQUERED - BOOK 3 in the Of Demons and Angels Series:
“You will never be my enemy, no matter where you are, Grace.” His voice is strong and clear, and I’m once again drawn toward him. I fight with all my being not to rush into his arms again.
“I’m supposed to seduce you.” The words come out shyly, like I’m admitting a crime.
“I get it now. What it was like.” My throat thickens, and I can’t get any more words through. And oh, it would feel so good to kiss him again.
“Grace, no matter what he does, remember who you are and that I love you. I will always love you, no matter what.”
I can’t stand another moment. I throw myself onto him like I’m diving off a cliff and press my mouth to his. Electricity, familiar and wonderful, flows through us as we kiss, every bit of emotion inside of me poured into this one act that eclipses everything else in the world. I was crazy to think I could survive without him, no matter what mistakes he made in the past.
He lets me kiss him, holding me close but somehow walled off. After a minute he separates from me, holding me at arm’s length. “This isn’t what you want, Grace. It’s Lucifer’s influence, not you. I know what it’s like to feel desperate and want to give in for a moment’s happiness. I can’t let you make that mistake.” Pain is all I see when I look at him, and I hate that I’m making him feel that way.
“It isn’t a mistake, Josh. It’s how I feel. This is more me than I’ve ever been. Please.” I’m nearly in hysterics now. If being with him will make it all go away, even for a moment…
But then I remember what I am and what he’ll become, and I deflate in his grip. “You’re right. Of course I don’t want you to fall. You shouldn’t touch me. Not like that.”
“Grace, I want to take you in my arms and love you forever. I want to forget everything else. This is the hardest thing I’ve ever had to do. It’s why I didn’t come before. I can’t trust myself to resist you.”
A jolt of pain shoots through my chest, and I gasp from the severity of it. Lucifer is watching me. He’s given me a job. But I don’t care. I won’t hurt Josh.
But…would I really be hurting Josh? Aren’t I hurting him by keeping us apart? I should let him make that decision for himself. I know what I want.
“Then don’t resist me.” I throw myself at him again, forcing my mouth over his. My hands cling to his face, afraid he’ll back away again if I loosen my grip.
His hands slowly rise to my waist and pull me closer. I run my fingers through his soft black curls, and he sits me on the edge of the counter where I throw my arms around his neck and let him bury his head against my chest.
“Grace,” he cries. “I love you.”
“I love you, too, Josh. Why shouldn’t we be together? Who cares where it is or what else happens?” I don’t want to think anymore. I don’t want to worry about what comes after. I need Josh. His touch, his presence… It’s like I’ve been in a coma and suddenly I’m alive again and all the world is in color because he’s here.
His breath catches as I run my hands up his chest, over his white T-shirt now stained with what was left of my mascara. But he traps my fingers beneath his and holds my hand over his heart. We stand still for a moment, feeling the beat as it pounds out a hectic rhythm.
“I’ll find a way to bring you back to me. I promise,” he says.
“But we can be together right now if you just let me…” I trail off and lift myself toward his mouth, focused on his delicious pink lips, desperate to have this moment of joy.
“No, we can’t.” He holds me back far enough not to make contact. “Lucifer would never let us actually be together, Grace. You know that. He’d torture us forever by keeping us apart.”
Tears of frustration burn my eyes and I glance away, not wanting him to see the Demon red. I can’t accept a future in which I’ll never be with Josh, never feel his arms around me or the electricity that charges between us. “I can bargain with him—” I start.
“No. I’ve been down that road. You can’t. He doesn’t make a bargain that’s fair to anyone but himself, no matter what he says. Just know that I haven’t given up on you and that you just need to hang in there a little longer.” He takes a large step back toward the door.
“Josh, please don’t leave me.” Panic sets in along with another wave of pain. “Please. I need you.” He may be right, but I feel like if he leaves, I’ll lose myself again.
He hesitates. “I’m doing this for you. It’s always for you, Grace.” He shoots me a wistful smile, and I have to look away as he’s enveloped in blinding light.
Lucifer appears at my side as I sob on the countertop.
“You failed, Grace.”
Psst. Want a sneak peek at SOUL CORRUPTED? Here you go!
What’s the worst thing you ever wanted to do?” I ask, moving in front of him to take his hand.
He smiles. “I don’t know. Do wicked things with you?” He wiggles his eyebrows.
“That’s not awful. It sounds pretty good to me.” I crawl into his lap and pull his mouth down to mine, placing his hand on my waist.
He stands, lifting me up, and tosses me down on the bed where I bounce and squeal. He climbs over me, entwining his fingers with mine. “I just want to be somebody, you know?” he says as he kisses my neck. “Is that really so evil?”
It’s tough to catch my breath, engulfed in the feel of Noah and his scent of cloves and mint, but I try. “I don’t think it’s evil.”
“Says the Demon in my bed.”
Noah drowns out my next words with his mouth, and this time the kiss is hot and fierce and hungry. I respond with fervor, hoping he can make me forget myself for a moment instead of reminding me of what I am.
Need a reminder for the heat in Soul Crossed? Check it out:
Slowly I move my hands over his, and I feel the electricity tingle in the small space between us, but neither of us pulls away. I close my eyes, feeling the warmth of his body pulsing so close to mine. I want the wall between us to crumble. How can this be forbidden? I say a silent prayer. I’ve never been religious, and the irony does not escape me, but I try.
Please, please let me have this.
I open my eyes. He waits for me, still and intoxicatingly beautiful. I set my hands on his and feel the prickling sting travel over my fingers and up my arms. Far from pain, it’s like my flesh is alive with desire. If he feels it, too, he does not let on. He simply leads me to the dance floor, never taking his eyes off of me.
I’m thrilled by the sensations running through me and giddy with the knowledge that the Earth hasn’t swallowed us whole. I wrap my arms around his neck and lean my head against his chest, letting our bodies meld together with the music.
For the first time since I died, I feel content.