WARNING: This book definitely contains content not suitable for younger audiences. There are very definite sex scenes that are very descriptive, and the language and violence is not suitable for younger readers
Scythe must save his brother’s soul before the next full moon, Heather is determined to prove her sister’s innocence, but to do this, they must trust each other. Heather Bowen, a drug and alcohol counselor has always been able to see auras, but now she’s being haunted in her sleep by a red-eyed man who’s peddling a psychotic drug to her clients. After her sister becomes his next victim, Heather is determined to prove her sister’s innocence. Life as she knows it becomes more unpredictable when the new counselor, Scythe Angel, arrives. It doesn’t take Heather more than a first meeting to determine this larger than life man is commanding, pushy, determined and downright sexy. However there’s something about him she’s not sure she can trust, no matter how she finds herself drawn to him. Scythe knows he can clear Heather’s sister’s name, but to do it he must confront his elusive and dangerous brother who seems to be bound to the dark side. With his own wings on the line, Scythe has to discover a way to save his brother’s soul before it’s too late. An arduous task for Scythe becomes even more complicated by his unearthly attraction to Heather. For both of them to succeed they will have to learn to trust each other or fail; losing everything they hold dear.
The red-eyed man glared at her with undaunted hatred. Her foot rooted on the black tar pavement. Her legs trembled. She shrunk from his glare and wanted to hide, but couldn’t move.
Sweating and moaning, twenty-five year old Heather Bowen tossed and turned on her queen sized bed. The dream faded, and she woke with a start. Perspiration drenched her night gown, and tears streaked her face. The sheets wrapped around her legs. Her thighs throbbed. The iPod alarm clock read three a.m.
She scanned the room, but there was no sign of the red-eyed man. She sighed, but her relief was short-lived. What did he mean by she would know true pain? Was he kidding? Seriously? Her life sucked.
In her dream, there was something familiar about the bright and buzzing green, red and white flickering lights. But what? She frowned. Gas. She had smelled gasoline in her dream. Oh, shit. 7-Eleven. The bastard was with Rosemary.
She flicked on the lamp and snatched her phone and dialed Rosemary’s cellular. Answer, answer, answer, but a recording came on– “The number you have reached is…”
“Damn it,” Heather said. Why did Rosemary have to have such a piece of crap phone?
She called information.
“This is information,” a bored female voice said. “City and State, please.”
“Westminster, Colorado for 7-Eleven on Seventy-Second and Lowell.”
“I’m sorry I don’t have a listing for that address.”
“I’m sorry, ma’am,” the operator said, “but there’s no listing.”
“Fuck,” Heather slammed the phone onto the oak nightstand.
She jumped out of bed. She tore off her Minnie nightgown and gasped. Three long scratches marred her inner thighs. She winced and wobbled to the bathroom and wet a wash cloth, and dabbed the bloody river on her legs. How the hell did that happen? God, her legs looked like Freddy Krueger swiped her with his razor fingers.
Within minutes, she slid into her gray Pathfinder. “Ouch!”
The damn cloth seats pulled on her thighs that still pulsed from the antiseptic. She stepped on the gas. The street lamps glowed in the darkness, and the abandoned street stretched forever as her tires ate up the pavement. She glanced at the clock. Three fifteen. She gripped the wheel and turned on Kipling Street and roared down the road. At the stoplight, there were no cars, including cop cars, so she gunned the pedal. “Hang on Rosemary. I’m coming.”
Except for her speeding SUV, the dark houses remained quiet on the empty streets. With his fluffy tail curved around his body, a red fox sat on the sidewalk and watched. She shook her finger at him. “You stay there.”
Maybe this was a good omen. In animal symbolism, a red fox meant passion and desire and, God knows, she wanted her sister alive.
She peeled onto Seventy-Second Avenue, running another stoplight. Huge green cottonwood trees reached for the sky along the way. Lilium, orange pixie lilies, and long ornamental grasses with whitish plumes lined the vacant street. At the end of the street, a streetlight darkened at Majestic Park. Hidden in the shadows was a car. As she sped by, red lights flashed on.
Out of the black shadows and thick trees, a dark car pulled out of a parking lot. A siren screamed into the night. A red light flared in her rearview mirror. Her stretched nerves wailed louder than the siren. For a split second, she thought about outrunning the cop, but that only happened in television.
She parked next to the curve and reached into the glove compartment and fumbled for her registration and insurance card. She yanked out her driver’s license and rolled down the window, but no movement came out of the cop car behind her. “Get out asshole.”
She slapped her information on the wheel and glanced at the clock again–three thirty am.
A dark clothed policeman got out of the police car and sauntered over to Heather. His hat hid his features. He put his hand on the top of her car. “Ma’am,” he said. He had a baby face, clean shaven, and looked like he’d just graduated from high school. “Do you know how fast you were going?”
He stood and puffed out his chest. “You were going sixty miles an hour in a forty mile zone.”
“This is my first ticket in a long time.” She gave him her sweetest smile. “I promise I won’t speed anymore. I’m in a…”
He scowled at her and in a cold voice said, “Uh, uh. Driver’s license, registration and proof of insurance card, please.”
Well that didn’t work, but what did she expect? Flirting and acting like a vixen had never been her strong suit. Heather sighed and handed him the information.
“You don’t understand. I tried calling my sister’s cellular phone and she didn’t answer. This never happens. Something’s wrong.”
He put his hands on his narrow waist. “That doesn’t give you a right to speed, ma’am.”
He sighed. “Where is your sister?”
“She’s working at the 7-Eleven on Seventy-Second and Lowell. Could you call and check it out?”
He crossed his arms across his chest. “That’s Westminster, not Arvada.”
“I know what city it’s in.” She gripped the steering wheel tighter. “Could you give me an escort?”
He sighed. “So, tell me again why something’s wrong?”
“I had a dream and…”
He rolled his eyes. “A dream? You want me to radio Westminster Police Department, because of a supposed dream.” He unfolded his arms and leaned closer to the window. He sniffed. “Have you been drinking?”
“No, I haven’t. Please I need to…”
He stood. “You’ll wait here until I check this out.” He stormed back to his car.
Heather gritted her teeth. Sweat poured down her face and she wiped her forehead and temples on her arm. Asshole. “Please…”
“Wait, here, ma’am,” he said and sauntered back to car.
She looked in the mirror as the cop sat in his car and spoke on the radio. She should have lied about the dream and came up with a different excuse. Should have lied. She pounded on the steering wheel with her palms. “What are you doing? Sending my information to the FBI? Give me the ticket already.”
Heather snatched her cellular phone and dialed Rosemary again, but got the same damn message. “If you have reached…”
She threw the phone on the passenger seat. “Shit, shit, shit.”
The cop strolled over to her and handed her the information. He scratched on a pad.
“Did you call Westminster?”
“On a dream? No.”
At the finality in his voice, Heather shut her mouth and her shoulders slumped.
“Ma’am, despite your good driving record, I’m writing you a ticket. You can either mail in the fee or attend court. I need you to sign this.”
Heather took the metal board with her ticket on it. She scribbled her name and mumbled, “Thanks.”
“Slow down before you kill somebody,” he warned.
The cop ripped off the carbon copy and handed it to her. He ambled back to his car. Slowly, Heather drove away from the curb. At the next stop light, the cop pulled behind her. Her heart pattered, and she licked her lip. She drummed her thumbs on the wheel. Her shirt stuck to her like a second skin. Glancing in the rearview mirror, she groaned. God, was he going to follow her all the way to Lowell?
As the light turned green, Heather tightened her grip on the wheel, but kept her foot from slamming to the floor. The cop swerved around and did a u-turn–no doubt returning to the dark shadows waiting for his next victim. She glanced at the clock–three forty-five. Shit, fifteen minutes passed.
“It’s a coincidence,” she muttered.
When Heather couldn’t see Baby Face Nelson anymore, she floored it again and ran the light at Wadsworth. She sped and flew through more red lights. She didn’t care. Rosemary was in trouble. Luckily, she didn’t see any red lights twirling behind her again, but in front of her, her worst nightmare came true. Her heart skipped a beat. Cop cars, ambulances, fire trucks and a bus were all bunched together at Seventy-Second and Lowell. Red flares lit up the west-bound lane and only the east-bound lane was open, but no traffic approached the intersection at this late hour.
She swerved the SUV into a parking lot in a small mini mall. Tires squealed. She grabbed the gear shift and slammed it into park. The SUV lurched forward and banged into the white parking stop at Carol’s Donut Shop. She whipped open the door and ran around the building, but she caught a quick movement of a black flicker in the alleyway. For some reason, she was drawn to the shadows and stepped into the alley. The smell of fried dough and something overly sweet emitted from the trash bin next to the back door of Carol’s Donut Shop. She held her breath as heavy footsteps crunched on pebbles and glass. She put her hand to her throat as the dark haired man came around the trash bin behind the donut shop.
Her feet rooted her to the street. Fear prevented her from moving a single muscle.
His long, thick braid fell down his right shoulder. He put his hands on his narrow hips. His black leather jacket parted and revealed a chiseled chest. On his naked chest, a black cobra with red coral eyes appeared to stare at her with the same hatred as the man.
“You’re too late.”
With that statement, the man vanished. Heather blinked. She scanned the alley, but he was gone. He’d be hard to miss. She shook her head and ran her hand through her hair. Was she hallucinating? He had to be wrong. Rosemary was alive. She had to be, but for the first time, doubt crept in, crushing her last ray of hope.
Gasping for breath, she dashed passed the alley and headed for the convenience store. Firemen, cops and plain-clothed men wandered in the parking lot. At the edge of the 7-Eleven parking lot, an oversized cop with short, cropped blond hair stood with his palms facing her. With his huge muscles, broad chest and towering height, he was definitely a long lost cousin of the Hulk. “Hold it right there.” The streetlight shone on the man’s don’t-mess-with-me look.
Heather peered around him, but only glimpsed the tires of a black Continental. Sheer panic hit her at the make and the color of the car, but dark splotches of red paint stained the cement next to the tires. The doubt grew larger. “Please, what happened?”
“You need to calm down and stay back, Miss,” he said in a gruff voice.
“No, you don’t understand. My sister, Rosemary, works here. Is she all right?”
He sighed. “Ma’am, you need to stay here.”
“Like hell I will.” She plowed her shoulder into him, but bounced off his chest like a Nerf ball. “Get out of my way.”
Digging his fingers into her flesh, he grabbed both of her shoulders and halfway lifted her off the ground. She peered into his granite face. He narrowed his eyes.
“If you calm down, I’ll find out, but if you don’t, you’re going to be sitting in my car. Got it?”
She swallowed and nodded. As he walked over to a plain-clothes policeman, she paced back and forth and bit her nails. Only uniformed cops patrolled the aisles inside the store. Rosemary was nowhere to be seen. A foul taste of dread formed in her mouth. She shivered as if spiders crawled down her arms and legs. She folded her arms to ward off the chilling cold gripping her.
In the midnight sky, a red line circled the white moon–a blood moon. Forget what that means. Her stomach hurt as a ball of fear settled inside her.
Heather bolted around the policeman’s side, but he grabbed her arm and whirled her around. His fingers dug into her arm. She stared at his pissed off face. “I said you need to stay right here.”
“No, please. I don’t see her. Where is she?”
“Officer Ramsey,” a male voice said.
Ramsey turned around, but his strong fingers tightened. “Detective?”
Heather strained to see who approached. Wearing a gold corduroy jacket with brown patches on his elbow and dark navy pants, a bald, paunchy man strolled towards them. “What’s going on?”
Ramsey aimed his thumb at the convenience store. “This woman says her sister works here.”
The other man scrutinized her. “Release her.”
He stuck out his hand. “I’m Detective Ronald Hewitt. You are?”
She clutched his chubby hand. Surprised, she winced at his strong grip. “Heather. Heather Bowen. My sister is Rosemary Bowen. I’ve been trying to reach her, but haven’t been able to get ahold of her.”
Detective Hewitt released her hand. “Can I see some identification, ma’am?”
Heather fumbled in her purse and handed him her driver’s license.
Hewitt glanced at it and her face. He pulled a pen and small black notebook out of the inside of his jacket. He scribbled on his pad. He handed the license to her. “When did you try calling her?”
“I started calling her about forty-five minutes ago. I’ve been trying to call her about every fifteen minutes, but she never answers.” At his stoic face, the ball of fear doubled in size in her gut. Bile darted up her throat, burning it. She swallowed. “Where is she?”
“She didn’t answer?”
“No and then I tried calling the store, but couldn’t get an answer.”
“I see. Why did you want to call her?”
She wetted her lips. “I had a premonition and wanted to make sure she was all right.”
He cocked his eyebrow. “A premonition?”
“Um, yes. Something happened didn’t it?”
“What does your sister look like?”
“She’s got long black hair down to her butt…” Ramsey and Hewitt gave each other a knowing look. Heather pretended not to notice. At their secret glance, she balled her hands and dug her nails into her palm. Her words faded. “…brown eyes and about an inch taller than me.”
He flashed his green eyes over her. “How tall are you?”
“Um five four.”
Ramsey stared at his shoes. Hewitt straightened his shoulders. “Ma’am, I’m sorry to inform you that there has been an incident.”
“What? No!” Heather swallowed. A scream died on her lips.
“Your sister killed a customer and then stepped into the front of moving RTD bus.”
“How do you know that? Do you have any proof? Rosemary wouldn’t do that.”
Hewitt cleared his throat. “We have the incident on tape.”
“Well, she was forced.”
He cocked his eyebrow. “Forced? I don’t think so. She was stoned out of her mind.”
“Rosemary,” Heather gritted her teeth, “hasn’t done any drugs for the past year.”
“Not according to the tape,” Hewitt insisted.
“She wouldn’t use again. Yesterday, she hit her three hundred sixty-fifth day.”
“Ma’am,” Hewitt said. “I’m sorry, but there’s no denial that she committed the act. Only she and the Carmichael woman are on the tape. I wish I could show you the tape, but it isn’t pretty.”
Ramsey sighed. “The old lady was seventy-five years old, and they had to scrape her brains off the cement.”
Acid burned her stomach. At the bitter taste, she shuddered. She pushed her hair behind her ears.
“Ramsey,” Hewitt warned.
“I’m sorry, ma’am.” At Ramsey’s dull tone and tense face, Heather’s stomach burned.
Heather tore her gaze away from Ramsey. She focused on Hewitt. He had a kinder grandfather look. “I know this is hard, but we need to make sure this is your sister. We need you to identify the body.”
“Body? She’s not a fucking body.” Her nose dripped and she wiped snot on her arm. “She’s my sister.”
“Here.” Hewitt handed her a white handkerchief.
“Thank you,” she mumbled and blew her nose.
“Please, we need your help,” Detective Hewitt said. “If you can’t do this, can we call someone else?”
All these years she had failed her sister like when her mother used to beat Rosemary at every turn. One time, Heather accidentally broke her mother’s favorite crystal vase, but Rosemary took the blame. Heather never defended her, but she would now. She sniffed and pushed her hair behind her ears. “No, I can do it.”
He put his hands on either side of her arms and escorted her toward the parked RTD bus. “This way, ma’am.” The same black Lincoln Continental and gas pump that had appeared in her dream had splatters of blood down the sides. Her knees weakened at the smeared bloody hand prints on the car and gas pump. A white sheet covered a lump about a foot behind the car.
Bile threatened to rise up again, but she gritted her teeth and refused to get sick. High heeled footprints ran along the pavement. Whoever made the bloody trail must have run around in circles. She closed her eyes as she thought of the silver haired woman in the car…
As he led her towards the bus, she froze. Red spatters marked the bus’s grill and driver’s window. Another sheet covered another lump about six feet from the bus. At the dark tires, she swallowed hard. Her heart pounded. The blood drained from her face as she spotted a limp hand beneath the white sheet. A silver snake ring adorned a slender index finger. The hair stood on the back of Heather’s neck. Cold air rushed down her spine.
“Rodriguez,” Hewitt sighed. He rubbed his nasal bridge with his thumb and index finger.
A muscular young male paramedic walked over to them. With his dark hair pulled back into a tight ponytail, the streetlight emphasized his long thin face and skinny lips. His white plastic gloves covered his skeleton shaped hands, but she noted bits of brown stains marked his fingertips. Dread rushed over her. Dizzy, she tried to breathe, but her lungs constricted. She refused to ask what was on his fingers. She focused on the white sheet covering the body.
Hewitt dropped his hand. “Show her.” His tired voice struck her. This man hated this. Compassion shone in his green eyes.
Heather’s legs trembled. She widened her stance and braced her legs. Be steady. For Rosemary.
Rodriguez kneeled. He gripped the white sheet and slowly pulled it down. Heather closed her eyes tight. The stench of Formulin mixed with gasoline hit her. She weaved, but forced her eyes open. A fly landed on what used to be Rosemary’s face, but this face was too pale, too bloody, too beat up to be her sister’s serene face. Clenching her fists together, Heather stared at the red-splattered, silver snake pendent that lay on the hollow of Rosemary’s neck. A strangled sound escaped from her lips.
“I gave her that pendent on her last birthday.”
“So, it’s her?”
For a moment, Heather refused to answer him. If she said yes, then the ring belonged to Rosemary, and the lifeless hand sticking out from under the blanket was hers. If she avoided answering, the ring belonged to somebody else, and Rosemary would be alive. This was an imposter with her slashed cheek, fat lip and bruised face.
The spell broke. “Rosemary,” she whispered, betraying her sister again. Her vision blurred, her breath escaped her and blood drained from her face. “I should’ve gotten to her in time. I could have stopped him.”
Hewitt blinked. “What?”
Heather clasped her hands together. Tingles spread through her fingers. “I’m sorry, sis.” She always said that to her sister, but each time, Rosemary had rolled her eyes. Could she blame her? How many times could you say sorry to someone before they stopped believing you? Once, twice, a hundred? But she had been sincere.
Hewitt touched her arm and broke into her thoughts. “You’ve lost me. Who could you have stopped?”
Heather sighed and turned away from Rosemary, but gripped her hand tighter, willing life back to her, but her life force had fled. Her aura now explored another plane, a plane where there was no pain. At least, Heather hoped there was none. She faced Hewitt. “I dreamed this would happen.”
“What would happen?” Hewitt’s heavy brows creased. “You mean this? You couldn’t have…”
“Yes, I could have. I should have called you guys instead of driving down myself. He wouldn’t have been here then.”
Hewitt shook his head. “I still…”
“The man who did this to her.”
“He gives them something and then this always happens.”
“You mean her pusher?”
“Are you listening? He’s not her pusher. I don’t know what you would call him. Every time he shows up shit like this happens.”
“Ma’am, do you know his name?”
“No, he’s never told me.”
He glanced at Rodriquez. “You’ve met him? I mean besides in these so called psychic dreams of yours.”
Heather narrowed her eyes. “Don’t give me that crap. No, I’m not psychic or at least I wasn’t until a few months ago. All my life, I could read auras. It’s second nature to me.” She sniffed. “But a month ago, the man appeared in my dreams and then the murder-suicides began.” She wiped her wet cheeks. “My sister is dead because of that bastard. No one ever believed me about the damn dreams then and no one believes me now.”
Hewitt flashed his eyes over her. “Are you on something, ma’am?”
“No. I’m. Not. I happen to be a licensed clinical social worker and work in the drug and alcohol field.”
“So, I don’t abuse drugs.”
“Fine, don’t believe me.” Heather turned back to Rosemary and pushed Rosemary’s hair out of her face. Despite her cold skin, her silky hair caressed Heather’s fingers and warmth spread through her. “He’s out there. And he’s going to kill again.”
Heather glanced at him.
He stared hard at her. “Would you submit to a drug test?”
“If I do, will you at least take a description?”
She laid Rosemary’s stiff hand on her chest. “Well, Detective, you sure run hot and cold.”
Rosemary’s hand fell to her side. Heather slumped. Rosemary was dead. Gone. “I’m sorry, sis. I…I…should have gotten here in time.”
Hewitt snorted. “Tomorrow, I’d like you to come down to the station. Tonight’s not the time.”
Throwing her shoulder back, she mumbled, “No, shit.”
“This way,” Rodriquez motioned for her to follow.
Heather sat on a tiny metal chair in the ambulance and allowed Rodriquez to draw her blood, and she breathed into a breathalyzer, but her eyes focused on Rosemary’s corpse. What time had Rosemary taken that stupid drug? How long did it take for it to cause her to become psychotic and then suicidal? If only she could have gotten here in time… Another item to list on all the times she had failed her.
Her limbs tingled and a rush of cold ran through her. Rodriquez leaned over her and his cologne of spices washed over her. “How are you feeling?”
Raising her hand, she placed her palm to her forehead. “I don’t know. How would you feel if you found your sister dead and accused of murder?”
“I see your point.”
Men walked around her sister’s body. She trembled as a tear slid down her face. “After they’re done investigating, where will they take my sister?”
“To the morgue.”
“To do an autopsy?”
“Yes, in these cases, the law requires an autopsy to determine the cause of death.”
Heather nodded, but clamped her jaw tight. She refused to think about the coroner dissecting Rosemary like a frog in biology class. She folded her hands on top of each other and stared at the mole on her left hand as if she had never seen it before. At the finality of her sister’s death, she gulped and a single tear splashed onto her hand, followed by a gushing waterfall.
Morgue. It was so final. No exceptions. You don’t pass Go. You don’t get to cross the goal line. You don’t get a golden ticket. You’re dead. Forever.
Heather stared at her hand. Numbness gripped her insides and her fingers and toes tingled. She wanted a shot of Jagermeister, no she wanted a dozen. Block out the pain that she was alone and once again failed to help her sister.
“If this means anything to you,” Rodriguez squeezed her shoulder gently. “It was quick.”
She peered at him through her lake of tears. “No, it doesn’t.”
My Thoughts and 1/2
Well, I really wanted to love this book. It was full of hot, steamy romantic type scenes and a lot of suspense and intense emotion. The characters, while unrealistic in the nature of what they are, were believable and likable for the good guys, and the bad guys are the type you love to hate. I will say that I did not dislike it, but I had kind of a luke-warm feeling and a lot of this had to do with the editing. Now, this may not be an issue for others as much as it is for me and if you are not that distracted by it, by all means please read this book because the story itself was awesome.
I was able to visualize what I was reading and the descriptive details were enough to make me actually FEEL what was happening in the book. Overall, the story was excellent in terms of characterization and descriptive detail, and I really felt drawn to the story itself. Hence, my rating. The editing to me is a huge thing, and I had to deduct one star. However, it is a testament to the storytelling prowess of the author that I was not able to walk away from the book due to the editing.
The book had a little more erotic content than I would like, but it did not detract from the story at all and I still found the story enjoyable, and would recommend that you read this book if you want a paranormal romance that is something new and different. In terms of paranormal romance, we expect vampires, werewolves, you know the usual suspects. This was so different. You will just have to see for yourself.
ML Guida writes contemporary and historical paranormal romance. She is published with Passion in Print. Currently, she is pursuing her Master of Art in Creative Writing through Regis University. She lives in beautiful, colorful Colorado and enjoys going to the mountains. Skiing, walks and scuba diving are her favorite past times when she is not writing.
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