Look at this! I’m back for EM. Today I have a new clip from Sweet Disgrace for you. Release date for this one is October 12 from Samhain Publishing. Enjoy!
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Through her hazy vision, Celeste saw Damael’s shoes step closer, saw him crouch down beside her. More of the world came into view as he pushed the hair from her face, tugging gently as he pulled out bits of leaves and broken twigs. She let her eyelids close when the whirling in her head intensified, but that only seemed to make it worse, so she opened them again. “Th-thank you. For stopping her.”
He didn’t reply, just continued his task. She found it soothing, now that she was oddly confident he would kill any threatening force that came near her. Soothing…until she looked at him. Remnants of his earlier anger was still in his eyes. The black irises were so large there was hardly a ring of white around them.
“Why did you do that?” she asked, not allowing herself to look away. Trying to figure out his motives herself proved too much for her clouded thoughts. “I’d have been one less for your kind to contend with.”
He blinked at her. “Do you think that’s what I want?”
“Well, there are those of us who would like to strike you all dead on sight, run rampant in the earth and maim and kill and destroy until it’s a wasteland. You just met one such as that. But I, sweet angel, rather like the competition.”
“But I’m no competition, am I?”
He seemed to debate with himself for a moment. “You won the Roman emperor that time. Nailed me on the basic required language I’d been writing for centuries.”
She managed to laugh. “I remember now. You took it with exceptionally good grace.”
It might have been her imagination, but she thought his expression darkened, a haunted shadow crossing his perfect features. For the first time in her existence, it occurred to her to wonder what consequences he faced for failing. She didn’t meet any repercussions except sorrowful embraces and encouraging words that gave no comfort. What did Damael’s masters do to him when he didn’t deliver?
She hadn’t seen him for a long time after that miraculous victory. A long, long time.
Which begged another question that sent a chill through her. Would he really risk whatever hell might be in store for him by releasing Adam if she gave in?
“How do you feel?” he asked, and she realized she’d been staring up at him longer than she should have. Behind him, the sky was black and glittering with stars, but it had to be nearing dawn. She could escape into that great open expanse right now, be done with all of this. Leave Adam to the doom he’d only brought upon himself.
But she wasn’t doing it. And it was becoming more apparent to her that she wasn’t going to.
She shifted on the ground and winced at the sharp pains that crackled along her limbs. There really was no reason to lie to him. “Not well. I still hurt.”
“Shall I make it better?”
“If you’ll allow me.”
Wariness crept through her, and she furrowed her brow at him. “That depends on what I must allow.”
He withdrew his hand from her hair and rested his elbow on his bent knee. Under ordinary circumstances, his smile might have been described as seductive, but at the moment she found it to be merely cruel. “A kiss.”
A sound of frustration escaped her, and she turned her face away from him, toward the ground. “You lie. I should have known all of this was leading back to your perverse—”
“It’s the quickest way to draw the energy into myself. Unless you’d rather—”
“Don’t be like that. I can help you.”
“You only want to help yourself.”
“How is that? I’ve offered you everything you want. Adam’s soul. Your healing. I’m a regular good Samaritan here, am I not?”
She gave a bark of laughter and instantly cringed. He couldn’t deny that her vulnerability was tugging at every predatory sense he possessed. She was on the ground, crumpled, helpless. Like a little bird with a broken wing, and he was the cat creeping up on her, step by agonizingly slow step.
Her fingers dug into the ground as another spasm seemed to overtake her, and he made a production of sighing wearily.
“This is needless, I’m telling you. I can take it all away.”
“How long will I be this way?”
“Have you never come under attack before?”
“If I have, it’s been so long I can’t remember.”
“Well, then. You could lie here for days if I don’t help you.”
“And why should I believe that?”
“Because it’s the truth?”
“Ha. Unlikely. You only want me to kiss you.”
“That’s a given. But I’m being sincere as well.”
She glanced at him with a sort of desperation in her blue eyes that left him struggling to conceal compassion he had no business feeling. It made him hope his outlandish scheme to heal her would work, but it always had with humans. Maybe she would be no different. “I want to believe you. So much.” Even as a whisper, her words were strained, agonized.
“What does that say about me? Please, if there is any vestige of selflessness within you, leave me be. Don’t make me into a fool.”
The longer she’d spoken, the more strength her voice had gained, until finally those eyes were blazing at him with righteous anger. He realized his earlier assertion had been off base. Even while wounded, she was not vulnerable. At least not in spirit.
“You’re a worthy adversary,” he told her. “I’ve always thought that. You don’t give up until the end. You deserve more than to be left on the ground, wallowing in pain.” He reached forward and slid his hands beneath her, seeing her eyes fly open wide in alarm. Weakly, she struggled against him, but he was too strong for her at this point. He lifted her and shifted until he was sitting on the ground, cradling her in his arms.
She felt frail against him, insubstantial. The softness of the wings folded tight against her back made his mouth run dry. He’d never touched anything like that before in his life. Hadn’t known such suppleness existed, until she was in his arms.
Her chest was heaving, her hand gripping his jacket even as she stared up at him apprehensively. He couldn’t interpret whether her reaction was from fear or desire or perhaps a combination of both. Sudden frustration engulfed him whole and chewed him up without mercy.
“Stubborn angel, I give you my word, dammit, and I don’t do that often. Let me help you. But I won’t do it without your permission,” he added, hearing the tight, barely leashed desperation in his own voice. “Give it to me.”
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