“I’m here…I’m here for you.”

Again, that truth…it was a force that flowed into his ears, through his body, and sent him staggering. There wasn’t room for doubts. Not a single one. He was simply compelled to believe her.

Sabin, keeper of Doubt, would have loved her. Nothing pleased the warrior’s demon more than tearing down another’s confidence.

“Are you Bait?”


Again, he believed her; he had no choice. “Are you here to kill me?” He straightened and crossed his arms over his chest, glaring down at her, waiting.

He knew how fierce he looked, but again, she didn’t react as females usually did: trembling, cowering, crying. She fluttered her long, black lashes at him, seemingly hurt that he’d maligned her character.

“No, of course not.” She paused. “Well, not anymore.”

Not anymore? “So. At one time, you meant to slay me?”

“I was once sent to do so, yes.”

Such honesty… “By whom?”

“At first, I was sent by the One True Deity to merely watch you. I didn’t mean to scare your little friend away. I was only trying to do my job.” Fresh tears filled her eyes, turning those beautiful blue irises into pools of remorse.

No softening. “Who is the One True Deity?”

Pure love lit her expression, momentarily chasing away that sheen of pain. “Deity of you, Deity of me. Far more powerful than your gods, though mostly content to remain in the shadows, and so rarely acknowledged. Father to humans. Father to…angels. Like me.”

Angels. Like me. As the words echoed in his head, Aeron’s eyes widened. No wonder his demon couldn’t sense any wickedness in her. No wonder her gaze felt familiar to him. She was an angel. The angel, actually. The one sent to kill him, by her own admission. Though she didn’t plan to end him “anymore.” Why?

And did it matter? This delicate creature had been, at one point, his appointed executioner.

Suddenly he wanted to laugh. As if she could have overpowered him.

You couldn’t see her. Would you truly have been able to stop her, had she gone for your head?

The thought hit him and he lost his amusement. She was the one who had been watching him these many weeks. She was the one who had followed him, unseen, driving a pained Legion away.

Which begged the question of why Wrath wasn’t reacting as Legion always did. With fear and even physical agony. Perhaps the angel controlled which demons sensed her, he considered. That would certainly be a handy ability to possess, keeping her intended victims ignorant of her presence—and intentions.

He waited for brutal rage to fill him. Rage he’d promised to unleash on this creature time and time again should she ever reveal herself. When the rage failed to appear, he waited for resolve. He must protect his friends at any cost.

But that, too, remained hopelessly out of reach. What he got instead? Confusion.

“You are…”

“The angel who has been watching you, yes,” she said, confirming his suspicions. “Or rather, I was an angel.” Her eyelids sealed shut, tears catching in her lashes. Her chin trembled. “Now I’m nothing.”

Though he believed her—how could he not? That voice… Seriously, he wanted to doubt her about something, anything, but couldn’t manage it—Aeron extended a shaky hand. What are you, a child? Man up.

Scowling at his display of weakness, he steadied his hand and flipped away her hair, careful not to touch her injured skin. He pinched the scooped neck of her robe and gently tugged. The soft material ripped easily, revealing the expanse of her back.

Once again, his eyes widened. Between her shoulder blades, where wings should have protruded, were two long grooves of broken skin, tendons torn to the spine, ripped muscle and even a peek at bone. They were savage wounds, violent and unmerciful, blood still seeping from them. He’d had his own wings forcibly removed once, and it had been the most painful injury of his very long life.

“What happened?” The hoarseness of his voice threw him.

“I’ve fallen,” she rasped, shame dripping from her tone. She buried her face in the pillow. “I’m angel no more.”

“Why?” Never having encountered an angel before—well, besides Lysander, but that bastard didn’t count because he refused to speak to the Lords about anything of importance—Aeron didn’t know much about them. He only knew what Legion had told him, and of course, there was a very good chance her recounting had been colored by her hatred of them. Nothing she’d described fit with the female on his bed.

Angels, Legion had said, were emotionless, soulless creatures with only one purpose: the destruction of their darker counterpart, the demons. She’d also claimed that, every so often, an angel would succumb to the lures of the flesh, intrigued by the very beings he—or she—was supposed to loathe. That angel would then be kicked straight into hell, where the demons she had once defeated were finally allowed a little vengeance.

Was that what had happened to this one? Aeron wondered. A trip to hell, where demons had tormented her? Possible.

Should he untie her? Her eyes…so guileless, so innocent. Now they said help me. And save me.

But most of all, they said hold me and never let go.

He’d been tricked by such innocence before, he thought, stopping himself before he could act. Baden had been tricked, as well, and had died for it.

A smart man would learn a little more about this woman first, he decided.

“Who took your wings?” The question emerged as a gruff bark, and he nodded in satisfaction.

She gulped, shuddered. “Once I was cast—”

“Aeron, you stupid shit,” a male voice said, hushing her. “Tell me you didn’t—” Paris stalked into his bedroom, but ground to a halt when he spotted Olivia. His eyes narrowed, and he ran his tongue over his teeth. “So. It’s true. You really flew out there and grabbed her.”

Olivia stiffened, keeping her face hidden from view. Her shoulders began shaking as if she were sobbing. Was she finally scared? Now?

Why? Women adored Paris.

Concentrate. Aeron didn’t have to ask how Paris knew what he’d done. Torin, keeper of the demon of Disease, monitored the fortress and the hill it sat upon twenty-eight hours a day, nine days a week (or so it seemed). “I thought you were gathering the others.”

“Torin texted me, and I went to him first.”

“And what did he tell you about her?”

“Hallway,” his friend said, motioning to the door with a tilt of his chin.

Aeron shook his head. “We can discuss her here. She’s not Bait.”

Another swipe of his tongue over his straight, white teeth. “And I thought I was stupid when it came to females. How do you know what she is? Did she tell you and you couldn’t help but believe her?” His tone was sneering.

“She’s an angel, despot. The one who’s been watching me.”

That wiped the scorn from Paris’s expression. “An actual angel? From heaven?”


“Like Lysander?”


Very slowly, Paris looked her over. Female connoisseur that he was—or used to be—he probably knew everything about her body by the time he was done. The size of her breasts, the flare of her hips, the exact length of her legs. That did not annoy Aeron. She meant nothing to him. Nothing but

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