After finding the most populated area she could, Sapphira dropped into the middle of a crowd, hid her wings, and grabbed a wrap from a clothesline similar to the ones most of the women were wearing. Wrapping it around her head and body, she tried to blend in. She was not sure how long her disguise would last. What was following her was not stupid. Something she realized once she figured out who they were.
Trained assassins. Of the fallen angel kind. There were many fallen angels, and Sapphira knew most of them worked for her father. These particular Fallen were usually sent out to the human world to eliminate humans who had made deals with the devil and their payment was due. The reason she had believed Drew when he said her father was not his master was because Lucifer had been denied the power to send anyone into the mortal realm. That privilege belonged to a much more powerful, much deadlier immortal. What he wanted with her, Sapphira had no clue. Lucifer had kept her and her brother’s existence a secret from those outside the castle, so she had never had any dealings with the being.
Small screams and cries of indignation brought her back to her predicament. The fallen were on the ground and had caught her scent. Shit!
Ducking into a small alley, she lost her wrap in the nearest overfilled dumpster and started to run. She would have loved to fly, but it would have given away her position that much sooner. Where was help? She had felt her brother earlier; he knew where she was and had told the angels. They should have been here by now.
As she made her way down yet another alley, the footfalls of the ones following her getting closer, she failed to see the one in front of her until it was too late. Hands grabbed her, keeping her from falling to the ground as she slammed into a solid body.
“Fallon,” Sapphira whispered staring up at the last man she thought she would ever see again.
“Hello, princess,” he greeted with a slight nod of his head. “It’s been a long time.”
Memories long suppressed assailed her, making her dizzy. Strong gentle arms slid around her waist, keeping her upright as she was sucked down into a vortex of images.
When Sapphira was a few hundred years old, a child by their standards, she disobeyed her father and ventured down into the dungeons by herself, curious about the screams she heard throughout the night.
In one of the deeper cells reserved for those…special prisoners, she found Fallon chained to the wall, dirty, bloody, battered, bruised and broken. She had heard stories about this angel and his betrayal to her father. Stories that made even the hardest and fiercest of them shudder in fear. Even though Sapphira knew if her father ever found out she had been anywhere near one of his most dangerous and hated enemies, there had been something about this angel that drew Sapphira into the cell. Something calling to her soul that this man was somehow important to her. When she opened the door and he looked up to see who had entered, they both froze, their eyes locked as something happened between them that was irreversible, binding.
For the next thousand years she had spent as much time as she could afford without being caught in that cell, trying to give Fallon as much relief from his hell as she could. In time they began to trust each other and eventually they fell in love, and that love cost both of them dearly. It was the one secret Damien had kept for her that he hated the most, because if their father ever found out his daughter was sleeping with the one immortal he hated above all else, all hell would break loose. Pun intended. Sapphira would not be dissuaded though, and Fallon could not let go of that little piece of heaven she brought him.
When her powers manifested at the age of five hundred, Sapphira’s father would take her down into the dungeons to practice her magic and fighting skills, using those he had imprisoned there as adversaries. The chance to hurt the daughter of their tormentor and not be punished was a present that the prisoners could not pass on. Jumping at the chance for revenge, they gave her no quarter. Many times Sapphira came back barely alive, but like all immortals, killing her was difficult if not impossible. It did not mean those prisoners did not try, and no matter how much her mother or Damien begged him to stop, her father stood by and just watched as his enemies did their worst.
As Sapphira grew stronger, Lucifer would pick stronger more powerful prisoners for her to battle. Then one day, a day forever burned into her memory, Lucifer took her to Fallon’s cell.
When Fallon refused to fight Sapphira, Lucifer unleashed his own fury on his “old friend”. As weak as he was, Fallon put up a good fight, but in the end it was Lucifer who stood over him as Fallon lay bleeding on the hard floor, struggling to breathe past the pain. Before Lucifer could deal a blow that could have very well killed Fallon, Sapphira turned on her father, slamming him into the wall with her own powers before standing in front of Fallon who was barely conscious.
As that day came back with vivid clarity, it sent a fresh wave of agony through Sapphira.
* * *
At first her father was confused as to why his daughter would protect his enemy. When he took a closer look at them, watched as Sapphira slowly knelt down next to Fallon, her eyes never leaving her father, and rested her hand on his chest. Watched as Fallon drew power from his daughter and started to breathe easier. An unease filled his eyes as he started to realize what he was seeing. Sniffing the air as if he was a dog scenting its prey, what Lucifer found angered him beyond anything Sapphira had ever seen.
His eyes narrowing on Fallon, he hissed, “You dare!”
Sapphira helped Fallon to his feet, and even though he was shaky, he moved so he was in front of her, protecting her from what he knew was about to happen. “I do not argue when the Fates have spoken.”
“Do not preached to me about the Fates,” Lucifer roared moving with a speed that only the supernatural could so he stood nose to nose with Fallon. “Sapphira is fated for something far greater than a worthless angel who would betray his brother to save his own skin.”
“Do you think that if I had betrayed you, I would be here in this hell?” Fallon shot back. “You who are so full of his own righteousness because he thinks he birthed the….”
“Enough!” Lucifer roared backhanding Fallon so hard that he flew across the room into the wall.
“No!” Sapphira screamed.
Lucifer grabbed her arm and yanked her back as she struggled to reach Fallon who was on the floor trying to shake off the blow.
“You will not whore yourself to this piece of filth any longer,” Lucifer spat in her face. “Maybe I should tell you of the atrocities he has performed that sent him here with the rest of us, and then you will realize that he is not worth the dirt you walk on.”
“I know exactly what you did to be banished, Father,” she spat. “I am not the naïve child you pretend me to be.”
“You have no idea what he has done,” Lucifer snarled. “Did it ever occur to you that he is using you to get to me?”
“No, because I am the one that found him, and until today he did not know who I was. As far as what he has done in the past, it is no more than you yourself have done to your own daughter. Fallon is not the monster in this room. You are. And if you hurt him any further, I will do everything within my power to make sure you never achieve the revenge you seek to use me for,” she spat.
“You will do as you are told. I am your father and you will obey me,” he hissed in her face.
“You are my father no longer,” she hissed back.
With a roar of pure rage, he raised his hand to backhand her only to be stopped by another hand wrapped firmly around his wrist. Turning incredulous eyes to meet Fallon’s angry ones, he stared in disbelief as Fallon growled, “You will not touch her.”
“She is my daughter. She is mine to do whatever I please.”
“Not any longer.”
There had been something else in those words, some meaning that Sapphira did not understand, but there had been no time to ask. After a battle between Fallon and her father that had almost brought the castle down around them, Lucifer chained Sapphira to the opposite side of the wall from Fallon then proceeded to torture him in front of her.
Days, weeks, time was lost in the darkness of the dungeons. Nothing was left undone or unviolated, and no matter how much she had begged and screamed for him to stop, Lucifer would not listen. When Fallon refused to undo what had been done and Sapphira refused to renounce her love for him, Lucifer had done the unthinkable. He had torn Fallon’s wings from his back and burned them to ash in front of them. Then he had released Sapphira from her chains. Exhausted and in pain, Sapphira crawled to where Fallon lay. The words he whispered to her broke her heart. In the end Lucifer had done his job well.
In the end Fallon had learned to hate her.
After her father allowed Fallon to speak with her, he was dragged out of the cell and taken somewhere Sapphira would never find him no matter how hard she searched. She was left alone in that dark place. Heartbroken and unwilling to believe that he hated her, wanting to somehow be closer to him, Sapphira began idly sifting through the ash of his wings. It was there that she found something that could undo the damage Lucifer had wrought.
Clinging to the only hope she had of gaining Fallon’s love back, she stumbled out of the cell to find her brother. It took ten years before she could convince Damien to help her, because alone her power was not enough to cast the spell. But even with the two of them, there was no guarantee that it would work or they would live through the casting. Only a God or Goddess would have the power to do what she wanted, and that she was not.
When Damien finally relented and the spell was cast, again the cost was great. When their mother had found them unconscious on the floor, she tried to keep their father from finding out what they had done. Where she was successful in hiding Damien’s involvement, she was unable to hide Sapphira’s. His wraith had been terrible, but it was nothing compared to when Fallon escaped. Not even her mother, the one person who could calm Lucifer, make him see reason, could save Sapphira then.
* * *
It had taken eons for Sapphira to recover from the pain of losing the one male she loved with all her heart, and she vowed she would never fall in love again. Would never allow another man to touch her as she had allowed Fallon to touch her. Not that any man would. Once she had healed from the years of imprisonment and torture her father had inflicted on her, he decided it was time for her to have a mate. One that he could control as tightly as he controlled her.
For some reason every time her father introduced her to a suitor, they all took one look at her and turned away. At first she was fine with that. Even after the horrible things Fallon had said to her the last time they had seen each other, she still loved him and no one could take his place in her heart or soul.
Lucifer was not as resigned.
Sapphira’s training resumed, but with a new addition to the terms of her defeat. Whoever bested her had the privilege of not only trying to kill the daughter of the one they hated the most, but also the right to bed her anyway they wished. Lucifer made sure the prisoners were so strong that there was no way Sapphira could win against them. After leaving her at the mercy of her conquer for untold days, he would come into the cell, once again sniff the air around her and roar in rage. Whatever it was he was looking for, trying to sense, not to his liking.
Afterwards, he would drag her back to her room, throwing her on the floor in disgust, leaving her to heal for the next round of degradation. Whenever she asked him why he was doing this to her, his answer was always the same.
“If you can whore yourself to my immortal enemy then you can whore yourself to them all!”
After a few more insults he would leave her alone, beaten and bleeding on the floor. For a decade this went on, until her mother finally put a stop to it. Threatening to move out of the castle if Lucifer did not leave Sapphira in peace. Saying that what was done could not be undone no matter how much he wished it. Sapphira did not know what her mother meant, but she did not care. As long as the torment stopped.
For more days than she could count, Sapphira refused to leave her rooms. Not even her brother could sway her. When her father burst into her room demanding to know where Fallon was, that he had escaped, a part of Sapphira wondered if he would come for her. Not for the bounty on her head, but because he had finally forgiven her and realized, as she had done the moment their eyes locked that first day that she would love him forever.
He never came.
Blinking back tears she had long ago refused to shed, she focused on the man who held her and what she saw behind him. His large magnificent black wings. It had worked. The spell that had almost cost her and her brother’s life had worked.
“Your wings,” she breathed.
Fallon flexed his wings unconsciously, mindful of the small space they were in. “They were a gift,” he said as if it had no meaning to him.
“A gift?” Sapphira asked frowning in confusion.
“From the one who saved me from the hell of your father’s wrath,” he answered his voice neutral. His eyes were anything but neutral. Hatred blazed in them and it seemed to be directed at her.
Reeling from the knowledge that Fallon thought someone else had returned his wings, Sapphira tried to put two words together. Finally she said, “Who saved you? I thought you escaped.”
The small smile that spread across Fallon’s lips was not a happy one and did not reach his eyes. Those were haunted. “You and I both know your father would never allow me the opportunity to escape after what I had done.”
“No, he is not one to take betrayal lightly,” Sapphira agreed absently. God his arms felt so good around her.
“Not since,” he stopped there, pain that Sapphira knew ran deep flickering in his eyes. There were more reason’s for her father to hate Fallon than falling in love with is daughter.
Like Gideon, Fallon had been…questioned. Unlike Gideon, Fallon had been cast out of the heaven’s even though he had given the angels what they wanted. Proof that Lucifer was breaking their law. Although, from what Sapphira had heard the interrogation included, she was not so sure she would not have broken either. She knew Fallon still held the scars mentally and physically from that interview, and many more once her father had found out he had been one of the two who had betray him. Two he had considered his closest friends, his brothers. But it was nothing compared to the scars they both shared. Scars that looking into Fallon’s eyes were brought to the surface with a vengeance.
“You are quite the prize, Sapphira. My master would pay a great deal if I brought you to him,” he said quietly.
His master? It was just all too confusing. He was supposed to know she had given him his wings back. He was supposed to forgive her, tell her that he never stopped loving her. Then what he said registered. He was one of those who were sent after her. One of Drew’s master’s slaves. Shoving all the confusion and pain down, she did what she normally did in these situations. Used her sarcasm.
“Why don’t you make this easy come quietly,” Fallon said.
“Where would the fun be in that?” she asked pushing away from him. Had the sun just dimmed now that he was not holding her? “You know how I love a good fight,” her voice no longer as strong as she would have liked it to be.
Sitting back on his heels, Fallon smiled at her. “You were always good with the sarcasm. I have heard it ended with your brother in a bloody heap on the floor more times than not. You seem to have that effect on men.” His eyes were roaming her face as if he were memorizing it. “They always seem to want to protect you no matter what the cost.”
“Tell that to the men Father kept throwing at me that would use me….” She could not finish that sentence, the pain of the vile things those men did to her still fresh after all this time. The flash of rage that passed through Fallon’s eyes caught her off guard. It did not match the nonchalant emotion about her feelings he was portraying. If he hated her as much as he said he did, then why would the thought of her being with other men bother him? She would have thought he could have cared less. As she watched him struggle to regain his calm, her voice softening in confusion, she said, “Besides, I don’t ask anyone to fight my battles. I can take care of myself.”
“Yes, you can,” Fallon agreed leaning closer. “You proved just how strong you were when you fought your father to protect me. But it wasn’t enough, was it. In the end he defeated you, and I paid the price.”
“You were not the only one to pay,” she whispered.
Why wasn’t she leaning back, damn it. He was the enemy and yet she was sitting here like the love struck teenager. Then his face was right in front of hers, his eyes looking into hers.
“I liked your eyes better when they were blue,” he said reaching up to touch her cheek with his fingertips. “In my dreams I would to become lost in them for hours, just as I would become lost in your body.”
“I thought you hated me,” Sapphira whispered as his lips lowered to hers.
“Don’t you know? The one you hate the most is the one you truly love.”
And then his lips were on hers.
Copyright 2018 Heidi Barnes