Gideon was not the only one trying to sort through memories of who they thought they were and who they are. Through the castle window, Fallon watched Zara wandering through the garden, touching each flower, each piece of garden art as if touching would bring everything into focus. Out of the four of them, he supposed he could count himself as the lucky one. His memories had been left intact. He had known who he was, what they were hiding from, the sacrifices they had made. Unfortunately, all that knowledge did not save him from his guilt. There were things he had done not realizing the full consequences of his actions that were eating him up inside. Loved ones he had hurt. One in particular was when they had hidden Zara in the human realm and the revelations that had been forced into the open. Fallon will never forget the look of utter betrayal on either of Zara or Damien’s faces right before his world ended.
Closing his eyes, the images of that horrible day pushed their way forward.
One thousand years before the spell was broken:
“You’re late!” Lucinda snapped, her blue eyes flashing, those perfectly pouty lips drawn in a thin line. The malice in her expression, her entire being, took her five foot ten slim well tone body that any mortal man would give their soul, along with their left arm and first born child to have under him for one night, and turned it ugly. Even the huge white wings that flared out behind her in a show of dominance seemed dimmed, as if showing how all the scheming and lying to get to where she was had somehow tarnished them.
Fallon’s eyes narrowed on the Elder with a certain amount of hostility, his magnificent black wings ruffling behind him in agitation as he walked into the great room of the large Tudor house at the edge of Lucifer’s domain in Hell. As much as he hated the old bat, at the moment the angel, and he used the term loosely, held too much power for him to oppose.
Once he had been a being of high status, but because of his refusal to betray his makers, Godiva had cast him out of heaven to fall into what the human’s refer to as hell. What his existence had become after that was not far from that description. The blonde hair blue eye beauty that was currently glaring at him had spread rumors the reason he had had been interrogated was because he had been in league with Lucifer during the rebellion, which was a lie. Right before he was cast out, Lucinda had announce to the entire assembly that during the interrogation Fallon had given vital information which had led to the powerful angel’s downfall. Lucifer, the unforgiving bastard he was, believed the lies. When Fallon was cast out of the heavens shortly after the others, Lucifer captured Fallon while he was still weak and turned his existence into a pain filled nightmare.
That was until Fallon found the only light in his dark existence. The only female he would ever love, would ever own his soul, but even then Lucifer took that from him. When Fallon finally escaped it was only to find himself in another kind of hell. One he had no means of escaping from and cost him everything. And now that he knew the truth of who Sapphira and her brother were, he was not sure he could ever forgive himself. It was one of the reasons he was here today. To try and salvage as much of this mess as he could, and maybe earn a small amount of their forgiveness.
“Unlike your master, mine keeps a close watch on those he owns. It was not easy slipping his spies, considering who I am. He trusts me even less than he does you,” Fallon growled.
“And rightly so,” Lucinda snarled, the venom in those words singeing his feathers. “You had already proven how untrustworthy you are when you betrayed Lucifer.”
Fallon took a step towards the bitch, his eyes flashing dangerously.
“Fallon,” Michel warned from where he sat at a table in the adjoin dining room.
Unlike Lucinda’s wings, Fallon knew that Michel’s wings would have shown brightly in the dimness of the room, but he had transformed them into the brilliant tattoo that covered his back in order to lounge in the chair he currently occupied. Also with the blonde hair and bright blue eyes, Michel did not have to hide what he was to his master. Everyone knew how much the Archangel loved to bath in the blood of his enemies. Fallon counted himself luck not to have falling into that category. Although the need to keep up appearances in front of their audience was crucial. Every supernatural being knew being on the bad side of this particular angel and the company he ran with never bode well. Having become Fallen meant that he was no longer on the same side as Michel. That they were enemies, with Michel being the more powerful of the two. What he hoped would come across as a sudden healthy dose of common sense, Fallon stopped in his tracks, growling at the smirking bitch in front of him. If she only knew the truth she would be bowing down at his feet, not irritating the hell out of him.
“We both know Fallon gave no secrets away during his…questioning, Lucinda” Michel reminded coolly.
The sneer that Fallon gave Michel told him just how much he disagreed with his choice of wording. Especially when the term “questioning” included a lot of blood. His blood.
“We are not here to argue amongst ourselves,” a commanding voice barked into the silence. They turned to see a small beautiful Asian woman dressed in a blue silk dress that hugged every curve of her body walking towards them. Behind her was another woman about the same height dressed in a red silk kimono with dragons embroidered in black walking demurely, eyes down cast. But there was something not right with the woman. Something…other. Once they were banished to hell, Lucifer was surprised to find that his wife’s best friend was half demon. A child of mixed parentage was not to be trusted and Lucifer almost killed her, until Sachi told him Ayame’s true roll as her familiar. To kill her familiar was to diminish her powers. Something with the enemies Lucifer had they could not afford. So Ayame lived, much to everyone’s annoyance.
With all that tininess and beauty, the human wife of Lucifer, the one who had spoken, commanded a respect the supernatural beings in the room gave only a few. “We are here to do what we can to save my daughter and son from those who wish to harm them. Not bicker between ourselves like children,” she reminded harshly.
“You know we cannot save both of them from that fate,” Lucinda reminded as respectful as she could. She may not like the woman, but she was not an idiot. Michel would not tolerate anything but respect for the human witch, and out of everyone here, he could actually hurt her.
Answering with a dismissive nod that only infuriated Lucinda further, Sachi turned her attention to Fallon, who was watching her with a caution she did not understand.
“My lady,” Fallon greeted formally with a small bow of his head, although he made no move towards her. “It’s been a long time.”
“Yes, it has. I’m afraid I have many years of my husband’s unwarranted abuse to apologize for,” she smiled at him. That smile did not reach her eyes.
“You do not have anything to apologize for,” he assured returning her smile with a slight one of his own. “That is for him to do, although I do not hold my breath it will ever happen.”
“No, I suppose not. My husband was never one to admit he was wrong. Although, when he finds out he has been lied too.” Her gaze narrowed on Lucinda.
“I did what was necessary to keep our secret safe,” Lucinda huffed, her nose rising in the air.
“You took advantage of the situation to payback a wrong you thought was given you,” Sachi snapped. “Fallon and Gideon did not deserve what was done to them, but we will right that wrong today.” She turned her eyes back to Fallon and they soften with sympathy. “At least for one of our mistress’s beloved protectors.”
Fallon could not hold her gaze, his guilt weighing heavily on him.
“Enough with the unnecessary chit chat,” Ayame snapped. “We have a lot of work to do in a very short time.”
Fallon frowned at her.
“Ayame, lovely as ever,” Fallon’s tone telling her he thought she was anything but. Leaning in, he whispered loud enough so the others could hear it, “Has she been fed lately. She looks a bit peckish, and I for one do not want to lose a hand or arm if I must stand next to her.” He was rewarded with a snarl from Ayame that would have made Lucifer proud.
“You have no room to talk,” Ayame snarled. Sachi put an arm out, halting the demon as she took a step towards Fallon. Unfortunately it did not stop her words. The snarl on her lips turned into an evil smile. Her gravelly voice sugary sweet, she cooed, “My, my, my. What lovely wings you have. Do tell, how did you come by them? The last I remember they had been ripped from your back and burned to ash.” Her smile turned into a grin of pointed teeth as she watched Fallon pale.
“That is enough, Ayame,” Sachi scolded, glaring at her familiar. “Remember your place or I will remind you.”
Immediately the demon backed down, her expression contrite, her eyes on the floor. “Yes, mistress. I meant you no disrespect.”
“As much as I hate to admit it, the pet demon is right,” Lucinda announced imperiously, earning growls from everyone in the room. Her eyes fell on Fallon, who was glaring at her. “It is probably best you hid your wings, for now. No need to upset Zara any more than necessary. What we have to do will be hard enough on her.”
“As if you care,” Fallon spat, but she was right. With a shrug of his shoulders, his wings folded and shrank until they disappeared under his clothes.
“I am not here to make friends,” Lucinda, “I am here to fix the mess you made when you decided to have your little fling with Lucifer’s daughter.”
“Again you put blame where it is not due,” Michel sighed, shaking his head. “You need to let go of your hatred or it will diminish you even more than you already are.”
“I am not diminished!” she huffed, her feathers ruffling in agitation.
“Suit yourself,” Michel shrugged.
Growling at Michel, she turned her attention back to the others. “Enough of this! Fine! As you know, since Sapphira and Damien have come into their powers, they are a magnet to those we are trying to hide them from. We need to hide them again before Santon realizes his assumptions are true and comes for her and her brother. Only this time we must do it in a way not even we can find them.” She glared at Fallon.
“It has already been proven we cannot hide them from Fallon, nor Gideon. Even if Fallon did not understand what she was to him at the time, their connection was instantons,” Sachi reminded. “It will be the same when Gideon sees her for the first time, and he does not have the benefit of his memories.”
“You want me to believe that he did not know who she really was?” Lucinda scoffed, looking Fallon up and down as if he was something distasteful. “That what he thought was a mere mating bond went much deeper? That the one he forsake was the one he swore to protect with his with his life?”
“I never forsake her,” Fallon snarled stepping towards the sanctimonious female.
“Really,” Lucinda remarked drily. “Isn’t that what you call it when you tell the supposed love of your life that you don’t love her and you never want to see her again?”
“How?” Fallon gasped, the pain of one of the worst days of his life slicing through him as sharply as it had when it happened.
“I know many things. Don’t ever forget that or what I am willing to do to keep our cause alive.”
“You want us to believe that you are still true to the cause?” Michel asked, an eyebrow raised. “After what you did to Fallon and Gideon with such enthusiasm?”
“I had to make it believable or Godiva would have never trusted me again. You know how she was after they disappeared. Accusing everyone of treason. If I hadn’t interrogated those two within an inch of their existence, she would have had me hanging in chains next.”
“Is that what you tell yourself so you can sleep at night,” Michel sneered. “I would not be the least surprised if you were the one to tip Santon off something was not right in Lucifer’s realm.”
“You dare question my loyalty?” Lucinda hissed. “You who play both sides? Who’s to say you didn’t tell them? You’ve had ample opportunity in the last thousand years in between Godiva’s traitorous legs.”
Michel was out of his chair and halfway to Lucinda, murder in his eyes before Fallon could come between them.
“And you are always trying to keep me from killing her. Follow your own advice, my friend,” he grimaced, holding Michel back. “Don’t allow her to goad you into losing your temper. It’s what she wants.”
“She dares to question my devotion to our makers. I have killed beings for less,” he snarled.
“And right there is why,” Lucinda snapped. “Which makers are you referring to? The ones who wish for power, or the ones who grant it?” Michel returned her glare for glare. “I don’t need you to like me, Michel, any more than I tolerate you. We are here for one thing and one thing only. To save the universe from chaos and death.”
“And this is different from any other time?” Fallon asked. Everyone’s eyes turned to him. Making sure Michel would not do something they would all regret, he released the angel and turned to face the rest. “Every time we reach this point we try to thwart it. It has never helped in the past, it will not help now, and I for one do not wish to put them through this kind of pain. Not again.”
“But putting those you claim to love through pain is what you do, my dear,” Ayame cooed.
Suddenly Michel was standing in front of Fallon who was growling at Ayame. The gleeful grin on the familiar’s face did nothing to dampen his rage. Through the centuries, the half-demon had caused more than her fair share of pain to all of them, but because Fallon had been so available in Lucifer’s dungeons he had borne the brunt of her cruelty.
“Either gag your familiar or I will let him loose on her, Sachi,” Michel snapped digging his feet in as Fallon pushed harder against his strength. “He has more reason to kill her than the rest of us.”
One look from Sachi and Ayame cast her eyes downward and was silent once again.
“You said everyone was here,” Michel said, turning to Lucinda in an attempt to diffuse the tempers by changing the subject. “We are missing one.”
“No. We have two angels. One pure, one fallen. Two elders, again one pure, one fallen. And one witch with her familiar. The added bonus is that in this instance the witch is the one who birthed them in this life. It will strengthen the spell.”
“I only see one elder, and that is you,” Michel frowned. “Who is the other?”
“I am,” a male voice answered.
The two angels stared in shock as Elden, Lucifer’s second in command, strode into the room. The only being Lucifer trusted aside from Sachi. Unfortunately, no one else in the room, aside from Sachi, trusted him.
Before they could protest his involvement, the doors on the far side of the room opened and Sapphira, or Zara, and Damien walked into the room. The moment they saw Fallon they both froze.
All Fallon saw was Zara. The long black hair that matched her mother’s falling down her back with large curls, her slim figure dressed in tight leather pants that hugged her low on her hips with a short tank top that exposed her belly. Too much skin showing for his comfort, but Fallon was too caught up in her vibrant blue eyes that matched her brother’s, the ones he never thought he would see again that were staring at him wide-eyed to really care.
“You bastard!” Damien snarled lunging at Fallon before anyone could stop them.
“Damien! No!” Sachi cried.
Damien and Fallon crashed into the table sending dishes and silverware clattering to the floor. Damien’s hands were around Fallon’s neck choking the life out of him as Fallon tried to fight back without hurting him. If only Damien knew who he was trying to kill. What it would do to him if he succeeded.
“How dare you show your face after what you did to my sister!” Damien roared.
“Damien! Stop!” Michel yelled grabbing one arm while Elden grabbed the other, pulling him off Fallon.
“Do you have any idea what Father did to her after you threw her away? The hell her put her through, all because you had some misguided notion she was yours?” Damien yelled struggling free himself from the two angels.
“Enough, Damien,” Sachi barked.
Where it did not stop the struggling, it did stop his words. Finally Michel and Elden managed to pull him further away, sitting him hard in a chair.
“Stay!” Elden commanded with a finger in his face.
When Damien tried to stand, Elden shoved him back down.
“Did I stutter?” he snarled.
Glaring mulishly at Elden, Damien decided it was better to stay seated. One thing he had learned in his long painful existence was that Elden was not one to push. It never ended well.
Fallon clung onto the table gasping for air. As immortals they may not be able to be killed, but that did not mean it did not hurt like a son of a bitch if someone tried.
“What is he talking about?” Fallon demanded hoarsely.
“Like you do not know,” Damien spat.
“Enough, Damien,” Sachi repeated, her voice softer but no less commanding.
“He needs to know!” Damien protested.
“And he will, but not here. It is upsetting your sister.”
All eyes went to Sapphira who stood as still as a statue, all color drained from her face.
“Sapphira,” Damien breathed his attention immediately all on her. This time Elden and Michel moved out of the way when he stood, rushing to pull her into his arms. “I’m sorry,” he whispered holding her tight.
“Someone answer me!” Fallon roared.
After a moment of everyone looking at each other, Michel sighed, moving towards Fallon. “After you were taken out of the cell,” Michel’s voice grew quieter so Sapphira did not hear everything he said. Not that she needed to. She had lived the nightmare that had become her existence.
A roar of a rage so loud and long it shook the foundations of the house preceded the crashing of the remaining dishes. Damien and Sapphira looked to see Fallon with his hands on the long table, arms stiff head bowed while Michel and Sachi looked on worriedly. Ayame and Lucinda looked smug. Elden didn’t seem to care one way or another that Fallon was upset.
“I will kill him,” Fallon snarled.
“Fallon,” Sachi started.
“No, Sachi,” he snapped glaring at her. “Not this time. I know he despises me, but that is no excuse for what he did to her. Forget that she is my mate, she is his daughter! How do you do that to your own flesh and blood?”
Sapphira stiffened. Mate? His mate? Looking at the enraged fallen angel as he glared at her mother, things began to fall into place. All the questions her father wanted answered. Why he had tortured them, why the men he had thrown at her took one look at her and turned away. The men who her father brought as potential suitors had felt that bond and knew she was off limits. That she belonged to someone far more powerful than them, and they had respected that power enough to turn away.
The prisoners had no qualms about violating her because in doing so they scorned Fallon. Someone they hated because even though he was one of them, he had betrayed them, sending them to their doom. What better way to exact their revenge then to abuse his chosen mate. The supposed love of his existence.
A mating bond was for life. It could not be broken, and he had chosen her, then discarded her, leaving her to her father’s twisted sense of justice.
“Why?” she breathed, her eyes accusing.
“He left me no choice. If I did not do something to stop his tirade, I was terrified your wings would be next in the pyre. If I had known what he would do to you I would have never pushed you away.”
Closing her eyes, Sapphira shook her head. “No,” she whispered. Swallowing the lump that had formed in her throat, she opened her eyes, locking them with Fallon’s. “Why me? Why did you choose me as your mate? You barely knew me, yet the moment I step foot in your cell you bound yourself to me, without my consent, for eternity. Why?”
How to answer that without giving away too many secrets. With a small smile, he decided he would answer with the truth. “Because no matter what obstacles are put between us, I will always and forever be yours.”
Her eyes narrowing, Sapphira studied him, the confusion and uncertainty in her eyes on whether or not to believe him strong. Fallon had tried to put as much love as he could in his eyes to convince her he was telling her the truth, because there was no greater truth than the one he just uttered. From the moment he laid eyes on Sapphira, or Zara as he truly knew her, he was irrevocably hers. Something must have convince her because she started to pull away from Damien and step towards him.
“No Sapphira,” Damien warned, tightening his grip on her arms.
“Let me go, Damien,” she commanded softly, looking up at him. The frown on his face told Sapphira he clearly did not want to, but he dropped his arms.
When she looked at the others, their eyes were on her, but she only cared about one. When Fallon took on step towards her, the look in his eyes begging her to forgive him, it was almost enough, but before Sapphira could think further on it, Lucinda’s tone broke through the tense silence
“This is all very touching,” her voice thick with disgust, “and I’ll have to admit even I began to believe you, Fallon, but then again, we all know what a convincing liar you are.” She waved her hand to take in everyone that stood glaring at her, her smile sickly sweet as her voice was. “Unfortunately we have no time for silly games. We have to cast the spell before we are found.”
To Fallon’s horror, Sapphira’s eyes filled with uncertainty once again and she stepped back into her brothers embrace. No! his heart cried as he reached a hand out to her, imploring her to believe him. Please do not forsake me.
“You can be such a bitch, Lucinda,” Michel snarled. “How you live with yourself amazes me.”
“Enough,” Eldon snapped. “Lucinda has a point. This house is heavily warded, so we don’t have to worry about being found, but Sachi and I will eventually be missed. We must finish what we came here to do.”
“And what exactly is that?” Sapphira asked avoiding Fallon’s stare, although it was not easy. Part of her desperately wanted to believe him. “You still haven’t told us why we are here, or why there are angels in our realm. If father finds out there will be hell to pay.”
“That’s putting it mildly,” Michel grimaced.
“It is no longer safe for you and your brother to stay here. We are here to hide you,” Sachi explained walking to Sapphira, placing her hand on her cheek.
The smile on her lips trembled and tears were threatening to fall. What was going on?
“From who? Father?” Sapphira asked suddenly frightened. She had only seen her mother cry a few times in her existence. What was about to happen to upset her this much.
“From those that would use you for their own gain,” Sachi answered.
“I don’t understand,” Sapphira whispered watching her mother walk away. The others took up what looked like prearrange spaces around her and Damien. “Who?” Clutching Damien’s arm around her, she looked at each being that surrounded them, their faces determined. When she reached Fallon’s worried eyes, she faltered. “Fallon?”
“If there were any other way, I would take it to save you this pain. Just know that those who love you will remember, but they will not know where you are. Just that you are safe,” he explained as he raised his arms into the air.
“What about Damien?” she cried clutching his arms around her.
“We only have enough power to hide one of you,” Fallon answered. Then after a moment of hesitation, he whispered, “I’m sorry.”
It is no easy feat to separate a soul. What the six powerful immortals were trying to do in that room was far more dangerous. They were separating the soul of the universe. If they were lucky they would come out of this relatively unscathed. One wrong move…well, none of them wanted to think about what would happen if they failed.
As the power grew so did the screams. Fallon almost lost his resolve. He had vowed to protect the two immortals in the middle of their circle writhing in pain. How could he do this to them? It was Damien who convinced him what he was doing was the right thing. In one moment of clarity, the male that knew who Fallon was to them locked eyes with him, and with one slight nod of his head gave Fallon the permission he needed to finish his mission. To keep hidden what was precious to him at all costs from those who would destroy all that they knew. With a flare of his wings. Damien encircled Sapphira, cocooning her. When he finally collapsed in a blinding white light, Sapphira was gone.
Afterwards, Fallon did not remember much. Not only had Zara disappeared in a cloud of mist, she had disappeared from his soul, the bond that connected them broken. Damien stayed in the hell realm where he was the son of Lucifer who had betrayed his father by hiding his sister. Michel dropped Fallon in the realm his current master resided, careful not to leave a trace of his presence. When Santon found Fallon, incoherent and weak, the god somehow knew what he had done and made his existence hellish. Not that it was already.
“You need to stop blaming yourself,” Zara’s soft voice broke through Fallon’s memories.
Blinking, he realized that she was no longer in the garden, but standing behind him, a frown on her lovely face.
“I have wronged you in so many ways. Betrayed your trust, made a pack with our enemies.”
“You were lied to, Fallon. Santon has no hold over you, and in the end it proved to be a godsend. You were able to find me before he did.” She put a hand on his cheek as she captured his eyes with hers, imploring him to believe her. “You saved me,” she whispered earnestly.
Taking her hand in his, he closed his eyes, kissing her palm. “I could have doomed us all.”
Sighing, Zara gently pulled her hand out of his, shaking her head in frustration. “You were always one to blame yourself unnecessarily. We all made sacrifices, did things we would have never done if we had known the truth. But that was the crux of it, wasn’t it. We did not know. All we knew, in here,” she put her hand over her heart, “was that we were meant to be together. You when we met in the pits of hell. Gideon when I first appeared as a human infant. Damien from the moment we were born into the Hell Realm. We all knew, even if we did not understand, that we are one. Now and always.” She moved until she was a breath away, resting her hands on his chest, his arm automatically going around her, holding her loosely against him. “Forgive yourself, my love. I have.”
Sighing, Fallon rested his forehead on hers, a weight lifting from his shoulders. “I will try,” he smiled.
“I guess that is the best any of us can hope for,” Zara sighed dramatically, bringing a chuckle from Fallon.
“Damien wants us to meet him and Gideon outside the back gates of Heaven’s realm,” Fallon said, breaking the comfortable silence that had surrounded them.
“Have they found Michel?” she asked hopefully, stepping back so she could look him in the eyes. She did not like it when the light disappeared only to be replaced with anger.
“Yes,” he growled. “They know.”
It was all he needed to say. With a flash, Zara was changed from her flowing pale yellow robes to black matted leather leggings, leather boots, a tight laced bodice with cap sleeves, black cape and weapons strapped around her that would bring a smile to Michel’s face. She no longer a quiet maiden lounging in her beloved garden’s, but a goddess ready for war.
Fallon sucked in air through his teeth, looking her up and down appreciatively. “Damn,” he hissed. “You are making it awfully hard to keep my mind on saving our friend and not dragging you off someplace private.”
“Down boy,” Zara grinned.
With a flash, Fallon was dress similarly, only more manly – Zara put her teeth to her fist, groaning appreciatively as she looked him up and down not unlike he just had her – his broadsword strapped firmly to his back, the handle peaking above his cape.
“Shall we?” he grinned, his wings suddenly flexing behind him, the cape un-hampering them.
“We shall,” Zara answered her own wings flaring.
With one power stroke they were flying through the heavens, one goal in mind. To save their friend and end this, once and for all.
Copyright © 2018 Heidi Barnes