Forever Lost – Chapter 9

Chapter 9

 

Sara was back in South Dakota. Back home where demons and angels did not exist except in myth and legend. Where Lisa was still her best friend and all she had to worry about was whether or not Jimmy Malak would finally find the courage and ask her to the spring fling. Lisa was pretty sure hell had not frozen over yet. Sara still had hope. Lisa could never understand what she saw in Jimmy. Sure he wasn’t the captain of the football team, but under those dark rimmed glasses were the prettiest blue eyes Sara had ever seen. And even though he was tall enough and built well enough to play football, he had told her that those kinds of sports were just not his thing. He preferred hand to hand combat, the bow and arrow, swordplay. Somehow that was just so…hot!

Sara shook her head to clear those thoughts away. She never used the word hot to describe people. It just seemed so demeaning. Jimmy was much more than that. He was kind, gentle, always there when she needed help, and as she thought about it that was kind of strange. In school she was not one of the popular kids. Keeping more to herself, Sara read her books, worked in her parent’s small jewelry shop, where her mom made jewelry from the Black Hills gold that locals brought in. Her dad was in charge of the business end of things. They were by no means rich, but they were not poor either. After she helped in the store after school, Sara went home to take care of her little brother until Mom and Dad came home.

Then something happened that would turn Sara’s world so dark she never thought she would see daylight again.

Her mom was diagnosed with cancer.

It was a rare type of cancer they had never heard of before. One the doctor’s had not found a means to fight. For the next six months, Sara watched helplessly as her mother wasted away and her family started to fall apart. Her dad grew more despondent, spending more and more time at the hospital than at the store. Todd, her little brother, started getting into fights. His grades went from straight A’s to F’s. Even Lisa stopped coming around as much. Sara could not blame her. The atmosphere around her family had turned decidedly negative.

The one surprise in all this was Jimmy. At school, instead of avoiding her as all the other kids did, he would ask Sara how she was doing, if she needed any help, someone to talk to. Apparently he had gone through something similar before he moved to their little town, so understood all too well what she was feeling. Her anger, her fear and most of all the need for someone else to be strong and not judge her for her weakness as he held her while she wept.

Sara thanked him and told him as gently as she could that she was fine. He need not worry about her. What she wanted say was she did not want anyone’s pity. She could see it everywhere she looked. In the faces of the townspeople, the teachers, the kids, and she hated it.

Her world was falling apart and she wanted to scream at the injustice of it all. What had her mother done to deserve this? She was a kind gentle beautiful soul who would go out of her way to help a homeless person who had no food or warm clothing, even when money was tight. Why was she made to suffer when there were so many others in this world that deserved her fate?

Whenever Sara thought that last, it would shock her out of her anger. No one deserved what her mother was going through. The pain, the slowly wilting of her body and soul as the cancer ate away at them. Only Jimmy seemed to understand, and he never gave up on Sara. In the end, he started doing those things around the house that her father would usually take care of without asking. Things Jimmy knew Sara could not do. And she let him.

One day, Sara came home to find Jimmy out at the barn helping Todd fix his mountain bike. Their dad was at the hospital where he had taken to spending the nights, only coming home to shower and change into a fresh pair of clothes before heading back to watch the love of his life wilt away piece by piece. Todd had asked him numerous times to help him fix it, and their dad always promised he would, but it never happened.

As Sara watched Jimmy and Todd, she saw something she thought she would never see again. Todd smiling. It brought a smile to her lips and eased the pain that she was losing that wonderful caring boy that was her brother to the same monster that was slowly eating away at her mother.

When Jimmy turned and saw her watching them, his smile softening into something much more intimate. It was then Sara knew he was in love with her, but Sara was not ready for any kind of commitment. When his smile and eyes turned sad, she realized that he knew this. He had always known and yet he was still here. Somehow he would always be here, and instead of frightening her it soothed her.

Then that awful day came when her mother was no longer with them. Sara’s dad was crying uncontrollably at the hospital bedside. Todd stood behind him, one hand on his back, his tears streaming down his face. He looked so lost. Sara stood staring at her mother’s peaceful face, trying to keep a hold of the memory of her last smile. It was so full of warmth and love, and now she was gone. She could not be gone. Sara was not ready for her to be gone.

Suddenly Sara could not be in that room a moment longer. With Todd yelling after her to come back, Sara ran out of the room, out of the hospital, not knowing where she was going and not caring. Along the street, people called after her wanting to know what was wrong, some guessing and standing in silence as they watched the broken girl race past. Knowing there was nothing they could do or say to ease the pain.

When Sara finally stopped, she found herself outside of town in the middle of a field where there was an enormous oak tree. The Oak was hundreds of years old with the initials of lovers and sweethearts of past and present carved into its vast trunk. Her parent’s initials were among them, but Sara was not interested in love. She was too angry at the world, at God, to care about anything but the pain in her chest that was taking her breath away. Looking up at the barren branches of earily spring, she did the only thing she could think of. She screamed. She screamed out all the anger, the anguish, the unfairness of it all, and when she was out of breath she pulled in more air and screamed again.

“Why?!” Sara screamed at the heavens. “What did she ever do to deserve this? Why did you take her from us? Why?”

The last was said through the tears she could no longer stop.

“Sara?” an aching familiar voice called softly, unsure of his welcome.

Sara closed her eyes and tilted her face to the sky, not wanting him to see her this way. She was the strong one. She could not show weakness or that last thread that held what was left of her world together would crumble, and everything would be lost.

Tentatively his fingertips touched her shoulder and she was suddenly in his arms, her face buried in his chest as she clung to him, sobbing uncontrollably.

“I’m here,” Jimmy soothed, one arm tightly around her while the other hand gently stroked her hair, his lips on the top of her head. “I will always be here.”

Then something incredibly soft enveloped her and….

Sara’s eyes snapped opened. “Gideon,” she breathed.

The arms around her tightened in response to her sudden movement.

“Careful, lassie,” a voice gently admonished. “I would’na want to drop you.”

Sara looked up to see the big red-headed angel smiling at her as he held her, one arm under her knees, the other around her torso. Not Jimmy. Or was it Gideon? Where was she?

Frowning, she looked around her. They were high in the hazy red air flying towards what looked like a rock wall. Around them were other angels, all looking warily at their surroundings as if they were expecting an attack. Definitely not the field where the oak tree was. It was a moment of her mind playing catch-up before she remembered she was in the Hell realm being saved by angels while being hunted by demons. At the moment, Sara was not sure which scenario was worse. Her memory of the past, or the reality she was now in.

“Where are we?” Sara asked, careful only to move her head. The last thing she wanted was to be dropped. Last time was not a pleasant experience.

“We are going to some sort of secret gate Damien said is not widely known to the others in this realm. Apparently it’s unguarded,” he answered the disbelief thick in his voice. Like the others, he did not trust Damien. Sara supposed that was only natural since they were on opposite sides of a war that had been waging since the beginning of time.

Looking around again, she realized there were a few missing, including Damien.

“Where are the others?” she asked afraid of the answer.

“Michel, Loghan and Damien went after Gideon,” he answered.

Sara gaped at him. “They can’t! Do you know where he is? If they go in there they won’t come back out!”

They had reached the wall and found a narrow cliff to land on.

“He said the doorway would be around here, but I don’t see or feel it,” Aitan said searching the rock with his hand.

“I knew we should’na have trusted him,” the angel carrying Sara grumbled as he set her on her feet.

“Despite how you feel about Damien, he would not do anything to harm Sara,” Talon assured his voice tense with pain.

“I told you it was too soon to fly,” Adalrik admonished. Sara turned to see Talon leaning against the wall, pale and sweating. Adalrik moved behind Talon, taking his injured wing in his hands. After a moment Talon sighed in relief.

“You have a magic touch, my friend,” Talon sighed moving his wing with more ease.

Adalrik snorted. “Magic touch or not, you need to stay off that wing for another day,” he snapped.

“And since when has he ever listen to you?” another smirked.

Sara did not even look at the new speaker. Her sole interest was the fact that Damien was walking into a trap and they were taking her out of here without Gideon.

“We can’t leave yet,” she announced storming up to Talon who frowned at her. “We can’t leave Gideon behind.”

“Michel and Loghan are capable enough to extract him. Right now you are our priority. We need to leave this realm before something else goes wrong.”

“Too late,” Aitan rumbled pulling his sword from his back, his eyes on something behind Sara.

“Shit,” someone hissed.

The fact an angel swore, which Sara always thought was a no no, fled her consciousness when she turned to see what was coming at them. The sky was black with winged demons. Shit did not even cover it.

“Well I will have’ta admit, lassie, life around you has never been dreary,” the red-head grinned unhooking his mace from his belt, his eyes never leaving the horde filling the sky.

“The good news is the castle is unmanned at the moment,” Talon said pulling his own sword.

“And the bad news?” the other asked.

Sara finally glanced at him. Like the others he was tall, but his build was leaner, more like a swimmer or cyclist. It by no means meant he was weak. His hair was light brown and kept short and artfully styled. His brown eyes looked like there were flecks of gold in them, but at this distance it was hard to tell. Although those eyes were wary, he smiled at Sara and gave her a small nod in greeting.

“My name is Andrew, but you can call me Drew. The big guy next to you,” he motioned to the red-head with his chin, “is Quinn.”

“Lassie,” Quinn said when Sara looked at him.

“And the one behind you next to Aitan is Darrick,” Drew continued.

Sara only had time to glance, catch a hint of dark blue eyes, sandy blonde hair and for him to say, “Ma’am” before an ear piercing screech interrupted them. She knew that screech, and after all that had happened to her in the last few hours it pissed her off.

“Lizza,” she hissed turning to glare at the tiny figure she could now see in front of the horde.

“That would be the bad news,” Talon sighed. He turned to her. “Sara, we need you to find the doorway.”

What? “I can’t find a doorway. You’re the ones with all the supernatural powers, not me,” Sara said her voice high with anxiety.

“That is not entirely true,” he hedged.

“What do you mean ‘not entirely true’?” she asked her eyes narrowing. This tiptoeing around the truth was starting to annoy her. She added it to the rather long list of things that were annoying her today.

“You may not remember, but you made this doorway. So you do know where it is and how to open it. You just have to concentrate on the energy it is emitting to find it,” Talon instructed. He glanced behind her, his expression darkening. “Sooner rather than later would be appreciated.”

Not really wanting to but unable to help herself, Sara looked back at the darkening sky. Yes, sooner rather than later would be good.

“Where do I start?” she asked turning to the rock wall and scanning it.

“Damien said it was well hidden. Do the same thing you did to locate Gideon. Close your eyes and concentrate on what it is you want to find,” Talon suggested. “We’ll watch your back,” he added when he saw her once again look out at the black cloud of demons that were growing closer.

Turning back to the wall, Sara took a deep breath, closed her eyes and rekeased the breath slowly, relaxing her mind and body as it left her. Putting her hand on the rock wall before her, she reached out with her senses – it is the only way she could explain it – looking for something…different. She could feel the angels around her, their aura’s soothing, calming even with the menace coming at them. Out further was the anger, the evil of the horde. One in particular that seemed hell bent on destroying her. Why Sara could only guess at, but she would deal with that bitch’s betraying ass later.

Pushing all that out, Sara searched for something different. It was as if a beacon was set only for her frequency. Calling her to its origin. Opening her eyes, she looked to the right of her and saw a faint outline of light. Moving so she stood in front of it, she gently placed her hand on a predetermined spot. How she knew this was a mystery she would have liked to explore, but considering what was coming at them she had no time to wonder at it.

With a rumble the door vanished.

“Holy shit, she found it,” someone gasped in surprise.

This time Sara did see who swore and turned to find Darrick’s dark blue eyes looking at her with a sense of awe. There was something else too. As if he was trying to figure out a puzzle and she was one of the pieces. It made her uncomfortable.

“Out! Now!” Talon ordered pushing Sara inside.

They stood by the opening as everyone hurried into a long narrow corridor that was on the other side. When the last angle was through, Sara stood in the doorway looking out. The horde was almost upon them; Lizza’s snarling face the closest. An idea came to Sara and she answered Lizza’s snarl with a wickedly smug smile of her own.

“Close the door, Sara,” Talon ordered as calmly as he could. The corridor they were in that turned sharply to the left a few feet in did not allow a lot of room for fighting. It barely allowed for the large warriors with their wings hidden.

“Just a few more moments,” Sara murmured her taunting smile never leaving her lips.

“Sara!” Talon ordered.

With another ear piercing screech, Lizza spurred ahead of the others, the look on her face telling Sara she was going to use her speed to plow her into the wall behind her.

“Sara!” Talon yelled.

Just as Lizza was about to hit her, Sara raised her hand and the rock wall suddenly appeared. On the other side was a muffled thud. The sudden silence was deafening as small rocks and dust rained down on them from the ceiling.

“That will leave a mark,” Adalrik chuckled dryly.

Sara grinned up at Talon as the others chuckled behind them. He was frowning at her, but she could see the amusement in his eyes.

“Cutting it a bit close weren’t we,” he said raising an eyebrow.

“It’s all in the timing,” Sara shrugging.

Closing his eyes, Talon pinched the bridge of his nose. “You were never this reckless before,” he sighed in exasperation.

“Times change. People change. We all must adapt to what life throws at us,” Sara responded sagely. “Besides, Lizza deserved what she got for lying to me.”

“That she did,” Quinn agreed ginning at her.

Sara grinned back.

“I for one have had enough excitement for one day,” Drew frowned. “Why don’t we leave here before more shows up.”

Everyone murmured their agreement. As they started up the long corridor Sara looked back at the rock wall. There would be no one following them through that opening. That she was sure of. She just hoped that the ones they left behind would be able to find a way out and soon. Something was started today that could not be stopped. Something that would change life as they knew it.

Chapter 8
Chapter 10

Copyright 2018 Heidi Barnes

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Time Stands Still

How do I go on
when all seems lost?
How does each day begin
and end
when time seems to
stand still?
When to step outside
to see what the world offers
what life can give
the ups
the downs
the in-between
seems like a step into
Hell?
I watch from hidden windows
wishing
praying
that one day I can break free
from this pain
that keeps me
inside
drags me under
suffercates
so once again
I can see a horizon
I can breathe
I can take that step
and live.

Copyright © 2018 Heidi Barnes

Forever Lost – Chapter 8

Chapter 8

Sara was not sure how long they hiked through the trees. All she cared about was that they were not heading for the castle she had seen earlier. Something in there was…hungry. For what she was not sure. She just knew she did not want to go there and find out.

Damien never seemed to tire carrying the dead weight of the huge angel. Even when they had to hike up a steep incline, slipping and sliding on the loose black rock, he did not falter. It was Sara that needed rest. Damien helped pull her over the lip of a very high cliff, hopefully the last cliff, Sara lay on her back staring at the red sky gasping for air.

“How come…you’re barely…breaking a sweat and I’m…about ready to…expire,” she gasped.

“Expire?” he smirked.

Apparently he thought that word was amusing. Sara’s racing heart and starved lungs thought otherwise.

She glared at him.

“The air is different in this realm,” he explained, trying to hide his smile and failing. Clearing his throat as Sara continued to glower; Damien went on with his explanation. “Think of it like this. If you live near the coastline you have more oxygen to breathe. But if you venture into the mountains, or into a different part of the country that is far above sea level, then the air is thinner so it’s harder for you to breathe and you tire faster. Here the air is different enough from the air in the Earth realm that when you exert yourself it’s harder to breathe.”

“Makes sense I guess. So is it the lack of oxygen that is making it seem darker, or is it becoming night time?” Sara asked turning her head to look around. She still was not up to moving much else.

“It’s growing dark and we do not want to be out in the open when it fully descends,” Damien voice wary as his eyes scanned the shadows. Something in the tone of his voice told Sara that whatever lived in the dark was not something she wanted to meet. “Can you stand yet?” he asked looking down at her, his hand extended for her to take, his amusement suddenly back as he waited for her to move.

“I’m glad you find my nearly passing out so amusing,” she snapped taking his hand and allowing him pull her to her feet.

A sudden wave of dizziness would have taken her back down if Damien had not pulled her into his arms to hold her up. Again that surge of power tingled between them, only this time it hurt a little. Like being jabbed by little pins and needles. For some strange reason it felt good. The sharp hiss of air along with his arms tightening around her told Sara that Damien liked it too.

“Why does that keep happening?” she asked breathlessly.

“I don’t know,” he breathed, his forehead resting on the side of her head.

It felt so intimate having him this close, as if he needed her as much as she needed him to hold each other up. Sara felt herself sinking into that feeling of mutual need and safety. After all that had happened in the last hours, days, it was welcomed.

A mournful howl reached through the night freezing the blood in her veins, pulling her from the spell that was weaving around them. With a gasp, she pulled away. The sudden chill that shuddered through her at the loss of Damien’s heat brought Sara to her senses far better than any pail of ice water. What the hell? Sara knew nothing about this man, if he was a man as he claimed, which he did not. What had he said? Not exactly? So many things were not what they seemed here. Was Talon even an angel, or was he some demon in disguise to lull her into a sense of safety only to kill her later. The only thing she trusted was the feeling she felt when Gideon eyes met hers. That familiar sense of home. He she knew without any doubt would not hurt her.

Sara did not know why she felt that certainty. Maybe because those eyes seemed so familiar. As if she had known them all her life. Especially those nights after her mother passed away when, in the safety of her room where her father and brother could not see or hear her, she would silently cry herself to sleep.

As Sara stared up into Damien’s eyes, she realized that he was just as confused and shaken as she was. His wide eyes showed a fear she did not think he was used to. That did not help alleviate hers, but with practiced ease she squashed it down before it could overwhelm her.

“What just happened?” she asked glad not to hear her voice shaking.

“I’m not sure, but let’s not do that again,” his eyes thoughtful as he studied her. She thought his eyes once again widened in understanding, but it was only a flash and he was once again back to thoughtful and confused.

“You’ll get no arguments from me,” she readily agreed rubbing her hands up and down her arms, trying to dispel the tingling that still lingered.

“Come on.” The words came out in a shaky breath as he turned to Talon.

Even though they were in agreement that whatever had happened between them could not happen again, the problem now was Sara wanted to feel that warmth, that sense of security, those pins and needles running across her skin with the craving of an addict, and the only source of fix was heaving an unconscious angel onto his shoulders. When he turned to look at her, she saw that same wanting in his eyes. It took a lot of will power for her to stay where she was and not reach out to touch him.

“Ready?” he asked his voice hoarse.

The only response she could manage was a nod.

“Follow me,” he said with a bit more surety before he turned and headed towards the woods that bordered the cliff. Taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly in an attempt to slow her racing heart, Sara followed him. Another mournful howl, this time closer, hurrying her steps.

They did not walk very far before there was the sound of rustling wings and they were surrounded.

“Far enough,” a voice so deep it vibrated up Sara’s spine commanded.

Damien and Sara froze.

“What have you done to Talon?” another slightly higher voice hissed.

Sara looked towards it to see a blonde haired blue eyed very pissed off angel stalking towards Damien, turning the sword in his palm clockwise before taking a firmer grip on the handle.

“He didn’t do anything to Talon,” Sara answered quickly trying to head off the fight she knew was about to happen. “Talon fought with Lizza and we fell.”

It did not stop the angel’s advance, but he also did not cleave Damien in two as Sara was afraid he would. Another angel came to help the blonde take Talon from Damien’s shoulders, carrying him a short distance away and laying him on the ground. While the blonde hovered, his eyes going from the unconscious angel to Damien and back as if he was not sure if he should stay with his friend or kill his enemy, the other took off a satchel he had looped over his head. Laying it on the ground next to Talon, he began to take out what looked like medical supplies.

“His wing was dislocated when we fell. When I popped it back into place he passed out,” Sara continued seeing that those who still stood glaring at Damien had not relaxed their demeanor. “Damien was helping us escape some demons who were hunting us.”

“I’m sure he was,” the shortest of them snorted. Although since most of them had to be at least six foot five and above, only a head shorter did not make him short in Sara’s eyes.

“Loghan,” Damien greeted calmly, his hands out to the sides in a show of being unarmed. It would have worked if his eyes had not been blazing with hatred. Again, Sara strongly felt there was bad blood between him and the angels. “A pleasure as ever.”

“We never did finish our discussion from the last time we met,” Loghan said, a sinister smile on his lips as he thumbed the blade of his sword.

“I would be more than happy to start where we left off,” Damien sneered, a sword materializing in his own hand. There was a rustle of metal and wings as the others responded to the threat.

“Enough!” the tall dark angel’s voice boomed silencing everything for miles. It did not, however, stop the two hotheads from glaring at each other. If looks could kill, Sara was positive they would both be piles of smoldering ash on the ground.

Deciding that involving herself in the middle of a pissing contest between these giants would not be one of her brightest ideas, Sara moved towards Talon and the two angels looking him over.

“Is he going to be all right? He’s been unconscious for so long,” she asked worriedly, keeping her voice low. The blonde angel looked up at her and smiled. It did not reach his eyes. Those were laced with worry. The second angel had his hands on Talon’s chest and his eyes were closed in concentration.

“He’s fine,” the blonde assured. “We just need to get him out of here. Our powers of healing are hindered by the darkness of this realm. Even for one like Adalrik,” he motioned to the angel with his eyes closed, “who is gifted with healing. Once Talon returns to our realm, he will be fine.” Then, he took a closer look at Sara and did not seem to like what he saw. “How are you holding up?” standing and moving closer to her.

“Well, my best friend is not who she seems to be. I’ve been dragged into hell, chased by demons who are apparently trying to kill me, and now I’m surrounded by angels.” She shrugged. “Just another day in the life I wish I did not have.”

For some reason, voicing all this out loud brought tears to Sara’s eyes again. The thought that once again her life was taking a road she did not want to travel yet had no choice in angered her. There was no turning left or right, no turning back. Just some unseen force pushing her onward to whatever destiny was laid out before her. Angry at her situation and the fact she was crying in front of others – she hated crying in front of others – Sara turned away from the blonde angel and wiped forcefully wipe the tears away.

“What the hell did you say to her, Michel?” Damien snarled.

Sara looked to see him pushing tbrough the angels surrounding hin and stalk towards her, sword raised, eyes flashing with fire and a possessive rage that frighten her as he glared at Michel. He had no right to act this way. They barely knew each other. Before Damien could reach her, the blonde angel had notched an arrow to a bow Sara had not seen before with a speed her human eyes or brain could not comprehend; ready to stop Damien from coming closer.

“Stop!” she yelled moving in between them. Both men froze, their eyes not leaving the other.

“Get out of the way, Sara,” Michel commanded, his voice a deadly calm that told her he would shoot Damien in a heartbeat and not cry over the spilt blood.

“Do as he says, Sara,” Damien said just as deadly. “I don’t want you to accidently become injured.”

“No,” Sara answered firmly. “No more fighting. I’m tired and hungry and I want to go home, crawl into bed and pretend this was all a bad dream.”

Damien eyes moved to hers, softening with sadness. “I’m afraid it is too late for fairytales, Princess.” he said softly.

Something about the way Damien said princess touched a spot deep within Sara she did not know existed. Another part of her that had been kept hidden for far too long. With a sounding like a gong that reverberated through her and out, that sudden awareness reached out touching everyone and everything around her as it spread out like a wave a pebble would cause if tossed into a pond.

It also woke a memory.

One she never knew she had.

Sara tried to grasp it, but it slipped through her fingers, falling back into the hazy mist it came from, yet not totally gone.

“Why did you call me that?” she whispered.

“Because that is who you are,” Damien answered, his voice still gentle, his sword lowering. There was a sadness in his voice and expression that frightened her.

“You said I was a puzzle, that you did not know why Lizza brought me here,” she reminded growing angry at the thought he had been lying to her this whole time.

“I didn’t know why,” Damien answered, his sword disappearing into the mist where it had come from. “It wasn’t until I held you in my arms,” there was a growl of displeasure from the angels but Damien chose to ignore them, “the second time that….” More growling and rustle of feathers and metal. Damon glared at the angels who glared back then turned his attention back to Sara. “It wasn’t until then that I started to realize who you were. The fact that these particular angels are here to protect you confirms my suspicions.”

“Then who am I? Why am I here?” she demanded stepping towards him. She wanted to push at him in frustration, but the memory of what his touch did to her stopped her.

Damien looked around at the angels then at the trees behind them. “Not here,” he said quietly. Sara opened her mouth to protest but he hushed her. “The trees have eyes, and I do not think everyone here knows who you are.” He looked at someone behind her as if confirming his suspicions, then back at her. Apparently one of the two angels behind her knew. “I would rather not be the one to let slip that little secret until we are safe.” Then he looked around at the others. “Although I don’t think I need to worry about that any longer.”

Sara followed his gaze and saw that all their eyes were on her, each one wearing a look of shock. As if they were seeing her for the first time. It was unnerving. It was also when she noticed Gideon was not with them.

“Where’s Gideon?” she asked her eyes still searching in case she missed him, or he was lurking in the shadows. Somehow she knew when it came to conflict he was not one to lurk, so that meant something was wrong. Sara looked at Michel and saw how uncomfortable he had suddenly become. Something was wrong. “Where is Gideon?” she demanded.

“Distracting the horde,” the tall dark one rumbled.

“What does that mean?” she asked suddenly angry and frighten all at once.

“It means we need to get you out of here before they figure out he is just a distraction and come looking for us,” the one Damien called Loghan answered walking up to Michel. He shot a venomous glare at Damien as he passed.

Damien smirked in answer.

Sara gave him a look that said not helping. Bowing his head, Damien rearranged his features in a more neutral expression.

“I’ll help Adalrik with Talon,” Loghan said. “Either you or Aitan can carry Sara, and then we will….”

“I don’t think so,” Damien uninterrupted, moving so he stood directly behind Sara, their bodies almost touching. Almost was almost too much.

Sara did not want the others see the affect Damien had on her, but with him this close it was becoming very difficult not to lean back against him. Feel his warmth, and that strange pins and needles sensation that she craved. The angels had already voiced their opinion on the subject of him touching her, and they were not too happy with how close he was now.

Too close, she thought breathlessly.

As if he had heard her, he stepped back one step. Suddenly it was easier to breathe.

“You think you can defeat all of us?” the tall dark one rumbled.

“No,” Damien said calmly keeping his eyes on Michel and Loghan. Adalrik was still kneeling next to Talon, his hand on Talon’s chest eyes closed in concentration. “But do you honestly think they will allow you to leave? She is too valuable. The gates will once again be guarded, and this time they will not allow you to leave. If you want to escape, you will need me.”

“We do not need your help?” Michel scoffed dismissively.

“You do if you want to find a way out of here the others don’t know about,” Damien said his voice low and dangerous. “And you would do well to take me with you.”

“And let you loose on Earth? On purpose?” a red headed angel snorted his accent thick. Looking at him more closely Sara could see that his leather was a bit more intricate with designs that were sewn in different color thread. His red-orange hair was long, down his back, braided close to the head on the sides with two small braids falling on each side of his face, the rest was in some sort of intricate braid she could not see, holding it back off his face. He had a large double bladed axe in his hand and his green eyes held amusement as he stared at Damien as if he was daft. Like the others, he was well over six foot. “I think not.”

“Do you have another plan, Celt? I’m willing to listen to any ideas you may have for escaping the most tightly sealed realm in existence,” Damien snapped.

“If it’s so tightly sealed, then why do your kind always seem to escape?” he asked sweetly.

“Enough,” a weak voice commanded.

All eyes turned to Talon. A weight Sara did not realize was there lifted from her chest. She started towards him, but Damien grabbed her arm stopping her. The effect was immediate. Both of them sucked air in as the pins and needles shivered across their skins, several times more intense than before. It seemed the more they touched the harder it was to let go.

Stepping so his body touched hers from shoulder to waist, his nose buried in her hair Damien whispered, “Don’t.”

One whispered word, a plea, and Sara could not pull away from him. Looking up into his eyes, she saw his worry, his need, his determination, even fear and she wanted to take that look away.

“Stop,” Talon barked. This time his voice was more firm, more in control. “No one touches them,” he added a little more softly. “We do not have a choice now. We need to take Damien with us.”

“Talon,” the tall dark one protested.

“No Aitan,” Talon said.

Sara was able to tear her eyes away from Damien to see Talon was on his feet, if unsteady. He looked at Michel who shook his head slightly, his brows furrowed with worry. They were not expressions that put Sara at ease. They were expressions of uncertainty, apprehension. Like Damien, they knew something. Something that would change Sara’s life forever.

“What has been done cannot be undone. Now we must live with the consequences, whatever they may be,” Talon said ominously. He took a deep breath and let it out slowly, looking around him counting heads. “Where is Gideon?” Alarm replacing the unease.

“He led the horde away so we could find you and the girl,” Aitan rumbled. “We don’t know where he is, or if he is alive.”

Alive? The thought of him in the hands of those monsters, wounded, or worse dead, gave Sara the strength to pull away from Damien, although it cost her. Gasping she tried to reorient herself as the world spun out of control and pain twisted her insides, almost doubling her over. Behind her, Damien made a noise of intense pain, as if he was gritting his teeth to keep from crying out. Sara wanted desperately to stop his pain, but she knew if she stepped back into his arms she would not be able to think clearly.

Gideon could not be dead. She would feel it, wouldn’t she? Hugging herself tightly, Sara closed her eyes and concentrated on those amazing clear blue eyes. Those blue eyes that felt like home. She tried to concentrate on other features but for some reason they kept slipping away. As if something was keeping her from seeing them.

Behind her, Damien growled in warning.

“Easy, half-breed,” Talon’s voice said very close to her.

Half-breed? Sara opened her eyes to find Talon in front of her. When she turned towards Damien, she could see he was not happy Talon was so close. Again she wondered why Damien was so possessive when they had only met a few hours ago, and why that possessiveness felt so right. When he looked down at her and saw her frowning at him, his anger faltered. She could tell he wanted to say something, but he kept his mouth shut. Sara was not sure if that was a good thing, or a bad thing, but at the moment she did not care. Gideon was somewhere out there, on his own, with a thousand demons after him. She had better things to worry about than misplaced over-protectiveness.

Talon’s voice brought her back to him.

“Sara, Gideon is your guardian angel. There is a link between you that allows him to know when you are hurt or in trouble. Now that you know who he is, that link should work both ways. If he is still alive you should be able to sense him,” he said gently.

Sara did not like the word ‘if’. Gideon was not dead!

“How?” she asked surprising herself with the calmness of her voice.

“Close your eyes. Concentrate on him,” he instructed. “He has been with you since the moment you were born into the mortal realm. You have always known he was there on some level. Concentrate on how he makes you feel.”

“Home,” Sara breathed.

Talon smiled down at her. “Yes, home,” he said.

Sara closed her eyes and once again brought the image of Gideon’s eyes to mind.

“You don’t know what you are asking her to do,” Damien snarled behind her.

“You know as well as we do that she can do this, even with what has happened,” Michel said patiently. “Whether you like it or not they are linked. It was part of the price. Don’t think that a short time with her will erase what was done.”

“And when she does find him. When we are brought together what then? You know the prophecies as well as I do,” Damien hissed, his voice low so the others could not hear. Sara felt him at her back and it momentarily distracted her. This time not so much pins and needles, but a need that was deep in her soul to become one with Damien. A low groan told her he felt the surge between them. This did not make any sense. Why was he affecting her like this?

“Can’t…concentrate,” she said through gritted teeth. This time she kept her eyes closed, because if she looked at Damien there would be no more thinking.

“Damien, please,” Michel appealed just as quietly. He too sounded closer, but again Sara did not dare open her eyes. “You cannot stop what is already set in motion, and we need Gideon. Back away from the princess.”

There was a moment of silence, then a noise of frustration and Damien was no longer behind Sara. “This is not over,” he snapped.

“I know,” Michel said his voice weary.

“Sara, concentrate. Where is Gideon?” Talon gently urged.

Taking a deep breath and releasing it slowly, Sara once again focused on that sense of home. It was there…faint, flickering. Her heart began to race as the thought he was dying filled her with dread. Falling to her hands and knees, she pushed that feeling away and grasped onto that flicker presence, willing her strength into him. It flickered once more, like a flame in a breeze threatening to blow out. Then, slowly, it started to grow stronger, more sure.

Sara, his voice breathed in wonder through her mind.

Before she could answer, a presence so foul engulfed both of them, constricting, smothering, demanding obedience. Sara and Gideon screamed, their backs bowed in pain as they gasped for air that was not there. Sara’s entire life was suddenly flashing in front of her mind. As if someone was looking through a slide show, pausing every once in a while on a memory, taking special note of one thing or another until the images were finally at the present. Then images she did not remember, places she had never seen before from a past that was hers, yet not, began rushing by at a pace that made her dizzy. Just as suddenly as the presence appeared it was gone. Sara collapsed to the ground sucking in precious air, her body trembling with terror.

I have waited a long time for you, Sapphira, a low lazy voice filled her mind. Welcome home.

Chapter 7
Chapter 9

Copyright 2018 Heidi Barnes

 

Forever Lost – Chapter 7

Chapter 7

Sara was not sure how long they had been in their little hideaway, but hushed voices woke her from a doze. Talon was still unconscious and it was starting to worry her. Weren’t angels supposed to heal quickly? Maybe because they were in Hell the rules were different for angels. She hoped not, because she needed him to help her escape from here. As she looked at Talon peaceful in his sleep, still covered in blood and gore, she had a feeling in the end they would need each other.

“They fell over here,” a gravelly voice whispered.

Okay, considering their location probably not friendly.

“How can you be sure? They fells a longs ways and ‘izza was busy ‘urt’n that angel. I ‘ope she got him but good. Nasty glowing pests!” another slightly higher pitched voice said gleefully.

Change that to definitely not friendly. Sara gripped her sword tighter.

“I know because I watched them fall you idiot!” the low voice snapped. There was a dull thump.

“Ow!” the high-pitched voice howled. “What‘cha go and do that for?” he whined.

“Keep it down!” the low voice hissed. “We don’t want to alert the angel we are nearby. Even down here where their powers are weak they are dangerous. Especially when cornered.”

“You dinna ‘ave to ‘it me so ‘ard,” high-pitched muttered.

“If you don’t shut it I will hit you into next week!” the low-pitched voice growled. “Now look over there.”

There was no more talk, but their crashing around the underbrush told Sara where they were, and one of them was coming closer. Very carefully she crawled next to Talon. Checking one more time to make sure he was still out and breathing, she gripped her sword and pushed herself to her feet.

The trees were not that thick, but the underbrush was. Luckily they had landed near an overturned tree and were hidden in the hollow it created. Very carefully Sara peaked over the edge of the tree. A few yards away stood a tall, skinny demon. Its red skin was leathery looking and covered in bumps. Legs and arms too long for the torso, wings mismatched, hair a lackluster blonde long and stringy. Its face was long and narrow. Jutting out from its lower jaw were long canines that were too big for its mouth so they stuck up around his snout. As it moved bushes out of its way, she held in a gasp when she saw the long razor sharp talons on the end of its gangly fingers. There was no doubt this creature could slice her in two with barely a flick of its fingers. What shocked Sara about it was when the voice that came out of its mouth was the gravelly cultured voice.

“Do you see anything, Ira?” he asked.

Moving her gaze to where the red skinned demon was glaring, Sara saw another taller, muscular, smoothed skinned black demon. Its black glossy feathered wings fanned out gracefully behind him, his red hair cropped short on the sides long on top artfully messy. His face and body as beautiful as his wings. In fact he looked a lot like Lizza.

Sara thought him handsome, until he opened his mouth and showed his razor sharp teeth. However, it was the eyes with this one that made Sara shudder. Black pools of darkness. This demon was formidable, even powerful, which Sara did not know how she knew. It was something inside her that told her to be wary of this one. He was not what he seemed. That sixth sense that always told her when someone was lying to her or wanted to hurt what was hers. It was how she knew her mom was sick with something that meant to take her from them.

Sara quickly squashed the thoughts of her mother down and locked them away. They would only incapacitate her and she needed her wits about her. Especially with tall, dark and deadly looking for them.

Then the demon she now knew as Ira spoke and the image of strength and power vanished.

“Nope. Nuting here,” his high pitched mouse like voice answered.

Sara blinked. That was just not right.

“Are you sure,” the other asked his patience evidently waning.

“If I say there’s nuting here, Loren, there is nuting here!” Ira said menacingly. Or it would have been menacing if he did not sound like a squeaky mouse. Sara had to bite her lip to keep from laughing.

“I still don’t understand why she wants the girl. We were told to leave her alone,” Loren growled.

“You know ‘izza. She loves to stur up trouble,” Ira sighed.

“Yes, and then she drags us down with her. It’s the reason we are trapped in this godforsaken hell hole, slaves to that bastard,” Loren snapped. “Still, Lizza knew Gideon would come after her. No one touches his human. The last one that did is still a black smoldering stain on the ground, and that was over a hundred years ago.”

Sara frowned. A hundred years? For some reason knowing Gideon had been another’s guardian angel did not sit right with Sara.

“’izza said if she brought the ‘irl down ‘ere then we coud git out of ‘ere,” Ira said. “Said Lotar…Lathar…the big guy would ‘elp us.”

Loren paled, which meant he turned a lovely shade of pink. “She made a deal with Loathar?” he whispered. “Is she insane?”

“Porbaby,” Ira shrugged. “All I know is the big guy wanted ‘ideon down here and ‘izza knew ‘ow to do that. The big guy gits what ‘e wants and we finally git out of ‘ere.”

“And the girl?” Loren asked.

“Some’ne else wants ‘er,” his face showing confusion.

“Who?”

“I dinna no. Not sure why either. For a ‘uman she’s a ‘crawny ‘ittle thing.”

I am not scrawny! Sara huffed indignantly.

“I ‘ike my women ‘ound and pump,” Ira grinned wickedly,  using his hands to shape out something large and curvy. “But ‘oever this demon is ‘e’s powerful, and ‘e wants ‘er bad enough ‘e’s willing to break the ‘ules.”

“Then we better find her,” Loren grimaced, a new sense of urgency filling him. “Or Gideon won’t be the only one we have to worry about frying our asses.”

This was so confusing. Lisa, Sara’s best friend, was really Lizza a fallen angel. Sara was in Hell. That one she was still having trouble believing, but as she watched the two demon’s searching the underbrush she had a hard time arguing that it wasn’t true. She still was going on the dream theory, but she never remembered any of them being this vivid, or painful. And then there was the guy behind her with the very large very white wings. An angel. Oh, and apparently someone very powerful wanted her. But why? She remembered asking herself that question earlier before she was sidetracked by Talon’s dislocated wing.

Sara focused back on Loren and Ira. Two very ordinary names for two very unordinary beings. Beings that were fortunately moving away from them. The sigh of relief was short-lived as a hand went over her mouth, pulling her back into a hard body. Instinctively bringing her sword up, another hand grabbed her wrist squeezing. With a muffled cry of pain, Sara’s hand opened and the sword dropped silently to the ground.

“Shhhh!” a male voice hissed in her ear. “If they find us, we are dead.”

That stilled Sara. Whoever was holding her did not want to be found anymore than she did. The question now was who was he?

“I’m going to let you go,” he whispered very slowly as if he was talking to a person ready to jump off a ledge. “Please to do not scream. I would rather live to see tomorrow.”

Nodding she understood, he slowly released her. Once free Sara turned to look into dark blue borderline black eyes. She had never seen such dark blue eyes before and they mesmerized her. Wicked thoughts sent shockwaves down low in her body clenching it tight, while at the same time making it tingle in anticipation. Oh my! How could one look do all that to her? And she had not even seen the rest of him.

“Hello?” he called waving his hand in front of her eyes.

Blinking, Sara blushed when she saw his smirk, giving her the impression he was used to this sort of reaction from girls. Then she saw the rest of him. If she thought Talon was perfect, this man was beyond perfect into Oh My God! Way beyond. The black hair that hit his shoulders and fell artfully around his face and eyes only enhanced his beauty. A tight black t-shirt hugged his well tone body down to his narrow waist to black jeans. Since he was kneeling beside her, Sara could not tell what below the waistline looked like, but she could imagine.

Something soft touched her under her chin and gently pushed up. It was then she realized her jaw was on the ground and she was gawking rather unattractively. How embarrassing! Snapping her mouth shut, she felt herself heat even further. This time in embarrassment.

“Leaving that open around here isn’t healthy,” he chuckled. “You never know what…or who might fly in.”

Recovering what little wits she had left Sara stuttered, “You’re…you’re human!”

His smile dimmed. “In a manner of speaking.”

“What does that mean?”

“It means we do not have time for me to explain,” he answered gently. “Those two idiots will soon realize they are going in the wrong direction and head back this way. We need to not be here when that happens,” holding out his hand to her.

Sara looked at the hand not sure if she should take it. So much of what happened to her today was unknown, confusing. At the moment she did not know which way was up or down, and to just trust this stranger with the gorgeous eyes, no matter what he did to her body – especially what he did to her body – seemed unwise. She moved towards Talon.

“I can’t leave Talon here,” she said. “He saved my life.”

The man looked down at the angel, a hatred she did not understand flashing through his eyes. They knew each other, and were not on friendly terms.

“With those wings it will be hard to move him,” he mused , nothing of the hatred Sara had seen in his expression in his voice. In fact, it was very calm considering only a few yards away were two demons hunting for her. He looked at Sara’s determined expression that said she was not leaving without Talon and sighed. “Very well.”

Walking over to the sleeping angel, he squatted down next to him, put his hand in the middle of Talon’s back, closed his eyes and took a deep breath. If asked, Sara was not sure she could explain correctly what she felt, but a shiver of…power pulsed out from the man around her, through her, and into Talon. With a shudder, Talon’s wings slowly and neatly folded then disappeared. When it was all done, the man slumped forward breathing hard.

“How?” Sara whispered.

“Not easily, I can tell you that much,” the man grimaced.

When he stood, he staggered to one side and she instinctively grabbed a hold of him to steady him. Again that shiver of power pulsed through her, but instead of going into her, it went out from her and into him. With a gasp he froze. Immediately Sara let go, but she felt as if she had left something behind. Some part of her with…him. With wide eyes he turned towards her.

“Who are you?” he breathed.

“Sara,” she whispered back. “Sara Cantrell.”

His eyes widen further for just a moment before he managed to pull himself and his breathing under control. “Well, Sara Cantrell, you are a puzzle, and if what I felt is in any indication, I am starting to understand why the others want you so badly.”

“I’m glad one of us does because I am at a loss. I’m a seventeen year old girl who lives in a small town in the middle of nowhere. I have nothing anyone would want,” tears she had not realize she was holding back finally coming to the surface.

“I beg to differ,” the man countered reaching out and wiping the tears that had escaped with his thumb, his hand cupping her cheek. For some reason Sara could not move away, and that pulsing sense of power once again sent a shiver through her body tightening things low, making her want thing she should not want from the man in front of her. Why did he affect her like this? The widening of his eyes and the sharp intake of breath told Sara, he had felt it too.

“Yes, definitely a puzzle,” he murmured.

“Let’s try over here!” Loren’s voice pierced the uncomfortable silence.

They both looked in the direction of the voice, whatever spell that had been trying to weave itself between them broken.

“Time to go,” he whispered, his voice back to his calm business.

Sara could not agree more.

Moving to the other side of Talon, Sara and the stranger managed to heave Talon onto the stranger’s back. He was rather tall, almost as tall if not as tall as Talon. As he started walking in front of her, Sara was finally able to get a good look at the rest of him. His long lean torso, tight jeans showing his fine ass, the muscles in his legs as they worked carrying Talon’s dead weight down to his dark hiking boots. The thought of who was this person reminded her that she did not know his name.

“You still haven’t told me your name,” she commented as they made their way through the underbrush as quietly as they could.

“Damien. My name is Damien,” he answered.

For some reason the sound of his voice as he said his name struck a chord deep within Sara. As if some part of a destiny she did not know existed until now fell into place. What that meant Sara had no clue, but once they were safe she was going to start asking questions until she was satisfied with the answers, or all hell was going to break loose.

No pun intended.

Chapter 6
Chapter 8

Copyright © 2018 Heidi Barnes

Trust

You want me?
You can’t have me.
I cannot give you what I do not own.
Tread carefully
for the one who claims what you seek
will not take kindly to trespassers.

Is it trespass
when I know what I want
you want too?
Let me free you
Break the bonds that chain you.
Trust in me
Trust in us
Trust in love
Trust in fate

Copyright 2018 Heidi Barnes

Forever Lost – Chapter 6

Chapter 6

The ground just kept coming closer and closer. Somewhere above her, or was it below her? Sara was spinning and turning so much she was not sure which way was up. What she did know was that the ground was coming. That was just plain physics.

Another angry ear piercing shriek told Sara that Talon was still busy with Lizza. He had tried to reach her and almost made it, but Lizza had swooped in and crashed into him, both of them tumbling out of sight, which in turn sent Sara spinning. Another ear splitting shriek, this one more pain than anger. Harpy came to mind. From what little Sara knew of Harpies, they were vicious creatures. She hoped Talon was strong enough to defeat the creature, or at least force her to run off.

“Got you!” A male voice grunted just before a body slammed into Sara, jarring everything including her back teeth. Arms, legs and something exquisitely soft enveloped her. “Hang on!” Talon gritted.

Even though he sounded calm, there was an underlining level of stress in his voice and body that told Sara they were not safe. Wrapping herself around him, she belated realized the softness she felt were his wings. If his wings were around her, how were they supposed to fly? No sooner had that thought finished itself, they hit the ground and all she knew was her back teeth were not only loose, they were rattling around in her head.

When they finally stopped rolling, Sara lay in Talon’s arms trying to relearn how to breathe. As her heart rate slowly lowered and her lungs began working, she realized that Talon had not moved. Her heart rate once more skyrocketing at the thought he was dead, she tried to move away from him so she could look him over.

“Shhh,” he hushed. “Lizza is looking for us. If we stay still she may not see us.”

Holding her breath, Sara did as he told. What seemed like an eternity, she finally felt Talon’s body relax. It did not last long. Sucking air through his teeth when he tried to move told Sara he was injured. By the hissing curses, it had to be bad.

“Can you move your wings enough so I can move off of you?” she whispered. Lizza was gone, but that did not mean there were not others lurking nearby.

“I think so,” Talon answered slowly unfurling himself from around her.

Sara carefully pulled away, doing her best not to jar the angel too much. Once she was free, she moved far enough away to give him room to stretch. Then it hit her. She was looking at an honest to God angel. His dark shoulder length hair did not quite fit the pictures of angels she had seen at church, but then again she did not take much stock in the human version of heaven. Something just smacked too perfect. Too boring. If God could make a world that so varied and wondrous and full of imperfections, then why could heaven not be the same way?

As Talon turned pain filled hazel eyes towards her and she was able to see his chiseled features, slightly crooked nose that looked like it had been broken one too many times, and lips that begged to be kissed, she realized he was just about close to perfection as he could come in her book.

“Are you okay?” he asked concern replacing the pain, breaking into her stunned silence.

Slamming her mouth shut and turning what she knew had to be a lovely shade of red at being caught drooling, Sara thought about his question. Was she okay? She had been too busy coming to the realization that angels and demons were real and she was apparently in Hell to really take stock of herself. That the blue eyes that haunted her dreams, her waking hours, that had made her feel safe, loved ever since her mother had become sick with cancer was in fact her guardian angel. One they left behind battling a monster with a sword. The need to go back and help him overrode her common sense until she realized that there was nothing she could do but hinder him. That demon…what was his name? Loathar? He seemed more than ready to use her as a distraction. She would not help the bastard by going back and doing just that.

What she needed to do was find a way out of this hell. Only problem was, she had no clue how she got here in the first place.

Looking around her, aside from the bad smell, the red haze and the burning lungs, Hell looked a lot like any other…forest? Thinking back Sara remembered seeing places that looked barren, desert like as they flew over. There were trees surrounding the castle they had been heading to. Maybe that was the forest they were in now. The thought of that dark place sent a shiver down her spine. Every cell in her body screamed to get as far away from it as she could. The entire place reeked of pain, death…evil.

“Sara!” Talon voice snapped, along with his fingers in front of her face.

Jumping at the sudden sharp noise, she returned to the original question. Was she all right?”

“Aside from some bumps and bruises, I think physically I’m fine,” Sara answered hesitantly. The smile Talon gave her said he understood the rest of what she was not saying.

“Except your mind is telling you that everything you have seen is fairytale, myth and shadows,” he said grimly. Pulling her knees up to her chest and tightly wrapping her arms around them, the only answer Sara could give him was a nod of her head. With a deep sigh that seemed filled with more than exhausted, Talon carefully rolled over onto his back. Rubbing his face with his hands that were covered in dirt, blood and other things Sara did not want to contemplate, he muttered, “Why is it always me that has to explain the unexplainable to the unbelievers?”

“Unbelievers?” Sara asked studying him now that he could not see her eyes taking in all of him.

In the pictures she had grown up with, angels wore anything from togas to nothing. Over six feet tall, Talon was covered in what looked like thick brown leather armor. The sleeves were short, but he had braces on his forearms that were studded with some sort of metal. A belt ran diagonally across his chest and around to his back. Since he was lying on it, Sara could not be sure if it was a scabbard or maybe a quiver. On his shoulders and shins were more of the studs. Extra protection maybe? Another belt at his waist held a long knife and other weapons she did not recognize. On his feet were leather boots. The leather itself was made up of different colors. The pants were brown, the shirt red with brown at the shoulders and sleeves. The boots a dark brown. All this leather and she could still see that he that he had the build of a well-seasoned warrior. Looking back into those hazel eyes that were now on her sparkling with amusement, she wondered why the angels she grew up looking at were not this gorgeous. Probably too sinful for those stuck up prudes she had to endure when her father dragged her to church on Sunday.

“Are you through taking inventory?” he asked with a smirk. He chuckled as Sara felt her face heat once again. “Don’t let Gideon see you looking at me like that.” He grimaced as he tried to move. “I’d like to live to see another sunrise. That is if we can escape this God forsaken realm first.”

Sara’s blush disappeared when Talon tried to get to his feet only to collapse back onto the ground with a groan of pain.

“What’s wrong?” she asked unwinding and moving towards him.

“The ground is too damn hard, that’s what is wrong,” he snapped. When he saw her hesitation at his anger, he softened his expression and tone. “Sorry. I don’t do well when I’m in pain. I think my wing is broken.”

“Which one?” Sara asked suddenly all business. She had plenty experience with broken limbs with a little brother who spent most of his time in the ER having one limb or another set. She also had designs of becoming a veterinarian, so any creature four footed or winged found its way to her so she could heal them.

“Left,” he hissed trying to move it.

“Keep still,” Sara admonished moving around him to reach the damaged wing. They were huge and a white so pure that even under all the dirt and blood they shone. Although on closer inspection of Talon’s, she found not only was it at a strange angle, but a lot of the feathers were missing too. “I think Lisa…I mean Lizza did most of this damage,” she murmured as she inspected the wing.

“One of these days I’m going to put an end to that backstabbing siren,” Talon growled in disgust. It quickly turned into a hiss as Sara touched the edge of the wing. “Careful!” he snapped, but there was no anger in his voice. Just pain.

“Sorry,” she apologized quickly. “So you know Lizza well?” she asked conversationally, her eyes on his wing.

“Unfortunately,” Talon groused, his voice tight with pain. “Before she became fallen, she…did something that none of us can ever forgive.”

“And that was?” Sara asked keeping the conversation going not only because she was curious, but it kept Talon distracted as she gently inspected his wing.

Talon sighed, the sound so resentful that it brought Sara’s eyes to his face. His expression was one that said his mind was on a long ago memory that was not pleasant. “That is not my tale to tell, I’m afraid. Suffice to say, after today, Gideon will not hesitate to kill her.”

“Because she brought me here?” Sara asked.

“That is one of the many reasons, and because she took something that was his.” Talon looked into Sara’s eyes, his dark with anger. “Something that he considers important to him.”

Unsure how to respond to his anger, because as far as she knew she had done nothing wrong and he was clearly blaming her for something, she turned back to his wing. After further inspection she decided that the wing was not broken, just dislocated.

“You’re in luck. Your wing is only dislocated. I need to set it if it is to heal properly,” her mind more on the how and less on informing Talon what she was going to do.

“Do you know how to do that?” Talon asked looking at her with a fair amount of skepticism.

Sara shrugged. “I’ve set my fair share of birds’ wings. Aside from size, I assume this will not be much different.”

“Birds’ wings,” his voice flat with skepticism.

For some reason this, out of everything else that had happened to her today, pissed Sara off. “Do you want it set or not?” she snapped.

“Okay, okay,” Talon soothed through gritted teeth. “I’m in no shape to argue with you. Just…be careful. Please,” he added in a more gentle tone.

Sara could imagine the thought of never flying again would be a frightening one. “I will be as gentle as I can, but it is going to hurt,” her voice apologetic.

Nodding he understood, with Sara’s help Talon shifted until he lay on his stomach with his upper half raised above the ground as he rested on his forearms. Already white and sweating with pain, he braced himself as he watched Sara moved around his wing, trying to find better footing. Wings normally were delicate things. The last thing she wanted to do was cause more damage. Tentatively she took a hold of it, one hand on either side of the joint that was distended.

“Ready?” she asked her voice breathy with uncertainty.

“Ready,” Talon answered through gritted teeth.

“One, two, three!”

There was an audible snap and Talon’s back arched as he head went down, eyes closed tight, trying to stifle his scream of pain. It was too much, though, and he collapsed flat on the ground, out cold.

As gently as she could, Sara arranged his wing so it lay in as close to a naturally relaxed position as she could make it. Then she inspected his right wing to make sure nothing was wrong with it. Like the left it was missing feathers and covered in places with blood and dirt, but otherwise it looked fine.

Glancing around her once again she wondered what she should do. Obviously she could not leave Talon unconscious and vulnerable. Especially since he had not been very successful in stifling his scream. If anyone was close by, they would have heard him. What she needed was a weapon. Looking at his back, Sara saw the empty scabbard and knew the sword that filled it must be somewhere close by. Digging around in the underbrush, she finally found it. Like him, it was huge and as she tried to lift it she knew it would be more of a hindrance than help. She needed something smaller. Then she remembered the knife on his belt. After dragging the sword so it was closer to him, and her, Sara carefully pulled the knife from its sheath. For her size it was more like a short sword, which was perfect, if she knew how to wield a sword that was. Oh well, it was better than nothing.

Sitting down a few feet away from Talon, she strained to hear anyone coming. Nothing. In fact, there were no birds, no insects, no noise of any kind. What did she expect though? She was in Hell. Anything as small as an insect was probably too scared to come out because there were far more bigger and scarier creatures ready to squash them. As if to emphasize that thought, in the far in the distance there was a scream of pure terror followed by howls of hunger. Yes, bigger scary things that roamed the shadows and would do more than take a little blood from her.

Looking at Talon’s still form, Sara prayed he woke soon. She was no match for what lived here, and to make matters worse they were actively looking for her. Talon said there were many reasons why she was brought here, and he had only listed one, so she still did not totally understand what these creatures would want with her, but something told her she really did not want to know.

Chapter 5
Chapter 7

Copyright 2018 Heidi Barnes

Forever Lost – Chapter 5

Chapter 5

 The day had started out so normal.

After attempting to smash her alarm clock into pieces, Sara dressed and ate a quick breakfast before heading into town to…what was she going to do? Oh yeah. She had to stop by the feed store and order a part for the lawnmower. The damn thing was forever breaking down. What they needed was a new one, but that was not going to happen. Ever since….

Sara shied away from that painful memory. No time to lose herself in grief. Not in public where she would have to endure the looks of pity.

After placing her order, she headed for their family store, the persistent feeling of being watched that had been there most of her life irritating her today. Whenever she looked to see who it was staring at her, there no one paying any attention to her. It was so strange and annoying, yet at the same time comforting.

Then something in a store front window she never remembered being there before caught her eye. What was it? Racking her brain she finally remembered. An old clunky black and white TV mixed in with the new HD flat screens. She had stopped to make sure she had seen what she thought she saw when everything went…weird.

Hell, weird did not even begin to cover what she was seeing.

This could not be happening. None of this was real. Yet as she looked around her at the glaring hungry eyes, the different shades of skin – most that had never been seen in the human world – teeth and claws that could rip her to shreds; she was having a hard time convincing herself it wasn’t.

Demons. Things of mythology and nightmares. Things of evil. And apparently her best friend was one of them. While it did explain a few things, Sara thought she should have noticed something was not right with Lisa long before this. It just showed Sara that no matter how much she had tried to ignore, push aside and fight her feelings in order to survive, her mother’s death affected her more than she realized.

Swords clashing, bones crunching and screams of pain in the back of the horde that surrounded her pulled all the demons’ hungry eyes away from her to a more immediate threat. A battle was taking place and it was heading towards them. Behind her, Lisa hissed angrily. Sara turned in time to see huge glossy black wings of feathers fan out behind Lisa as she took a battle stance.

“It’s too soon!” she hissed.

“He must have been watching her,” a rather large more intelligent looking demon said pointing at Sara.

“Impossible. He was miles away chasing a false lead,” Lisa snapped. “Someone betrayed us.”

Sara looked perplexed. She didn’t know anyone who could wield a sword let alone come into the bowels of Hell after her. She was not even sure how she got here. Last she remembered she was in a circus tent in the 1950’s, which was also wrong….

Wait a minute. She must be dreaming. That’s what this was. She was safely in her bed having a nightmare. Damn horror books. Maybe she should quite reading them if they were going to create hallucinations like this one.

“Okay,” she said taking a deep breath and letting it out slowly. “It’s only a dream. It’s only a dream. All I have to do is wake up and I will be safe and sound in my bed. Come on, Sara. Wake up!”

“What is she doing?” a demon asked his neighbor in a surprisingly normal voice, as he watched Sara in confusion.

“They all do that in the beginning,” the demon next to him sighed. Sara was shocked to hear a female voice. “They think they are dreaming, and if they could only wake up then it won’t be real.”

“You’re female,” Sara breathed in shock.

“Yeah? What of it. You think baby demons just pop out of the males? Girlfriend, they couldn’t handle the pain,” she scoffed.

Hmmmm, sounds like something her mother would say. Although her mother was a gentle soul and would not end up in a place like this. Still, Sara took a closer look at her.

“You get any closer sweetheart and I’ll have to kiss you,” the female demon warned suggestively.

Sara jumped back, a look of horror on her face. The two demon’s hair raising cackle was cut off by someone yelling Sara’s name.

“Sara!” a male’s voice called frantically.

The sound of that voice sent a flood of relief through her that almost buckled her knees. He was coming. He would keep her safe. But, who was he?

“Sara! Where are you?”

“Here!” she called starting towards the voice. Even though she could not put a name to it, that voice was somehow familiar. It sounded like home, and she desperately wanted to go home. Not thinking about the danger of wading through a horde of hungry demons, Sara started moving towards that voice.

“Oh no you don’t!” Lisa snarled grabbing her arm. Pulling Sara to her, Lisa tightly wrapped both arms around her and then they were airborne. “You are mine. I will not let that sanctimonious pompous bastard come in here all blazing glory and save your ass. Not this time. If he wanted to keep you, he should have been more watchful and less trusting.”

This time? “Who are you talking about?” Sara asked struggling to get free.

“Your guardian angel of course,” Lisa said as if Sara was daft.

Her what? Sara looked down at the mass of bodies beneath them.

Lisa had stopped so Sara could finally understand what just how much danger she was in. Hovering thirty feet in the air there was a lot to see, but what drew Sara’s eyes was a knot of…beings fighting their way through a horde of demons. She thought beings because they glowed with an unearthly light. Even as they slowly became covered in blood and gore the light shone through. But what really caught her attention were their wings. Huge, glorious white wings.

“Angels,” Sara breathed.

“Yes, and that one,” Lisa let go of her with one arm long enough to point at an impressive figure at the head of the group fighting with a ferocity that was awe inspiring, sending the demons around him that survived his sword cowering in terror, “is Gideon, your guardian angel.”

As if he heard his name being said he looked up at them. The clear blue eyes that caught Sara’s and held them were like none she’d ever seen before, and yet she had. It was so disconcerting. Those eyes held a great deal of rage as they narrowed on them. There was no doubt in her mind, or any of the demons below that fought, lay dying or were dead, that her angel was pissed.

“Let her go, Lizza,” he snarled.

Lizza…not Lisa? Sara was going to have to remember that.

Lizza only laughed as Gideon’s attention was taken by a new demon that towered over the rest. With huge leathery wings, bulging muscles, wearing battle armor that was the color of blood and decorated with spikes and skulls, he was an impressive figure. Actually he looked more human than demon, but there was no mistaking the malice pouring off of him. He was definitely evil.

Sara watched in fascination as a ring was formed around the two. It was obvious the other demons wanted no part of this fight, and the other angels were too busy with their own battles. Lizza laughed gleefully in her ear as her arms tightened around Sara pushing the air from her lungs.

“Loathar. High lord under the Horseman called War. One of the most dangerous forces of evil that has ever lived. He has had a hard-on for Gideon since before the fall, but has never been able to defeat him outside this realm. Today will be different,” Lizza cackled.

No! Sara thought feeling the blood drain from her face. She would have screamed for Gideon to run, but because of Lizza’s hold on her, she could not draw a breath.

“You can’t just come in here and claim what is rightfully ours, Angel,” Loathar’s voice boomed over the noise of battle.

“She is not yours, Loathar. She belongs with me,” Gideon snapped.

“Then I suggest you keep better watch over your charges if you wish to keep them, Angel. She is in our realm now, and she came here freely, therefore she is ours. Your claim is null and void,” Loathar laughed. Then his voice grew low and husky. “And I plan to take pleasure in every part of her.”

“Over my dead body,” Gideon growled.

“If you insist,” Loathar smiled. It was as if he was waiting for Gideon to say those words. With a huge roar that shook the ground, Loathar lunged at Gideon.

“No!” Sara screamed, managing to suck in enough air as she struggled to get free. It was her mother all over again. She was helpless to stop what was happening, only unlike her mother, the demon bent on destroying Gideon was on the outside and he had a huge sword to help him. Thankfully Gideon’s sword was a match and parried the blow with effortless ease.

“Shit!” Lizza hissed in Sara’s ear.

Sara dragged her eyes from the battle below to see where Lizza was looking. A dark haired god was winging his way towards them. Were all angels this yummy?

“Release her, Lizza!” the angel snarled.

“Catch me if you can, Talon,” Lizza taunted.

Laughing in obvious pleasure of the thought of a chase, Lizza gave one mighty flap of her wings and they were off. Sara tried desperately to see Gideon, but they were moving too fast. Soon, the horde was tiny ants in the far distance. Realizing that gawking like an idiot was not helping matters, Sara did her best to pull herself together and find her bearings.

Lizza had a death grip on her and it was once again becoming increasingly hard to breath. An angel by the name of Talon was following them trying to rescue her. They were flying at speed Sara could not even begin to fathom and heading across land that looked far from habitable. Below them more demons snapped and snarled as they passed over, all smelling the blood of a human and angel, all wanting a piece of flesh.

A castle came into view ahead of them. Tall spires ending in points that looked sharp and painful rose into the air, the walls that surrounded it were high and formable. Even though the castle itself was perched on top of a low mountain with an easy path to the open gates, with its black shiny surface it screamed stay away. That death awaited those who dare approach. Something told Sara if she wanted to escape now was the time, because if they reached that castle she would not be leaving. Taking a deep breath, trying not to think of how far below her the land was, she began to struggle harder.

“Enough!” Lizza snapped. “Stop or I will drop you!” she commanded her grip tightening around her prey.

That’s the idea, bitch, Sara thought. Then a disgusting thought crossed her mind, but she saw no other option. They were almost to the castle and Talon was too far away to stop them. Grimacing, Sara swallowed hard, opened her mouth and bit down on Lizza’s arm. The metallic taste of blood filled her mouth, gagging her, but Lizza did as Sara hoped she would. With a screech of pain, she let go.

“Sara!” Talon cried behind her. Far behind her.

As she fell, Sara prayed he was as fast as she had heard angels were and he would catch her before she hit the ground, because nightmare or realty, this was going to hurt.

Chapter 4

Chapter 6

Copyright 2018 Heidi Barnes

 

 

Forever Lost – Chapter 4

Chapter 4

Halfway to the castle off to the right was a pulse of power that caught Gideon’s attention. Looking in that direction, his eyes widen slightly as a once empty field was suddenly filled with what looked like a county fair. Sara, he thought. His relief that she was not in the castle was such that he faltered in mid-flight. The relief was short-lived as the illusion of the 1950’s county fair slowly dissolved, revealing where they were and more chillingly who they were. And Sara stood somewhere in the middle of them.

“Mother of God,” Talon breathed.

One by one the angels angled towards the horde.

“I’ve never seen this many demons in one place,” Loghan said in awe.

“More for us to slaughter,” Michel grinned gleefully.

Loghan grimaced at the angel. “You are one sick son-of-a….”

“We have never fought this many at once, or in their realm,” Aitan rumbled as they stopped to hover high overhead. “We are only nine, they are hundreds.”

“I don’t know,” Michel said nonchalantly, scratching his chin with one of his arrows. “I kind of like the odds.”

“Just sick,” Loghan muttered. Then more loudly, “It doesn’t really matter how many there are. Gideon was given the task of protecting Sara, which means we all protect her. We can’t leave her down there. They will tear her apart, and that is only after they are done playing with her.”

Gideon’s entire body went ridged with rage. They would not touch what was his. If they did, they would beg him for a death he would never grant them.

“Enough, Loghan,” Talon hissed seeing his leader’s expression. “Aitan is right, Gideon. There are too many of them and we are weak here.”

“I will not leave without Sara,” Gideon responded with a calm that raised the hair on Talon’s arms.

“I didn’t say we would, but going down there will be suicide. We need a diversion to pull some of them away,” Talon suggested, trying to reason with him.

When Gideon turned his blazing eyes towards him, Talon realized all the reasoning in the world would not stop his leader from going down into that death trap. With one last silent plea of sanity that Gideon ignored by turning back to the demon horde before them, Talon turned to the others.

“Loghan is right. Sara is all our responsibility. There is something about this girl that the powers to be in all the realms want. We have to make sure she does not fall into the wrong hands, whoever that may be,” he added the last quietly so only Gideon could hear.

Gideon looked at Talon, his eyes widening just a fraction. So Talon was not so sure who to trust either. Good to know.

“If this is a trap for me, you need to get her to safety, Talon. Take her to my house on Nepal. Tell no one of where you have gone except those you trust unequivocally.” He reached out and took a hold of Talon’s forearm, his grip bruising. “Keep her safe,” he hissed desperately.

Gripping Gideon’s forearm in a show of brothership, Talon nodded he would do as he was asked. Then they descended into the foray like silent shadows. There was nothing silent about the screams that followed. As Gideon fought his way through bodies, he absently realized that it had been over twenty minutes since he stood outside the electronic store watching this scene unfold. Time must be running differently here, something he had never heard of. Usually time flowed equally in each realm. He would have to wait until later to ponder that particular peculiarity. His first and only priority was finding Sara and getting her the hell out of this gods-forsaken realm.

“Sara!” he yelled between slashing and beheading. “Sara! Where are you?”

“Here!” a female voiced called from somewhere in front of him, her voice strained.

Thoughts of her fighting for her life fueled Gideon to fight harder. His name hissed in the midst of all the chaos sent a shock of adrenaline through his system, distracting him from his goal. That voice was familiar. Too familiar. Looking up he spied Lizza high in the air holding a struggling Sara and his heart froze. If Sara fell from that distance she would not survive. Their eyes locked and even though Sara did not know him, not really, there was a look of complete trust in those eyes. Trust he was not sure he had earned. However, that did not stop the feeling that slammed into him. The one that wanted desperately to earn that trust so that he could keep her with him forever.

“Let her go, Lizza,” Gideon snarled.

Lizza only laughed, which aggravated him more. That fallen angel had been a thorn in his side for far too long. Time to pull it out. Before he could launch himself into the air, his attention was diverted by a presence so foul it dwarfed all the others around him. There was only a few demons who could manage that feat, and only one who wanted Gideon’s head badly enough to risk the wrath of his master.

“Gideon!” Talon yelled in warning.

“Loathar,” Gideon snarled making that one word something as vile as the thing that stood before him, armed to the teeth. That he was so well armed brought a smile to Gideon’s lips. It meant that even though Gideon was weak in this realm, Loathar knew he could very well lose this fight.

 The demon lord flexed his huge leathery wings, as his grin widened showing his surprisingly straight white teeth. It seemed to make the expression of malice on the demon’s face all that more fierce.

“You can’t just come in here and claim what is rightfully ours, Angel,” the demon scoffed.

“She is not yours, Loathar. She belongs with me,” Gideon snapped. Unfortunately the demon did not miss the hesitation over the word with. What Gideon wanted to say was that Sara was his, but that would bring a whole other set of problems down upon them. More he did not need right now.

“I suggest you keep better watch over your charges if you wish to keep them, Angel. She is in our realm now and she came freely, therefore she is ours. Your claim is null and void,” Loathar laughed. Then his voice grew low and husky. “And I plan to take pleasure in every part of her.”

“Over my dead body,” Gideon snarled.

“If you insist,” Loathar smiled. With a huge roar that shook the ground Loathar lunged.

Gideon parried with the ease of an existence worth of battle. Distantly he heard Sara scream and he desperately wanted to look, but he caught a flash out of the corner of his eye and knew that Talon was going after her. That she would be safe.

A few more blows and they backed away from each other, breathing hard as they circled.

“I never would have expected this to work out so well,” Loathar gloated. “The great Gideon! Leader of the most feared band of warriors the heavens have to offer laid low because of a small insignificant girl. I will have to admit, she does have spirit.” He rubbed his chin thoughtfully. “It will be interesting to see how long she will last before I have broken it.”

“I told you, demon,” Gideon said calmly, although he was anything but calm inside. Thinking about this monster touching Sara sent him into a rage the likes he had never felt before. “You will have to kill me first, and even if you do I will make sure you have nothing left to touch her with,” he added with an evil grin as he pointed his sword at the demons crotch.

“Now that is just rude,” Loathar’s voice showing his hurt as he cupped himself. Then his expression turned low and vicious as did his voice, “Boys, you know what to do with rude angels.”

Gideon barely had enough time to duck the mace that whistled through the air at his head. Then they were on him. Loathar and three other lords, all attacking at once. It was not long before Gideon lost his shield. Blocking a sword blow of the smallest lord, Gideon grabbed his wrist twisted and pulled the demon’s back to his front, his arm firmly around the demon’s neck. Now the demon had to fight his own people in order to survive, and the weapons bit into his body, not Gideon’s. Unfortunately the demon’s brethren did not care if they killed one of their own. It was just collateral damage.

“Gideon!” he heard one of his men call frantically.

“Get out of here!” Gideon ordered as he continued to keep the demon in front of him while they both fought.

“We are not leaving you!” This time it was Aitan’s voice that rumble through the ranks. A few of the lesser demon’s cowered back, knowing the mace that followed that voice was death.

“Go! Help Talon!” Gideon yelled.

With a high pitch scream, the demon he held was suddenly dead weight as a sword cleaved him almost in two. Gideon was barely able to jump back before the sword dug too deeply into his side. Swearing, he put his hand over the wound, blood seeping quickly through his fingers. Not good. Normally a wound even this size would heal almost instantly, but they were not in normal circumstances, and the weapons the demons used were laced with a poison that hindered healing.

Suddenly Aitan stood before Gideon facing his attackers. Loghan was beside him as two others faced opposite sides, barring the demons from reaching him. Dropping to his knee, Gideon gasped for air, the wound deeper than he first thought.

“We need to get you out of here,” Loghan hissed, the worry tight in his voice as he knelt beside Gideon.

“No!” Gideon gasped with a tone that none of them dared argued. “It’s me they want. If I stay here they won’t follow you. Go. Help Talon. Sara’s safety is first and foremost. Make sure she is safe.”

Loghan hesitated for a moment before he put his fist to his chest and nodded in reluctant acceptance. Helping Gideon to his feet, making sure he had his sword then giving him one of his own short swords, Loghan looked once more into his leader’s eyes to make sure this was what he wanted then started barking orders.

“Fall back!” he called.

The others balked at first, unwilling to leave their leader wounded with the enemy. But one look at Gideon’s fierce determination and they expanded their wings and were gone.

The demons immediately closed in on Gideon.

“Seems your friends have left you. I knew they were cowards,” Loathar sneered.

The smile Gideon gave him was so cold the demons hesitated in their advance.

“Oh, I’ve only just started,” Gideon responded ominously.

Then he was airborne and heading away from the direction Lizza had taken Sara, deeper into the bowels of hell with over a thousand demons in pursuit, all screaming for his death. With a wicked grin, he thought the odds could not have been better.

 

Chapter 3

Chapter 5

Copyright © 2017 Heidi Barnes

A Little Story – Obsession

This story takes place between Deceptions and Absolution in my Obsession Series. I had hinted at it, but there really had not been any fleshing out of what had happened. I was thinking about that and this is what came to me. It’s more about Kirsten and Cody, but I thought it might be of some interest, short that it is. I have longer tid-bits. I’m just not sure if I want to post them yet.

If you haven’t read the Obsession series yet, this shouldn’t give too much away.

 

A Kidnapping Attempt

 

It was one of those rare moments Kirsten was left alone when they traveled off the island. Granted she was in the penthouse of one of the most luxurious secure hotels in Italy, but it had already been proven that secure did not necessarily mean safe. That little nugget of information was driven home with gut wrenching clarity.

Kirsten’s hands went to her stomach, gently laying over where her child had once been. Where her body had healed to where she felt no more pain, her mind was far from whole. The doctor had just given her and Alex the go ahead to try for another child, but Kirsten was not ready, and Alex loved her enough that he did not push. To be honest, neither one of them were ready to put their hearts out there again and risk the chance of having it crushed.

Focusing on the vista before her, Kirsten brought herself back to the present. The past was past, and even though memories and grief tried to crush her more than she cared to admit, Kirsten had vowed not to dwell on what could not be changed. Today Alex had an important meeting that would last most of the day, promising to be home by dinner. As one of Alex’s right-hand men, Cody had gone out on some business errands and would be back in the afternoon. Kirsten decided to take the time to recover from her jetlag and catch up on some of her own paperwork. This was not the first time she had been to Italy in the last year, and it probably would not be the last. On this trip they would be staying a full month. Plenty of time to sightsee.

At the moment, she was standing on the enormous balcony enjoying the magnificent view. Sighing, Kirstein leaned against the railing. Closing her yes, she let herself fall into the warm breeze and ocean smells, for a short time forgetting the real reason she was here. Not because it was a choice, or because of work, but because one man decided he wanted her therefore no one else could have her. Something that was part of her past, present and future. Something she could not escape so she was trying to make the best of.

Opening her eyes, Kristen wondered how her mother was. There had been enough tabloid articles and pictures of Alexi Tremmel’s mystery wife that she at least knew Kirsten was alive. That was the only way Kristen could stay calm when Alex would refuse her at least a phone call. Glancing back into the room she knew if she called now there would be no one to stop her. Frowning, she turned back to the vista outside. Maybe she should start being truthful with herself and admit she did not want to call because she was afraid to find out that her mother wasn’t worried about her. That they weren’t still looking for her, or the worst, that Jeremy had given up trying to find her and rescue her from her gilded cage. That he had found someone else to love.

Choking back a sob, Emma blinked back tears as a wave of grief threatened to overwhelm her.

“Kirsten?”

The concern in Cody’s voice was too much. With a sob, she turned and launched herself into his arms.

“Whoa! Hey, what’s wrong?” he asked holding her gently as he stroked her hair, trying to soothe her. When she only continued to cry he started to realize what was wrong. It was not the first time in the last year she had given into her emotions. Cody was surprised it did not happen more often considering all that she had lost. There were times he was barely holding it together. The only solace he had was the woman in his arms. The woman he loved but could never have.

Gently, Cody led Kirsten to the couch. Once he was seated, she curled up in his lap. Wrapping her arms around his neck, she buried her face in the cook and tried to calm down. Holding her legs with one arm, Cody soothingly rubbed her back. Any other time he would worry about Alex walking in on them and thinking the worst, but after the incident at the cabin, both men had agreed when Kirsten was this upset jealousy went to the wayside.

When she began to quiet Cody softly asked, “What happened?”

“I was thinking about my mother and how she was doing. If she still worried about me or had they moved on with their lives without me,” she finished with a sniffle.

They. That was the telling word. It wasn’t so much her mother Kirsten grieved over, but Jeremy. Cody knew the answer to her question and it twisted his gut painfully. While he could not tell her the whole truth, he could relieve some of her anxiety.

“He hasn’t forgotten you,” Cody assured.

“How do you know?” Kirsten hiccupped.

“Because Alex keeps close tabs on his whereabouts so he can make sure to stop Jeremy’s attempts to rescue you,” he answered putting his lips to her hair. He hated lying to her, but it was a necessary evil to keep them both safe. Where he did not want to hurt Kirsten by hurting Jeremy, in his mind Jeremy was the expendable one.

They were silent for a while, each taking comfort in the other. A luxury not often afforded them.

“There’s a little café I have been wanting to take you to. Do you feel up to it?”

Nodding, Kirsten sat up, wiping her eyes as she slid off his lap onto the couch next to him. Cody felt the loss of her heat instantly and it sadden him. More than it should have.

“I’m sorry,” she whispered.

“For what?” Cody asked smiling as he pulled some of the hair that was stuck to her face and tucking it behind her ear.

“I’m not prone to crying fits, yet in the last couple of years they seem to sneak up on me more and more.”

“I think you have had ample reason to have more than a few breakdowns, Kirsten,” he frowned. “We haven’t made your life easy.”

“Someone looking in from the outside would think my life is ideal. I have a husband who adores and spoils me. I have friends who are there for me and would give their lives for me as I would them.” Kirsten took Cody’s hand in hers and squeezed it. “Friends I cannot lose,” she whispered.

“Kirsten.” The word was a silent plea for understanding, for forgiveness. It was filled with a longing that Kirsten understood all to well. Slowly, gently, she extracted her hand from his. They are walking for a very fine line. One that could get them both killed.

“But my life isn’t ideal,” she whispered hoarsely, the tears once again threatening to fall.

“No, it isn’t.”

They sat in silence for a few minutes, each lost in their own thoughts, each comforted by the other’s presence because they knew that was all that was asked. There was no hidden agenda, no jealousy, no expectations.

Taking a deep breath and letting it out shakily, Kirsten wiped her hands up and down her thighs.

“You said something about lunch.” The cheerfulness she was trying to exclude fell flat, but Cody understood. Time to put on their game face and move on.

“They have a sandwich I know you will love,” he said standing when she did.

“Better than the one back home?” she asked doubtfully.

“I’ll let you decide,” he smiled.

 

An hour later:

“What do you think?” Cody asked as he watched Kirsten chew her bite of sandwich.

“It’s good,” she answered thoughtfully, hold one hand over her full mouth so she would not flash her half-chewed food.

“Just good, huh,” Cody frowned. Taking his Pastrami on Rye in both hands, he took a bite, chewing thoughtfully.

Swallowing, Kirsten followed it with a sip of her wine. “I really like it,” she assured looking at her club sandwich. “It’s just not…better,” she offered looking at Cody with a small smile.

“Hmmm,” Cody answered frowning as he chewed. Shaking his head, he reached for his wine. “You’re wrong,” he declared before taking a drink.

Kirsten choked on her sandwich. “What do you mean I’m wrong?” she rasped indignantly.

Cody shrugged. “Your wrong,” he repeated as if it was a known fact. “What is complicated about that. You just are.”

Kirsten started at him with wide-eyed disbelief as he continued to eat as if she were not there with her jaw on the table. Glancing to her right, she spied one of their security detail doing his best not to smirk. When Kirsten narrowed her eyes on Taylor, he lost the battle. When she stuck her tongue out at him, he burst out laughing. Mica, a newer addition who took his job guarding Kirsten very seriously, was sitting on the other side of the table from Taylor on the phone frowning at him in annoyance.

“Jackass,” Kirsten muttered turning her attention back to her sandwich. She would have reprimanded him for not doing his job, but she knew he could not help it. Along with the fact he was the best of the best and that they had extra men posted around the café, Taylor was quick to laugh and enjoyed teasing Kirsten unmercifully when Alex was not around. Since so few would even attempt to talk to Kirsten, she did not mind and usually encouraged him by bantering back and forth.

When he heard her call him jackass, his grin widen. “I live to be the blister on your….”

“Taylor,” Mica snapped as he pulled his phone from his ear, stopping what Kirsten knew was something very inappropriate.

“What?” Taylor asked with mock innocence.

Growling at the man with narrowed eyes, Mica turned to Cody and Kirsten, who were both smiling. “We need to leave. Now,” he emphasized by standing abruptly and throwing money down on his table.

All humor fled as Taylor followed Mica to his feet, his eyes scanning the crowd for signs of danger.

“What happened?” Cody demanded as he and Kirsten pushed to their feet.

“We got a tip there was a kidnap attempt about to happen,” Peter’s explained as he and two others who had materialized out of nowhere surrounding them. Taking Kirsten’s arm Cody directed her towards the street.

“Do you know by who?” Cody asked as they dodged tables, chairs, and people.

“Whoever called had a voice distorter. They said it was Bannatyne,” Peter’s answered as he followed, gun drawn but discreetly hidden down by his side. No need to scare the public just yet. It would just make his job of getting his two charges to the safety of the car that much harder.

“Shit,” Cody hissed under his breath.

They had reached the sidewalk when the first gunshot rang out, shattering a cup on the table near Kirsten. Instinctively ducking, the men around her showed their hardware as they headed for the car that had screeched to a halt a few feet away from them, pushing through the screaming and running mob.

Once Kirsten was safely in the car, Cody turned to Peter’s. “Find that bitch and bring her to me,” he snarled.

“With pleasure,” Peter’s grimaced as a bullet whizzed past them.

Following Kirsten into the car, Cody slammed the door shut, barking, “Go!” Pulling his phone from his pocket, he hit speed dial and put the phone to his ear.

“I still say it’s better,” he commented calmly into the silence.

Kirsten frowned at him, not understanding what he was talking about and having a hard time making her brain work after the near miss they just experienced. When it finally dawned on her he was talking about the sandwiches, she burst out laughing. That is what Alex heard as he answered his phone to find out that Annalisa Bannatyne was once again trying to kill his wife.

Forever Lost – Chapter 3

Chapter 3

When Gideon arrived at the gates of the realm the human’s called Hell, he found himself alone. That wasn’t right. There were always guards posted at these gates. To leave them unattended meant someone wanted him inside, which meant a trap. And they took the only bait that was guaranteed to draw him in. This was not good. The question still remained, who would do this?

Suddenly he was surrounded by warriors, but he did not take his eyes off of the gates or draw his sword.

“So what is the plan?” Talon asked.

“We go in, find Sara and leave,” Gideon answered calmly.

“Does anyone else think it strange that there are no guards here?” one of his warriors asked.

With his short curly sandy blonde hair and bright blue eyes, Michel looked more like the angels the humans depicted in their pictures, except for the leather armor, the quiver of very large arrows, the matching bow in his hand and the very large very dangerous looking mace at his side. No, this particular angel was one of the most feared in their ranks. Wicked smart with battle strategy along with his weaponry, Michel reveled in the interrogation of the enemy. The bloodlust that fell upon him in those instances and in battle was the reason he was under Gideon’s command. The others could not stomach what Michel was willing to do to extract information out of the enemy. There were times Gideon could not stomach it, but because of this angel they had managed to find the most dangerous lords of the underworld and put them back where they belonged.

“I was just thinking that same thing, my friend,” a dark haired dark skinned angel rumbled. At seven foot three, there was no mistaking what Aitan was. His blacker than night hair braided in rows that fell down his back between his wings was tied back with a leather thong. His strikingly sapphire eyes glanced around the cavern as he pulled his massive sword from the sheath at his back, his muscles rippling with power.

The four others that surrounded Gideon, all various sizes and coloring, followed suit with their varying weapons. Out of thin air gold shields one by one materialized on each arm not holding a weapon. Although gold was what the attacker saw on the surface, underneath was a metal only the strongest of demons could attempt to dent.

“This reeks of a trap,” Talon whispered, concern furrowing his brow.

“I agree, but who wants me down here this badly?” Gideon asked. Talon gave him a look that said are you really asking that question? “Badly enough to risk war?” Gideon reiterated in exasperation. “Lizza is not that brave, or stupid.”

“There is only one that I think would be that stupid,” Aitan rumbled.

“Loathar,” Talon said grimly. One of the higher lords under the flag of the Horsemen known as War; Loathar had a grudge match with Gideon that went back to before the angels fell. “He would also have the power to pull off that spell.”

“What spell?” one of the others, the shorter, leaner yet by no means any less dangerous angel’s asked.

“It doesn’t matter what spell he used, Loghan,” Gideon snapped. “What matters is Sara is in there and she has no idea what she’s up against, or how to defend herself.”

The others blinked at him, stunned by his outburst. Gideon never lost his composure. If he did not gain control of himself before going inside, the very air would feed off his anger, draining him and making his opponents stronger. What he needed was calm, but how was he supposed to do calm when his heart was racing with fear? Thank God his strength was returning. Whether it was because of time or because he and Sara were now in the same realm he did not know, nor did he care. What he did know was he needed every bit of his strength to rescue her. He could fall apart after she was safely at his home, and in his arms.

That thought stopped him. The only times he allowed himself to hold Sara was when she was lost in grief about her mother’s passing, and because she felt she had to stay strong for her family that was few and far between. The sense of peace mixed with something…alien Gideon felt when he held her had always confused him. Now he was thinking about taking her to the realm those of his kind resided in, which was forbidden.

No, not there. Not until he understood exactly what was going on and whom he could trust. There were other places he could take her. Places far away and that only a select few knew about.

Gritting his teeth, Gideon closed his eyes, willing himself to focus on the task at hand. Walk into an obvious trap, find Sara and rescue her. When he opened them he was calmer, better centered. He looked at his men who were waiting patiently for him to return to himself, no judgment or condemnation in any of their eyes. They trusted him to do his job, be their leader, and they would put their lives in his hands without question.

“Trap or not, the doors are unguarded and I will take whatever advantage we have. I also want you to know that I have not asked the powers to be if we can retrieve Sara from this realm. If you follow me in there, there may be…repercussions. If you do not want to follow me, I will understand.”

There was only a moment of silence before they all started to check their weapons, tighten various straps holding those weapons, swinging swords to loosen fighting arms or notching arrows. Gideon smiled. These men were his family, his brothers. They would have his back in any situation, as he would have theirs. They would risk punishment for him. However, Gideon did not think there would be a punishment. Where this may be a trap for him, something inside told him that there was a much larger force at work here. Larger than Heaven and Hell, and Sara was somehow in the center of it.

“Now that that is settled, let’s go hunt some demons,” Michel said, a wicked grin turning his features positively evil. Gideon answered with one of his own before he put his hand on the door, closed his eyes and concentrated. There was an audible click and the gates swung open.

“I was hoping for something a little more…flamboyant,” Loghan sighed wistfully.

“Ringing the doorbell before entering the enemy’s home does not bode well for living through the next few minutes,” Michel reminded as if he were talking about the weather.

“But it does have a certain flare,” Loghan offered with a wave of his hand that suggested royalty. “It says, yes we know you are badass, but we are bigger badasses and we are here to kick yours.”

“You do have a point,” Michel mused. “Maybe we should make noise as we enter.”

“If you two don’t shut it the only thing flaring and making noise around here will be you when I turn you into an angel pyre,” Talon snapped.

“Temper, temper,” Loghan clucked.

Talon started to turn to retaliate, but Gideon slipped through the gates and beyond. The questions and worry Talon had on the street surfaced once again. He only hoped that Gideon’s concern for Sara would not distract him from the fact this could very well be a trap for him. Loathar was one of the top lords of the demon world and not to be taken lightly. Normally Gideon could handle the demon, but he was still weak and his mind was not as focused as it should have been, something Talon was sure Loathar was counting on. Taking a better hold of his sword and shield Talon followed Gideon, hearing rather than seeing the others silently follow suit.

The warriors met no resistance through the tunnels that lead deeper into their enemies’ world. As the air grew thicker and the heat grew stifling, the angels slowly and cautiously kept going. When they reached the end and stood on the precipice of a high cliff, the realm the humans called Hell in all its glory, or damnation, spread out before them, they stopped to survey their surroundings.

Most think of Hell as a vast network of caves filled with pain and agony, brimstone and fire spewing everywhere, and there were those elements in the levels far below. But here, where even though there was extreme heat and an acrid smell, it looked more like something you would see on earth hundreds of years before man began to take over and destroy nature’s beauty.

Forests, bogs, fields, mountains, lakes. To one who did not know better it looked rather peaceful, except for the red haze that painted everything in its bloody tint. They would enter without knowing that the creatures that lived in the forest, bogs, meadows, mountains and lakes would rather eat you slowly, relishing in your screams of pain and terror.

Sara was down there…somewhere in that land of horror. Gideon closed his eyes as a wave of guilt ridden rage engulfed him. He should never have left her today. He should have realized that the lead he had been given was only a means to distract him, so the bastards that have hunted Sara her entire existence could take her. He could rail at Talon for allowing her to be captured, but he knew that would be useless and unwarranted. Talon had proven time and time again he would never let any harm come to Sara. No, powerful forces had been at work. Forces Gideon was for the first time beginning to fear.

“You know,” Loghan grimaced in disgust, breaking into Gideon’s self-recriminations, “no matter how many times I come here, I will never understand why everything has to be red. I mean, there are other colors in the spectrum. It just smacks lack of imagination.”

The others ignored him.

“Do you sense her?” Michel asked quietly, moving to stand next to Gideon who stood silently staring out at the vast expanse.

Did he sense her? Once again closing his eyes, pushing the fear back into the box where it belonged, Gideon reached out, searching. In amongst the anger, fear and evil, a light shone brightly. Sara! His eyes snapped opened.

“There,” he said pointing towards the large mountain.

Loghan whistled. “Do you know who lives there?” he whispered.

“Yes,” Gideon answered quietly.

“How do you plan on getting her out of there?” Aitan asked. “That fortress is the most well guarded location in this realm. Even the  Dark Lords fear that place.”

“I know.” When Gideon turned to Talon, he let him and only him see the fear in his eyes. Thankfully, Talon was able to keep his composure and not let the others know that Gideon had no idea how they were going to rescue Sara from a fortress so full of evil, no angel dared enter it. Not unless they went unwillingly, and when they came out, if they came out, they were never the same. Both Talon and Gideon could personally attest to that.

“Why don’t we start flying in that direction,” Talon suggested his eyes not leaving Gideon’s, willing his strength into his leader, his friend, his brother. “She may not be in there, but somewhere in-between.”

“It’s a good idea,” Aitan rumbled looking at Michel with concern, who answered with a frown of his own. They both sensed something was not right with their leader and that made them uneasy.

Gideon looked back at the mountain praying Talon was right and Sara was not in the castle. “The longer we are here the weaker we become. Let’s go and find something to fight and return to the cleaner air of the human realm before it’s too late.”

Each of the eight fighters nodded their agreement. Then as one they lifted into the sky and headed further into the bowels of Hell.

 

Chapter 2 

Chapter 4

Copyright © 2017 Heidi Barnes