Einar is one of Heaven’s best hunters and he’s on a mission to uncover why an angel was working with demons. When he finds the first demon fighting a beautiful woman named Taylor, he intervenes and saves her life. Taylor has spent her whole life protecting London from the lowest demons and she’s not about to let an angel waltz into her city and take over her job, and she’s certainly not about to fall in love with him, even if he is gorgeous. The reason why she can’t is simple—she’s half demon.
There is no love in this world more forbidden than that between an angel and a demon.
Sense tells Taylor to get out before she gets her heart broken, but she winds up convincing Einar to partner with her instead. Einar is certain that working with Taylor is a bad idea, and not only because he can’t focus when he’s around her, but he can’t let her go. The mission leads them deep into the city’s underworld, where old flames burn Taylor while new flames of passion and fear of the consequences consume them, and the threat of Einar’s demons hangs over them both.
Can a love so forbidden ever have a happy ending or are they destined to break each other’s hearts?
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She was heading for trouble.
Einar watched the raven-haired woman walking straight towards a male coming the opposite way through the quiet moonlit park. He beat his wings, keeping his position high above them in the cool air.
The woman appeared and disappeared as she passed under the intermittent streetlamps that lined the paths through the park. The lights weren’t strong enough to cut through the darkness, leaving the area as a black hole in a sea of glittering golden and white pinpricks. London stretched out as far as he could see in all directions. The yellow halo over the city drowned out the stars and made the shadowy shapes of the buildings visible to him.
Einar swooped lower in the night, wanting to get a closer look at the two people and needing to be near in case he was right and the man wasn’t a man at all. If the demon showed any sign of attacking the woman, he would intervene. Until that happened, he would watch. It wasn’t his place to interfere in things. He was here to hunt, not protect.
The steady rush of wind over him chilled his skin. Summer was on its way out and autumn was encroaching as surely as the night. The days were growing short and he still hadn’t found his demons. Heaven’s Court were becoming restless with the desire to know why a commander of theirs called Amaer had sided with three demons, assisting them in the disposal of over one hundred human bodies, and had incriminated a fellow angel, setting him up to take the fall.
The angel, an intervention specialist and mediator called Lukas, had fought back though and had proven his innocence. Amaer was dead. Now Einar’s only lead were the demons.
The woman neared the man. Einar’s hand went to the hilt of the blade hanging from his waist. The vambrace protecting his forearm was cold against the strip of stomach exposed between his rich brown and gold breastplate and his dark loincloth. He would soon have to resort to wearing winter armour.
A noise from below caught his attention. The woman was under attack. Einar dived towards her and then halted in mid-air barely a few metres above them when the woman drew a short silver blade from beneath the back of her black jacket and started to fight.
She was breathtaking.
Einar could only stare at her as she fought the male demon, still in his human skin. Her movements were fluid, made only more graceful by her tall slender form and the tight clothes she wore. She swung her leg around, kicking the man in the head. The moment her foot touched the floor, she brought it back again, catching the man unawares and unguarded.
She attacked then, putting the demon on the back foot and keeping him off balance with lunges and swipes of the short blade. It gleamed brightly under the moonlight, flashes of white and silver lines marking its deadly path.
Einar beat his wings to keep steady, mesmerised by the woman and her ability to fight. He had never thought a female could have such skill. He had only ever met females that needed tending to and protecting. This one was different. She could handle a weapon with ease, and with skill almost matching his own, and she radiated confidence and strength. She could take care of herself and he couldn’t bring himself to intervene in her fight, even when his instincts were screaming at him to go down and assist her.
The male demon snarled and shifted his shoulders. Black ragged scaly wings erupted from his back, tearing through his dark shirt, and his hands became talons. Einar’s eyes narrowed.
The history recorded in the pool in Hell had revealed the type of demon that had committed the sin of killing the innocent humans.
This man was one of their breed.
Einar’s dark gaze flickered to the woman. She didn’t even hesitate at the sight of the man’s wings and claws. She continued her attack. If anything, she was putting more effort into it now that the demon had revealed himself.
She wasn’t a stranger to this sort of creature.
The demon screamed and launched himself at the woman, still half in his human guise. The woman blocked each swipe of his talons with her short sword but the demon was forcing her backwards, putting her off balance this time. She rallied, kicking the demon in the shin and then going for the chest. The demon caught her ankle and turned, hurling her along the pavement. She tumbled, losing her weapon, and stopped a few metres away from the demon. Her long dark hair covered her face as she struggled to get to her feet.
Cold fury curled through Einar’s veins, tightening his muscles. He flexed his fingers around the hilt of his sword and gripped it tightly.
He had seen enough.
The demon ran at the woman.
Einar swept down, drew his sword, and blocked the demon’s attack. The man snarled and hissed, and leapt backwards, placing some distance between them. With a deep breath, Einar readied himself, standing tall and stretching his wings out to shield the woman behind him. He used his senses to check on her. She wasn’t badly injured. The rich smell of her blood filled the air and she was muttering dark things under her breath. Other than that, she seemed fine. He would tend to her once he had dealt with the demon.
“Get out of my damn way, you big oaf,” the woman said just as the demon charged them.
Einar turned, confused about whether she was speaking to him. She crouched, tugged the right leg of her dark jeans up, revealing her black leather boot, and the next thing Einar knew, she had a knife in her hand and was running past him. Resilient, resourceful, but foolish.
Unless she wanted to get herself killed.
The demon lashed out, slamming the back of his right hand into the side of her head and sending her skidding across the dewy grass. She landed in a heap and didn’t move.
Grasping his sword, Einar beat his tawny wings and shot towards the demon. He didn’t have time to react. Einar’s sword was through his gut before he could even turn towards him, and Einar twisted it, his eyes locked with the demon’s ones.
“Tell me where the others are hiding,” Einar said and the flicker of fear in the demon’s eyes told him everything he needed to know. He was right. This demon was one of them. “Tell me, and you will live. Do not tell me, and I will banish you to Hell to face your master instead.”
The man’s eyes widened and he shook his head. He opened his mouth to speak and there was a strange rush of cold from below Einar’s feet. A column of darkness swept up and around them, engulfing both him and the demon. Intense heat and a vivid golden glow lit the ground beneath them. The column expanded rapidly and flung Einar backwards. He tumbled head over heels in the air and then stretched his wings out and flapped, righting himself and stopping his descent. He swept back down towards the demon but he was too late. There was a flash and the demon was gone, leaving nothing but a charred circle on the floor and the sickening stench of brimstone hanging in the cool night air.
A dark curse rolled off Einar’s tongue. He landed gently, sheathed his sword, and walked to the burnt patch of path. Crouching, he touched the warm ashes and then sighed. Had someone done this to stop him from talking? It wasn’t the Devil. He took no interest in such affairs and Einar’s threat had been just that—a threat. The Devil wouldn’t do anything if Einar banished a demon to Hell to face the consequences. If anything, he would probably congratulate the demon for doing something to annoy Heaven and the angels.
A groan from the darkness snapped Einar out of his thoughts.
She was trying to push herself up off the grass but was having difficulty. Her long dark hair hung in messy strands, obscuring her face. She mumbled black things to herself. The smell of blood was stronger now. The woman touched her arm, flinched, and then collapsed. Einar rushed over to her and knelt at her side. He swept the lengths of hair from her face. She was pale, the moonlight turning her skin milky. Dark patches of blood marred it near her jaw and across her chest above the low line of her black top. There were three long gashes in the right arm of her leather biker jacket. The demon. He must have caught her with his claws.
Einar slid his arm under her back and carefully lifted it off the wet grass, supporting her. She moaned and writhed against him, and then stilled. He stared down at her pale beauty, captivated by it as much as he had been by her fighting. Perhaps he had been mistaken.
Perhaps he was the one heading for trouble.
He touched the blood on her cheek and frowned.
What was trouble’s name?
Was it as beautiful as her looks and the way she fought?
She moaned and then lurched towards him and tackled him to the ground, pinning his wings awkwardly beneath him. He grimaced and tried to get her off him but she pressed her full bodyweight down onto his stomach, groin and chest.
“Who the hell are you?” Her dark eyes were wild, watching him without fear but with anger. She wet her luscious full lips and frowned. Her left hand slid off his damp breastplate and he instinctively caught her to stop her from falling. She shoved his hand away and fixed him with a deadly glare. “Get off me. Bloody angels. Always interfering.”
She wavered a moment later and clenched her jaw.
Her eyes slipped shut and then shot open again.
“It is the toxin,” Einar said in a quiet voice, not wanting to enrage her. He rested his hands beside his head on the damp grass, trying to show her that he didn’t intend to hurt her, and smiled. “I can fix that for you.”
She glanced down at her right shoulder and then pressed a knife against his throat. It trembled, touching his Adam’s apple, and she blinked several times, as though trying to clear her head. How long did she have? Demon toxins worked fast.
“I don’t need your help.” She pushed off him and stumbled across the grass in the empty moonlit park, muttering to herself about her sword.
Einar stood, stretched his wings and flapped them to get his feathers back into place. She was no stranger to angels either judging by the way that she was speaking. He frowned down at his wet backside and legs, and then cocked his head to one side and watched her. Regardless of what she said, she did need his help. The most virulent demon toxin only took a few minutes to work its way into blood and only another hour on top of that to spread through the body and kill the host. It was difficult to get rid of and he was certain she knew that. What did she plan to do? Human drugs had little effect on such poison. It would take another demon to remove it. Was she in league with them? He hadn’t wanted to believe such a thing when he had first seen her, but he couldn’t deny that it was a possibility.
She stooped to pick up her sword and collapsed into a heap.
Einar was beside her in an instant. He collected her blade, jamming it into his sword belt, and then lifted her into his arms. He didn’t care what she had done before tonight, he wasn’t going to let her go and seek the aid of demons now that he was here.
Was he protecting her?
His gaze traversed her delicate face.
He was definitely heading for trouble.
It was forbidden for him to have any sort of feeling for her.
He stared at her a moment longer, torn between leaving her to find her own way of clearing the poison from her blood and taking her with him to his place and removing it for her. The hunter in him said to leave her. She wasn’t worth anything and would only cause him trouble.
The man in him said to save her.
Einar closed his eyes, cradled her to his chest, and took flight.
He couldn’t leave her to fend for herself. It didn’t matter that Heaven forbid him to intervene in such matters or to feel anything for her. His heart whispered to help her and he would do just that. He would rid her body of the poison and restore her strength. If anyone asked him why he had done such a thing, he would lie and say that he had done it for information.
Not because he was drawn to her.
She woke during the flight to his hotel. He kept his gaze on the rooftops of London, charting his course and checking it for any sign of trouble. The sky was his tonight, shared only with the constant circling planes above him as they waited to land at one of the busy airports. They were too high to bother to him. He couldn’t fly at that altitude when carrying mortal cargo. The air was too cold and too thin for such a fragile creature.
He glanced down at her, meeting her dark eyes. They shone with something between confusion and anger.
“How are you feeling?” Einar fixed his gaze ahead again, sensing that if he continued to stare at her, she was likely to start fighting him.
“I’d feel a lot better if you put me down.” She pushed his chest so quickly that he almost lost his grip on her. A moment later, she was clutching the edges of his deep brown breastplate and curled up against him, fear pounding in her veins so strongly that he could sense it as though it was his own. “Christ Almighty, we’re flying.”
It touched his lips before he could even think to contain it.
She had made him smile.
Not a forced one as he generally managed, but a real smile.
He tightened his grip on her knees and her ribs, and swooped lower with her, so she wouldn’t be afraid. He levelled off just above the rooftops and narrowed his eyes on the spot in the distance where the hotel was located.
“Keep going, Romeo, all the way down.” She tugged at his breastplate, as though she could control his descent by doing such a thing and force him to land.
“I do not think so.” Einar glanced at her again. “You are particularly resilient to demon toxin but you are in no fit state to be left alone. I will tend to you once we are somewhere safe.”
“There’s nowhere safe in this city,” she mumbled and then, as they flew over a higher building, she twisted out of his arms.
Einar went after her. She turned and twirled in the air like a cat finding its footing during a fall, and landed soundly on her feet on the roof of the building. Stupid woman. She made it ten steps before collapsing.
“Shit.” She got to her feet and tried to run again, this time reaching the edge of the roof and balancing there, staring down into the street below.
“Where do you intend to run to?” He landed behind her and caught her arm, afraid that she would fall. She turned to look at him with wide eyes that spoke of fear, her lips parted and teasing him with temptation. Desire tugged at his gut. He pulled her back into his arms, lifted her again and cradled her close to his chest. He stared at her mouth, almost willing to give in, and then forced his gaze up to meet hers. “You are in no fit state to run.”
“I felt better.” She frowned, looked herself over, and then met his eyes again. “And then I felt terrible.”
He smiled for a second time. “It is my presence that staves off the toxin. The moment you were away from my touch, the infection returned. I do not intend to harm you... whoever you are.”
She swallowed, blinked, and then looped her arms around his neck and smiled saucily. “You don’t get my name that easily, Romeo.”
Einar looked down at her arms and shivered when she tangled her fingers in the short threads of his ponytail. Her fingertips grazed his neck, sending another wave of tingles trickling down his spine. Her breath washed his face as she leaned in close, pulling herself up and pressing her cheek to his. Her lips grazed his ear and he was lost, empty inside, unable to focus on anything but the feel of her against him and the anticipation of hearing her speak.
“You’ve got to tell a girl your name first,” she whispered into his ear. Was it the toxin making her act so strangely, or was she always like this with men, so forward and teasing? “It’s considered polite.”
He closed his eyes, swallowed to ease his dry throat, and resisted his desire to clutch her to him, to hold her where she was so he could feel her body against his a moment longer.
“Einar.” He breathed his name on a sigh, unable to find his voice for some reason. What was she doing to him? Was she temptation sent by the Devil to test him?
“Mmm, that’s a strong name for a strong boy.” She ran her hands down his biceps and they trembled under her soft touch. He shook when she cupped his cheeks, sending warmth racing through every inch of him, and drew back to look into his eyes. She smiled. “Now... put me the hell down!”
She head-butted him and he stumbled backwards, losing his grip on her. Before he could grab her, she had leapt to the next building and was running again. Einar touched his forehead and frowned. Why was she running from him? Was she afraid that he was going to harm her? He had no intention of hurting her. He only wanted to help.
He stretched his wings and flew after her, keeping his distance this time. She would falter soon enough. He hadn’t lied to her. It was only his touch and presence that slowed the effects of the poison on her body. He gave her a minute before she collapsed again and became compliant once more.
She didn’t even last that long. Before she was halfway across the rooftop, she tripped and fell flat on her face. She didn’t get back up. She lay there on the damp black tar roof, breathing hard.
Einar landed close beside her and she grabbed his ankle and looked up at him out of the corner of her eye, threads of her long hair cutting across her cheek.
She said something he couldn’t make out. He crouched close to her and her hand touched his bare knee.
“Maybe I’ll take you up on that offer.” Her words were so quiet that he barely heard her. She closed her eyes and sighed. “Not feeling myself today.”
Einar carefully lifted her back into his arms. She lay there, lax against him, breathing softly and slowly. He could feel her fatigue. She had only made things worse by trying to escape. Exerting herself had quickened the process of spreading the poison through her body. She shivered and moaned.
Her eyes fluttered open, their dark depths capturing his attention and holding it. She almost smiled.
“My name... it’s Taylor.” She closed her eyes and leaned her cheek against his shoulder and bicep.
Einar held her close to him and looked at her. Taylor.
A strong but beautiful name for a strong beautiful woman.
He took flight with her again, heading for the hotel and pondering this strange twist of fate that had brought her into his life. She was turning his world, distorting its axis, and he was sure of only one thing.
He was heading for trouble.