Heaven refers to them as Misplaced Halos.
Humans don’t even know they exist.
Like angels, vampires have been protecting humans from demons while keeping to the shadows, lurking in the darkness. In return, they’ve asked for nothing. Until now.
After the heinous slaughter of his father, the Alpha Vampire, Kaj Courtenay finds himself taking on the role of the most powerful vampire in existence. He’s up against traitors out to topple him, demons bent on eliminating the vampire race entirely, and an archangel who has other plans for them. It’s all Kaj can do to maintain his focus, but he knows it would be easier with the female who owns him, heart, body, and soul at his side. Problem is convincing her.
Acadia only knows a life of subservience. She has spent fifteen hundred years bound to the Angels of Darkness, her race used as their life source to maintain their existence on Earth. Living out eternity at their mercy is her destiny, beyond her control. It has never been something she questioned. Not until Kaj appeared in her life and gave her something to live for, made her question her very existence. Acadia knows resisting the powerful vampire is futile. He holds her heart. Problem is, it isn’t hers to give.
Kaj and Acadia must break the chains that have bound them to their pasts so they can embrace the future and conquer the enormous obstacles and ridiculous odds standing in their way. And for the sake of all, they must do it together.
I love Kaj and Acadia. ❤️ Nicole keeps me spellbound in these books.
Bound in Darkness (Misplaced Halos, 3) - Prologue
Friday, October 13, 2017
"Son of a bitch!”
“Tell me he’s still alive, bro!”
Kaj Courtenay had to wonder about the last one. If sheer, endless agony meant he was alive, then yeppers. He was most definitely in the land of the living.
Had to be, right? Otherwise he wouldn’t be listening to Obsidian’s fool brothers ramble incessantly about whether or not Kaj had succumbed to the lead shower he’d found himself in the middle of.
Not just one bullet. Oh, no. He’d never get that lucky. If memory served—and that was a bit iffy right now—there were at minimum three pieces of lead stuck somewhere in his torso. Likely in his lung since breathing was a bit more difficult than usual.
Oh, look at him playing the eternal optimist. Must still be kicking.
Fuck that. He was on fucking fire, every goddamn inch of him.
The blaze of agony had started somewhere in his chest and was now catching up with the rest of him. Good news… he could no longer feel his feet, so there was some relief there.
“Find Acadia!” Obsidian shouted, though who he was talking to, Kaj had no idea. “Right now!”
Breathe. Just breathe. In … out … in--
“I’m here, Obsidian.”
Holy shit, now that was the voice of an angel. Too bad he couldn’t open his eyes to see her.
“How may I assist?”
Perhaps a bit more effort was required because Heaven help him, he wanted to see her.
Try, try, try again.
Nope. Eyes won’t work. What now?
Thanks be to the Almighty, his sense of smell wasn’t broken, so Kaj turned his face in the direction of the soft scent of … well, he didn’t know what it smelled like, but it was the best thing his sinuses had ever pulled through them.
“I’ve got to get the bullets out,” Obsidian grumbled, that deep, rumbling voice close. “He’ll need blood.”
Yes. Bullets out, blood in. Good plan, big guy.
“It would be my pleasure,” the female intoned.
Heaven. He was pretty sure her voice was the sound made by all those harps in Heaven.
That lovely cadence drifted amongst the clouds currently filling Kaj’s mind. Not clouds, more like fog, growing thicker with every passing second. Perhaps he was hovering between Earth and Heaven, stuck in a state of limbo. Obsidian was down in the mainland while that female was drifting high in the clouds. If Kaj was dangling somewhere in between, he was ready to follow her, wherever she was.
Please and thank you.
“Where do you need me?” the angelic voice asked.
“Right there’s fine,” Obsidian responded.
Kaj could imagine a halo ringing her head, casting a beautiful glow over her as she floated effortlessly on white, billowy—The image he was trying to conjure in his mind was obliterated by a blinding pain spearing his chest.
“Hey, Kaj. I can’t promise this won’t hurt,” Obsidian stated.
More than this? Yeah. Doubtful. A grumble was all he could manage, the words in his head not being relayed to his mouth.
“Don’t touch him until I’m finished.” Obsidian’s tone held an air of concern.
Who? Who was the big bastard talking to? The angel? No, Kaj wanted her to touch him. Right now would be fine. She could carry him right off into the afterlife.
Surely this was the end for him. At least he’d gone out on a high note. Those demons might’ve nailed him where it counted, but he’d eliminated at least two dozen before he’d given up the ghost. Proved himself to the male he’d come to consider a friend. A fucking angel of all things. Never in his life had he thought he’d be cozied up to the feathered type, but hey, Kaj was open-minded like that.
As the fire blazed through him, he briefly wondered whether someone would tell his father he was gone. Would Kardobahn mourn him? Yes, he decided. Perhaps they hadn’t always been close, but Kaj had a good relationship with his father and the new female Kardobahn had mated a few years back. There was no lingering animosity between them. Probably helped that, aside from being his oldest son, Kaj was Kardobahn’s adighrielin, the advisor to the vampire Alpha. To add another title to the list: leader of the Zenith. It had taken centuries, but Kaj had finally proven his worth to his father. Surely that would mean something.
“Kaj, brother, I need you to take a deep breath.”
The cold that raced over his skin said a deep breath likely wouldn’t do any good. He was fading quickly and truth was, he was ready. Not because he wanted to vacate his current life. No, he was content with how things were. Not necessarily happy, no. But he had no complaints. It had been a good life and he’d accomplished much in his five hundred plus years on Earth. Kaj was ready for the--
The pain that lanced him took hold of his internal organs and … twisted, yanked, pulled--Holy. Fuck.—then jerked for good measure.
Good news was, his breath was sawing in and out of his lungs. Probably meant he was still kicking. Maybe.
Then there was another wrenching tug and the breathing thing…? Not all that important.
Ohfuckohfuckohfuckoh … fucking … hell!
He was aware of a piercing sound splitting the air around him. It coincided with the way his body splintered. Fire blazed through him as he was pulled in all directions, his insides churning, blistering as that inferno consumed him from head to toe. It went on for an eternity, then another until Kaj was convinced he had died, but rather than go up, he’d been shot down to Hell, left to rot in the bowels of that fiery shit hole.
The shrill noise halted and he realized—sadly, mind you—he’d been screaming like a little bitch.
A soft hand swept over his forehead, once, twice.
The agony still ripped through him, but it was somehow bearable with her touch.
“He needs to feed,” a male voice noted. Obsidian. Still there. True friend he was. Minus the whole ripping his insides to shreds thing.
“I’ll take care of him,” the female replied, that lyrical voice Kaj’s lifeline.
“When you need to feed,” Obsidian stated, his voice directed elsewhere, “I want you to come find me.” A strong hand pressed gently against Kaj’s shoulder. “And you, my friend, will be good as new in no time. The bullets are removed, all four of them. Now you need to recuperate.”
Kaj forced his eyes open. He managed long enough to catch a glimpse of Obsidian leaning over him. To the male’s right was a female.
…a beautiful, angelic female…
Damn good things vampires healed quickly.
That was Kaj’s first thought when he came to in a dimly lit bedroom that was decorated in crimson and overlaid with swirly, silver do-dads, an odd combination to the eye. Kinda made him nauseous.
At least the bed he lay on was soft, the comforter warm. The air smelled of cherry blossoms and the lightest hint of sandalwood, the combination going right to his head. A fire crackled in the hearth, warming the room and adding a weird ambience.
His attention was drawn to the door. It opened on a whisper, closed the same. His ears registered bare feet padding over hardwood then drifting as they moved onto what he assumed was a rug.
“Perhaps you’ll wake for morning meal,” that sweet cadence relayed, filling the otherwise silent room.
It was in that moment, Kaj finally laid eyes on the female whose voice had lived in his dreams ever since he passed out earlier. She’d remained a fixation in his mind through the hours it took for the torment within his body to subside. Good news was, the pain was gone—mostly—and she was not. So either he was in Heaven or she wasn’t some angel who’d been sent to carry him home.
Honestly, he hoped for the latter. Lots still to do on this big hunk of rock.
Kaj kept his lids low so he could watch as she set a tray down on the bedside table. She was startlingly beautiful. Dark brown hair piled high on her head and held there with some sort of colorful stick. The wisps that fluttered down around her face were a delectable contrast to her fair skin.
As though she sensed him, her head tilted his way and he saw her eyes for the first time. They were a translucent purple and he was instantly reminded of amethyst stones, only her eyes were far more beautiful than any jewel. Radiantly incandescent. Was that a real thing? Yes, he decided. It was now.
“Oh, you are awake.” The acknowledgment was communicated softly and without concern.
Kaj continued to watch her. “Tired of me already?”
The soft smile that pulled at her exquisite mouth had a strange feeling erupting inside him.
Her gaze shifted from him to the meal she had produced. “I brought food in case you were hungry.”
He gave the tray a half-hearted glance. He couldn’t care less about food at the moment, although, now that she mentioned it, his stomach rumbled in direct conflict with his mind. How many hours had passed since he’d had his evening meal? What time was it?
Hating that he was flat on his back, Kaj shifted so he could sit, but the female instantly stopped him, placing her small hand on his chest. His naked chest.
That touch had heat blooming through his entire body.
“Not yet. You need to feed first.”
“I just fed,” he said, his voice coming out raspy, as though he hadn’t used it in a while.
Must’ve been a good nap he’d taken.
“And when might that’ve been?”
Kaj turned his head, trying to find a clock. “Nightfall,” he told her, though he absolutely had no intentions of going into specifics.
“What day do you think it is?” she questioned, standing tall and peering down at him with concern glittering in her eyes.
“Friday.” He lifted a weak hand, waved it.
“Well, it is Friday, but I don’t think it’s the same Friday you’re thinking.”
Frowning, he stared up at her, trying to figure out the riddle.
Before he could argue, she shifted her long, flowing skirt and positioned herself so she was perched on the edge of the mattress, body angled toward him while her legs were hanging over the side. There was a shocking grace to her every movement. She tugged the flaring sleeve of her dress back, revealing her delicate wrist. Her skin was so pale he could see the veins beneath.
He considered it for a moment. Kaj rarely took from a female’s wrist or her neck. As a rule, he fed from cosrobols, the blood whores who offered themselves up to him. They were provided by the Alpha,
given to the Zenith to do with as they pleased. Because he had no desire to get involved with one of them, Kaj would take from the inside of their thighs, leaving marks that would not be visible to others. Not because he was ashamed that others would find out. He simply didn’t want to see his mark upon them.
However, with this female … he had the strange urge to mark her in more ways than mere puncture wounds upon her skin.
A fierce pain pierced his chest the moment he heard her blood pumping in her veins. Bloodlust, he realized. As his fangs shot out from the roof of his mouth, he realized he was starving.
“Take it,” she offered, shifting her wrist closer.
With his eyes never leaving her face, Kaj reached for her hand. Soft as powder, smooth as silk. He circled her forearm with his other hand, keeping her arm still as he penetrated her with his fangs. She
didn’t flinch as he drew from her, nor did she look away.
The instant her blood slid down his throat, he felt the power within it. It infused him instantly, bringing to life the rest of his cells, as though they’d been dormant for weeks. His thirst didn’t abate even as he drew more and more from her. Never did he close his eyes, fearful if he did she might disappear.
By the time he’d had enough to tide him over, there was a strange roaring in his head. He released her from his lips, sealed the wounds on her flesh. And if he lingered a little longer than was appropriate … well, he couldn’t help himself.
“We were starting to worry you wouldn’t wake up,” she said as she lowered her sleeve over her wrist.
“I was due for a nap.” He peered around, trying once more to find a clock.
Finding none, he glanced back at her, noticed she was frowning.
“What?” he asked.
“My lord, you’ve been unconscious for nearly five weeks.”
Wait. Huh? Five weeks?
“Oh, fuck,” he groaned, attempting to push to a sitting position. “Where’re my clothes?”
“Please, my lord,” she said softly, her gentle hand once more on his chest. “Your body needs to rest.”
“I’ve been resting,” he countered with a huff. “For five weeks, apparently. How much longer do I need?”
“With my blood in your veins…” She appeared to be calculating something. “I would say at least another month.”
Kaj watched her, noticing for the first time that there was an oddity to her. Not physically, but on a cellular level.
“You’re not vampire,” he stated.
“No, I am not.”
“Nor are you an angel.”
Her amethyst eyes lowered. “I am Fae, my lord.”
Fae. As in the mystical fairies who were cast out of Heaven by the Almighty above? That Fae? Kaj hadn’t even known they still existed.
“We don’t,” she said, answering a question he’d thought had only sounded in his head. “Not outside of these walls. My kind has been relegated to serve the warriors and the fiestreigh. There are nineteen of us in total.” Her warm fingers urged him back. “Now, please rest.”
“Serve?” Kaj relaxed into the pillow, realizing he would stay there all night just to hear her voice. “What does that mean?”
“Their blood and sexual needs.”
Kaj refused to acknowledge the dark, possessive rumble that sounded in his chest.
“Would you like me to leave, my lord?”
“What’s your name?”
Ah, he remembered now. The most beautiful name he’d ever heard. “And I assume you know mine?” he prompted.
“Of course, my lord.”
He canted his head and smiled. “Then please, Acadia, do refrain from calling me my lord.”
Her answering smile was the first of many that would slowly bring him peace.