Release Date: February 11, 2020
Misplaced Halos, 2
Heaven refers to them as Misplaced Halos.
Humans don’t even know they exist.
This faction of celestial warriors was sent here under the cover of darkness to protect humanity from Lucifer’s demons. In return for their servitude, these warriors expect only one thing: the eternal love they were promised, what angels refer to as an amsouelot.
Never one to rely on luck or favor, Eclipse isn’t surprised when his first interaction with the female whose soul is destined for his results in death. However, he is caught off-guard when the pretty blonde who was held at gunpoint by a two-bit human turns out to be sassy and fearless and not at all bothered by the mess that was made in that alley.
Orianna McKay has spent the past six years scouring the US in search of her sister. She has put her entire life on hold, hoping to locate Amber and bring her home to their mother. What she doesn’t understand is how one failed lead after another continues to take her right back to Nowhere, Colorado. Then he appears. The handsome warrior who takes a bullet in an effort to save her. What she doesn’t realize is that warrior is an angel and nothing in her world is as it seems.
Eclipse’s mission is to protect Orianna from the demons who are out to lay claim to her soul. Somewhere along the way, that mission changes, priorities are shifted, and destinies are revealed. By the time the dust settles, Orianna and Eclipse will learn that salvation comes in many forms.
Salvation in Darkness (Misplaced Halos, 2) - Chapter One
Monday, August 5, 2019
Orianna McKay wasn’t big on the social scene. Didn’t matter which city she was in the parties and gatherings were all the same: boring, predictable and just plain exhausting.
Not to mention, full of horny twenty-somethings looking to sate those irritating urges and find their happily ever after in the process. Wasn’t any different for the young and hip here in Telluride, Colorado. In one night, she’d witnessed more than her fair share of let’s get it on and God, please spare us to last a lifetime, thank you very much.
Netflix and chill—by her damn self—was more her jam. Which was exactly what she’d be doing if it weren’t for the fact she was on a mission. One that was about to calendar flip into year seven.
Yep, six years of searching, traveling, and questioning every Tyler, Brandon, and Jacob—face it, no one named their kids Tom, Dick, or Harry anymore—with absolutely no luck. Now Orianna was just plain tired. And perhaps a bit downtrodden. After all, the only thing she had to show for her efforts was a resumé that proved she was a completely uncommitted jack of all trades.
Thank you, Fate. Or Karma. Or whatever mystical power that kept the universe aligned. Oh, and she couldn’t forget her sister. Thanks, Amber. For nothing.
Had it not been for her older sister taking off for parts unknown all those years ago, Orianna would’ve been back home in Texhoma, Oklahoma, vegging on Cheez-its and Mountain Dew, watching reruns of America’s Next Top Model. Instead, she was strolling the streets of Bumfuck, Colorado, looking under every rock she could turn over to see if her sister was lurking. Unfortunately, Amber’s last known sighting was proving to be another dead end.
But there was one more place she had to look before she could call it a night. A few more minutes and she could get back to her crappy motel and chill. Tomorrow, if she was lucky, she would be making like dust and scattering.
“Well, look who it is,” a gruff voice sounded from behind her.
Orianna kept walking, peering into store fronts, knowing damn well Amber wasn’t hiding out in a dusty old antique shop, but wishing she’d appear, nonetheless.
Curious, Orianna cast a quick look over her shoulder, wondering who the asshole was talking to. Whoever it was, she hoped like hell the woman gave him what for. No man would ever talk to her that way. Not if he wanted to keep his twig and berries intact.
“Yeah. I’m talkin’ to you. Come back here.”
Instinct had her legs slowing though she probably should’ve been moving faster. Single woman out late at night wasn’t the smartest move, but Orianna had long ago learned her sister was a night owl and if she was going to track her down, it would likely be when the creeps were trolling.
“Yeah, that’s what I thought. Where you been, Amber?”
Orianna came to an abrupt halt, spinning around to study the man who clearly thought she was her sister.
“I been waitin’ for you to show your face. You lookin’ for daddy dearest?”
It wasn’t the first time she’d been mistaken for her sister. Since they both had blond hair and blue eyes, Orianna could see how someone might think she was Amber.
From a distance.
In the dark.
Without their glasses.
Truth was, Orianna looked nothing like her older sister aside from their fair coloring. While Amber was short, Orianna was all leg, clocking in at five foot six. While Amber had a round face and a cute button nose, Orianna’s was all angles. Then again, if she wasn’t ten pounds underweight, perhaps she’d have full cheeks, too.
Good news was, Orianna seemed to be in the right place. Maybe. She should’ve known Amber would be hot on Erik’s heels. Chasing their deadbeat father to the ends of the earth was Amber’s favorite pastime. Her older sister had been following his breadcrumbs since she was old enough to drive.
“I was wondering if you’d ever show your face here again. It’s been a long time, sweetheart. You find him yet?” the asshat asked.
Assuming he was talking about her father, and not sure how to answer, Orianna kept her expression blank, waited for him to get closer. As soon as he did, she realized how foolhardy her curiosity was. Before she could ask him how he knew Amber, the asshole pounced, throwing one skinny arm around her neck and jerking her backward.
Orianna shrieked, attempting to keep her feet beneath her as he cut off her airway in his effort to drag her into a dark alley. Her mouth opened, lungs filling as she prepared to scream when he rammed something into her kidney.
“Don’t you dare scream, Amber,” he hissed, his foul breath wafting into her sinuses. “I’ll shoot you where you stand. Dear old dad won’t be too happy about that, will he?”
Nor would she, but that was moot, wasn’t it?
Rather than punch him in the balls and elbow him in the nose, Orianna whimpered, effectively swallowing the scream before it escaped. Clearly this was a case of mistaken identity, but she got the feeling he didn’t care if she was Amber or not. As long as she was a McKay, he would likely be happy.
“I figured for sure Daddy would keep a better eye on his little girl, so imagine my surprise when there you were.” He dragged her back a few more steps, then shoved her away, snagging her wrist, the momentum sending her spinning around. Orianna’s back hit the wall, her breath escaping in a whoosh as his hand locked onto her throat. The matte black gun shifted from her midsection to the center of her chest.
Of course the idiot was holding the nine mil like a gangster, all crooked and at the perfect angle for the shell casing to hit him square in the face. Not that it would matter. The bullet would no doubt hit its target—her—from this close.
“Not sure why he never mentioned how pretty you are,” he crooned, his calloused thumb grazing her chin.
Okay, so he didn’t know Amber? If not, why the hell did he think she was her sister?
What the fuck?
If it hadn’t been for the fact he was the only lead she had on Amber, Orianna would’ve laid waste to the bastard. Instead, she feigned an innocence she’d long since shed.
At twenty-four, it wasn’t like she’d lived a long, haggard life, but considering the shit she’d endured, that warped sense of expectancy and faith had long been sucked right out of her, replaced with a heaping helping of pessimism and disappointment.
Keeping with the facade, she let her eyes go wide, ensured there was a slight tremble in her voice when she said, “What do you want?”
“To warn your father,” he snarled. “He owes me quite a bit of money, sweetheart. Makes me angry when he tries to hide from me.”
His gaze dropped down to her chest and she didn’t need to be a mind reader to know what he was thinking. There was evil in his eyes, highlighted by the sneer on his mouth and punctuated by the fowl stench of his breath.
“Though a conversation could cover it, I’m thinking something a bit more … tangible.”
He squeezed her throat and she had to force her arms to remain at her side. The asshole had no idea how vulnerable he was right then. It would’ve taken little effort to relieve him of the gun and put him flat on his back, balls lodged somewhere in the vicinity of his sinus cavity. After all, Krav Maga had been the only class she’d paid much attention to in high school.
Except she needed answers, so she would handle this. Easy peasy. After all, she’d found herself in worse situations before.
Orianna added wild-eyed terror to her expression. “I don’t know where he is.”
“No matter. Once I’m done with you, he’ll find me.”
She glared at him, two seconds away from putting him out of his misery when his hand shifted from her throat to her jaw. Orianna saw stars momentarily when her not-so-thick skull high-fived the brick at her back. The move rang her bell enough to have her losing her edge, her brain rattling inside her head, white lights flashing behind her eyes.
“Bet you’ll be nice and sweet, huh?” He leaned in, sniffed her.
Could he be anymore cliché?
“Fuck you,” she snapped.
His laugh reminded her of a hyena. “Got some backbone in there, do you? I look forward to beating it out of you. But first, perhaps we’ll have a little fun.”
When he shoved his hand between her legs, Orianna’s muscles tensed, her weight shifting to her heels, arms bracing to send him flying but before she could, he jerked away, stumbling in his cheap ass loafers as though pulled by some invisible force.
From deep within the alley, a man appeared, his larger than life body stepping into the halo of light cast by the streetlamp. He walked with the grace of a jungle predator and the menace of death. She couldn’t see his eyes because they were shielded by dark shades, but she knew he was focused on her attacker.
“You better back off, man,” the gun-wielding asshole warned. “I won’t hesitate to shoot you in the face.”
“Too late.” The stranger’s deep baritone echoed through the alley. “You already hesitated.”
Orianna considered her options. Flee the scene and risk losing the best opportunity she’d had in months of finding her sister or wait it out. She opted for the latter, continuing with the terrified routine even as she admired the beast of a man who had seemingly come to her rescue. He was massive, his shoulders so broad, she wasn’t sure he was real. But to be fair, she was most impressed by the mohawk. There was something innately sexy about a man who could rock it the way this guy did.
“Last chance,” the asshole warned.
Her attention was divided between the two men until the midnight-haired stranger’s head canted slightly, as though he was looking her way. Something happened in that moment. Orianna felt it deep inside her. A connection, perhaps. She had never seen this man before, but there was something strangely familiar about him. As though she’d met him in a previous life or something.
Orianna flinched when a shot rang out. She was still staring at the newcomer when the bullet slammed into him, the force sending his shoulder lurching back. He staggered but didn’t go down, white teeth flashing as he turned his attention to the asshole with the gun. Her breath lodged in her throat.
Were those … fangs?
“I warned you,” the gun-toter screamed, his voice quivering. “Back off or you’ll get another!”
Everything happened so fast after that.
The next things she knew, the big man was behind her attacker, the asshole’s head bobbing before there was a hideous snap and his lifeless limbs were falling to the ground, limp and … dead.
Later Orianna would be worried that her disappointed sigh likely wasn’t the appropriate response to seeing someone killed only a few feet away. For the time being, she would have to deal with the fact she would not be getting answers from this one.
Now that the dead guy was no longer a threat, her full attention went to the man standing just a few feet away. He was even bigger than she’d thought, clocking in a good foot taller than she was. Not sure what he wanted from her, Orianna kept with the frightened woman routine, locking her stare on his face. It would’ve been smart to take off, but her feet were rooted in place, palms flat against the scratchy bricks.
“Are you okay?” she asked, noticing the slight hitch in her words. Okay, so maybe she wasn’t as unaffected as she pretended. But it had nothing to do with the dead asshole and everything to do with the fact this man had been shot and he was acting as though it wasn’t a BFD.
His head lifted, attention on her once again.
Orianna couldn’t seem to move, but he wasn’t having the same problem. Before she knew it, he was only a breath away, his big body surrounding her. There was a strange detachment, as though she was watching this happen to someone else as he lifted his hand. His fingers were gentle where they swept over her temple, then around to the back of her head. Orianna flinched, pain blooming. When he pulled his fingers away, she realized there was blood. Likely from her little head butt with the wall.
He hissed softly, as though the sight of her blood bothered him.
“Go,” he growled, his voice a dark rumble. “Run far and fast.”
This time her feet got with the program. She palmed the brick, moving sideways along the wall, keeping her eyes on him. Regret shot through her when she peered down at the dead asshole one more time. She’d wanted to question him, but now she needed to get gone or risk the police taking her into custody. Didn’t matter that she was a witness, she had no desire to mix it up with the cops.
When she reached the end of the alley, Orianna peered back once more. The enormous man with the sexy mohawk was still standing there, head turned, following her every move.
She could feel his eyes on her even when she finally turned and fled.
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