One surviving hijacker is charged
Alliance I-Marshal Weber hauls Yadira to her home planet and infiltrates the human-trafficking ring controlling her. But he finds himself unbearably attracted to his witness. A gift for detecting deception reveals she’s the next victim of a criminal industry.
Descending into shadowy worlds of slavery, Yadira endures a dark angel stalking her dreams and watches the quiet I-Marshal become dangerous in her defense. Everything about him moves her…except the memory of seeing him execute the most important man in her life. Shouldn’t she take vengeance? Delusions of a heavenly guardian affect her mind.
Slavers and demons plan to snatch Yadira from Weber’s custody while he is uncovering connections, and he won’t hesitate to execute the guilty surrounding her. Who but a son of fire can save her from fiends harboring hardcore fantasies of harming her?
I hope you enjoy Vigilant.
[This excerpt is PG-13-rated. The story is R-rated.]
Yadira awakened to shadows and light in conflict. The wall that had been against the bed on her side was now farther away, doubling the room’s size. Where there’d been none before, a window was mounted within the logs, stretched wide by the hard lunar beams of Draconis’s moons forcing their way into the room like swords ripping the night. Some of the beams reached all the way to and crossed the bed, eerily lighting the entire room.
It was a dream, a surety given away by the wall’s displacement, but she felt awake and lucid. It felt a little different from an average dream, more physical. Cognizant of the absence of the heavy EM jacket, she felt the bed below her, the cop’s handcuff on her wrist. She turned to see him asleep beside her in the big bed, but felt no imperative to awaken him.
Her sight adjusted to the painful brightness at the window, and she saw the silhouette of a person standing within the shield of light. A male outline, his great height, his broad shoulders, a quiet presence backlit by blades of moonlight. Was it J visiting her a last time before passing through death?
Squinting for detail, she made out collar-length, wind-blown hair curled around the visitor’s neck and grazing his shoulders, contradicting J’s severe cut. From his place of lunar authority, the visitor didn’t make a noise, nor did he move to put any bad intentions in motion, but watched over her, his presence cast in shadow. Instead of appropriate panic, she felt peace to know someone cared for her safety now that J was gone.
Behind him, there was movement, and her eyes drew to the careful unfurling of a large and powerful pair of wings borne on his back. Her mouth hung stupidly open at the sight of such a holy thing. In the moonlight, she could make out the brilliant edges of each wing, the fiery outline of every dark feather. Against an aura of light, everything about him was dark.
He must have sensed she’d awakened. The thought of his wings preparing for his departure made her take action. She didn’t want the dream to end, so she sat up in bed.
“Don’t go,” she whispered, too low, she thought, for the angel to hear her.
But he stayed, his posture hesitant. His shimmering wings resettled upon his back, but still in a tense, ready position.
“I shouldn’t stay.” A baritone murmur, his voice resounded through the small cabin for longer than she thought natural to this world.
What could she say to keep him there? She’d never planned for a heavenly visitation like this, and all the questions she should be asking did not come to mind. It was just a dream. She looked over to the cop handcuffed and sleeping beside her to find him now gone, her wrist free of the shackle.
“Who are you?” It was the first dumb question that came to mind under pressure. “Who sent you? Why are you here? Are you supposed to be watching me?”
He remained quiet and still. She could feel his sight like physical contact.
“Don’t you have to answer my questions?”
“You’re thinking of a demon during exorcism." She heard the smile in his voice. "And he does not have to answer your questions, by the way. But he does have to answer mine. Or I’ll destroy him.”
A shiver traveled down her spine. “I don’t believe in angels or demons.”
“They believe in you.”
Should she laugh or not? Her anxieties must’ve been written on her face.
“My name is Dokiel, and I wouldn’t dream of harming you.”
She wondered what angels dreamt of doing. Her vision roved her mystery visitor’s hard-muscled, V-shaped, human-looking silhouette, his magnificent wings hugging his shoulders. She couldn’t tell if he wore clothes. What did dreams of angels mean in the human psyche? She’d never studied ancient myth and was now forced to depend on childhood stories barely remembered. Angels destroyed cities, fought heavenly wars, guarded the defenseless, delivered messages. Didn’t angels of death collect souls?
“Are you here to deliver a message?” she asked, preparing herself to learn he was the angel of death come to take her, an act of mercy since she could not live without J.
Oh, stars… Am I dying of heartache in my sleep?
Instead of answering her measly questions, the dark angel took the distance to the bed and sat beside her, his graceful wings shifting against his long torso. So close, she felt his big body shedding heat like a bonfire. It was just a dream, her imagination gone wild, wasn’t it? A last fantasy before death?
“Don’t be afraid. You are not dying.”
Moonbeams crossed the bed and the angel still remained a dark and featureless entity, his form shrouded in a shadow the light couldn’t drive away. His wings were the only feature she saw in detail, every dark feather’s combusting edge, every graceful movement.
“Why are you here, Dokiel, watching over me in my dream?”
His hand made of shadow rose to her cheek, surprising her with his caress, and she felt compelled to stay in his seemingly solid touch, no longer interested in keeping an observer’s distance. His contact nearly scorched her flesh, but in a surprisingly pleasurable way. It was like his hand awakened and excited the flesh it met. She couldn’t anticipate what he’d do next.
“I don’t know that you are not in my dream.”
His hand slipped into her hair, and he guided her to his lips. She could see his lips so close, full, moist, and inviting, but could make out no more of him.
She watched an expressive mouth whisper to her, “I’ve no message to give you. I haven’t been sent to take your soul to the clouds. My visit has no meaning, and this is an unimportant dream you’ll forget when you awaken. You’re so beautiful, the kind of beauty that compels the heavenly hosts to pause in their paths and take notice. I confess, I just really craved the experience of kissing you.”
His mouth took hers in a soft and gentle union, holy at first. Her lips tingled with the sensation. She felt instant intoxication, the intimacy sweeping her up into want of more than just his angelic kiss.
More. She’d never wanted that before. Not from any man she’d met. Could an angel do that, kiss a woman and make her want more?
His tongue slipped past her lips and stroked her mouth just enough to make her ache and incapable of rejecting his kiss. One warm hand threaded in her hair, the other caressing her shoulder sent a drumming tension through her, a kind she’d never before felt. She melted under the ecstasy of his gently passionate kiss rushing so much new pleasure through her body. He smelled of fire and life and masculine domain and heaven.
The air sizzled around them, stealing the strength from her. The kiss grew hotter still and more physical by the second, sending worse than want but hunger through her, an intensity that shut down her thought and heightened her barely suppressible reaction to him. His hand moved from her shoulder to splay against her back, and he pressed her into his hold, against a fiery body she couldn’t see and feared could consume her. The consideration of touching more of him ripped lightning strikes of rapture through her. She wanted his hands all over her.
Then the dream ended, cut off just like that. Just when she couldn’t wait to feel what an angel wanted to do with her.
She awakened to find the room unchanged, the windowless log wall up against her side of the bed, and her wrist still handcuffed to the wrist of the sleeping cop beside her. The heavy jacket weighed her down. Now her mind and body ached.
The angel’s voice, even masked in a deep-throated whisper, replayed in her head and made her think of Weber. The I-Marshal’s voice carried a distinctive depth to it most voices did not have, probably due to his size alone. No doubt this angel was her mind’s twisted personification of the law enforcement officer who had killed J before her eyes, a purification her psyche needed to cooperate with the man. Constantly reminding herself the cop had taken from her all she had wasn’t going to be a productive train of thought. Maybe she should take the hint from her unconscious mind to cooperate and get all of this over quicker.