- Author: Roslyn Hardy Holcomb
- Genre:Multicultural, Fantasy & Paranormal
- Cover Artist: Valerie Tibbs
When Ryannon shows up on Gabriel’s doorstep claiming that he is an archangel with the power to trigger the Apocalypse and that he’s in danger from an End of Days cult, he thinks she’s crazy -- crazy hot -- but still crazy. Despite being a trumpet player named Gabriel, the life he’s led has been anything but angelic. But with the cult already in hot pursuit, he has no choice but to accept it for now. He and Ryannon must go on the run to save themselves and dozens of others from the cult leader’s diabolical schemes.
Even the desperate circumstances are not enough to dampen the fiery lust that pulls them together. Gabriel knows that Ryannon is the one for him, but he’s a player and always has been, and Ryannon has no intention of being just another woman in his bed. Will they survive long enough to develop trust, find love, and somehow avoid inadvertently setting off the Apocalypse?
- Note:This book contains explicit sexual content and graphic language.
“Oh no. They’ve already gotten to you,” she said in a low, raspy voice so arousing that he actually gasped in response. He was so focused on his cock that it took him another moment to realize what she’d said.
Great, the most gorgeous woman he’d seen in a long time was either crazy, or somehow affiliated with muggers. Neither option boded well for them. “They who?” he asked, not bothering to move her hand from his face. It felt good, soothing and stimulating at the same time.
“The Redeemers. I knew they’d come for you.”
“Who are they? A gang or something?” Gabriel frowned. He was familiar with most of the gangs and assorted lowlifes that peopled his less-than-optimal neighborhood, and he’d never heard of the Redeemers. He sighed when she stepped back, finally taking her hand away. He had an almost irrepressible urge to grab it and put it back against his face.
“Look, can I come inside? This is hardly a conversation I want to have in a hallway.”
Gabriel shrugged and stepped away from the door. Even in his current battered state, he was pretty sure he could take on one undersized girl. He looked up and down the hallway of what even the most charitably minded could only call a tenement building before he gestured her into the apartment. Still holding the gun in one hand, he closed the door with the other, then leaned against it.
“Sorry I can’t offer you anything to eat or drink. I’ve been working quite a bit and haven’t been to the market in forever.” The girl licked her lips nervously and nodded her head as Gabriel continued. “You might want to start off by telling me who you are and who the hell these Redeemers are and most importantly what the hell any of this has to do with me.”
“Of course. Of course. I’m Ryannon, Ryannon Brooks. I have a place over in Little Five Points. I read tarot. Tell fortunes. That kind of thing.”
Gabriel raised a hand to his head where the pain had suddenly intensified. “Please don’t tell me you’re a psychic or some bullshit like that.”
“No. No. Gabriel. I’m not a psychic, I’m a knower.”
“What the fuck is a... Wait. How did you know my name?”
She raised her hands, which caused the armload of bracelets she wore to jingle attractively. “Could we sit down? You don’t look so good, and...”
Gabriel gestured toward his battered sofa while he sat down in one of the mismatched chairs that flanked it. After ensuring the safety was engaged, he carefully placed the gun on the coffee table.
She nodded at the gun. “I’m glad you’ve got that. They’ll be back.”
“They who? Could you please tell me what you’re talking about?”
“The Redeemers are a cult.”
“You mean of the grape Kool-Aid, purple Nike variety?”
“I probably wouldn’t put it that way, but yeah, they’re a cult,” she said.
“And this pertains to me how?”
Ryannon leaned back on the sofa and crossed her legs, bringing Gabriel’s attention, which had been focused on the gamine beauty of her face, to her legs, and then he found he couldn’t look away. For such a tiny thing, her legs were surprisingly long and shapely, and set off by denim capris and wedge-heeled sandals, they all but made his mouth water. The light cotton blouse she wore over the capris was belted, emphasizing a tiny waist and small breasts.
“I suppose you could call the Redeemers a doomsday or End of Days cult. Their name is The Church of Jesus Christ With Redemption to Come.”
Gabriel sighed. “Ryannon, as much as I’m enjoying this conversation, not to mention the opportunity to check you out, I had a less than stellar night last night, and I had really looked forward to spending my day in bed making love to my ice pack. Now unless you want to take its place, could we please just get to the point?”
“They think you’re an apocalyptic trigger.”
Gabriel closed his eyes. No way in hell did he want to hear the rest of this bizarre story. She was batshit crazy, but also crazy-hot. He sighed. Why was that always the way? The hotter they were, the crazier they were. After a moment, he opened his eyes again. It wouldn’t be the first time his cock got him into trouble. If worse came to worst, he could always duct-tape her mouth.
“Do I want to know what the hell an apocalyptic trigger is?”
“They think you will signal the End of Days.”
Gabriel laid his head back on his chair. “See, you name a trumpet player Gabriel, and folks get all kinds of crazy ideas.”
“They want you to bring on the final battle of Armageddon.”
He couldn’t help but laugh. “So my mom is right. I am the Antichrist.”
Ryannon gave him an annoyed look. “I’m not even going to think about why your own mother would call you that,” she said with a wry twist of her lips. “There is no such thing as an Antichrist. At least not in the way most people mean it.”
“And how would you know that? Oh yeah, that’s right, you’re a seer or a knower or some such shit. If I hadn’t had a headache before, I sure as hell would have one now. I have absolutely no idea what you’re talking about.”
“It’s a very long story. Bottom line is, they think you can bring on the Apocalypse.”
“And they’re trying to kill me before I can do it?” Gabriel asked, rubbing the large knot on the back of his head.
Ryannon shook her head, looking at him as though he was a bit slow-witted. “No. They want you to bring it on.”
After closing his eyes for a moment, Gabriel brought his hand around from the back of his head to pinch the bridge of his nose. “I know I’ve smoked some bad shit in my day, but I could’ve sworn I was clean last night.”
“It’s not something you smoked. They’re an End of Days cult. Their leader, Hezekiah, has told them that the time has come.”
“So why do they need me, and what gave them the idea that I could do this?”
“You?” Suddenly he’d had enough. He could only tolerate so much of the crazy, even in pursuit of pussy. He rose swiftly to his feet, though he immediately regretted it. The room seemed to sway for a moment before he regained his equilibrium. “All right, that’s it. You’ve got to go.”
Ryannon stood up as well, a look of concern clouding her pretty features. “I’m sorry, Gabriel. I know this all sounds nutty, but you’ve got to listen to me. You’re in a lot of danger.”
Gabriel grabbed her arm in an attempt to hustle her out of his apartment. “Damn right I’m in danger. My head is liable to fall off if I listen to any more of this bullshit.” Ryannon was surprisingly strong and difficult to move for a woman her size. Of course, she didn’t have a bitch of a headache like he did. After several unsuccessful attempts to move her to the door, he finally stropped trying and slumped back into his seat. “You’ve got fifteen minutes, lady, to convince me. Then you’re out of here, and I get to go back to bed.”
She nodded and returned to her seat.
“Okay, it’s complicated.”
“No shit. Just tell in me in simple language what the fuck is going on.”
“You’re sort of like an angel.”
Gabriel grabbed his head with both hands, immediately regretting that he hadn’t followed through with putting her out of his house. “Like an angel? How the hell can you be like an angel?”
“You’ve got to stop asking questions and let me tell you,” Ryannon said in an irritated tone. Then she embarked on a tale that made Gabriel wish he had a whole bag of seriously good shit.
“The Redeemers believe the End of Days is imminent, but they need the trigger to bring it about.”
“How?” Gabriel began, but she interrupted to rush on.
“Back when I was a kid and too stupid to know better, I told them about the existence of triggers. Angels really.”
Gabriel couldn’t believe he was participating in this conversation. “I can assure you I’m no angel. My own mother calls me demon spawn, and she should know. I even have sex.” He leered at her suggestively.
“I said you were an angel, not a saint.”
“Yeah, but I’ve done some pretty freaky shit. Surely that disqualifies me from angeldom?” If he’d hoped to surprise her, he was disappointed. She didn’t bat a lash.
“God’s been around for a while. I’d imagine it takes a lot to surprise him,” she said with a shrug.
“Okay, if I’m an angel, why don’t I have any wings?” Might as well go along with the crazy. Besides a little logic could hardly make the situation worse.
“You do. Have you ever tried to use your wings?”
“Seeing as how I’m not psychotic, or at least I wasn’t before I opened the door to you, it never occurred to me that I might have wings.”
She sighed, the breath streaming out heavily through her nose. “Okay. Focus, concentrate on your wings. If you want them, they’ll appear,” she said with exaggerated patience.
Gabriel stared at her for a long moment. As if this day couldn’t get any crazier, now he had wings? She just stared back, obviously waiting for him to do...something. Clearly she was nuts, and apparently he was too, because he found himself focusing on wings as though it were the most normal thing in the world. Besides, once he finished this little experiment, he was getting her out of his house even if he had to call for backup. He closed his eyes so he could concentrate, and suddenly they were there. He felt them before he saw them, but he opened his eyes, and they were there. Nothing at all like what he’d expected. They weren’t big and feathery like a bird’s wing; instead they shimmered in a way that was almost ephemeral.
Gabriel rose to his feet, looking from one wing to the other. “What the hell?”
Ryannon looked up at him, her hands clasped in delight. “Oh Gabriel, they’re beautiful.”
“They’re wings.” Gabriel struggled to get the words out.
She frowned. “Of course they’re wings. What were you expecting?”
Gabriel stared down at her in disbelief. “Look, woman, you came to my house and told me I’m an angel. Did you really expect me to believe it?”
“Why -- look, just tell me the rest of the story,” Gabriel said. He couldn’t take his eyes off the wings, which extended nearly a foot beyond each of his shoulders and descended elegantly down to his feet. They looked somewhat incongruous with his destroyed jeans, not to mention his bare feet and chest. He felt that he should be wearing a long, flowing snow-white robe of some sort. “Do I get a flaming sword?”
“Well, I got wings, I figured that maybe --”
“Wrong angel. That’s Michael. You’re Gabriel, the bringer of good tidings.”
“Okay,” Gabriel said as though that made perfectly good sense. “Go on with the story.”
“Hezekiah has been predicting the end of the world for years, back before I was even born, but he’s never given a date until now. Last year, he started saying it would happen this year. And after all this time, he finally gave a date.”
“Wait a minute,” Gabriel said, barely taking his eyes off his wings. “How do you know so much about these Redeemers? Are you one?”
Ryannon shook her head. “No. My parents were, but they left when I was still a kid.”
“Why? I mean, other than the obvious.”
Ryannon’s chest rose slightly as she took a deep breath followed by a heavy sigh. “I’ve known things all my life. Hezekiah would preach these long sermons about Gabriel and his trumpet and meeting him in the air. One day, I just knew that wasn’t the way it was going to be and said so.”
She had his undivided attention now. “That probably wasn’t very smart. What did he do?” Gabriel said.
“Told my folks I was a witch and tried to burn me alive.”
Copyright © Roslyn Hardy Holcomb