DESTINED FIRE EXCERPT
NEPHILIM’S DESTINY: BOOK 3
Inky, malicious darkness poured down my throat, drowning me and burning into the core of my being. I fought to breathe, to resist, to do anything, but the nightmare froze my muscles and will, leaving only my helpless thoughts screaming. It was the archnephilim, suffocating me with his writhing essence— No, the hellfire prince Ibizual flooding me with his demonic magic, howling with laughter at the thought that I’d erupt into flames and burn up—
No, it was Gideon’s mating brand etched into my body, somehow twisted and evil.
Yes, it was the brand, and my soul had warped it, tainted it, because I was a nephilim, I was lying to him, and I wasn’t the woman he loved.
There had to be a toll, a price demanded by fate for what I was doing. I had denied my supernatural nature, and now I was neck-deep in the supernatural world. I couldn’t escape and couldn’t break free. Not from the power now pouring into me, or from my destiny binding me to an angel who hated nephilim. I needed to scream my frustration and fear, but the nightmare wouldn’t let me.
For a moment, my thoughts cleared, and I fought to keep calm. It was just a dream. Nothing more. But no matter how hard I thought that, I couldn’t push back the terror of being discovered, or of being truly evil. And I couldn’t just make myself wake up.
In the last few weeks, I’d had nightmares that hadn’t been nightmares, since I’d been fully awake for the horror, where both the archnephilim and Ibizual had invaded my mind. I couldn’t shake the fear that they were at it again, determined to have me, determined to possess me. Were they still alive? Had I failed in stopping them? I’d barely managed to live through facing them the first time.
They’d tried to take over my body, tried to cajole me, convince me, threaten me. I was like them. No matter how hard I wanted to believe I wasn’t, I couldn’t deny it. Good people didn’t lie. How could I even claim an ounce of goodness? I’d been lying to everyone my entire life, and dedicating my life to helping others didn’t make up for it.
They won’t understand you.
They’ll kill you.
Your mate despises you.
Yes, Gideon hated me.
My thoughts tripped over that. I might have Gideon’s brand on my arm, but he wasn’t my mate. Marcus was. I knew that in the core of my being—
Except a part of me felt that wasn’t everything. Marcus wasn’t my only mate. I was still bound to Gideon, and his rejection made my soul cry. I was also connected to Jacob, and here, in the drowning, burning horror of my nightmare, I could see his essence entwined with mine. Just like my soul sobbed over Gideon, it thrilled at Jacob, and in my heart I knew it had nothing to do with the power of his vampiric claim on me. I was bound to all three men. They were mine—
And me? What about me?
The voice was soft, sensual, and turned the inferno burning me into bone-melting desire.
Are we not also connected?
Strong hands captured my cheeks, and Kol brushed his lips against mine. A whisper of his seductive power slipped into my mouth, drawing a moan, and his face came into focus. Hellfire and need blazed in his eyes, fueling my own. I’d already had a glimpse of the ecstasy of his power, the breathtaking desire, and the promise of screaming, shattering climaxes when he’d saved my life, pouring the magic that sustained him into me.
You belong to Gideon, he said as his hands trailed down my neck.
More whispers of delicious power unfurled under my skin at his touch.
You belong to Marcus.
His palms skimmed the sides of my breasts, teasing me, making me ache with want.
You belong to Jacob.
He pressed his perfect, naked, lean-muscled body against mine, and his magic rushed through me everywhere our skin touched.
Belong to me, too.
Yes, I breathed… thought… begged.
I ached for him as much as I ached for Marcus and Gideon and Jacob. I needed his hands on me, his power engulfing me, his body inside me.
His lips captured mine, the kiss this time hungry and demanding. His magic surged down my throat like the archnephilim’s had, but instead of drowning me, it filled me with breath and life. It infused with my essence, not just entwining through it like Jacob’s. We were one, one breath, one soul, one aching desire.
I crave you, Essie. I’m tired of waiting. I don’t want to ride your climax with Marcus, I want your climax with me.
His tongue plunged into my mouth. One hand found my naked breast and kneaded it while his other slid down my stomach, ratcheting up my desire with anticipation of where it was going.
I was alight with heated, liquid bliss, his power already teasing me to the edge, then his hand on my stomach dipped lower, fingers inching closer, and—
I jerked awake, my breath fast, my body thrumming with the promise of a mind-blowing climax while my skin burned with my out-of-control buzz and my insides ached, still raw from channeling the magic to stop Ibizual.
It had only been a dream. A part of me sobbed at that, aching to fully know Kol’s touch, while another part was relieved. The archnephilim was dead and Ibizual still imprisoned. I was safe. Or as safe as I could get, being a nephilim pretending to be a human.
I stared at the lounge’s ceiling, my eyes sore and gritty from having slept with my magic contacts in, and struggled to think past my headache and buzz to get my thoughts straight. We’d just defeated Ibizual, Marcus and I had ridden the ecstasy of Jacob’s bite, and Gideon had just told me I was officially on the Joined Parliament team. I hadn’t been able to return to Marcus’s room because I didn’t have a key, so I’d gone down to the lounge and curled up on the over-stuffed leather couch.
I must have fallen asleep.
A shudder of desire swept through me. I wasn’t sure what was worse, the nightmare of being consumed by the archnephilim and Ibizual, or hot sex with Kol. Not that the sex part was a nightmare, but the idea that I was fantasizing about Kol when I was sleeping with Marcus. That wasn’t fair to him, or Marcus, or any of the guys, no matter what Marcus had said about sharing.
If I was going to be on the team, I was going to have to figure out how to not think about Kol in that way, which, given that the incubus was made for sex and I’d already had a glimpse of his heart-pounding power, was going to be a challenge.
But I had no doubt Marcus’s good will was already stretched thin. Wolves were notorious for their possessiveness, and I already had emotional connections — whether I wanted them or not — to Gideon and Jacob. Of course, it was a new day and there was a good chance Marcus now regretted his decision to be with me, that his fear for my safety would make him push me away again.
I rubbed my face and drew in a ragged breath, trying to dispel the yearning from the dream and the ache at the idea that Marcus might go back to avoiding me.
Outside, through the patio door at the back of the lounge, the sun shone bright and clear. It was going to be a beautiful day for my first day as a JP agent.
Yep, working for the agency I’d spent my life hiding from and being afraid of.
Fear seeped through the dream-Kol’s sensual magic, and I shoved it back. No matter how dangerous it was for me to be mostly powerless and fighting supernatural criminals — not to mention living with all the angels in Union City — this was where I belonged.
This was who I belonged with.
All of them.
I pushed that thought back to join my fear. Wanting all of them was the dream talking. Nothing more. I didn’t want all of them. I just wanted Marcus… didn’t I?
I refocused on the light outside. There was something I was supposed to remember… something I needed to do this morning—
Shit. The team debriefing at o’eight hundred in Gideon’s office.
I sat up so fast that my head spun and my buzz flared, the painful burning bites under my skin turning into an inferno. It joined with the pain from my raw magical channels, setting all of me on fire for an agonizing second before it calmed down. My phone, a room keycard, and a note lay on the coffee table beside me.
Have a debriefing this morning. Will make Gideon put you on the team and will meet you in your room after the meeting. Marcus.
He hadn’t changed his mind. He was still going to fight to save my job and embrace the attraction between us, even though everything was complicated. What he didn’t know was that Gideon had already offered me the position, and he didn’t have to fight for anything… well, depending on what time it was, he might be figuring all of that out right now. Of course, if that was the case, Gideon was going to be pissed at me for being late for my first meeting.
I woke up my phone. 7:45 a.m. Thank God. I wasn’t late. If I hurried, I’d be able to freshen up first. I wouldn’t be able to change out of Marcus’s T-shirt and workout shorts because I didn’t have any more changes of clean clothes at Operations, but I could at least look like I’d washed my face and combed my hair.
For a second, I contemplated running to the bathroom in the triage waiting area to freshen up. It was closer, but I really didn’t want to run into Amiah while wearing Marcus’s clothes. Without a doubt the angel would be upset that I was still around. She hadn’t wanted me anywhere near the guys, and she’d be furious to see me in my current state of dress. Better to spend the extra time to go up to my room to freshen up and not remind the team’s physician of why she hated me.
Yes, I was going to have to face her at some point, but with luck the next few days would be uneventful, and I’d be able to convince her I wasn’t a liability. As for dealing with her possible feelings for Marcus…? I had no idea. She knew Marcus and I were a thing. I’d overheard her saying to Gideon that Marcus had to give me up for the sake of the angelic mating brand. Something — if he’d well and truly decided we were a thing — his wolf would never let him do.
I hurried to the elevator, took it up to the fifth floor, and rushed into my assigned room. It looked like a hotel room, consisting of a bedroom with a small seating area and an attached bathroom, and was just as empty as a hotel room. I didn’t have anything there any more. The day before yesterday, Gideon had kicked me off the team, and I’d packed my bag to leave. Then I’d been shot — and only survived because Kol had given me some of his magic — we’d stopped Jacob’s vampire brother from releasing the hellfire prince Ibizual from his prison, and Gideon had changed his mind about me being on the team. My bag had ended up in Marcus’s suite, and since I’d gone straight to his suite after last night’s fight, my clothes — too bloody and shredded to be worn again — and shoes had ended up there.
A shiver of desire whispered through me and this time it wasn’t from the dream, but the memory of Jacob’s bite inflaming my need and Marcus taking over and bringing me to climax… a couple of times before we’d fallen asleep in his bed.
A part of me feared that what we had wouldn’t last in the face of all my other romantic complications, but God, sex with Marcus was everything I’d imagined and more.
So far the first attempt at our strange arrangement, with Jacob feeding from me because his claim was so strong he could no longer effectively feed from anyone else, and Marcus having sex with me because I couldn’t release the sensual magic of Jacob’s bite without an orgasm, had gone well. Although that could have been because we’d been exhausted from our fight.
A part of me also wondered if Jacob was really onboard with the arrangement. He knew Marcus and I were involved and that fate had bound me to Gideon. He’d told Marcus our connection wasn’t emotional, that he didn’t have romantic feelings for me, but when he’d bitten me last night, there’d been a pain in his eyes, and with my weird empathic magic that pain had manifested as a barely-there mist, revealing his sorrow.
He’d said his claim didn’t affect him like it did me, that he didn’t have to have sex with his feeding, but I’d sensed he wanted to. And a part of me, a part that I was pretty sure now wasn’t his claim, wanted him, too.
I splashed water on my face in the hope it would help me focus. I couldn’t think about my feelings right now. I had to get to my first meeting and show Gideon that he hadn’t made a mistake by keeping me on the team.
At least my reflection looked almost normal. The last handful of times I’d stared at myself in the mirror, I’d looked shocked and desperate. Now I appeared a little low on sleep, but not by much. The gash in my cheek had become a thin silvery scar, and while the ragged one from the feral vampire was now a pale pink, it still looked ugly. It probably always would. There were also still a few hints of bruises on my face, arms, and legs, since Amiah hadn’t healed me completely last night. But the bit of better-than-human healing I had because I was half angel and the added enhancement from Jacob’s claim meant I looked like I’d been in a car crash a few days ago and not last night — which I had been.
My gaze, like it always did when I looked at myself in a big mirror, jumped to the delicate gold lines of Gideon’s brand etched into my forearm. It glowed, ever so slightly, but with my buzz blazing at pre-nicotine-numbing levels, I couldn’t feel the hint of Gideon’s electric magic that I usually did.
Just the thought of Gideon made my chest ache. I really hoped accepting me on the team meant he wouldn’t be acting as coldly toward me. Just the memory of overhearing his rejection of me to Amiah, of never wanting to even know me, broke my heart. And it didn’t matter how many times I told myself that I didn’t know him and couldn’t possibly love him, it still hurt.
Maybe fighting to stay with the team had been a bad idea. Leaving would offer some emotional relief. Except I knew it wouldn’t. I’d already tried to keep my distance. After defeating the archnephilim, Marcus had let me return to my normal human life, and I’d been miserable. I couldn’t go back to that, no matter how much staying risked exposing my secret.
I combed my fingers through my long light brown hair, but since I didn’t have a hair elastic, I couldn’t pull it back into a ponytail. And I wasn’t going to think about the reaction I’d get from the team with me looking unprofessional in Marcus’s clothes, no shoes, and my hair loose and feminine. It was 7:55 a.m. and I had to get a move on if I didn’t want to be noticeably late.
Phone and keycard in hand, I rushed into the hall, tripped on a carry-on sized rolling suitcase, and slammed into a hard muscular body. We both lost our balance and crashed to the floor with me landing on top of him, the air knocked out of me — perhaps I wasn’t as healed as I’d thought I was.
I pressed my palms to his shoulders to heave myself off, but froze when I met his gaze. Summer-sky blue eyes radiating angelic light. Gideon. And there wasn’t a hint of hardness or ice in his gaze. It stole my breath and broke my heart. This was how it was supposed to be between us all the time.