Sara Winters never had reason to acknowledge the existence of Angels or Demons. Not until a rare being, half angel and half demon, rescues her from a demon attack. As an antique book dealer she has spent her adult life looking for one particular, mysterious Book, and her search has led her straight into Drake Domitaine’s arms.
Drake doesn’t have time to deal with a frail human woman but he has to protect her from the very same demons that are now planning a war on the human race.
Sara and Drake’s fated love is doomed from the start. Or is it? Can a human woman and Angel-Demon be together? It’s now a race against time to find the Book which has become an important part of pending war to save humankind. And in the end, will Sara and Drake overcome the insurmountable odds of their love continuing?
Sara knocked softly on the door to room twenty-eight of the Amenity Suite Hotel. As she waited, she glanced down the hallway in both directions. At a little past midnight, the emptiness of the halls wasn't unusual but she still felt a twinge of unease. Something was out of place. Wrong. But, what? What is making me this scared?
Knocking again, she grimaced at the loud echo. No answer. Chewing on her bottom lip for a moment, she reached out and slowly turned the doorknob. To her surprise, the door was unlocked. The dire, mental warning that something was definitely wrong started screaming louder in her head, but she resolutely ignored it. That fear had passed after the last two events involving the list of names. Still, she was more than a little cautious as she stepped into the dark room. Stretching her hand out, she located the wall light switch and flipped it. The room flooded with light.
“Mr. Franklin?” She perused the unmade bed in the center of the room, and an opened suitcase on the table next to the bed. Nothing seemed out of place, or disturbed. Something isn’t right. I can feel it. Hesitant, but determined, she advanced into the room. “Hello? Mr. Franklin? It’s Sara Winters.”
Her gaze went to the bathroom. The door was ajar and the light off so she was almost sure he wasn’t in there. Where is he? I told him I’d meet him after midnight and he promised he’d be waiting. Advancing into the middle of the room, she abruptly stopped. Suddenly, she became acutely aware of the obvious sense of utter stillness, an eerie feeling of frozen time as though the entire room was enclosed in a blanket of cold nothingness. Goosebumps rose across her bare arms, and she half expected to see her breath come out in cold puffs of air.
Her mind shouted one stark word: Death.
Death was here, just like the other two times. It had been too late to talk to either men, both dead of what had been termed as natural deaths, one with a heart attack, the other with a stroke.
David Franklin was third on the list of six men. And she had the sickening feeling he was dead too.
Someone wanted to make sure that none of the men talked. But who? And why?
She didn’t want to take the time to dwell further on it. It wasn’t safe hanging around here any longer. When she turned to leave, her gaze immediately zeroed in on the bare foot partially hidden beneath the floor length bed coverlet. She bit back a gasp as a cold shiver of dread overtook her. The rest of the body lay hidden under the bed, but she didn’t have the courage to go over there and prove it was David Franklin.
The killer might still be near. Sickening fear rushed through her in forceful waves. Without hesitation, she rushed out the door, slamming it closed behind her. Cringing, she leaned back against it and attempted to calm her racing heart.
The third time she’d faced death, didn’t make it any less frightening or sickening. Her stomach rolled with the threat of vomiting. Taking several calming breaths she then exhaled slowly. It didn’t work. She was dealing with something far more sinister than she’d anticipated, leaving her feeling hopelessly clueless and she hated feeling so vulnerable. Her special vision of sight wasn’t even working. It was hard to get a grasp on anything. I can’t give up. It wasn’t in her nature. Maybe the visions would come when she most needed them. In the past, her visions of the Book had led her to clues just at the opportune time. If she was going to solve this, she had to be strong. And patient, she added.
I need answers, but I don’t think I will find them here, now. The previous two events the killer, he or she, left no clues behind. She wasn’t a detective, but she’d spent her adult life following clues to help her obtain rare books, so she recognized the signs of a clean-up when she encountered the last two murders.
I have to get away from here. For some strange reason, the fear was stronger here than at the other two deaths. Hurrying from the room and out into the night she saw movements in every shadow. The hair on her arms rose. The uncanny feeling someone was watching her made her hurry her steps. Stopping in the parking lot of the hotel she took one last thorough look around, but saw nothing out of the ordinary, then took off running toward her car.
Oddly weak and suddenly, violently nauseated, she leaned against her car door to catch her breath. A few long minutes later her body relaxed. The after-midnight air was warm and muggy, with the threat of a summer storm hovering above the city. Sweat trickled down her neck into the ‘V’ of her silk bra. Anticipating the cold blast of air conditioning, she reached into her jeans back pocket and fished out her car key.
The only warning was the soft swish of wind overhead, and the darker-than-the-night shadow that covered her and her car. Startled, she looked up.
Drake lunged to his feet and then reached down to grasp her hands in his. He pulled her up and straight into his arms. Sara threw up her hands to brace against his wide chest and leaned back defensively. For one brief moment, the touch of his hard body felt like the icy cold hand of death. Although as soon as she touched him, warmth flooded from his body to hers and she pushed the strange thought away. Her imagination had to be on overload. There was no other explanation.
“Are you okay?” His deep voice sounded rough, harsh. In answer, she sharply raised her brows at him. He grimaced, his sensuous lips tightening into a thin slash. “I didn’t mean to be so rough. You’re a little thing despite being such a strong venetrix in other ways.”
Sara didn’t know how to respond to that. One minute his voice was hard, the next he made the word venetrix sound like an endearment. She shook her head. Nothing about this enigmatic man had yet to make much sense. Ha. Will it ever?
“I’m fine.” Another push against his chest and he released her. Carefully, she moved back several steps, ready to try and run again if the chance came. Something told her that staying near Drake Domitaine wasn’t a smart idea.
“I want answers,” she said. “Now.” A nervous glance at the sky confirmed, the predawn morning wasn’t far away and no hint of any shadows marred the clear expanse above them. “What was that…shadow? How did you know it was there before it reached us?” There were too many questions and she had to fight down another wave of fear. Putting her hands on her hips she demanded, “What is going on, Drake?”
Drake glanced at the sky too. His handsome features clouded with a dark, brooding look, almost like rage. Sara’s confusion intensified.
“I promise to explain things,” he answered, his voice sounding distracted. “Later. Right now we need to get to some place safe before morning arrives in all its blazing glory.”
He took her arm and ushered her back to the car. Sara went along, grudgingly, unable to hold her tongue. “What’s the matter, allergic to the sun?”
Drake smiled down at her, but it never reached his eyes. His bitter expression matched the tone of his voice when he answered, “Something like that.”
Letting him take the driver’s seat she buckled her seat belt, and watched him from under lowered lashes. Okay, Drake. I’ll go with you for the time being. It doesn’t look like I have much choice, but I plan to get answers to all my questions. One way or the other.
“I want to ask why ‘some place safe,’ as you’ve put it, but I know you won’t tell me,” she grumbled. “Do you at least have an idea where we are going? My father’s house is on the north side of Phoenix and we can be there in about twenty minutes.”
“Too long,” Drake muttered as he increased the speed of the car once he had maneuvered back onto the highway.
Sara sighed in frustration at his cryptic answer. “Mata Hari I’m not, Drake. All this mystery is beginning to get on my last nerve. Why was a twenty minute drive too long?”
His long silence made her think he wasn’t going to answer her. Finally he replied, his tone tense, “Your father’s house isn’t safe for the moment. Chances are that we’re being followed even though I can’t detect them right now. Leading them back to your father’s home isn’t smart. We need a quick, temporary place to hide for a few hours.”
Why? Why all this mystery? Always good at solving mysteries she had the distinct feeling this wasn’t going to be one of those times. “Any idea where that might be, especially if we’re being followed?”
She looked out the back window of the car. Phoenix was already awake even though it was still predawn and countless drivers were busy maneuvering the four-lane stretch of highway. If they were being followed, she had no idea who they were. Was it the killer? And, who exactly was that? I hate not having answers.
She returned her attention to Drake. His handsome, brooding features were drawn, tense. His hands clutched the steering wheel tight. His entire body language practically shouted danger. He was definitely a mystery she wasn’t sure she wanted to try and decipher. One secret was all she could handle at a time. It took her a few minutes of reasoning to realize that she was almost sure he wasn’t the killer who had been stalking her search from day one. Although each situation with finding the dead men had shocked her into deep fear, she still hadn’t felt that strange vibe Drake gave off. Drake scared her to death, yet kept her off balance feeling as though she knew him. None of that had been present the other times. Yet, she had a feeling the strange shadow from earlier had something to do directly with the killer. Someone didn’t want her discovering the truth about the men’s deaths. Someone—or something—not natural. What Drake had to do with it all was just as baffling.
And she had the deep-gut feeling that Drake Domitaine was just as dangerous as the unknown killer. Maybe even more so.
“Damn it all to hell,” Drake muttered under his breath. Sara felt the car’s speed increase. If he didn’t slow down, they were going to get caught for speeding. Or worse, they’d end up in an accident. Although, one look at the harshness of his features and she knew that stating the obvious right then wasn’t a smart idea. Grinding her teeth together, she kept her mouth shut.
Drake braked and swerved the car off the highway and onto a narrow road without a street sign. Her father had lived in Phoenix for years. She had seldom visited and wasn’t as familiar with the area as Drake obviously was. On either side of the paved road, tall desert scrubs and countless palm trees littered the scenery. The road itself had only one-lane, and it twisted and curved sharply every few yards. Despite the harrowing turns, Drake never slowed the car’s speed. Thank you for seat belts!
A few minutes later he turned the car around a sharp bend and a small cottage loomed directly at the end of the road. Sara didn’t notice anything out of the ordinary about the house, with its whitewashed stucco, single-level size, no garage, and its bare minimum landscaping of desert scenery.
In front of the house Drake stomped on the car brakes, bringing it to a teeth-rattling stop. He yanked the keys from the ignition and jerked open the car door. With a terse, “Get out,” he jumped from the car and headed for the front door. She reluctantly followed, not sure what to think about his unsettling behavior.
By the time she reached the door, he was inside and waiting for her. As soon as she crossed the threshold, he grabbed her arm, pulled her further into the entry hall and slammed the door behind her. Waiting for her eyes to adjust to the inner darkness she heard the unmistakable sound of dead bolts—several of them—being shoved in place. Turning around to see better, she gasped.
The locks weren’t just mere deadbolts. They were wide, solid steel bars that crisscrossed across the width of the door and bolted to both sides. She counted four. That door was barricaded like Fort Knox now.
And she was trapped inside.
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Musings from Michigan