He is her special angel . . . bless her heart. Wet Work, available free this week from Little Red Hen Romance:
Rosie woke up on a bed with a sombrero-shaped headboard. “Ay carimba.”
“You.” Matthias, the angel she remembered from her first night as a witch, was pacing over her. “It just had to be you.”
She sat up, all her joints still aching from the cold outside. “You recognize me?” The television was on, and a show about a pawn shop was playing—a weird choice for an angel.
“Of course I recognize you.” He was wearing the floppy overcoat she remembered, and his face was exactly the same. “I told you to be good.” A pair of men’s pants with the belt still attached was draped over the chair, and a pair of workboots with the socks stuffed inside was lined up in front of it. “I commanded you to stop using magic for good.”
“You commanded me?” She stood up, but he was still a head taller than she was. “I’ve got to pee.” If she could get out the bathroom window without him hearing, she’d at least have a head start.
“I wouldn’t if I were you.”
She opened the bathroom door and saw a naked dead man lying half in and half out of the tub. “Holy shit!”
“Be nice,” the angel said as she slammed the door. “In his condition, you’d look just as bad.” The corner of his mouth quirked. “Well, maybe not quite.”
“Yeah.” He sounded the way she remembered him, too, dry and sarcastic. “That’s how I knew he wouldn’t get in the way.”
“You knew he was dead?” Suddenly the TV was creeping her out, and she grabbed the remote and switched it off. “How?”
“I’ve got connections.” As if on cue, there was a knock at the door, then another angel in another floppy overcoat walked straight through it without bothering to open it.
“Are you decent?” He was bulkier than Matthias with a full beard and mustache. “Well damn.” He grinned at Rosie. “Hello there.”
“Your guy’s in the tub,” Matthias said.
“You don’t say,” the other one said. “They are looking everywhere for you, by the way.” He grinned again. “Israel is so pissed.”
“He’s got the rest of eternity to get over it,” Matthias said. “You think maybe you could move this along? We could use a little privacy.”
“I’ll bet.” He was looking at Rosie again. “Should I plan to come back?”
“I’ll let you know.” Matthias was looking at her, too, but he wasn’t smiling. “I haven’t decided yet.”
“Don’t take too long. He’ll break the shield eventually.” He opened the bathroom door. “Hey buddy. How’s it hanging?” He went in, closing the door behind him, and she heard a muffled conversation. A few seconds later, the door opened, and the dead man and the angel came out. The man was now wearing boxer shorts and a tee-shirt. His color was better; in fact, he seemed to be glowing with health.
“Can I grab my pants?” he asked. He didn’t seem to notice Rosie or Matthias.
“Sure thing, bud,” the other angel said. “Whatever helps. But hustle, you’ve got an appointment.” The man seemed to pick up the pants and put them on, but they were still draped over the chair, too. The other angel gave Matthias a little salute then took his charge by the arm and led him straight through the door.
Rosie looked back in the bathroom. The corpse was still there. “So that was the angel of death?”
“One of them, yeah.” Matthias was lighting a cigarette with an old-fashioned silver lighter.
“So if he comes back, he’ll be coming after me.” He took a long drag and held it like he hadn’t had one in a while. “Because you’re going to kill me.”
He let out the smoke in a cloud. “That would be the protocol. From what I see, I should have done it the first time we met.”
“I’m glad you didn’t.” She knew a lot more now about the standard interaction between angels and witches than she had then, so much that fear dribbled down her spine like ice water. But she was sure she felt an attraction that wasn’t just her, an electricity between them dancing on her skin. The markings from her magic that looked like tattoos were tingling, reacting to his presence. If she could harness that energy and use it, she might still get out of this alive.
“Look at you,” he said, stubbing out the cigarette half-smoked. “You’re covered in Nephilim markings now. You must have done hundreds of spells.”
“Thousands, actually.” There was a spell she had learned but never used, ancient and dangerous. In her mind now, she recited the incantation.
“Black magic,” he said.
“Pretty black.” She’d spent less than an hour with him the night they’d met, and she’d been a scared, freaked out kid in the middle of a crisis. But she had never forgotten a single detail about the way he had looked or sounded. She’d never fallen in love with another human because no human could ever measure up.
“Lovely.” His scowl reminded her of how he’d looked standing over her mother and her stepfather’s bed, making her mom see the truth.
“Would it help if I said I was sorry?” She barely knew what she was saying; her mind was focused almost completely on the spell. But there was one word she had to speak aloud to make it work. “Would it help, Matthias?”
She felt the magic unfurling from her like petals, curling like tendrils of vapor, binding her to him like chains. He was walking around her, studying the markings. He touched her back with one fingertip, and she gasped. The spell was working on her, too. “How long have you had the wings?” he asked.
“Not long.” She had noticed the wing-shaped markings only the day before. She had stepped out of the shower in front of a full-length mirror in another fleabag motel, and there they were. They extended from the tops of her shoulders to the backs of her knees, and they’d shown up sometime after she’d taken possession of the artifact in her pocket now. “Are they special?” She trembled as he traced a line down her back.
“Like you don’t know.” He grabbed her by the shoulders and spun her around. “Nephilim,” he snarled, shoving her back against the wall.
“I don’t know anything,” she protested. “You didn’t tell me—“
“Do you think this is smart, Rosie?” His saying her name was as potent as her spell; her knees went weak. “Putting a love spell on an angel?” His face was so close to hers, she could feel his breath, and the fury in his eyes made her shiver. “We live forever, you know.”
“And we have all the same emotions as you and almost unlimited power.” He bent his head, his lips barely brushing her jaw as he spoke, and goose flesh broke out all over her. “And I am deeply, profoundly pissed.” His voice was almost a growl. “Does that sound like the perfect boyfriend?”
She looked up into his eyes. “Honestly?”
“Damn it, Rosie.”