Trust no one…except the one who walks in the dark.
Relic Defender, Book 1
Anthropology PhD candidate Lexi Harrison never bares it all when she belly dances for a strip club crowd. She doesn’t have to—she’s that good. Every performance earns money toward her degree, and restores the sense of power that her painful childhood ripped away.
Something is different about tonight. A man whose silver gaze seems to touch her skin beneath her veils. When a rowdy customer crosses the line, he comes to her rescue with the speed of a falcon—complete with wings.
Mikos Tyomni has never seen anyone dance the raqs sharqi like Lexi. Trust his tormentor, Archangel Michael, to put him in close contact with the cause of his downfall: a mortal woman. Particularly this mortal woman. The Defender. He has only thirty days to win her trust before Hell’s deadliest demons attempt the mother of all prison breaks.
No matter how sexy the messenger is, Lexi’s career plans don’t include some crazy idea that she’s the last line of defense against the forces of evil. Until her university mentor’s murder leaves her holding the key to Hell. And fighting a losing battle against a passion with the unholy power to bring down Heaven…
This title contains a dark and sexy fallen angel, bad-ass demons, a heroine with kick-assitude tossed together with mythology, archeology and a shape-shifting rock with a fondness for the gangsters of the 1920s.
Mikos Tyomni unclenched his fingers from the back of the chair leaving behind small indentations in the scarred wood. Tiny reflections of the extreme emotions flooding his system. Beatus Deus. He lifted a hand to his face, surprised to find his fingers trembling. An array of disturbing feelings fought for control. Feelings he’d thought he’d finally been able to suppress. Covetousness. Lust. Possession.
Possession of the exotic woman whose hips begged for his touch. Whose lithe, sensual movements offered bliss.
The woman on the stage, Lexi he’d heard her named, radiated a vitality that drew him to her like a magnet. Her features contained an alluring blend of Egyptian and Grecian traits. Thick dark hair hung in long graceful curves over her shoulders. Loose tendrils framed a sun-kissed face with a short, straight nose and softly rounded chin.
A diaphanous confection of emerald, garnet, gold and pearl silks whispered over full hips that tapered into long, smooth legs. The ebb and flow of the thin material offered teasing glimpses of bronzed skin and shapely calves. He had been unable to see the color of her eyes or their shape but he could imagine. Imagine the way they would darken and turn moist with desire as she moved her hips under his.
Hell’s gate, the way she moved. Seductive, with unconscious grace and delicacy, a golden lioness stalking her prey. Over the centuries, he’d seen many beautiful women dance the raqs sharqi. But none had this Lexi’s finesse or the ability to entwine the sultry rhythms with the enchanting hip swirls and dips. Even Egypt’s most powerful seductress, Cleopatra, had never performed as evocatively as this woman had. She’d certainly never taken his breath away.
It took all the willpower Mikos commanded to stop his traitorous body from leaping onto the stage to draw Lexi against his body. To slowly pull off each delicate piece of fabric and reveal each curve and mysterious valley of the slender form hidden under the veils. To caress warm skin and explore the sleek lines of her back, her waist, her hips. Then finally, to press her body to the hard floor as he thrust into her again and again and again. His legs quivered with the effort to remain still.
Mikos sucked in a deep breath and willed his pulse to slow. He had to get his lust under control. He knew, far too well, what resulted in succumbing to the temptation of a lush body, plump, wet lips and soft, perfumed skin.
Now, despite decades of fighting the seductive pull of mortal women, Archangel Michael, his tormentor, wanted him in close contact with the most important mortal female of this time. This woman. The Defender.
Mikos growled low in his throat. Was there a better way to test the resolve of a Fallen who wanted to return to Heaven than by putting him in close contact with the motivation for his Fall? Or at least, half of his motivation for falling.
Definitely a test. Another battle to fight with his baser instincts.
Another chance to fail. The insidious thought crawled through his mind.
As the rushing blood in his veins slowed and his breathing calmed, he suddenly sensed what he hadn’t been able to before. A subtle change had come over the mortals. Desire, greed and enjoyment in sensual pleasures clashed with rage and hunger. And evil.
Mikos stiffened. As if water from the frigid north crashed over his head, the flush of passion dissipated. Another immortal was near. Like him, yet not like him. Malicious intent seethed around him, fueling the men’s lust, greed and anger. A sudden thin chill swept past him, and he swung around in the chair.
The silver-touched inner eyes slid over his regular sight. Color bleached to various shades of gray, light and dark and nuances in between. Using his new sight, he scanned the room. At the same time, he inhaled, his nostrils flaring. The presence, whatever it was, leaked the sulfuric taint of the Under Realm into the stale, smoke-heavy air. If one of the dark ones were near, he or she, boasted powerful concealment skills. Skills better than his own. Damn. Only one possibility. A High Caste demon.
His mind spun with the implication of the demon’s presence. High Caste demons did not leave the Under Realm often, but when they did, chaos and death, human death, followed. For the High demon to be present now, in close proximity, could only mean Beliel knew where to find the Defender. His jaw clenched. He’d hoped for more time to work with her before she had to deal with Beliel or one of his deadly allies.
“She is a delicious piece of mortal flesh isn’t she, my brother”? As if a mere thought of his name commanded his attention, Beliel’s dark, hell-crusted voice slithered into Mikos’ mind.
“Hiding behind a mortal, hell-spawn?” he snarled.
A guttural bark of derisive laughter, then, “Better a hell-spawn than an archangel’s slave.”
“At least I don’t have to act through another.”
A hiss sounded, the grating sound reverberating through Mikos’ skull. A brief smile of satisfaction twitched his lips. He’d made the oily bastard angry.
“You will lose,” Beliel snapped in a harsh, raw voice. “I will have the woman, and she will lead me to King Solomon’s Key.”
“Are you an Oracle now?”
“I do not need a soothsayer to tell me of my destiny. I have the pretender’s Vessel. Soon I’ll have the Key. Then I’ll take the spirits’ power as mine. Nothing can stop me. Not Lucifer, not Heaven and certainly not a cowardly traitor.”