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Death's Angel (After Dark Book 5) by Sarah Bailey (1)

Chapter One

 

Alice wanted everything to stop for just one damn minute. How could she have been fooled by him for so long? I’m such an idiot! Honestly, why did I ever believe he wanted a future with me? She picked up a mug from the table, launching it at his head.

“I hate you. I hate you!”

Jason ducked, narrowly avoiding it. It crashed into the wall before shattering on impact with the floor. I wish it had hit him. No less than he deserves.

“Calm down.”

He put his hands up.

“Don’t you dare tell me to calm down! You’re an arsehole. How could you? Three years. I’ve wasted three fucking years on you.”

He didn’t look remotely ashamed of his shitty behaviour. I want to throw him out a window.

“Come on, Alice, you know I care about you.”

“Care about me? Don’t make me laugh. If you cared so much about me, why have you been fucking other women behind my back?”

He flinched.

“They meant nothing to me.”

“That’s not an excuse. In fact, that’s the worst excuse under the sun.”

“Well, you’re not exactly the easiest person to deal with.”

Is he trying to make this my fault?

She stomped over to him, slapping his face, hard.

Shit, that’s satisfying.

“Don’t you dare try to turn this around on me. I didn’t cheat on you.”

He held his face, staring at her with shock.

“Alice…”

“No, Jason. I’m done. We’re over.”

She strode away. There was no way she was standing around arguing with him. He clearly had no remorse or shame. It was time she did what she should’ve done months ago.

“Where are you going?”

“Anywhere that’s away from you.”

She stormed into their bedroom, throwing clothes into an overnight bag. He followed her.

“Please, you can’t just leave.”

She ignored him, ripping her phone charger from the wall and tossing her makeup along with a hairbrush into the bag. She went into the en-suite, collecting her toiletries.

Just enough to get me through the next few days until I can work out what to do.

“Alice, don’t do this.”

She pushed past him back into the living room. She turned as she opened the front door to the flat.

“Fuck you, Jason. Don’t try contact me again. We’re done. Over. Finished. You can burn in fucking hell for all I care.”

She slammed the door behind her, ignoring the pained expression on his face. He didn’t get to make her feel bad for leaving. He was the one in the wrong. He’d cheated, not her. How did I not see this coming? He’d never been the best boyfriend, but she never imagined he’d go so far as to sleep with other people. She should’ve known. He’d been distant for months.

When she was outside the building, she faltered. Where was she going to go? She started walking. She would come up with something. She could stay in a hotel for the night. Strolling through Wandsworth Common, which was close to the flat, she sighed. The moon was high in the sky, but with all the light pollution, it was hard to see the stars. She’d only moved here to be with Jason and didn’t know many people in London. Her best friend, Chris, moved to Edinburgh a few years ago and she rarely got a chance to see him. She supposed she should text him to let him know about her breakup, but she was too embarrassed. Chris never approved of Jason. He was going to say, ‘I told you so’. She couldn’t deal with that.

She spied a bench up ahead. Walking towards it, she sat down, placing her overnight bag next to her. She’d have to go home to get her stuff when she worked out what to do, but right now, she didn’t want to see Jason. I never want to see his stupid face again. I meant what I said. He can burn in hell.

She looked to her right. There was a man sitting on the other side of the bench. She hadn’t noticed him there before. His face was turned up to the sky. He had dark auburn hair, neatly styled, short at the sides and longer on top. His navy suit was immaculate.

He lowered his face and turned to her very slowly. He had bright green eyes. She knew she shouldn’t be staring at him, but he was the most beautiful man she’d ever seen. She felt quite plain by comparison. She nudged her glasses up her face a little and blinked.

He has to be an angel. No normal man could look as stunning as him.

“You can see me?” he asked, startling her.

He was talking to her. To her. Plain Alice. She looked around, but the two of them were alone.

Why is he talking to me?

“Yes,” she squeaked.

“That shouldn’t be possible.” His eyes narrowed. “What are you?”

What kind of question is that?

“Um… I’m just a girl. Why, what are you?”

He sneered. It marred his perfect face a little but didn’t make him any less attractive.

“Don’t you know?”

“No. Should I?”

“What is your name, girl?”

“Alice.”

This was quite possibly the weirdest exchange she’d ever had with a stranger. I’m not sure I should stick around to find out what this is about.

“And what are you doing out here alone?”

“Um… Well, taking a walk I guess.”

What was with this guy?

“What is with me is you’re disturbing my peace and quiet.”

She blinked. She hadn’t said that out loud.

I know I didn’t. Who is he?

Honestly, you humans think far too loudly sometimes.”

“What… how did you…?”

“You really don’t know.” He frowned. “Do you believe in Heaven?”

That was a weird question. Why would a stranger ask her about her personal beliefs?

“Well, I don’t know. I mean it all seems a little bit far-fetched.”

He shook his head, rolling his eyes.

“Well, if that’s the case, you wouldn’t believe me if I told you the truth.”

“Try me.”

She wanted to know what kind of ridiculous story he was going to concoct to explain why he’d heard what she’d thought.

“I am an Archangel. My name is Azrael.”

This guy was certifiably crazy. An Archangel? She scoffed.

“Right…. That sounds entirely plausible.”

“I knew you wouldn’t believe me. Humans, tsk, all the same.”

“If you’re really an angel, why don’t you have any wings?”

“I don’t wish to bore you with all the reasons why it is a bad idea to have them on show.”

She shook her head. Why was she even talking to him? She should be going to get a hotel room. Yet something stopped her. She wanted to know if he was telling the truth or not.

“Well, how do you expect me to believe you then?”

He sat there for a moment, pursing his lips. He stood up, straightening his jacket. He was very tall. He looked down at her with those dazzling green eyes. The intensity of his gaze pinned her to her seat. Does he not have an off switch?

“Humour me for one moment.”

He cracked his neck, putting his arms out. Behind him, the air shimmered slightly before a huge pair of brilliant white wings unfurled from his back. It was quite possibly the most insane thing she’d ever seen.

“Holy shit,” she breathed.

She blinked rapidly. She wasn’t hallucinating, was she?

No. Those are most definitely wings.

“Yes, Alice. They are wings.”

And he can hear my thoughts.

His lip quirked up at one side.

“Not all of them. Only the ones you’re broadcasting too loudly.”

“What is that supposed to mean?”

“It means I can hear you when you’re thinking about me.”

Then he must know what I was thinking when I first saw him.

“Yes, I’m well aware of your initial impressions.”

She felt her face burning. Just because she thought he was drop-dead gorgeous, didn’t mean she liked him. He seemed incredibly arrogant.

She couldn’t deny what she was seeing. Azrael was an angel. She suddenly felt very small and insignificant.

Angels are real. What? How? I’m not crazy. He has wings and is the most stunning man I’ve ever seen. I don’t have any other explanation.

“I think I believe you now.”

He shook his head. A moment later, his wings disappeared. He sat down, staring at her face intently.

“Why do I detect a hint of sadness about you?”

She blinked, taken aback by his question.

“My boyfriend cheated on me.”

The words came tumbling out against her will. She couldn’t hold back. Something about Azrael made it impossible to say anything but the truth.

Could this night get any worse? I mean seriously, Jason cheats on me and then I can’t keep my mouth shut around this… angel.

“And you decided to take a walk?”

“No, I stormed out of our flat and then realised I had nowhere to go.”

He watched her for a moment before he stood again. He put his hand out to her. She looked at it, frowning.

“You are in need of a drink. Drowning your sorrows is something humans do, is it not?”

“Well, I should really be finding a hotel…”

“Do you really have the audacity to turn down an angel?”

“Turn down… You’re not propositioning me, are you?”

He looked incredulous. His green eyes blazed for a moment.

“You mortals are so fixated on pleasures of the flesh. I am not attempting to lure you into bed by plying you with alcohol. Even if I wanted to do such a thing, I wouldn’t need to engage in lowly mortal tactics, I assure you.”

What did he mean he wouldn’t have to engage in such tactics? Do women just fall at his feet? Well, if that’s what he expects from me, he’s got another thing coming.

Azrael raised his eyebrow. She flushed again. She wasn’t sure why he wanted to have a drink with her, but she put her hand in his. He had the softest skin. Her fingers tingled. He tugged her to her feet.

“How am I meant to know why you’d want to take me for a drink?”

“I was merely being polite.”

“Right.”

Polite my arse. He wants something from me. I’m sure of it.

She knew he’d heard her, but she was glad he chose not to comment. He leant past her, picking up her bag and slinging it over one of his shoulders.

“I do thoroughly detest your human transportation contraptions.”

Without warning, he tugged her into his arms before his wings unfurled again. She gasped, clutching him. They shot into the air. He held her close, soaring higher.

“Holy shit… won’t… won’t someone see us?” she called over the rushing sound of the wind.

“No. I am an angel. Disguising our presence is simple.”

She wrapped her arms around his neck.

“Don’t worry, I’ve got you.”

He might have a hold of her, but it didn’t make the experience any less terrifying. She looked past his shoulder. She could see the lights twinkling below them. London looked pretty from this height. He banked to the right, she clutched him tighter, closing her eyes. Was this actually her life right now? Only half an hour ago she’d been shouting at Jason and now she was flying over London in the arms of an Archangel, who apparently wanted to take her for a drink. This is actually mental. The wind rushed around her ears. She could only be glad of her short, brown hair. If it was any longer, it’d be flying in her face.

She felt them descending and opened her eyes again. The ground was rushing towards them at an alarming pace. She tried not to yelp, but he set them down lightly. She shook all over and wasn’t quite sure she’d be able to stand up on her own. How does he make that look so easy? My legs feel like jelly.

“You can let go now,” he said.

“I know,” she whispered.

He stood patiently for a minute before he pried her arms off and set her on the ground. There was a sneer on his perfect face. She ignored it. He should’ve asked before he flew off with her.

“Come along.”

He started walking up the dark street. She had to walk fast to keep up with him.

His legs are ridiculously long. In fact, he’s ridiculously tall, ridiculously arrogant and ridiculously perfect.

She spied a slight upturn of his lips. She flushed. He could hear her when she thought about him. Cursing under her breath, she turned away. He stopped abruptly and she almost barrelled into him.

They were outside some steps leading down to a bar. The red neon sign read ‘Fright Night’. She’d never heard of it before, but she didn’t really know London very well. Two people were making their way up the steps. One of them looked up at them, their eyes widening. Azrael appeared markedly put out.

“I was hoping to avoid this,” he muttered.

“You’re… You’re…” the man said, pointing at Azrael.

“Yes, yes, come here.”

The man came up the stairs and stared up at him. The woman with him was frowning heavily.

“What are you doing, Frank?” she hissed.

“Can’t you see? It’s an angel,” Frank replied.

“Who, that girl?”

“No. Him.”

Frank pointed to Azrael again. The angel rolled his eyes, shaking his head.

“Mortals,” he said to Alice before turning back to the man.

He leant down, whispering something in his ear before he kissed the top of the man’s head. Alice had absolutely no idea what was going on. Azrael stepped back. The man stared up at him in wonder. She looked at the angel. There was a seemingly ethereal light encasing him for a moment before it disappeared.

Holy shit, what was that?

“Thank you,” he said.

“He won’t be thanking me in a moment,” Azrael said to her.

“Frank, I don’t know what’s gotten into you. I knew we shouldn’t have come to this bar. It’s full of weirdos,” the woman said, tugging on Frank’s arm.

“Oh, Julie, I wish you could see him. He’s magnificent.”

Azrael rolled his eyes again.

Does he have people swooning over him on a regular basis?

“No, just the ones who are about to meet their maker.”

“What?” Alice asked, startled.

She watched the woman pulling Frank down the street. He seemed to be unable to drag his eyes away from the angel.

“Frank! Come along!”

“She’s about to have a rude awakening,” Azrael said.

Alice tugged on his sleeve. He hadn’t answered her question. She didn’t know why Frank could see him but not the woman he was with.

“What is going on?”

He frowned, brushing her hand away.

“Did I not explain to you who I am?”

“Yes, an Archangel.”

“Does the name Azrael really mean nothing to you?”

“No… Should it?”

He stared at her for a full minute without speaking. She fidgeted under his intense gaze. Having the full attention of an angel was rather disconcerting.

Does he really have to stare at me like that? Does he have any idea how unnerving it is? No, actually probably not. He doesn’t seem to care about anything other than himself.

“I am the Angel of Death. At least, that’s what you mortals like to think of me as.”