Gideon’s Light Excerpt

(see Newsletter for cover reveal)

Unedited

Gideon swooped down on the minions, their featherless bat-like wings flitting awkwardly in every direction when they realized who they were faced with, his name a legend even among them.

With no time to escape, the minions tried to spread out, creating a semi-circle around him, but Gideon sheathed his swords, used his huge emerald and gold wings to change position, and began zapping them, palms outstretched before they could complete formation. He used the lightning to maintain an endless stream of electrical power, smiting two at a time, their bodies instantly turning to ash.

Just as he zapped the sixth minion, he sensed three more behind him, joining the fray. Too late. A sword sliced into his side, another into his back, just shy of his spine.

Pain seared through his body, the swords tinged with something he had never experienced before, piercing vital organs. Unable to stop the blood loss, he fought to breathe, each breath more painful than the last.

Reflexively, he reached back and removed the sword from his back in one swift motion, barely wincing from the added pain. Then, he turned so quickly, the minions didn’t have time to move out of his path. Their bodies were ashes in an instant.

Gideon felt his body growing weaker as he flew above the clouds. He glanced down at his side to see blood running down his hip in rivulets, and only the One God knew the condition of his back. Zion and Bastien had returned to Orlos by now. He was on his own. What the hell was I thinking? Going after nine Minions by himself was madness, particularly with scant minutes before the inter-dimensional window closed, leaving him susceptible to every human disease. The urgent need to act on some unidentified drive goaded him to near insanity. He was barely thinking at all.

Despite the pain, Gideon smiled, replaying the death of each of the nine minions at his hands. His swords were merely a distraction.

His smile waned as soon as he breached the human realm, painfully reminded his ability to regenerate would be of no use. His body would not be able to repair itself flying at this altitude, and without human sustenance, antibodies, he had no protection against disease. If the injuries and blood loss did not kill him, a common human virus would finish him off.

Gideon tried to sense a secluded place to land, but felt and heard too many heartbeats everywhere as he began to lose altitude. According to Orlosian Law, the second cardinal sin was revealing their presence to humans. Already below the clouds, he was falling fast, fear of being seen the least of his worries.

He forced his blood to evaporate as long as he had power, but his strength waned too quickly, leaving blood flowing from his body like water. His wings cut through the air behind him, useless, and despite pressing his palm against his side to cauterize the pouring wound and stop the bleeding, he began to lose consciousness. Mother…fuck!

 

#

 

“Have a good evening, Iris, and do something fun this weekend! I don’t see how you stay in this big building by yourself so long. I’d be scared out of my wits!” The middle-aged woman gave Iris a maternal smile, shaking her head as she stepped out of the glass door and moved toward her Mercedes, her tiny heels clicking across the parking lot.

Iris didn’t respond to the parting words. She barely heard them as she locked the doors and set the alarm for the museum, her mind consumed with reaching the observatory as quickly as possible. Always the first to arrive and the last to leave, she locked the front doors every night before leaving through the back.

The security guard turned and smiled at her. He was the same guard who had worked for the museum for nine years. Just like every night, he watched Iris lock the front door, checking it behind her before moving to his station at the back door of the observatory. He even asked about her family, not that she ever wanted to talk about that subject, but Iris could never seem to remember the nice man’s name, let alone anything about his life away from the museum.

Her stomach growled, a rather unladylike sound. She absently shoved her glasses higher on her nose before glancing at her watch – 7:30 p.m. Have I eaten today? She couldn’t remember eating anything since the raisin bran muffin she’d scarfed down in her ’67 Mustang on her way to work.

Iris bypassed the elevator and took the escalator up to the second floor, treating the mechanical device like stairs. She seldom darkened the door of the faculty lounge, choosing to keep to herself for the most part. She generally relied on her supply of cranberries, raisins, pretzels, and nuts in her office cubby.

She grabbed a premixed combination of her snacks and bottled water from the fridge, then hopped on the escalator again to ride to the top floor. The building had ten floors and an observatory equipped with telescopes for star gazers like Iris.

During the week, classroom teachers brought their students to the museum and Iris’s love for children made her one of their favorite instructors. She also taught interested adults and visiting sight-seers some evenings and weekends. Returning guests and patrons always asked for her. With a Ph.D. in astrophysics, she knew more than most about the stars and everything related to them.

When she reached the top floor, she took the winding stairs leading to the observatory. Before she could reach her favorite spot, a tiny alcove where she could sit for hours and gaze at the stars, she heard rustling like a flag blowing in heavy winds, a loud boom coming from above her, then eerie silence as if sound had been snuffed out following an explosion.

In true Iris fashion, no fear, she ran a few steps to see what she’d heard before reminding herself she could be running towards danger. She stopped for a moment, reigning-in her curiosity, but when she didn’t hear anything more, she continued to climb the stairs cautiously, repositioning her glasses in case she needed to see something more than a foot in front of her. Although burglary attempts had been made at the museum, the amount of noise told her this was something different. No professional burglar would dare make this kind of noise.

When she finally reached the landing, she couldn’t believe what she saw. Sprawled across the observation floor was what appeared to be a giant bird with the most striking, bright green and gold feathers she’d ever seen – and she had seen her share of feathers.

The wings must have spanned twenty feet, and loose feathers floated on the air as far as she could see.

“Back away, Iris. Just back away and call for…” She stopped talking to herself for a moment and frowned, searching for an answer. Well, that’s just crazy. Who would I call? Those idiots with guns? “No way.”

She ran toward the wings a few steps and hesitated, watching the creature to make sure it was still breathing, but she couldn’t be sure if the movement she saw was breathing or the wind ruffling the obviously injured bird’s feathers.

Iris inched closer, her heart drumming in her ears like a timpani, and that’s when she saw it.

She dropped her snacks and water and ran the remaining few steps to stoop down beside the creature. Blood ran beneath the feathers. Lots of blood, and the puddle was growing larger.

Just as Iris reached to touch one of the wings, the creature shifted.

“Oh my God!” Iris did a crab-crawl backwards and landed on her behind a few feet away. Beneath, and somehow attached to the great striking wings was a man! Iris shook her head as she gawked at him. Unbelievable. No human man could have survived that fall. Who…no, what is he?

It occurred to her that no bird, no matter how large, could have survived the fall, either.

As if she hadn’t already seen enough, the wings immediately started to retract. They disappeared along the man’s spine, revealing a broad, tan-colored back, bare feet, and jeans. Jeans?  Iris remained frozen, dumbfounded as the wings completely disappeared. Fascinating.

Iris wanted desperately to touch him – to see where the wings were and how any of this was possible, but based on the scowl on his handsome face, she knew that would be a bad idea. Too beautiful. He’s too gorgeous for the word “handsome.” Like something out of a fantasy!

Not one to gawk at men or pay them much attention at all for that matter, Iris was in awe of his beauty, presence, and the sheer size of him. She remained still, unable to close her mouth. Her lower belly fluttered, reacting with the most pleasant flips.

Angel? Although she wasn’t particularly religious, she still couldn’t help feeling guilty about her purely carnal reaction to an angel…if that’s what he was.

She’d always read they were supposed to be genderless, though, and why did he fall? He was definitely a “he.” His muscles made her mouth water.

He attempted to stand, clamping one of his large hands to his side. She knew he was trying to stop his blood loss, but he didn’t appear to be very successful as he collapsed again, his large body unable to cooperate. He was obviously frustrated and in pain, and her survival instincts screamed “danger,” but ignoring them as usual, she stayed. The consummate scientist in her wanted, no, needed to help him despite common sense telling her it was a very bad idea to approach him.

Suddenly, Iris saw his nose twitch. An instant later, emerald green eyes the color of his feathers lit on her and she felt an odd warmth suffuse her body, the butterflies in her stomach accelerating their flight as she moved toward him –  compelled – survival instinct be damned. Her body continued to move as her brain went on stand-by.

 

Chapter Two

 

Gideon’s entire body felt foreign, cold. He smelled a human. Female. Her scent intrigued him, nearly making him forget his predicament as he lifted his head and glanced at her. Her skin was coffee brown, and a delectable combination of desert roses and roasted nuts wafted from her body – cashews, to be exact.

The thin female stared, a look of…what was the meaning of that look? Curiosity, perhaps? Yes. She did not smell of fear, but wonder. Unusual. He couldn’t remember another human reacting to him without fear.

He placed his palms on the ground beneath his chest and attempted to lift his aching body several times, each time landing more painfully where he started, and finally realized he was too weak to stand.

Disgusted with himself for getting into this helpless situation, he called on his alternate-world survival training. The idea of touching, let alone ingesting the life-giving force of one of these germ-infested creatures again turned his stomach, but he needed to get home, and the human female was the only way to get there.

He frowned, watching her as he drew her to him, his incisors lengthening for the first time in more than two years. Pain exploded in his mouth rivaling the pain caused by his injuries.

She got on her knees, crawling to him without resistance, and he pulled her to him as soon as he could reach her.

Her thin body felt like a reed, light, airy, fragile. Surely they were not all this fragile. No, Japheth’s mate, a human female, was much more full and round.

Gideon frowned, wondering at his instant association of this human female with Japheth’s mate. The thought of Japheth’s defection – a great loss to the Orlosian race – made him shudder with trepidation. He couldn’t begin to understand why a respected warrior of Japheth’s caliber had defected, placing himself in harm’s way simply to be with a female.

He again stared at the human female before him. Her wrists looked too thin to bite into, and he didn’t want to damage her beyond repair. Her soft, coffee-brown skin responded to his touch, warming as he maneuvered her into position.

Gideon’s frown deepened, confused now by his lack of disgust. His mouth watered as he scanned the female, seeking the source of his sudden desire to hold her closer, to touch her.

Her eyes were closed behind unattractive spectacles, her brow slightly puckered as he sank his teeth into her shoulder, determined to take only what he needed to heal.

Healing nectar rolled down his throat, and he hesitated, unwilling to let her go.

Gideon held her, allowing her warmth to seep into his body before moving.

He inhaled deeply, the slight, wafting scent of desert roses and cashews awakening something inside him he didn’t know existed. He stifled the desire to hold her tighter, confused by the strange sense of recognition. Forcing himself to tamp down the desire to possess, control, capture, he barely heard the woman’s faint whimper.

Japheth’s argument came to mind, taunting him with the idea that there was a female for him, but Gideon could not reconcile the idea with what he’d been taught.

The thin female’s heartbeat grew weaker, stuttering, warmth slipping away as her body grew cold in his arms.

Alarmed, he slit his forearm with his teeth and held it to her lips, forcing her to drink from him. He had taken too much. So fragile, these humans. Why did The One God make them so…weak?

She immediately appeared more vibrant, warmer as his blood entered her noticeably soft body.

He stood, lifting her against him, her lightness still fascinating, and dissolved the blood he’d lost, cleansing the surface as if he’d never been there.

Gideon carried Iris inside the large glass building. Sliding his hand along the contours of her body, he couldn’t help noticing more fullness in places than he’d originally seen. Her waist was narrow, drawing more attention to her soft, rounded breasts and pear-shaped bottom.

When his body started to become aroused, he stopped. Something about touching her this way without her permission seemed wrong.

He chuckled, surprised by the relief he felt knowing he hadn’t hurt her irreparably. So touching her is wrong, but taking her blood is acceptable?

He strode quickly down the stairs, holding her as if she were a fragile doll, then placed her gently on a sofa in the large deserted room.

There was only one more heartbeat in the building, in an entirely different section of the large building, so he sat across from her sleeping form, unwilling to leave her now. From the time he started walking, he’d been taught “The Law.” He dedicated his life to war, yet this fragile human female spoke to him on so many levels, he was overwhelmed by the sensations.

Gideon reached into the pocket of his jeans and removed a pouch filled with cashews, popping a few in his mouth as he inhaled her titillating scent, so much like his favorite snack.

She murmured something, starting to wake.

Completely healed, he stood, preparing to leave before she woke, but there was no escaping the unexplainable drive to protect her, his body preparing to possess her, reactions he’d never experienced toward a human, and only once before in his very long life – a Prima.  

He transported back to the balcony in a flash of light.

Wings instantly flaring, Gideon stepped off the balcony and shot into the air like an arrow. Anyone watching would see a flash of color and light shooting into the air like fireworks.

 

 

 

 

Can a dying pop/gospel singer breathe new life into a psychic sentinel wolf shifter?

Dana Rainwater is dying. Taking leave from the pop-gospel stage, she visits a remote area to commission the designs of a famous, yet reclusive architect few have ever seen.

Wolf sentinel shifter Vadrian Parrish is a renowned architect whose nature-inclusive designs have earned the title of “Healing Plans.” Born to a high calling, his disturbing visions render him nearly inaccessible to others, but one accidental touch draws him into another nightmare–-Dana’s.

With the war against Vadrian’s people escalating in tandem with Dana’s illness, their meeting ignites events so powerful, neither of their lives will ever be the same.