Can a demon be redeemed?
Rational Lucia believes in what she can see and touch, preferring to leave the curses and fortune telling to her old-world relatives. Meeting Delia, a desperate half-human, half-demon child, who needs someone to keep her safe challenges Lucia’s logic.
Armaros spent his eternal life mired in guilt. Choosing to live according to his desires and whims, he forced his sister to fall from grace, damning them both. When she vanished, abandoning him and all they’d built together, he pursues. The last thing the Fallen expected to discover was the impossible existence of her child and the fragile human intent on her protection.
Thrust together, Armaros and Lucia must flee the forces of Heaven and Hell. Despite the insurmountable odds stacking against them, can they accept that fate put their paths on a collision course? Or are they doomed to fail, losing not only Delia, but also the only other person in the universe who understands them?
When Lucia finds Dalia, she knows she has to take care of her. What she didn’t expect was for things to get so very complicated very quickly. Even as she debates with herself her Aunt Zia calls and tells her to stop and go home. Lucia has other ideas and takes the child home. Now this child isn’t human, Lucia’s not sure exactly what she is though.
When Armaros finds Dalia, he is expecting to find his sister and quite frankly all hell breaks loose as he tries to erase Lucia’s memory and take Dalia. Lucia is a fighter and she doesn’t give up easily, but this encounter isn’t my favorite, the second one is.
When Dalia has had enough of Armaros’ questions, she throws a tantrum of sorts, her powers destroying his apartment and then she poofs out of there. Then when Lucia arrives looking for her, Dalia brings Lucia to her.
This is a favorite scene.
“She really loved you.” The picture Delia painted was a happy one. Two parents who loved each other. A man who thought his red-eyed wife beautiful. Whatever had happened since then, Delia had sweet memories to draw upon.
Despite the girl’s slight weight, Lucia started to sweat through her wool coat. Catching the glances of other ice cream patrons, all clad in sandals and shorts or sundresses, she and Delia stood out in their winter clothes. “Can I ask you something else?”
Delia turned a tear-streaked face up to her and nodded.
“Where are we?” When she’d been teleported from the cemetery, she’d appeared here on this picnic bench outside a drive-up ice cream parlor. Her nose burned in the sun.
Giggling, Delia sniffed and wiped her face with the back of her hand. “Florida? I think.”
“You want more ice cream?”
The girl shook her head, but leaned against Lucia again. Being upset had exhausted her. Glancing down, she saw the girl let out a huge yawn.
“How about we find a place to rest?”
Delia nodded and swept her hand through the air. Colors rushed past her, faster than the blur of scenery when staring out a car window. Motion sickness threatened, and Lucia closed her eyes. She had nothing to focus on, no fixed point in space to help her get her bearings. Like riding the tilt-a-whirl at a carnival, she prayed for it to be over.
All at once, her body jarred to a stop. Her head whipped forward, and she tripped, eyes opening automatically.
Where were they? She didn’t recognize this place. It was a stark apartment, everything white and chrome. “Is this your house?” Walking to the window, she saw the frozen harbor in the distance, completing the monochromatic aesthetic.
Delia climbed onto the suede couch, and Lucia winced when a smudge of chocolate she missed smeared across the cushion. “No.”
It wasn’t the sort of place a kid would live. “Should we be here?”
Delia’s eyes closed, and her thumb went into her mouth. “I’m too tired to run anymore.”
Sighing, Lucia walked to her. The rug covering the floor beneath the couch and coffee table was white and furry. It would be comfortable enough. Seating herself next to Delia’s head, she brushed the girl’s hair back from her face. “Okay. Take a nap. I’ll be here. Anything I should know?”
“We’ll be fine.” Her words were broken by another huge yawn. “Night, Luce.”
Weak winter sunlight streamed through every window. Lucia watched Delia, smoothing her hair, waiting for her eyes to dance beneath her closed lids to signal she’d fallen into a deep sleep. It was a long time coming. Delia tossed and turned, and finally, with Lucia’s thumb stroking back and forth across her forehead, she stilled.
Cracking her neck, Lucia carefully withdrew her hand. Delia remained asleep. Good. The girl needed it. Stretching, she stood and decided to explore.
Keeping one eye on Delia, she walked to the window to stare out. Huh. They were back at Pauper’s Cemetery. Why didn’t these things freak her out more? In less than twenty-four hours, everything she thought she knew was turned on its head.
There was the church’s spire, and beyond the white expanse of the open graveyard, stones covered in snow. Maybe she should stop down later, see if the priest could make sense of what the universe had recently revealed to her. Ha! If she set foot in a church after not attending in so long, she’d probably burst into flames.
Ambling around the perimeter of the room, she tried to imagine what sort of person lived here. They had money to burn. Each exterior wall was a window; the entire city visible from wherever she happened to stand. It should have given her a sense of openness, but instead, she found herself wondering what was holding the ceiling above her head. Tipping her head back, she imagined steel and plaster crushing her.
A whimper brought her out of her dark thoughts, and she hurried to the couch. Delia thrashed back and forth, and cried out, “Daddy!”
Frowning, Lucia picked her up. “It’s okay.” She pulled her onto her lap, cradling her in her arms and stroking her back until she calmed. As Delia fell back to sleep, Lucia let her head drop onto the arm of the couch.
She’d gotten herself into a mess— a weird, inter-dimensional mess of biblical proportions. She’d walked home from the library, and bam! Insta-mom. Staring at Delia’s flushed face, Lucia grinned. She wasn’t sorry. This kid had a way about her, and Lucia was smitten.
But she wasn’t prepared for her. Lucia’s student loans supported her. She had no real job. Correcting papers and teaching bored undergrads for less than she could make at a fast-food joint didn’t count. If she had a child, she needed to be smart and self-sufficient.
What was the school system like in her area? She didn’t even know. Was Delia old enough for school? Argh! This was such a mess! No way was she responsible enough to take care of her.
“What are you doing in my home?”
Shit. She knew that voice. “Hey,” she singsonged in greeting at a loss for what else to do. “So, you just, you know, poof into places?”
Crossing his arms, the man glared at her, leather jacket crackling as he moved. Or maybe it was his knuckles cracking. Lucia got the feeling she was on shaky ground with this guy.
“I didn’t know this was your house.” She made a move to shake Delia awake, but the girl was so exhausted, she paused. “Do you mind if we hang for a bit? Delie is beat and needs a nap. When she wakes up, you can go back to squeezing my brain or whatever.” The nickname flowed from her, riding the rising wave of affection cresting in her soul.
His eyes flicked to the girl asleep in her lap and back before dropping his arms. Running his fingers through his perfectly styled hair, he sighed. “I— Fine.” Sitting carefully in a nearby chair, he kept his gaze on Lucia. “What are you doing here?”
“Delia brought us here.”
“Did she?” One eyebrow raised as he considered her sleeping form. What was it about this guy that made her want to douse him in holy water, and then, remove his wet shirt?
“Why are you after her?”
Part of her was amazed at her audacity, but for some reason, she knew he wouldn’t hurt her right now.
Shrugging, he continued to watch them silently.
“Do you know her?”
Icy blue eyes flicked to her, staring at her intently before he shook his head. “No. I don’t know her. But—”
When he didn’t finish, Lucia waved a hand. “But…”
He remained silent. Okay. So, he wasn’t going to answer unless he wanted to. Fine. “Do you know what happened to her parents?”
“Parents?” This threw him off guard. “She doesn’t have parents.”
“Of course, she does. Everyone has parents. She told me about her mother and father. And don’t scoff like it’s crazy, Mr. This is My House. Weirdo. What circle of hell is this, really?”
“Did she?” He ignored her comment about his house. Again— fine. He was only interested in discussing Delia. “What did she say?”
“Why are you after her?” Lucia countered wickedly. She could tit-for-tat, too.
“Have you forgotten what I can do?”
Raising an eyebrow, she shook her head. “I’m unlikely to forget the worst headache of the century or the Our Lady of the Bleeding Eyeballs impression. I can’t stop you. Do it. Go ahead.” Please don’t. Why did she speak without thinking?
“I’m not going to hurt her,” he said.
“But you’re after her?”
Rolling his eyes, he dropped his head to the back to the chair. “I’m not after her. She has something I need.”
“What could a child possible have that you need?”
Ripley Proserpina. The Darkest Fall (Kindle Locations 559-623).
This is only the beginning, and Armaros his more than a little intrigued by the the human who is so determined to care for his niece.
He fights this attraction, after all he is a fallen angel and nothing good could come of this attraction.
Plenty of twists and turns as the plot thickens, warrior angels, Lucifer and of course Lucia’s family all contribute to tale of good and evil.
I laughed, sniffled, held my breath a few times and fanned myself as Lucia and Armaros steam up the pages all while working on keeping Dalia safe.
I really hope there are more books with these three, it was thoroughly engaging.
Ripley Proserpina spends her days huddled near a fire in the frozen northern wilds of Vermont. She lives with her family, two magnificent cats, and one dog who aspires to cat-hood. She is the author of the Reverse Harem series, The Searchers, Midnight’s Crown, and the young adult/fantasy duet, Wishes and Curses.