Authors: Katherine Pine
Tags: #teen, #Romance, #paranormal romance, #forbidden love, #high school, #demons, #fallen angels, #Angels, #love triangle, #shapeshifter, #young adult paranormal romance, #curse, #obsessive love, #gender bender, #portland, #portland oregon, #mythology and folklore
(Fallen Angels, Book 2)
Published by Katherine Pine at
Copyright Katherine Pine 2011.
Copyright of excerpt material is held by the
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This book is a work of fiction. Names,
characters, places and incidents are either products of the
author's imagination or are used fictitiously. Please see the
"Author's Note" for a more detailed description.
I watched Oz drive in silence. Outside, the
city lights illuminated the Hawthorne Bridge and bled into the
Willamette River, outshining the stars. A week ago I hadn't even
known him. But now, after almost getting killed by a demon and
readying myself to face my distraught mother, there was no person
I'd rather have by my side.
My temple knocked into the window as Forneus'
car skidded into the curb. Oz's park job was probably going to
leave a scratch, but something told me he wouldn't feel too guilty
He put his hand on my shoulder. His fingers
brushed over my neck, and intense heat shot down my back. Then it
disappeared, taking with it my headache and the stiffness in my
limbs from using his leather jacket as a pillow for the last two
"This isn't my place," I murmured. We were in
front of the house on the bluff with the fantastic view that was
remodeled and resold every few years.
"I know." He squinted at the road ahead. "Let
me go in with you."
I slid from the window, back into my seat.
"That's not a good idea."
"You sure?" His hand still rested on my
shoulder. Suddenly I didn't like it there. It felt itchy and too
I sighed. "I'm pretty sure it wouldn't look
good to waltz in with a tattooed guy and be all 'Hey mom! I was
just hanging out and lost track of time. By the way, here's my
I swung my hand to the side, like a Broadway
starlet introducing a new character in the middle of a musical
number. Oz caught my wrist, midair.
I yanked my arm, trying to free it. His grip
seemed too gentle to restrain me. I wondered why it did.
"Devi," he whispered.
A chill shot through my body. Still he
wouldn't let go, so I let him hold me. "That's why you shouldn't
Oz didn't respond. Not even
with something stupid, like
I thought you
liked my tattoos
"I do like your tattoos, Oz," I
Then I stopped
Did I just answer a voice in my
Oh God, I was having a nervous breakdown in
front of him, and I didn't know if I could stop. I had to collect
my thoughts. Had he noticed? Maybe it wasn't too--
"Devi," he repeated, tipping up my chin.
looked at him
before I could tell myself not to.
My throat constricted as he leaned closer. I
couldn't move when those green eyes looked at me. They really were
a beautiful color--deep, lush and distant. It was amazing he could
pass as human. But then again, once I'd thought he was one too.
He bit his lip. He was about to say
something. My name again, perhaps? I didn't want to hear it.
"Please don't worry about me," I stammered.
He gave me a crooked smile. "You would say
"I'm serious. I'm fine. This
probably the worst night of my
. I had my stomach ripped open and my
intestines pulled out
I was killed--or at least almost killed--by your ex-lover.
Then I was resurrected, and
I swallowed the complaint. Why couldn't I put
on a brave face for him, at least? He deserved it.
"I'm happy you're here," I finished.
He frowned. "Where else would I be?"
I could think of a lot of places, but I
didn't share them. I bent over, until my head was between my knees.
The floor smelled of coffee and seawater. "Forneus' car is cleaner
than yours," I muttered.
Thankfully, he didn't acknowledge how
ridiculous I was being. Maybe he'd grown used to that sort of thing
from me. "That doesn't surprise me," he replied. "How's your
He ran his fingers over the nape of my neck.
I guess he still felt guilty about his less than smooth park job.
"You healed it already, so it's fine. You should worry about
The seat creaked as he leaned back. "Forneus
can rot in the trunk," he muttered under his breath.
I tried to suppress a giggle. The idea of a
devil decomposing next to motor oil and a jumper cable shouldn't
have made me laugh, but I guess my sense of humor had gotten a
little morbid after spending so much time with a demon. "That isn't
a good plan. He'd just make the car reek."
I felt his fingers spread out over my back.
"Yeah, you're right. Good thing it's not my car." He was smiling,
or at least it seemed that way from the sound of his voice.
Then I noticed I was smiling too.
I sucked in a breath and dug my fingernails
into my shins. What was I doing? How could I even be a little bit
happy at a time like this? "What am I going to tell my mom,
He rubbed my shoulder. "What you decided to
My knees squeezed my head, until it felt as
if I'd been hanging upside down for five minutes. "It's not good
A pause. "I think, in this case, it's better
if I take the blame."
I hated the guilt in his voice. "That's not
what I mean," I snapped. "My excuse doesn't make sense. You did
something, and I ran off, and now..."
I shot up. His hand fell from my side. I
watched his fingers curl around the stick shift. Mine were curling,
too, into my palm.
"She's going to feel
horrible," I said.
Like it's all her
He didn't say anything, and truthfully
nothing he could have said would've made me feel better. It's not
like I could tell her I was abducted by a demon. So I had to
pretend I'd been rebelling and just hope she wasn't going to take
it personally, even though I'd never done anything like this before
and her skin was about as thick as mine was.
I felt something on the back of my neck--a
light breeze, or the memory of a touch. "Devi."
My body froze. Oh, that's right. The angel
was here too. It was so easy to forget about something so quiet,
but no, that wasn't an excuse. Forgetting him even for a moment
should have been impossible.
He wound my hair around his
fingertips. It tickled.
"If you want, I can--"
"I don't want anything from you," I
For a moment the air in the car was still.
Then, the angel removed his hand. A chill swept through me, as if
he'd dropped a shard of ice down my back.
Oz put his left elbow on the wheel and rested
his forehead in his palm. "I promised your mother I'd bring you
home, so she knows you were out with me," he continued, ignoring
the angel. "Guess we shouldn't put this off any longer."
He turned the key in the ignition.
Less than five minutes later Oz pulled up to
my house. He'd parked carefully this time, probably because my mom
Two lights were on--one in the kitchen, the
other in my bedroom. I shut my eyes, but the afterimage was still
burned in my mind. I'd promised myself I'd never make her feel
abandoned again, I'd promised that--
My mom burst through the door, barefoot and
in a baby blue t-shirt and the strawberry shorts I used to dance
around in as a little girl. It was too cold for her to be out like
that, but she didn't seem to care.
Her wild eyes locked on me. My body went
still, like an animal that had just realized it was being stalked.
She sprinted forward, weaving and slipping in the wet grass. Mud
and grass clippings stuck to her ankles and calves.
She didn't try to open the door when she got
to the car. Instead, she pressed her hand to the window, right
above the smudges I'd left when I'd knocked my head against it.
White fog from my breath and hers fanned over the same space of
glass. Then it dissipated in the cold air, as if being
She pulled her lips back. "Devi."
The shrillness of her voice
was muffled. I wanted to respond, but my throat felt raw, as if I'd
swallowed a jar of sand.
Go back inside.
Stop doing this to yourself. Don't care about me so
She pressed her other hand
to the door and leaned in, until her nose was smashed against the
murmured, this time too softly for me to hear.
The car rocked as Oz got out.
She turned away from me when Oz reached her.
From this angle, I could see her black hair stuck to her sweaty
cheeks. Her hands balled into small, fragile fists and wiped her
eyes, stretching her sallow skin. It looked like her bones would
shatter instead of the object she hit if she used them.
She took a deep breath as if to steady
herself and shut her eyes. Then she fell.
Her palm caught the window on the way down.
It was just enough to keep her on her feet.
Oz darted forward and lifted her.
She gripped his shoulders and muttered
something. He shot her a nervous smile. Her laughter as a response
was just as uncomfortable.
Mother, how much did you drink tonight?
For a moment my vision blurred, as if I'd
actually asked her that question. Then things became too clear--the
lopsided position of her mouth, and the puffy, dark rings under her
. I popped the door handle.
Outside a gust of air greeted me, cool as an
angel's touch. I wrapped my arms around my chest. "Let's go
My mom nodded absently as her eyes narrowed
on Oz's dragon tattoo. Suddenly I saw him the way she must
have--with hair too long, wearing only a black t-shirt on a
freezing night, and driving a car someone so young who 'dressed
like that' shouldn't be able to afford.
I thought if I touched her, she'd stop
staring. The two of us could then go inside, lock the door, and say
the things we didn't mean without an audience. But I couldn't bring
myself to touch her. The scent of booze and sweat from her body
overpowered the scent of damp pavement and soil.
My hand trembled as it dropped back down at
my side. I couldn't even remember what my mom had smelled like
before Kai left.
I cleared my throat. "I think we
"Go ahead, Devi. I'll be a few minutes." She
didn't sound as drunk as she looked. Maybe fatigue made her look so
Such thoughts didn't make me feel better.
"None of this is Oz's fault," I said. "I'm not going to leave you
if you're just going to tell him--"
"No." My mom's chin dropped. "I just wanted
to thank your friend for bringing you home."
When she spoke, it sounded as though an old,
hidden wound was reopening. Something in me started to crumble. I'd
seen too much blood in the past few days. I remembered it spilling
over my stomach and dripping from my fingertips onto the floor of
the cave. I could still see Oz's tortured face as he pushed his
claw into Onoskelis, and the longing in her blood red eyes as he
I reached out to my mom's hand instinctively.
She almost pulled away at first, then squeezed until I heard my
joints crack. I didn't let go of her, though it hurt. I needed to
keep that world from those I loved. Perhaps those things that
haunted me would even cease to feel real, one day, if I were the
only one who remembered them.
"I'm sorry," Oz said. His voice cut through
me, reminding me that it wasn't just my pain anymore. I wished I
knew how to keep him from all of it, too.
I glanced at him, but he was looking at my
mother, not me. It looked as if he saw something beautiful there,
despite her stringy, straw-like hair and sagging skin. His eyes
were even glowing, though my mom didn't seem to notice and I
doubted he did either. Oz really did love every small, imperfect