The Protect Her Box Set: Parts 7-9

Protect Her Box Set: Parts 7-9

 

By Ivy Sinclair

 

Copyright 2015 Smith Sinclair Books

ebook Edition

 

Cover Design by Mihaela Voicu

 

ebook Edition, License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to the online retailer of your choice and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

TABLE OF CONTENTS
Protect Her: Part Seven

 

By Ivy Sinclair

 

Copyright 2015 Smith Sinclair Books

ebook Edition

 

Cover Design by Mihaela Voicu

 

ebook Edition, License Notes

This ebook is licensed for your personal enjoyment only. This ebook may not be re-sold or given away to other people. If you would like to share this book with another person, please purchase an additional copy for each recipient. If you’re reading this book and did not purchase it, or it was not purchased for your use only, then please return to the online retailer of your choice and purchase your own copy. Thank you for respecting the hard work of this author.

 

CHAPTER ONE –
RILEY

 

It was kind of amazing how far my travels had taken me and the knowledge I’d discovered over the course of the last week. I met an archangel, an ancient deity and found out my dead mother and sister really weren’t dead. I didn’t think there could be a way to top all of that. As I emerged from the tomb next to Paige and did a quick check of the men on either side of Benjamin, I realized that we had stumbled into an archangel tribunal. That was one to add to the list.

“Archangels,” I said under my breath hoping that Paige would hear my mutter.

“Got it,” she whispered back. I thought I detected the faint tone of sarcasm.

“Paige,” Benjamin said. It was a terser greeting than I expected. He looked exactly as I remembered, which was to say he looked like a normal man. A little taller than most, but otherwise fairly ordinary. The five men who surrounded him were every shape and size, and it made me wonder again if archangels possessed human vessels like demons did. That part of angel mythology was kept tightly under wraps, and I had never had the opportunity to sit down with an archangel over a beer to be able to ask.

Despite their differences, it was obvious as the formation closed behind Benjamin that these men were all together. They were brothers-in-arms if not in blood. What those six had seen over their long lifetimes was another thing I could only guess about- and probably didn’t want to know.

Paige started to descend the tomb steps to the ground, but I caught her arm and shook my head. I stepped in front of her. We needed a show of strength in this situation. “Benjamin,” I said.

If Benjamin was surprised or annoyed by my move to protect Paige from view, he didn’t show it. “Ah, yes. Riley Stone. I had hoped you would have stayed behind wherever it was Paige had been hiding herself.”

“You know that there wasn’t a chance in hell of that happening,” I said with a short smile. “I go where Paige goes.”

“Funny. The last time I saw you, Paige had just been kidnaped by a demon official. Seems to me that you only go where Paige goes when you are invited.” Benjamin flashed a cruel smile at me. That was okay. I was used to sarcasm from the other realm’s higher ranks. Archangel or demon official, it didn’t matter. They all looked down their noses at me and considered themselves superior. That was why I continuously enjoyed every opportunity I found to kick their asses.

“That’s enough, really,” Paige said. She slipped around me even as I tried to grab her elbow. “We’re here for help, not for you two to pick up where you left off bickering with each other. I think I’ve had enough of people sniping at each other when we are all on the same side.”

“Which side is that?” Benjamin asked.

“The right one,” Paige responded without hesitation. I moved after her and felt rather than saw the ranks behind Benjamin close even further.

“I thought that this was supposed to be a friendly chat,” I said. “Why don’t you call off your dogs?” I heard a low rumble of voices behind Benjamin. Most people probably wouldn’t go out of their way to antagonize an entire contingent of archangels. But I was far from most people.

Benjamin’s eyebrow rose. “My dogs? You’d do well not to speak so flippantly of those who are superior to you. If you anger them, I’m not so sure I’d try hard to stop them from tearing you apart limb from limb.”

Paige moved faster than I had ever seen her move before, and she slammed her palm into Benjamin’s chest. “Shut up, Benjamin. Don’t you threaten him! If you threaten him, you are threatening me.”

“And why does that make any difference?” One of Benjamin’s brothers stepped forward. He was shorter than Benjamin but stockier. I had the sense he could hold himself well in a fight. “Benjamin has told us that you are the vessel of the Goddess Eva. The necromancer is nothing more than a minor annoyance in the world. You, on the other hand, are the one who represents the true danger to all of us.”

This was an unseen turn of events that had the potential to get nasty fast. I needed to nip it in the bud as quickly as possible. “She has to accept Eva into her body for that to happen, and she won’t,” I said. “She’s already been tested and passed with flying colors.” That was a bit of a stretch, but the archangels didn’t need to know that.

“I also happen to know she was recently in the company of the demon official, Bruno Proctor,” the archangel continued as if I hadn’t spoken at all. He sniffed the air, and then his face twisted into a grimace of disgust. “I can smell him on both of you even now.”

Benjamin looked at both of us in shock, but he focused on Paige. After a short pause, his face twisted into an expression of anger. “What has happened?”

“That’s part of why I called you,” Paige said. She took a deep breath. “I’m in trouble, and I thought you could help me.”

“You said as much over the phone,” Benjamin said. “So you are here now before me smelling of demons and necromancers.” The corner of his mouth curled. “You might be too far gone to be saved.”

I stepped toward him. “You owe her.”

“I owe her nothing,” Benjamin said.

“You brought her to Calamata Island three years ago knowing demons were after her, and you never told her the truth. All that time, she was defenseless. She would have been taken the night I met her if I hadn’t intervened. You were nowhere to be found.”

“Telling Paige the truth about this world wouldn’t have made things any easier for her,” Benjamin said. “She was safe on the island. She was by my side almost every day the entire time.”

“If you make up some bullshit excuse saying that by being by your side meant she was safe, I’m going to kick your ass,” I said.

“She was in my sight every day,” Benjamin said. “At least she was until you came into the picture and then everything went to hell.”

“Benjamin, that is enough,” the other archangel interjected. “Is this true? Did you know that you were giving the vessel of Eva safe harbor?”

That was yet another million dollar question, and I saw Paige’s expression. It was something she had been wondering too, no doubt in relation to how he had treated her all along.

“No,” Benjamin said flatly. He looked down at her then, and his expression softened. “No. I didn’t know.”

“We can’t keep her here,” another one of the archangels piped in. “The demons are looking for her, and if they find her it will only be a matter of time before they figure out how to summon Eva. They will use magic to ensure she accepts.”

Benjamin whirled around. “Why would they do that? The demons don’t have any greater loyalty to Eva than we do. She has just as big a bone to pick with Hell as she does with Heaven.”

“There are many who are loyal to her that hide in their midst,” the first archangel who had spoken said. He looked at me then, and I saw something I had missed because that side of his face had been turned away from me. It was a capital ‘E’ that looked as if it had been branded on the meaty part of his upper cheek.

I knew who he was then. This was Ezekiel. He was older than Benjamin but not quite as favored by God when it came time to establish the archangel pecking order I had heard. The rumor around the angel and demon circles was that there was a lot of bad blood between these six brothers.

“We’ve met more than our fair share of those loyalists,” I offered. “There’s a small gathering of them who infested a colony of humans where we came from.”

“Riley…” Paige’s voice held a warning tone. I knew why she wanted me to close my mouth. She had felt a strange affinity for the people who were settled on Abigail’s farm. She tried to have a tough exterior, but I wasn’t even sure if she was aware of the fact that she always looked for the good in people. She told me she had done terrible things before she landed on Calamata Island, but I still couldn’t see it. A fight for survival might have hardened her, but underneath she was a decent and kind person. That was the person I knew Benjamin saw in her too.

“Benjamin, we came here to ask you for the relic,” Paige said. There was a long pause as if everyone around us had drawn up and were holding their breath. I know that I was. I wasn’t expecting her to ask for it in front of all of the archangels. “It’s important, and I’ve heard you have it. I heard three years ago that the relic was here on Calamata Island, so if you don’t have it I’m assuming you can tell me where I can find it.”

“Sacrilege!” Ezekiel shouted. “To give the vessel something that is cursed and responsible for mass destruction across this realm would be an abomination!”

“Let’s everyone just calm down,” I said. The last thing we needed was to get the archangels all riled up and focused on Paige’s status as Eva’s vessel. I wished that she hadn’t put down our cards so quickly. There was a kind of finesse required in these kinds of interactions. I looked at Benjamin. The stunned look on his face said it all. Then I realized he had been hoping the reason Paige was coming back to him was for an entirely different reason, and I felt my hackles rise.

“Even if I had the relic, I wouldn’t give it you,” Benjamin said slowly. “So if that’s the reason you are here, then you’ve wasted a trip. I’ll wish you best of luck on your way back to wherever it is you came from. There are very few places on this earth that will be safe for you now.”

“Benjamin, please,” Paige said in a more gentle tone. “I need to talk to you about this. Privately.” She eyed the archangels around us. I saw her hand creep up behind her back. It was a sign. She wasn’t entirely confident in her ability to touch magic yet on her own. We had practiced enough that she only needed to touch me, and somehow I provided the bridge that she needed to it.

“You can’t honestly still be listening to this drivel,” Ezekiel said, moving closer to Benjamin. “Whatever childish affections you might have had towards her should have died the moment that you learned what she was. She’s dangerous, Benjamin. You of all people know what Eva is capable of. She can’t be allowed to walk the earth again. We must kill the vessel.”

I had my knives out and pushed Paige behind me even as Benjamin and I shouted in unison, “NO.”

Benjamin, who had been standing across from me a moment before, now stood shoulder to shoulder with me blocking Paige from his brothers. It wasn’t the first time that he had backed me up in a fight on Paige’s behalf. It wasn’t a position that I preferred to be in though.

“You will not harm her,” Benjamin said, addressing his brothers. “Mr. Stone reminded all of us just a moment ago that Paige has to accept Eva into her body in order to become her vessel.”

“Still not planning to do that, by the way,” Paige’s voice wafted over our shoulders with a slightly sarcastic tone. I had to admire her wit.

“We think we’ve found another way,” I said, directing my comment to Benjamin even as I kept my knives up pointed at his brothers.

“They have blood pacts with a demon official. That’s why I can smell Bruno Proctor on them even now,” Ezekiel said. “You can’t trust a single thing that comes out of their mouths. They will lie, cheat, and steal to get what they want. You would trust the words of a necromancer over the counsel of your brethren?”

“Bruno Proctor has my family,” I said in a low voice. If we were able to reason with Benjamin, then he could control his brothers. “My deal with him is for them. Paige’s was to save my life. Both deals were made to save others, which you should be able to appreciate. The easiest way to make all of that go away is to kill Proctor.”

Benjamin put his hand up, and a shimmering light enveloped us. I saw Ezekiel was on the other side of the wall. He lifted his hand and touched the shimmering surface, which caused it to ripple all the way around us. I didn’t think he could break through without considerable force. It was a nifty trick. I had to give Benjamin credit.

“You can still hear us, yes?” Benjamin directed his comment at Ezekiel.

“Yes,” Ezekiel said flatly.

“Good,” Benjamin nodded. “I have no desire to hide anything from you, my brothers, but I need to hear what these people have to say. You must trust me.”

I had to wonder who exactly trusted who anymore. The list seemed to get shorter by the day. Benjamin looked at Paige. He took her hand, and I had to bite back the growl in the back of my throat. Benjamin stroked the area of her palm where Proctor had drawn her blood and mingled it with his to secure the blood pact.

“You auctioned your life for another’s,” Benjamin said quietly. “I should have been there for you. I meant to find you before he could hurt you after he took you, but I had responsibilities here. Things were a mess. There were demons everywhere, and the island was being overrun. There were many people who had come here expecting it to be safe, and I had to help them first. I wanted to come for you sooner. I’m sorry.”

Paige put her hand on top of his. “It’s okay, Benjamin. Riley came for me.”

Benjamin drew his hand away then, and his expression hardened. “How fortunate for everyone involved.” The guy didn’t even bother trying to hide his dislike for me. Lucky for him, the feeling was definitely mutual, so that didn’t bother me in the slightest.

“Look, if you help us get the relic, we’ll take care of the rest,” I said.

“How? How do you propose that you, a simple-minded necromancer, will take care of an ancient, bloodthirsty goddess hell-bent on vengeance against those who she thinks did her wrong?” Ezekiel asked, crossing his arms. “That’s assuming that you can even be in the presence of the relic for more than a few moments without going mad. That’s what it does to humans, you know.”

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