Tholan had made a grave mistake. He had thought his charge dead and had taken her before it was her time, causing a rift in her family’s timeline. He knew he deserved to die for his mistake but was given instead a thousand years of solitude to reflect on his mistake.
Parker Brooks loved her da, and when he was arrested for robbery and murder, a crime he wasn’t even physically able to commit, she confessed to it to keep him out of jail. Parker spent ten years in prison for a crime neither of them had committed. Her da died while she was behind bars.
Fresh out of prison, Parker was introduced to the Mystics. They were a loud and boisterous bunch, and a bit much for her to take. Seeking solitude, Parker met Tholan, a Mystic she could relate to and let her guard down. When she fell asleep, Tholan could see the demon of her nightmares and knew that she was in major trouble.
Her stepmother had sold Parker’s soul to a demon, and he was there to collect. But Parker wasn’t going to take this laying down. With Tholan at her side, Parker would conquer Hell to fix this.
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His love for her was forbidden…
Riss has been around since the beginning of time and watching his charges be born, grow up, and die has taken a toll on him. Until lately, being a Protector has always been enough… The Archangel Michael, Riss’s mentor and superior, decides with the help of their “Boss” to change things up a bit―like the rest, he doesn’t want to lose one of his best Protectors. Riss is assigned to guide and protect Kala. Riss is not happy about the changes and hopes this is his last assignment as a Protector before he can quit and live his last year on Earth and die.
She has nothing left to lose―except her life…
Kala has lost everything: her family as a child, her job, and now her apartment. She is also having weird dreams that she can’t quite remember…dreams revolving around a single white feather. Kala’s sexual fascination with the feather brings forth the most gorgeous man she’s ever seen―Riss. He came for his feather―he can feel everything she does with it throughout his body.
Sex with a human is forbidden and Riss has never even considered it―until now.
A madman, suffering from a delusional fantasy, has set his sights on Kala. He has already killed and will kill again. She will be his or suffer the consequences…
And Riss has been forbidden to interfere…
“She is not going to be my wife. In any way, Riss.” Riss nodded as Agon started pacing again. “I want to touch her. Feel her body close to mine and kiss her. I have a need to taste her mouth to see if it tastes as good as I think it might. Then there is my body. I cannot control it around her. I run so hot and hard that I feel as if the world knows that I need her in ways that are not right.”
“She will taste better than you can ever dream of, and her body will give you pleasure in ways you cannot imagine.” Agon stared at him for several seconds. “But you cannot touch her. She is your charge. If you do not wish to have her as your wife, then you must not touch her in any way. If you do…if you do, my friend, then there will be no turning back. For the touch of the woman you are to spend your days with will haunt you in ways that will make you want to end your life in order to be with her. Trust me on this. I am well aware of how your body will crave her, and you will stop at nothing to have her again and again.”
“I do not want her.” Riss nodded and could see that Agon was lying to him as much as he was himself. “She is beautiful and stubborn, but I do not want her. But I fear that it might be too late for me.”
Galin knows it’s his turn and he isn’t having any part of it. He makes no bones about making it clear to Boss either that he both knows what he is up to and isn’t going to cooperate. He doesn’t now or ever want a wife.
“This boy you are going to protect is somewhat of a problem child. He has had a great deal thrown at him, but—”
“Boy?” Boss nodded and frowned. “No, I’m sorry, but it should be a woman, not a boy. I’m not…you’re going to assign me my wife to care for. I don’t want one, but I know it should be female. What is this about?” He pushed the file back at Michael.
“You want a wife? It was my understanding that you have no wish to be wed. Am I correct on that?” Galin nodded and looked at the file with the picture of a young boy on it. He appeared to be in his early teens maybe, but he wasn’t much older than that. “Galin? Do you wish for me to reassign you? Do you have no desire to help this young man?”
“I thought I was going into the rotation to find me a wife. The way that you did for Riss and Agon.” He looked up at Boss and Michael, who had summoned him today. “I had thought that the Mystic’s were a way for you to get rid of us all, and marrying us off was better than having us die. I’m…I’m not sure what’s going on now.”
Dusty McGee has just lost her sister to horrific accident and finds herself saddled with a very angry young nephew to raise. Now, some self-proclaimed protector, Galin, tells her that although he doesn’t want to marry her he would very much like to take her to his bed. She’s had about all that she can stand.
Markum has set his sights on taking the boy to his realm, convinced this is the alleged boy the demons have been searching for, and Dusty is an added bonus…
Reyna Sharp, Renie to her friends, just wanted to work out the time she had left alone, with no one bothering her. When she was a baby her mother had given her away in a Faustian deal with a demon. She had until her twenty-fifth birthday then she was supposed to spend eternity in Hell.
Arryn was next on the list of Mystics to take a mate. He had just lost another charge, and wasn’t up for anymore heartache. He didn’t think his heart could take being attached to a mate only to lose her in a few short months…
The war between good and evil had gone on since the beginning of time. But even the underworld has rules…rules that aren’t meant to be broken…
Once he’s kissed her, there’s no turning back… No matter how hard he tries, Arryn can’t stay away, and the more Renie pushes him away, the more he fights to keep her. Can love really conquer all?
Jennifer Hale had been in the hospital handcuffed to the bed for five days. The winged man standing guard had not left her side since she’d been brought in, and the fact that no one else could see him gave her the willies.
The man robbing the diner where Jenny worked had shot her in the leg, and then she had killed him with his own gun. It was kill or be killed, but the local authorities hadn’t seen it that way—until now. They were releasing her and as of now she had no job, and no home to return to.
Valyn the Slayer was just tired. He had just one desire, to be put to sleep for an eternity. Ever since he’d lost his small charge, the simple act of living seemed too much for him. He had only looked away for a moment, now she was gone, and he blamed himself. And now “Boss” was telling him his mate was here….
“She’s a lovely girl. Broken too, if you want to know the truth of it. Perhaps you’ve heard her mentioned. She’s the woman that saved that diner full of patrons about a week ago.” He’d heard of it but didn’t know her name. “The bill collectors are hounding her hourly. However, they are not putting the calls through to her room at the hospital for fear of upsetting her. She’s made some very good friends while staying there.”
“What happened to her?” Boss told him what she’d done and how she’d been shot. “And the bill collectors? Why are they hounding her? I’m assuming that she has debt, but it’s more than that, isn’t it?”
“Yes, she’s now homeless and jobless. Also, with this other business of the credit card, there is no way that she can make anything work out right for her. Not without a great deal of help.” Valyn sat down on the wire wheel that had been left behind when the house had been rewired. “Valyn, you told me that you were broken and why you thought so. But this woman, she can help you in ways that I cannot.”
“You could if you would just put me to sleep.” Boss shook his head. “What if I don’t go and see her? Don’t take her as my mate? Because I don’t think my life could be any better to have her with me. I’m not good around people anymore. I don’t want to have someone depending on me for their wellbeing. It’s too much.”
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Tholan watched his charge as she acted and danced on the stage. He knew better than to try and keep up with her—she was beautifully fast skimming over the stage. But she was stunning, and she knew the steps to the music like she did her own name. When the play she was acting in came to an end, he knew that she’d have to go to the back room and change quickly so that no one, not one of the other actors, knew that she was a female, not a male just as they were. Women did not act on the stage, nor did they sing and dance as if they were born to do so.
The men of this time thought it to be dangerous to have a woman act—which to Tholan was just silly. Some of them could and did play better and act better than their male counterparts. But Elizabeth was determined to be out there, showing her skills and having fun. And her father loved that she enjoyed acting as much as he did watching her perform. When they had taken their final bow, he watched the others around her, making sure that none of them harmed her, and did not guess what secret she was hiding from them. As they walked home, he encouraged her more, telling her that she was brilliant.
Her face showed so much happiness for what she had done. The streets were dirty. Even though there were piles of refuse and spoiled food along her way, she never turned up her nose at those that were digging through it. Some of the patrons of the stage had given her and the other actors hunks of bread and cheese. Even though her father and she could have used a bit of it too, she always shared her wealth with those that she knew needed it more than her. Her way of thinking was, she had someone to love her and a roof over her head.
Tholan wouldn’t rest his protection of her until they were at her home. Her father was a good man, even though he would get into his cups a little too much. But he loved his daughter and the coin that she would bring to him nightly. They were a good pair, the two of them. While he’d never say a word to anyone, Tholan did think that he was in love with the beautiful Bethy, as her father called her. Supper was the hard, crusty bread that she’d saved a hunk of from today, with tomatoes sliced thick and salted heavily. There was broth too, with just a little of the potato that they’d had last evening, and a bit of fish, left over from the supper the night before that. It smelled good, he supposed, but it wasn’t something that he’d eat. Poor didn’t describe the way these two lived.
They did have food once or maybe twice a day. There was always tea, though there were times when she’d use the leaves over too many times. And wine for her father. It helped, her father told her, with the pains in his legs. Tholan knew from her father’s protector that he wasn’t long for this world. His legs, both of them in sad condition, were rotting off at the knee. And as there was no coin for the doctor, they lived their life as well as they could. Taking her father out on the stoop, a chore for one as small as herself, Bethy sat with her father, telling him of all the things that had been in the play. They were the
same stories, her changing them up a little for freshness, and she told him that no one, not a single person, knew who she was. “I’d hate to think what they’d do to someone as delicate as my little flower.” Her father touched his old and callused hand to her cheek. “I’ve heard tell that they stone a woman who would dare breach their rules. You be careful, my Bethy. I should just die without you by my side.” “I am as safe as you are locked away all day whilst I am gone. And if they find out, I think—nay, I know—that they’d do nothing more to me than to push me aside and have a man take over my role.
” She laughed—it sounded like tinkling bells to Tholan. “Though I doubt anyone could do a good job of it. They all sing like men, and the voice that I have is much lighter on the ears.” At bedtime she tucked her father into his cot. Then she did what she did every night to keep them safe—Bethy put a large stone in front of the door and stoked up the fires. Sleep would come easily for her, Tholan knew.
It was exhausting to her to keep up with acting, as well as helping her father around. The next morning, Tholan was there when she rose up. He whispered to her that it was going to be a grand day. That she would be happy though it was raining hard. Going with her to her father’s bed, Tholan saw her shake him hard, and when he didn’t move, Tholan looked at Michael, who appeared in the room with them. “He has passed. I’ve come to take him home, as his protector has been assigned to someone else.” Michael came to get all those ready to pass. It was a difficult job—he was forever busy in his role—but Tholan was more concerned with his own charge. She was taking the death of her father very hard. When the undertaker came to take her father’s body away, Bethy cried harder as he was put in a wagon with the other dead. Tholan’s heart hurt for her. He knew that her own had to be broken badly—her father was all that she’d had in the world. It was a hard time for so many now, food being in such short supply.
The diseases ran through the people quickly and without care to age, or how the ones left behind were to deal with it. There wasn’t any money for a proper burial for most, and Bethy’s father was no different. As she walked behind the wagon, she kept telling her father how much he had meant to her, how she was going to miss him so much. Tholan was beside her with each step, telling her that she’d be all right, that time would heal this wound for her. He could not touch her, could not do what he wanted to do more than anything. And that was to take her into his arms, under his wings, and hold her until the world, her world, was a much better place.
That evening he tried to tell her not to go to the theater—a grand name for such a hovel—and that they would not miss her for one night. But he also feared that if she did not go, she would sit in the house and not eat or drink. The things that she did there, on the small stage, made her happy, and for that, he supposed, it would be a good thing for her to do. Her face was swollen, and Tholan told her to say that she’d had a cold. No one would question her about her father—they all thought her to live alone. That like them, she had no one. When she dressed herself in her garb, Tholan told her how lovely she
looked, whispered that there were none prettier than her, and their voices were not nearly as nice. The play went on.
Mistakes were made—they happened every night. But when it was over, instead of going to the pub with them, to celebrate another night of merriment, Bethy gathered her things, all of them, and made her way home. The roads were slightly cleaner than they had been on the way in. The rain, hard and driving at times, had washed the worst of the dirt and trash away. But it was slippery, the stones and mud making her step very cautiously as she walked along. The wagon for the dead was making its way along the streets again. She moved to walk to the other side of the road to avoid it. But as she was making her way across the wet stones, she lost her footing and tumbled down. Tholan was reaching for her—to do what, he had no idea—when she sat up. “I have fallen.” The people roaming the streets just stared at her while she laughed, and when Bethy stood up, still holding onto the wagon that was near her, she started crying. “I wish it to be me in this cart this night.” Her hand came from the cart to her head. That was when Tholan noticed that her hand was covered in blood.
Standing close to her, trying to see if she’d been hurt badly enough to need help, she looked at him. Tholan stood very still when he thought her eyes were staring directly at him. “Hello.” He nodded. “I’ve fallen down. I think that I’ve rattled my head. Do you suppose you could help me along? I don’t wish to be alone tonight. I might join my father, and I do not wish to die alone.” Before he could tell her that he had her, someone moved through him. A man, tall and big, grabbed her hand and tossed her to the road. The blood that poured from her head this time was pooling beneath it. Scooping her up so that her soul could be taken now, Tholan made his way to the other realm. He didn’t want her to hurt, but it was much too late for that. As soon as he summoned Michael, he knew that something more had happened. “What have you done, Tholan?” He explained to Michael that he’d brought her himself.
“But she wasn’t to die. Not yet, at least. She has many years to go. Children to birth. Generations to bring to the world. You have taken her too soon.” Boss came to see him as he stood there, her lifeless soul in his arms. He took her from him, his anger so strong that Tholan flinched back from him. The woman had not died, that was all that his mind could center on. “You have taken her too soon. Do you know the repercussions that you have caused this day? The things that have to be changed, children that will not be born? What will happen now, Tholan? What of the generations and generations of children that were to come from this woman and her husband?” He asked if she could be taken back. “Nay, it is much too late for that.
The man that you took her from, she was meeting him today. He would care for her in her need, and they would love like none other. You have done her and the world a misdeed that will be felt forever. You must explain to her what you have done.”
“I cannot.” Boss woke the soul in his arms. The woman looked at them all but didn’t say anything. “You must be able to take her back. You are all powerful.” “In this, I cannot. You have— Words fail me on this. You must tell her what you have done to her.” Tholan backed away. His own heart was broken too. “Michael, take care of him. I shall have to see what I can do to rectify this for her. But the timeline for her, it is forever broken.” When he disappeared with Bethy, Tholan lay on the ground, his wings spread out over him. It was his death that awaited him. Michael would surely kill him now. And when nothing happened, he looked up and saw that not only had Michael drawn his sword, but he looked ready to use it on him. “You must die as well.” Tholan nodded, his heart, his mind no longer able to function. “You have killed a human. One that was set to be the mother to a great many special people.
Do you have any idea what must be done to fix this? If there is even a fix?” “No, my lord, I do not. I thought her dead. There was so much blood under her. The man, he threw her to the road and he—” “His fingers slipped. He was helping her to rise. Her mate—that was her mate for all time, and you have done them all a misjustice, Tholan. All generations, not just theirs, will feel this forever. You deserve to die.” “I do.” He waited for the blow, the one that would remove his head. It was no less than he deserved. Tholan thought of the woman. Bethy was no longer. He had no idea how Boss was going to make it so that she could go back, but it would never be the same for her, or for the man who had only wanted to help her. Michael ordered him to stand and Tholan, confused, did so. “You will go to your cell and stay there. No contact with anyone, not on Earth or in this realm, for a period of one thousand years.
And when you return, if I allow it, you will not be a protector as you have been until such time that our Lord feels you have paid the price for what you have done. Go. Get yourself out of my sight. You have nothing to say that I wish to hear.” Michael, his friend, turned his back on him. It hurt him more, Tholan thought, than if Michael had removed his head. Willing himself to his cell, he laid upon his cot. His life, his life as a protector, was finished. ~*~ Thousands of years later PJ and her da loved watching old movies—the older the better. And when there was a marathon with their favorite actors, they would binge on them until they were cross-eyed exhausted. But they had each other, and they were happy. And PJ loved her da more than she did anyone in the world. “Angela said that she was going to go and get her hair done. That was two days ago. I wonder what sort of fluff and cut they do on dogs such as herself.” They both laughed. Da had married Angela six years ago, when PJ had been a teenager.
just tolerated her, both of them. “I will have to do something about her soon, I think. She has made things difficult for me at the board.” “Like what?” PJ knew that she was to take over the company when her da retired— if he ever retired. “I was in there yesterday and got caught up on the paperwork, by the way. And you should know that I’ve also invested in the school that we talked about.” He nodded. Da, Parker Daniel Brooks, was a hell of a businessman. And in turn, she had learned from the best. The business that he’d purchased for a song before she’d been born had turned into a multibillion-dollar industry, leaving them both room to make more investments and even more money for them—not that they needed it. But they were very generous with it, and that was why they continued to make more. “I guess she told Milton, and you know how he can be, that when I passed away, she’d be taking over and he’d be gone. He told me that he didn’t think she’d do a good job, not as good as you would.” PJ was already shaking her head. “You have to take it, PJ. You want her to spend all our hard-earned money on getting her nails done and other men?” “No, but I also have enough on my plate for now. And besides, Da, you’re going to be around for a very long time.” They both laughed. When the doorbell rang, neither of them moved.
“You and I, we have plenty of time for us to make any kind of decisions on what is going to happen. You won’t leave me anytime soon, will you?” “I hope not.” PJ stood up when someone cleared their throat. It was the police, and they looked like they meant business. “Can we help you, officers?” “Mr. Brooks, we’re here to arrest you for armed robbery and murder.” PJ looked at her father, a man confined to a wheelchair since she’d been born. “You have the right to remain—” “Hang on there, young man. I don’t know what’s happening here, but as you can tell, I’ve no way of robbing anyone, much less holding a gun. I don’t own one, and wouldn’t know how to use it if I did.” But they took him in, with her following the cruiser closely. Angela had come in just as they were leaving, and was pissed as well. Booking him for a crime that he’d not done, nor could possibly have committed, took nearly three hours. By then they’d shuffled her da from one end of the station to the next. Each place they’d gone, someone had asked him about the chair, and every time they told them that he’d been in it for years. The next morning, they told her that he was going to go to trial. It seemed to her that things were being rushed through, and Da’s attorney was trying his best to get them to understand that her da didn’t do this. All the while, PJ stayed by his side until they took him to his cell.
“They’re ramming this through, PJ, and I haven’t any idea what I’m supposed to do. And if they’re doing this to him now, I can’t imagine what they’re going to do to him during the trial. I cannot get anyone to tell me where this thing occurred or how it happened. I’m worried for his safety.” Joseph March, her father’s attorney, looked as if
he’d aged several years over the last twenty-four hours. “It’s as if they’re trying to blame this on him for some reason that I can’t fathom.” “Will he go to prison?” Joseph told her that it was looking more and more like that all the time.
“You mean before the trial. They’ll get him to prison and what? Forget about him? This is all Angela, isn’t it? She’s doing this so that she’ll somehow end up with Da’s money.” “I didn’t want to say that before, honey. But to me this has the markings of someone desperate.” He looked around and then leaned into her. “I don’t know what is going on with her, but your father told me that he thinks she’s put out a hit on him. If this is her way of getting him alone, then she couldn’t have worked it out better for herself. And if he’s convicted, she can perhaps get out of the pre-nup that she had to sign. She’ll be able to say that he lied to her or some such nonsense, and that will be the end of Brooks.” Her father had worked hard on making his way in the world. She knew as well as anyone how much he’d given up, how much he’d scrimped and saved to make this work for the family. And now this. Looking around the jail, she asked Joseph how many years he thought her father would get—if he were to make it to the trial. “The max he could get for murder and armed robbery is twenty years, I think. I don’t know how they think to make this stick, but then, this entire thing has me baffled. The least amount? I don’t know. Four to ten?” She nodded and thought of what she had done already and what she’d have to give up. “What are you thinking? You thinking that he’ll make it?” “I did it.
” Joseph asked her what she’d done. “This thing. The thing that they have on Da. If I confess, then he can’t be charged. If I confess, then he’s free to find out what happened and see if Angela is a part of it.” “No. You can’t do that, PJ. If your father got wind of what you’re thinking, he’d bust your bottom. No. That’s a terrible idea. Don’t even think that again.” PJ nodded and told Joseph to listen to her. “I’m younger than him and able to get away should someone come after me in this place. And Da has a good attorney in you. The two of you can work together and set things right.” Joseph told her again that this was a bad idea. “Then if you have a better one, I’m all for it. This will have to work, Mr. March. If not, then I’m going to lose more than just my da’s business; more importantly, I’ll lose him. And I just can’t do that.” “Let me talk to him first. See what he thinks.” PJ told him no, that if he did, he’d talk him out of it. “PJ, this is not a good idea. You’re only twenty-three years old. You have a good head on your shoulders and have become a good attorney in this short amount of time. If you go to prison, you’ll lose that as well.” “I’m going to save my dad. The details in this, they won’t matter because Da doesn’t have what it takes to live the life of a prisoner. I’ll just confess and let the chips fall where they might. You and my dad, you can get me out. If not, then he’ll be all right and I’ll come home to him when it’s all said and done. That’s what has to be done, Mr. March. We both know that there isn’t any way that he can survive this. He’s too frail.
And being in a wheelchair, they’ll hurt him with that as well. Please. You have to help me with this.” It took less time than she had thought it would for her to be jailed. Her father was released and barred from seeing her until the trial. Everyone, including her stepmother, was pissed that she’d confessed. And confessing in front of a news camera had spoiled a great many plans, she thought. The trial was just as she’d been told it would be—quick, no evidence. The witnesses that the police presented kept saying that they had seen a large man running away from the scene after the place was robbed. No one had a name for the man that she’d allegedly killed, and there wasn’t a body. Things like this, whatever they were doing, were going to be something for the books one day. Four days after she confessed, not only had she been found guilty of the crimes, but she’d been shipped to prison. Her da cried during the entire trial. PJ knew as soon as the trial began that there wasn’t going to be any saving her. She was going to go away for a long time.
Ten years. Ten years for a murder there wasn’t a body for.
Ten years for a robbery that she didn’t do, as well as ten years of life without her da. PJ had been fucked.
And there wasn’t anyone who could help her.