Angel in crisis, p.1
Angel in Crisis, page 1
C. L. Coffey
Copyright © 2017 C. L. Coffey
All rights reserved.
Cover design by Amalia Chitulescu
Edited by Patrick Gilhooley and Tina Williams
Proofread by Naomi Jones and Emily Knight
All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced, transmitted, downloaded, distributed, stored in or introduced into any information storage and retrieval systems, in any forms or by any means, whether electronic or mechanical, without express permission of the author, unless for the purpose of a review which may quote brief passages for a review purpose.
This book is a work of fiction. Any references to historical events, real people, or real locations are used fictitiously. Other characters, names, places and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination. Any resemblances to actual events, locations, or persons – living or dead – is entirely coincidental.
For my very own Paddy
(Who isn’t a Saint, but I sometimes think he could be)
ALSO BY C. L. COFFEY
The Louisiangel Series
Angel in Training
Angel in Crisis
WAYS TO CONNECT
Man’s enemies are not demons, but human beings like himself.
~ Lao Tzu ~
Zachary, the Zach-ass virtue, was droning on and I was struggling to pay attention for two reasons. The first was because he was repeating the same things over and over: how Cupid and I shouldn’t be running a House, how we were failing to do so anyway; and how the convent nearly burning down was our fault. And the big one: how we'd caused a global news story. Again... The other reason was because I was still recovering from the two incidents Zachary was complaining about.
Four days ago, we had managed to defeat Asmodeus. Asmodeus was one of two Princes of Darkness who lived in New Orleans, and he was also my charge’s boss. It hadn’t been easy. We’d lost a cherub in the process and I had been severely injured – had I been human instead of an angel, there was no doubt I would be in a morgue. As it was, I healed fast – bruises would disappear in hours, and I’d had my broken bones heal overnight. Given that I was still feeling pain when I breathed (admittedly out of habit than a necessity), it was a good indication that I had been hurt far worse on the inside than I looked on the outside.
Only hours after defeating Asmodeus, a bunch of teenagers had broken into the convent. When I say ‘broken in’, what I mean is, they walked in through the unlocked front door. (Angels, it turns out, are far too trusting.) Once in, they’d stolen about half of the remaining weapons in the armory and then set fire to the place. We’d managed to get everyone out, but the damage had been so great that we had relocated to the St. Louis Cathedral. We were still hoping that it was only on a temporary basis. When the fire department had finally given us permission to return this morning, Cupid and I had made the short walk back to the Old Ursuline Convent to assess the damage.
Twenty minutes ago, Zachary, his sidekick Savannah, Grace, Metatron, and Gabriel had appeared. We’d barely managed to get through the pleasantries before Zachary had launched into his tirade. I stifled a yawn and looked to Cupid. “How long is he going to go on for?” I asked him, using our psychic connection. “We could just tell them about Asmodeus and shut him up.”
The lead of the House had a psychic link with all the angels under him. He couldn’t read minds, but we were able to communicate telepathically – in private. Cupid blinked a few times, but refrained from looking back at me. He’d only had the ability for a couple of weeks, since Michael had died, and he was still trying to get used to it. He wasn’t the only one. “Let Zachary say his piece. If he doesn’t get tired of it, Grace will.”
I settled back, leaning my elbow against the arm of the couch to prop my head up, and turned my attention on the rest of the angels in the room in an effort to keep myself awake. I had yet to meet an ugly angel. Hell, I had yet to meet an average looking angel. This room, the office I shared with Cupid just off the library, was full of tall, exquisite looking creatures. Any one of them could have had a lucrative career in the movies or as a model.
Cupid was slim with hazel eyes and scruffy brown hair. Until recently his clothing had been stylish, but casual. He had an eye for fashion and loved to shop. One of his roles was that he had been in charge of clothes, shopping for all the angels in the convent. Although any one of them could have worn a hessian sack and made it look good, he knew just what would suit them. These days, he had started wearing more and more suits – dark gray with pinstripes, making him look taller than he was. He looked good in them, but I didn’t think he looked like himself in them. Suits were Michael’s thing, not his.
The thought of Michael, or the lack of him, caused an involuntary shudder. Michael had been killed by one of the Fallen and I still couldn’t think about him without it sending a ripple of despair through me.
The motion, though slight, caught the attention of the other archangel in the room. Gabriel was sitting next to me, and had been watching Zachary with an equally bored expression. From the previous times we had met, I gathered he had the same feelings towards Zachary as I did; only he didn’t try to hide them. Gabriel had deep green eyes – a few shades darker than my own – and black hair that he kept short and neat. He was the only angel in the room dressed in similar clothing to me. Black cargo pants and a form fitting black t-shirt which did nothing to hide his muscles. He arched an eyebrow at me, then, when I shrugged, glanced back at Zachary. “How many ways are you going to say that you don’t think this House should be run by Cupid and Angel?” he asked; boredom evident in his tone.
Zachary was tall and lithe, with his long blond hair pulled back into a bun on top of his head. Man-buns did nothing for me, but it didn’t look out of place on him. The virtue, who had been pacing between the couches and the two desks (Cupid’s which was currently occupied by Metatron, and mine which had Grace leaning against it), whirled around to glower at Gabriel, his nostrils flaring. “As many times as I need to, Gabriel.”
“Zachary is making a very important point,” Savannah cut in. Of all the angels, she was the shortest, but even then, she was only a couple of inches shorter than me. Or she would have been, if she wasn’t wearing heels. Although she had warm, honey-colored eyes, the Asian virtue had an arctic demeanor.
“A point he has made eight times since he arrived: you don’t think Cupid and An
“Why?” Zachary scoffed. “Because their actions,” he waved his arm towards me and Cupid, “Made headline news around the world. Have you not been listening to anything I’ve been saying?” The virtues were Heaven’s PR. As much as it annoyed me to admit it, we had caused a bit of a commotion and there was a reason for them to be here. I just wished they’d sent someone else.
“I started to, and then I got bored,” Gabriel stated. He glanced at me, and I just stared at him wide-eyed. I certainly didn’t disagree, but I was far too chicken to admit to that.
“They capsized a container ship, put half the Mississippi shipping industry out of commission, and half of the media outlets are reporting terrorism,” Zachary listed, taking great pleasure in doing so as he stared at me.
“And don’t forget the ship’s crew who ‘miraculously’ found themselves safe on the dock,” Savannah chimed in.
“The other option was to let them drown,” I shot back at them.
“The humans were removed from that ship by the cherubim,” Cupid eventually spoke up.
“What were the cherubim doing there?” Zachary asked. “What were you doing there?”
Cupid glanced at me, but I indicated he could take the floor. It was he who deserved all the credit. “Defeating Asmodeus,” he said, simply.
The room fell into a stunned silence.
“Asmodeus?” Grace repeated, finally. It was the first word she had spoken since they had arrived.
I nodded, proud of my friend. “Cupid took him out.”
“No one expected you to do it,” Zachary sniped.
“Enough!” Grace snapped. “We are here for answers, not personal attacks.”
My hands curled into fists. As far as I could tell, all that Zachary and Savannah had been doing was launching personal attacks on me and Cupid. Gabriel’s hand wrapped around my fist, squeezing it gently. I looked at him, and caught a very slight shake of his head. I blew out a breath, but it wasn’t until I relaxed my fist that Gabriel released me.
“I think you should start at the beginning,” Grace continued, this time addressing Cupid.
“Angel received information that Asmodeus was planning something at the Port. We discovered he was taking a shipment of something – something that required Fallen guards. We defeated the Fallen there, and unfortunately, the Port suffered in the process.”
I had learned the hard way that when the Fallen were killed, their bodies exploded. It was more like a balloon popping – on a much larger scale – than a giant fireball, but the force had been strong enough to capsize a containership. The force had also caused a few containers to explode – with flames…
“We think Asmodeus was already on his way there to watch over his shipment, but he attacked Angel,” Cupid continued. “When I had the opportunity, I killed him.”
That opportunity hadn’t come a moment too soon: I had barely held my own against the Prince of Darkness. If Cupid had waited only seconds longer, I would have been dead. Permanently dead. Asmodeus and the other Fallen I had been fighting (and their exploding bodies) were the reason my body was still healing. I had done a lot of fighting over the last few weeks, and not had enough time to rest up as much as I needed. So much for being able to rest when you were dead.
“That is incredible news,” Grace told Cupid. “Though you are sure it was Asmodeus?”
“Yes,” Cupid and I responded simultaneously. “It was him,” Cupid confirmed.
“You took out one of the Princes of Darkness? I’m impressed!” Gabriel congratulated us.
“An act so impressive you destroyed half of New Orleans in the process,” Zachary snarked.
“Zachary,” Grace said, her tone low and dangerous. “I won’t tell you once more: I will ask you to leave.”
“Forgive him, Grace,” Savannah spoke up. “The defeat of Asmodeus is nothing short of wonderful, but in doing so, this House has created a worldwide PR disaster. We simply do not have enough angels or miracles to right this.”
“The people of this city are stronger than you give them credit,” I told her, remembering something Michael had once told me. “Regardless of what has happened, or what is happening, this city fights.”
“That’s the whole point,” Savannah told me. “This House should not have put them in this position.”
“You are both right,” Cupid jumped in. He had been perched on the arm of the other couch, but he stood up. “We created this mess, and we will clear it up. Without the aid of any miracles,” he added.
“And just how do you propose to do that?” Zachary asked, folding his arms. The look on his face told me he thought we’d be more likely to build a staircase to heaven than to fix this mess. “You could maybe explain the damage at the Port, but you removed humans from a ship and transported them to land.”
I looked to Cupid: I wanted to know the answer to this too. I certainly hoped his approach wasn’t going to be the same one he took with Leon. He turned to face Zachary. “Not only did we defeat Asmodeus, we also took out several other of the Fallen. What is more important than that, is that we did it without losing a single human life.”
“Cupid is quite right,” Gabriel agreed.
“Cupid didn’t answer my question,” Zachary retorted, giving him a pointed look.
“This is not getting us anywhere,” I muttered, impatiently.
Grace nodded her head in agreement. “Zachary, Savannah: thank you for your time. We can handle this from here.”
“But this is a PR nightmare!” Savannah objected.
“You’ve already established that there are no miracles available for this. I agree that it should be the local House that deals with it,” Grace explained. Her voice was firm, but I could tell from the way she had narrowed her eyes at the two virtues that they were beginning to irritate her. She clearly had a high tolerance level.
Thankfully, Zachary and Savannah seemed to catch on. They shared a look with each other, before bowing their heads in respect at Grace. Finally, they vanished. Beside me, Gabriel let out an audible sigh of relief, but it was Cupid who spoke. “Thank you.”
“Do not thank me, Cupid,” Grace corrected him, her tone as cold as it had been for Zachary and Savannah. “Even though you have defeated Asmodeus and several other Fallen, Zachary made a valid point: you exposed yourselves to the humans you are supposed to protect. The only reason I am allowing you to clean up your own mess is that it appears no human is able to identify what removed them from the ship. The both of you,” as she pointed at Cupid and me, “Will ensure that there is no fallout for Heaven from your actions, and you will both ensure that the city does not suffer from this. If the seraphim have to step in, I can assure you that you will no longer hold control over this House. Do I make myself clear?”
“Crystal,” Cupid responded.
When she looked to me, I hurried to nod my response. “Yes, ma’am.”
“Before I leave, I have one last question: have any of you heard from Raphael?”
When the three of us shook our heads, she frowned, “It has been spoken, so let it be recorded,” Grace said, this time directing her words to Metatron.
It was easy to forget he was in the room as he scribbled away in the small book. His eyes never seemed to be on what he was writing, but rather, what was happening in front of him. The single earring stud in Metatron’s ear glinted as he bobbed his head. He was tall, black with a shaved head, and like Grace, looked dressed for a boardroom. “We are done here,” he confirmed, the pen still moving.
“We will be in touch,” Grace announced. Then, as quickly as Zachary and Savannah had disappeared, so too did Grace and Metatron.
Cupid’s normal relaxed demeanor was still oozing stress as his back remained straight and his jaw tense. “No, but it’s going to take some effort to return New Orleans to normal.”
I shook my head. “I meant about Raphael. No one has heard from him, right? Don’t you guys share a connection with Grace?”
“Grace? Thank goodness, no,” Gabriel said, shuddering. “Archangels share a connection with the members of their House. We report in to Grace, but nothing upwards. That’s why we hold meetings like we do. I’m sure Raphael is fine. Paddy would have said something if he hadn’t been in touch.”
“Paddy!” my eyes went wide. I’ll admit, I had forgotten about Paddy. Paddy, a tiny Scottish female with long, natural red hair, and better known to the world as St. Patrick (yes, the St. Patrick), was Raphael’s second-in-command of their House in Dublin. She was Raphael’s partner in every sense of the word. They had come to New Orleans a couple of months ago to investigate a lead that thankfully, had led nowhere. They had both stayed on to help out after the cherubim had left. That was, until Michael had been killed. Raphael’s way of dealing with it had been to disappear, leaving Paddy behind. To help us destroy Asmodeus, she had gone to Australia to see if she could find a lead on just what kind of trap could keep an angel prisoner.
“I spoke to Paddy,” Cupid assured me. “She said she will remain in Sydney with Remiel a while longer. This House isn’t in a state where we can have her here, anyway.” He looked to Gabriel. “Are you planning on staying?”
“I figured I would see what damage the fire had done and see if I could lend my expertise there,” Gabriel replied.
by C. L. Coffey have rating 4 out of 5 / Based on32 votes