Dust of My Wings
Series: Dante's Circle , Book 1.0
By: Carrie Ann Ryan | Other books by Carrie Ann Ryan
Published By: Fated Desires Publishing, LLC
Published: Jul 23, 2012
ISBN # 9781623220044
By: Carrie Ann Ryan | Other books by Carrie Ann Ryan
Published By: Fated Desires Publishing, LLC
Published: Jul 23, 2012
ISBN # 9781623220044
Word Count: 65,000
Price: $3.99 $0.00
Available in: Adobe Acrobat, Epub, Mobipocket (.mobi)
Available in: Adobe Acrobat, Epub, Mobipocket (.mobi)
Click here for the print version
Dust of My Wings (Dante's Circle ) by Carrie Ann Ryan - Romance>Paranormal/HorrorBook 1 in the Dante's Circle Series
Humans aren’t as alone as they choose to believe. Every human possesses a trait of supernatural that lays dormant within their genetic make-up. Centuries of diluting and breeding have allowed humans to think they are alone and untouched by magic. But what happens when something changes?
Neat freak lab tech, Lily Banner lives her life as any ordinary human. She’s dedicated to her work and loves to hang out with her friends at Dante’s Circle, their local bar. When she discovers a strange blue dust at work she meets a handsome stranger holding secrets – and maybe her heart. But after a close call with a thunderstorm, she may not be as ordinary as she thinks.
Shade Griffin is a warrior angel sent to Earth to protect the supernaturals’ secrets. One problem, he can’t stop leaving dust in odd places around town. Now he has to find every ounce of his dust and keep the presence of the supernatural a secret. But after a close encounter with a sexy lab tech and a lightning quick connection, his millennia old loyalties may shift and he could lose more than just his wings in the chaos.
Warning: Contains a sexy angel with a choice to make and a green-eyed lab tech who dreams of a dark-winged stranger. Oh yeah, and a shocking spark that's sure to leave them begging for more.
Reader Rating: 4.0 (9 Ratings)
A summons from the council never led to good things. Shade Griffin’s millennia worth of experience told him that. No matter what he truly desired, he’d do what he was told. He didn’t have another option, and why would he disobey now? He never had before. Whatever demands they dealt might seem tedious to a long-lived being such as him, he didn’t have anything else better to do.
Such was the life of an angel in his predicament; a vast and endless sense of being, yet no one with whom to share it.
Shade shook off the misery that threatened to creep along his skin and suffocate him. The idea of sharing his endless life with someone else, someone special, had long since burned away. No need to think about it again.
The sun broke through the clouds, warming his cool, honey-colored, almost dark tan, skin. He lifted his face, letting the rays soak into his pores. His eyes closed, and he took a deep breath, not really wanting to leave the spot. He rolled his neck, stretching his muscles, and then opened his eyes. His back ached from the long flight to the enclave. He stretched his wings, the light shimmering off his midnight black wings that trailed to a rim of deep blue. The wind picked up, his blue-black hair flowing behind him.
Shade arched his back, his wings flared, and blue dust trickled off and into the air, and drifted to the ground below.
Damn stuff kept doing that; and there was nothing he could do about it. He clenched his fists and winced in pain. He looked down at the healing abrasions on his knuckles and muttered a curse.
As one of the appointed enforcers of angelic law, he’d just come back from the punishment of a young angel: a cocky one at that. He hated doing it, but the unrepentant jerk had decided it would be fun to fly in broad daylight without cloud cover over Area 51. Really? Cliché much? It was easy enough to downplay the event as another UFO sighting, which would certainly bring out the crazies, but it didn’t negate the fact that the reckless angel had broken angelic law by letting humans see him flying.
Because he had decided to laugh about it to his friends and merely shrugged it off, Shade had to step in. If he’d apologized, then Shade wouldn’t have had to use his fists. But no. The young one mouthed off and challenged him, so Shade had to accept. After all, as a warrior, he could not ignore a challenge. Doing so would negate his authority.
And he won.
He still hated punishing others, even though it was his job. Between him and his best friend, Ambrose, who was practically his brother, they dealt with most of the enforcing the angelic laws. Together they’d done what they had to do for centuries, and in Ambrose’s case, even longer.
Shade was a warrior angel. In the times of the Angelic Wars, he’d fought alongside the best of the best. Hell, he was the best of the best. Well, maybe tied with Ambrose, but he wouldn’t tell the other angel that.
Shade chuckled as he envisioned Ambrose’s reaction to his thought. Ambrose was sure to want to prove just the opposite to be the case, and Shade would be more than willing to give it a go. If you couldn’t fight for supremacy with your best friend, how else would you even know how good you were?
Now those wars were long since over. Times of awkward peace were at hand, meaning the warriors herded the other angels and made sure they followed the rules the council members set in place.
They followed the rules, even if the rules were sometimes, in his opinion, too strict for their own good. But he would never voice it. He was merely a warrior angel.
He wasn’t even a godly one like in the fables of mortals. Their race wasn’t that of a god. Yes, if theology was correct, a god at some point had created them, but they weren’t God’s right hand men; they were not the symbol of goodness and hope. Far from it. They were just another species with rules, regulations, and a seemingly endless long life in order to be subjugated.
Wow. Bitter much?
He shouldn’t be; he had everything he wanted, didn’t he? His forehead scrunched as he thought, and his wings fluttered a bit in agitation.
He certainly had all the money, titles, glory, and privileges a warrior of the finest caliber could have. Why did he feel like he was missing something?
Shade shook his head and looked around. He stood at a midpoint on the mountainside, the enclave circling him. Stone buildings jutted from rock faces, thousands of feet above the surface, old as time. No stairs or elevators here. Open the door and, without wings, they’d drop to their death. Marble and crystal twinkled in the sunlight from the adornments and windows on all of the structures. It may have looked cold to some, but to Shade and his angelic brethren it was warm and inviting.
It looked like home, but it wasn’t truly a ‘home’; There was no love waiting on the other side of the door, and that pained him.
He sighed. He really needed to stop thinking such depressing thoughts. Taking one last look at the place he called home, he jumped off the ledge, his wings spreading to catch a drift, as the cool breezes hit his skin. He flew past other angels in the air, nodding to a few, but kept to himself. He was a warrior angel, the last face some would see as they stared beyond the end of his blade. Tough to make life-long friends outside of certain circles that way.
Shade descended, the wind whipping his hair back from his face, until his feet touched the stone balcony set off the council chambers. He set his wings back, making sure they didn’t trail on the floor. He was exhausted, but that didn’t give him a reason to be lazy. He walked through the ornate doors that reached tall to the roof. Despite his thousand years of living, sometimes the immense beauty of the council chambers had him at a loss for words.
Gold and crystal adorned the walls. Intricate carvings and art filled the room. Eons of pride and talent gave the room a sense of grandeur and honor that made Shade feel young in relation to the other angels surrounding him.
In reality, he was the youngest warrior angel of them all, and second in command to Ambrose, the leader of the warriors, the best at the job. That wasn’t pride talking, just fact.
Shade walked to the center of the room and surveyed the five council members before him, perched high on their thrones, their noses turned up towards him. Another presence worried him. Ambrose stood off to the side, a frown on his face. What was happening?
“I see you have finally decided to grace us with your presence,” Caine, the leader and all-around pain-in-the ass, admonished, and Shade held in a scowl. The brown-haired angel lifted a lip as if the mere sight of him disgusted the ruler.
Shade bowed his head. “I’m sorry I was late. I had just finished my dealing with the young angel and needed time to clear my head before I came. I didn’t want to taint the council with the thoughts and actions of a warrior.” There. That didn’t sound like sarcasm and distain, did it? Well, maybe it did, but it was the best he could do. He wasn’t overly happy with Ambrose in the council chamber. It felt like an ambush.
Caine snorted and shook his head.
Okay, apparently he couldn’t quite mask his true feelings. Oh, well.
Shade didn’t hate the council. He just didn’t like the fact that they held all the power and didn’t seem to do anything but hand out decrees and punishments that were enforced by the warriors. There were only three classes of angles: the council, the warriors, and the others. He didn’t like all the power on the top that trickled down to nothing, but who was he to speak out of turn?
“Enough of your pleasantries. We need you here, now,” Striker, the second-in-command, cut in. Dishwater brown hair and plain features made him look almost human. If it weren’t for the brown wings coming out of his back, he’d look like a mortal. Maybe that’s why the angel was always an ass.
“Okay.” Shade nodded. “What is it that you need?” He once again wondered why Ambrose was there? Why did they need two warrior angels? Tingles of dread filled his belly. Had the other faction of angels done something? They hadn’t destroyed the rebels completely in the war. It was always a cause for trepidation and concern that the others would come back and start something. Were they on the brink of another war? He’d not heard anything, but he couldn’t be too sure.
“We have been alerted to a breach of security,” Caine announced. “Our secrets may be unraveled soon if this is not fixed.”
“You mean the secrets of the supernatural?” Shade asked. “How can that be?”
Striker gave a laugh, filled with bile rather than humor. “You dare ask this when it is your fault we are in this predicament in the first place?”
Shade froze. “What?”
“Your dust.” Striker sneered. “Your oh-so-favorable blue dust has been collected by a human. If it falls into the wrong hands, do you understand what will happen? Everything that has been held secret for eons will be lost because you have a dusting problem.”
As a child, he’d had a problem with his dust. Whenever he got excited or angry, he’d sprinkle dust where he flew or stood. Beyond a few occurrences recently, he’d thought he’d conquered it years ago. How had someone gotten it? Did they even know what it was?
“I didn’t know,” Shade whispered.
But that was a lie. He did know. Just that morning, he’d seen a sprinkle of his dust flowing on the wind and thought nothing of it.
My God. What have I done?
“We know you didn’t,” said Agnes, the sole female member of the council. Her piercing blue eyes filled with understanding.
Of all the council members, Shade liked her best.
“But,” Agnes continued, “you must fix it, Shade. Finish it. Find your dust and reclaim it before someone finds out what it is. We don’t have the power to wipe the memories of an incidence such as this from a human’s mind as we once did. The humans don’t believe anymore. Because they don’t, we’ve lost our ability to shield ourselves the way we should.”
Shade nodded, sadness and frustration setting root.
“I will fix this,” Shade promised. “You have my word.”
The council nodded and dismissed him. With a glance toward Ambrose, Shade left the room, his best friend on his heels.
The two friends didn’t speak once they reached the end of the balcony. They simply jumped off the edge, their wings catching the wind, and flew toward another mountaintop. Shade needed time to think. To calculate.
He was damned fine at his job. Strong and fierce. Yet a childhood problem of dusting could take down a civilization. He would have laughed at the ridiculousness of that statement if it hadn’t been true.
They landed, their feet settling on the soil. Shade looked behind him at the place he called home. They didn’t live in heaven because they weren’t godly angels, far from it. He wasn’t even sure there was a heaven beyond their time. Their world was in the same realm as the humans, but it was tucked away in a pocket of space between two mountain ranges, hidden from the eyes of the unknown.
A few raindrops fell from the sky before turning to a slight mist. The other angels who were at a lower altitude flew to the safety of their homes, the rain beginning to weigh heavy on their wings. Only the strongest could fly in anything more than mist, another reason they didn’t live on clouds, as most humans seemed to believe. One flight through a dense cloud could be dangerous; the moisture seeped into their feathers and threatened to drag the angel down. Without sufficient muscular back strength, the angel would plummet.
Most didn’t. Despite the vast strength they possessed, angels were weak in some respects.
“Are you going to stand there in the rain and watch others while everything falls around you, or are you going to fix this?” Ambrose’s deep voice cut through his thoughts, and Shade turned toward him.
Tall with white blond hair pulled back from his pale face in a braid, with white, almost crystal wings, Ambrose was the light to Shade’s dark. Yet, the colors masked the personality, for where Shade saw the humor and light in some things, his best friend was the dark, the edge to the blade. Shade, too, held his own fury; he just didn’t show it as often.
Dangerous and agile, his mentor had taught him everything he knew. Shade lowered his head in shame. He’d failed.
“You didn’t fail, Shade,” Ambrose whispered.
“I didn’t say that aloud.” Ambrose was always doing that. He was practically a mind reader
“You didn’t have to. We all leave trails of angel dust. You are no different from others except that you leave greater quantities. It’s not something to be shameful of.”
“I beg to differ.”
“It’s only different this time because it got into the hands of a human. I’m worried how it got there, which is why I was in the room when you came in.”
Intrigued, Shade lifted his head. “What are you saying?”
Ambrose shrugged. “I don’t know yet. Something just seems off to me, but I will work on finding out.”
“Okay, what else do you know?”
“Only that the dust may be in the hands of a woman.”
“A woman?” Interesting.
The motorcycle vibrated beneath Shade as he pulled off the side of the road and parked. The rain pelted him, the cold seeping into his bones, but he shrugged it off. He was in northern Washington, and this seemed to be the norm in terms of weather.
He lifted his leg and got off the bike, ignoring the stares of the women around him. They watched him stroll, his powerful legs leading to long strides. He’d tucked his wings into the slits in his back to hide the fact he was an angel, but he couldn’t hide his face or the fact that women seemed to fawn over it.
It had been a long time since he had a woman, not since that jaguar shifter a century or two before on a night of deep depression and loneliness. But the heat, claws, and desperation had served to fill only a physical need that left him even lonelier than before. From that moment on, he left his carnal needs up to his hand. Before the jaguar, it had been even longer, but he didn’t want to think about her. The one he’d lost. She was long since gone.
Shade walked into a nearby café, the smells of baked goods and coffee filling his nose. He ordered a small coffee then went back to sit at a table near the window so he could watch those who passed by. A male pixie, in human form, walked in front of the window and nodded toward him. There were so many supernatural beings hidden from view in the world that Shade couldn’t even count them.
All humans were diluted forms of supernaturals. For millennia, the supernaturals had bred with one another and mixed the species until, finally, their powers had dwindled in most, and they stopped believing in things that came out of fairy tales. Those with so little non-human blood running their veins that they seemed ordinary were now called humans, although each had at least something beyond human lying dormant in their DNA.
Council did not identify the name of the human who collected the dust, but Ambrose told Shade it was about to be in the hands of a woman who lived and worked nearby. Her name was Lily.
Who was this Lily? Shade wanted to get a look at her. She had the answers. She possessed the reason behind his shame: his blue dust.
A woman with expressive emerald-green eyes passed by the window; a slight smile graced her face, and she had those side-swoopy bangs women loved so much. She was of average height and held delicious curves. He looked over every inch of her—a small waist, large, perfect breasts to fit his palms, slightly wide hips that would serve well when he gripped them, and sexy legs beneath the hem of her brown coat…
That had to be her. He didn’t know how he knew, but he was sure of it.
His groin tightened.
She was human. Not a lick of anything else came from her. Yet, why did he want her so from just a look? He’d never looked at a human this way before. Why now? Was it because she might be the one who held his dust?
Lily stopped under the awning right in front of the window, careful of where she stepped—odd—and brushed the hair out of her eyes, before smiling at a passerby. She was radiant. Absolutely gorgeous. Shade held back a groan and shifted uncomfortably in his seat when she bit into her lip. She smiled again then walked to what must have been her car, got in, and left before Shade even thought to stand.
Some warrior he was, completely frozen in shock by his reaction to her. He was, however, unrepentant. He didn’t want to follow her today anyway. A town small as this would know of Lily and aide him in his research. If the supernaturals were revealed, chaos would rain. Humans could feel threatened, start wars, do untold atrocities when they met with what they didn’t know and therefore feared. If the supernaturals felt threatened…Shade didn’t want to think about that. He had to know more before he did anything.
So many questions flashed through his mind. Who was she? Why did she have his dust? What would she do if she discovered his secret?
Most importantly, he wondered if she was single and how she would look underneath him, blushing in ecstasy.
Shade shook his head, dispelling those annoying thoughts. He’d find out what he needed to about Lily, get his dust, and save the entirety of the supernatural world. Maybe along the way he’d learn a little more about a pretty brunette whose very presence threatened to make his wings stretch to the sky.
Yep. Easy for a warrior angel such as himself.