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Storming Hell’s Gate

Storming Hell's GateResplendence Publishing
ISBN eBook: 978-1-60735-182-5
Genre: Paranormal/Gay MM
Series: Book four in the The City Series.
Book Length: Novella
Release Date: August 18, 2010

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For millennia, Archangel Michael has performed his duty with pride and unfailing commitment, but when a human begins to creep into his thoughts, Michael puts aside his duty to follow his heart.

Storming Hell’s Gate to rescue the human, Draco, goes beyond want. It is a need he can’t explain, even to himself. What is it about the human that calls to his soul? Archangels were created to be warriors not lovers, but one touch from Draco, and Michael’s body cries out for more.

Loving the human could cost him his position in Heaven, but not loving Draco would cost him his soul.

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Excerpt

Michael paced the scorching surface of The Between in sandaled feet. Why was the bargain with the human, Draco, affecting him so much? When he’d felt his brother’s urgent plea to meet him in The Between, Michael knew it concerned the human.

Lucifer appeared in front of him, his expression grim. “So you know already?”

“Know what?” Michael asked.

Lu gestured to the surrounding desolate world. “The Between’s a reflection of our thoughts. I take it yours are not at peace.”

Michael didn’t have the time or temperament for his fallen brother’s psychoanalysis. “Why have you summoned me? You know I prefer you to deal with Gabriel.”

Crossing his arms, Lu narrowed his dark eyes. “Because you’re the one who owes me an explanation, not Gabriel. What kind of deal did you make with Draco?”

“Did the man Nelson and your friend Cory make it out of Old Town?” Michael asked. Justifying his actions to Lu wasn’t a concern for Michael, but finding out what happened to the human was for some reason. Why? He still didn’t know, but he couldn’t allow the human to plague his thoughts.

“Yes, but Draco didn’t. So, I’ll ask again. What deal did you make with him?”

Michael’s wings unfurled from their position at his back to rise above both of them. It was a direct extension of his temper, a side-effect Lu would be well aware of. “Do not accuse me of wrongdoing. I merely granted a favor to the human. You should be thanking me.”

“Thanking you? We both know what—or should I say, who—resides in Old Town. You would condemn Draco to a life as Kael’s puppet?”

The thought of the handsome human anywhere near their brother Kael, one of the Angels of Death, unexpectedly tore at Michael’s chest. Michael’s wings began to flap, creating winds that could topple stone buildings. “Kael has better things to do than to waste his time on one human.”

“Open your eyes, Michael. The earth’s population is out of control. Kael hasn’t done his job correctly in well over two thousand years. He’s been relying on disease and war to do what he’s been too preoccupied to take care of himself. I don’t know why Azrael has done nothing about it, but then again, he’s another of my brothers who refuses to speak to me.”

“Does Father know this?” Michael asked.

“Gee, I don’t know. I don’t exactly have our Father’s ear anymore. You tell me. I was promised that Kael would stay out of my business if I stayed out of his.”

“Why do you believe Kael is involved in this matter?” Michael refused to acknowledge he hadn’t given Kael a thought since he chose to leave Heaven.”

Lu began to pace, fighting the wind caused by Michael’s anger. “Put the wings away. They don’t impress me anymore.”

“Answer my question,” Michael demanded. He concentrated on settling his wings. The display of his emotional state would only give Lucifer the advantage. He schooled his expression to one of indifference, something he’d become extremely good at over the years.

“Draco lived in Old Town for two thousand years, on and off, yet he’s still in possession of his soul. We both know what that means, and why he would be valuable to Kael.”

Michael shook his head and stepped to the edge of the imaginary cliff his emotions had conjured. “You, most of all, should not listen to the rumored whisperings of Angels.”

“I may no longer have wings, but I am still an Angel, brother, and not everyone in Heaven hates me.”

Michael spun around. He wouldn’t deny his feelings towards Lucifer, but he wouldn’t reveal to Lu why he felt the way he did, either. “Are you telling me you have spies in Heaven?”

“Spies?” Lu asked before obnoxious laughter filled the air.

Michael narrowed his eyes, his brother’s amusement raising his anger once more.

“Only you would think of friends as spies.” Lu shook his head and clicked his tongue. “No wonder you’re forever in a sour mood.”

“Why should I put my faith and trust in friends when my own brother thinks nothing of betraying me?” Tired of the present conversation, Michael stilled further lashes from Lu’s whipping tongue.

“Notify me when you learn of the human’s whereabouts.” He left The Between with Lucifer’s answer ringing in his ears.

“We both know Draco isn’t a true human.”

* * * *

Michael strode toward the archives with purpose, ignoring everyone in his path. He threw open the doors and approached the desk of his brother, Jeremiel. “I require your knowledge.”

Jeremiel set down the pen he’d been recording human deeds with and regarded Michael with amusement. “I believe this is the first time you’ve visited the archives. Why do you seek my help now?”

“I don’t get involved with humans as individuals, but an issue has been raised that requires my attention,” Michael explained.

“And what is this human’s name?”

“Draco of Sparta, that’s all I know.”

“Surely the man has a last name,” Jeremiel said with a sigh.

“I don’t know. All I know of him is that he lived in The City and Old Town as Bruga for over two thousand years.”

Jeremiel’s blond eyebrows rose in surprise. “He’s not listed.”

“That’s absurd. Of course he’s listed, all humans are.”

His younger brother said nothing, his expression impassive.

“How can this be?” Michael demanded.

“It just is.”

“But you have to have something…,” Michael tried again.

“No. If you seek answers, seek out Raphael or better yet, Gabriel,” Jeremiel said, picking up his pen once again.

Michael stared at his obstinate brother. He had two choices: remove Jeremiel’s head or do what was suggested and find his answers elsewhere.

“Fine,” he said, storming out of the archive vault.

It was a rare occurrence when Michael was refused anything. Being thwarted in his attempts to gain information about the human he couldn’t get off his mind only made his temper rise. Pushing open the gilded doors of Raphael’s suite, Michael found his brother at his worktable sharpening his sword.

“You take your life in your hands barging in like that,” Raphael growled. Of all his brothers, Michael found Raphael the most even-tempered, so the vehemence surprised him.

“What do you know about Draco of Sparta?”

Raphael returned his attention to his sword and shook his head.

Michael slammed his fist on the table in front of his brother. “Why isn’t he listed in the archives?”

Raphael calmly glanced up at Michael. “Because Draco does not exist. That’s all I will tell you. Now, if you are finished throwing your tantrum, please leave me in peace.”

“Where’s Gabriel?” Michael bellowed.

“Busy, but if he weren’t, he would tell you the same thing I did. If you want answers, seek the truth yourself.”

Michael threw up his hands in frustration. “If I thought I could find the truth on my own do you think I would humble myself by asking you for help?”

Raphael set down his sword and stood to regard Michael. “Perhaps if you humbled yourself more often, help wouldn’t be so hard to find. I’m not refusing you out of anger, Michael. It is a forbidden answer to a question you should have asked long ago.”

“Riddles. I need answers and all I’m getting in return is riddles.” Michael adjusted his ever-present breast plate and left the room. He started towards his suite, but decided he was better off in The Between instead. In the blink of an eye, Michael stood in a void of white, no ground, no sky, nothing.

Lucifer appeared, his dark coloring a stark contrast to his surroundings. “What did you find out?”

“Nothing. Draco is not in the archives. According to Raphael, Draco isn’t listed because he never existed. What’s that supposed to mean?”

Lu’s head tilted to the side as a grin transformed his face, taking Michael back to the days they trained together. “Are you asking me to help you?”

“What is it with everyone? Yes! I’m asking for your help.”

Lu closed his eyes and hummed. “Just let me savor this moment, will you?”

“Knock it off and tell me what you know.”

Lu’s eyes popped open. “I don’t know anything about Draco. I’ve heard whispers, but as I recall, you aren’t interested in gossip.”

“You know something! Spill it!” Although Michael’s wings were puffing up, he’d managed to keep them furled at his back.

Lu held his hands in front of him in an apparent attempt to calm Michael’s rage. “I don’t even know if what I overheard means anything, but I remember walking in on an argument between Raphael, Gabriel and Raguel. Before they noticed me, I heard Raguel say, “Father has promised a Bruggata for Michael.”

“What does that mean?” Michael asked.

“I don’t know, but I’m beginning to wonder if Kael does. Could it have anything to do with his apparent obsession with Draco? Kael was the one to retrieve Draco from his life on earth, and he’s been fighting to hold onto him ever since.”

The thought of Draco being enfolded within the black, leathery wings of Kael made Michael shudder in disgust. “Has Draco ever talked about Kael? Are they lovers?”

Lu shrugged. “He’s mentioned Kael on several occasions but he always stops himself before he says too much. I have a feeling Draco can’t stand him, but Kael has some kind of hold on Draco that he won’t talk about.”

“Use your connections. I want to know where in Old Town Draco is being held,” Michael informed Lu. His hand automatically sought the comfort of his sword. “I’ll retrieve the human myself if I have to.”

“That’s not possible and we both know it,” Lu shot back.

“I’ll go over Kael’s head if I have to. Just find the human.”