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Michael: Path of Angels: Book One


Patricia Josephine






Michael

Path of Angels

Book One


Patricia Josephine



Copyright 2015 by Patricia Josephine (Patricia Lynne)

http://www.patricialynne.com

All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, recording, or otherwise, without written permission from the author.

This is a work of fiction. Any names, characters, places of incidents are products of the author’s imagination, and used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, businesses, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Cover design by: Alexandria N. Thompson; GothicFate.com









Acknowledgement

I want to say thank you to all my cheerleaders. The writing friends I’ve made, who pushed me and never let me slack off. Family and friends who bugged me about the next book. My hubby for putting up with me when all I wanted to do was write and not worry about dinner.

Thanks to Alexandria for the beautiful cover. We sure had a tricky time getting it right, but once we did, everything else fell into place. Thanks to my beta readers and critique partners, Melissa, Elsie, MaryBeth, Erin, and Daniel. Your feedback was invaluable. Also, thanks to J.T., my editor. You helped me polish this story so it shined.

Lastly, thanks to everyone who has read my stories, whether it be this new series or my young adult novels. I’ll eat a cookie in your honor.









Other Books in the Path of Angels Series


Zadekiel, Book Two

Jophiel, Book Three

Gabriel, Book Four






Table of Contents


Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

About the Author






Chapter One

Cars drove past the alley’s mouth, their headlights briefly illuminating the dark like flashes of lightning. Rats scurried along brick walls, noses and ears twitching as they foraged for food among the filth littering the ground. At the end of the dead-end street was a metal door so rusted it was barely distinguishable from the brick.

Michael summoned his strength before calling his sword. The carved hilt filled his hand a heartbeat later, molding perfectly to his grip. Yellow and orange flames burst from the blade and flooded the alley with light. He turned to his brothers. Zadekiel stood closest to him, ax in hand. Shadows danced across his brown skin. Jophiel and Gabriel were behind him, Joe’s spear drawn. A muscle twitched in Gabe’s jaw; his sapphire eyes were hard, fists clenched. They were ready for what lay behind the door.

A strange phenomenon bound the four of them. Born minutes apart, their births had overwhelmed the small hospital in Monroe. Michael had always figured the odds of that happening in their town was a billion to one. Inseparable from the first day of Sunday school, the four boys had become best friends who looked out for each other as the biological brothers they were denied.

“Ready when you are,” Zade whispered.

Despite its decrepit state and broken handle, the door opened without a sound. The brothers rushed into the apartment, surprising the dozen occupants. Their shock was short lived. The men and women sprang to their feet, emanating a wave of cold so strong it knocked over chairs. Their faces twisted into snarls as they lunged forward. Michael’s sword sang as it cut through flesh and bone with ease. He was already turning to face his next opponent before the first body hit the floor.

Across the room, Joe struggled with his own foe. The man’s nails sharpened to talons and he slashed Joe’s chest. Joe cried out in pain, even as he threw the man against the wall and slammed his spear into the man’s neck. With a grunt, Joe yanked his weapon free. Fire crackled as he whirled around, Michael slicing a woman in half as she flew at Joe.

The last enemy hit the floor with a heavy thud. Michael moved to the center and raised his sword. Heat erupted from the blade and encircled the room, incinerating the bodies until nothing but ash remained. Its job completed, Michael released the weapon and it vanished. Silence fell over the apartment.

Would this path ever end?

Michael had always been devout. Most of his childhood, he served as an altar boy at his hometown church. Joe had often teased that Michael’s blond hair and sky-blue eyes primed him for the part. He continued the role into his teenage years––no other boy had seemed up to the task. It was at mass, the Sunday before his sixteenth birthday, when a light, so bright it hurt his eyes, had whisked him away from the congregation. Michael discovered that there was something more important than his driver’s permit. God spoke to him for the first time, revealing he and his brothers were archangels and must fulfill their duty. Born as mortals, they were tasked with finding escaped fallen angels and sending them back to Hell. Their lives, so ordinary, were left behind.

Shaking off the memory, Michael held out his hand and helped Joe to his feet.

“Thanks,” Joe grunted, pressing a hand to his wounds. His tanned skin had become pale, and pain shimmered in his brown eyes.

“Let’s get out of here,” Michael said.

Gabe and Zade slung Joe’s arms over their shoulders and they followed Michael back into the alley. Their feet dragged as they walked. The city eagerly accepted them, swallowing them into the flow of late-night inhabitants. Not a single pair of eyes glanced in their direction or took note of their bloodied and ash-covered clothing. Michael hated the feeling of being invisible, but until they could heal Joe’s injuries and get cleaned up, they had to remain unseen.

They took the back stairwell to their room on the fifth floor of the massive hotel. Crisp, cold air from the air conditioner dried the sweat covering them. Zade collapsed into the nearest chair with a groan, while Gabe laid Joe on the bed and stripped away his blood-soaked shirt.

“Got you good this time,” Gabe chuckled.

Joe laughed, then winced. “No shit, Sherlock.”

“Wonder why so many were gathered in one place,” Zade mused.

“Who cares?” Joe scoffed. “Makes killing them and sending them back to Hell easier.”

“You shouldn’t be happy about destroying a life,” Michael said softly. He handed Gabe a cloth and bowl of warm water.

Joe’s snort turned into a hiss of pain as Gabe cleaned his wounds. “You’re such a goody two-shoes, Mike. They’re fallen angels. They deserve to die. If they didn’t want to be hunted down, then they should have stayed in Hell where they belong. Or not have listened to Lucifer in the first place.”

“Jophiel,” Zade scolded. “You know better than to speak his name.”

Joe’s face softened. “Sorry, Mike.”

“It’s okay,” Michael said, even though it wasn’t. Out of the four of them, he was the only one to regain their memories of their lives in Heaven. He remembered every beautiful moment with clarity. Often he wished for the bliss of ignorance his brothers had.

Someone has to know.

The voice was the same whisper he had heard four years ago. Back then he had assumed it was God speaking, but now he knew better. It was Metatron, the angel tasked with delivering God’s word.

Michael hung his head. I know, but it’s painful to remember the beauty and peace. Being with our siblings… His betrayal.

Morning Star hurt us all when he rebelled, Metatron replied. But it cannot be undone. We must move forward.

Where do we go next?

Not far. Many Fallen hide within this city’s bowels. They seek the corrupt, twisting them to their needs. They hide in the darkness, waiting.

Okay, no need to get poetic on me.

Michael sensed Metatron’s annoyance before he spoke. If you head to the water, along the docks, you will find a lair of corruption. Hidden among the humans are the ones you seek. Destroy them.

We will. Michael focused back on the hotel room. “Get some sleep, guys. This city needs a lot of cleansing.”

With Joe’s wounds bandaged, he and Gabe settled onto the bed. Zade and Michael stretched out on the floor. As he drifted away, he remembered that cold winter day four years ago. The biggest moment of his life had been around the corner as he had counted down the days until his driver’s permit would be in his hands. His heart squeezed in longing for the past. No worries about fallen angels or a divine duty. The only thing that had mattered was the permit and the world it would have opened for him.

***

An empty pizza box sat on top of the small TV, where a sitcom played on mute. Clothing was piled on a faded brown couch along with magazines and mail. More littered the living room floor; only enough space for a slim person to walk to the kitchen was clear. A woman was slouched in the chair next to the couch. Her chin was tipped to her chest, her eyes closed, and an empty bottle hung loosely in her hand.

Lake Divine crept past the woman as he crossed the cluttered living room. For good measure he held his breath as he moved through the kitchen. A round table and chairs partially obscured the narrow hallway leading to the bedrooms. There, he glanced back to ensure she was still asleep. Yes. Good. He turned back to the hallway, kneeing one of the chairs. The metal leg scraped loudly on the tiled floor. Lake froze.

Please don’t wake up. Please don’t wake up.

“Huh? Wut’s goin’ on?” The bottle thudded to the floor as the woman’s head jerked up.

Lake grimaced and moved to her side and picked up the bottle. “It’s only me, Mom.”

Disgust darkened Melody Divine’s eyes. “What are you doing? Don’t you have your whore boyfriend to take care of you? Why are you always bothering me? Go away.”

A lump lodged in Lake’s throat, but he ignored it. “Sorry I bugged your sleep. I was grabbing something from my room.”

“Be quiet next time,” Melody grumbled. “And don’t forget to bring me a forty when you come back. Be useful for once in your life.”

“I’m only seventeen. What do you want me to do? Steal it?” Lake muttered, too low for her to hear. Arguing with his mom would do no good. She’d just yell louder until he agreed to get her the alcohol she wanted even though he’d never get away with shoplifting it. Then he’d be in more trouble.

He shut the door to his room and pushed a broken folding chair under the knob. He gave his mom a few minutes to pass out again before retrieving the cigar box from under his bed. Inside were a roll of bills held together by a rubber band, a lighter, and a few coins. He picked up one of the coins and placed it in the palm of his hand. It had been a find, shining on the ground and drawing his attention. The strange symbols had filled him with excitement. If only he knew what country it had originated from.

Putting the coin back, he pulled some bills out of the wad. He stuffed the cash in his pocket and hid the box. His mom didn’t stir as he passed her this time. He let out a sigh when he made it outside. She was moody when she got drunk.

And she was always drunk.

Lake didn’t blame his mother for her constant drunken stupor. He’d want to drown the memories too if he were in her shoes. His father left her—despite claims of true love—while she was pregnant with him, never to be heard from again.

That didn’t mean it didn’t hurt every time Melody looked at him with hatred, a sneer twisting her lips. He was a reminder of his father and nothing more. Sometimes he mused about running away and living on the streets, but he didn’t have the courage to leave his home. It was far from perfect, but he had a roof over his head and three meals a day.

It took him about ten minutes to reach the docks. A bouncer guarded the entrance to the warehouse-turned-club, sunglasses hiding his eyes as he allowed people inside. Colorful lights flashed along the high row of windows, and music blasted whenever the door opened. A line stretched along the building to the packed parking lot. He joined the end, gripping the bills tightly. If he was lucky, a bribe would get him inside. If not…

“Be confident. You can do this,” he muttered.

The bouncer scowled when Lake stood before him a half hour later. Muscles flexed as he folded his arms across his broad chest. “I told you to split.”

“No, you told me to run home and grab a few extra Washingtons.” Lake flashed the money.

“No, I said split, punk.”

Damn. Bribery wasn’t working, but he wasn’t too surprised. He only had a few measly dollars to offer. Time for tactic two: seduction. Fear surged up Lake’s throat as he stepped closer to the bouncer but he swallowed it. He trailed his hands over the bouncer’s tight shirt and coarse denim. The bouncer frowned, but didn’t back away. Lake pressed a little harder, making no effort to hide his groping from the waiting patrons. No one would be shocked. Dozens of others had offered sex as opposed to money in order to gain access to the club. This particular bouncer showed no preference of gender.

The bouncer unclipped his walkie-talkie from his belt. “Hey, Ricky.”

“Yeah, what’s up, Axel?” a crackling voice replied.

“Cover me. I need a break.”

It didn’t take long for Ricky, another testosterone-fueled bouncer, to appear. Axel, the one Lake was attempting to seduce, hauled him inside the club and into a small office. The door clicking shut sent chills down his spine. His panic almost exploded when huge hands circled his neck.

Axel’s breath was hot against his ear. “Let’s make this quick, punk.”

Lake worked some moisture into his mouth. By some miracle his voice didn’t betray the terror he felt. “Like I’d let you touch me.”

Spots exploded before his eyes when Axel slammed him against the wall. His arms were pinned behind his back with one hand while the other pawed at his jeans, ripping the button and tearing the zipper. He struggled to contain his fear and focus. He could do this.

Tuning out the rough groping, Lake dug deep inside himself. Cold spread through him like calming water when he found what he searched for. It reached to his fingers and toes, pooling around his shoulder blades.

“What the fu—” Axel took a step back, his hands dropping to his sides.

Lake cut him off with a word. “Sleep.” He pressed his palm against Axel’s forehead, letting the cold seep into the large man. Images of violent sex flickered through Lake’s thoughts. Once he was certain the bouncer was lost in dreams of sadistic dominance, he stepped back. His tension whooshed out of his lungs and he leaned against the desk to take some weight off his shaking legs. That had been too close for comfort. But it worked, just like other times he had used seduction to get what he wanted. Once he released the coldness, he could put his victim into a slumber and give them dreams about what they desired. And the most important part: they never laid a finger on him.

A glimpse of his reflection in the glass of a photo frame made Lake pause. Eyes that were normally brown glowed red. Black, leathery wings sprouted from his back. The wings reminded him of bats. He hated bats. They scared the crap out of him, but he had no idea why. Long, black talons protruded from his fingertips. His skin, usually pale, looked sunburnt, and the veins under his skin appeared black. If he cut himself, what color would his blood be? He was too afraid to try. He’d rather pretend his blood was red.

The only thing about his appearance that didn’t change was his hair. It was still an unruly mass of black curls that refused to be tamed. He ran his clawed hands through it, focusing on the messy locks. The cold receded back inside him, where he caged it.

Lake sighed when he confirmed he was back to normal—or as normal as he could be. He worried about being unable to contain the cold. Yet each time, he was able to change back and knew the fear was irrational.

At the door, he paused and looked at the sleeping bouncer. A wicked grin filled Axel’s face. Limbs twitched and a soft moan escaped. Lake shuddered at the sound. If he hadn’t been able to do what he could with the cold, Axel’s dream would have been real and his nightmare. He slipped out the door, leaving the disturbing thought and Axel behind, and headed into the club.

Smoke hung heavy in the air, patrons moving through it like ghosts. A bar stretched across one wall and tables surrounded small stages decorated with poles where scantily clad men and woman slid up and down in simulated acts of sex. More people clothed in next to nothing strutted between the tables to serve drinks.

In the far corner, a group of men ogled a dancer. They wore business suits, but their ties were pulled loose. Did their wives know they were here, stuffing money into a man’s thong? The men cheered as the dancer unraveled himself from a hot pink boa that clashed with his dark brown skin. The dancer looped it around a man’s neck and pulled him to the stage. He ground against the eager man before pushing him back. His friends caught him, giving him congratulatory thumps. Eventually, they stumbled off, out of money, and left Lake alone with the dancer.

“Tyler, when is your shift over?”

“Lake!” The dancer whirled around, his eyes widening. “What are you doing here?”

“I…I thought I’d drop by for a surprise visit. Haven’t seen you in a few days. I’ve missed you, Ty.”

“I told you when I’m working call me by my stage name, Hawt Chocolate.”

“I hate that name,” Lake sighed. “It’s too cliché.” He pulled a few bills free. Tyler—Hawt Chocolate—strutted over and let Lake stuff them into his garter belt. “Are you going to be done soon?”

Hawt Chocolate plucked his boa up. “Yeah, but I can’t see you, honey. I—”

“Don’t call me that,” Lake interrupted. “I know you dig the flamboyant, prancing-around gay persona, especially on the job, but I don’t. Just call me Lake.”

“I’m not repressing my inner gay,” Hawt Chocolate retorted. He winked at a man passing. The glitter caked on his eyelids sparkled under the low lighting. “And neither should you.”

“I’m not gay, I’m bisexual, remember? I like girls too,” Lake lied.

“Why not find a girlfriend then?” Hawt Chocolate bent backwards and lifted a leg. Lake was surprised nothing popped out of his thong.

“Haven’t met a girl I wanted to date,” Lake lied again. He hated how Tyler threw the fact that he’d never had a normal relationship in his face.

All his life, Lake had been a loner. From kindergarten through middle school and into high school, his classmates had avoided him. Only bullies interacted with him, and that was to shove him into lockers or his head into toilets. The isolation stung, but he refused to admit it. Instead, he pretended it was his choice to turn to prostitutes and strippers for contact. It was how he had met Tyler. He had snuck into the club and saw him dancing. Afterward, he asked Tyler if he could go home with him. They headed to Tyler’s plush apartment where Lake gave him a blowjob, and then Tyler passed out from drinking too much. The next night, Lake returned to the club. He twisted Tyler’s pity for him into something that could pass for a weak excuse of a relationship.

But his time with Tyler was ticking down. Already Tyler was finding ways to avoid him, screening calls, and taking other men home for sex. It wouldn’t be long before Lake was alone again.

“Why can’t I see you tonight?” Desperation had him asking the question he already knew the answer to. Maybe if he played tonight right he could prolong the inevitable. Have a little more time with another person and not feel like a waste of space.

Hawt Chocolate dipped down to Lake’s level. Alcohol and weed were thick on his breath. “I’m going to a… party.”

“You mean you’re going to an orgy? Don’t treat me like an idiot.”

Hawt Chocolate shrugged. “You have a problem with that?”

“It seems unsafe. You don’t know where those men’s dicks have been.”

“You’re too uptight.” Hawt Chocolate snorted. “If you’re worried about me, come.”

“No, I’ll pass.” Lake shuddered involuntarily.

“Suit yourself.” A satisfied smirk tugged at Hawt Chocolate’s lips. “Watch out. Here comes the boss lady.”

The owner of the club, Mistress Valerie, stalked toward them. Lake jumped onto the stage and darted behind the curtain, dodging dancers preparing to perform. He was almost to the emergency exit when someone yanked him back.

Mistress Valerie scowled at Lake as Ricky dragged him to her. Tight black leather pushed her breasts up until they almost spilled out. A whip hung at her bony hip—a constant companion. Being close to her sent shivers racing down his spine and turned his stomach. There was something evil about her; he felt it deep down where the cold lay inside him.

“I told you never to come back here.” Her red lips pulled back as if to snarl at him. He could imagine her ripping someone’s throat out like a rabid dog. “I don’t need you distracting my workers.”

“I just came to watch Ty…er, Hawt Chocolate. He’s my favorite.”

“Of course you did.”

Lake held out his money. “I’m a paying customer.”

Mistress Valerie snatched the bills from Lake and tucked them into her cleavage. Ricky held Lake back when he protested, keeping him out of reach. She gave him a stiff smile that was more like a grimace, and nodded to Ricky. “Escort this unruly customer to the door.”

Lake didn’t fight as Ricky picked him up and proceeded to throw him outside. He landed on his shoulder with a painful thud. Wincing, he climbed to his feet and brushed the gravel off himself. The people in the line gawked at his ungraceful exit. Only a small group of young men reacted with concern. One guy reminded him of the star football player in his grade. Tall, broad shouldered, baby blue eyes, and styled blond hair. Lake had no doubt the guy had a perfect smile and dimples.

Lake plastered a cocky grin on his face and met the blond’s gaze. “Have a great time tonight.”






Chapter Two

Gabe appeared like a phantom through the smoke, swatting at it and coughing. “Aren’t cigarettes banned from public buildings?”

Michael smirked. “I think breaking the law is the least of this club’s worries.” He turned back to the thin women standing at the end of his sword. “Where are the others?”

The wide-eyed look lasted only a second. Her lips peeled back from her teeth, canines elongating as her skin darkened to a deep shade of red. She shifted into a crouch, taloned hands curling into fists. Her answer was a hiss.

She recoiled when Michael pressed the flaming blade to her chin, making her skin sizzle. “Where are your siblings and offspring hiding? Tell me now.”

Fallen angels weren’t the only beings Michael and his brothers hunted. They were also tasked with finding their half-breed offspring as well. The children lived among humanity, unaware of the darkness flowing through their veins until their Fallen parent found them and showed them the evil power they possessed.

The one before Michael was a Fallen. The telltale sign was her true appearance. Her carefully constructed mask now gone, she was nothing more than a walking skeleton that hinted at a beauty now lost to darkness. Tattered and dirty feathers clung to the bony protrusions on her back—the remains of once magnificent wings. Her sunken eyes churned with malice.

“She’s not cooperating,” Joe said.

“Guess we have to do it the hard way,” Gabe added.

“Damn. I was hoping for an easy night,” Zade said, and sighed dramatically.

“Guess so,” Michael agreed. “Tear this place apart, find the rest and destroy them.”

“What about you?” Zade asked.


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