Authors: L. G. Castillo
opyright © 2016 by L.G
All rights reserved.
No part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, including photocopying, recording, or other electronic or mechanical methods, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical reviews and certain other noncommercial uses permitted by copyright law.
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are a product of the author’s imagination. Locales and public names are sometimes used for atmospheric purposes. Any resemblance to actual people, living or dead, or to businesses, companies, events, or institutions is completely coincidental.
Cover Design and Photo: ©Regina Wamba with
MaeIDesign and Photography
Model: Ripp Baker
eremy tenderly trailed
his fingers down the sleeping angel’s arm. His sapphire eyes took in every single one of her glorious features with wonderment: the delicate hand on his chest, the long lashes fanning out against pink cheeks, full lips curled into a soft smile. She was perfection.
He hadn’t known his heart had been empty until he’d found her. He’d led a happy life as the archangel of death. He’d never lacked female attention. If anything, the higher he’d risen in rank, the more he’d received. And yet, something had been missing. Looking at him surrounded by female angels, no one would’ve believed he was lonely. He’d hid it well with dimpled smiles and flirtatious winks until the day she’d come into his life. She had stirred in him something he hadn’t felt in centuries. With a simple tilt of her head, the light in her eyes, and a gentle touch, his heart was filled.
His fingers traced velvety skin down her side, along the curve of her hips, and back up again. He still couldn’t believe she was in his arms.
He’d thought of this moment since the day he’d first seen her, yet he’d never dared to hope it would ever come true. Somehow, some way, luck had found him. And now here she was in his bed, loving him.
Dipping his head into her thick hair, he inhaled. Jasmine and amber musk filled his senses. Every cell in his body came alive. The angel was all around him: her scent; her cheek pressed against his bare chest; and legs entwined around his body.
She stirred, letting out a soft moan as she snuggled deeper into his strong arms. Soft lips brushed against his skin, spreading warmth out from his heart and through his entire body. He tightened his hold.
“Jeremy,” the raven-haired angel murmured.
“There’s something I need to tell you.”
He gazed down at the beauty, holding his breath. Was it over? Was this all he could have of her? His heart pounded against his chest as her dark lashes slowly lifted. Pools of pale blue finally met his, calming his fears, before her sweet voice uttered the words.
“I love you.”
She loved him.
He’d never thought he’d hear those words from anyone like her. The first time he’d heard them, he’d thought he’d been hallucinating. But as she repeated those words with every kiss, every intimate touch, he knew his lifelong dream, a dream that had begun as far back as almost time itself, had finally come true.
Naomi loved him.
Naomi. Naomi. Naomi.
He repeated the name, filling his mind with her love, as if afraid to think of anything or anyone else. No matter how hard he tried, he couldn’t forget. He couldn’t push Lash out of his head. His brother drifted around the fringes of his mind, a reminder that, while Naomi filled his heart and arms, another heart lay empty.
He kissed her deeply, pushing away the guilt threatening to taint the moment. He wanted to shut out the fact that Naomi was the love of Lash’s life, the one person in all of Earth and Heaven his brother lived and died for. All Jeremy wanted was to be with Naomi and to have her wake up in his arms every morning, gazing at him as if he were the sun.
“Jeremy,” she moaned, weaving her fingers into his hair. She repeated his name as she kissed every inch of his handsome face—eyelids, cheeks, and finally his lips. Her kisses washed the world away.
“Jeremy?” She paused. Her warm breath hit softly against his cheek.
He opened his eyes and gazed into her questioning ones, waiting for his response.
“I love you too.”
Rolling over, his body pressed her deep into the bed. His lips moved over hers, his tongue swirling in her sweet mouth, tasting every crevice. She let out another soft moan, making every muscle in his body tense. He wanted to take her again, to feel himself deep inside of her and watch her beautiful face get lost in ecstasy as she cried out his name.
He’d tried not to love her. He’d fought against his feelings every second of every day since she’d come to Heaven. He couldn’t deny the pull that drew him to her. And miracle beyond all miracles, she loved him in return. He heard it in her voice each time she uttered his name.
Long legs wrapped around his waist, holding him tight against her. Her fingers slid down his broad shoulders and then down his heavily muscled back. Slowly, she rocked against him.
He was lost in her, lost in the sound of her breathing, her heartbeat, her voice.
“Jeremy. Hello, Earth to Jeremy. What did you do to him, Lash?”
“Me? He’s the one who wanted to go swimming earlier. It wasn’t my idea to see who could hold their breath the longest underwater. Oh, wait, it was.”
Jeremy blinked. The bedroom, the bed, and a naked Naomi were slowly fading away and being replaced with a pair of hazel eyes studying him from across the table.
How long had she been calling out his name? He couldn’t believe he’d done it again—daydream about her, them, together.
“Are you okay, brother?” Lash looked at him curiously.
Jeremy’s eyes darted back and forth between his brother and a fully dressed Naomi. She furrowed her brow, obviously worried about him.
“Yeah,” he said, ignoring the lingering feeling of Naomi’s lips on his. It was a dream that wouldn’t go away, no matter how hard he tried to put it out of his mind. Though deep inside, he wasn’t sure if wanted to let it go.
What had he been thinking? Swimming in the stream in front of his house had been a bad idea. It had taken everything he had not to stare in awe at Naomi as she swam. He’d thought playing poker would be a safer activity. He’d thought staring at a deck of cards instead of Naomi’s beautiful figure gliding through the water would help keep him in check. It would’ve been if his insane mind hadn’t decided to go off into fantasyland and daydream about her while Lash flicked cards across the table to him.
Could I be more insane?
Lash cocked his head, studying him intently. Jeremy quickly looked down at his cards.
Maybe he didn’t notice.
Jeremy stirred in his seat nervously as he felt the heavy weight of his brother’s gaze until, finally, Lash’s words sliced through the still air.
“Cut the crap, Jeremy. You don’t fool me.”
eremy sucked in a breath
Had he somehow slipped and given away his true feelings? He’d worked so hard to hide his love for Naomi from his brother, even from himself.
“Fool you?” He schooled his face into something he hoped looked normal. Then, slowly, his lashes lifted until his sapphire eyes locked with those of his brother, his best friend, the man he’d sacrificed his life for at the Lake of Fire.
Smirking, Lash tossed his remaining poker chips into the center of the table.
“I don’t think you have it this time.”
Jeremy let out a breath as he tossed his cards on the table, relieved to see Lash’s smug grin.
“You’ve got me there, bro.” He forced a smile, willing himself not to look at Naomi.
“You bet I got you. And I got you yesterday . . . and the day before that . . . and the day before that.”
“Lash, a little humility, please,” Naomi said.
“Hmm, you know, come to think of it, the last winning streak was when . . . Whoa! You’re not sending me on some crazy-ass assignment again, are you?”
Jeremy looked into his brother’s worried eyes, remembering the last time he’d intentionally lost a poker game to him. It was the assignment that had led to Lash being thrown out of Heaven. Lash had been told to watch over Javier Duran, the boy who’d grown up to be Naomi’s father. The assignment would’ve been easy if Lash had only stuck to protecting Javier. But Lash hadn’t been able to resist saving the little girl who’d sat to next to Javier, Jane Sutherland.
Jeremy shifted uncomfortably as he thought what a relief it’d been for him. Because of what Lash had done, he hadn’t had to fulfill his own mission to transport the little girl to Heaven. Being the angel of death had its hardships, but when it came to the little ones, it was always more than a little difficult for him. It was unbearable.
“No,” he said, fiddling with the cards. “I’ve just been a little distracted lately.”
“Yeah, uh-huh.” Lash eyed him skeptically. “You’re not working on some elaborate plan to steal my woman, are you?”
“I’m not . . . I’d never . . . what are you . . .?” Jeremy looked to Naomi. He wished he hadn’t. A dull ache crept into his chest when a flicker of pity flashed over pretty blue eyes.
“Not funny, Lash,” she said.
“Aw, I’m just teasing. Jeremy knows that, right, bro?”
He barked a laugh as he gathered the cards. “Dude, I’m distracted by the new redheaded seraph who showed up yesterday. I’m working my way to inviting her to come over for a swim.”
“Speaking of swimming . . .” Lash jumped up from his chair.
“Lash!” Naomi squealed as Lash swept her into his arms. “What are you doing?”
“I’m claiming my bet.”
“I didn’t bet you anything.”
“Oh, how soon we forget. I do recall a certain someone saying if I won three games in row—a record for me, mind you—that I’d get a little surprise.”
Jeremy watched as Lash held Naomi tight against his chest. He shouldn’t have looked, yet he couldn’t tear his eyes away. He shouldn’t have been feeling the way he was at that moment: longing to be the one to make her smile, wishing it were his lips she was kissing, his cheek her hand caressed, and his face she gazed at with love-filled eyes. And yet, he couldn’t rip his heart out of his chest. So he smiled.
It was all he could do.
He smiled so wide it hurt. The pain in his chest continued to grow no matter how hard he fought against it. He wanted to be happy for his brother. It was right for Lash to be with Naomi. After centuries apart, Lash deserved his happiness.
I have to let her go. Why can’t I let her go?
“I didn’t say that. You suggested it.” She giggled as Lash nuzzled his head against her throat.
“Ah, but you didn’t say no,” Lash murmured. “I call that passive consent.”
“Not here,” she whispered.
Jeremy dug his fingers into his thick palms when pale blue eyes met his briefly. There it was again. Pity. Pity for him, for being alone, for being the odd man out. She knew he still had feelings for her. Maybe he hadn’t been so careful in hiding them after all.
“Aw, come on, Naomi. I want to see the red swimsuit again,” Lash said. “I’m surprised you wore it. You know you only last two minutes with it on when you wear it. Let’s go swimming again. Jeremy won’t mind, right?”
Giggling, she slapped Lash’s hands playfully as he tugged her t-shirt.
Jeremy dug harder into his palm, fighting against memories he wished he’d never gotten back. Memories of an ancient past in the city of Ai filtered through his mind: him walking by Naomi’s side after he’d saved her from Saleos’s attack by the river, her damp hair shining black as night down her back, pale blue eyes gazing at him from wet, dark lashes, and pink lips saying his name and thanking him. It was the one moment in time where he’d had her all to himself. It was the moment he’d fallen in love with her. When he’d seen her fierce spirit and bravery as she’d fought against Saleos, protecting an injured Lash, it was then he’d known he’d wanted to marry her.
“Jeremy?” Lash repeated his name, shaking him from the memory.
The faces of the two people he loved most in the world came into focus. He’d never seen his brother as happy and carefree as he’d been the last few weeks. His brother finally felt he belonged in Heaven. He was even getting along with Gabrielle. And Naomi, she wore the glow of a woman in love. She loved Lash.
And she never will.
“Oh, sure. Have fun.” He smiled harder, feeling the fissure growing wider. He was about to break. He had to leave. Now. “If you’ll excuse me, I need to—”
Without finishing his sentence, he leapt to his feet. The chair toppled to the floor as he rushed out the door.
He paused just outside the door when Naomi’s frantic voice called after him. He fought the urge to turn around and tell her everything, to tell her he’d lied, that he loved her more now than he ever thought possible, to tell her he lived in a dream world where she was in love with him and if it were possible, he’d live his life sleeping just so he could be with her.
The sun caressed his face as he squeezed his eyes shut, trying desperately to fight the love he had for her. He’d do anything for his brother, and if it meant sacrificing his own happiness for Lash’s, he’d do it. And that meant keeping his feelings for Naomi secret. The only way he could do that was to stay away from them.
Shutting out Lash and Naomi’s calls to come back, he ran. He tugged off his shirt and jumped, snapping his wings open as he took to the sky.