A King Rises
A Fate Seals
Eve Collins has set in motion a chain of events that could destroy everything she’s ever loved. Surrounded by dangerous creatures, dark worlds, and the struggle to become who she was meant to be, Eve must complete her ascension and accept her destiny. War has begun. Losing is not an option. With dangers lurking around each corner, and everything against her, will Eve sacrifice her own happiness in order to tip the scale of balance? Which side will rise to power, and which fall to fate? In this fourth installment in The Revelation Series, Eve must risk everything she loves in order to prevent a centuries old war. Everything comes with a sacrifice, even love.
The Midnight Temple
FROM DARKNESS, COMES LIGHT. I whisper the assertion in my head, over and over again, as a form of reassurance. Distracted eyes take in my surroundings, seeking out a focal point of luminosity. Nightfall shrouds the ill-omened forest I’m standing barefoot in.
My gaze lifts toward the heavens, searching for light. There is nothing. No stars shining brightly to guide me. No flush of the moon’s silver rays caressing the ominous tree lined confinement I find myself in. Panic begins to claw at my throat.
Everything is unnaturally still. The trees are motionless. There’s no breeze to embrace me. No woodland creatures at home to calm me. Only silence. It’s eerie and yet, oddly familiar.
“Hidden within the darkness, the unseen will eventually be divulged. Revealing the true purpose of your existence.” Gage’s deep, masculine voice penetrates my trepidation.
I shift my body and tilt my head, meeting a pair of sea-green irises. The gargoyle clasps his warm fingers over mine in a soothing gesture while the scent of cigarettes and spice drifts over me. His presence rescues me from the shadowed corners my mind finds itself in.
I inhale, for what feels like the first time tonight. A small smile appears on my lips at the sight of the good-looking protector. Gratitude washes over me, because I’m not alone on this self-imposed journey.
The moment of reprieve passes quickly when I remember who I am and what I’ve done. At the thought, a sharp, unyielding pain presents itself deep within my heart. The sting causes my breath to hitch as my hand moves to cover the twinge.
In the distance, a faint, familiar sound floats over me. “Come back to me, siren,” it whispers. The memory of how much hurt I’ve caused seeps in. “I will protect you, always.” The voice, belonging to Asher St. Michael, my gargoyle protector, and now my mate, promises. My stomach lurches at the recollection of my actions this evening. My treachery.
Instantly, I fold at the waist and vomit into the plant life lining the forest’s floor. Gage steps closer to my uncontrollable, trembling body. Releasing my hand, he gently holds my hair back, allowing me to empty the contents of my stomach into the undergrowth. Shit.
“You’re okay, love. It’s just the adrenaline wearing off. Take deep breaths,” he soothes.
I close my eyes, trying to block it all out, as my body hums from the protector blood bond. In rapid fire, images of this evening flash through my mind. Each one cutting my soul like the dagger I used in my deception. All I can see is Asher. My dark prince. My everything.
Asher’s gentle hand is wrapped around the lower portion of my throat, showing dominance. The feel of my gargoyle’s body pressed against mine, pushing me into his stone state bed. The stunning and blissful expression he had as he slid into me for the first time. His scent. His touch. His declarations of forever, all marred by my deceit.
I’ve ended us by showing my disloyalty. When his indigo eyes met mine, my dagger fell into his heart, forcing him into a healing sleep. Protecting him. Then, I walked away from my love to save another who I hold dear to me. My sacrifice.
A shiver passes over me and my breathing becomes ragged. My stomach churns again and my knees buckle. If it weren’t for Gage’s large hands wrapped around my waist, I would collapse in despair on the dirt-covered pathway. Crap. Pull yourself together, Eve.
“Are you alright, love?” Gage questions quietly into my ear, holding me close.
Once the visions dissolve, so does the nausea. I open my eyes to meet Gage’s troubled ones. Taking a step back, I allow for some distance from his protective arms. Then I center myself before pushing back my shoulders and lifting my chin.
“Yes,” I say firmly.
He knits his brows together, running a hand through his golden-blond hair. “Are you sure, Eve?” he questions with worry lining his voice.
I’m actually taken aback by his apprehension. Normally, Gage doesn’t show signs of unease. It’s unnerving and making me question my resolve. I straighten and nod once.
“I said I am.” My voice is strong, even though inside, I’m terrified.
The undecipherable gargoyle’s eyes just search mine. His face is strained in disbelief.
“I really am,” I assure him and attempt to turn my attention to the fog-covered fortress in front of us. I don’t want to see his troubled expression.
Gage doesn’t let me twist though. Instead, he snatches my chin roughly and tilts my head back. His gaze roams over my face before locking onto it with a raw intensity. “With every moment that goes by, they turn a deeper shade of indigo, love,” he whispers.
My breath hitches and I slam my lids down, hiding the irises. Asher and I triggered our mate bond and fulfilled the divination of redemption. My light ignited and awakened his soul, protecting him from stone petrifaction. I was so concerned with his safety, I failed to remember his mate mark wouldn’t be the only change to my body. My eye color changed from hazel, to blue, the clan’s hue. I really should have read more paranormal books. Crap.
Opening my eyes, I take in a deep breath through my nose. The memory of my intimate night with Asher disappears. His mate mark angrily pulses on my lower back, alerting me to Asher’s emotional state. He’s pissed. Of course he is. Why wouldn’t he be?
Gage sighs in annoyance. “One look at you, love, and the Declan clan will not be able to overlook the fact that you are the dark prince’s mate.”
My eyes narrow in response. “Not fully. Abby told me that the mark and eye color are temporary until my new mark is infused with Asher’s blood. If that doesn’t happen, with time, both disappear and release him of our soul connection. That’s what needs to happen, Gage. I only did this to protect him from the council and Dark Army.”
Gage releases a hollow laugh that sounds more like a bark. “You’re naïve, daughter of Heaven, to think you gave yourself to him in the name of protection only.”
My teeth clench in aggravation. “You said you would help me. I need to extract my aunt Elizabeth from Lucifer before he kills her. I’m the one he wants. It’s my role to save her. By any means necessary. Asher wouldn’t have let me do this, you know that.”
He holds my gaze for a moment in contemplation. “Don’t you mean your mother?”
“Ever since finding out that Elizabeth and Michael are your biological parents, you continue to refer to her as your aunt. She’s your mother, love. You are her flesh and blood.”
I pull my chin out of his grasp. “Fine. I need to save…my mother.” As the words fall out of my mouth, my stomach sinks at the recollection that both the archangel and my guardian, whom I’ve known since birth as my aunt Elizabeth, lied to me for years before recently coming clean about our biological lineage.
“Are you going to help me or not?” I snip impatiently.
Gage’s focus shifts from me, down the haze-filled path, toward the ominous castle that belongs to Deacon, the leader of the Declan clan. Since Gage was the half-demon, half-gargoyle’s right hand man for a short time, Gage is the only one who knows of its location, which is why I entrusted him to assist me with this plan.
My eyes follow his line of sight, landing on the stone fortress, as unease trickles down my spine. The last time I was here, Deacon was holding me hostage. Despite the bad blood between the two, Gage had helped Asher and his family, the London clan, with my rescue.
Deacon’s entire focus has been to hand me over to Lucifer and the Dark Army. He killed Aria, my best friend and college roommate, while she was protecting me. After which, both Deacon’s brother Kaiden, and his mother Dimia, died doing his bidding.
I shudder at the thought of what he’ll do to me this time, knowing that Asher and the St. Michaels won’t save me. Stabbing Asher, the future king of the gargoyle race, in the heart with my daggers was the ultimate betrayal. I’ve ended the protection the clan offered.
Releasing a slow breath, I remind myself that I’m the weapon, created by Heaven, to tip the scale in their favor and bring redemption to the world ending this centuries’ old war. Heaven sees me as a pawn, but for Hell, I’m a threat to their very existence. It’s why they’re hunting me. If not restrained, I have the power to destroy the Dark Army. This time, though, I’m going to make it easy and surrender, exchanging my life for my Elizabeth’s.
Chewing on the inside of my cheek, I wait for his answer. Deciding then and there, with or without his help, I’m still doing this. It’s my fault that Deacon and Lucifer kidnapped my mother to get to me. Gage faces me with a soft look. I can tell he’s made his decision.
Silently, he extends his hand for me to take, and I do, as relief floods through me. The grip he has on me tightens, almost painfully, as he yanks me harshly to his chest. Without warning, his grey wings snap out from his back. Gage’s face morphs into one of regret.
My expression turns to one of confusion at his sudden coldness, wordlessly questioning him.
“Sorry, love,” Gage whispers in my ear before disappearing with me in his possession.
If I stand any straighter, I think it’s possible my spine might snap in two. Of their own accord, my hands clench and unclench at my sides in agitation. I fear if they stop, I might land a hard smack on the cheek of the sexy gargoyle watching me with his unimpressed eyes.
“Are you fucking kidding me?” I scream and throw my hands up in dismay.
The protector ignores my outburst. Instead of responding, he takes out a cigarette, rolling it between his thumb and index finger, momentarily distracting me. Damn, he’s alluring when he does that.
“I said I was sorry,” Gage offers unapologetically, yanking me back to the present.
“Take. Me. Back,” I demand.
“No,” he says with finality then pulls out a lighter from the front pocket of his black dress pants. Once the nicotine stick is lit, he drags in a hard inhale, relaxing his face and shoulders.
“Now, Gage.” I narrow my eyes at him.
He pins me with a hard glare and he lets out a long exhale. A cloud of smoke is directed at me, forcing me to fan my hand in front of my face like Miss America does when she starts crying after she’s found out she’s won. Jerk.
“I understand the word no is not something you’re used to hearing, love, since Asher bows at your every whim, but I mean it. So stop arguing with me.” His voice is rough.
“She will die,” I seethe.
His shoulders drop at my statement. “Elizabeth is not under my protection. You are.”
I scoff. “Unreal. NOW you decide to step in and protect me?” What the hell? “What happened to, I don’t babysit, love. You’re a big girl, Eve. Spread those wings and fly, daughter of Heaven.” I mock his previous statements.
He shrugs and places the cigarette in his mouth again. “It pleases me to do so now.”
I fold my arms over my chest and attempt to take on an even angrier stance. He just continues to stand there, unaffected, sucking on his cigarette. Letting it dangle over his infuriating perfect lips. Damn gargoyles.
“Gage,” I fume.
“This wasn’t the plan.”
Gage throws the remains of his cigarette on the concrete sidewalk before stomping on it with his black designer shoes. “No, love, it wasn’t. Plans change. Isn’t that what’s so wonderful about free will, daughter of Heaven?”
We hold one another’s irate glare before a deep tone cuts through our childish stand off.
“In or out?” the gruff, accented voice asks in a short manner.
My eyes shift to the large Samoan man glaring at Gage and I. His thick, tan arms are covered in tribal tattoos and folded across his heavy body. The stranger is guarding a black door with no sign on it. His sudden presence triggers the realization that we’re standing in a back alley, in a city.
“Where are we?” I ask Gage, finally coming to my senses.
“The Midnight Temple,” Gage says cryptically and walks over to the intimidating bodyguard. “Issac, it’s good to see you again, brother.”
Issac doesn’t smile, or move for that matter. To be honest, he looks like he’s about to kill Gage. That unto itself makes him my new favorite person.
“Ua leva tele ona o’u le toe va’ai ia oe,” Issac grunts out in what sounds like Samoan.
“It has been a long time, man. I need to see him,” Gage says. “I’m owed a favor.”
Issac slides his guarded attention toward me before motioning to me with his head.
“O ai lou igoa?” he asks me.
“I’m sorry, I don’t understand,” I state.
“He wants to know your name, love,” Gage explains.
“Oh. Eve. Eve Collins,” I answer and put out my hand to shake his.
Isaac doesn’t take it. His dark brown eyes skate back to Gage. “E le o inei le tama.”
Gage stands straighter and leans in. “Don’t lie to me. I know he’s here. I sense him.”
“E na’o ‘oe?” Isaac questions frostily.
Gage’s expression turns lethal. “Do I look stupid, ma a’u o?”
After an awkward few moments, Issac tilts his head toward the door but doesn’t make any effort to move. Gage grabs my hand and yanks me around the large man. As we pass, my arm briefly brushes Isaac’s, causing the hair on the back of my neck to tingle. He just smirks.
Gage drags me through the steel door into a dark, long hallway. A loud buzzing sound emits from the one small, circular overhead light that’s tinted red, basking the corridor in a burgundy hue. Immediately, the smell of sulfur assaults my nose. I dig my heels into the old, thin black carpet on the floor. Crap. I’m still not wearing shoes.“Where the hell are we?”
“That’s a pretty close assessment, love.” Gage sighs before turning to face me. “At the risk of sounding like the dark prince, in here, you stick by my side. Don’t speak. Don’t move. Don’t breathe, unless I permit it. This place is where darkness comes to play. Understood?”
I hold his intense gaze before giving in. It’s not like Gage to go all protector bossy on me.
“I’m not wearing shoes,” I point out.
Gage ignores the statement. Instead, he roughly snatches my hand again and continues to pull me along, forcing us further into the hall’s darkness.
“Why are we here?” I whisper.
“Christ. Don’t speak unless I speak to you, love,” he growls. “You want Elizabeth back? We do it my way. This is my way.” Why do I get the feeling his way sucks?
This was not at all how this was supposed to go. Aggravated at the change in plans, I stop and rip my hand out of his hold so he’s forced to turn and look at me again. He does.
“Gag—” He cuts me off. With supernatural speed, Gage is in front of me, pinning me to the wall and caging me in with his arms. A shrewd smile crosses his lips as he dips his chin.
“I mean it, love. Not one word unless I give you permission,” he orders.
After a brief moment of defiance, I press my lips together to prove I can behave. Satisfied, Gage pushes off the wall and continues to maneuver us through the shadowy passage and up several flights of stairs.
As we walk, the dim vibrations of a bass flow through me, prompting my curiosity. There must be a nightclub on the other side of the wall.
I keep my eyes trained on Gage’s back while we make our way up the last set of stairs. A snow-white door sits at the top of the landing. The color seems out of place given all the deep burgundy and blacks from the stairwells and hallway decor. Upon approach, I read Media Nocte In Templo spray-painted artistically across the entry. Before Gage knocks, the door swings open and my eyes meet a familiar pair of wild emerald green ones. What the hell?
“I’ve been waiting for you,” she rasps out.
“Sorry we’re late, buttercup.” Gage feigns an apology.
Confused, I look to Gage and then to the pale girl blanketing her face with her long raven hair. The new purple highlights mixed into the glossy dark strands make Nassa, Sorceress of Prosperity, look effortlessly cool. They match her deep purple eyeliner. Longing for my own clothes, I take in her black converse sneakers, black skinny jeans and vintage band t-shirt.
What in the world is going on? I’m about to ask, but a loud squawking noise interrupts my curiosity. At the sound, my focus stops on a black crow sitting on the sorceress’ shoulder. Its wings are silky with sleek deep cobalt streaks running through the raven feathers.
“Noir, meet Eve, daughter of Heaven. Eve, my familiar, Noir.” Nassa introduces us.
I smirk awkwardly at the bird while it tilts its head, assessing me. My life just keeps getting more and more absurd. “You have a pet crow?” I stare at the animal in astonishment.
Gage shoots me a menacing look, probably for speaking out of turn. My eyes widen at him in apology as I motion with my hand that I’m zipping my mouth closed. Fuck, he’s bossy.
“You don’t have to be afraid of him.” She enlightens, reaching up and petting the creature.
“Isn’t he sort of a symbol for death?” I snort, causing the bird to caw at me.
“Christ, love.” I get an aggravated warning from Gage.
“Actually, crows are keepers of the sacred law. They can see our true soul self, representing transcendence. They’re also extremely smart and loyal.” Nassa shifts her focus to me.
I arch my brow in skepticism. “Pretty sure Alfred Hitchcock would disagree.”
At my reference, she rolls her eyes. “If it helps you sleep at night, they mate for life, sunbathe, and can count to six.” The quirky girl explains these points as if they will win me over.
“Fascinating,” I reply warily.
“Noir is simply my familiar, like Malefica, aunt Lunette’s spotted panther,” she adds.
I’d forgotten Nassa was the niece of the eccentric Sorceress Lunette. A member of the Sorceresses of the Black Circle, and one of the Supernatural Royal Court members, as well as, the guardian of the scroll of divination. Oh, and a tantric sex hobbyist who pierced my mate in the most private of spots. My lips tilt at the vision of the slim, blonde haired witch.
“Are you going to invite us in, buttercup?” Gage winks seductively from the doorway.
Nassa glares at him, irritated at the nickname, before stepping aside and motioning us into another hallway. Odd. Before we enter, Nassa steps up to Gage angrily.
“For the record, Gallagher, your mere presence makes me want to puke,” she quips.
Gage just stares at her with a blank expression before leaning toward her ear to speak quietly.
“Gallagher, huh? It’s nice to see you got my name right this time, buttercup. I loathe being confused with God. Oh God…please,” he says in a low, seductive voice.
My eyes slide closed. Well, crap. That can’t be unheard.
Nassa releases a raspy, deep laugh. “Don’t flatter yourself, Gallagher. I was just surprised. Oh God, is that all there is,” she mouths off as I beg the floor to open up and swallow me.
Gage rolls his neck, allowing the loud cracks of his straining bones and muscles to echo off the walls. He ignores her smart remark and snatches my hand, yanking me hard into the corridor as I stumble over my feet.
“Eve needs to clean up. Maybe an outfit and some shoes. Can you help before she meets him?” Gage grits out.
“If you’d release your overprotective grip on her, I’ll get right on that,” Nassa retorts.
“Love, go with Nassa. You have ten minutes.” He releases my hand.
I go to say something snarky, but Gage’s face morphs into one of caution. Damn my promise to keep my mouth shut. Instead, I follow the sorceress into a backroom, where she roughly throws a duffle bag at me. Rummaging thought it I find it’s filled with my own clothes and products, as well as my favorite shoes. My eyes meet hers in question.
“How did you get my things?” I ask.
“Gallagher told me about your little escape plan, so I packed some items I thought you’d need.” She points a dark purple, polished index finger behind me. “There’s a bathroom through that door to freshen up. No offense but you smell like vomit,” she states as a matter of fact.
“Yeah…well, you smell like crow,” I retort.
Her face scrunches. “That isn’t even an insult. You need to spend more time with Kenna.”
I ignore the dig and snatch the bag off the floor then head into the bathroom to change. Ten minutes later, I’m clean and in my own clothes, shoes and all. I open the door to see Nassa sitting on a couch, magazine in hand. Noir stares at me with his beady bird eyes. Creepy.
“Why didn’t you have that thing with you when you were at the summit in London?” I ask.
“Noir doesn’t like flying,” she answers in an even tone, not looking at me.
I study her for a moment to see if she’s joking. She’s not. Is she serious? She has a pet bird that doesn’t like to fly. Awesome. “Where are we?” I change topics.
“Didn’t Gallagher warn you not to speak or ask questions?” Her head tilts, watching me.
“He did. I thought since we know one another, you might be a little more forthcoming with information. My mistake.” I shift uncomfortably, while she focuses on the glossy pages of the fashion magazine. “Are you and Gage an item now, or something?”
Nassa sighs. “New York. You’re in Manhattan. And no we’re not.”
I drop the bag holding my dirty outfit and nod in appreciation. “Thanks.”
She studies me for a moment. “For what it’s worth, I think what you did to Asher was pretty shitty. I’m willing to bet he kills you. Painfully. That said, I respect why you did it. I would do anything to keep my mom safe. So we’re cool. You and me.”
I swallow the painful lump forming in my throat. “Good to know,” I whisper.
Her eyes float around the storage room. “This is my uncle’s club, The Midnight Temple. That’s what the Latin graffiti on the door translates into.”
“Why did Gage bring me here?” I sit down on the worn couch next to her.
Twisting so she can see me, Nassa shrugs. “Probably because my uncle’s a demon lord.”
I knit my brows. “A what?”
“Demon lord. It’s the same as an archangel only for the other team.”
“Your uncle is a demon? I thought you were a sorceress?” I accuse.
“My mom is a sorceress. My dad, Mammon, holds a high position within the demon world. To avoid the look you’re giving me now, I tend to play up the sorceress side. It’s less…freakish. I make more friends that way,” she deadpans with a look of irritation.
“Mammon… Your dad is the demon of greed?” I question in a high-pitched voice.
“You’re in no position to judge. Your dad is the warrior of Heaven,” she throws back.
“Sorry,” I murmur. “Wait, how do you know about Michael?”
“Noir can see your true soul. Don’t worry, your secret is safe with me,” Nassa ensures.
“Forgive my mistrust but my ability to read people’s motives isn’t what it used to be.”
“I have nothing to gain by ratting you out, Eve. I live with my mother and the Sorceresses of the Black Circle. My allegiance is to them. I haven’t seen my dad, or my uncle, in a very long time. Nor do I care to engage in what their side believes to be truth,” she explains.
“If your dad is Mammon, who’s your uncle?” I question, not really wanting to know.
“The King of the Nine Hells, one of the original seven princes of Hell. Known to most as the demon of lust,” Nassa answers, holding my eyes.
“Actually, my dear niece, my claim to fame is that I penned the contract of creation,” a baritone intonation cascades over us from the doorway.
At the interruption, both Nassa and I become rigid, shifting our focus to the voice.
“Eve, meet my uncle, Asmodeus.”
Randi Cooley Wilson is a “New Adult” Paranormal/Fantasy and Contemporary Romance author. Randi was born and raised in Massachusetts where she attended Bridgewater State University and graduated with a degree in Communication Studies. After graduation she moved to California where she lived happily bathed in sunshine and warm weather for fifteen years. Randi makes stuff up, devours romance books, drinks lots of wine and coffee, and has a slight addiction to bracelets.