Do you believe in chance?
Absolution Book One
A book of Netherworld.
Olivia Sutcliff is a lost soul who has endured the tortures of Netherworld for more than a hundred years, but now she's given one chance to get out--on a task set by the Dark Prince himself. She must use her sexual wiles to help damn an innocent man, and failure means a fate worse than hell.
FBI special agent Malin Cross has devoted every waking moment to catching the killer who haunts his nightmares. Until he meets the woman of his dreams. She's a perfect submissive, one who anticipates his every fantasy. But she also asks too many questions, leaving Malin to wonder if she's as innocent as she seems...or if she's bait to lure him into the killer's web.
As Olivia entices Malin deeper into a world that wants him destroyed, her second thoughts grow into a desire to save him from making a damning mistake.
But as the forces of light and dark collide, their lives--and their souls--hang on the one sacrifice that could destroy them both.
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June 09, 2008
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Excerpt from Dark Chance by Melissa Lopez
"Move your ass." The nudge to Olivia's back propelled her forward. She stumbled along in the unfamiliar and equally uncomfortable shoes.
Only minutes ago she'd been bathed and clothed. Such luxuries for someone so undeserving.
What place had she been taken where clothes were allowed? Degradation accompanied nakedness in Netherworld.
Dizziness clouded her head. Where was she? Too bright lights shone above. Fresh clean scents assaulted her nose. Food. The delicious smell of food teased her senses. Hunger pangs gnawed at her empty stomach.
People dressed in clothes came and went as she and Alastor passed.
So many new stimuli for her to take in. She was inside a building of some sort, but not the Dark Prince's palace.
This wasn't the world she'd been born into either. London's East End had been poor and gloomy. The summers had been sweltering. Winters had been so cold she'd thought her bones would crack. While in Netherworld, the elements of weather didn't only torment, they claimed lives.
Not this world. The temperature was pleasing.
Unable to comprehend what was happening to her, she shook her head. She blinked and nothing changed back to the stinking realm she'd become accustomed to.
Just as in Netherworld, no one spoke to her as she passed by. Only stared, or lowered their gaze.
Another shove sent her forward. She gasped and caught herself before she tumbled down some stairs. She glanced over her shoulder to meet the glowing eyes of the demon lord, Alastor. To many, the legion lord was known as The Executioner. She shivered at the demon's ugliness. How had she wound up with one of Netherworld's most vicious? His cruelty was whispered about among the slaves. His volatile temper was avoided by all.
His smile sparked a trembling that sent her knees to knocking. "Move your fucking ass, or we'll miss the opportunity."
Opportunity? Of what did the legion lord speak? What opportunity would ever be offered to the likes of her? This was very bad. Some new torture she'd never heard whispered of among the lost souls.
Unsatisfied with the speed she walked, he clasped her upper arm in a bruising grip and marched her down the rest of steps.
"Please, Master, I don't understand." They crossed a foyer with vaulted ceilings. She'd once entered a church that'd been almost as beautiful.
Disgust twisted his features when he spared her a glance. "To think you were handpicked for this."
What did he mean? Picked for what?
Desperately, she looked around for some clue as to what was happening to her. Nothing was familiar. Especially not the wide-eyed people staring at her. Oddly, no fear was displayed in the looks flashed her way. In Netherworld no one would spare her a glance. They had too many things to fear.
Her head pounded in time with her heart as he pulled her along to exit the building.
"Listen to me, you stupid cunt." His scaly hand tightened on her arm. "We don't have much time."
Olivia whimpered at the feel of claws digging into her skin.
"Our Prince has picked you to damn a soul."
"No." The word was out before she could stop it. Be the cause of someone's damnation? Wildly, she shook her head. Her stomach knotted. She'd do anything, but she didn't want to condemn someone else.
The demon stopped them in their trek. "I dare you to say no again." A smile that didn't reach his amber eyes curled his grotesque lips.
She'd been chosen. Their Prince expected this cruel deed of her...
Her breath burst in short pants as terror thundered in her blood. Defy a demon, let alone the Devil? Did she have it in her? If she did this would it lighten her burden in Netherworld?
She trembled from head to toe. "I'm sorry, Master." Of course she'd do anything their lord wanted of her. Anything the demon ordered her to do. All lost souls existed only to please the Dark Prince. They existed to slave for the legion lords.
"That's better." He caressed her hair. "I didn't think you were as stupid as you look."
Once again, he got them moving.
Frantic, Olivia did her best to stay on her feet. She didn't understand the hurry. In Netherworld, time as well as torture crawled along at a grueling pace.
"Your mark's named Malin Cross." He squeezed her wrist. "Can you remember at least that much?"
"First, you seduce him."
She gasped. Seduction wasn't something she was practiced at. In life she'd not been a wanton and in Netherworld... A chill crawled across her skin.
The Dark Prince counted on her to use sex against this unknown man.
"Once Malin speaks of hate and revenge, encourage him." Pain flashed up her arm as he pulled her closer. "You encourage him to act on his hate, act on his desire to take matters into his own hands. Urge him to be vengeful." Harsh breath choked her. "Do you understand me?"
Hurrying along she closed her eyes in prayer.
May God save him.
The demon stopped, causing her to stumble into him. Blocking her way, he pinched a nipple with such viciousness she cried out.
No one came to her aid.
"Bitch, I'll be keeping a close watch on you. You'll not fail our Prince." Alastor grabbed her arm and propelled her outside. "I suggest keeping your thoughts in check."
She whimpered. "Yes, Master." Somehow, she'd be more careful.
"Malin's longtime fantasy is to have a submissive woman at his beck and call."
"Yes, Master." Could a lost soul be anything but submissive? Though legends were whispered about a few condemned who'd refused to bend. The strong were always singled out for more extreme torture. Not her. She'd caved in to the torment long, long ago.
"Malin prefers natural redheads."
Two for two. She nodded.
"A thief and whore, you'll do fine." He pulled her along in the fading sun.
She stiffened. She'd been no whore.
"Our Prince will be proud when you cross the soul over." He wove them through the moving crowd.
In awe, she stared. She tried to take in the details of this new place. Some buildings towered over others. She couldn't get over the number of laughing, talking people. Some even talked to themselves as they passed by.
Olivia's heel caught on a crack in the stone, and she nearly fell.
An old woman patted her hand. "Are you all right, dear?" A frown creased the woman's wrinkled face. Obviously in this new world no one could see the demon lord.
Alastor jerked her forward. He barreled them through a group of milling people.
Olivia screamed as the legion lord shoved her so hard, she fell into a fast moving object. Pain burst in her hip and ribs as she was thrown forward. Her wrist cracked when she hit the ground. Her head thumped hard, momentarily blinding her until the agony faded.
Women talked in overly loud tones.
Olivia heard the sound of running feet.
The sound of male voices rose, some in languages she didn't know.
She rolled her head to see strange-looking carriages with fat wheels stopped nearby.
"Lady, can you hear me?" A hand touched her shoulder.
She rolled her head to look up. The clearest brown eyes she'd ever seen focused solely on her.
Yes, Master, she tried to speak. While the pain had already begun to recede, her tongue felt heavy.
"Jesus, I didn't see you." He knelt down as her eyelids slid closed. "I'm Special Agent Cross. I've already called for an ambulance."
Olivia forced her eyes open.
She'd just met her mark.
A glance wasn't long enough to get her fill. She wanted to take his every feature in, to memorize him from head to foot as he crouched over her. The man was by far the most pleasing looking man she'd ever met. A nice firm jawline. Brown eyes and thick brown hair to match. Even kneeling over her the way he was, she could tell he was a big, broad man.
Someone so handsome deserved to be an angel.