Their love could give him a second chance at life--or condemn her to an eternity of damnation.
A Book of Netherworld
Yanked from his tortured existence in Netherworld and dumped naked in the Louisiana Bayou, Lash could swear he's died and gone to heaven. Except for the fact that a millennium ago he died a condemned soul, forever barred from Paradise. His new life feels like the next best thing, full of small miracles. Like silence. And ice water. And the company of a beautiful, compassionate woman.
Teva is a woman with a taste for heavy-metal music, an inherited talent for magic, and a trusting heart. She knows nothing about the mysterious stranger she's taken in, only that he needs her help. And the fact that he's gorgeous hasn't escaped her attention. She can't see Lash as anything other than a sexy, gentle man who soothes her nightmares away.
Then Lash learns the real reason for his reprieve from Netherworld--he's been sent to corrupt Teva's soul with sinful pleasures. Starved for tenderness and aching with desire, Lash yearns to accept the loving embrace Teva offers. But he can't give in to passion without tainting her, condemning her to the horrors of Netherworld.
The ultimate battle between good and evil is brewing, and Lash stands caught in the middle between Teva, who owns his heart--and Satan, who owns his soul.
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March 17, 2008
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Excerpt from Dark Sentinel by Melissa Lopez
Lash landed on the ground with a bone-jarring thud, bouncing until he slammed against an immovable object. Even if he could, he dared not move. What new form of torture had his keepers invented to use on him? Until that moment, he'd been able to ignore pain. It'd been centuries--no, eons--since he'd felt any emotions or sensations at all, except pain, so he had built up a resistance to the physical reaction. At this moment, the shock of it was a stark reality.
He moaned, fighting the agony. In his existence in Netherworld, he'd known every type of severe abuse fitting for his kind. But never had he felt such suffering. Every bone in his body must have shattered. Too much pain assailed him for them not to be.
He drew in another agonizing breath. Sleep. He willed sleep to claim him. He'd never escape the continual cruelties heaped on him, yet thankfully he'd heal in the slumber of nightmares.
"Hello. Hello. Can you hear me?" The whispered melody reached him from a great distance.
He attempted to growl. He knew this trick well. His keepers tortured the legions relentlessly with promise of concern, of care, only to rip it away.
"Shhh...You've got some nasty bruises." Gentle hands eased him. "Lay still, I'll go get my jeep. I'll take you to a hospital."
He forced his eyes open, only to squeeze them shut against the blinding light. The world he existed in was a gloomy place without such brightness. Yet even at his age he'd not seen all of Netherworld. Through his eyelids the light caused discomfort. Still it was the least of the pain racking his body.
He moaned, deep in his chest. Soft hands skimmed across a torso that couldn't possibly belong to him. His hide had long ago lost all sensitivity. But this gentle touch had him shivering, in a way he'd never responded to the harshest of touches.
"My name is Teva Gibson. I'll do what I can to help you." Her voice was a whisper as if she confided in him. Though running a race couldn't have made her sound more breathless.
He trembled. He'd been wrong. His keepers had found a new form of torture. They'd sent a human female with soft skin and a delicate scent to him. No. It had to be a disguise. Which tormentor was it this time? Was she Belial or one of her horde? His breathing turned ragged. It could be any of the keepers. The demon lords were all devious, cunning, beyond redemption.
Lash swallowed past the lump forming in his throat. When was the last time he'd smelled anything other then the putrid bowels of darkness? It was a darkness filled with every vile form of degradation, filth, and every sin imaginable. Not for a very long time, that was for sure.
"Leave me," he snarled half-heartedly, only to moan. He didn't want her to leave, even though her retribution would be fierce.
"Shhh...lie still. I don't want to leave you..."
He inhaled deeply, hoping to catch a whiff of his keepers. Any moment now, she'd rake her claws down his chest, or taunt his cock. The game never stopped for legion lords.
Panic edged her voice. "What happened to you?"
Sweat beaded his upper lip as he waited. He feared breathing, much less speaking to her. If he answered wrong, his punishment would be worse. Much worse
Soft hands caressed his shoulder and brow. "Just hang on. I'll be back."
At the sound of her disappearing footsteps, he rolled over, pushing up onto his hands and knees. He kept his eyes closed, but it did no good; the dizziness came anyway. His world spun, tilting as his stomach rolled. Groaning, he collapsed.
* * *
Teva's mind was awhirl with the possibilities of what could have happened to the stranger. While apparently weak from his injuries, there'd been something dangerous about him--something more than his breathtaking masculinity. He had a hardness that stole from his dark male perfection. Coal-black hair with eyes that matched and a jaw darkened by a shadow of growth. And what a jaw line!
Then there was the rest of him... She swallowed, her body heating.
Not likely she'd ever forget him lying there naked. Ridges and tight muscles sculpted him from face to foot. God, she'd even noticed his feet. Huge feet. Heat spread along her cheeks. Yes, Teva, you noticed that, too. His cock had been long, thick, and flaccid between his muscular thighs.
Teva gritted her teeth as the jeep jolted over low rocks. She lived on a privately owned park and wetland preserve in Louisiana, northeast of New Orleans. The Bayou area--a melting pot--drew all types of people. People like her, who tried to hide from the rest of the world. In the tradition of her forefathers.
How did he get out here?
A chill crawled up her spine, setting her hair on edge as she pushed the legends the swamps were famous for from her mind. They were old wives' tales, nothing more. She focused on the more likely possibilities as she urged the four-wheeler forward.
Naked, he didn't look like a hunter. Occasionally they poached on her land. They wanted to brag about bagging an alligator or black bear and get a trophy to take home to mount on their wall. Even nude, the stranger had seemed too clean for it, but what if he was an escaped convict? She'd often heard stories passed down of prisoners running for the shelter of the Bayou. Many of them never to be seen again after falling victim to the mysteries of the swamp. Gators and the dark, brackish water had never been friendly to those who didn't respect them. Perhaps he was a victim of a kidnapping?
She shook her head to turn her thoughts away from the stranger. How he'd gotten out here didn't matter. She had to help him. She concentrated on maneuvering the jeep around marshy areas until she reached the stranger's side.
Killing the engine, she released a relieved breath. She'd worried she'd imagined him. Another part of her wished she had. Her life would be easier. He'd moved while she'd been gone. He now lay face-down. Her gaze lingered on the rounded curve of his butt. She bet it would look as fine in clothes as out.
Don't ogle an unconscious man!
Teva shivered as another chill raced up her spine. Her heart pounded in her chest. She'd learned at an early age to follow her instincts. Kneeling, she glanced around. Nothing. Except for the hidden creatures, they were alone.
Spanish moss dangling from the branches of the live oaks swirled, almost taunting her with agitation. Her breath rushed out. Plenty of lore had been passed around about the Bayou's grayish-green tinsel. Some believed the natural decoration of the Bayou had a life of its own, with its eerie atmosphere and use in Voodoo.
Her hands trembled. She almost pulled back from him, but forced herself to clasp his shoulder, gently shaking him. "It's me, Teva. I'm back."
Flee while you can.
Teva's breath caught as creatures plopped into the sleeping water of the nearby river. Nervously, she scanned the area.
She concentrated on waking him. Again and again, she attempted to rouse him. Finally, an inhuman sound of pain rumbled out of his chest.
On a gasp, she jerked her hands away. "Can...Can you hear me?"