Angel Betrayed

By: Cynthia Eden

PROLOGUE



Death could be kind or he could be cruel. Tonight, he felt damn cruel.

Sammael’s dark wings flapped behind him as he watched his prey. The stench of blood and sweat clung to the men. They’d fought hard and long that day. They’d killed so many—men, women, and children. Sammael had taken the souls from the broken bodies. They’d seen him coming—only those slipping from the mortal world ever saw an Angel of Death—and their eyes had filled with terror.

So many dead in such a short time. He’d watched their slaughter. Stood back while they begged and screamed.

His job was only to take the souls. He gave them peace after their suffering. He served. He didn’t question.

Until now.

There was no reason for him to be in this forest. No reason for him to watch these men. They weren’t on the list for death, not tonight anyway.

They were laughing and drinking. They didn’t sense him. No one ever did—not until it was too late.

Blood still stained their hands.

Watch and wait and take the souls when it is time. That was his job, and it was the job he’d done for centuries.

Angels didn’t feel emotion. They didn’t feel lust or love or rage.

No, angels weren’t supposed to feel. But he’d never fit into that perfect mold. Lately, he’d been feeling too much, and he just couldn’t shut off the fury.

Sammael dropped to the ground. His wings closed in behind him. To kill, to take a soul, he only needed one touch. Just one.

He smiled at the men. Some were stiffening and glancing around, as if they sensed him.

They only see when death is at hand.

Sammael reached for the first man. Death is at hand for you. One touch and the human fell to the ground with an expression of twisted agony contorting his face. The laughter stopped then, and the scent of fear teased Sammael’s nose.

His black wings spread behind him, powerful and strong. When the others began to run and scream, his smile stretched.

No more watching.

Another touch and another body hit the ground. Again and again. The laughter that filled the air was his now. He had the power, and he didn’t feel like being kind to the mortals around him.

Shouts of “devil” and “monster” filled the air. The shouts were almost insulting, but he didn’t really expect these fools to recognize an angel.

They saw him now because he’d changed their fate. Marked by Death now. Death was closing in, and they couldn’t fight him. There would be no escape.

When they ran, he just flew after them. He caught the men, lifted them up into the air, and then tossed their dead bodies back to the ground.

“Please . . . mercy!” One man’s desperate cry.

He had no mercy.

He touched and he killed . . . until no one was left.

When the haze of rage cleared from his eyes, the dead circled him.

The smile still lifted his lips when the wind began to whip against Sammael’s body. The wind howled, screaming like the dead men, no, like those women had screamed earlier that day when they’d been slaughtered. Like the children had screamed when he’d just stood there and watched the bastards attack.

No more watching.

He had the power. He’d take it, and he’d kill anyone he wanted.

Sammael’s body jerked into the air. He flew, high, higher, way past the clouds and back to the domain of the angels. But he didn’t return to heaven on his own accord. They yanked him back.

“Sammael.” His brother’s voice boomed as Sammael dropped onto the marble floor. “What have you done?”

Sammael rose slowly and let his wings stretch behind him. His shoulders rolled as he stared at Azrael. He didn’t have to answer to the other angel. When it came to the hierarchy of the Death Angels, Sammael was at the top. Everyone else should bow to him. They should all learn that lesson. “Don’t dare to question me.” He was the power. It was past time that he started to use that strength.

But his brother just shook his blond head. “You took them. It wasn’t their time.”

“I made it their time.” No apology. His gaze swept the room. Heavy with thick, white columns. Walls adorned with gold. Perfect. Opulent.

Prison.

Sammael turned away and headed for the gold-plated doors.

Az appeared in his path and blocked his way. The other angel had always been fast.

I’m faster.

“We don’t judge,” Az said, voice flat. “We deliver those that are charged to us. We are not to interfere in the lives of humans. You know this.” Ah, his brother had better be careful. It almost sounded like some emotion had slipped into his voice.

“I know we have the power to kill,” Sammael told him. “So I killed.” And for the first time, it had felt . . . good. Want more.