Home > Reaper Unleashed (Deadside Reapers #7)

Reaper Unleashed (Deadside Reapers #7)
Author: Debbie Cassidy

Chapter One

The woman stood in the doorway to the pack house, surrounded by blooms of spring and the air of summer. He hair was dark and loose around her shoulders. The dress she wore was gauzelike, and although it covered her from breast to toe, it was practically transparent. But it was her face that captivated me.

She had my face.

Oh fuck.

There was only one person this could be.

“Eve?”

“Well met, child,” she said with a smile. But the smile didn’t reach her eyes. “We don’t have much time. You must come with me.” She held out her hand. “Hurry.”

Grayson grabbed hold of my arm. “Fee isn’t going anywhere.”

He’d never spoken for me like this before. Grayson let me make my own decisions. Not today apparently, and I couldn’t blame him. There was an eerie otherworldliness about Eve. An alien quality that made the gooseflesh on my skin peak and after all the shit that we’d just been through—the super vamp attack on the Island run by the ouroboros and my return from the dead—more otherworldly shit was not something either of us needed or wanted.

“I must speak with her,” Eve said to Grayson. But her attention remained on me.

Looking at her was like looking into a mirror. That face… My face. And I knew that expression. It was fear. It was desperation.

“Please, Seraphina,” she said. “I cannot stay on this plane for long, but I swear to you, I will return you safely once I have spoken with you. Your death has resulted in a travesty that must be rectified.”

“Lilith?” I tipped my head to the side. “Your curse on her has been activated, hasn’t it?”

She blinked, looking momentarily thrown. “Lilith?”

Why did she sound like she had no idea what the heck I was talking about? “Yes. Lilith. You told Azazel something bad thing would happen to her if I died. I died.”

“Ah, that…” She looked sheepish. “There was never a curse on Lilith.”

“What?”

She waved a dismissive hand. “I gave Samael my oath that I wouldn’t harm her.”

Wait a bloody second. “But you compeled Azazel to keep Cain’s bloodline alive. You told him that if he didn’t, Lilith would be hurt by his failure.”

She sighed. “I compeled Azazel to protect my son’s bloodline, but I knew he might fight my compulsion, and so I added a little extra to the deal. I told him that Lilith would be hurt if he failed, and I cursed him to be unable to speak of it to her, or to pass the knowledge to her in any other manner living or dead.”

But she hadn’t factored in Cora…which made me wonder. Was Cora more than just a tulpa?

“You lied to Azazel.” Grayson sounded disgusted.

I was beginning to understand that my mate was a huge believer in honesty and transparency.

Eve’s attention flicked to him for a fraction of a second before settling back on me. “I did what I had to in order to protect this world,” she said. “And your death is on the brink of undoing it all.” She held out her hand. “I need to explain to you. I need you to come with me. Please child.”

She’d lied to Azazel, but the tremor of fear in her voice wasn’t a lie. I’d died and come back, but my gut had been screaming that something was wrong ever since. Eve had the answers I needed.

I nodded. “I’ll go with you, but I want your oath you won’t harm me, and that you’ll return me back here.”

“You have my oath,” she said quickly.

“Fee….” Grayson exhaled. “Fuck.”

I hugged him. “I’ll be back soon.”

And then I bridged the distance between me and Eve, took her hand, and stepped into spring.

Clear blue skies, floral fragranced air, the chirp of birds, and chatter of woodland creatures surrounded me.

Eve didn’t let go of my hand straight away. Instead, she studied my face for long agonizing seconds.

“It’s like looking in a mirror,” she said softly. “My doppelganger...”

I wasn’t sure I wanted to be anyone’s doppelganger, but there was no denying it. Aside from her hair color, we could be identical twins, and it was unnerving holding her hand. It was almost like holding my own hand.

Instead, I focused on the meadow around us, the bubbling brook, and the blossoming trees. This was like something out of a fairy tale, down to the wood cabin behind her. A neat well was built to one side of the cabin and a chicken coop sat on the other side.

It was too perfect to be real.

“What is this place?”

“My home.” She released me and looked about as if seeing it for the first time. “I crafted it a long time ago. It’s safe here. A place out of time. A place untouched by chaos and corruption. I can’t leave for longer than a few minutes.” She sounded wistful. “But I didn’t bring you here to talk about that. I need your help, and I need you to understand how vital that help is. The only way to do that is to tell you a story. Will you listen?”

There was no denying I was curious. “Fine.”

“Sit.” She indicated the soft grass that blanketed the ground.

We both sat and tiny blooms immediately sprung up around us. I inhaled the sweet scent and was instantly relaxed, but alarm bells went off in my head at the same time.

“What are these flowers?”

“Lianthum’s. They’re indigenous to my home. They relax the mind and soothe the soul. They won’t hurt you, but they will allow you to absorb what I tell you. They’ll allow you to access the memories locked in your mind. Memories that you own due to your connection to both me and Samael.” A quicksilver emotion crossed her features. “They will help you recognize what I tell you to be truth.”

“Ancestral memories?”

“Yes. You have them, but they aren’t easily accessible.”

Sounded fair. “Okay, I’ll listen.”

“It all began when a mortal fell in love with an angel.” Her smile was nostalgic. “That mortal was me and the angel was Samael. He was formidable, hewn from light and filled with passion. We were friends at first, and yes, there was an attraction there, but I knew nothing would come of it. At least I believed it to be so. But he came to me one night, heart-wounded and weary, in need of soothing. I gave myself to him, mind, body, and soul. For a few days, my heart was filled with joy. Not even Adam could take that away from me. We’d been estranged for so long, you see, coming together only for comfort from time to time. There was no love between us. Not like Samael and I, but then Samael left.” She paused and swallowed as if pushing back an emotion she wasn’t ready to taste. “My angel left to be with his one true love, and it almost broke me, until… Until I discovered I was with child. His child. I had a piece of him to keep with me always, and then there were two heartbeats and my joy doubled.”

“Cain and Abel.”

“Yes. I bore Samael two, strong, healthy sons, but they didn’t exhibit his celestial grace. They were more mortal like me. Still, he loved them, and he visited as often as he could, but Lilith wasn’t happy with the arrangement. Although she’d forgiven him his transgression, she was unwilling to forgive me. And my sons were a constant reminder of Samael’s infidelity. So eventually, Samael’s visits petered out and Adam, bless his heart, stepped in to help raise my sons. We had another together too. Seth, and we were content for a time.

But as my sons grew, I recognized the vast difference in their personalities. Abel was sweetness and light, and Cain…” She paused again, searching for the right words. “Cain was filled with darkness and anger. He would lash out at the slightest provocation, and it was this temper, this darkness, that led him to murder his brother.”

I’d heard the bible story but never like this. “Samael came to you then, didn’t he?”

Her brows shot up. “Yes, how did you know?”

“Lilith spoke to me a little about this. She said he came to see you when his son died.”

“Lilith met you and didn’t try to kill you?”

I filled her in briefly on my trip to the Underealm and the way Cora had been able to speak of Eve’s curse.

Eve’s eyes grew wide. “You created her?”

“Yes, but she’s her own person.”

Eve looked like she was about to say more then she snapped her mouth closed and nodded. “Yes. Back to the story. Where was I?”

“Samael came to see you when Abel died.”

“That’s right, he did. He recognized Cain’s pain. The darkness inside Cain, spoke to Samael. He recognized it as his own personal turmoil, one he’d controlled his whole existence, and so instead of punishing Cain, he sought to aid him. He bound Cain to him through a mark.”

Fucking hell. “The mark of Cain?”

“Yes, I believe that’s what they call it. But the mark is so much more. It’s a link to Cain’s roots, to the strength to wrestle the demons in his soul and conquer them. Samael is a celestial touched by chaos. The darkness is a real thing inside him and inside Cain also. Through the mark, Cain was finally able to control his inner demons but,” she sighed, “we didn’t anticipate the side effects.”

“What kind of side-effects?”

“Firstly, Cain adopted Samael’s immortality. He became undying, and secondly, he unlocked an ability to access the miasma that permeates the ether and seeps onto the earthy plane. My ability. He was also able to access the power of chaos, a darker form a magic. The power corrupted him, and he did some awful things. There was no way to reach him. We couldn’t kill him because the mark made him invulnerable. And there was no known way to remove the mark, so Samael and I did the only thing we could. We put Cain into a deep slumber and locked him away. I found a pocket of reality, an uninhabited dimension where he would be safe from discovery, able to sleep for eternity. We left him there.”

Something stirred in the back of my mind. The brown door in the archives in Purgatory. The voice…. The voice… “You left him in Purgatory.” Oh god, the pieces were falling into place, but I needed to hear the rest to be sure I had this right. “Go on, please.”

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