Read THRAX Chapter One

Thrax

Book Four in The Angelbound Origins Series

Chapter One

For the record, there’s no better way to spend your honeymoon than lounging naked in bed while playing a little game I like to call, “No I hated YOU more.”

Here’s how it works. My now-husband Lincoln and I positively loathed each other when we first met, which is going on a year ago. Back then, Lincoln thought I was a reckless quasi-demon. I thought Lincoln was a super-uptight part-angel demon hunter. All that is ancient history now, so we’re now sharing our “best of the worst” moments from that rocky period. Plus, the game is extra-fun because Lincoln is ripped in that lean way sword fighters are, and the comforter is pooled around his hips. My guy is tall and broad-shouldered with wavy brown hair and lips that scream, kiss me without saying a word. Go, honeymoon!

Lincoln just finished reminding me how I tried wearing sweats to a formal thrax event as a means of protest. I agreed that it was not in the best taste, but I did end up having to wear the worst white poufy dress ever as a result. It was a decent entry, but we still don’t have a winner.

“Your turn,” says Lincoln with a sneaky smile. He totally thinks that I don’t have a good story for my turn. And he’s way wrong. I am about to crush him like a cute itsy-bitsy-yet-mega-ripped man-bug.

“I have such a good one, and you’re going to cringe when you hear it.” I really drag out the word cringe.

“You don’t say?” Lincoln rolls over to face me. Now, we’re nose-to-nose under the covers of our incredibly poufy bed. For the last two weeks, we’ve spent our honeymoon camped out in this fancy-shmancy bedroom in one of Lincoln’s hidden palaces. My guy is the High Prince of the demon-fighting thrax, and his people have a tradition and glitzy hangout for everything. This particular palace is just for royal honeymoons and is filled with hefty wooden furniture, tapestries, and porcelain knickknacks. It’s pretty, but I could spend this time in an abandoned truck stop, so long as Lincoln and I were alone.

“Oh yeah,” I say. “Prepare to lose.”

“Please continue. The anticipation is almost beyond endurance.”

“Anticipation almost beyond endurance? Who talks like that?”

“I do. And if you keep stalling, you’ll forfeit the game.”

In case you were wondering, Lincoln always uses huge vocabulary words. As a Prince, Lincoln got educated by an entire league of smarty pants tutors. Meanwhile, I’m a quasi demon—mostly human with a bit of demonic DNA—so my “education” was more of an attempted brainwashing by the ghouls who once ran my homeland of Purgatory. That said, although being quasi got me a crap education, it also means that I have a tail. Every quasi does, only mine is awesome. It’s covered in dragonscales and has an arrowhead-shaped end.

“Listen up,” I say. “I hated you more when you were in the library at the Ryder mansion and I had to listen to Lady Adair coo all over you.”

“She cooed?”

I roll my eyes. “Please. She was all Oh, Prince Lincoln, I want to touch your muscle-y muscles. It was infuriating.”

“We recently killed Adair.”

Which is true. Not sure where he’s going with this, though.

“Yeah,” I say. “And she was possessed by the King of Hell at the time. Why bring that up?”

“Her death takes some of the bite out of your story, that’s all.”

Lincoln does have a point. However, I happen to have a long list of “I hate you more” moments, so I’m not worried. “I get one do-over per turn.”

“This is true.”

I tap my chin until a much better memory appears. “Okay, I’ve got one.”

“Enlighten me.”

“The first time we met.”

“No.” Lincoln closes his eyes and groans. “I was such an anti-demonic douchebag.”

By the way, I’m totally proud of Lincoln for using the word douchebag. I consider it a serious sign of my positive influence on moving him into the current century.

“I remember the moment so well,” I continue, adding a mock-nostalgic tone to my voice. “We were at a formal ball at the Ryder mansion when you approached me.”

Lincoln groans again. Nice.

“And you were all, You should be so grateful that I, the amazing Thrax dude, am willing to ask you to dance, you lowly scummy demon you.”

“In my defense, my people are demon killers.”

“I’m aware.”

“And I live miles under the Earth’s surface in a very traditional society.”

“Know that, too.”

Lincoln’s people, the thrax, do in fact live deep underground on Earth, where they refuse to get television and generally stay stuck in a their own version of the Middle Ages. It’s also true that thrax are part angel and have a mandate from the Almighty to kill demons on Earth. So, yeah, not a lot of demonic awareness there with Lincoln. Not at first, anyway. These days, Lincoln has totally moved beyond the whole quasi-demon-loathing thing. Unfortunately, the thrax as a people are still a major work in progress. Long story.

“Is that your defense?” I ask. You get one defense per story.

“Not much of a defense, is it?”

“Nope.” I make sure to smack my lips hard on the P sound.

Lincoln shakes his head. “I can still try to top that with my turn.”

“Ha!” I grin from ear to ear. “I’m so winning this bet.”

Lincoln and I are always turning things into bets. In this case, the winner gets our traditional prize: naming the time and place of our next kiss. Normally, this is a big thing since the winner can call their kiss anytime, anywhere, and the loser has to comply. When we’re in a formal diplomatic thingy, that can get pretty awkward. But since we’re on our honeymoon, Lincoln could call his kiss anytime, and that’s fine with me. It’s just the principle of the thing.

I like to win.

“I concede nothing.” Lincoln leans forward and rubs his nose along mine, which sends nice shivers of yummy moving through my insides. “I have the perfect example of when I hated YOU more.” Lincoln rolls onto his back and laces his fingers behind his neck. This shows off his bare chest with all the battle scars that I love. Still, I keep my focus right on his face. I won’t be lured into ogling him and falsely losing. Both parties have to agree who the winner is, and Lincoln’s abs are designed to distract my focus.

As a quasi-demon, I have two demonic powers, lust and wrath. Lust is the side of me that wants to stare at Lincoln’s abs. Wrath is the part that likes to win. Guess which side is driving the bus right now? I keep my gaze locked on Lincoln’s face as I speak once more. “Let’s hear it, big guy.”

Lincoln’s sly look returns with a vengeance. “I happen to remember a moment when I was at battle practice, minding my own business and educating some of the nobility on the finer points of swordplay.”

“Oh, I love this story.”

“All of a sudden, a woman dressed in a dragonscale fighting suit bursts onto our practice ground—”

“I had a very important diplomatic message.”

Lincoln keeps right on going. “And flattens every one of my nobles in quick succession.”

“I was being viciously attacked.” Not really, but that’s my story and I’m sticking to it.

“One of them did suffer a concussion.”

I purse my lips, considering. “A concussion is a serious thing, but the guy in question is a warrior and he attacked me first. I don’t see anything here that beats you being an anti-demonic douche.”

Lincoln scrubs his hands over his face. I know that particular move of his. I’m totally winning.

With demonic speed, I move to straddle him and pull his hands from behind his neck. Lacing my fingers with his, I pin Lincoln’s hands above his head. “Give up, loser.”

Lincoln’s gaze moves up and down my naked torso. My stomach tightens. That’s one hot look, right there.

When he speaks, his voice is deep and husky. “I concede. You win.”

“Good.” My voice is a little husky, too. It’s been a few hours since we last had sex, and we quasi demons have a quick recovery time. As it turns out, partly angelic dudes like Lincoln recover quickly, too. Total marital bonus.

“So, when are you calling your kiss?” The way Lincoln’s body is hardening against mine, I can tell he’s ready now.

For the record, impulse control has never been a strength of mine. But two weeks ago (aka the first time I ever had sex with Lincoln), I became pregnant. Since then, my impulse control issues have no gone from “not so great” to “major disaster.”

In other words, I am so calling my kiss right now.

I don’t even bother replying. I just lean down and give Lincoln a deep and soul-satisfying smooch. For a full bliss-filled minute, we’re all about tongues sliding and bodies grinding. I’m really looking forward to what comes next. That’s when it happens.

Ethereal singing echoes through my mind.

My igni have the worst timing.

I’m a supernatural being called the Great Scala. That means my body can house, process and direct igni, the tiny little lightning-bolt-shaped bits of power that move souls to Heaven or Hell. The actual “moving souls around” part is a real energy-suck, but that’s just one challenge of being the Great Scala. In my opinion, the trickier bit is igni management. They’re a super-needy bunch. Take now, for instance. Lincoln and I are about to get busy, and the igni decide to start singing inside my head. At least, these are the light igni whose power draws souls to Heaven. That means they are going “la-la-la” in childlike voices, which isn’t too painful, but it is distracting. There’s also some murmuring in the mix. It’s an art form to translate that babbling into actual useful information.

“Myla?” asks Lincoln. “Have the igni started talk to you again?”

“Why do you ask?”

“You stopped kissing me, for one thing.”

I roll onto my back and slam my head against the pillow. “Yeah. They’re in my head. I think they have a message for me.”

Lincoln curls into my side and kisses my cheek. “Duty calls. I can wait.”

“Thank you.”

At that moment, the lovely music of the light igni—aka the power that sends souls to Heaven—gets met with the cacophonous scratching of the dark igni who –you guessed it—send spirits to Hell. Think about a thousand toddlers playing broken recorders, and that’s the general idea behind dark igni communication.

This is not good.

My light igni are no big deal. They’re always jumping into my consciousness to tell me about some new and awesome soul that they want sent to Heaven. They also let me know when good things happen, like when Dad proposed to Mom.

But dark igni? They pop in with bad news and a lot of it is misleading or incorrect. For instance, they freaked me out once by saying Mom was dead, but they only meant dead wrong about installing cable. Still, bad news and a honeymoon do not mix. And considering how these damned igni made sure I got knocked up two weeks ago?

I really don’t want their bad news right now.

ANGELBOUND THRAX launches on September 26th, 2017. It’s available for preorder today on Amazon, iBooks, GooglePlay, Kobo and B&N.

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