A few months ago on Facebook, I promised readers that as the release date for DEMON MARKED approached, I’d post a little bit from the book about Taylor and Michael. So this is the scene where we first see Taylor again. I’ve put it after the cut to avoid spoiling anyone who doesn’t want to see it, but if you are on Goodreads or a feed reader, you might want to close your eyes now.
Michael was gone, and the walls of his temple were cracking.
Taylor stared at the thin lines twisting through the pale marble. If there was one place a Guardian should have felt safe, it was here—in the center of Caelum, the Guardian realm, standing within Michael’s great hall. The first and strongest of all the Guardians, he’d been entrusted with great powers by the angels themselves after killing a dragon and ending the second war between Heaven and Hell. He’d built the massive temple simply through the power of his voice and will. And for the past six months, almost without realizing the adoption taking place, Taylor had come to consider this temple her home. She should have felt safe.
But she was terrified, because Michael was gone. At least, part of him was—the part she could usually feel in the back of her mind, after he’d linked his psyche to her through blood and a kiss. The part of him that sometimes protected her, guided her. The part she often fought against. The part that was probably responsible for her coming to accept his temple as her home. But that was only part of him, and a tenuous connection, at best.
The rest of him was in Hell, tortured in the icy field surrounding Lucifer’s throne. Buried, with only his face showing, his eyes frozen open and fixed on Lucifer’s tower; his body eaten by dragons in the Chaos realm before it regenerated to be ravaged again.
Surrounded by the screams of the damned, he’d been in that field for a year now, and for the past six months, Taylor had visited him as often as she dared—using his power of teleportation, which was also a part of her, and which Taylor had begun thinking of as her own Gift. They’d come to an agreement of sorts: He wouldn’t teleport her without her knowledge or against her will, but if she needed protection, he could take over her body and fight for her.
Obviously, that agreement had changed. Because whatever of Michael was left in Taylor’s mind, he still allowed her to teleport . . . he just didn’t allow her to teleport to Hell anymore.
That scared her more than the cracks in the walls, scared her more than the sense of shattering and pain that she felt when her hand flattened against the marble—because it meant that whatever was happening to him in Hell, Michael was protecting her from it. Through their link, Taylor had become used to the echo of the pain and horror he experienced, though she knew Michael shielded her from most of it. Now, whatever was happening, he shielded her from all of it.
Could it truly be that bad? Worse than what she’d already seen?
She was afraid of that answer. A former detective, she’d seen every evil that a human could visit upon another being. That evil didn’t even scratch the surface of Hell.
Michael had sacrificed his life and broken a bargain to save Earth and Caelum, and in the faith and hope that, eventually, his friends and fellow warriors would find the right spell to release him. Six months ago, Taylor had sworn that she’d find a way to free him. But she was no closer to finding a solution . . . and she couldn’t feel him anymore.
Ahem. So, we will see a significant change in Michael’s status by the end of DEMON MARKED. But I’m sure as heck not going to say more than that 😀