A cry in the night, a child who needs help and a demon who needs redemption.
Rational and serious, Lucia believes in what she can see and touch, preferring to leave the curses and fortune telling to her old-world relatives. Meeting Delia, a half-human, half-demon child, challenges her logic. Desperately alone, the girl searched for someone to keep her safe and finds Lucia.
Armaros spent his eternal life mired in guilt. Choosing to live life according to his desires and whims, he forced his sister to fall from grace, damning them both. When she vanished, abandoning him and all they’d built together, he pursues. The last thing the Fallen expected to discover was the impossible existence of her child and the fragile human intent on keeping her safe.
Thrust together, Armaros and Lucia must flee the forces of Heaven and Hell. Determined to protect Delia, they must set aside their differences. Despite the insurmountable odds stacking against them, can they accept that fate put their paths on a collision course? Or are they doomed to fail, losing not only Delia, but also the only other person in the universe who understands them?
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Lucia didn’t know what it was that made her stop and peer into the blackness of an alley she passed a hundred times before. She blamed videos on social media about abandoned animals. In her mind, she saw a tiny pit bull puppy, whimpering innocently, yipping for its mother, body shivering in the cold New England winter.
Hitching her bag onto her shoulder, Lucia peered into the inky blackness.
Dumb. Dumb. Dumb. Her brain screamed. Go home!
But the puppy…
Twisting away from the alley with her back to the brick wall, she examined both sides of the street. This was what happened when she decided to stay at the library extra late. She missed the final campus bus, then only reached her roommate’s voicemail, and had to sludge through the snow and ice.
Lucia was not dumb. Few people relied on rationality like she did. The smart thing to do was back away, run home. Return in the morning—or maybe in a car, if she was compelled to come back tonight—high beams annihilating the darkness.
Then why were her fingers curling into the sign of the horns? Middle finger and ring finger held down by her thumb, like she was rocking out at an AC/DC concert, warding off any evil lurking behind dumpsters.
The noise came from the alley again, a tiny cry, a cross between a kitten and a baby. Throatier, but weak.
A shrill ringing from her pocket made her jump. Hoping it was her roommate, she answered without looking at the caller ID.
“Lucia, where are you?”
A snort escaped her before she whispered, “Funny story…”
“I read the cards today, Lucia.” Her aunt’s voice, usually fast-paced, bypassed rapid and went straight to frantic. “Stop where you are and turn around. Go back wherever you came.”
The cry came from the alley again. “Hello?” she called.
“Lucia, Madre di Dio, turn around.”
“Hello?” a tiny voice echoed down the alley in response to her call.
A lost preschooler replaced her puppy.
Through the phone, her aunt’s voice prayed in breakneck Italian, Hail Mary—
“Zia, someone needs help. I’ll call you back.”
Her phone rang as soon as she hung up, but she sent it to voicemail. Flicking on the flashlight feature, she crept into the alley, heart hammering in her chest. “Are you okay?”
A flash of white was the only warning she had before something nailed her in the stomach. Her body folded in half, breath releasing in an audible gust.
Something small wrapped around her legs, holding so tightly, any movement would send her tumbling to the ground.
A child. Skinny arms blue with cold. Ragged shirt hanging off one emaciated shoulder.
“Oh, no!” Placing her hands on the child’s body, she attempted to push the child away to get a better look at him or her. Strong, for all their boniness, the child clung to her. “What’s your name?”
The child answered, but not in a language Lucia understood.
“Whoa. Slow down, sweetie.”
The child glanced up hearing Lucia’s voice, and time stopped. Red eyes, bright as maraschino cherries stared back at her. Pointed teeth—two rows of shark-like, jagged though small, and bright white—peeked behind bow-shaped lips. A girl with delicate features studied her with interest as the world came back into focus.
The child—could she be called that?—remained wrapped around her body. Knees weak, Lucia stumbled, falling so she was eye to eye with the girl.
So close to her face, her teeth appeared much more wicked and sharp.
“Hello,” the girl repeated, the words sounding thick and muddled as if she was trying them out for the first time.
Glancing around the alley again, this time for a hidden camera or a B-list celebrity, Lucia searched for a clue about what was going on. There was nothing: no lights, no doors to the buildings, no…cage. A full-body shiver wracked the girl’s body and Lucia suddenly didn’t care if the child had red eyes or flesh-tearing teeth.