Recently, I challenged myself to write a holiday story. After writing Bound By Love, I couldn’t remember why I avoided them. In fact, Bel and Eden haven’t been silent since.
Enjoy this free excerpt (aka Chapter One). For the entire story, there will be a pre-order link at the bottom. Silver Publishing will be releasing Bound By Love next Saturday (February 12th) for Valentine’s Day.
Hell is as dangerous and fearsome as mortals are led to believe, which is why Beliaz left it behind to make a home on earth with a fallen angel named Eden. When Bel forges a ring to bind Eden to him forever, Hell has other plans for them both.
Bel carried a platter of cookies and milk into the living room. He set the tray on the coffee table and then crossed his arms over his broad chest. He silently admired the way Eden moved as he strung tinsel over a fresh-cut tree with tiny blinking lights. Despite Eden’s flowing, white poet’s shirt and loose-fitting blue jeans, Bel pictured his sinewy muscles flexing like a snake dancing in a mesmerizing sway. Long hair, the blue of a cop’s uniform, hung down to his waist. The color matched the tint of Eden’s wings, currently hidden in gill-like sheaths along his shoulder blades. Humming a Christmas tune, Eden tugged a clump of tinsel apart and tossed several strands onto higher branches.
“I have to admit it,” Bel said. “Your holiday cheer is starting to get to me.”
Eden turned and flung tinsel over Bel and then bounced up on his toes to kiss the man’s lips. “I love the holidays. Every one. Christmas, Fourth of July, Thanksgiving.” He lowered his eyes and smiled shyly. “I’m especially looking forward to Valentine’s Day.”
Bel wrapped his arms around Eden and, when he pulled him close, Eden nuzzled his neck. “I thought Christmas would be your favorite,” Bel said.
Eden reached up and ran his slender fingers through Bel’s thick, dark curls. “I love you, and Valentine’s Day is the holiday for lovers.”
Bel’s violet eyes swirled with hints of black and a low growl slipped from his throat. Eden, unflustered by those minor demonic habits, continued to exploit Bel’s love of being touched. He traced Bel’s square jaw with one fingertip until Bel turned his face into the touch, sucking the finger between his lips. Eden kissed his stubbled cheeks, playfully avoiding Bel’s mouth while his pale hands roamed Bel’s hard, muscular body.
“You’re never going to finish decorating if you keep that up.” Bel tightened his hold on the angel as Eden tried to pull away. “I’m okay with that,” he added.
Eden gave him one more kiss, its chasteness refuting Bel, but the playful smile that followed reminded him he’d have Eden naked by the end of the night. The angel had a surprisingly high sex drive. “What are you smirking at?” Eden asked. The way he diverted his gaze back to the tree, Bel suspected Eden knew exactly what he’d been thinking.
Bel tightened his embrace and said, “I want you to open a present.” He enjoyed the feel of his body wrapped around Eden’s seemingly delicate form. His lover was anything but fragile, no matter how much he looked like a fine china doll.
Eden gave him a playful shove and an incredulous look. “You can’t wait until tomorrow?”
“I can, but I want to give you your gift now.” Bel took Eden’s hand and dropped down to his knees in front of the tree. Once Eden joined him on the floor, they exchanged gifts wrapped in shiny and colorful paper with bright ribbons and machine-made bows.
“Open it,” Eden said. His gift, wrapped in blue metallic paper with a bow that had long streamers curling down one side, rested in Bel’s lap. “You first, since you’re so impatient.”
Bel couldn’t help but smile. It had taken time to draw the angel out of his shell, so every tease and flirtation was precious to him. He tore away the paper and with a loud “Yes!” he flipped the box over in his hands, his fingers drawing out into claws and digging into the cardboard. “You said no, but I had hoped you didn’t mean it.” Bel glanced up from the PlayStation box with a wicked fanged grin. Excitement tended to shake his willpower when it came to resisting the shift to demon form, but Eden understood, so for once he didn’t fight it quite as hard as he’d like to. “I believed you,” Bel said. “Which makes this so much cooler. I thought your kind couldn’t lie.”
With a blush, Eden lowered his head but raised his eyes to meet Bel’s. The half-demon’s fangs had retracted and his fingers returned to normal humanoid shape. “I didn’t lie,” Eden said, “I merely avoided the truth so that I could surprise you.”
“Open mine, my light.” Bel’s eyes momentarily glowed with the purple-black whorls of shadowfire before settling to his usual shade of violet.
Eden nodded, his long, blue hair falling over his face as he turned a small box between his fingers. It fit in the palm of his hand and sported a bright red ribbon wrapped around a miniature candy cane. The tag read, “For my guiding light.” Eden had little internal light since his
Fall, but to the demon half-breed, Eden was a beacon in a world overrun with outcast demons and humans seeking their sick kind of life. Even Fallen, the angel was stronger than most Bel had met in his time on Earth’s surface.
As Eden carefully peeled shiny white paper from the tiny box, Bel inched closer, leaning against Eden’s shoulder, his gaze fixed on the package in the angel’s hands. “Open it,” he whispered fervently.
“I am.” Eden smiled at his lover’s glee.
As the paper fell away from a leather-bound box with miniscule gold hinges, Bel sat up and snatched the box from Eden’s fingers. He opened it, and then turned it so Eden could see. Even Bel’s excitement didn’t shine in his eyes as much as the slivers of brightly colored gems decorating a wide gold band displayed on a bed of the softest scrap of cloth he could find.
Eden’s mouth fell open. He worked his lips, but couldn’t form the words.
“I love you, Eden. We may not be able to do the human thing and get married, but I want you to wear my ring as the love of my life.”
“Bel… That’s…” Eden gulped and licked his lips. “It is beautiful.”
“Marry me, my guiding light.” Bel took the ring from the box and lifted Eden’s hand, sliding the cold metal around the angel’s finger. A perfect fit.
“I know, but it only matters to us. We’ll know what it means even if the humans in this area don’t understand two men in love.”
Eden stared at the ring. The gems glowed with a life of their own —not life, magic— in shades of red, blue, and green, twinkling like the lights on the tree beside them. “I mean, we can’t. I can’t accept this, Bel. I just… I’m sorry, I can’t.” He tugged the ring off and shoved it back in Bel’s
hand. When he met Eden’s eyes, the pain sank into Bel’s heart like a heated dagger. He didn’t expect the angel to understand Hell’s customs, but clearly, Eden thought Bel meant the ring as its original purpose and not—
“Eden, wait. Let me explain.”
Eden stumbled to his feet. Fat tears watered his eyes. He stumbled out of the room and out of the house before Bel could clarify his intentions.
Bound by Love will be released by Silver Publishing on February 12, 2011. For pre-order information click HERE.