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Fate of the Fallen

When all hell breaks loose in Chicago, Eva Dantanian, top agent for the Demonic Management Agency, is the first one called to help. The 700 year old daughter of a fallen angel enjoys working out her frustrations kicking demon ass ... until her mission puts her in a race to save a missing child.

When family becomes foe and foe becomes ally, deep secrets and betrayals rip her family apart. As the pieces fall into place, Eva is faced with the horrible truth. To save the innocents under her protection, she must kill one of her own kind.

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Sharron Riddle

Sharron lives in West-Central Florida with her husband and three cats. Since her earliest days, she loved story telling. She wrote her first novel more than twelve years ago and her love for all things dark and scary has taken her work into the deepest realms of the paranormal.

Reviews

4 Stars

This is an excellent effort especially for a first book and I'm looking forward to what she does in the future.

Night Owl Reviews

Recommendation: Yes! I loved the mix of immortal Fallen Angels, Vampires, and Goddesses all with a mystery of murders...I loved this book.

Melissa of My World...in words and pages


5 Half-Naked Men

This book has an awesome storyline. Eva is a fantastic heroine...I really enjoyed this book. I didin't want to put it down once I started reading it. I really hope that there will be more books containing the adventures of Eva and Rahab. I would love it if this book was just the first in a long series.

Rom Fan Reviews


5 Hearts

There were so many twists and turns that I was kept guess until the very last word on the very last page. Ms. Riddle did a superb job...Fate of the Fallen offered a unique look into a world that encompassed almost every paranormal element known, and I for one will be sorely disappointed if we don't see more from Eva, Rahab, and their fellow Demonators.

The Romance Studio
Excerpt


CHAPTER 1

Thursday, December 4th, Palm Beach, FL 8:47 PM EST

“He’s here,” I whispered into my Bluetooth.

“Are you sure?”

“Unless Nordstrom’s spritzer girls are spraying everyone with raw sewage, then yeah, I’m pretty sure.”

“What’s he look like?”

“He looks like a creep.” I tossed a pair of lacy boy shorts back on the sale table. “Why do you care what he looks like? You plan on dating him?”

My sister breathed in my ear, unappreciative of my sharp wit.

The guy strolled through the junior’s department into the rows of lingerie, his eyes darting in search of his next victim.

There were several to choose from, kind of a smorgasbord for bad guys. A small mob of women, middle-aged to elderly, perused racks of bras and nightgowns and robes. They all dressed in light coats over designer labels; Liz, Versace, and Ralph were well represented. Prada and Gucci purses hung on their arms with wallets fat with Christmas cash and credit cards with no spending limits. Lucky for them, this guy wasn’t looking for money.

Sprigs of plastic holly and evergreens draped the displays of holiday finery and giant sparkling snowflakes hung from the ceiling on silver wires like a gaudy shrine to commercialism. Jingle Bell Rock played cheerily from the overhead speakers, priming shoppers to whip out their Master Cards. Personally, I don’t need festive music to put me in the mood to shop.

I assessed the situation and returned my attention to the slimy little demon. “He’s short—kind of thin. His coat looks like he found it at the bottom of a dumpster. Smells like he slept in it.”

Purah covered the receiver, mumbling something to my brother and she returned seconds later. “I told Eligor to stretch his legs. God, we’ve been cramped in here for three hours. My ass is asleep.” She sighed. “So, how big are they?”

I took a quick look. “I’d say about fourteen inches.”

“Wow. You know what they say about the size of a demon’s horns...”

I rolled my eyes out of habit. Purah was parked on the third level garage, far out of my sight. We have many special talents, but x-ray vision isn’t one of them. Too bad, that could be fun outside the men’s room.

“You’re disgusting, you know that?” I whispered, but I was smiling.

I pretended to browse a collection of flannel nightgowns, glancing over the top of the rack as I scraped hangers across the bar.

Dark eyes sank into sallow skin, the right one swimming with blood from broken vessels, the eyelid twitching like a live wire. His face was gaunt, almost skeletal, his bony cheeks casting gray shadows down to his pointed chin. Sharp wrist bones protruded from his frayed coat sleeves, his hands hanging limply at his sides.

Of course, I saw the entire package; his lovely curved horns and smoldering red eyes. The seared scarlet skin chaffing black ash. Fingernails, blackened, as if someone had smashed each one with a hammer and they grew unnaturally thick and sharp, curling like bear claws over the tips of his fingers.

Immortals see each other’s true selves. My own shields hid the golden skin that would hurt a human to look at, and the green and golden swirl always moving in my eyes. As long as he wore that decaying suit of flesh and looked at me with human eyes, he saw what any other human would see—a mortal woman, shopping. Young, pretty, pushing a stroller. Poor pathetic, helpless female, devoted mommy and all that rot.

It didn’t take long before his bloody eye and foul smelling coat offended the highbred sensibilities of the ladies around me, though I suspect it was some primeval instinct that tightened those sharp barbs of fear around their hearts. Clutching tight to their purses, they faded discreetly into nearby departments, and I was damned relieved to see them leave.

A bent old woman obliviously held a black negligee up to her tiny frame, an amusing dichotomy against her pale raincoat and the plastic bonnet tied under the sagging folds of her chin. Her clothes reeked of stale cigarettes; I could smell her from where I stood, twenty feet away. She had the reptilian skin of a career smoker; her fingertips stained the color of burnt caramel.

She looked up from her little fantasy to find the demon staring at her like some weirdo pervert. Her face wrinkled in an indignant frown, puckering her red rouged lips and I smiled, despite the danger of the encounter. She tossed the nightie over her arm and limped up the aisle. I waited for her to skirt around a dissecting rack of Playtex girdles, but to my horror, she walked right up to him.

What the hell are you doing, lady? I wanted to scream at her, but I had no air in my lungs. She looked so tiny and frail in the demon’s shadow. One of his putrid breaths would have tumbled her away like a dried leaf.

She squeezed one eye shut and narrowed the other. Two hooked fingers scraped the air and she made hissing sounds as she passed him. Brazen little thing; she never broke the stare until, thank God, she disappeared behind a display of holiday dresses. If she only knew, I thought, blowing the stale breath I’d been holding.

“Eva, are you there?” Purah snapped me back from the shock.

The demon watched the woman’s exit, his back to me and I wished I could see his face. As if reading my thoughts he swung his head around, looking smugly amused.

“Yeah, I’m here. And I don’t care how long his damn horns are.”

“It was a joke, lighten up...”

“He’s coming this way. I’ve got to go.”

“I hope you’re not shopping,” Purah snipped. She hates being interrupted.

“Shopping is my cover, remember? Gotta’ go.” I ended the call and slid the Bluetooth off my ear. I didn’t want to risk losing it, if things got rough. I dropped it into my purse and glanced down at the dress hanging from the stroller push bar. A Donna Karan sap green silk georgette sarong dress.

I was in Nordstrom’s. Of course I was shopping, and the dress was a steal at less than two grand. That equated to less than two hundred bucks a word.

Dana started to fuss and I bent over the stroller to coo and make ridiculous faces until she quieted down.

The demon’s eyes settled on me as I tucked in the baby’s blanket. I peeked over my shoulder to find him staring at my ass. Dead, flat shark eyes appraised and calculated with such intensity that I could almost feel his hands running over my jeans. A sick little grin stretched his face while his thumb stroked the pair of silk panties dangling from his fingertips. Pervert. A growl rumbled in my throat, but then I remembered I was supposed to act helpless, so I threw in a wide-eyed gape of horror for good measure.

I dug in my purse, reassured to find the tiny tube of lipstick at the bottom. Not real lipstick of course, I kept that in a side compartment. No, this was a nifty little invention from my brother Eligor. He’d taken a Power of Light dagger and managed to squeeze all that demon killing energy into a three-inch tube.

This guy would be toast before the end of the night. Literally.

“Attention shoppers. Nordstrom’s will be closing in ten minutes.”

The canned announcement pulled me from my ire, and I glanced in reflex toward the cashier’s station. By the time I looked back, the demon was gone. I spun in a quick circle, searching the aisles, but I saw no sign of him. Damn! Where the hell did he go?

I pushed the stroller through rows of slips and nightgowns. I considered ditching the clothes and heading out to my car, but then I glanced at the shoebox, tucked in the basket under the stroller. Sap green leather straps and velvet ribbons peeked through folds of tissue paper. Sap green is a very difficult color to match, and the dress was the last one in my size.

I waited in the short checkout line, scanning the surrounding departments while the clerk rang up the dress and the sandals. The demon’s abrupt departure unnerved me, but I rationalized that he’d already pegged me as his hapless victim. Not buying the clothes might actually make him suspicious. But then a horrible thought struck to me as I handed over my Visa Platinum. What if he went after the old lady? She wasn’t his usual target, but she had insulted him.

Crap, I thought, scribbling my name on the electronic screen.

By the time I pressed the button for the elevator, I could think of nothing but the woman. I should have followed her, made sure she made it safely to her car. I had no idea what direction she had gone, once she left my sight.

I pushed the stroller into the mirrored box, tapping my leg as it jerked upward.

The doors slid open to the fourth-level parking garage. I took a cautious look around before hurrying over the oil stained cement to my black Mercedes SUV. I’d drive around the mall and try to find the old woman. Preferably alive.

I had parked in the furthest corner of the level, the sole vacant spot I could find three hours ago. Now less than a dozen cars remained scattered around the garage.

A halogen light flickered overhead, buzzing and flickering shadows across the landscape like some bad horror movie prop.

The elevator bell dinged and a door slid open behind me. My spine stiffened as I listened for footsteps. Someone hurried over the pavement, coming my way. The smell rolled out ahead of him like a fog of putrid swamp gas. The underwear guy. I breathed out a sigh, relieved he’d followed me instead of granny.

But I already knew grannies weren’t this guy’s MO. He had viciously slaughtered a mother and her little girl less than two weeks ago. The cocky bastard had abducted them from this very mall. Three separate attacks in the last four months. All three women had shopped here, two had had children with them and they all drove black luxury SUV’s.

My employer, The Demon Management Agency had an open contract on this creep worth a hundred grand. I wanted him bad.

I rolled my shoulders, cracked my neck and then I said a quick prayer to my dead mother, Isis. Not that I expected any extra-terrestrial intervention. If that were the case, I’d be out of a job. But thankfully for my bank account, all those invisible superior beings out there in the cosmos didn’t seem to care too much about the fate of the everyday man. The government, on the other hand, had no problem forking out big bucks to keep the world’s little demon infestation quiet. Especially after the Catholic Church decided exorcisms weren’t helping their public image.

I raced through the garage like the helpless deer being chased by the wolf. The stroller jostled over bumps and grates, my purse and shopping bags swinging crazily on my arm. The click-clack of my heels echoed off the low ceiling. All we needed now was a fog machine.

I flipped back the strap on my purse, ready to grab the lipstick, but I wanted to put some distance between the elevator and us in case some innocent happened along.

I glanced over my shoulder. A shadow flashed behind a cement pillar.

Queen Palms swayed in the parking lot below the garage, and rain pattered the roof above me. Fronds rustled noisily and water dripped through cracks in the ceiling, yet the air was still between the layers of concrete, trapping the smells of exhaust and gas. My blouse stuck to my skin. Sweat trickled between my breasts but I couldn’t spare a second to strip off the jacket.

I pressed the button on my remote. Locks slid open and parking lights flashed, less than thirty feet away. Again I glimpsed behind me. He moved fast for a demon in a putrefied corpse.

My heel caught in an expansion grate and I fell hard on my side, crying out as my purse tumbled several feet away, out of reach. The stroller flew off toward the outer wall, and Dana wailed above the racket of wind and rain. Son of a bitch! Damn Manolo Blahnik’s. What had I been thinking, wearing four inch stilettos?

I’d been thinking about drinks with Carter.

My shoulder screamed and my ankle throbbed as I scrambled to my feet. I managed to scrape the tangle of plastic shopping bags off my wrist, letting them fall to the grimy floor. I saw the guy move in my peripheral vision.

“Who’s there?” I shouted, trying to buy a few seconds.

No answer.

I unbuckled the clasp and slipped my foot out of the sandal. Tugging with both hands, I yanked the heel free, frowning at the gouged leather. I just bought these a week ago. Especially for tonight. Hot pink sandals, sexy ankle straps.

The demon moved closer, his brows furrowed. He seemed puzzled by my infatuation with the shoe. Obviously, he had no concept of high fashion.

Finally he stepped from the shadows into a small pool of light, smiling a quivering grin. One hand swiped under his nose, smearing snot across his hollow cheek, the other shoved in the pocket of his overcoat. I followed his gaze to the stroller resting against the cement wall. Frantic whimpers rose and fell in jagged squalls.

He turned away and headed toward the baby. I had to reach Dana before he did. I considered diving for my purse, trying for the dagger, but I had no time. I’d have to improvise.

I limp-walked toward the stroller, my shoe clutched in my fist. He circled wide, but he moved unimpeded while I teetered on one shoe. The man narrowed his eyes at me, his smile fading into a snarl. He flipped a knife from his pocket, the blade glinting in the dim light.

I swallowed hard, my mouth dry. I locked stares with the guy, waiting as long as I could before sprinting toward the stroller. My hand hit the push bar, and I steered away from the wall at an awkward run.

In a blur, he blocked my path, moving with inhuman speed. He grabbed the front of the stroller and smiled with crooked yellowed teeth. Dark eyes glowed red from beneath his ball cap.

“Get in your car,” he ordered.

I shook my head. “If I get in the car, you’ll kill me.”

“If you don’t get in the car, I’ll...” He yanked the stroller from beneath my sweaty palm, wheeling it toward the Mercedes. “I’ll kill you both.”

“You killed them both last time. Why would I believe you’d spare the baby?”

“I killed the kid because she could ID me. This one can’t talk.”

I remained by the wall, still clutching my shoe. “My keys are by my purse.”

“Go get ‘em.”

“No.”

He glared at me, his knife slicing the air. “Get the fucking keys now or I’ll stick the kid,” he spat, spraying foam from his lips.

I shrugged and let a smile slowly curve my lips. “Go ahead.”

His face fell slack beneath the cap. “Do you think I’m joking? I’ll stick this kid in a second, you cold hearted bitch.”

My laughter ricocheted off the low ceiling. “Oh, now I’m the cold hearted one.”

He plunged the knife into the tiny figure in the stroller once, twice, three times. I stood back, my arms folded across my chest, waiting for him to finish. Waiting for comprehension to batter its way into his tiny little brain. Dana still cried. No less, yet no more than before the attack.

A glimmer of understanding crossed through his eyes. Fear darted around his face as he began to realize that something wasn’t quite right. Anyone with an inkling of intelligence would have run.

He shoved the stroller aside and charged at me, his eyes wide and wild, his lips pulled back over gritting teeth. The blade sliced through the air.

I raised the shoe as the knife arced toward my chest, batting his arm away with my left hand as I swung the heel with all my immortal strength.

He screamed, two quick panicked wails, the last one fading to a groan. His eyes drooped and he dropped hard to his knees. I kicked his chest with my bare foot and he tumbled over backwards, staring blankly at the ceiling, three inches of hot pink stiletto imbedded in his forehead.

I smoothed back my hair and dug a phone from my jeans pocket.

“It’s done,” I huffed as I pried the shoe from the man’s forehead. “Yes, I’m sure. The dumb bastard all but signed a confession for me. And you were right, he’s a class three demon.”

The shoe pulled free with a short sucking noise. I scowled at the sludge dripping onto the cement. “No problems. He was easy.”

I looked around, and headed to the stroller.

“If all babies are as noisy as you, I’m never having kids,” I said. That whining grated on my nerves.

Of course Dana’s not a real baby. No one in their right mind would let me near their kid unless they wanted to teach them a lesson in parental appreciation. I have nothing against kids; I just don’t want any—near me. They’re noisy and they smell terrible. Kind of disgusting little creatures.

I leaned into the stroller and pressed the switch to “off,” and snatched up the blanket to wipe my heel clean. I tossed the cover back to Dana, the Digitally Animated Newborn Autotron and rested a hand on the car as I slipped into my sandal.

Something scuffed over the floor behind me.

I whirled around, right into a fist. The blow sent me airborne, flying backwards into a corner pillar. I hit hard, everything blacked out for a second as I slid to the floor. My phone went flying. Plastic clattered across the cement. Blood gushed from my nose, and every intake of breath incited a choking, blood spitting coughing fit. I rested on my heels, blinking back dizziness while assessing the damage.

A broken nose and at least one cracked rib, maybe two.

I looked around the garage. The guy had taken off again.

I ran in a crouch to the back of the SUV and tugged the hatchback latch. It was locked and the keys were on the floor half way across the garage.

“Just great,” I muttered. When I’d unlocked the doors, I’d forgotten the double click for the hatch.

I caught a whiff of rotting flesh, and I knew I had to hurry.

My fist slammed through the glass and I unlocked the hatch in one quick move.

The man lunged around the side of the truck, his eyes bulging with rage, his hands reaching. Before I could block him, his fingers squeezed tight around my throat.

I sucked in gasps of air, struggling to reach inside the cab.

My fingers grappled over the carpet, brushing the handle, but I couldn’t quite reach. I had to finish this before anyone else came out of those elevators. I heaved myself further through the broken window, dragging him with me. My hand curled around the smooth handle and I smiled.

I whirled and plunged the blade into his stomach, ripping upward.

His eyed widened in pain and shock.

The grip on my neck tightened, and my vision dimmed as my body screamed for air. I let the dagger fall and my hands flew up, prying his fingers away from my throat.

A voice shouted from my phone. “Eva! Eva, are you all right? Answer me!”

I’d love to. I thrust upward, driving his elbows over his head and I held him there until his body went limp and he slid to the floor. I gulped in several breaths, my throat throbbing.

“Bastard,” I growled, kicking his ribs for good measure. Sweat stung my eyes and I raised my shoulder to swipe it away on my jacket.

The man lay on his side in a widening crimson pool, his mouth slack, his eyes half closed.

Like I’d fall for that again.

I lugged a five-foot poleax through the hatch and swung the blade. His head rolled away from his neck, wobbling a few inches before resting against the wall.

“Try coming back from that, asshole.”

I retrieved my purse and packages and tossed them into the back seat of the SUV. No way was I leaving that dress or the shoes behind.

I found my phone and checked the display. No surprise, the call had disconnected so I shoved the Blackberry into my pocket. I touched my nose where he’d punched me and winced. The break had healed, but it was still tender. I traced my fingertips over my ribs. Fractured bones knitted and fused, but they hurt like hell.

Blood congealed, tightening the skin around my mouth. I shrugged out of my bloody jacket and jammed it behind the front seat. A spatter of red stained my blouse below my right shoulder. Damn.

I sat in the driver seat and pulled down the visor mirror. What a mess. It took an entire package of wet wipes to clean up all the blood. There wasn’t much I could do about my blouse. Hopefully the bruises on my neck would fade before I reached the bar.

I dabbed on some lipstick, refreshed the eye shadow I’d just scrubbed away and finger brushed my hair. Not great, but passable.

Tires squealed and headlights swept across the garage. A black Suburban with blacked out windows and government plates skidded to a stop a few feet away.

“Are you all right?” My brother Eligor leapt out before Purah had a chance to put the vehicle in park. He strode toward me, his tip of his golden braid sweeping the floor. Quicksilver eyes gave me a quick once-over, his fingers gripping his sword hilt in its scabbard beneath his tapered black overcoat. He was taller than my near six feet and broad shouldered, his face chiseled features of perfection.

“I’m fine. I thought he was a class three. Apparently he was a class two.” I shook my head, disgusted with myself. “I should have seen it.”

Purah came around the suburban, an Uzi pistol gripped in her hand, a short black leather jacket over jeans and a t-shirt. An expert shot, she would have blasted the guy’s head off with a nice neat line of 9mm bullets.

Death by stiletto was much more original.

“Eva, he could have killed you.” My sister grabbed my elbow and dragged me behind the Mercedes.

“Uh, no. Demon in human host versus immortal, remember?”

“Immortal but not invulnerable,” Purah reminded, nudging the headless body with the toe of her running shoe.

“He doesn’t have a head, Purah. I’m pretty sure that means dead, even for demons,” I sighed.

Purah swung around, her dark eyes narrowed. She pulled a long black braid over her shoulder, fingering the plaits in agitation.

“You need to be more careful.” Her face softened and she shook her head. “Are you okay? You’re cringing when you breathe.”

Yes, I was. Every breath felt like a knife in my side. “A couple of broken ribs. I think I might have punctured something, but everything’s healing.”

“Well, be careful. Father would never forgive me if anything happened to his baby.” She stared at me, her brows folding inward. “What did you do to your hair?”

Oh, I’d forgotten about that. “You like it? I had it layered.”

“You have pink stripes.”

“Fuchsia, actually. And three streaks do not constitute stripes.” I stepped from behind the truck. Eligor was leaning against the front bumper, his elbow resting on the hood.

“You like my hair, right?”

Purah came to stand beside me, her hands on her hips.

Eligor looked back and forth, his mouth moving like a goldfish, but no sounds came out. Smart guy.

I sighed and rolled my eyes. I glanced at my watch and down at my outfit. No time to change, so I brushed the dirt from my blouse and the knees of my jeans and climbed into the driver’s seat.

Purah cupped her hands on the back door window. “Are those shopping bags?”

“Yeah, I bought some clothes. You don’t like it, then next time I’ll sit my ass in the car and you can have your face busted by the demon. Okay?”

Purah said nothing.

“I didn’t think so.” I slammed the door and buzzed down my window. “I’ve got a date and I’m already late. You two can take it from here. I’ll see you later.”

My sister stepped back from the car and I pressed my foot on the gas, ignoring the scowls that followed me down the ramp.