Release Tour, Excerpt & Giveaway:
By A.L. Morrow
Star-Crossed Celestials, Prequel
The line between angel and demon is razor thin. No one knows this better than Kai.
As an Emissary of death, darkness follows Kai like a shadow, leaving him touch-starved and lonely. Tormented by the error in judgment that killed his only love, he accepts an assignment to redeem himself: hunting down the demons destroying the mortal realm. But fate takes a turn, and Kai finds himself drawn to one of his targets instead.
Demonic martial arts expert Byron Black has struggled to survive his entire life. He has fought for every breath he’s taken and each bite he’s eaten, yet in the instant when his demise finally seems inevitable, death incarnate steps forward and spares him. Kai is as beautiful as he is terrifying, and although Byron suspects the angel’s interest in him is more than it appears, he can’t stay away.
Together, the pair search for answers regarding who wants Byron dead—and why—but uncovering the truth might destroy them both in the process. Can Kai defeat his inner demons to save the one that has crawled into his bed?
Rio de Janeiro, Brazil
It wasn’t a demotion. Oberon had said so himself. It wasn’t a punishment, either.
But as Kai shifted on the rusty metal bench, watching the figures trading jabs in the dusty pit before him, it certainly felt like both.
“This is what passes for entertainment in the mortal realm?” he asked the portly male to his left.
For a moment, Nash offered no reply. Kai was unsure if his companion had even heard him. The other male simply stared at the scene below with fascination, carefully following each swing and swift kick exchanged. His hand moved at his side absentmindedly, imitating the quick cutting motions and stabbing thrusts, and he licked his lips with longing, as if he ached to be sparring alongside the fighters.
Finally, Nash glanced at Kai, beholding him as though he were a distraction—a gnat or a fly circling his head.
“Entertainment, yes. For some, anyway.” He blinked and turned back to the match. His hand motions resumed immediately. “For you, however, this is training,” he added without meeting Kai’s stare.
“Training …” Kai echoed, unimpressed.
Crossing his arms over his wide, muscular chest, he watched the figures in the pit continue to attack each other. Blood and sweat dripped from their brows. One fighter’s eye was so swollen from a punch he could barely hold it open. And his opponent seemed to be favoring his left leg, his ankle injured, perhaps.
“Yet it seems so … uncivilized,” Kai mused. His voice was low and soft, barely more than a dull rumble. He’d learned centuries ago that he had no need to speak louder. A murmur was formidable enough when paired with his stark features and dark wings.
“It’s supposed to be uncivilized.” Nash snorted. If Kai’s voice was velvet, his had all the grace of a fraying burlap sack. “It’s demonic martial arts, not the Seraphim ballet.”
“And what, exactly, am I meant to be learning from the demons? I have means of destruction at my disposal that far surpass the strength of any punch or kick.”
As though to prove Kai’s point about demonic inadequacy, one of the fighters promptly took a hard kick to the jaw, spun dazedly, and fell to the ground, spitting blood and teeth. He wallowed in the dirt while the seconds ticked by, chest heaving as he gasped for air. Cheers and clapping rose from the surrounding bleachers, the audience pleased with the turn of events.
Surprisingly, Nash seemed to be right. The spectators truly did find this entertaining.
“You are meant to study the way the demons move. Learn their tricks. Understand the cunning in their ways,” Nash replied.
When the fallen demon slowly drew himself back up to his feet, the crowd let out another roar of approval. The fighter dragged his bare forearm across his mouth, smearing the blood from his cracked lip, then snarled and crouched, poised to launch a counteroffensive on his opponent. His eyes changed color—a blazing amber roiling in his irises. Briefly, a pair of black horns curled up along his hairline to crown him. Then, as he regained his focus, they disappeared, and the demon could almost pass for human once more.
“With all due respect, chancellor, I can take life with a single touch,” Kai said. “I hardly think any of these creatures is a match for me.”
“You may kill with a single touch, Malakai, but will you be able to get close enough to place hands on one of these monsters? That, I doubt.”
Nash’s annoyance was more pronounced now, and a scowl crept across his face. Kai watched the celestial’s profile as he leaned forward in his seat a bit more, redoubling his efforts to focus on the match. He could not have made his lack of interest in anything Kai had to say more apparent than if he’d spoken the words out loud himself.
Kai could take a hint. It was one of the lessons that being more than a millennium old had taught him. He faced forward once more, turning his own attention back to the fight. Although he would never admit it aloud, perhaps Nash had a point. The demons had a way of inflicting maximum injury with minimal contact. Their fighting style relied greatly on push kicks and parrying, not headlocks or nelson holds. They didn’t let their opponent get close enough for such close contact.
This was no concern to Kai, though. Not really, anyway. He was an Emissary, a harbinger of death. If one method failed him, he’d make do with another—his celestial-made sword, perhaps, or the sickly green vapor he could summon when needed. Demons were more difficult to dispatch than mortals. Half-human and half-celestial, they typically inherited their celestial parent’s impressive healing capabilities. A cut could heal within minutes, a broken bone within hours. They could not contract human diseases, and unless wounded with stardust-imbued metals—such as Kai’s sword—they would live indefinitely.
But demons had a weakness they shared with neither of their parents: their souls … or, rather, their lack thereof.
Souls were delicate. They needed to be preserved in mortals so they could withstand their journey to the afterlife.
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About the Author:
USA Today bestselling author A.L. Morrow enjoys dreaming up steamy scenes and spectacular settings—often along with a touch of magic or myth. She believes that love is love and likes reading and writing various genres of romance.
In her downtime (what’s that?), A finds delight in scouring for secondhand designer fashions. She briefly lived in a haunted mansion, once took a flight to visit Scotland for a day, and is prone to meeting minor celebrities in random hotel elevators. She resides in the eastern US.
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