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Michael clears his throat for my attention. I remain impassive as I regard him. He insists, “It is evident your training has been too lenient. There will be no more tolerance for your inept abilities. You will either do or suffer.”
“Do you understand?”
I force my Darkness at bay. “No. I don’t understand what I did wrong.”
His green eyes darken as his voice booms, shaking the columns within the grand hall, “You let him go!”
My hands squeeze into fists. I sense Solas, Jack, Evelyn, Eric, and Alice burst through the open doors. My sight never leaves Michael. He is a sight to behold. His grand white wings almost fill the width of the room, and his veins are expanded through his arms, neck, and face. I’m not a coward. I stand my ground with a cool temperament, “He was gone before we arrived. I don’t know why you are so upset about it. Mephistopheles will come to us here. It was foretold in my vision.”
“Yet you do nothing to change it!”
I throw my hands up, cocking my hip out, then letting them slap my thighs, “Damn.” I snap the fingers of my right hand across my body with heavy sarcasm, “You got me there!”
My back slams into the wall beside the entrance. The wall shatters around me as Michael’s hand becomes a vice around my throat. I choke with my body being held off the ground. Everyone attempts to come to my aid but are stopped by an invisible wall. Jack and Solas bounce off it with their attempt. They continue to charge the ward that Michael must have placed to keep everyone at bay. Michael growls in my face, “Do not test me, child. I will break you like you have never been broken before.”
Camael steps closer to the invisible ward holding them back and barks, “Michael! Release her!”
Michael ignores him. “Save yourself the torture. Yield.”
“Get your hands off her!” Jack shouts before slamming his body against the ward.
Michael’s scowl bores into me, waiting for an answer. I have never trusted Michael. He’s the only one of the Originals I don’t believe has The Gray Legion’s best interest at heart—if he has a heart, it’s a glacial mountain. Why have the other Originals trusted him for eons? Would Evelyn be honest and tell me the truth if I asked her why she trusts him too? Michael once claimed he treated Jack as his own son in Camael’s absence. I have yet to witness it. I make a note to talk to Jack as soon as I’m able.
Michael pulls me from the wall to slam me back again. Rock explodes from the impact and my vision wavers, blood filling my mouth. He bellows, “Answer me!”
I’m not able to see past Michael, yet I hear the others struggling behind him. My rage is no longer an emotion I can keep down. I release my Darkness, and Michael’s features falter. I give him a bloody smile though my choking, “You can fucking try.” My wings rupture through my skin, shoving me from the wall as I lift my foot and kick Michael in the chest. He sails back, stopping himself with his wings. “I bet you break before I do,” I taunt.
He tests, “Do you honestly want to do this?”
My smile never ceases, stretched beneath my black eyes. “Absolutely.”
Valerie Roeseler is a bestselling author, devoted mother, and workaholic with the determination of a queen bee. She began writing as a child, creating fantastical stories with villainous animals on her toy typewriter. In her teenage years, her writing became a poetic secret before she wrote music, transforming them into lyrics. Valerie’s early inspirations came from her obsession with mythology and British literature. Her debut novel, Divine, is the first in The Helio Trilogy and an Amazon #1 Bestseller. She is a native Texan and an enthusiast of art, music, adrenaline, coffee, wine, and hair dye. When left to her own devices, she tends to forget that sleep is a necessity.