To further my believe I posted here, I’m going to give the first chapter, or beginning in the case of anthologies, to my works.
First up to bat is Soul Reaver. The first thing I sold to Evernight Publishing. Enjoy!
His large, feathery, black wings spread out behind him. He leaned back, perched at the ledge of the building, enjoying the breeze as it tossed his long dark hair. His sturdy boots bounced off the side. Just in time for a bloody sunset, he soaked in the last rays of the day.
Visiting the human realm brought little peace, only purpose. Maurizio was a Nikash—part demon and part angel—the product of the Crusades when Heaven and Hell pitted their best warriors against each other. While Heaven retreated to lick its wounds, his kind was left behind and bound as slaves to the underworld. Able to walk where humans dwell, he snatches corrupted souls for his demon master Lucretius. Being a soul reaver was his unique talent, his curse. With a simple incantation, Maurizio plucked away a soul and sent it to Hell.
Maurizio could travel to the land of the living without punishment. He only needed to abide by the laws of Heaven and Hell. Lucretius demanded tribute and promised freedom to Maurizio from the bond between them.
The Nikash didn’t believe a word of it. His senses could cut through lies and deceit, another ability of his race. The lies of Hell whispered into the ears of humans rang truth. For him, however, cut like deceit. The demon would never grow tired of his increasing collection of souls. Unlike the Nikash, demons had no souls and needed to feed on the damned for strength.
Maurizio’s hand came up to slap his ear as something pinched it. He shook the buzzing out of his head and sat straight. Lucretius again, calling for his first soul. Impatience reigned in the underworld.
Spreading out his arms and wings, Maurizio’s senses came alive. The sin of the city called to him like fruit on the vine to be plucked. He broke into a run along and leaped off. His dark wings stirred the air as he bolted through the spaces between the tall buildings. Before long, the stench he’d tracked wafted from a small alleyway.
He landed on the edge of a fire escape, his claws steadying him as he crouched. A man cornered a very frightened woman. The lust oozed off the man, his intent clear.
Lucretius whispered hungrily in his ear, calling for Maurizio to take the woman, but the Nikash had other plans.
He floated down just behind the man, his ebony wings at full extension in the shadows of the alley. He got the reaction he expected as the woman screamed in terror. Maurizio grinned and bared his teeth, the thrumming of Lucretius’ voice booming in his head. He launched himself forward and snatched the man up by the neck, his wings taking him higher. Landing on the roof, he threw his victim down and pounced again. Razor-sharp talons ripped into the man’s throat, silencing the scream trying to escape.
“Praying on innocent women, Halden Shalkowski, stealing from them something they can never recover.” Maurizio tsked as Halden struggled beneath him. “How many have you corrupted with your greed, your foolish pride teeming, believing this is something they wanted and deserved?” Maurizio sliced open his wrist, dripping his blood into his prey’s mouth. The special properties in the crimson liquid started to heal his throat. Maurizio wanted him to beg for his life, to ask to be spared.
“What are you?” Halden whimpered.
“Vengeance,” Maurizio hissed. “As inferno lo lego!” His native tongue accented the command to rip the soul free. To Hell I bind you. Maurizio slammed his palms down on Halden’s chest and the crackling of fire filled the air. A vortex of flames opened up beneath the damned man. Maurizio calmly stood and brushed his jeans off, rustling his wings as his reaved soul went shrieking into the underworld.
Lucretius’ voice came to his head. I wanted the woman, Maurizio. You have not paid one ounce of your debt to me.
“But I have, Lucretius.” Maurizio grinned. “The Four said I was to gather souls in service to you. The condition of said souls was never in the contract. Besides, imagine the torment that one could feed you with his vanity. Always looking for the easy way out, Lucretius. Where is the challenge in that?”
Again you twist your task.
“Do you expect anything less from me?” When no answer came, Maurizio laughed and took flight. A small part of him wanted to make sure the woman had escaped unscathed. Landing on the pavement in the shadows, he rolled his shoulders. His wings retracted and disappeared. He could use an illusion to hide his true form, but the many tattoos marking his body would never fade. Every demon in Hell knew whom he belonged to and gave him wide berth.
He found the woman arguing with a doorman at the entrance to a club. She waved a piece of paper, and the velvet rope parted to allow her access before Maurizio reached it. Her scent lingered in the air, and he inhaled. Innocent didn’t quite describe the delectable aroma coming from her. It was like nothing Maurizio had ever tasted.
The club, however, stank of sex and debauchery—a perfect place for Maurizio to hunt.
As Maurizio gripped the rope along the entrance, the doorman blocked him. “Invitation only.”
Washed in his mystery woman’s fragrance, Maurizio’s impatience boiled inside. “Let me pass.” His wings itched to break through his skin.
“Anthony. Let him through.” A honey-laced voice spoke from the entrance a few feet away. Lithe and with hair the color of the sun, the female smirked at Maurizio. Her black leather dress hugged every curve of her body, the hem halfway down her thigh. “This one’s with me.”