Excerpt: Angel Kin
Book 1: The Angel Assassins
Katie gawked at the OPEN sign flashing above the motel office. A light drizzle pelted her skin, but she was too dumbstruck to care.
The parking lot was half-empty, which was probably why Cain had chosen this hole-in-the-wall instead of a respectable place. The Quick Stop Inn on Harper Avenue exuded a grimy, smelly, no-tell vibe. The type of establishment frequented by down-on-their-luck gamblers and now, a Nephilim assassin and an ex-burglar on the run.
“Seriously?” She turned pleading eyes on her protector. This was not the rescue she’d imagined. Her idea had them pulling a James Bond à la Casino Royale—or staying in three-star accommodations at worst. The Quick Stop would only earn a star if it stole one. “I wouldn’t let a stray cat stay here.”
“It’s only temporary,” Cain said without a hint of humor. One eyebrow rose and he stared at her. That’s all. Just stared.
Damn his half-angel and half-human genes.
Cain had good looks to spare, which thousands, or maybe millions, of TV viewers had probably seen by now. After one last glare at her budget-conscious bodyguard, she slammed the car door and stomped away from the side street where he’d parked.
A bulletproof glass as thick as her thumb separated her from the plump clerk on the other side. She cleared her throat to draw his attention from his magazine, but the guy didn’t look up.
“By state law, I gotta tell ya no alcohol or drugs allowed on the property.”
A security camera in the corner caught her attention. She bowed her head and flipped the collar of her jacket.
“Forty for two hours,” the bored clerk told her.
Embarrassment lit a trail of heat from her chest to her hairline; the jackass probably thought she was a hooker, or having an affair. Why else would any woman be in a place like this? The money Cain had given her bulged her pocket. She withdrew enough for several hours in Motel Hell and shoved it into the drawer. A few seconds later, a single key clanked on the bottom of the drawer before he pushed it toward her.
“Phone calls are extra and gotta be paid when ya return the key.” The guy flipped a page, conversation over.
She marched away in search of Room 13. Tucked at the far end of the lot, Katie didn’t turn to check if Cain had followed. He would. She fumbled with the lock until the door opened.
“This is so uncool.” Posters of forest landscapes were thumbtacked to the walls of the motel room. The lone bed had a folded, fuzzy, green blanket, but the white sheet spread across the mattress had a bright bleached look. The bed appeared better than expected, thank God.
Katie closed the door but kept it unlocked. The stench of mold tickled her nose. Crossing the threadbare brown carpet, she followed the smell to the bathroom where she flipped on the light. The lime-green interior would be right at home in a slasher flick. Chipped tiles along the shower and sink, rust stains around the drains, and a plunger next to the toilet.
“Here,” Cain said from behind her.
She spun and caught the bundle he’d tossed. “What? HAZMAT suits too expensive?”
“The sheets look clean. My blanket’s enough.”
Katie warily eyed the bundle. “I should have updated my shots, just in case.”
Cain laughed, a sexy burr of amusement that tingled her toes and completely caught her off guard. She took in his masculine profile and reality sank in—they were supposed to share the room. Her previously calm breathing hitched in her throat.
“What’s wrong?” Cain crossed the short distance and grasped her shoulder.
“So, how long are we, uh, staying here?”
Gleaming eyes fastened on her. “Eager to be rid of me?”
Her mouth plopped open. And damn her blood for choosing that moment to rush to her face in a hot flash. Cain moved closer, just enough that his scent wafted tendrils around her. It would be easy to toss the blanket and launch into his arms.
“Get some rest.” He tugged the bundle from her and walked to the bed. “You look like you need it.”
The moment they’d shared poofed. She rubbed the shoulder he’d touched. If he could act like this was another day on the job, then she could drop a filter over her hormones.
First, Cain checked the room’s double window and the flimsy front door, then threw the motel blanket on the brown carpet. He smoothed his hands across the sheets and lifted the mattress. He let it go and unrolled his blanket, tucking the corners. “Should be fine now.”
Her mind felt miles away. “Will it be? Fine?”
He removed his jacket and pulled one of his guns from the holster. The magazine shot into his hand before he slammed it back. “As soon as I find Abel your life will go back to normal.”
Katie huffed a half laugh. Normal sounded like a dream. “I—”
Cain paused his movements. “You what?”
“I wish I knew how to help you.”
“Well you can’t.”
She snapped her gaze to his stony face. “Would it hurt to pretend I just showed some compassion for you? You could at least act like you’d considered my words.”
“Let’s analyze your sweet wish, little burglar. I’m an assassin, which translates to I kill people.” The half angel folded his arms and left no doubt about the arrogance on his face. “Sorry if the facts sting, but you can’t fight like I can. You can’t do what needs to be done.”
Infuriating, arrogant, and stubborn was not a good look on him. Katie mimicked his posture and crossed her arms. “Tell me, Mr. Super Assassin, are you sure those legendary fighting skills you claim to have will work when you’re face-to-face with Abel?”
“You think I’ll run from the fight?” A growl slipped through his gritted teeth.
“That’s not what I meant. I want to know if you can”— she raised her fingers in air quotes— “do what needs to be done, when your opponent is your own brother?”
Cain pressed his lips together, and she dove into the void left by his hesitation.
“Family is about love, but it’s also about a shitload of pain.” Katie expelled a slow breath. “When you face off with your twin, the end result will stay with you.”
“Abel’s my blood, but he’s done wrong. I’ll deal.”
Katie tossed her hands up. “Say you’re standing near Abel and he’s got a gun pointed at some poor schmuck’s head. What are you going to do? You’d have to decide whether or not your brother is more important, or that innocent life.”
He clawed his fingers through his hair. “I’d never allow him to harm a soul in my presence. I will stop my brother, but don’t tell me my only option is to kill him.”
“I hope it doesn’t come to that.” Exhausted, she sank onto the edge of the mattress. “I truly do.”
“Ridiculous,” he muttered under his breath.
She shot up from the bed, ready to tell him exactly where he could shove his tough act, but Cain’s hand caught her wrist. They stared into each other’s eyes, but the emotions passing over his face cranked her heartbeat.
“Let. Go.” She jerked her arm, but his grip held.
“You should thank me for my honesty. An angel, even an impure abomination like me, could kill you before you could react. No more wishing you could help me. I don’t want to see you hurt.”
“So we’re clear, if I wasn’t dealing with mind-controlling giants, I could hold my own in a fight,” she said.
Cain’s expression darkened. “Could you? I wonder.”
The Nephilim brought her crashing down onto the mattress, and Katie yelped. She thrashed under his heavy weight.
“Overpowered by a body, not mind control,” he said as his breath fanned her skin. “Your nonassassin skills are sadly lacking.”
He pinned her wrists above her head, leaving her body flush against his. Katie wiggled and tugged, but Cain had the advantage of position and strength. She stopped her frantic movements. Only one option left—surprise.
She molded her lips over his, the pressure so heavy and intense she could only moan breathlessly into his mouth. The warmth of her tongue touched his, drawing her nerves guitar-string tight.
The grip on her wrists loosened, and Katie raised her hands until her fingers slid into the thickness of his hair. She arched her body and his wide palm cupped her back. Distracting Cain to throw him off took a back seat, replaced by instinctual need pounding deep within her belly and ricocheting between her legs.
Cain’s tongue continued a slow exploration of her mouth, lapping the depths, erotic as hell. Her trembling fingers brushed the expanse of his shoulders, his firm muscles jolting the tips as they passed over. Filled with untethered boldness, she ran light touches down the ridges of his firm pectorals. When her thumb flicked a pebble-hard nipple, her bodyguard growled.