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Celestial Shadows: Celestial Marked Series Book 4 (Ebook)

Celestial Shadows: Celestial Marked Series Book 4 (Ebook)

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Book 4 of 5: Celestial Marked


A reckoning is coming for Devi Lawson...

Settling into her new role as the first celestial with demon magic, Devi faces an unwelcome surprise when the shadow arch-demon abruptly returns to the nether realms. The forces of hell are moving, and they don't want a human running around with their power.

The problem is, it's getting a bit much for Devi, too. When dead warlocks start showing up with the celestials' mark on their bodies, tensions between the celestials and demons reach a tipping point. Devi's relationship with the arch-demon's son, Nikolas, is just fuel on the fire.

The arch-demons are gearing up for an epic showdown. And this time, humanity might not survive it…

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Read a sample

I was quite possibly going to kill Fiona.

I stood uncomfortably in my four-inch heels, the lights of camera flashes wielded by balaclava-clad vampires dazzling my eyes. The vamps themselves were covered from head to toe to protect their sensitive skin from their own cameras. I wouldn’t risk certain death to snap a picture of Devi Lawson, but then again, I was Devi Lawson, and being me wasn’t as wonderfully inspiring as the awestruck vamps seemed to think.

After fighting a gruelling battle to the death a few weeks ago, I’d wanted the privacy of my old life back. Being in public made me enough of a target, considering the whole world had watched the battle… or part of it. But hours of listening to Fiona beg me to talk to the public had worn me down. People were still scared, there was a lot of misinformation out there, and it was on me to set the record straight. Or put up with a million new unflattering pictures of me appearing under ridiculous headlines. Unfortunately, my celestial magic only worked on demons and other preternaturals, not cameras.

The majority of the crowd was human, but the vampires I’d helped save from a massacre a few weeks ago occupied the front row. Since I’d stopped the demonic virus turning the vamps into bloodthirsty killers, I guess I understood their need to hero-worship me a bit, because the rest of the celestials had wanted them dead. With the virus gone, however, their sensitivity to the sunlight came back. Being surrounded by people wearing what amounted to snowsuits on a blisteringly warm summer’s day made my own skin feel uncomfortably warm even in a skimpy dress. My palms were sweaty underneath my elbow-length gloves, but I didn’t quite trust my celestial mark not to activate and burn someone’s face off if I removed them. Grade Four celestial powers took some getting used to.

The interviewer, a twenty-something brunette with heels even taller than mine, took to the stage beside me, speaking into a microphone. “DivinityWatch welcomes the one and only Devi Lawson, hero of Haven City.”

Cheering rose up from the crowd. Fiona waved from the back. I gritted my teeth, giving her a look that communicated that she’d be getting an earful as soon as this was over. She’d said a private interview to be uploaded to DivinityWatch’s website would be enough. No stages and squealing vamps waving ‘we love Devi’ signs. If someone threw underwear at me, I was out.

“I’m Devina Lawson,” I said into the microphone a vampire held out in a gloved hand. “You’ve probably heard of me by now.”

Natural celebrity, I was not. The crowd gave another loud cheer as though I’d declared I’d found the cure for world hunger. Then the interviewer said, “What we’d all like to know, Devi, is how you worked out the celestial guild was corrupt.”

Some of the anticipation died down. If I was being honest, I’d have said, a long time ago, but definitely when they started murdering vampires. 

“There’s not much to say. I found a conspiracy within the celestial guild, and when nobody believed me, I took matters into my own hands.”

Even as a member, I’d never really believed the guild were as competent as they pretended to be, but evil was another thing entirely. I’d actually found out by accident when a demon pretending to be the ex-celestial traitor Damian Greenwood tried to fool the vampires into thinking the celestials had a cure for the virus afflicting them. He’d roused my suspicions enough that I’d gone into the guild to spy on him, and instead found that he, not to mention Inspector Deacon, one of the most respected senior guild members, had been replaced by a demon. The result was that the celestial guild in Haven City had more or less imploded, or at least torched their own reputation in the eyes of the public. The vamps and other preternaturals, not to mention the humans, were keen to find someone new to worship. Meaning, me.

The DivinityWatch site was run by humans who thought there were angels hiding amongst us, and had once featured thousands of photos of what people thought were Divinities. It hadn’t escaped my attention that most of said photos had been replaced by pictures of me. Also, a not insignificant proportion of their members were vampires who believed if they slept with a celestial, we’d save their immortal souls. But the owners of the site had saved lives when the guild had fallen, and played their part in protecting the public. This interview was the least I could do to repay them, but there were some things I didn’t want the public to know. Like the fact that the one sure-fire way to kill a celestial was to use a demon-infected vampire bite, for instance.

“I heard you ascended to Grade Four,” said the interviewer. “But you also work with the warlocks.”

There was no point in denying it. Javos, my warlock employer, had let the other warlocks know not to touch me despite my celestial powers. A nice gesture, even if he was a bad-tempered prick most of the time.

“Yep. You might say my situation is a little unusual.”

The vamps oohed and aahed and generally made tits of themselves in the front row.

The interviewer smiled broadly. “Of course it is. Do you know what the guild’s next move is?”

Well, no. The public did need to know someone was handling the situation, and their perception of the celestials was at an all-time low. But I had zero clue what the celestials planned to do about the fact that an arch-demon had almost succeeded in creating a bridge between this realm and the two demon realms of Babylon and Pandemonium. Monsters had spawned in the streets, vampires infected by the demonic virus had attacked everyone within sight, and I’d helped lead the army to stop them. 

That was the official version of the story. The unofficial one— involving deals with arch-demons and bargaining with fallen angels—remained strictly between me, Fiona, and a very small group of warlocks. 

“The guild is, as far as I know, functioning as normal,” I said. “They’re killing demons. The ones who worked against the former Grade Fours did so at great personal risk. I’m not working for them because I prefer to work alone.”

“Is it true you’re a demon?” someone shouted.

“Nope. Human. Not divine, either.” Or rather, all three at once.

“Show us your divine powers!” someone called out.

“I’d demonstrate, but I don’t want to start a vampire barbecue.” I held up my left hand. The vamps backed slowly away.

“Is it true you’re dating a warlock?” said another. “A shadow warlock?”

“My love life is nobody’s business but my own.” I dropped my polite facade. “I think that’s enough questions.”

“The interview is over!” said the brunette, thankfully picking up on the warning signs. Thank heavens for small mercies. I could hardly breathe for the heat, let alone the dress I’d squeezed myself into. Nikolas thought it looked hot. I thought the seams would split if I lifted my arms above my head. I was too athletic and muscular to be considered conventionally feminine or pretty, and had a fairly extensive scar collection courtesy of years of demons getting into my personal space. Under the gloves covering my celestial and demon marks, my hands were mostly scar tissue. Still, my skin had darkened into my summer tan and I no longer looked like a pasty vampire. I wore my hair down for once, my curls temporarily tamed. Good enough for Nikolas Castor, who stood apart from the crowd, his own magic deflecting him from attention.

Nikolas was a warlock—half human, half demon. Half arch-demon, which also made him a demigod, the most powerful class of warlock. He smiled at me from a distance as I wobbled off the stage. The preternatural grace I got from my celestial mark didn’t extend to walking in spiked torture weapons.

As I drew closer, his attention-deflecting spell encompassed me, too. “Thanks,” I said. “Too much?”

“Everyone knows we’re together. It’s not a well-kept secret.”

I shrugged. “They have my whole life story online.” Including my history with my former guild partner, Rory, who’d died two years ago. “I didn’t want them to get yours, too. Anyway, let’s get out of here. I’d rather wear Rachel’s boots than these.”

He grinned and took my hand, and the shadows of Babylon, the demon realm, rose to meet us.

* * *

“That is not how it happened.” I watched the interview unfold on my phone, having to stop every so often to scroll past the sponsored “DivinityWatch’s Warlock of the Week” feature (winner: The Wingless Warlock, for the twenty-fifth week running). “They cut down what I said to make me sound like I was the only one who won the battle and the celestials were totally incompetent.”

“They were totally incompetent,” said the very naked warlock in the bed beside me, an amused smirk on his face as the video played.

“Not all of them. Anyway, I thought you said the level of attention I’m getting was likely to result in bad consequences.”

“We already saw the end of the world,” said Nikolas. “At this point, I’d rather the public believe us than believe whatever nonsense the guild comes up with next.”

“The guild’s being pretty quiet, actually.” Losing their leader—twice over—had hit the celestials hard. “I look like I’m going to burn the place to the ground at the end. If anything, I think I made them more frightened than before.”

Nikolas said, “You’re marked with demonic and celestial power, and you’ve outwitted both arch-demons and powerful warlocks—not to mention a fallen angel. I think they’re justified in being a little afraid of you.”

“You don’t sound too worried.”

“When you’ve defused as many potential wars as I have, dealing with volatile powers becomes second nature.”

“So I’m a ‘volatile power’ now?”

He grinned and wrapped his legs around mine. “You’re my volatile power.”

“You sure know how to flatter a girl.” I clicked off my phone as his strong hands massaged my shoulders. There were some—okay, a lot—of perks to dating a warlock, but having to wear a cuff over my wrist all the time to stop my celestial power accidentally burning a hole in him definitely wasn’t one of them. Nikolas had said his regenerative healing power worked on almost anything, but it was a mood-killer to say the least. Nikolas himself wore his formidable warlock strength in every inch of his six-foot-something frame. He was built like a fighter, for speed, grace and power. His dark hair gleamed a reddish colour when it caught the light, which, combined with his golden eyes, served to make him look decidedly non-human. That, and the wings, but he rarely wore them in this realm. Like most warlocks, his magic gained a boost from being in his home dimension, and he’d spent most of the last week in this one.

I disentangled myself from Nikolas. “All right, I’m done with this crap. I’m going for a run.”

He stood in a fluid movement. “Want company?”

“Only if I need a reminder how out of shape I am.” 

He grinned. “Think of me as a motivational coach.”

“You’re tough enough as a magic coach.”

“Good. I wouldn’t want Javos to steal that title.”

* * *

My legs screamed in protest, and by the time I caught up to Nikolas on the third lap, I would have pledged my soul to the first demon to make the agonising stitch in my chest go away. I skidded to a halt before I crashed into him. “Enough.”

His mouth curved into a smile. “I didn’t even have the chance to shout my words of encouragement at you. I even prepared a script.”

“Dick.” I caught my balance, clutching my side. “How is that fair? You and I have both done nothing but lie around in bed all week, but you can still outrun me.” Bloody warlocks. He could run two laps in the time it took me to run one, at least. My demon mark had given me magic, but not the other perks of being a warlock.

He gave me another grin. “Now, as far as I remember, we spent most of the time in bed engaged in rigorous physical activity.” His hand trailed down my back, and my skin heated in response to his touch.

“Did we? I might need a reminder.” I pressed my lips to his, and his arms came around me, lifting me off my feet. There was a rapping noise. Probably the people whose garden we were making out in. Oops. At least Nikolas’s wings hadn’t come out. It’d been known to occur in times of sexual stimulation.

He set me down. “I think we’ve tormented these people enough. Want to go home?” 


He took one step—and vanished. It still freaked me out a little when he disappeared into the shadow realm mid-conversation, though he didn’t do it often. Typical. We’d been lucky to have a few weeks of relative peace, but it was impossible to entirely forget he was a shadow demon with ties in two worlds at once.

“Seriously?” I said, mostly to myself. That’s what I got for not bringing a car. The city overlapped geographically with Babylon, his home realm, so if he was heading to the castle he spent most of his time in, he’d reappear somewhere entirely different when he came back to Earth. Unlike him, I didn’t have wings.

I found a bus stop to sit in and skimmed through DivinityWatch’s website on my phone. I was lucky, considering my newfound fame, that I hadn’t run into too many crazies in real life, but the eyebrow-raising comments on the photos of me made me wish I’d used an alias. Weirdos on the internet were still weirdos in real life, after all.

Nikolas reappeared in a flash of black shadows, several feet away. Wings extended from his shoulder blades, shadowy and fairly noticeable in this mundane street. I shoved my phone in my pocket and walked away from the bus stop towards him.

“Hey. Use your magic. Nikolas.” I waved my hand in front of his eyes, then gave up and activated my demon mark. He’d never outright forgotten himself in this dimension before. I drew his magic into the mark and directed it at the few people out on the street and peering from windows, telling them to go away and stop gawking at us. “Nikolas. What is it?”

When he spoke, he used the higher demon language, Malthric, and simply said, “Casthus.”

“What?” I said.

His eyes opened, and they were a simmering red. This time, he spoke in English: “The arch-demon Casthus has announced his intention to return to Babylon.”

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