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SHADOWS OF THE SOUL
(Book 1 of the Paradisian Chronicles)
By Angelique Armae
ISBN: 978-0-9845151-4-1
Publisher: Diversion Books

When a Grigori prince and a demon huntress team up to find the antidote to a supernatural disease, the balance between good and evil is forever altered.

A fallen angel...
A human scholar...
A race against time...

Isabel Godfroie Heart is a Paradisian Scholar-an immortal human trained in the ways of Heaven and Hell-who's suffering from memory loss. During her last battle, a dark force erased specific portions of her past life memories. Now she remembers little of times past, save for the fact she's a demon slayer mentored by the archangel Gabriel. When ordered to a new post to help translate a volume of ancient text from a forbidden verse, Isabel is forced to work with the dark prince Nicolai Valentine, a soul who may or may not be responsible for her memory loss. If only she didn't find the tempting creature so hard to resist...

Born to a fallen angel and a mortal mother, Nicolai Valentine is a prince of the Grigorcov, the children of the fallen sons of God. Searching for the lost chalice that will save his kin from eternal damnation, Nicky unknowingly unleashes the Hadean Virus, a dark entity targeting members of the Grigorcov. Now the entity has been unleashed on man's world and Nicky's in a race against time to find the antidote that will stop this deadly parasite. But in order to keep the Hadean virus from attacking again, Nicolai must enlist the help of Isabel Godfroie Heart, the Paradisian Scholar he was unable to save from the wrath of Hell centuries ago...

 

angelique armae's shadows of the soul

"Trapped in the midst of battle between Heaven and Hell, the mortal plain has a unique advantage over the Damned. It has on its side a select breed of immortal humans known as Paradisian Scholars. These men and women are demon hunters, fluent in the language of angels and have been trained by the Seven Archangels of the Celestial Triad." —Translated from The Codex Paradisus, ca. unknown

 

Chapter One

Midtown Manhattan, present day...

Trouble greeted me the moment I entered Saint Gabriel's Abbey. The church bell tolled midnight, but the left alcove was lit like daylight. Six hundred sixty six candles illuminating on their own is never a good sign. I knew that specific number, because the archangel Gabriel insisted that the task of keeping the count exact fall only to me. Otherwise I might've been able to play ignorant to that little greeting from the Devil.

My name is Isabel Godfroie Heart and I'm a Paradisian Scholar.

I make my living fighting evil. Damned, non-human entities are my constant companions.

Toying with them entertains me.

So when Gabriel asked for a bit of help in the housecleaning department, I was happy to oblige. Dark souls don't belong on hallowed ground. And I do a damned-good job at sending them off with a bang.

Built as a sanctuary to accommodate mortal regiments trained by angels, the abbey had recently become the favored hot spot for demons and cursed entities. A few damned souls wouldn't have been much of a concern. After all, Gabriel does allow the Devil a bit of elbowroom every now and then. But lately Satan pushed his brother's hospitality to the limits. The flood of sudden unexpected guests from the ethereal plain alarmed me and despite days of searching for answers, I still hadn't a clue as to why they picked here and now to show themselves.

My experience told me that Hellish spawns rarely enter man's world without warrant, and failing to find the reason why disturbed me. The situation also didn't sit well with my mentor Gabriel, the abbey's namesake and guardian. Concerned, he assembled the Gothic Garrison and handed out orders to each member.

He designated the graveyard shift as mine and mine alone. One hunter to a thousand demons. The archangel's twisted rationale just forced me to love him. No one else would've assigned a single scholar to a field laden with dark evil souls and not even warned them with so much as a 'watch where you step'.

Gabriel knew me well and he always obliged me. He also provided for my uncommon needs without question and tonight was no exception.

Stepping further into the abbey, I unclasped the leather wrist cuff from my right arm, forcing the brand underneath to swell. The skin-puckering action, accompanied by a searing sensation, made my flesh tingle. Raising the mark revealed my presence to unseen entities incapable of viewing the world as mortals did. Cursed creatures don't use their eyes to see; they sense other souls.

If the demons that invaded St. Gabriel's didn't pick up on my true identity before, they certainly knew now who'd come looking for them.

The corner niche was Satan's little sanctuary. The one place on consecrated ground Gabriel allowed his fallen brethren total domain. But by no means was the space meant to be an open door for all of Hell's demented souls. Admittedly, the arrangement was a bit twisted, but it kept me gainfully employed. An opportunity this Brooklyn-born girl thanked both Heaven and Hell for.

Eager to evict the night's resident evil, I inched my way down the center aisle and scrutinized the area for the presence of diabolical souls and hexed entities. I sniffed for the dark nasty smelling vapors that were a demon's calling card, but the area scanned clean. I expanded my search.

Keeping one step ahead of the damned, I jumped onto the wooden bench and maneuvered over the shellacked seats.

Walking across the slippery surface proved a chore in high-heeled boots, but I managed. Reaching the end of the pew, I stepped down and slid into the church's outer aisle. A single white orb skirted past me, a good sign I'd landed on sacred ground. St. Gabriel's had a built in safety net, an outer rim directly blessed by the powers of Paradise. The holy space served best for detecting ethereal beings, so I kept within the abbey's perimeter.

The small globe of light faded away.

A cold caress kissed my arm.

I spun around expecting to see a demon's shadow near by but found nothing. My invisible enemies were in a mischievous mood, matching my every move with a haunting taunt. Their typical tricks disappointed me. I'd hoped for a bit more sport, but knew better than to voice that option out loud as I continued toward the front of the church.

The lights flickered.

The abbey fell dark.

My sixth-sense kicked into high gear.

Popping into Lucifer's niche unawares didn't make for good demon hunting. Neither did getting my ass fried for sheer stupidity, a lesson I learned firsthand when a demonic warlord named Dreadacus stole a big chunk of my memory.

That little incident keeps me more than just enough pissed to continue pursuing the vile creatures I stalk. Remaining madder than hell is a good thing in my line of work.

Moving along, I listened to the heavy rain pelting the arched windows. A flash of lightning illuminated the stained glass and sent a rainbow of shadows dancing across the chamber. The colorful images invaded my path but didn't deter me.

The foul scent of demons, similar to sulfur, now dominated the air.

The noxious odor overpowered the waft of spicy incense from the abbey's swinging thuribles. The smoking censer served to purify and eradicate wicked entities and evil essences from the air.

Apparently this time the sacred relic had failed.

A second later the canister swung back like a hexed pendulum, the kind you'd expect to see in a cheap horror flick. I ducked and avoided a head-on collision.

It dipped from the ceiling once more and glided a hair's breadth past my face.

This time a whiff of perfumed smoke caressed my cheek.

My nose twitched as a burning sensation assaulted my throat.

Another gust of sulfur permeated the vicinity.

I gripped the swords at my sides and stepped away from the wall. Not to brag, but when I pack heat, I don't fool around. Forged from the essence of thunder and lightning, the weapons contain an otherworldly mix of metal and Heavenly elements. A deadly combination needed to fight Hell's demons. I dragged the swords along the floor.

Metal clanged against stone and the sound echoed about the church like a continuous rumble of thunder. The sharp pointed blades marred the abbey's floor, deep tracks left in their wake.

The demon scent grew stronger.

I refused to stop.

The marble font by the main doors, large carved panels at the back of St. Gabriel's Abbey, now toppled over. I silently thanked the demons for that little tantrum, as the holy water, flowing like a thin river through the floor's sword-made cuts, trailed my steps. The blessed liquid, acting as a barrier, protected me from being ambushed.

The front altar remained only a few steps away.

Near the tabernacle, unseen enemies waited in the shadows. Their spectral energies teased my senses.

The hair at the nape of my neck stood on end.

Screeching voices, sounds akin to TV static, echoed from beyond the grave and filled my head with a thousand whispered words all at once. Thanks to a few dabs of holy oil behind each earlobe, tuning out the very vocal undead was a piece of cake. The noise ceased almost instantly.

Gray, hazy forms rose up from the flaming wicks at Lucifer's candle stand.

The shadows on the outer rim concealed my exact location. I focused on the barren altar. Swords alone wouldn't obliterate my enemies, nor would the workings of any one-belief system. One by one, relics from various religions appeared on the cloth-covered table. Among them sat a pentacle, a Star of David, a cross, even a set of Tibetan Mala beads.

The sacred items flew toward me, accessorizing my leather catsuit. The cross, the star and the pentacle now dangled from a single cord around my neck, while the Mala beads circled my wrist.

Decked out in religious armor, a surge of powerful energy shocked through my body.

I gasped.

The zap nearly knocked me to my knees.

I approached the altar, knelt, and then prostrated myself.

With a single flick of the wrists, my swords ascended to both sides of my body, coming to rest mere centimeters from my fingers.

Several seconds ticked by. The cold, rough stone numbed my cheek as the heady scent of burning incense mingled with smoldering candlewick assaulted my nose.

I ached.

The constant drip of melting wax whispered a tormenting lullaby. The familiar sensations pricked at my nerves and teased every fiber of my being with a tempting desire to escape the agony assaulting me.

Yet despite the tingling in my numbing limbs, I knew better than to rise from my prone position.

Unseen enemies stood in the shadows.

One wrong move and I'd be toast.

A slight rumble shook the earth.

I took a deep breath. It was a cold, slightly sweet gulp of air.

The damned were suddenly everywhere.

I smelled them, tasted them, their whispered words mocked me.

Only my eyes failed to notice them.

I flexed my fingers and concentrated on the sacred weapons that remained poised near by--one blade to stun, one to obliterate. Both swords used simultaneously in the attack. I had one chance at grasping both weapons, and one chance only.

Fate could be a bitch at times and tonight obviously wasn't one of her better moments.

I focused on the thunderbolt at my right and the sword of lightning at my left. Both hands stretched and waited, fingers flexed, and like hawk talons seeking their prey, aimed at the hilts of each sword.

The sound of a flickering flame echoed from somewhere above.

One of my enemies blinked.

In a flash, both weapons rested in my hands. Knuckles white and palms hot like fire I jumped to my feet, as black, hazy shadows filled the abbey.

Maneuvering the swords as if they were an extension of both my body and soul, I raced through the sacred space, slicing through the hearts of my now visible enemies.

Around me lightning crackled while sulfuric vapors slowly overpowered the building's heady incense. The pungent odor of decay was almost too much to bear.

I took a running jump and grasped a marble pillar. Swinging around, I headed back toward the front of the church. The last two remaining shadows melded into one. A slight tingling sensation caressed my ears.

"Isabel..." the shadow whispered, its voice, deep and haunting. "Come to me and I will give you everything."

"Not in a million years," I answered.

The dark entity slowly took on human form.

It wore leather pants and boots and was draped in a black hooded cape. A tattoo of a large letter X severed by a lightning bolt graced its face. A newly forged sword, still sizzling, rested in its left hand.

I stared, taking in all that it pretended to be. The vile creature stood at least a good foot more than my five feet two inches, and wore no shirt over its rippled chest. I surmised that the demon's muscular appearance meant to either intimidate or to entice its opponents. But the visual effects did little to sway me.

Demons had a knack for wearing elaborate, throwaway fa├žades that included sculpted bodies and handsome faces.

"Your looks mean nothing to me, beast," I said. "So save your energy and use it where it matters most."

A resonating, throaty laugh filled the building, followed by a low growl. "You wound me, Isabel. It's not often I show my better side in the presence of a human."

"Then I pity you for not knowing how to properly woo a woman." I cautiously stepped into the abbey's center aisle with both swords secure in my hands. The sound of metal scraping against stone returned. "Haven't you ever heard of flowers or chocolate? Diamonds and pearls?"

The entity raised its right hand and presented me with a ruby and gold ring. "You can have this and more."

I came within one step of the foul beast. "What I want, you can't give me, and what you give, I don't want." I raised my swords upright.

The demon stepped forward. "You disappoint me, Isabel." It reached out and ran its long, thin fingers through my hair. "I've watched your soul for ages, from before you were even born. I know your faults and weaknesses."

My enemy leaned in.

Its warm breath fanned my face. "And I know your greatest sin."

A knot twisted in the pit of my stomach. The sound of a weeping child rose up out of nowhere, the constant reminder of a transgression I'd committed but of which I remembered little.

"That's right, Isabel," the demon said, smirking. "I know all about your wretched mistake. You made me very rich that day." It paused and took a deep breath as its hand dropped from my hair to my shoulder. A guttural moan escaped it lips. "Your skin-scent is sweet like candy, human."

Its forked tongue jutted out and traveled the length of my neck.

A burning sensation stung my skin.

"Do you know what a child's soul fetches in Hell these days?"

I refused to listen to another word.

A glint of shiny metal flashed in the corner of my eye.

A dagger.

I sprung from the creature's grasp, pivoted, and jabbed the thunderbolt into its ribs.

The entity shifted form again, peeling its mortal-like body away from the blade lodged in its side.

I stumbled forward onto the hilt of my sword as it slipped to the ground, the pointy tip clashing with the floor. Streaks of lightning illuminated the abbey.

The demon had disappeared.

Yet the faint trace of sulfur remained.

A jolt of hot air suddenly pumped through my lungs and a heavy pressure squeezed my ribs. The world blurred as my soul twisted. I shifted focus to better thoughts, my only means of fighting the crippling sensations.

A black mass formed near by. I gripped the swords, turned, and sliced through the shadow using both blades simultaneously. As the entity hissed and faded away, I crashed to my knees and landed in a pile of demon dust.

Strands of my hair plastered themselves across my cheeks and eyes, forming black lines in my vision. I took a moment to breathe, then wiped my face clean. While beads of sweat trickled down my neck, I leaned forward, bowed, and offered a silent prayer.

The flames on Lucifer's candles went out.

A pair of sandal-clad feet appeared before me. Gathering my senses, I looked up and met Gabriel eye to eye.

"Where the hell have you been?"

The angel smiled. His long blonde hair fell over his broad shoulders. A slight halo glowed about his head. "In the last pew, observing you." He nodded toward the back of the abbey.

I rose. "A little help would've been appreciated."

"From what I saw, you did just fine, destroying Mesbot. Besides, I'm forbidden to interfere."

"So this one actually had a name, ha? Your vile brother must be getting soft if he's now giving his spawns identities of their own."

I placed my swords against the side of the first pew and slid into the narrow aisle. I took a seat halfway down the row. Gabriel followed. His Roman-soldier-like outfit changed as he moved, a fine-tailored, black silk Armani suit taking its place. His free-flowing hair tied itself back in a neat queue fastened with a silver hair ornament.

"Any news on your unwanted house guests?"

"Actually, yes."

Curiosity piqued my interest.

"Apparently, they've come for you."

The news shocked me. "Why? What've I done now? Does Lucifer have his knickers in a bunch again? I swear this time I have nothing to do with that." I raised my hands in protest.

I'm good at playing with the Devil, but even a skilled scholar knows her limits. You don't try the lord of Hell twice with the same trick.

Gabriel didn't answer me. Instead he handed over a small leather pouch inscribed, on the front, with his crest-the image of a lily surrounded by a circlet of rubies. "It's all there. Everything you'll need for you new post is in that bag."

"You're sending me away?" Gabriel usually objected to me working anywhere save for his abbey.

I took the worn sack, untied the thin strips of fabric knotted around the top, and emptied its contents onto the pew. The odd assortment of trinkets included a key, the drawing of a chalice, and a rolled parchment. A torn section of an envelope sat on top, an address was scribbled across the front:

eNVee Laboratories
Hampton Hall
Cold Spring Harbor, New York

Apparently, I was being shipped off to fight demons with little more than my bare hands. This realization wasn't exactly comforting. "What am I after this time? And what is its sin?"

Gabriel gave me that serious look an angel gets when he has no choice but to tell the truth. When in reality, he wished, that just once in his fluffy white existence, he were capable of telling a lie. The tick started at his jaw, then moved to his right eye, his iris changing color from bright blue to deep midnight.

"His name is Nicolai Valentine."

Of course I knew of the saint, but of this Nicolai I hadn't a clue. "What's he done that's ticked off the Keepers of Paradise?"

Gabriel adjusted his tie, loosening the silk knot of fabric as if it were suddenly tied too tight.

His actions worried me.

Save for the tick at his jaw and eye color change, this archangel rarely showed outward signs of concern.

"It's not so much what he's done as opposed to what he's failed to do."

I didn't understand. Paradisian Scholars were trained to hunt down demons, not chastise fallen souls because their performance was not up to par. "What's his demon name?"

Again, Gabriel hesitated.

"Look," I pleaded, "I know you're not supposed to interfere, but you've got to give me something more to work with here."

"He's not a demon."

A sick feeling twisted in the pit of my stomach.

Gabriel waved his hand and materialized - The Book of Grigori, an ancient text listing the names of the fallen angels who'd been defrocked during the fall of Eden and their offspring.

The weathered volume fell open, its pages fluttering in a gust of wind. When they settled, my gaze lingered on the scrolling script.

I read down the list and came across the name Nicolai Valentine. Based on the placement beneath the angelic name Rhodes, I surmised this was a son of a fallen Grigori. A little doohickey sat scrawled before the line. I leaned closer for a better look.

The angelic glyph for 'Princeps', a small P with a horizontal line through the stem, caught my attention.

Disbelief racked my brain. "He's a member of the Grigorcov? A prince of Hell?"

For the love of heaven, I was being sent to slay an angel, albeit a fallen one, but an angel just the same. "Now it's my turn to say I'm not allowed to interfere. Why send me? Why not Michael or one of your other sword toting siblings?"

My heavenly mentor gave a look that fell somewhere between shock and anger. Yes, anger. Angels of the ranks closest to man's world, in particular Gabriel, were known to occasionally wake up on the wrong side of their clouds.

"Nicolai is a complicated soul," he said. "Blessed by the waters from the Winter Baptistery and guarded by my brother Michael. He's the heir to his father's seat in the Under Universe." Gabriel looked away from me now, his fingers back to fidgeting with the tie.

"You want me to slay a prince of Hell? Are you mad?"

"I didn't say you had to slay him."

The Book of Grigori vanished.

I stood and caught my foot on the extended kneeling pad at the bottom of the pew. Thanks to Dreadacus, I'm not always steady on my feet.

A queasy feeling settled in my gut as I tripped, but Gabriel's grasp broke my fall and quelled the stirring sensation that rattled my innards. I nodded a silent thanks to my mentor.

"If I'm not supposed to kill him, then what does one do with a prince of Hell?" I brushed a bit of demon ash from my arm and then gazed up at the angel's solemn looking face.

He raised a single blond eyebrow. "Do with him what you must."

Gabriel had a knack for talking in riddles, as did most angels. Granted, human languages differ from their native tongue, but this went beyond his usual cryptic messages.

"Ah...I don't think so. The last time you failed to give me specific instructions, I ended up with a gaping hole in my mid-section, and my soul bobbing in and out of my body as if it were bungee jumping. Never mind the memory loss."

"You survived."

Apparently angels knew nothing of earthly torment.

"I escaped death, an easy feat for a human born immortal. But I could do without the daily torture of not knowing my past."

The angel shrugged. "Valentine needs a section of the tomes translated. The job is simple...read, interpret, and then leave."

When it came to Gabriel, and the assignments he handed down from the Paradisian court, nothing was simple. I thought back to the contents of the pouch. A key and a sketch of a sacred cup had nothing to do with translating ancient texts. "Does Nazaré know about this?"

"Considering he knows everything that concerns his family, I'd say yes. More than likely he's the reason Nicolai received the pardon allowing the tomes to be translated. Nazaré is quite fond of this nephew."

With the ancient angelic languages forbidden to the fallen brethren and their offspring, translation of the tomes was rarely permitted. It was a dangerous game and only a select group of mortals, we Paradisian Scholars, had the ability to bring both sides together. To say I sometimes feel like a pawn in the battle between good and evil is an understatement. One slip of the tongue and I'm history.

I turned around, leaned into the pew and picked up the items scattered across the bench. Everything went back into the pouch, except for the key. "How long do I have to translate the passage?"

"The pardon expires on the night of the Winter Solstice," Gabriel answered.

"That doesn't leave a lot of time, a little less than three weeks. Are you sure prince Nazaré favors this nephew? I'd hate to see how long he'd give a relative he didn't like."

My mentor didn't comment. That uneasy feeling settled back in my soul again, this time doing a double flip.

When Dreadacus messed with my memories, the loss had knocked my spiritual equilibrium off balance, causing my soul to twist and dip more often than I cared to experience. The freakish sensations cause havoc with my nerves and gut, especially at times when Fate hasn't yet figured out what's to become of me.

I turned back to Gabriel after tying the pouch onto my belt. "Tell Nazaré I accept my new post."

Gabriel nodded, but didn't comment.

I reached for my swords and slipped each back into their proper scabbard. A low rumble shook the abbey as the thunderbolt slid into place. "Is there anything else I should know about this Valentine? You know how much I hate surprises."

"No, I believe I've told you everything pertinent to the case. You have his address in the pouch. He owns, and lives at, eNVee Laboratories."

"Good," I said. Looking up, I gave Gabriel the once over, but detected nothing out of the ordinary in his somber expression.

I bore his mark—six brands burned into my flesh—and shared a part of his soul. But since I remained a separate entity from him, reading Gabriel wasn't an easy feat.

I nodded and then watched in silence as his form vanished from sight.

Once more alone, I headed toward the back of the abbey. I'd kept an oversized satchel stocked with clothes, weapons, other Scholarly goods, and a box of personal belongings hidden in the floor beneath one of the large marble squares. I crouched down and lifted the tile.

Gabriel's voice filled my mind.

"There is one other thing I should mention," he said.

"And what's that?" I asked aloud, pulling out the steel container that held my possessions.

"Nicolai refused you an invitation to his home. He isn't expecting you."

The sound of metal clanging against stone rocked my ears as I dropped the box. I swore a mild oath under my breath. Gabriel's news made it difficult to remain virtuous.

Sitting there, partly in shock and partly annoyed, I contemplated my task of breaking and entering into a fallen angel's earthly home. Working for the Devil would have been a whole hell of a lot easier.

The spicy residual scent of expensive, designer perfume irritated my nose.

I looked up and found the tall, thin scholar named Ruesinia lounging in an alcove normally reserved for statues of saints and angels. She had one boot-covered foot propped up against the outer edge of the ornate molding and the other one draped over the alcove's front piece.

A sword of lightning dangled from her right hand.

The look of exasperation veiling her face said she was anything but pleased.

"I take it you're my replacement?"

She nodded, but her lips remained pursed, frowning at the sides.

"It could be a lot worse," I said.

She shook her head. "Somehow, I don't think so. I was right in the middle of a very delectable meal."

"You could be off playing translator for an angelic prince who pits Nazaré and Lucifer against one another."

That got her attention.

"In the name of the gods, girl, don't tell me you're embroiled in that battle."

At least she wasn't frowning anymore. "I have an unscheduled appointment with one Nicolai Valentine."

Ruesinia offered a wicked grin. She slid out from the stone grotto and approached me. "I've been dating a Valentine. Max Valentine. He's the meal I left behind."

I rolled my eyes. Rue was anything but a prude. "Now I know why Gabriel chose you for my replacement. I can only imagine what sins you were racking up."

"Well, a girl does have needs. Good thing Gabe doesn't thrive on gossip."

She had that right. Gabriel rarely spoke unless he had good reason to, but his silence never bothered me before. I chalked up his quietness to the time he'd been temporarily 'defrocked' in the angelic realm. He didn't take words lightly.

Ruesinia peered down at the box resting near my knee. "I'm sure you'll find your Nicolai to be just as much fun as my Max."

"This is official business, Rue, not a frat party. Besides, he's not my Nicolai."

I reached for the box and unlocked the latch. Inside sat a small enamel snuffbox along with an odd assortment of other goods, including rosaries, Tibetan prayer beads, and my favorite pentagram. I placed my fingers over the antique snuffbox, and sensed my brother Benedict's aura. He'd made me promise, should anything ever happen to him, I'd see to it the trinket remained safe. I had agreed, never thinking he'd be killed a few days later. I pushed away the pain of missing him and withdrew the small container.

Ruesinia plopped down next to me, her leather cat suit squeaked against the back of the last pew. "Once you meet Nicolai I'm sure you'll wish he was yours. The Valentines have that something special about them, all of them. Raw sex appeal doesn't even begin to describe the brothers. And as princes of Hell, they're the ultimate bad boys."

I shot her a warning glare. "We're in an abbey, Rue."

She scanned the area, pouting as if she'd just been sent to the bowels of hell instead of a sacred space located in the middle of Manhattan. "I suppose this is as good as any other spot. Although, if my memory serves me right, the pews are too narrow, the alcove not deep enough and the floor, way too hard and cold..."

"You've got to be kidding me? Right?"

"Scholars may be immortal, but we're still human," she said. "We all have our needs."

"Yeah, but we don't sate them on sacred ground."

"You mean to tell me, in all the nights you've spent here, you never once..."

I was mortified. Rue had a reputation unlike any other Scholar. She could just as easily talk about her latest sexual conquest as she could about saving a soul from damnation. "Of course not. What do you think I am?"

Ruesinia chuckled. "I was referring to taking a snooze. What did you think I meant?" She raised her mocha eyebrows in feigned shock.

I didn't answer her. Instead, I gathered up a few of the items from my box and slipped them into the satchel. Certain that everything was in order, I zipped up the bag and relocked the box, leaving only Benedict's trinket case on the floor.

"Nice snuffbox," Rue said. She eyed the enamel and gold, jewel-encrusted, case and continued, "I'd say it's Empire, possibly French or Belgian."

"I wouldn't know. Benedict didn't like talking about the past with me. He said if I didn't remember our other existence, then he'd dismiss it too."

I placed the steel container back into the floor and resealed the space with the marble tile I removed earlier. Slipping the trinket box into my pocket, I rose and stared down at Rue. Her view of the Scholarly life isn't exactly like mine, but when it comes down to the serious nature of our world, we're similar souls. She's the closest thing I have to a sister.

Ruesinia extended her hand. "I almost forgot. I brought you something." She held out an embossed paper box adorned with a ribbon. The small package reminded me of those used by European confectioners.

"What's this for?"

"Just a pick-me-up. I know going off to a new assignment isn't always easy."

I untied the ribbon and opened the box. Tucked between sheets of wax paper sat cocoa-covered chocolate truffles.

"They're raspberry, your favorite from that little shop in Bruges. I took a side trip after leaving France."

"Thanks. I love these."

She smiled and waved her hand as if the extra trip to fetch a few chocolates was nothing. To me it meant the world.

"I guess this is where I turn my abbey over to you. I'm going to head back to my room, shower and change, and then leave."

"You better come back soon or your ass will be grass. Max doesn't like having to wait around for me and I can't say I blame him, my absence drives him crazy." She was back to flashing that wicked grin, again.

"Well, don't get too comfortable here. Gabriel said all I have to do is read, interpret and then leave. Piece of cake."

If only I believed my own words.

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angelique armae's reviews

  What do you get when you cross an angel with a demon?
Sex as hot as the fires of hell and Love as soft as an angel's wing.

Nobody does angels like Angelique Armae! --Kerrelyn Sparks, NY Times Bestselling author of The Vampire and the Virgin

Amazon Best Seller - Fantasy & Futuristic Romance
Amazon Kindle Best Seller - Fantasy, Futuristic & Ghost Romance

  "you cannot put this book down!"
In Cold Spring Harbor, Isabel finds a "Jane Austen" mansion, hell hounds, a ghostly child named Clara, and one of the sexiest beings she's ever met. It seems they were meant to meet, but to what end? Then she discovers that the Scholar assisting Nicolai prior was her brother. There are locked rooms, references to a dead wife and sons, holes on the property that drop you straight to Hell (she's already been there, thank you!) and a mounting tension.

This is one of the best stories I've read. And I've read A LOT of stories. Angelique Armae takes you up and drops you off the edge of the cliff with ease, and keeps the night light burning because you cannot put this book down until you figure out all the twists and turns. The Paradisian Chronicles is set up as a series and I want the next installment -NOW! --Reviewed by Nancy Eriksen, ParanormalRomance PNR

 

  paranormal romance guild4.5 STARS! Shadows of Soul definitely didn't leave a dark corner in my soul! Ms. Armae does a wonderful job with world and character building, which leaves you wanting to keep the pages turning.

Shadows of the Soul introduces us to Isabel Godfroi Heart, a human scholar trained by Archangel Gabriel in the ways of Heaven and Hell. She is pulled from her current assignment of demon slaying and given the task of helping Nikolai Valentine, a fallen angel, find a lost chalice. What do you get when you mix an immortal Paradisian Scholar (Heart) with a snarky, humorous, and oh-so-sexy fallen angel?

You get one hell of a time! Shadows of Soul is packed with loads of actions, sinfully good romance and sarcasm you could bite into, literally! A definite recommendation to anyone looking for a great read, a great time and a story that takes you from Heaven to Hell and everywhere in between! —Reviewed by Catherine R. Iwashita for The Paranormal Romance Guild

 

  Immortal love story!
"PARADISIAN CHRONICLES BOOK 1: SHADOWS OF THE SOUL is a non- stop thrilling adventure from the very first page. Angelique Armae comes through with an interesting premise filled with all kinds of interesting beings, a story filled with enough plots and subplots that kept me turning pages, and a love that nothing could stop. This story will stay with me for a long, long time. Can't wait for the next one in this series. I thoroughly enjoyed this story and cannot recommend it highly enough. Well done, Angelique Armae!" - Chere Gruver, ParaNormalRomance PNR

  "A fabulous novel about karma, past lives, and the battle between good and evil" --Dr. Carmen Harra, author of The Eleven Eternal Principles

 

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