It’s time for Snippet Saturday! Each week has a theme or is author’s choice. This week the theme is Holding out for a Heroine.
It’s a long snippet this week because I really love this scene right at the beginning of the book and wanted to share it in full. Marcus is an angel of the guardian division, and has watched over Amelia her whole life, but has no clue as to why he is meant to guard her because his superiors won’t give him much information on his mission. He’s a few thousand years old but has little interest in interacting with humans, and has spent the past few centuries in Heaven because his wings were bound by a curse. This scene takes place shortly after Amelia’s ex-boyfriend has been banging down her door in the dead of night and Marcus intervened, and she has lured him into her apartment to ice his knuckles.
Marcus leaned against the kitchen counter, his hand throbbing. It had been a while since he had felt physical pain. He couldn’t remember the last time it had hurt to punch something.
He couldn’t remember the last time he had fought someone.
Amelia placed a red and white chequered tea-towel down on the side and emptied out several trays of ice cubes into it. She gathered the ends and twisted the bulk of the cloth around to keep the ice in, and then came over to him. He started when she took hold of his hand, gently slipping her fingers under it so they brushed his palm, and raised it. Heat travelled up his arm and it had nothing to do with pain this time.
She rested the ice pack on his knuckles and he didn’t feel the cold at all. He stared at their joined hands, urgently trying to decipher how she had warmed him with only a light touch and alarmed by the hard beat of his heart against his chest. She looked up into his eyes, her grey ones full of warmth again, softening her delicate features and holding his attention.
“Thank you.” She glanced away again, her gaze briefly dropping to their hands and the ice pack, and then met his eyes. His pain faded in an instant, driven away by the heat of her touch and her concerned expression, and he marvelled at the effect she had on him. It wasn’t real. It couldn’t be. She was his duty and that was all she could ever be. Once he had fulfilled his mission, he would finally request his transfer and would never see her again. Her thumb brushed his and fire shimmered over his skin. “I really am sorry that he woke you and that you had to hit him.”
“I said it was nothing.” Marcus hadn’t needed to hit the man. He could have compelled him to stop but he had reacted on instinct, and for some reason that instinct had been to punch him. He could think of a million situations with mortals when he had been in danger and had compelled them. Why not this time?
Had Amelia’s presence as a witness deterred him?
Or was she the reason he had struck the man?
He had been consumed by anger, enraged by what the man had said about himself and Amelia, driven to violence by a handful of words.
He was Amelia’s protector. Her guardian.
He was not her lover.
Her fingertips grazed his palm as she removed the ice pack and inspected his left hand. A shiver tripped up his arm and down his spine, and his shoulder blades itched. He took his hand away from her and rolled his shoulders, trying to relieve the tension building there.
His wings wanted out.
“How are they feeling?”
Marcus’s head snapped up, his eyes immediately locking on Amelia. His wings? She nodded towards his knuckles and relief swept through him.
“Fine,” he said absently and breathed slowly to steady his racing heart.
There was no way she could know about his wings but, for a moment, it had felt as though she had been reading his mind. It had been a while since his wings had wanted to come out. After five centuries of living with them sealed away, he had grown used to them not being there. It had been strange becoming accustomed to them again when the binding curse had started to lose effect over thirty years ago. Most of the time, he was content to physically put them away as he was now. It took concentration to maintain their disappearance but it used less energy than hiding them from human eyes with a glamour, and it was far easier to move around in the mortal realm without worrying about accidentally knocking things over with them.
“Are you alright?” Amelia ducked towards him, interrupting his view of his knuckles and replacing it with an altogether more pleasant one of her face and her cleavage.
Marcus stared at her plump full breasts, his pulse picking up again, and then averted his eyes. Women had no shame. It was little wonder his master had decided that they should not serve him. They were wily, manipulative, a distraction, and considered by most as the source of all sin.
“Fine,” Marcus repeated and took the ice pack from her, ramming it onto the back of his hand when all he wanted to do was stick it down his jogging bottoms to bring his libido under control.
His fellow warriors had warned him about women, especially ones as beautiful as Amelia, and he wholeheartedly believed every word that they said. Women were dangerous. He would not falter though. Amelia was his mission and his allegiance was to his master, his loyalty to his duty, and nothing would change that.
Once this irksome mission had ended, he would return to Heaven and request his transferral as originally planned, and would join the ranks of the soldiers who protected the realm of Heaven from intruders and wars. He would defend that which he believed in. Not this mortal world, but his world.
He had never physically guarded a human before but was certain that his assignment to act as her next door neighbour was a sign that his mission was progressing and soon he would be free of it.
He couldn’t wait to return home.
“How are you feeling?” Marcus took the ice pack away from his hand and set it down in the stainless steel sink beside him.
Amelia shrugged. “Better, I guess.”
She didn’t look better. The weary edge was back in her eyes, draining them of warmth, and he found himself desiring to comfort her.
“He won’t come back.” His words had the desired effect and she brightened for a brief moment and then it faded again.
“You don’t know that.” She closed her eyes and shook her head. “I do pick them.”
Marcus turned and ran his hand under the cold water, letting it wash away the trace of blood on his knuckles. When he reached for the tap to shut it off again, he felt Amelia’s eyes on his bare back, boring into his shoulders, and lingered a moment. Would she mention the marks he had revealed by carelessly turning his back on her?
“It won’t be long before I drive you away too.”
Those words, softly spoken, caused him to look over his shoulder at her, a frown drawing his dark eyebrows tightly together. She dropped her gaze and then met his with resolution that didn’t surprise him. This was the Amelia he had come to know these past three decades. Strong, able to face anything head on, unflinching.
“What makes you say that?” Marcus turned back to face her, aware now that he was bare from the waist up and was probably only encouraging any attraction she might feel towards him. He should have put on a t-shirt before leaving his apartment but he’d had one thing on his mind—getting the irritating bastard in the hallway to shut up so he could sleep.
Or was it purely so he could sleep?
He stared at Amelia, taking in the way her cheeks coloured as he did so and how she couldn’t hold his gaze.
He had thought only of protecting her.
“The last bloke who lived alone next door to me left only a couple of months after moving in.”
Marcus knew for a fact that the man had been forcibly evicted due to a minor error in payments caused by Heaven’s intervention but had later won money on the lottery that had allowed him to place a down payment on the house of his dreams. The young man had been the easiest target to remove in order to place Marcus close to Amelia. The old lady who lived in the apartment on the other side of Amelia was frail and had lived in the building for over twenty years and relied on those around her to assist her. She also slept heavily, meaning that Amelia’s ex-boyfriends didn’t wake her when they came to knock down her door. Marcus would have had a contender in the guardian stakes if the young man had remained living next to her and they had moved the old lady.
“You do live alone, don’t you?” There was a tremble to that question.
Marcus nodded without thinking and then considered the implications of his answer when Amelia’s grey eyes warmed again. A loaded question. She had cleverly used it to discern his availability.
He briefly considered making up a girlfriend in order to obliterate any attraction she might feel towards him so he could continue his mission in peace but couldn’t get the words out when he looked into her eyes again.
The space between them shrank until it felt as though she was barely inches from him. Her soft breathing filled his ears, drawing his attention down to the sensual bow of her dusky pink lips. The tip of her tongue swept across them, leaving moisture in its wake, luring him in.
How long had it been since he had kissed a woman?
Not in this lifetime, that was for sure.
Marcus dragged his eyes away from her, shutting down his emotions at the same time. Amelia was a mission. He couldn’t allow things to become complicated. Not when he wasn’t even sure why he had to protect her.
He couldn’t get involved with her.
He had to maintain his distance.
No matter how impossible that seemed now.
No matter how much he wanted her.
Did you enjoy the snippet?
More about the book:
A guardian angel dedicated to his duty, Marcus will do whatever Heaven asks of him, but even his loyalty has its limits. When his superior orders him to gain Amelia’s trust through seduction, Marcus starts to question his mission and his feelings for the beautiful woman he has watched over since her birth.
Amelia has gone from one bad relationship to another, so when a gorgeous guy moves in next door looking like Mr Right, she hopes he doesn’t turn out to be another black knight in disguise. But there’s more to Marcus than meets the eye, and when he rescues her from three demonic men, Amelia is thrust into his nightmarish world. On the run from demonic angels and the Devil himself, aided by warrior angels and their amazing women, Marcus and Amelia discover a love that will last forever.
When the strength of that love is put to the test, will Marcus and Amelia win their fight for survival against the odds or will they lose in a deadly eternal game between Heaven and Hell?
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