Iniquity (The Premonition #5)

by Amy A. Bartol


Soft whispering touches cascade against my cheek, so light that they’re almost a shadow against my eyelashes. I stir in bed, stretching my arm to Reed, searching for my angel even in my half-conscious state. My arms come up empty as my fingertips touch damp earth. I open my eyes to the hazy sense of wrongness. My fingers trip over the silky softness of my feathers. The acrid smell of smoke is all around me as my head lies against the grassy ground. Above me, angels are flying, moving chaotically.

Fire rains across the dusky skyline, turning what is left of the blue filament to red and orange as giant rockets burst and riot. The explosions make the ground tremble. There is a pain in my belly; fear twists it. A shrill roar causes all the hairs on my body to stand up at once. I’ve never heard its like and I dread seeing what is capable of making such a sound.

As I sit up, my head throbs painfully. Using my trembling hands, I rest my head in them, hoping that the world will stop spinning. From the corner of my eye, I see an armored-clad Power angel flying low to the ground near me. His forward trajectory switches in the sky as a hulking Seraph broadsides him. They rapidly lose altitude, plummeting towards me.

When the warring angels tumble to the ground only a few feet away, my hands go up to cover my head and I brace myself for their impact. Rather than being crushed by them, I’m scooped up and thrown over someone’s shoulder. My cheek rests against his strong, blood-colored wing. Yelling in Angel echoes in the air as carnage from the war waging around me litters the ground.

“Mo chroí” the soft voice echoes in my skull like it’s being amplified.

No longer slung over an angel’s shoulder, I awake in my bed, but I’m not in my room in Crestwood. The bed is in the middle of the battlefield. A thin, white sheet barely covers me as I sit up against the pillows with a jerk.

I feel Brennus in my bones before I ever see him. I breathe him in; his exotic scent makes my skin dance to touch him. I could paint him red and he wouldn’t be anymore startling to me. Brennus’ black, velvety wings float around him as dark as a shadow in the night. They’re nearly as black as his hair.

His iridescent green eyes drink in every inch of me. I clutch the stark white sheet to my breasts to cover them, only to find as I look down that it’s nearly translucent. I push my long auburn hair over my shoulders to cover them. “Ach, Genevieve, have I na told ye before dat yer attempts ta hide yer beauty from me are made in vain? Ye only succeed in looking more seductive.”

“Where are we?” I ask. I’m still in my bed, but I’m far from my room.

“Ye tell me, ’tis yer dream,” Brennus smiles nefariously as I gaze around in trepidation. “As soon as I entered dis nightmare, it began to crash down around me—Heaven is secretive, but I was able ta discern enough.”

“What did you see?” I ask him.

I shiver and he smiles. “’Tis na a pleasant future. Welcome ta da new age, eh? ’Twould appear dat tomorrow has been cancelled.” Brennus lifts his eyebrow, looking around as the dreamscape surrounding us is changing, turning from catastrophic destruction to a haze and blur of shapes. Dust swirls in the wasteland.

“How did you enter my dream?” I ask, deciding to focus on the least scary of everything I’m seeing around me.

“I was worried dat da other wouldna be able ta save ye. I have been ta da aingeal house, but dere are layers of magic surrounding it. I couldn’t be certain it was yer magic. Da other has a similar scent ta his spells.”

“Magic has a scent?” I ask.

“It does,” he nods. “Yers is exotic—intoxicating.”

“You didn’t know I survived?” I finch. He’s been here at the house studying us.

“I’ve been going out of me mind wi’ worry over it. Me yearning for ye was so strong dat I had ta find a way ta quench it. I retrieved one of da perfume bottles ye gave ta me.”

“The ones with my blood?” My heart skips beats.

“The moment I tasted ye on me tongue, I felt ye. I shut me eyes and tought o’ ye. I tought of da way ye smile, da way ye walk, da turn yer eyebrow takes when ye’re angry. It made me chest ache. I was afraid ye died. Dere was a pull within” He lays his hand over his heart, “I followed me heart...ta ye—ta dis place.” Opening his arms, he looks around at the contours of my dreamscape. “I ache without ye.”

I’m an idiot, I think. I gave him a gift that provides him a means to reach me—to get inside my head—my dreams.

“It’s a cruel world, Brennus. Imagine how my heart felt when you tried to kill me.” I watch him warily as he turns toward me. He smiles again.