When Abel was finally alone, he sank his head into his hands. His scream sounded wild and muffled behind the soft skin of his palms. He hated Michaela. She was the reason he felt like this. She had made a fool of him. She knew about the deal, Abel was certain. Not only that, but a human – a human – had rescued her, saved her, and hid her from Abel.
He hated her with every cell of his limitless being.
He flexed his fingers, dragging his nails down his cheeks. A streak of golden sheen stretched from the corner of his eyes to the depths of his jowls. The pain was nice, refreshing. Finally, his mind cleared.
Abruptly, he looked up and settled his eyes on the window. He blinked and the glass cleared to reveal Zarachiel suspended in the room beyond.
The Archangel listlessly hung from his wrists. He hadn’t moved for hours. His pale skin stretched tightly across his withering frame. Millions of cuts zigzagged across his body. His wings were nearly featherless. Blood and drool dripped from his open mouth.
Abel began to speak incoherent sounds. Even he didn’t understand his muttering. A laugh bubbled out. Jerkily, he stumbled across the room toward the door. The Seraphim in the halls were gone, sent to track down the damned Michaela. Abel snarled at the thought of her.
He wrenched the heavy door open that lead into Zarachiel’s cell. The smell of blood and excretion made Abel gag, but he pressed forward. He hit the lever on the wall and Zarachiel slumped to the floor in a limp, lifeless heap. Abel stepped forward with a wild grin on his face.
He picked up the thick, gold chains. Fortifying his grip, he heaved. The angel slid easily, surprising Abel. He stumbled and nearly fell to the floor. When Abel steadied himself, he studied the angel. Blood, slick and fresh, on Zarachiel’s wings provided easy traction to slide his body across the floor. Mumbling, Abel bent and jerked once again.
He dragged Zarachiel’s unconscious body all the way up to the first level of Heaven, which loomed empty and echoed with the sound of Abel’s heavy tread. He pulled Zarachiel across the opal tiles, staining their brilliance with the Archangel’s blood. Without a thought as to who might see him, Abel pointed himself toward the gates and pressed on until he passed their threshold.
Instead of exhaustion, power like a heady drug slugged through Abel’s core, spiraling through his pulsing veins. Zarachiel left a sticky trail in the dust as Abel towed him across the stretch of Purgatory. Abel laughed manically, tugging Zarachiel the last few inches to the Edge’s wall. With a deep breath, Abel picked up the angel and dropped him onto the wall. The Archangel’s arms dangling into the fringes of space. His wings draped at Abel’s feet.
Abel needed to prove a point. He wanted Michaela to know he refused to be her fool. No one would ever think him weak again after this. With strength uncharacteristic to his pudgy body, Abel wrapped his hands around the bone-like branches of Zarachiel’s wings. His knuckles brushed the soft skin between the Archangel’s wings.
And Abel pulled once again.
Nothing happened. Abel strained even harder. Sweat dripped from his nose, which only made him angrier. He straightened, letting go of the wings. His anger built inside him, clutching his throat in a vice until Abel snapped.
Abel reached into his robe and pulled out the long, slim dagger. It glinted dangerously in his soft, thick hand. With a cry, he plunged the dagger into Zarachiel’s back.
Abel hacked for what felt like hours. Ripping sounds snapped into the dusty air. Bones broke. Blood gushed. Finally, exhausted, Abel fell to his backside with blood splattered onto his face. Still unconscious, Zarachiel slid off the wall into a broken, ruined pile. His wings lay shredded and mangled at his sides.
Abel sprung to his feet. His eyes were neon purple. Zarachiel’s blood on his face trickled into his mouth. He tasted it, smelled it, felt it on his tongue. It was delicious. He clutched the tattered wings to his face and inhaled deeply.