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Touched By Sin: Chapter 19

AURELIA

“Wake up, sleepyheads!”

Cold water hits me in the face, and I shoot upright, coughing and spluttering. Beside me, Daemon flies off the bed and tackles Alaric to the ground. “You motherfucker!”

Ronan hands me a lit-up joint. “You might want this after last night’s sexcapades and this morning’s rude awakening by Alaric.”

Accepting the joint, I bring it to my lips and take a deep pull. My wet and soppy hair coats my forehead and cheeks. I brush it off, watching the boys roll around like tumbleweeds on the floor. My soaked nightdress molds to my every curve. I’m freezing now but fuck it, this joint is good.

Placing his knee on the bed, Ronan falls forward onto his hands and smiles against my lips. I blow the smoke into his mouth while the sound of a struggle continues. “You’re naughty,” Ronan whispers, his lips dragging over my cheek to my ear, his breath tickling my skin. “I like it.”

I don’t answer.

The embers crackle and smoke swirls in patterns. I squint through it at Alaric and Daemon on the floor. They both have bloodied lips and split knuckles, but they’re laughing now.

Daemon shakes out his wet hair. “Just you fucking wait until you’re asleep next time.”

Hopping to his feet, Alaric snatches the joint from me and places it between his lips while I blink up at him.

“Excuse me!”

He smiles at me before pursing his lips around the joint and inhaling deeply. I wait him out, my eyes narrowed. After blowing a smoke ring or two, he puts the joint between his lips again. “Yeah?”

“I was smoking that!”

He shrugs. “Tough.”

“Get dressed,” Ronan orders, righting Daemon’s desk chair before taking a seat. “Dariana will be over shortly.”

Daemon is unapologetic about his nakedness. His dick is impressive even when it’s not hard. I can’t stop looking at it, and he smirks when he notices. Walking up to me, he cups my chin, bringing my eyes up to his. His tempting cock is right in my face, and my mouth waters as I wrap my fingers around his silky length. It soon hardens, brushing up against the happy trail below his belly button. He lets me stroke him while he pulls my bottom lip away from my teeth. But he doesn’t take it further, and when I lean in to taste him, he tightens his grip on my chin to hold me back. “Get dressed, little angel.”

With that, he walks into the adjoining bathroom.

Not fucking fair.

Just then, the bedroom door flies open, and Dariana joins us in a cloud of spicy yet feminine perfume, her heels clicking on the hard floor. She does a double take when she sees me. “Why are you soaking wet?”

Sprawled on the desk chair, Ronan says, “Alaric woke her up with a bucket of water.”

Dariana blinks, and then she blinks again. “Okay, whatever.” Hips and boobs swaying inside her minuscule dress, she saunters up to me. “I’ve got a little something for you.” In her hands is a small tub.

“What’s that?” I ask as she lowers herself down beside me on the bed.

“Turn around, so your back is to me.”

Intrigued, I follow orders.

“My parents know someone who knows someone with special abilities.”

I try to turn to look at her, but she won’t let me. “Special abilities?”

She hums, unscrewing the lid. “The humans call them witches. In our world, they’re fallen angels with unique powers. This particular angel possesses healing powers. She made this balm for you upon my request.” She pats my wing. “Open.”

I unfold them and feel her rub whatever the ointment is over the areas where I plucked my feathers. She’s gentle, touching me as if she cares. My eyes fill with tears as my chest constricts, and I blink rapidly.

“Did it hurt?” she asks in a soft tone.

“Of course it hurt,” Ronan snorts, his feet on the desk, his hands clasped on his chest. “Remember when we were kids and would randomly pull a feather from each other because it was fun? That fucking hurt. I can’t even imagine tearing off enough feathers to fill pillows for a family of five.”

Dariana is quiet behind me, smoothing the salve over my wings.

“I appreciate that you’re doing this for me,” I whisper.

“Well,” she says, “someone has to look after you.”

Alaric is gazing out the window with his broad back to us. His wings are relaxed, grazing the floor. “People are starting to notice you.”

Ronan rubs a hand over his face before digging inside his pocket for a packet of cigarettes. He bangs the bottom on his palm and places one between his lips. Every time he travels to the human world, he returns with more packets.

“Now is not the time,” he says, lighting one up. With a wave of his hand, the flame flickers out.

Alaric ignores him. “People you don’t want to notice you.”

Behind me, Dariana screws the lid back on and sighs. “Daemon’s father returns tonight, and he wants you to come along to dinner.”

“Okay?”

“You’re a real angel,” she says when I turn to face her.

“I’m aware of what I am.”

With her dark, wavy hair that frames her face and falls over her shoulders like a waterfall, she’s breathtaking. “Remember what I told you about not trusting anyone here?”

“I remember.”

Her eyes briefly flick over my shoulder when Daemon exits the bathroom stark naked, dripping water. “They call it Hell for a reason.” Her voice breaks through my X-rated thoughts.

I drag my eyes away from the water droplets on Daemon’s back and ass while he roots through a drawer for towels.

“Someone like you is worth a lot of money here.”

My brows pull low and I give a shake of my head to clear it. “What?”

Dariana taps her nail on the tub of salve in her hands. “I don’t know how much the boys have told you… Daemon’s father is a powerful man.”

When I don’t reply, she continues, “He received a bid for you yesterday.”

The atmosphere in the room turns icy. Daemon slams the drawer shut so hard, it doesn’t surprise me when it breaks and hangs sideways. “How do you know this?”

“A little bird sang.”

“What. Little. Bird?”

Dariana juts her jaw out. “I’m not telling you. If I do, you’ll go after them. We can’t afford to lose informants.”

“Fucking fine!” he growls. “Who made a bid?”

Uncertainty flickers in her depths, and I don’t blame her. Daemon is fucking scary. The vein in his temple pops when he fists her hair.

“Tell me right the fuck now so I can kill them!”

“Your uncle.”

Daemon drops her and stumbles back against the dresser. “Why the fuck would he do that? And why the fuck would my father go along with it?”

Alaric turns around, his hands in his pockets. “Your uncle offered to step away from active royal duty in exchange for the girl.”

Active royal duty? What does that mean?

I open my mouth to speak, but before I can get a word in, Daemon spits, “No fucking way. They’ve fought wars over my father’s throne my whole fucking life. Why would he suddenly offer to step down in exchange for the angel? It doesn’t make sense.”

It’s Ronan who breaks the ensuing silence. “A few reasons. He’s playing the long game. When your father defeated your uncle after he attempted to overthrow him, he forced him to sign the treaty. Your uncle was backed into a corner. The next heir to the throne is you, Daemon, not Dmitriy.”

“I know all this. What’s your fucking point?” Daemon says, pulling on a pair of jeans and leaving them unbuckled.

Ronan points the fingers with the cigarette at me. “You don’t want to admit it, but she’s become your weak link.”

Daemon throws his arms out, laughing disbelievingly.

“Steal the girl, and the future heir to the throne topples over like the queen on a chessboard. Your uncle wins. His son gets the girl and then the throne when your father dies. Voila, family fortune secured.”

Daemon starts to pace.

“Remember what it says in the contract signed by both Amenadiel and your father. If you hurt your cousin or uncle, the throne diverts to them. This is what they want. They expect you to come for Dmitriy.”

“FUCK!” Daemon roars, picking up his nightstand and throwing it across the room.

I stare in disbelief at the splintered wood while Daemon continues pacing like a caged animal.

“I need to speak to Father. I need to stop this.”

“What good is it going to do? He can’t see reason right now, not when your uncle is dangling a worm on the hook. Do you seriously think he’ll listen to you? Angel is nothing but a girl to him. He’s wanted your uncle to step away from the royal family as long as I’ve been alive.”

The royal family? Contracts? I’m so fucking confused.

“So we let him give up active royal duty, and then we kill Dmitriy,” Alaric says, running a hand over his face.

Blowing out a sigh, Daemon shakes his head. “It doesn’t work like that. Even if he gives up his title and steps away completely, the throne still reverts back to him if either I, my father, or anyone connected to us hurts my uncle or cousin. The contract is watertight. My father was adamant about keeping the peace. And the throne.”

“Must have been some family rivalry for your dad to take such drastic measures,” I comment drily. It makes sense now why Dmitriy prepositioned me at school. Even if I don’t understand fuck about the ‘throne.’ “What happens if they hurt you?”

“They lose their titles and access to the family fortune.”

“So this dinner tonight—” Dariana starts, but Daemon cuts her off.

“She’s not going.”

“You know your fath—”

“I don’t fucking care! My uncle doesn’t lay a finger on her. He isn’t allowed to fucking look at her!” To Ronan, he says, “What was the other reason?”

“What?”

“Your words were ‘a few reasons.’”

Ronan blows smoke circles before shrugging and placing his feet down on the floor. “Daemon, she’s an angel. Do I need to say more?”

“Yes, you fucking do!”

Groaning, Ronan gets to his feet and walks up to Daemon. “Man, why the fuck are you torturing yourself like this?”

“Spit it out!”

Ronan gets up in Daemon’s face and shoves him back a step. “She’s an angel. Your uncle will most likely sell her unless you do something stupid like offering them the throne on a silver platter. Can you imagine how much fucking money she’s worth? I’m surprised no one has tried to steal her from us yet. If we were smart, we should have kept her hidden in the fucking basement.”

My mouth falls open. “Fuck you!”

Turning toward me, Ronan laughs. “It’s for your own good, sweetheart.”

Alaric begrudgingly nods his head. “Ronan has a point. If he sold her, I bet he could get enough money to rival your father’s fortune.”

“If I’m worth so much fucking money, how come you haven’t tried to sell me yet? How come you’ve left me out of your sight at the academy?” I fold my arms over my chest, treating them all to my best glare.

“Because,” Daemon says, “no one would fucking dare try to steal you. Why haven’t I tried to sell you yet? I’m already rich. I don’t need to sell you. I was having way too much fucking fun opening your eyes to all the shit your elders kept you ignorant about. The fucking look on your face—your doe eyes—when you saw an erect cock for the first time sealed your fate. I wasn’t going to give that up. Money is fucking boring. Money doesn’t scream the fucking house down the first time it experiences an orgasm. It doesn’t crawl on its knees with innocent, wide eyes to pleasure three horny fallen angels. And it certainly doesn’t tell me no while challenging me with unfolded wings.”

I shoot to my feet so fast, it’s a miracle I don’t hit the roof. “You piece of shit!” I’m in front of him in a flash, jabbing my finger into his chest. “You didn’t think to sell me because ‘you were having fun?’ I was fun to you, was I?”

“Yes, you were fun. Look around you. This world of darkness isn’t exactly exciting. I can have anything I fucking want at the click of my fingers. But then you came along with your refreshing innocence and blazing attitude. So yes, you were fun!”

“You stole me from my home because you were bored?!”

“You were in the fucking woods!” he roars, forcing me back a step. “Monsters lurk in the shadows, Angel.” Grabbing my jabbing finger, he continues, “I am that monster! You walked into my territory. I saw you. I wanted you. So I took you. End of story. I’m not going to fucking apologize!”

My hand flies out and smacks him hard across the cheek. Seeing his head whip to the side makes me feel marginally better.

When his eyes come back to me, they’re cold and soulless. “Maybe I should let him buy you, after all.”

He walks out and slams the door behind him. The others shuffle awkwardly when rage, unlike anything I’ve known, bubbles up inside me. My feet move, following him out into the hallway. “There you go, running away again. It’s what you do, Daemon. You’re weak and pathetic!”

He whirls on me and slams me up against the wall just as the others come tumbling through the door. “Call me weak and pathetic one more time, little angel!”

I shove him back, and he falls against the wall opposite, causing a mounted painting of a portrait to fall to the floor. “You’re weak, Daemon. Weak and pathetic!”

His smile is cruel when he comes for me, and his eyes are dark pits of fury. “You think you’re so fucking special, Angel? You think I would fucking care if my uncle bought you?”

“Daemon,” Alaric says, his voice carrying a warning, “think about what you’re saying.”

I stand my ground, refusing to cower, no matter how much taller than me he is.

His hand shoots out and he grips my throat, pulling me into him. “You’re just a willing pussy.”

My throat clogs up with emotion, but I force it down. He’s right. I’m no one in their world. “I should have taken Dmitriy up on his offer. He was right when he said he would never treat me as badly as you do. It looks like I’ll be in good hands.”

He drops me like he’s been burned, and then he steps back and shoves Alaric out of his way as he makes his escape.

“Run, Daemon. It’s what you’re good at!” I call after him, ignoring the strong urge to chase after him. “Fucking asshole!” I do a double take when I notice the others staring at me. “What?”

They exchange glances. “You’re toxic when you’re together,” Alaric says, looking uncomfortable.

“Because he’s a prick, and I’m fucking over it!”

“And you like to attack his pride every damn time,” Alaric retorts, shaking his head. “Daemon is a powerful angel and used to getting his own way. He’s not used to this-this…”

“This what? Spit it out!”

“You defy him all the fucking time.” Alaric kills the distance between us before ducking down and forcing me to look him in the eye. “I know he has a shit way of showing it, but he’s in love with you.”

My mouth falls open. I scoff, then laugh. “Are you on drugs?” I make quotation marks with my fingers. “You’re just a willing pussy.”

Alaric averts his gaze, staring at the wall for a long moment. Then he rubs his hand over his face and looks back at me. “Whatever. Believe what you want, Angel. Just know that you did more than just slap him here today. Daemon is nothing if not destructive. If you attack his pride, you need to understand there are plenty of female angels willing to help build it back up to unreachable heights. Are you okay with that? Someone else on his lap, whispering sweet nothings in his ear, because you lashed out in anger?”

My shoulders square as I curse the tears in my eyes. “Why are you making me out to be the villain in this story? He stole me!” I point to my chest. “I didn’t ask to come here. I didn’t ask for this.” I gesture at the floor, the walls, them. “I didn’t ask for any of it!”

Alaric looks away, better at keeping his anger at bay than Daemon and me. “I don’t know what you want me to say.” When he looks back at me, there’s a hardness in his eyes. “Hell is a cruel place, full of cruel people. It’s not Heaven. The sooner you realize that, the easier life will be for you.”

He walks off and Ronan follows him.

Sinking back against the wall and sliding down to the floor, I let the tears fall. Everything is such a mess, and I don’t know who I am anymore. I don’t know who I’m supposed to be in this world. Dariana crouches down in front of me, takes my hand in hers, and squeezes it. “Everyone fights sometimes. He’ll come around.”

The framed portrait painting on the floor is cracked. I did that. I ruined it. Like I ruin everything I touch.

Dariana’s soft fingers wipe the tears from my cheeks. “Arguments suck. Anger sucks. I know what it’s like. I’ve lived here my entire life, remember?”

I appreciate that she’s trying to make me feel better, but I feel like shit.

“Do you know what helps after an argument?”

I sniffle pathetically, wiping beneath my nose and shaking my head. “No…”

“Dancing and alcohol. Lots of it. Come with me. Let’s get you dressed and dolled up and forget about all this for a while.” Rising from the floor, she holds her hand out. I stare at her manicured nails and olive skin before clasping her hand and letting her pull me to my feet.


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