Ashemnon’s demonic hunger for Madeleine Dean’s pure, vibrant soul has tormented him throughout every lifetime she’s lived on earth. Now, thanks to her desperate father, he has a blood-tight contract in hand. Soon, her soul will belong to him.
All her life, Maddie has been haunted by strange occurrences, hallucinations and increasingly intense nightmares. As her ex-boyfriend walks away, she can almost hear the pieces of her life falling around her. And then she falls—literally—into the arms of a stranger who’s the first and only person to understand.
Ash meant to pluck her soul, not sweep her off her feet. Yet the moment they touch, the temptation to seduce her again and again is more than he can resist. Despite the risk, he finds himself succumbing to her charms. And, impossibly, falling in love.
Then Ash learns the reason it’s taken centuries to get to this point: He’s not the only one with a claim on her soul. Heaven and Hell are in a tug of war—and Maddie’s the rope. Control wrested from his hands, Ash can only wait for her to make a choice that will damn one soul to Hell…or damn her own.
|Publisher:||Entangled Publishing, LLC|
|File size:||2 MB|
About the Author
New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Cherrie Lynn has been a CPS caseworker and a juvenile probation officer, but now that she has come to her senses, she writes contemporary and paranormal romance on the steamy side. It’s *much* more fun. She’s also an unabashed rock music enthusiast, and loves letting her passion for romance and metal collide on the page.
When she’s not writing, you can find her reading, listening to music or playing with her favorite gadget of the moment. She’s also fond of hitting the road with her husband to catch their favorite bands live.Cherrie lives in East Texas with her husband and two kids, all of whom are the source of much merriment, mischief and mayhem.
You can visit her at http://www.cherrielynn.com or at the various social networking sites. She loves hearing from readers!
New York Times and USA TODAY bestselling author Cherrie Lynn has been a CPS caseworker and a juvenile probation officer, but now that she has come to her senses, she writes contemporary and paranormal romance on the steamy side. It's *much* more fun. She's also an unabashed rock music enthusiast and lives in East Texas with her husband and two kids.
You can visit her at http://www.cherrielynn.com She loves hearing from readers!
Read an Excerpt
"Damn, damn, damn." Maddie staggered on her heels as she scurried down the sidewalk. She was late again. Again. How the hell it had happened, she had no idea, but David was not going to be thrilled. She could almost hear his reprimand echoing in her head.
She rounded a corner and the restaurant swung into view, separated from her by a steady whizzing stream of city traffic. With her gaze anxiously locked on the red Do Not Walk light, she reached the post and furiously thumbed the button.
"Come on, come on." Her newly reset watch read seven twenty-one. Over twenty minutes late. Oh, forget not thrilled — David was going to be livid. She'd tried to call his cell, but he hadn't answered. Whether he'd silenced it out of respect for the other restaurant patrons or he was just ignoring her, she didn't know.
David seemed to care an awful lot about what other people thought of him ...except, it seemed, for her. Their entire relationship was balanced on a knife's edge, teetering toward the side of peril all the time. She feared one nudge might send it crashing, but she was probably only being paranoid. God knew it wouldn't be the first time.
Tonight, she'd been hoping they could talk about what they could do to change things. She was going to tell him how wretched he'd been making her feel lately and, if all went well, they'd sort through it and end up back at his place. Laughing and watching old movies and making love all night, the way they used to in the beginning, when things were good.
Well, that was the fantasy. Now it was shot all to hell.
The light changed and she all but sprinted across the street — as well as she could in these freaking heels, anyway. She was accustomed to sneakers and flip-flops, and already her arches were screaming, "Woman, are you insane?"
Her mad dash up the steps took what remaining breath she had, and she could hardly tell the host that she was meeting someone who'd already arrived. What if David had grown tired of waiting around and left? Oh God, that would be so humiliating. But she couldn't say she'd blame him.
A sigh of relief escaped her after she told the man David's name and he turned to lead her toward the back of the restaurant, in the direction of their favorite table. Whew, he was still here. Fuming, no doubt, but depending on his mood, he might get over it in a few minutes and they could enjoy their evening. He was a firm believer in punctuality and often chastised her about being one of the most unorganized people he'd ever met.
Well, she thought sadly, there was really no use denying it. It almost seemed as if something was preventing her from being anything other than a woman with a complete inability to get her shit together. As if some kind of cosmic prankster was constantly shadowing her, throwing monkey wrenches into her life. And it was all coming to a head, about to culminate in ... something. She didn't know what, but it was nothing good. All her life, she'd lived with the sense that the axe was poised and ready to fall. It was only a question of when and where and how many necks it was going to sever.
David's sandy-blond head came into view and she fortified her resolve with a deep breath as she stepped around the table and dropped into the chair the host pulled out for her, the apology already forming on her lips. When she lifted her gaze from David's slowly drumming fingers to the anger simmering in his eyes, the words died before she could lend them voice.
In her lap, she twisted her fingers together. She bit her lip for a second and tried again. "David, I'm —"
"What was it this time? Flat tire? Wardrobe malfunction? Alien abduction?"
All my clocks were wrong. All of them.
She knew how crazy it would make her sound if she spoke the truth, that she'd thought she was right on time until she left her apartment, got into her Jeep and saw the time on the radio display. Weird, she'd thought. It must've been running fast. Then she'd seen it on the sign as she drove past the bank up the street from her house. And heard the DJ say it on the radio.
Giving up on an explanation that would satisfy him, she shrugged. "All I can say is I'm sorry."
"It wouldn't be such a big deal if it didn't happen all the time."
"I get that you're upset, and I even deserve it, but don't you think we could talk about this some other —"
He seemed to pretend she wasn't even speaking. "I don't get you. The biggest problem is you're getting worse."
"I'm getting ... worse?"
"You're never on time, you're absentminded, clumsy, the nightmares are getting more intense and you're seeing things. I think it's time you went to talk to someone, Maddie. I mean it."
Her eyes flew wide and her fingers clamped together hard enough to nearly snap the bones. She found it impossible to swallow around the horror lodged in her throat. "You're saying you think I need a shrink? You think I'm crazy?"
"I didn't say you were crazy. Don't put words in my mouth."
"What else am I supposed to glean from that?" The truth was, given everything he'd just described, she would think the very same thing if their positions were reversed. That he needed help.
But she didn't like thinking about the nightmares. Or about some of the other things that had been happening. It was nothing she hadn't seen since she was a little girl, which was the reason she usually tried to turn a blind eye to it, but it was ... escalating. David confirming what she'd been thinking lately sent ice water trickling down her spine. And the thought of talking about it to someone, a stranger, made her break out in a cold sweat.
"The truth is, you're scaring the hell out of me, Maddie, and I just ..."
She cleared her throat, untangling her fingers to lift her linen napkin and smooth it over her lap. "Nothing is wrong with me. So I've been preoccupied lately. All the other weird stuff ... hasn't happened in a while." She dropped her gaze as she uttered the lie and took a sip of her water. "I think you're being unfair. I was running late. It doesn't mean I need a doctor or a therapist. So can we just forget it and enjoy ourselves tonight? I promise I'll do better next time."
Maddie got the distinct impression he wanted to slam his fist on the tabletop. His voice bordered on a hiss. She knew if they'd been alone, it would be a roar. "You promise that every time." Gathering his composure, he swept a gaze around at the other quietly dining patrons and leaned across the table toward her. "Look, it's not just the fact that you can't be on time to save your life. It's annoying, but I could deal with it. Last weekend when you stayed over ..." He broke off and shook his head, his handsome brow furrowed.
Last weekend when I stayed over, what? Did she want to know? No. She didn't.
"Just ... stop."
"Did I talk in my sleep again? Tell me that much. Is that it?"
"Yeah, you did. Something about someone coming for you. And you screamed, and you damn near beat the hell out of me when I tried to calm you down, and then you just went ... catatonic."
"Okay." She concentrated on keeping her breathing steady, placing her palms flat on the pristine white tablecloth. "I don't remember any of that." And he hadn't told her. He'd been up and gone to work by the time she'd awakened, and she'd simply gone home. They'd spoken since only to make these dinner plans, and even then, she realized, he'd been rather subdued on the phone.
She met his worried gaze with her own. "So I guess tonight is about you urging me to get psychiatric help." So much for her fantasy. His idea of how the evening would end probably involved her being carted away in a straitjacket.
"Regardless of what tonight is about, I want you to get help. You're scared too. Don't deny it. You know I'm right."
What did that mean? There was something he wasn't saying. She knew him well enough. He wasn't looking at her, but thumbing the tines of his fork. The silverware caught the soft golden candlelight and glinted. "And?" she prompted.
His brown eyes flickered up at her, and she read everything right there. Sadness, weariness ... resignation.
"Oh my God," she said softly. "You're leaving me."
He sighed. "This wasn't an easy decision to make."
"So this is your parting advice? 'Get your head checked and have a nice life'?"
"No, it's not like that at all."
"Then what's it like?"
"I'll always be here for you."
"Just like you're here for me now?"
"I have been here for you, dammit. Don't sit there and try to tell me I haven't. That time you called me freaking out in the middle of the night, didn't I come over, no matter what I had going on the next morning? You keep doing these things and denying there's a problem, and it's got to stop. Something is going on with you. You need to get it straightened out."
"I'll stop it, then," she said, hating herself. She'd hated herself for calling him like that then too. "I won't worry you anymore. I won't even mention anything is —"
"You'll keep on denying it? What if you — what if everything only gets worse? You'll just suffer in silence until you have some sort of breakdown?"
She opened her mouth, but snapped it closed when the waiter came by and asked for their orders. David muttered that they needed a few more minutes, and then they sat in painful silence while quiet conversations went on around them.
She didn't even tell him some of the things she went through, for the very reason that he was leaving her. Because she was afraid he'd think she was losing her mind. He thought she was crazy enough without her having to tell him about all the clocks tonight. That was a new one, though. She still couldn't believe it herself.
But there was one thing she had to know. She bit her lip, wanting like hell to keep the question in, but needing to get it out. "If I agreed tonight to do what you ask and talk to someone, would that change your mind?"
Again, he didn't have to reply. David had always been a fairly easy person to read. For some reason, the devastating truth she saw on his face only prompted her to keep talking, to keep hammering the nail into the coffin of their relationship.
"If I'd never had the first freaky thing happen to me since we met, is this about as long as we'd have lasted? Do you love me? Did you ever love me?"
"I care about you very much. I want only the best for you. And the best for you ... honey, it isn't me."
"Apparently it's a padded room."
"Don't do that."
"Just admit we'd be sitting here like this eventually, no matter what."
"If it makes you feel better to know that."
She couldn't contain a sharp bark of laughter that turned heads in their direction. David cringed as he noticed the attention. "I don't think better is quite the word I'd use," she said bitterly. "And that was a real shitty, cop-out thing for you to say, just for the record."
In the candlelight, she saw a muscle flex in his jaw. Which meant he was getting really pissed off. "I didn't want to do this here, Madeleine. That wasn't my intention. I didn't even necessarily want to do it tonight."
"Just choosing your moment to drop the ax? Hey, I get it. The sad thing is, I can't even blame you." She shrugged, trying to block out the sound of her blood rushing in her ears. Panic and horror, denial and defensiveness all warred for domination in her brain, leaving no room for rational thought. Snatching her purse off the floor, she flung the strap over her shoulder and stood.
David rose in front of her and stepped into her path, taking her arm. "Don't leave like this. We're here already ... we can still have an evening."
A pity date? Or just hanging out as friends? Was he serious? She jerked her arm from his grip. "Take your hand off me before I show you psycho right here in front of all these people."
He held up both hands, as if to say he surrendered. As if he truly believed she would go off and have a screaming fit in the middle of the restaurant. The scene around her began to blur, the pinpricks of candlelight in the votive cups becoming starbursts as tears filled her eyes. It wasn't fair that at that moment, he looked more beautiful to her than he ever had. There was a time she'd dreamed of marrying him, having the perfect house, the perfect family. Perfection, at long last. Denied yet again.
"Goodbye, David." She walked past him. He gave her a wide berth.
From the shadows, Ash watched her. She burst through the front doors of the restaurant and paused, one hand grasping the iron railing, the other flying to her mouth. For a moment, she stood and looked back at the door, then she raced down the steps, putting distance between herself and the establishment as fast as she could. Thunder rumbled overhead.
This could be it, if he wanted it to be. Her fate was in his hands now — it had been all of her life. Given her distraught state, one subtle manipulation of the stoplights and she could get hit by a car as she crossed the street. He could take her that way, or he could walk up to her, stand face-to-face. Look into her eyes and drag her soul out of her body with one touch. He hadn't decided yet. Either way, it would put an end to all these centuries of wanting her. She'd be his at last, for eternity.
So vibrant. Sometimes a soul shined so brightly it was given more than one turn on the earth because of all the good it could do. So pure and good that his kind didn't stand a chance of corrupting it, or even dared to try.
She was one of those old souls. She'd had several cycles. He didn't know how or why she'd been given such a crap deal this time that he'd been able to find a weak spot to worm his way in, nor did he care. All along, he'd known if he just had a little patience, an opportunity like Maxwell Gatlin would finally present itself.
Invisible as the sudden gust of wind from the approaching spring storm, Ash moved up beside her as she stood at the corner, and stared at her profile. It could have come from a delicate eighteenth century cameo. Silent tears streamed down her cheeks. A shiver racked her and she rubbed her bare arms, almost as if she sensed his presence there ... and perhaps she did. She paid the tears no heed, not bothering to wipe them or hide them from other pedestrians. Someone asked her if she was okay; she dismissed the question with a curt nod. The light changed, and she stepped off the curb into the street.
No. Not this way. He didn't understand it himself, but she held such fascination for him, he was content to simply follow her. Watch her. Bide his time until she was ripe for plucking. How and when he would know that, he wasn't sure ... but he would.
"So here we are again. When do you plan to take her?"
The crystal clear voice sounded at his back just as a deluge fell from the sky. Dammit. He was currently invisible to the humans, so if someone was speaking to him, that only meant ...
He turned and squinted at the blindingly white figure standing behind him. Robes, wings, faint halo, the whole bit — all of it completely unaffected by the sheets of rain sweeping down from the sky. The entire angelic getup was so melodramatic, it always made him smirk. "I was wondering when you might decide to show up."
The angel's gaze followed Madeleine's progression across the street, sadness glinting in the blue depths of his eyes. Ash never could remember their damned names. He never uttered them anyway, so it made no difference.
Ash turned his back on the winged being, summarily dismissing him. "You're wasting your time with this one. I've been waiting eons for this, as you know, and nothing is going to deter me. So, save your breath. And your prayers. Don't even think about seeking outside assistance. She's mine."
"There isn't one thing that could persuade you to —"
"No. Not one, not one million. Not for all the stars in the universe would I trade her."
The angel huffed. "At least give her more time."
"For what? For you to slink around and try to sabotage me? I'm afraid your appearance has only made me realize I'd better act fast. Perhaps tonight ... as she sleeps. I'll simply rip her soul out, take her home. Show her what she's been missing all these centuries."
"She has done nothing to deserve this. I suppose telling you how disgusting you are ..."
"Makes no fucking difference whatsoever. Fly away, now." He set out across the street himself, following Madeleine's hurried steps before she could round the corner up ahead.
"This won't be the last you see of me, demon."
"You'll be too late."
"I doubt that."
When Ash turned to inquire what the angel meant by that pompous, all-too-knowing retort, there was no one behind him. Nimble bastards.
He didn't have time to puzzle over it. Madeleine's heels were clicking away toward the parking garage. Well, he'd show that haloed freak. He'd take her right now.
Excerpted from "Far from Heaven"
Copyright © 2011 Cherrie Lynn.
Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
I loved this book! I am a hopeless romantic, and can't help but love the most unlikely of pairs making it. Cherrie Lynn always seems to be able to tell a story that can't help but hook the reader into the characters and the surrounding elements of the story.
I loved this book and cant wait to read more hopefully from Ms Lynn. The world building was great and the characters are fantastic! Ash's live for Maddie was sweet and heart wrenching. Awesome book!