Cover art: Anna Reith
Length: short fiction / 11,000 words
Published by: Lydian Press
Before the Fall of Lucifer, Heaven was at peace. Two angels knew perfect love, until the rebellion parted them.
Banished to Hell for his role in the plot, fallen angel Xaphan is doomed to tempt and seduce human souls while, high above, Hael, his former lover, is supposed to be the angel of kindness who brings compassion into their world. Both are unhappy with their lot, but a meeting with one human soul will change their lives forever.
Excellent read. Beautiful. I’ve never read anything by M. King before but if this is any indication of her quality, I’m all in. ~ reader review, goodreads.com
AFTER THE FALL
No-one could be blamed for the way things had ended.
That much had to be made clear from the beginning. Both sides agreed to the bargain; far better than risking thousands of years of ill feeling, pitting each side against the other, staining the seeds of future generations with anger and guilt. No. It was supposed to be amicable…but the wreckage love leaves behind it is seldom benign, and there had been no love fiercer than theirs.
Hael sat, high above everything, watching the world below him seethe like an anthill, or perhaps like the twinkling, coiling gasses of a nursery of stars. He’d seen both before, and marveled at their similarity. Of course, God had a knack for things of that nature, though humans rarely noticed.
They were strange things, in Hael’s opinion. They pressed on with their lives—constant motion, constant movement, their little hearts throbbing away—and never once really stopped to consider the immense, complicated, ineffable pattern of which they were part. Perhaps they couldn’t. Perhaps they hadn’t been made that way.
It wouldn’t surprise him.
After the Fall, God had tweaked the design a little; stopped keying in those parts of the genetic code that encouraged too much questioning, too much doubt.
Sapiens v.2.0: now with forty percent less inherent disbelief!
Ideal for all your blind worship needs.
Of course, it had really only counted as a fit of pique on the Almighty’s part but—with the way humans bred—that trait had filtered through a great part of their population far quicker than even You Know Who had probably anticipated. So many of them now, and they didn’t think, didn’t feel…didn’t love.
Hael exhaled slowly. Breathing. It was a luxury, a habit he shouldn’t keep up, but he enjoyed it. Once—such a long time ago, now—he’d enjoyed so many other things humans took for granted, too.
Things had been good then. Heaven had been a beautiful place, though not perfect. Nothing’s perfect—and nothingness is no place to spend an eternity.
He closed his eyes, the whispers of fingertips ghosting his cheeks, the memories of lips pressed against his neck. Sometimes, in quiet moments like these, he could almost believe they were still together. He held the breath he didn’t need to take, savoring the imagined swell of kisses.
They’d made love almost everywhere. The tops of mountains, caught between the crags of rocks and the velvet sky, and the depths of oceans, beneath green crystal waves that towered over them in perfect moments of suspended bliss. His fingers buried in another’s russet hair, his lips crushed against another’s aching, wet mouth…his pulsing cock embedded in a body so much like his own. He could hear, if he tried, the sounds of hard muscle and lean flesh slamming against his, feel the pounding of another’s spirit pressed close to his own chest.
Xaphan. His alpha, his omega, and his unending obsession.
The smell of his skin, the taste of him. That singular moment when he opened his eyes wide, his lips bowed around an unutterable word, as if every time it surprised him. His agony and his ecstasy, splattered out between them, and those extended seconds of wondrous amazement when he’d look down at himself, and then laugh, breaking the tension and wrapping them even closer together. That smile, rising from the still waters of his handsome face, sculpted by a divine hand with such tender respect for details—and Hael remembered every detail, even though he wished he did not.
His eyes, the length of his lashes, the creases around his mouth and nose…the dimples in his cheeks when he laughed, like he did in those secret, cherished moments. The sense of earnest urgency about him in other times. How he could plunder new sensations from Hael’s body, rip the most sacred pleasures from him and make them profane, make him scream and cuss and beg, sweat-drenched and trembling, ready to endure anything except letting him go.
Anything but that.
Xaphan had always been a rebel. In those ancient days—when the world was less rimed with people, less clogged with their dark, metallic footsteps—they would swoop through cloudless skies together, shirking the duties they should have been heeding. They would sneak away from the Presence, from the eternal, changeless bliss of paradise, and skirt the fringes of a world not made for them.
Once, Xaphan led him into the dark heart of Eden.
The people were long gone by then and the garden had returned to itself, overgrown and humid with a primordial heat. They fucked right beneath the Tree of Knowledge, its bark digging in to the tender place between Hael’s wings. His arms wrapped around Xaphan’s neck, legs clasped around his waist; he remembered shouting until he grew hoarse, the whole valley ringing with the cries of their union. Afterwards, spent and sticky but so very far from sated, they lay in the grass betwixt those fibrous roots. Xaphan reached out one careless hand, picked a windfall fruit from the ground and brought it to his lips.
Hael remembered the gasp he gave, the way he moved so fast to catch his lover’s wrist. Xaphan just smiled—that smile that thrilled, burned and broke Hael from the core of his soul outwards—and opened his mouth. His long, pointed, pink tongue slowly touched the fruit’s dusky surface, tracing the soft swelling roundness as he held it in his long, slim fingers.
Don’t. Please, don’t.