So, because I love getting Reviewers Choice awards and because pretty silver ribbons across my book covers makes my heart sing, I thought I'd share the excerpt with you here:
Samael stared bitterly into the pool, seeing now only his own reflection, and the blackness that surrounded him, as always.
Ariadne turned away, heading back into her cave, and he let her go, knowing himself a fool for wishing for things he could never have. Nicki Styx was beyond his reach, and part of him, Darkness help him, was grateful for it.
He stayed by the pool a long time, soaking in the quiet. There were no further visions, and he didn’t expect them—the pool revealed what it wanted to reveal, when it wanted to reveal it, and he had long ago ceded control of its moods to Ariadne. She was the Weaver, farseeing and complex, and the black pool her familiar. He did not begrudge it, for he had plenty of familiars of his own.
After a time, in no hurry to return to the eyes that watched him constantly in Sheol, he climbed the narrow path that led from the cavern into the bright light of day, thinking he might wander down to the sea and watch the waves beat against the cliffs. Ariadne’s isle was isolated, a hard little rock in a chain of larger rocks, remote from the rest of the world. He’d brought his favorite pair of Ray-Bans just for the occasion, and slipped them on just as he reached the top.
“What do you think you’re doing, Samael?”
Sammy whirled, shocked to hear another voice. He’d been coming to this island for millennia, and never seen another soul save that of the Weaver’s. His old friend Gabriel stood at the head of the path, emanating light, radiating disapproval.
“What the hell are you doing here?” Samael snapped, not at all pleased to see him.
“I’m here to speak with you,” Gabe said, taking a step forward. “Without your army of darkness behind you, hiding in the shadows.”
Sammy drew in a breath, reining his temper. “How did you find me?” he demanded.
“You’re not the only one who knows of this place—we found it together, remember?”
He remembered. They’d circled it, eons ago, he and Gabriel, on a beautiful day just like this one, sea winds holding them aloft, the sun warm on their wings. The skies surrounding them had been cloudless, but a gray fog had clung to the island, shrouding it, marking it as different. It had appeared so barren, yet so alive; its sinister aspect had drawn him like a lodestone. Gabriel hadn’t wanted to explore, but Samael had been unable to resist. He’d come back one day, alone, and it had been then that he’d met the old woman who lived in the cavern, and learned for the first time that he and his brothers were not the only immortal creatures in the universe.
“What do you want, Gabriel?” he asked shortly.
“I want to know what you’re doing to Faith McFarland,” Gabe answered grimly. “You were supposed to help her, to look out for her—instead, you’ve turned her into a thief.”
Sammy felt his temper rising—he answered to no one. “And a whore,” he agreed, flatly. “I made her into a whore, too. Don’t forget that part.”
Gabriel’s eyes flashed, for even angels were capable of anger, particularly when it was on someone else’s behalf.
“You were supposed to stay out of it, mind your own business, remember?” Sammy ignored Gabriel’s anger, and brushed past him to the head of the path, following it downward to the sea. “She’s unharmed, and the boy is in remission. More importantly, we agreed to do things my way.”
“You could heal the boy in an instant,” Gabriel stated, stopping him in his tracks.
“True,” he agreed, eyeing Gabriel over his shoulder. “Is that what guardian angels are supposed to do? Remove every trial from life and grant every wish as though they were someone’s fairy godmother?”
Gabriel made an exasperated noise, and Sammy knew he’d made his point. He turned and started again down the path. A moment later he heard the clatter of stone as his former comrade followed. They made their way in silence, single-file down a narrow track through the rocks. Soon the scent of the sea surrounded them, clean and sharp, and their ears became filled with the rumble of crashing waves, growing louder until they reached the end of the path, which opened onto an empty beach.
There Sammy stopped, feeling the wind whip through his hair, watching and listening to the thundering waves. The wind and the waves did only as they pleased. Nature had no need of a conscience, and neither did he.
It was several minutes before Gabriel, who watched the waves in silence beside him, finally spoke. “What are you up to, brother?”
His anger had passed, or Sammy might’ve struck him for using the word. As it was, he merely shrugged, still watching the waves, and stated, “I’m helping her. Her son is home from the hospital, isn’t he?”
“You’re using the child to get something you want. That was never part of the bargain.”
“Speak to me not of bargains,” Sammy said, not realizing how he’d fallen into a much older speech pattern, “for you know nothing of them. Everything you have has been given to you with an open hand.” He demonstrated, opening a hand to the cool touch of the wind, though his eyes stayed on the waves. “Beloved of the One, the universe your playground,” he added, without heat. “You know nothing of struggle, of pain, or of loss.”
“That’s not true,” Gabriel said firmly, but Sammy chose not to hear him, listening only to the crash and boom of the sea, pounding stubbornly against the rocks that surrounded the island.
“I told you I would do this thing my way,” Samael repeated, keeping his eyes on the ocean. “Go back where you belong, Gabriel, and don’t come here again.”
Gabriel’s laughter took him by surprise. “I’m not one of your servants, Samael.” He shook his head, apparently amazed by his old friend’s arrogance. “You do not command me. You reign within your hidden temple, and you play at evil among the shades of dead while you torment the living, but mostly you just hide—you hide from the One and you hide from yourself.” The angel took a step back, unfurling his wings. The sea winds caught them, buffeting the edge of his feathers, bearing him aloft, where he drifted. “We are brothers still, born of the same womb, that of the infinite universe. You hate me now for what I am, as I hate what you have become, but our fates will always be entwined.” The winds bore him higher, out of reach. “For that reason, and that reason alone, I give sway here today. Do what you will with Faith McFarland, at least for now, but do not disappoint me, my brother.”
Then he dissolved in a burst of light that made Sammy shield his eyes, despite the Ray Bans.
“Showoff,” Sammy muttered, beneath his breath, then turned back to the waves, letting them sooth the jealousy that had speared his veins at the sight of Gabe’s feathers, fluttering in the wind. The wind taunted him by bringing one of them to rest in the sand near his feet, where without hesitation, he crushed it beneath his heel.