Reaper Unhinged (Deadside Reapers #6) - Debbie Cassidy

Chapter One

The kitchen island in the pack house was the only lit part of the ground floor in the hours before dawn. Sleep had been elusive of late, but I wasn’t alone in my predawn vigil and that was a great comfort.

“Are you sure about this?” Cora asked for the umpteenth time. “I can go back to the Underealm and check if Mal’s back. You have no idea what you’ll be walking into.”

Purgatory. That’s what I’d be walking into. Malachi’s territory. His domain. He knew the place inside out. I’d hoped he’d be able to come with me. Help me find the Edge, where the cores of the purest souls were held prisoner, but he wasn’t at the Keep.

He and Azazel were scouring the Underealm, looking for Lilith.

I stared into my empty coffee mug. “We can’t wait any longer. I can’t expect Mal to drop the search for Lilith to come and help us.”

Grayson topped up my mug and then took the seat beside me, but even his reassuring heat couldn’t chase away the chill that seemed to cling to my veins ever since the Dread attack on Deadside and the Dominion angel’s, Cassius’, revelations.

I’d been stupid to send Cora to fetch Mal from the Underealm. Mal and Azazel needed to focus on finding Lilith. If they failed, Mammon would take over the Underealm, and if that happened, saving the Beyond would mean nothing, because there was no doubt in my mind that Mammon’s greed would bring him into the earthly realm sooner rather than later. The demon wanted power. He wanted everything, and the Underealm wouldn’t be enough for him. However, if I didn’t find a way to save the Beyond, there would be nothing for him to come for. Earth, along with every living creature on it, would cease to exist.

We needed to handle Purgatory and finding a new power source for the Beyond without Mal or Azazel.

“Seraphina won’t be alone,” Uri said to Cora. “I’ll keep her safe.”

“Have you been to Purgatory before?” Grayson asked him.

“No, but celestials cannot be corrupted by malignant spirits.”

I gave him a skeptical look. “Really? Then why is the Eye still active? Why haven’t the celestials done away with the malignant spirits that live there?”

He pressed his lips together. “It isn’t the malignant that we shy away from, it’s the rift you call the Eye. The forces within are unlike anything we’ve ever experienced. The celestials who ventured forth never returned, and so we steer clear. However, Purgatory was created by the Beyond. You will be safe with me.”

I believed in him. “I trust you.”

He’d gone to great lengths to protect me. Allowing himself to be tortured, having his wings ripped from his body rather than give his celestial captors my name. I trusted him with my life.

I owed him my life.

He had a little color back in his cheeks now, and the wounds on his back had healed, all except the spots where his wings had been. Those wounds were deeper than the rest. They’d take more time. Petra had applied bandages to prevent infection even though I wasn’t sure celestials could get infections. I was still getting used to his slightly longer hair and the five o’clock shadow he was sporting. It made him look dangerous; that, coupled with the clothes Grayson had loaned him, made him look like part of my pack.

I blinked to dispel the possessive thought. I was grateful, that was all. He’d brought us the truth. And I cared about him as a friend. Hell, the last couple of days I’d been afraid the Beyond would cut him off from the celestial power like they’d done the Dread, but they hadn’t. I guess now that our worlds were on the verge of going to shit, they didn’t see the point in locking him out. The cat was out of the bag, so to speak. We knew the truth about the Beyond, how they were using souls to power their realm and how the earthly realm was connected to their world. If the Beyond fell, then so would earth.

“Why hasn’t Cassius gotten back to us yet?” Cora asked Uriel.

The celestial shrugged. “I have no idea. He’s an upper-level celestial. We run in different circles, literally. He’d have to get a meeting with the Righteous and petition for the information. I’m sure he’s doing his best.”

But it had been seventy-two hours since we’d last spoken to him. He needed to speed shit up. If what he said was true,