A prince of the fallen angels searches for a weapon to destroy the demon who has abducted his boyfriend. Unfortunately, the murderous king also desires Death's scythe. The prince fears becoming a monster like his father, but he will do anything to save his lover.
Prince Atticus Diamond, the heir to the Turiel Dynasty, endured a childhood of trauma and tough love at the hands of his father. King Lucius taught his son the most ruthless lesson of all—that no evil is too great when committed in the pursuit of power.
Determined not to become a monster like his sire, Atticus has devoted himself to rejecting his inheritance. As a boy, he secretly helped another prince escape the brutal massacre that claimed the lives of the Remiel royal family.
Fate is a twisted bitch, though. Sixteen years later, Atticus falls for the prince he saved, except they're not boys anymore. Grown-up and gorgeous, Finn is hedonistic and impulsive—Atticus's polar opposite. Given that their families are bitter enemies, their star-crossed affair appears doomed from the onset.
When a demon captures Finn, Atticus must employ the entirety of his willpower and guile to beat King Lucius at his own game. With the help of his sister and friends, Atticus undertakes a quest for the lost pieces of Death's scythe.
This adventure can only end up in one place—the belly of the beast. Atticus will rescue Finn or die trying.
A Time to Reap is gay supernatural suspense and a StoryBundle exclusive. The book was conceived when I needed a break from penning pirate adventures of my antihero Captain Jayden Hook. Real-life factors weighed heavily on the decision, too. My family relocated to the Pacific Northwest in 2020, a yearlong journey smack dab in the middle of the pandemic. Last January, we settled in our new home on breathtaking Fidalgo Island in Washington state.
Finally, I had time to write again—a fresh start.
As I contemplated how to get my creative juices flowing again, I found myself revisiting my original urban fantasy series—a novel about fallen angels. Around the same time, an urban fantasy reader spoke passionately about the scarcity of gay protagonists in modern fantasy fiction. Thus, A Time to Reap caught fire in my imagination. Words poured onto the page as if my heroes' story was writing itself.
I dedicate A Time to Reap to my loved one, who is my muse.
A Time to Reap is the first book in the Novel of the Fallen Angels series. – Melissa Snark
Observation platform of the Storm Tower, Fallen City
A dark and stormy August night
Finn Whitlock staggered from the elevator into the alcove on the skyscraper's observation platform. The solid stainless steel doors hummed then closed behind him. Dead on his feet, he teetered on the verge of collapse and slumped against the textured concrete wall of the archway.
Black clouds cloaked the sky, and thunder rumbled among the forest of towering buildings. The nook only provided minimal protection from the elements. A fierce wind whipped his leather duster about his lean frame. The cold chafed his thin, translucent skin, but the discomfort barely penetrated his bone-weary exhaustion. Shivering, he turned up his collar and pulled his jacket closer to keep warm.
Despite his misery, an overwhelming sense of relief left him lightheaded. "I made it. The demon can't follow me here. The wards will protect me," Finn said aloud because he couldn't quite believe it. "Safe. I'm finally safe, and I only had to break into a vampire stronghold to get here."
"Safe is not a word I would use for Storm Tower," said the muffled voice of Josie, his virtual assistant.
Fumbling a bit, he reached into his duster and fished the phone from his pocket. "Have we been detected?"
Finn shuddered to imagine the future that awaited him if the vampires caught him trespassing in their stronghold. Torture or death was preferable to the harrowing fate of being consumed by the Soul Eater.
"I don't think so," Josie said with a hint of uncertainty.
Finn hesitated. "How's your upload going?"
"Data transfer of my encrypted files is ninety-one percent complete."
He rolled his eyes. "What about your consciousness?"
Josie snorted. "My consciousness is already fully transferred. I did that first, silly goose."
"Silly goose," he repeated, chuckling even though it wasn't that funny.
Then, a switch flipped in his brain, and he dissolved into a bout of maniacal laughter that left him holding his sides and howling. To any sane person, he would indeed have appeared to be a maniac, which suited his mood just fine. Every madman needed some bats in the belfry, and besides, the weather couldn't have been more perfect.
Just then, his phone rang, and Josie announced, "Atticus Diamond is calling."
Finn stopped laughing as abruptly as he'd begun. Transfixed, he stared at the ruggedly handsome face of his boyfriend—ex-boyfriend?—the Nephilim prince of the Turiel Dynasty.
Months ago, Finn had edited-while-drunk Atticus's contact information to read "My Mountain Man." He'd never gotten around to correcting it, never wanted to because those three short, sweet words were the poetry in his heart.
The phone rang again.
"Would you like me to block him?" Josie asked in a tone soft with sympathy.
In a flare of anger, Finn stabbed the screen, sending the call directly to voicemail. He regretted it immediately, but there were no takebacks. All the weeks he'd spent studiously evading Atticus—undone in a hot second.
Josie groaned. "Uh-oh."
"God's wounds." The curse exploded from him. As a scion of the archangel Remiel, Finn committed blasphemy when he profaned God in this way. He smacked his forehead with an open hand in self-punishment. "I messed up big time, Josie. Atticus is going to know I'm dodging him."
"Maybe he'll miss it."
"Atticus is an earth Elementalist. He's dense but not that dense." The corner of Finn's mouth curved cynically. He rummaged through his pockets for his earbuds and put them on before tucking his phone away.
"Maybe this is for the best," Josie said. "The way you ended things with Atticus was abrupt. Now, you can call back and say goodbye. Closure—"
"No! I don't want to say goodbye. There's no closure to be had because it's not over. We can't end like this." An awkward silence followed his outburst, and he tasted bittersweet regret. "I'm sorry, Josie. I shouldn't be taking my frustration out on you."
"Please don't apologize. I understand."
Intense disappointment led him to ask, "Atticus hasn't tried to call back?"
"No, but it's three a.m. Remember, Atticus is a morning person."
Finn chuckled. "How could I forget? All those times I complained about his crack-of-dawn workouts." Right now, he'd give anything to be there again—waking up warm and snug in their bed to clanging weights and classic rock 'n roll blasting in the next room.
"Are you sure you don't want me to call him back?" Josie asked in what Finn privately called her "mom" voice.
"No, it's better this way," he lied with a tight throat and unshed tears in his eyes.
Distressed agitation drove Finn out into the storm. A gale wind beat down as if trying to shove him back beneath the shelter. Raindrops splattered his head and shoulders. A severe downpour would ruin his metallic blue mohawk, but he had long since passed caring about lousy hair. He forged ahead, tilting into the wind until he reached the waist-height guardrail. Standing on the lowest railing, he gripped the top and leaned out, staring down into the hundred-plus-story abyss.
A frigid updraft rose through the chasm, drowning out the clamor in the streets far below. The frostiness turned his skin blue and caused his joints to ache, but a temptation kept him perched on the ledge. One short jump, one long fall, and all his troubles could be over. He had spent the last three weeks living life on the run, unable to contact his friends or his ex-lover for fear of putting them in danger. Finn was tired and not just physically but in every sense of the word—mentally, emotionally, and spiritually. It would be so nice to put an end to it all.
In Death's arms, he could finally rest.
But I never told Atticus that I love him or how grateful I am for all the times he's saved me. If I kill myself, he'll never know, and he deserves to hear it from me. Those reasons kept him from going over, but a thousand more motives for surviving flooded his mind—all the things he loved and enjoyed—everything he would miss out on or never experience.
Besides, twenty-five was too young to die.
Resolve fortified his will. Filling his lungs with breath, he raised his face, gazing up and out. The city of lights burned like a galaxy, but a void of darkness lay beyond the fortress of sea walls holding the hungry ocean at bay. A glorious panorama of the metropolis stretched for miles. One of those distant, burning points was Atticus. Whether their relationship survived trauma and abandonment remained to be seen. Regardless, Finn respected and admired the Turiel prince more than any other. Atticus would never take the coward's way out. He would fight to the bitter end with every iota of strength he possessed, and so should Finn.
Finn stepped off the guardrail, dropping to the ground. Right as he let go, an all too familiar tingling started in his throat. He wanted to scream, "No, now's not the time for a vision! Not in vampire central." However, Prophecy picked its own time and place, not the other way around. As the great-grandson of the archangel Remiel, Finn could no more deny his bloodline's divine gift than abstain from breathing. Tremendous pressure coalesced in his chest, and his blood howled. A heavenly fire ignited in his heart, blazing through his translucent flesh.
A harrowing glimpse of the immediate future clobbered him like a cudgel. For a heartbeat, he lost touch with the external world. Time stopped, and the vision became his entire reality. Inky darkness. Thrashing tentacles. Scorching heat and acidic fumes. The demon's skin bulged with the hands and faces of tortured souls she'd consumed, all straining to claw their way to freedom. The tormented screams of the Damned pierced the night.
At the center of Hell, surrounded by an ocean of flames, stood a gleaming Pearl. Finn didn't understand what it meant yet, but he knew two things he accepted on blind faith. First, The Pearl promised sanctuary and protection. Second, Finn needed to grant Atticus a vision.
The foresight ended when his boots hit the ground. His legs went out from under him, and Finn collapsed to a heap on the icy cement. He had no idea how long he lay there. When he finally came around, teeth-clattering shivers wracked his body.
Josie's perky voice filled his hearing. "As I have explained six times already, Your Royal Hiney—I mean Highness—my privacy settings are active. I cannot provide the information you seek."
Is she talking to me? Groggy, Finn opened his mouth to ask, but then Atticus's deep voice boomed like thunder.
"Give me your GPS coordinates now, or I'll feed you to an incinerator."
Finn couldn't help but smile despite everything because it was so typical of Atticus to issue commands, fully expecting the universe to obey. Simultaneously, Finn shook his head to clear the cobwebs. He hadn't instructed Josie to call Atticus. Was this a dream?
"Has it occurred to you that threatening to destroy me isn't the smartest way of convincing me to disclose our location?" Josie asked.
"Fuck," Atticus muttered. "Josie, all I want is to help Finn. You say he's in trouble, yet you refuse to give me anything useful. Why did you even bother calling? You're not self-aware enough to be this stupid."
"And your family tree is a circle."
"Will both of you please shut the hell up?" Finn demanded, and to his surprise, they both obliged. He savored the satisfaction.
Atticus chanted, "Finn? Finn!"