*Can be read as a stand alone. Save My Soul is book 1*
"Promise me something," I said when I was able to draw a steady breath.
"Anything," she said sleepily.
"No." I took her chin and tilted her face up to me. "Promise me that, when we get your soul back, you will join me in Heaven. I must hear you promise that to me, Abbi," I said and waited. I knew she had said she would try, but that wasn't at all good enough for me. I would not lose her, and I needed her to know how serious I was about fighting for her. Her eyes clouded over and I could see her closing in on herself. I knew she hadn't ever thought we would win the battle against Lucifer. "Say it, Abbi. I swear to you that I will not stop until you are safely out of here, but I can't do my part if you won't do yours. I need to know you love me that much, that you won't give up on me, that you won't give up on us, again. I'd go through Hell a thousand times for you as long as you never give up on me. I won't allow him to win, but you have got to be on my side--"
"I swear it!" she shouted to shut me up, then she smiled before raising up and kissing my lips softly. "I promise not to give up again," she said in a softer tone. "I will ask forgiveness and go to Heaven with you, Rhyan. I promise."
I drew in a deep breath, then let it slowly seep out. "Thank you." The feeling was amazing. I was finally convinced my luck was changing for the better. We'd found our Heaven.
The clearing of a throat alerted us and we both shot upright. I risked a glance at Abbi when the tall dark male only stared at her with a blank expression. Her face was a mask of horror and she was ghost-white pale. Her breath trembled, her body shook and she fisted the sheet up around her neck in an attempt to hide her nakedness.
"I'm dying to hear how you plan to do that, sweetheart," Lucifer said calmly, then let the corner of his lip curve up in a sneer.
The instant I realized who had interrupted us, I grabbed Abbi and attempted to pull her behind me.
Muddled shock and confusion filled my head as she was suddenly jerked from my grasp and I was flung across the room like a rag doll after playtime was over. The breath was knocked from my lungs as my back slammed into the rock mantel above the fireplace. I didn't even recall hitting the floor, but that is where I was lying when my eyes flew open and my first gasping breath was drawn.
My vision was distorted, and I was seeing two of Lucifer as he held my Abbi threateningly in his arms.
He kissed her temple as he glared at me.
"Get up, you fool, and defend her!" Lucifer shouted at me as I staggered to my feet.
"Holy crap, Rhyan! You were supposed to yell at me when you needed help. How'd you get yourself into this mess?" Malcolm said in my head, but I ignored him. I couldn't concentrate on Lucifer's massive arm around Abbi's neck and have a mental conversation with my guardian angel at the same time. My brain was still bouncing around my skull like a marble in a pinball machine.
"Rhyan, get out of--" Abbi started, but her words choked off in a gurgling, immediate end.
"Either help me or get out of my head, Malcolm. How do I get her away from him?"
"Let her free, demon!" I demanded through a clenched jaw. "She is my wife, and she is leaving with me."
I shook my head and stumbled toward them like a drunken Irishman at a Guinness festival. He would not hurt her. I can't let him hurt her. I promised I would never let him hurt her again.
"I don't know, Rhyan. I hadn't planned for you to run into him so soon. Offer him a deal. Lucifer never backs away from a gamble."
"What kind of deal?" I asked, confused.
Lucifer's laugh was wicked and unnerving as I stumbled into a small table that had been placed at the end of the plush couch. I clumsily righted the piece of furniture, then looked up to see his hand gestured toward me and his attention focused on Abbi. "If I'd only known this was what you were dispirited about when you entered my home over three centuries ago, I would have just left you to suffer in your misery. Yet, I took a liking to you and erased your past." She didn't try to respond. "He is weak, Abigail! Can't you see that? He is no match for me, and you know I will not let you go."
"I don't know. Um..." Malcolm started, but I knew exactly what I needed to do to keep my promise to Abbi.
"Would you let her go if I won her soul in a fair game?" I asked Lucifer.
He turned from her to glare at me, but there was something in his eyes that led me to believe he wanted me to continue.
"Rhyan, what are you doing?" Malcolm asked, but I ignored him. I'm sure he could read plainly in my thoughts what I was about to do.
"Don't hurt her. Don't touch her--"
"You want to challenge me in a battle? I don't see how that could ever be fair on your part, but I accept."
"No." I shook my head, speaking aloud to both Malcolm and Lucifer. My balance and vision were rapidly getting better. I felt steadier on my feet and there was only one of the damned fallen angels in the room with me and Abbi now. "Not a physical fight between you and me. I have no powers, abilities or weapons to assure it a fair fight against you. I'm not seeking a challenge with you physically, but perhaps if I complete certain tasks, chosen by you, of course, I win Abbi's soul and she goes free...with me."
"And if you don't complete said tasks? What do I get for your failure?" He loosened his hold around Abbi's neck and rubbed the back of his fingers gently over her cheek. "She is so beautiful. Don't you agree? A prize this grand would have to have an equal or greater value for me to be interested in gambling her."
"Rhyan, stop! This is not what I meant for you to do. There are other ways. We will figure out another way!" Malcolm shouted in my head, making the pounding headache from my mild concussion that much worse.
"Hush, Malcolm, you're giving me a migraine. I have to do what is necessary to save her. I will not fail."
"I will willingly give you my soul."
"Nooo!" Abbi screamed.
"No!" Malcolm shouted.
I couldn't listen to them. I had to do what my instincts were demanding that I do. I knew it was the only way. There was no time to ponder and figure out another way. My eyes never left Lucifer's, and I watched as his eyebrows popped up.
"I'm intrigued. A pure soul given willingly, to do with as I please, would be a true treasure, even more so than this little gem," he looked down at Abbi's weeping eyes, "although, if you lose, I will get to keep you both."
"Don't do this, Rhyan! You can't even imagine the power he will gain from getting a pure soul given to him willingly. You cannot make a deal like this with the devil. You will not win!"
"I will not fail, Malcolm."
Without looking away from Abbi, Lucifer smiled, then continued with the impossible task I would need to complete in order to leave Hell with her at my side. "There are seven sydes of Hell. Your quest is to find a way out of each one of them. If you can do that, then I will give her the soul and you are both free to go."
"Jesus," Malcolm sighed in my head.
My heart was racing because I felt the tasks would be impossible to complete. Nobody had ever found a way out of Hell before, much less seven of them.
"Hell, at least ask for supplies to help you though the sydes, Rhyan."
"And you are not to touch her again with even a gentle hand, not that I'm suggesting you have one of those, unless I give up and declare defeat. Nobody is to hurt her."
As if in agreement with my terms, Lucifer immediately released Abbi from his hold. She ran to my arms in a tangled mess of hair and tears. I hugged her tight to me and whispered positive words in her ear while Lucifer looked upon us expressionless.
"Say it!" I shouted at him.
"I'll do you one better than that." He held out his hand and a scroll appeared atop his palm. He tossed the coiled parchment through the air and I caught it with the hand I didn't have wrapped around my wife. "If you agree to what it says I will place my blood upon that canvas, and after you do the same the deal will be sealed and unbreakable for either of us."
"Who says? I am no fool."
"And I am no liar. I am now, and have always been, a man of my word." He smiled mischievously. "You can ask your Father about that."
I unrolled the scroll and read it. Everything we had said and agreed to was written there. There was even something added for my benefit: one object to help me on my way through each syde.
"You're helping me?"
He shook his head. "No. I just want to keep it interesting. I worry not that you should succeed."
Abbi's sobs grew louder and she clung to my naked body. "Don't agree to this, Rhyan. It's impossible."
I kissed her forehead and pulled her to me in a tight embrace. "Nothing is impossible when it comes to you. I love you. I will not break my promise. A thousand times, remember? Just don't give up on me. Don't give up on us. No matter what anyone tells you, I will be back for you and we are going to leave here...together."
"You have more faith than I do at the moment. You have no idea what you are about to agree to," Malcolm said.
"I'm hoping I have a guardian angel that will help me get through what I'm about to agree to.
"I'll do my best, brother; just don't give up, right?
I made eye contact with Lucifer. "Where do I sign?"
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