Sunday 11 December 2016

Greed's Charity by RA Pollard

 Title: Greed's Charity
Series: Seven Deadly Sins #1
By: R.A. Pollard
Publication Date: December 9, 2016
Genre: Paranormal Romance
Cover Design: Mayhem Cover Creations
Sin of Greed, Mammon, was sentenced to five centuries in an abyss of unending pain for a kiss and has now been released into a world he detests. His brothers cannot understand that Mammon is gone. All that remains is Greed. Isabelle has spent her life avoiding others and protecting her mind from being bombarded by the emotions around her. Now, despite the pain, she steps toward her future -- until an emerald-eyed demon blocks her path. As the flames of passion ignite between Greed and Isabelle, powerful forces move to rip them apart and destroy the world. They must fight this enemy of humanity while struggling to save the sliver of light that remains inside a demon's shattered soul.
Chapter One “Greed!” The voice dripped with rage, smothering all who heard in a blanket of terror. It ripped through the darkness, making lower demons cower in fear for their continued existence. When the Lord of the Underworld roared your name, you hid or welcomed oblivion. Seven flames wavered in the darkness, sparking and flickering in the black. Not a single one created light around it, yet each blazed with a blinding, horrifying glory. A low rumble began in the chamber; a flame of azure blue transformed into the shape of a man. His breathing was deep and fast, sweat covering his muscled chest, his eyes mirrored the blue of the fire now sinking into his flesh. He turned that gaze on a flame of emerald green. The roar that left him contained pure rage and unending fury. He tackled the sparkling green flame, ripping from it another male form. “Greed, you bastard! You pissed him off. Again!” Satanus, Sin of Wrath began to beat the male to the floor, fists delivering one crushing blow after another. His rage made the very air around him shimmer with pulsing heat. Behind him, three other flames of blood red, flickering silver, and glowing orange coalesced into human form. Eyes glowing, matching the fire that slowly seethed and retreated under their flesh. One flame of undulating gold expanded into a glowing mist and hovered in the corner. They all watched the Sins of Wrath and Greed fighting on the chamber floor. Greed let out a feral growl. Tired of being pummeled he rolled, pinning Satanus below him, delivering harsh blows of his own. Two pairs of arms grabbed him, pulling him off, another moving to stand between the two raging demons. “Lucifer! Unless you want to be my next target, get the fuck out of my way!” Waves of fury beat against flesh as Satanus stood, locking his murderous gaze upon his brother, Mammon, the Sin of Greed. Lucifer, Sin of Pride turned his blood-red eyes on Satanus, turning to fully face him. His long, white-blond hair laid pin straight over his shoulders, perfectly pristine, as the two squared off. “Father has summoned us. More to the point, he has summoned Mammon. So shall we continue to fight like beasts, or shall we answer his call?” As the leader of the Seven Deadly Sins, he spoke with utter confidence in every word that flowed from his mouth. Satanus glared at his leader. Behind him, Mammon gave a half smile and a wave, emerald eyes mocking him. Roaring, Satanus charged toward him. Lucifer lifted his fist and stuck with pinpoint accuracy, crushing his brother’s windpipe in a strike so fast, no mortal would have seen. Blue eyes went wide with pain and Satanus fell to his knees coughing, covering his throat as he tried, unsuccessfully, to take in air. “Mammon, do you want to be next?” Lucifer slowly turned his red gaze to Mammon. The look he gave his youngest sibling said he was going to get a fist to the throat as well in a second. Mammon knew better than to cross Lucifer and dropped his eyes to the floor. At his side, Beelzebub, Sin of Envy, and Belphegor, Sin of Gluttony, released his arms and took a step back. One flame remained flickering in the room. Sloth snorted in dismissal of his leader’s words. Red eyes turned on the remaining flicker of writhing black. “Abbadon, get your ass out here, or I will inform Father why you are absent.” The dark flame audibly sighed and began to form, arms and legs wreathed in liquid darkness. His eyes, grey like pounded steel, glowed with inner annoyance. His skin was as black as shadow and appeared to be cut from obsidian. “Of course you would, Lucifer, such a good little pet, let’s all do what Daddy says. Maybe he will give you a pat on the head for being such a dutiful son.” Abbadon leaned against the wall watching the blood-red flames flickering in Lucifer’s eyes. He crossed his arms, observing his leaders attempt to control his temper. Mammon let out a bark of laughter at the whole scene. As the youngest, he was more inclined to push the boundaries. His laugh earned him a smack to the back of the head. Rubbing the spot, he scowled at Beelzebub, whose silver eyes were almost haunting to behold. They swirled and moved like molten metal. It was exceedingly eerie at times. “Don’t push it, Mammon. You have already pissed off Father. So let us go and see if we can save your ass from one hundred years in the Pit.” “Geez Ze,” Mammon glared at him. Ze glared right back before he turned and walked from the chamber. He was built hard and lean, like a swimmer, nothing but pure muscle. With a thought, clothing wrapped around his form--clearly he was not going to attract the ire of their father for being late or naked. Satanus snarled at Mammon as he scrambled to his feet. Rubbing his sore but rapidly-healing throat, he left the chamber, followed by Belphegor. Lucifer turned his ruby gaze back to Abbadon and Mammon. His eyes settled on the shimmering, iridescent golden mist undulating in the corner. Asmodeus, the Sin of Lust, was a formless entity. He sighed and began to coalesce, becoming a solid figure forming from the swirling mist. The sparkling golden haze sank under the new skin of a male who did not look much different from Lucifer. Well, Asmodeus did need someone to imprint from if he was going to take on a human form. Lucifer growled and shook his head at his brother’s mimicry. Asmodeus just grinned and ran his newly formed hand through his own slightly darker blond hair, daring his leader to say something. “You three will be the death of me. Move.” Lucifer’s voice was tight with exasperation. If Mammon didn’t know any better, he would have mistaken Lucifer’s tone for concern. He hung back and watched Lucifer exit the chamber, a sudden fear biting at him. He pushed it away quickly; showing fear to Hades was a death sentence. Abbadon pushed off the wall, smacking Mammon upside the head. “Your antics will get us all thrown in the Pit, Bro.” Mammon flinched and rubbed his head again. Abbadon moved towards the door, an unfamiliar feeling of worry for the others hit him square in the chest. Abbadon was the only one close in age to himself. He would like to have said the rest could go to hell, but they were already in hell. “Come on, Mammon. Our Lord and Master will be waiting.” The tone of rebellion was clear in the Abbadon’s voice. Asmodeus shrugged, clearly not bothered by the summoning at all, ruffling Mammon’s messy dark hair as he headed out of the chamber. The three remaining demons followed the intricately carved hallways of Hades. Pain and sexual excess were etched for eternity in the writhing bodies depicted upon the walls. They were almost alive in the way the light moved across them. Mammon was pretty sure his father had trapped a few souls in those intricate carvings. They paused before the grand chamber door, where Thanatos, the God of Death, stared out at them, emblazoned upon the white marble. Abbadon and Asmodeus entered the great hall first, leaving Mammon lagging behind. Mammon knew what this was about. He had made a choice, a stupid one obviously, but he had chosen a mortal over his orders. He had chosen her life over his. Now he would have to live--or die--with the consequences of his actions. But Kathrine was safe, and would remain hidden for the rest of her days, of that he was sure. Blinking, he took in a breath of the stifling air and entered the chamber, his shoulders straight. If he was going to his death, he was damn well going to do it with his head high. The grand chamber of Hades was made of shimmering onyx. The silver river Styx and golden river Acheron ran through the chamber along each side of a carved obsidian dais. Upon it sat two thrones--one for Hades and the other for his wife, Persephone, who at this moment was unfortunately on sabbatical with her mother. That meant Hades would be in a foul mood, which did not bode well for the demons who served him. His body wreathed in pulsing, shimmering black shadow, the god himself stood watching the silver waters of Styx as they passed through his chamber. Cold, silver eyes downcast, he observed the souls of the dead who had mistakenly strayed into the river as they silently floated by. They were now lost to the ebb of time forever. Power emanated from every pore of Hades’ being. Mammon could feel it beating against his skin. His father stood as if contemplating, hands held behind his back. The silence was almost deafening, only the soft sound of trickling water filled the chamber. There was the barest turn of his head, a flash of his eyes as he observed the demons kneeling. His face could have been cut from marble, his skin so white it made his pitch-black hair stand out in stark comparison. Mammon felt a twinge of trepidation at the sight of everyone now kneeling before the throne. He was the Sin of Greed after all. It was his desire to have everything, to be the one who sat upon that throne, to have the demons kneel before him. It ripped hard at his mind. He was not stupid enough to act on the impulse; instead he knelt against the cool stone. All seven of them waited in silence. He turned his gaze to the others. Directly to his right was Satanus, Sin of Wrath, eyes of blue flame, hair as black as night, still seething with rage. Mammon could see the ripples of heat coming from him, obscuring the air like a rippling halo. Beside him Lucifer, Sin of Pride, completely angelic in his appearance, white-blond hair and flame red eyes. Lucifer always found kneeling to be the hardest task, his inner pride resenting the act as an aberration to his very being. Ironically, the calmest of them all was Ze, Sin of Envy, known for coveting anything and everything. If a person had something he wanted, his jealousy could become so great he would kill for a simple trinket. Mammon liked Envy--or Ze, as he wanted to be known these days. Ze kept his own silver eyes on the floor, his hair like spun silver, catching the flickering firelight in the great hall. Abbadon, Sin of Sloth, a contradiction to his name, was the epitome of perfection, black hair, dark steel eyes, glowing ebony skin, and the perfect Adonis-like body. His attitude to everything, however, was a battle. He had to be forced to do even the most menial task. Maybe that was why they got along so well? Always getting into trouble together, totally thick as thieves. Mammon’s emerald eyes moved to Belphegor, Sin of Gluttony. It was ironic most mortals imagined him as fat, a demon of never ending hunger. He was far from obese though: pure, lean muscle, deep, tan skin, thick, blond hair. Filled with a perpetual hunger, his eyes were raging fires of burning orange that echoed the appetite from within. He devoured the souls of those he hunted, in an attempt to satiate his eternal emptiness. They had all learned early on not to feel pity for Belor; he did not appreciate it. Finally his gaze stopped on Asmodeus, Sin of Lust. In his usual form he was nothing but that formless undulating gold mist. He no longer had a true body of his own. He had one once, but it had been so long ago none of them really remembered what he looked like, and neither did he. Therefore when he found a mortal who had become consumed by lust, his body assumed the form of their most secret desire. Right now he was receiving waves of anger from Lucifer, and Asmodeus was lapping it up. He knew what people wanted before they did, and it was not merely sex. Mortals desired money and power, and Asmodeus needed to give it to them. He knew how to rile someone with perfection and was enjoying every moment of the death stare Lucifer cast his way. Mammon wished he had half of Lust’s talent for reading people. Mammon dropped his gaze quickly. Why was he looking at his kin like he would never see them again? Maybe because the cold glare his father had shot him let him know there would be no mercy in this sentencing? His heart felt tight in his chest but he breathed through it. He would see them again, he had to believe that. “My sons.” Their father’s voice rolled over their flesh, cooling like ice water, yet stinging like a million hornets. The demons tensed at the pain, Satanus turning his blue gaze to Mammon. Of course blaming him was easy, Mammon could take it. Besides it provided an outlet for the pulsing rage of Wrath. Without a word, Mammon ignored the scowl and kept his head down. Only Lucifer dared speak, “We are here at your summons, Father.” The only indication Hades had moved at all was the soft shuck of his robes across the stone floor. “Pride, or is it Lucifer now? I can’t keep up. Why biblical names?” Hades curled his lip and shook all over before continuing, focusing his cold glare on Lucifer. “You’re always so formal, yet you throw your tie to my blood at me as if it would prevent my ire. I find it immensely irritating.” The Lord of the Underworld slowly knelt down and touched Lucifer under the chin. “It pains, you doesn’t it? Kneeling before me. Of course it does, I made you that way. The perfect arrogant child.”
Sometimes it’s hard to believe I never used to read. Gasp! Shock! Horror! Yes, I’m afraid it’s true. In school I was one of those children who avoided the dreaded paperback as if it were the monster under the bed, waiting to grab my ankles. Dyslexia can have that effect on most kids. Since no one diagnosed me until I was in university, I ended up in the “special” class. I know some of you now are thinking, “Uh huh”. You know exactly where I’m coming from. I really started to enjoy writing as the books I read became more challenging: Stephen King, Anne Rice and Dean Koontz. See a pattern? Horror books were my favorites for a long time. That was until I discovered romance, not like Pride and Prejudice – I couldn’t get through that one – but historical romance, like highlanders in kilts and dashing rakish lords who… okay sounds a bit like Pride and Prejudice, they just had more sex in them. Then paranormal romance, Lynsay Sands, Christine Freehan, Laurell K. Hamilton, and J.R Ward. You name it. I more than likely own it and have read it fifty times. That is where I acquired my passion for paranormal romance. Those great writers inspired my imagination for writing outside the box when it came to taking a horror genre and turning it into something altogether different. That’s when I really started to get into my writing, and like most of my writer friends, I had many, many false starts—books I started and never finished. I spent a lot of time role-playing on online message boards, building characters and worlds with other people. while watching Full Metal Alchemist – Brotherhood (it’s an Anime, and yes, I’m a geek ), I saw a character called Greed. He stuck with me so strongly that I had to write his story, it was a drive in my head. I HAD to write about the Seven Deadly Sins. From that one character—Greed—came Greed’s Charity, Book One of the Seven Deadly Sins series. Greed and his brothers have become a huge part of my life, and I hope they will become a part of yours, too. The boys are funny, loving, and ridiculous. They have strengths and weaknesses, they make mistakes, break hearts, and put their feet in their mouths like everyone else!
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