With: Juliette Cross
Thank you for having me here today! I thought I’d introduce my anti-hero Dommiel in Darkest Heart. Dommiel is a jaded demon with a foul mouth who’s been outcast by his own kind. He’s even got a bounty on his head, but that doesn’t faze him. Actually, he likes to work as a merc-for-hire for the human resistance just to piss off those who want him dead. So it’s no surprise when he agrees to help the warrior angel Anya find a missing archangel by diving into dark, underworld dens to find him. This mix-matched pair end up discovering they have more in common than they thought at the start.
Here’s an excerpt where the warrior angel Anya and the demon Dommiel start to discover each other on a more personal level. It’s told from Anya’s point of view:
“What’s wrong, baby?” He tilted his head on the next drag before slowly blowing out a stream of smoke. “Do I make you nervous now?”
I didn’t answer but instead took a seat on the mattress, stretching my wings to lay flat against the wall so I had a good view of the window and the moon peeking from behind wispy clouds.
“You ever tried brimstone?” he asked.
With my gaze on the indigo sky, I almost laughed. “Of course not. I’m an angel.”
“Oh, Anya. When are you going to learn that all of those lines are blurred now? Didn’t you see those angels in Venice? Hanging with demons and enjoying the pleasures of the flesh like lesser beings? Like us demons.”
I didn’t miss the cynical lilt of his words as he hissed in another deep drag of brimstone, the scent smoky sweet, like charred honey, filling our small space. Chancing a glance at him, I wished I hadn’t. The way he looked at me now was unsettling. Like he knew my secrets. Like he knew I’d enjoyed his lips on my skin, his body pressed to mine, and wanted him to do it again. Do more.
“I saw,” I admitted. “That doesn’t mean I’m one of them.”
“No. You’ll never be one of those angels,” he said with finality. “You’re set apart, Anya.”
My name on his lips did something inside me, something unwanted and wanted at the same time. I couldn’t help but watch the slow rise of his fingers, the cigarette held firmly between, pressed to his lips—lips that were so much softer than they appeared—dragging across my skin, sending the most unforgettable pleasure racing through my body.
His keen, brooding observation quickened my pulse, unsettled my nerves. This was so unlike his cavalier manners of before. I couldn’t take my eyes from him.
“You’re a warrior, but you fight for no army. You care for the humans, showing compassion even when it’s hopeless. You act as an individual, rather than following the mindless horde of heavenly hosts into battle. So unlike angelkind. You are different. Independent but still married to the code of good and all that bullshit.”
“It’s not bullshit. There is good, and there is evil.”
He grunted. “No gray in between?”
Rather than answer a question that challenged everything I’ve ever believed, for fear I’d not like where this conversation took us, I steered it in another direction.
“What does that do for you?”
“What? This?” He flicked off a tip of ash from the brimstone. “It heightens my senses, brings me back in tune with my demon.” He raised it in offering. “You want to try?”
“No.” I was afraid of what I didn’t understand. Of the way he looked at me. Of myself. For what if the brimstone heightened the senses of the demon who had bitten me? Would I fall even further from myself? Would I become more evil than good? What if it heightened a darkness that was already there, waiting to be lit from within?
“You need some sleep,” he said as a command not a suggestion.
“No. I’m fine.”
“This world is wearing you down. I can see it in your eyes. Trust me. You need sleep. And I don’t think they’re coming for us anytime soon.”
He was right. In Elysium, I never slept. I was fueled by the air around me. But here, the weight of this world pressed harder and heavier every day. Without further comment, I lay down on the mattress, letting my wings fall flat behind me at rest.
Dommiel gazed, observing with close scrutiny. His expression waning to something nostalgic. I perused his broad shoulders, imagining what he would’ve looked like as an angel. Before the fall.
“What color were your wings before?”
His eye, having drained of the ruby red back to the dark brown, almost black shade. “What color do you think?”
“Black,” I answered on quick impulse. A subtle smile ticked up the corner of his mouth. Before I thought better of it, I poured out more. “The darkest sable. So rich that it shined, begging for fingers to touch it.”
He froze, his hand with the cigarette resting on his thigh, a plume of gold-gray smoke rising like a cobra from its cage. He didn’t say a word, just stared at me.
“Like that of your familiar, the raven.”
His mouth spread into a full smile, sending my pulse pounding yet again. “You noticed Puck?” He took another drag and blew out another stream of smoke. Once more, I was drawn to his lips. A dangerous thing.
“Of course you did. You don’t miss anything.”
“Neither do you.”
“You got that right, baby.” He held my gaze, capturing me in a smoldering look that made my middle pool with warmth.
“You named your raven after a Shakespearean character?” Such a peculiar demon to have an interest in the Elizabethan bard. Just as I did.
“Rhymes with my favorite word,” he smirked. “And he likes getting into mischief.”
“Like his master?”
He dragged long on the brimstone, the fire-red tip brightening the room before he blew out a stream of the heady smoke, dropped the stub, and ground the heel of his boot on top.
“Go to sleep, Anya,” he commanded again, more softly.
And I wanted to obey him. A strange compulsion, since I’d only ever obeyed the commands of my angel superiors. Yet here I was, falling under some strange spell by the former high demon of New Orleans, now an outcast with motives to aid our side that I’d yet to puzzle out. For though he had joined me on this quest only for drakuls, I knew he wouldn’t have taken the job had he not other reasons.
I unbuckled my dagger sheath and set the belt aside, then closed my eyes, trusting the demon on watch, the demon who was slowly drawing me in. Making me wonder about my beliefs of my own world and of his. Making me wonder if the lines truly were more blurred than I’d thought. If he was right, I’d have to confront everything I’ve ever known…and change.
Anya—a stoic, blue-winged angelic warrior—was bitten by a demon prince in battle, and now she has precious little time to find a cure for his deadly venom. But the only archangel with the power to stop the dark poison from corrupting her body and soul is missing. She’ll have to trust her guide, the outcast high demon Dommiel, who is as handsome as he is dangerous if she has any hope.
An outcast of his own kind, high demon Dommiel stays under cover while the war between angels and demons rages on. When the only person who ever showed him kindness asks for his help, he has no choice but to try to save the angel. Venturing back into the dens he has avoided for so long, Anya makes him want and feel things he never thought possible.
But Dommiel knows there is no way an angel can ever love a demon…
Each book in the Dominion series is STANDALONE:
* The Deepest Well
* Darkest Heart