Page 67

Jared stood his ground, positioned in front of me. Claire stood on the other side, guarding her Taleh.

Shax looked to each side of the church in dramatic fashion. “Where is your Samuel now, Jared?”

“He's around,” Jared said, his body rigid.

“I'm afraid you've made yet another mistake, and Heaven won't intervene this time.”

Two shadows that had been lurking behind Shax came into view under the dim light of the church. Isaac and Donovan stood on each side of their demonic master, their expressions anxious and ready. They had come to murder us al .

Jared shifted. “Isaac, listen to me. You don't have to do this.”

“Shut up,” Donovan said.

“I don't want you to die,” Jared continued, “but if he comes near her, I'l kil him.”

Isaac smiled. “Not if I kil her, first. And I wil .”

“You're outnumbered,” Claire said, her smal yet frightening voice somehow carrying across the room.

Shax grinned, and the long, clawed hands and feet of the night filtered into the room, covering the wal s and ceiling. I looked above me, seeing grotesquely malformed bodies of demonic minions scale the crumbling rafters.

The smell of burnt flesh and sulfur was overwhelming, and I could feel bile rise in my throat. Shax's servants weren't screeching this time, but making strange, excited cooing and whistling noises, waiting for the order to attack.

“Give me the book,” Shax hissed.

“No,” Jared said, tossing the leather bound pages to Kim.

“I dare you to come and get it, though,” Kim smiled.

Shax slowly turned his head to Isaac, and then Isaac's smirk turned into a satisfied grin. He pushed the far pew with both hands, slamming it into the pew before it, creating a domino effect. As the heavy benches toppled over and blew forward with the speed of a freight train, Jared and Claire reacted, jumping to the other side with Ryan and I in tow.

Kim simply side-stepped to the center aisle, remaining calm as thousands of pounds of wood narrowly missed her body.

“You're going to have to do better than that,” Kim said.

Isaac leaped the hundred yards to Kim's position, and then wrapped on hand around her throat, lifting her off the ground. “I'm not a demon. You can't control me.”

With a grunt, Isaac threw Kim back, but Bex moved quick, catching her before she col ided with the podium. The demons concentrated in the area closest to Kim scattered, afraid of being too close.

Bex looked Kim in the eyes, and after she acknowledged that she was okay, he scrambled to his feet, taking off ful speed, slamming into Isaac.

When they col ided, a loud crack echoed throughout the cathedral.

My human eyes couldn't make out who was hitting who, until Bex hit Isaac so hard that his body sailed across the air, and he landed in the exact spot he started, next to Shax.

“It's like people tennis,” Ryan said, in awe. “Everyone keeps flying across the room.”

Isaac wasn't about to quit. He engaged Bex again, but this time Isaac got the upper hand. Bex was on the ground, and after the second time Isaac landed a blow that would have been fatal to a human, Jared's arm tensed.

“Do something!” I said.

“I can't leave you,” he said. “If I take my attention off of you for a second, they'l attack.”

Donovan walked down the center aisle with purpose, dodging the fal ing chunks of ceiling. Claire pul ed out her firearm, aiming right at his face.

Isaac's attention was distracted, then, and Bex head-butted Isaac, and then threw him against Donovan. They both slid across the floor.

Isaac stood, pul ed out his gun, and aimed directly at Ryan.

“No!” Claire said, throwing herself in front of him.

Ryan and Claire were face to face when Isaac's gun discharged. Claire's body jerked twice as it was hit, and Ryan's horrified expression matched hers.

Stunned, Claire looked down, and then turned to Jared. “They went through me.”

Claire and Ryan fel to their knees at the same time, and Jared rushed to his sisters side. He pul ed me with him, and I fel to my knees just behind him.

Ryan's head fel back, and he coughed, blood spraying up and spattering across his cheek.

“Oh, God, no!” Jared cried, pul ing off his shirt and wadding it up, pressing it against Ryan's wounds.

Isaac's maniacal laugh seemed to be al around us. “I always wanted to see that smug smile wiped off your face, Claire.”

Bex glanced at the bloody scene, and then focused on Isaac, his hands bal ed into fists at his sides. He lowered his chin, then, and his expression morphed into something one might see from a demon rather than an angel.

Claire looked up at her brother, expressionless. “End this.”

Horrified, I watched Claire tend to Ryan's wounds, but within moments, Jared pul ed me to my feet.

He took my hand in one of his, and then pul ed out his side arm with the other. He pointed it directly at Isaac, shooting one round after another, walking toward him as he fired, forcing me to fol ow.

Isaac jerked with each hit, stumbling backward. “You son-of-a-bitch!” Jared screamed, his eyebrows and lips pul ed in so tight, the skin around them was white.

“Jared!” Bex cried, but it was too late.

Donovan had his gun to Jared's temple. “I suppose it'l take you a while to heal from this one,” Donovan said.

An abrupt blast resounded in the room, and Donovan fel to his knees, final y fal ing over, succumbing to the bul et hole I had just shot into his brain.

“Shawn!” Isaac said, struggling to reach his Taleh.

It was too late for both of them. Shawn Donovan's life had already spil ed onto the floor.

Isaac fel back, already feeling a weakness in his body.

Jared's eyes were wide as he processed what had just happened. “You kil ed him,” he said softly, looking to me.

“He was pointing a gun at your head,” I explained.

Jared laughed once, momentarily forgetting that we were stil surrounded by the enemy.

A quick wind passed by, and Bex and Shax were suddenly in a bal . The sounds coming from their scuffle were horrific. Distracted, Shax lost his control on the demons clustered on the wal s and ceiling, and they began descending from their position, and swarming around us.

“Run to Kim!” Jared said, pushing me in her direction.