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Raziel frowned as he paced his ward’s living room. How many times was Cole going to do this to himself? His wings fluttered with worry as he watched Cole kick back another glass of the very expensive—and very potent—booze. This had become a dangerous and nightly ritual for Cole, and Raziel wasn’t quite certain how to alter Cole’s course. It was his job, right? Put his charge’s feet on the right path and guide them from beginning to end. He’d been doing just that for the last fifteen hundred years.

Which led him to the unnerving question of why was he having such a difficult time of it now?

Cole leaned back on the couch, his eyes drooping and clouded from the alcohol. He picked up a framed photograph and stared at it for a long time before he threw it across the room. The glass shattered as it hit the hard wood of the bar. Cole didn’t bother with a glass at this point. He picked up the bottle and began to drink in earnest. Raziel’s wings fluttered again. This wasn’t right. It was Daniel who should be drinking, should be heartbroken, not Cole.

Daniel. He’d been the start of this whole mess. Sweet, mind-mannered Daniel who had stood beside Cole through their years at Dartmouth. Considerate Daniel, who had loved Cole even when they barely had two pennies to scrape together. Daniel, who had been the ideal partner for Cole in every respect. Their families had adored each other, supported both Cole and Daniel. Everything had been theirs as Cole shot up the corporate ladder. Everything awaited them.

Selfish Daniel who couldn’t keep it in his trousers. Vicious Daniel who had done everything he could to shift the blame of the infidelity onto Cole. Cole’s late nights. Cole’s business trips. Cole starting his own business. Cole’s success. Daniel had claimed Cole took him for granted, and Raziel had to admit that, yes, maybe, just a little, but Daniel’s betrayal…

Raziel crouched in front of Cole, resting his hands on Cole’s knees. Cole couldn’t see him. None of his wards had ever been able to see him. He’d never wanted to be seen, but now… now he wanted to be seen. He wanted to touch. He wanted to soothe. He loved Cole. Raziel loved Cole in a way that was forbidden and new and thrilling and frightening. He wanted to wipe the pain from Cole’s eyes and ease his soul’s burden, but that was not his place.

His place was to watch. To guide silently.

“I’m sorry,” Raziel whispered. “I’m so sorry, Cole. I just don’t know how to put your feet on the right path, away from Daniel.”

Daniel wasn’t coming back, but Cole hoped. Raziel knew Cole hoped. Daniel had been the love of Cole’s life, even if Cole hadn’t been Daniel’s. Cole’s heartbreak was Raziel’s, and Raziel didn’t know how to patch it all together. All he knew was that Cole now walked a dark path. Alcohol and anguish and fury. He didn’t know how to fix it, but he knew he had to. Somehow, he had to find a way, or he would lose Cole forever.


“Daniel,” Cole murmured into the phone. “Come home; we can fix this.” How many times had he said that over the last three months? Even to his own ears he sounded pathetic. “I love you.”

Daniel sighed on the other end of the line. “Cole, stop calling. Let this end before we really hate each other.”

“I’d never hate you,” he insisted. “Never.”

“I have to go.” Daniel’s voice was tight. “It’s over. I’m sorry it’s ended the way it has, and it hurts me, too, to see the last ten years end like this, but it’s done. While you moved up, I moved on, and it’s time to just… just stop.”


“Goodbye, Cole.”

The line went dead. Cole slammed the phone down, his chest aching with such intensity, he wondered how the fuck he survived. He stumbled over to the bar and yanked one of the bottles of vodka out of the cooler. Just stop? How do you just stop loving someone? That was what he needed to know. Because despite Daniel fucking around on him with a number of men before settling on Lindsey, Cole still loved him. He still loved him, wanted him, and needed him, and Daniel… Daniel had moved on.

He knew calling again would just get him another clipped reply followed by the dial tone, but if he could get Daniel back on the line, he’d ask him how to stop loving. Daniel obviously had some practice, and he wanted to throw it in Daniel’s face almost as much as he wanted to beg Daniel, yet again, to come back. It was useless, though. If he kept calling, it would only force Daniel to change his phone number or send Lindsey after him. He had no idea what attracted Daniel to the stupid lug, but he knew that stupid lug could beat the shit out of him. It just added more fuel to the anger, the hurt, illegal bahis the damn helplessness that made him take a long, burning swig of vodka straight from the bottle.

Vodka wasn’t enough, though. It had been the first few nights, maybe even the first week, if he was generous, but every failed attempt to get Daniel to come back seemed to dampen the effect. He had to do something about it. He had to get away from his heart, from the work he’d poured so much of his life into, work that now felt hollow and worthless. It wasn’t worth staying sober, and if alcohol wasn’t doing the trick, then he knew exactly who to call.

It took three tries to dial the right numbers on the phone, but when he was certain the sequence on the screen was right, he pressed the plastic to his ear and waited until there was a voice on the other end of the line.

“Boss? It’s nearly two in the morning. If this isn’t insanely important, I’m hanging up and going back to sleep.”

“Shut up, Rob,” Cole all but snapped, squeezing his eyes shut before taking another swig of vodka to bolster his courage. “That drug you took that night we took off to party on the business trip. You remember the trip I’m talking about, right?”

There was silence for a few seconds, and then Rob slowly, hesitantly drew out the response. “Yeah…”

“I want you to get some of it for me. None of that shitty stuff you can get on the street corners that’s cut with who knows what, but the pure stuff. Whatever you shell out, I’ll pay you double for.” Cole knew that was a damn good offer, and it kept his hands clean to use Rob as a middleman. At least that’s what he told himself as he waited out another silence with yet another swallow of alcohol.

“It’ll take me a few days, boss, but I’ll get you what you want.”

The words were careful and hushed, and he wondered for a moment if Rob’s wife had woken up next to him and started listening in. He wondered if she knew her husband had connections with drug dealers. Or was she completely clueless, just like he’d been about Daniel’s cheating? He almost laughed. Let her keep her delusion. Better to see what one wanted to see rather than the ugly truth. “Good,” he finally said into the phone. “Call me when you have it.”

He hung up after another gulp of vodka, not even bothering to set the phone back into its charger. He let it fall to the floor as he tipped the bottle higher, and the sound of it clattering against the expensive hardwood panels seemed to echo as his head swam, all his problems drowning in a sea of booze and drunken forgetfulness.


“Cole, stop this!” Raziel paced back and forth in front of Cole’s desk in his home office. “It’s crazy. Crazy! You’ll kill yourself. You don’t want to die.” He stopped and turned to face Cole, who was intently cutting cocaine and setting it into neat lines. “You don’t even know what you’re doing! Couldn’t you have at least asked Rob to show you how to use the stuff?”

But Cole couldn’t hear him. Cole had never heard him. The alcohol, the cigarettes, and now cocaine. He growled and slammed his hands down on the polished surface of Cole’s desk. “Daniel isn’t worth this! Cole…” Cole rolled up a fifty dollar bill, took a swig from the whiskey bottle, and then set the edge of the rolled up bill to one of the lines of white powder. Raziel thought he would weep as he whispered, “Please, Cole.”

Cole ran the bill up the line, inhaling sharply, and then sat back, sniffling, rubbing his nose with his fingers. Suddenly, Cole laughed, staring up at the ceiling, and flailed for the whiskey. He missed the bottle, and it fell, crashing onto the floor, the glass shattering, the booze spattering everywhere. Cole blinked and leaned forward, putting the rolled up bill against the next line… and the next… and the next. After a moment, he stood up, stumbled, and fell onto the rug over the hardwood floor. His laughter broke Raziel’s heart.

Raziel knelt on the floor beside Cole, stroking his hair back from his sweaty face. His wings fluttered, and he chirped softly, worry twisting his stomach. Cole didn’t look well, and the glassy expression in his eyes pulled at Raziel. Something wasn’t right. Cocaine and alcohol, he was almost certain, shouldn’t be mixed. This wasn’t his precious charge. Cole was intelligent, beautiful, kind… not an embittered alcoholic ready to piss away his money on drugs!

“Cole!” Raziel had never wanted to be visible like he did now. He could feel something tenuous in Cole fluttering, the connection between them fading in and out. Cole was dying. Raziel’s wings fluttered again as panic set in. “Cole! Don’t! I can’t… there’s no one I can call! No one can see me! Cole, please… you’re… you aren’t supposed to die yet…”

Cole wasn’t listening, though, and that connection started growing dimmer. Raziel looked up to the heavens through the ceiling, whispering a prayer. He couldn’t do anything to help Cole. Interfering with life and death was strictly forbidden. When illegal bahis siteleri a charge refused to follow the direction of their guardian angel, the angel was never allowed to take matters into their own hands. God had granted the humans free will, and while they could work their influence, whisper advice into their minds, they couldn’t force their own wills or the will of the Divine onto them.

The connection flickered like a flame, growing dimmer and dimmer. Oh, God, it was almost out! Raziel chirped again, his wings extending. He couldn’t let this happen. He couldn’t! Cole was the only charge he had ever felt so much for. From beginning to end, he’d loved Cole. Loved him! It went beyond any ward before. That love was deep, terrible, and now Cole’s life flickered. He couldn’t lose all he felt, couldn’t lose Cole. If he only had time, only had the chance to speak to Cole, to be heard by him. But there was no chance for him to speak to ears that would listen. If he didn’t act… In a split second, he made up his mind. He was out of time.

He squeezed his eyes shut and pressed his hands to Cole’s chest. He’d do anything to save Cole. He’d endure any punishment the archangels demanded and face God’s wrath if he had to, but Cole would live. The power was inside him to purify, to wield the divine fire. He had used it in the past to cleanse his charges’ souls right before he accompanied them up to heaven to be fully judged. It was power only used after death, but he needed it now, before that thread of their connection severed forever.

A bright glow emitted from his hands, growing stronger and stronger until it completely enveloped Cole. Inside, he felt the burn of fire, but it was familiar to him, the small part of the Divine that he always carried inside him. It was that little piece of Heaven God had entrusted to him, and he used it now to eradicate the alcohol, the cocaine, even the hints of tar that had collected in Cole’s lungs from the cigarettes.

It left Cole pure, untouched by any of the toxins he had forced into his body throughout his life. He could sense the wholeness of Cole, and the connection between them flared brightly, reassuring him before the power left him in a rush. His wings drooped, and he chirped weakly, his voice trilling as he panted, “Cole…”

Raziel felt his arms give out beneath him, and he faltered, his wings flapping in an uncoordinated effort to move him off Cole’s still form. He’d never felt so tired, so weak, and while the connection to Cole was strong again, he felt the rest of the world slipping away. Everything blurred around him, and before he could manage to gasp another prayer, the world went black, and he felt himself falling into nothingness.


Cole groaned as he shifted on the floor, a beam of sunlight across his face. His back and head hurt, his muscles stiff. What the hell had happened? He slowly sat up and rubbed his face with his hands. Rob. Rob had brought him some coke. Had he overdosed? Or had he just passed out? If he’d overdosed, wouldn’t he be dead? Maybe he was dead and this was Heaven. Or Hell. He didn’t much like the idea of Hell being his apartment, which smelled of stale cigarettes and booze.

He looked around, noting the shattered whiskey bottle and the angel asleep beside—


Cole stared at the naked creature beside him with massive white wings. That was an angel. Angels weren’t real, though. He rubbed his eyes again, but when he opened them once more, the angel was still there. Maybe there had been something in the coke. Maybe Rob hadn’t gotten the good stuff after all. He reached out and ran his fingers along the feathers. Christ, he’d never felt anything so soft! The wing shivered under his touch, but the angel didn’t move.

It was real. The angel. Was real. Angel. In his apartment. Maybe that was why he wasn’t dead. He brushed the angel’s blond hair back from the perfect, beautiful face. Male. He had an unconscious, gorgeous, male angel sprawled on his office floor, and his mind didn’t quite believe it. Cole cleared his throat and gave the angel’s shoulder a little nudge.

“E-Excuse me,” Cole murmured, his voice rough. “Hello?” A pained flutter of a sound escaped the angel, and he hesitated to touch again. He didn’t see any wounds on the angel, but maybe his touch was a little too hard. He swallowed thickly and, as gently as possible, pet over the blond hair and the feathers. “Are you all right? Come on. Wake up.”

The wings shifted, and another of those bird-like sounds twittered from the angel, followed by a soft moan. Cole’s heart jumped up into his throat, and he scrambled back a little, dodging the feathers of one wing as it lifted and flapped. A sudden pain jolted up through his hand, and he cursed under his breath. He’d forgotten about the broken glass, and now he was paying for it. The cut wasn’t too terribly deep, but it stung like a motherfucker, and he cradled his hand against him.


Cole’s eyes widened, canlı bahis siteleri and he tilted his head, looking around the arched wing to the angel’s face. He watched as the angel’s pale lashes fluttered, and when they lifted, he glimpsed blue eyes brighter than any he’d ever seen. How did this angel know his name? He fought against a rising panic, against thoughts that maybe this angel was here to bring him his death. But then, if that were the case, wouldn’t the angel have had a more dramatic appearance? That’s how it always was in the movies; ominous mists and beams of light from above were a lot more intimidating than an angel passed out on his office floor. Still, he felt as if the world was about to drop out from underneath him. Getting his voice to work was a challenge, but he finally managed to choke out, “Who are you?”

The wings around him twitched, and he froze in place as the angel frowned and pushed himself up onto his outstretched arms. Their eyes met, and he stared, feeling as if he could drown in the depths of those eyes if he allowed himself. “You can see me?”

The angel’s voice was musical, and Cole’s heart trembled oddly at the sound of it. He nodded in answer to the question. “You’re an angel.” That was stating the obvious. He shook his head and tried again. “Why are you here?”

A smile as bright as the sun itself unfurled on the angel’s face. “You’re alive.”

Cole couldn’t look away from that smile. “Am… I not supposed to be?”

The angel slowly sat up, his wings fluttering, and the smile faded, replaced by such sadness that Cole’s heart ached to see it. “How could you be so careless?” the angel asked. “Drinking, smoking, and then drugs? I’ve been at your side since you were born, and the one time I needed you to hear me, you were deaf to my voice.” Tears gathered in the bright eyes. “Daniel isn’t worth your life.”

The reminder of Daniel brought up every angry and heartbroken emotion in Cole. “Daniel was my life. Everything I did was to give him anything… everything.”

“But he wanted you. He didn’t need a highrise apartment and limitless credit cards and expensive clothes. He needed you, and you weren’t here for him.” The angel reached out, grabbed Cole’s bleeding hand, and worked the glass out of his palm. “Daniel has found someone who needs him as much as he needs them. It’s time for you to find a new purpose.”

Cole blinked and looked down at his hand, the pain gone. He stared at his palm. The glass was out and the wound healed, only a sliver of a scar left. He eyes sought the angel’s. “Who are you?” he whispered.

“I’m your guardian angel.” The angel’s wings shivered. “My name is Raziel, and I am going to be in such trouble for saving you.”

“If you’re my guardian angel, aren’t you supposed to save me?”

That sadness returned to Raziel’s eyes. “I’m not supposed to upset the balance of life and death. But I couldn’t let you die. I couldn’t.”

“So… you broke the rules. For me.” Cole tilted his head, the flesh of his wrist where Raziel touched tingling. “Why?”

Raziel withdrew his touch, a light flush coloring his alabaster cheeks. “I love you.”

That took a moment to sink in, and Cole shifted awkwardly. An angel loved him? This was like some crazy dream, waking up from a really bad hit on the head and an O.D. to be greeted by his own personal angel. It didn’t make sense. Except for the part where he really did take too much of everything and had probably needed help. There was glass everywhere from a shattered bottle, and a quick glance over showed that he had snorted all those lines of cocaine. He didn’t feel as though he had any alcohol or drugs in his system at all. It was unsettling to say the least, but it did make sense, and that scared him. Was he supposed to keep talking to the angel or admit that he was having some kind of psychotic break?

“You have a lot of questions,” Raziel murmured, “but it’s real. I’m real.”

The angel had at least one thing right: the questions probably wouldn’t stop anytime soon. He had to get his bearings, get a grip! He ran his hands through his hair, not feeling any pain from the scar where he’d just cut himself. He had to start somewhere, and with every other option sounding ridiculous to his mind, he let himself just believe it was all real. If all Raziel said was true, then it made his first question simple. “Is that… normal for guardian angels? To love their humans?”

Raziel curled one wing in closer and picked at a couple of the feathers, looking up bashfully through blond hair. “Not the way I love you. What I feel is deeper than what most angels feel for their charges.”

Cole wasn’t sure why satisfaction rolled through him, making his gut feel warm and settled instead of twisted in knots. It loosened his tongue, made it easier to organize his thoughts. “Why am I not freaking out? I should be losing it, seeing an angel on my office floor, but I feel… better.”

Raziel chirped and let go of his wing so it could flutter. “Because you know who I am. Somewhere inside, you already know me. You’ve heard my voice inside you sometimes, that little voice that tells you to turn away from darkness and take a different path, even if it isn’t the easy road to follow.”

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