Eve of Destruction - Sylvia Day

PROLOGUE

Therefore whosoever slayeth Cain, vengeance shall be taken on him sevenfold. And the Lord set a mark upon Cain, lest any finding him should kill him.”

—GENESIS, 4:15

Anno Domini 2008

Class R4AD08

Student/Origin:

Callaghan, Kenneth: Scotland

Dubois, Claire: France

Edwards, Robert: England

Garza, Antonio: Italy

Hogan, Laurel: New Zealand

Hollis, Evangeline: United States

Molenaar, Jan: Holland

Richens, Chad: England

Seiler, Iselda: Germany

Number of Graduates:

CLASSIFIED

Number of Casualties:

CLASSIFIED

Status:

PENDING INTERNAL REVIEW

CHAPTER 1

Evangeline Hollis woke to the scents of Hell—fire and brimstone, smoke and ashes.

Her nostrils flared in protest. She lay on her back, unmoving, willing her brain to catch up with her circumstances. Licking her lips, she tasted death, the bitterness coating both her tongue and mouth in a thick, immovable wash. Her muscles shifted in an attempt to stretch and a groan escaped her.

What the hell? The last thing she remembered was . . .

. . . being burnt to a crisp by a dragon.

Panic assailed her with the memory, quickly followed by her mind lurching into full awareness. Eve jackknifed up from her sprawled position, sucking in air with such force it was audible. She blinked, but only inky darkness filled her vision. Her hand reached up to her arm and her fingertips found the raised brand there. The Mark of Cain—a triquetra surrounded by a circlet of three serpents, each one eating the tail of the snake before it. The eye of God filled the center.

The mark burned whenever she took the Lord’s name in vain—which was often—and whenever she lied, which was less often but useful on occasion. When dealing with Satan’s minions, playing dirty leveled the playing field.

Where the fuck am I? In her upright position, the smoky stench in the air was magnified. Her nose wrinkled.

Maybe I’m in Hell? As a longtime agnostic, she still struggled with facing the reality of God. Heaven, Hell, souls . . . They were concepts that couldn’t be explained with reason.

Besides, if there was a merciful God and a Heaven, she’d be there. She had only been cursed with the Mark of Cain for six weeks and she hadn’t yet been properly trained in how to kill Infernals, but during that short time she had eradicated a tengu infestation, killed a Nix, and managed to vanquish a dragon. She’d also helped put a lid on a major new threat to the good guys—a concoction of some sort that allowed Infernals to temporarily hide in the guise of mere mortals. And she’d managed to get Cain and Abel to work together for the first time since they were kids.

If all that wasn’t enough to save her soul, she would take her chances with the Devil. Maybe he’d have a better sense of fair play.

As Eve’s mind struggled to catch up with her present, the sound of singing penetrated the fog of her thoughts. She couldn’t understand a word, but it was familiar all the same. The language was Japanese; the voice, her mother’s.

The idea of sharing Hell with her mother was oddly both comforting and chilling.

Eve’s hands clenched tentatively, testing the soft surface beneath her, attempting to discern where she was. She felt satin, like the sheets on her bed. A cool breeze touched her brow and Eve’s vision exploded into living color. She jerked violently in surprise.

She was in her bedroom, sitting atop her king-size bed. As if her senses had been muted, the steady crashing of waves against the Huntington Beach shoreline increased in volume. The soothing rhythm drifted down the hall from her living room balcony and brought welcome relief.

Home. As her tension dissipated, Eve’s shoulders relaxed. Then, a brief glimmer in the periphery of her vision made her turn her head.

Lifting