Raising Cain Synopsis:
Hiding places are scarce when both Heaven and Hell intend to find you.
Dani Fayel’s backbreaking job as a stable hand at The Freaks’ Fair isn’t glamorous, but for someone looking to keep to the shadows? It’s perfect. Neither paranormal freaks nor human norms ever notice her. But when Dani is forced to either let a child die in order to maintain her anonymity or choose to save him and risk being discovered, she finds herself unwillingly thrust into the spotlight.
Cain, Hell’s premier assassin and a predatory incubus, is close to fulfilling his final contract and earning his freedom. Hired by the Archangel of Death to find his daughter, Cain follows her trail to the Fair. He works undercover, certain his mark is inside one of the portable canopies or traveling cages. Dead or alive, she equals his ticket to freedom.
When Cain’s objective is divulged, Dani realizes she can’t outrun her destiny. As the fabled Key—the one soul with absolute free will who is tied to the three realms of Heaven, Earth and Hell—only she is capable of opening the gates for the Four Horsemen of the Apocalypse. Whoever frees the Horsemen allegedly commands them. Now both Heaven and Hell are vying for her allegiance, and there are no limits as to how dirty they’ll fight to obtain it. With Hell raining indiscriminate chaos as Heaven maneuvers its players around her, Dani realizes her would-be assassin may be the only man capable of helping her survive.
“Everything ok, Dani?”
I whipped around, keys flying from my hand. Jax, one of my favorite centaurs, didn’t even look down when they bounced off his bare chest and landed in the dirt with a faint clink. Too startled to speak, I could only nod.
“You don’t look okay,” he observed as he knelt to pick up the keys. “In fact, I’d be willing to say that, for the first time in six years, you look rather…shaken, as if your axis has been tilted against your will.” Leave it to a centaur to strike the heart of the matter.
“I, uh,” I shook my head and held up a hand. Deep breaths—take slow, deep breaths. “She’s disgruntled to have me assigned as her keeper, no doubt.” Cain stepped out from behind a neighboring trailer and I jumped.
He’d followed me, tracked me through the crowd, and I’d never known. Bending at the waist, I wrapped my arms around my core and tried even harder to control my breathing. I was humiliated that his first impression of me was that I ran from conflict, and I was scared that it would give him cause to question me about this Key business. I didn’t know anything about it, but I was sure my darting away hadn’t helped with appearances. Way to go, I mentally chastised myself, slowly regaining some control of the moment.
Cain leaned against the flimsy aluminum wall of my battered aluminum travel trailer and I worried for a second that he might fall through.
The centaur disregarded the new male, unlocking my door before tucking the keys in the front pocket of my jeans in a proprietary manner. Hope clearly—annoyingly—lingered, no matter how many times I told him no.
I shook my head then turned and swung the door wide, stepping up into the interior’s twilight. “Thanks, Jax.” I pulled the wire cable to raise the steps, tucking them under the doorway with a metallic screech.
“Do you need company?” Jax continued to ignore Cain.
“Dude, what she needs is for you to leave so I can talk to her. That’s what she needs. Now giddy-up.” Cain never moved, his tone backing up his body language in wordlessly conveying his boredom.
“Listen here you, you—”
“Specialty Demon, and I don’t need your consent to talk to the lady. Now put those four legs to good use and get the hell out of here before I call for a saddle and spurs.”
Jax drew himself up to his full height. “You are an abomination!”
“Neigh neigh, motherfucker. Sticks and stones and all that. Now go.” Cain’s voice dropped low and deep, and the orange flecks in his blue eyes burned with intensity. He pushed off the side of the trailer and took a step toward Jax. The centaur instinctively backed up. “That’s what I thought,” Cain said, sneering. “Get lost. I need to talk to Dani.”
Humiliation bloomed high and bright across Jax’s face and spread down his chest. He opened his mouth, paused and then snapped it closed. Pulling himself up to his full height again, he spun on his back feet and walked away, spine stiff, pride clearly bruised.
Cain stood in front of me, his shoulders blocking the doorway. “Drop the steps, Dani.”
My heart beat so hard I knew he had to hear it, and my hands shook as I reached for the door. I needed privacy. “Go. To. Hell,” I spat.
“Been there, done that, got a hall pass. Look, I’m going to be working with you five, maybe six days a week and living right next to you.” He jerked his head toward the nice, new fifth-wheel camper parked next to mine. “We might as well get to know each other.” Cain smiled, a deep dimple flashed and things low in my body responded.
Oh hell no.
Kelli Ireland Bio:
Kelli Ireland spent a decade as a name on a door in corporate America. Unexpectedly liberated by Fate’s sense of humor, she chose to carpe the diem and pursue her passion for writing. A fan of happily-ever-afters, she found she loved being the Puppet Master for the most unlikely couples. Seeing them through the best and worst of each other while helping them survive the joys and disasters of falling in love? Best. Thing. Ever.