Chapter 1 of 'Hell's Gift' Book 2 in the 'Save My Soul' Series

*This is book 2 in this series but can be read as a stand alone*
Chapter 1 
Someone cleared their throat. It must have been to get my attention, because we don't have the human annoyances of allergies or head colds, and I was the only other being in the recreational room.
Nevertheless, I kept my head lowered and my eyes drifted shut in hope the approaching angel would get the hint that I had no interest in idle chit-chat.
"She's happy, Rhyan."
My lips parted and something in between a moan and a sigh escaped on the exhale. I'd heard the same line a thousand times. Next it would be, "You should be happy for her, not moping around here like a lost puppy. It's been a year. She's married to her soulmate and has a child now. You need to move on. Get over her already!"
The whole of Heaven's occupants knew my problem. I felt like each and every one of them had voiced their opinion more than once, and I wasn't going to sit there and listen to it again like a broken record or a compact disk set on repeat. It wasn't like I was the only angel in love with their charge.
My eyes shot open and focused on my new company. My stare held the first warning. Actually, there wouldn't be a second one. I'd heard enough.
Josselyn froze and held both hands up in a silent apology or truce. "I'll shut up."
I groaned, uncrossed my ankles from the foot stool and got swiftly to my feet. "Talk all you want, but I'm not staying here to listen to what you or anyone else thinks I should do with my eternity." I started for the door.
I had to get out.
I could feel the walls of the large room closing in on me.
It was bad enough that I could hear Kendra's every thought, but when someone mentioned her, or reminded me that I needed to stop torturing myself because I will never have her, never touch her, never kiss her again...
"Rhyan, please," she said, and I paused with my hand on the gold door knob. "I'm really sorry. I don't know what you're going through, but I seriously didn't come in here to make it any worse than it already is. I promise not to say anymore on the subject if you want to just hang out."
I laughed sarcastically. "I can't just hang out, Jossel. I'm not me anymore!" I shouted, my body language suddenly changing to show how I really felt. Pissed.
My fingers curled, forming a fist. I wasn't going to hit her, but the wall beside me wasn't out of the question. I guess there was a second warning after all.
I growled in frustration as I pointed to the always spotless floor. "My Heaven is on earth, and she is sleeping with another man right now, a man that would have had a one way ticket to Hell if Coen hadn't interfered."
Josselyn's eyes grew wide as she stared at me in shock. She finally blinked and looked around nervously. Her voice was considerably lower when she spoke again. "You don't mean that--"
"I do--" I started, but she ran to me and covered my mouth with her hand. Surely she wasn't dumb enough to think that would shut me up.
"Are you insane?" she whispered frantically. She looked around cautiously again to make sure that we were still alone. "I get the whole depressed thing..." Her brow furrowed. "...well, not entirely, but I can see that you are upset because you think some other kid stole your favorite toy. But you can't go around damning people to Hell unless you have a wish to go there yourself."
I jerked my head away from her hand, then grabbed her wrist, stilling it in its place when she tried to follow my movement. I glared into her deep brown eyes. "Hell couldn't be any worse than the one I'm already living in," I said through a clenched jaw, then shoved her away from me and walked out the door.
I lost my footing and practically fell into the corridor. My legs felt like jell-o and there was a high pitched ringing in my ears all of a sudden.
What's happening to me?
I shook my head in confusion and rubbed my blurry eyes in an attempt to clear my vision. I stumbled into the wall and fell to my knees as Heaven spun around me; my palms, then skull, slapped the shiny floor with a loud clap and thump.
Something was seriously wrong with me, but I had no clue as to what. Angels were free of imperfections. We never got ill or injured. Evidently those standard rules didn't apply to me anymore.
I heard the door to the recreational room open, footsteps coming toward me and a muffled voice screaming my name.
It sounded like I was in a tunnel. I could barely make out the words being spoken.
"Rhyan, can you hear me? Say something! Tell me what's wrong so I can do something. Please!" Josselyn began to sob above me, fear for my wellbeing clear in her cries, but I found it impossible to answer her. I could only groan. I couldn't concentrate on how to form a word, let alone an entire sentence. My world had flipped upside down in only a few brief seconds.
I would have panicked if I could have remembered how.
I faintly heard the echo of a male voice shouting, then more footsteps pounding the stone floor in my direction.
"What's wrong with him?" the male voice asked Josselyn, but I never heard her response.
An unfamiliar feeling started in my toes and worked its way up my body. It was...pain. It felt like a hundred burning hands on my naked flesh pulling me under a lake of molten lava.
My mouth involuntarily opened and a glass shattering scream left my throat.
My last thought was of Kendra. I forced my eyes open and frantically grabbed for the first angel I could get my hands on. It was Josselyn. Her expression was full of terror and panic as she stared back at me.
I tried my best to ignore the pain long enough to get my dying wish out of my mouth. "I give you Kendra." My voice shook, but I pushed through the weak vocals and finished what I needed to say. "Watch over her. I beg of you. I will not carry her soul with me into the unknown." I opened my mouth and released my link to Kendra into the shocked angel only a breath away from me.
She stared wide eyed and disbelieving at the empty floor where Rhyan had been only moments before. She tried to play the last few minutes through her head, but disorder and shock kept her thoughts scrambled in a big, scary mess.
The uneasy feeling when first receiving a new charge had her hands gripped into tight fists. She could feel Kendra there, but she was asleep, so it wasn't quite so bad yet.
"Where did you go?" she whispered to the empty place in front of her, and a tear fell from her eye, but evaporated into nothing before hitting the unblemished, unearthly stone that made up the heavenly floor.
"He's gone over to Limbo," a male voice said, startling Josselyn out of her hazy nightmare. "I've only seen this happen three other times in four hundred years."
She looked up at Malcolm through tear filled eyes. "It's my fault," she said, and her breath hitched a bit. A stream of fresh tears began to leak from her eyes, then disappeared before they reached their destination.
He placed a hand on each side of her arms and lifted her effortlessly to her feet, then took her face in his hands and looked down into her eyes. "You can't possibly believe that after knowing the condition he was in. Rhyan has been dangling on the edge since Kendra made her choice, Josselyn. You can't blame yourself for his mistake."
Josselyn fell into thought and completely ignored the fact that his hands had slipped to her neck, and his lips were slowly getting closer to her own. She backed away from him. "You've seen it happen three times? Has anyone returned to Heaven after going into Limbo?"
She left his loose embrace and began to pace, but Malcolm only snapped his fingers and sat when a chair appeared behind him. He rested his ankle on his left knee, and then laced his fingers together behind his head, making himself comfortable for what appeared to be a long while. There was no need to interrupt her train of thought, or even answer any of her questions. She wasn't ready to hear them yet. He snapped his fingers again to place a chair in her path. She walked around it without pausing or acknowledging its presence.
"There must be a way. Who made the decision to send him there? We were the only two in the room." She stopped pacing and looked at Malcolm, who only shrugged his broad shoulders. "You don't know? You've been here a lot longer than I have. Do you think you could help me out a little? If there's a way to get him back I need to at least try, Malcolm."
Her eyes widened in disbelief at his simple, yet ridiculous response. "Why?" she said, aghast.
He nodded once and shrugged his shoulders again. "Yeah, why do you want to bring him back? He's obviously miserable, and there is nothing anyone can say to cheer him up or help him get over Kendra not choosing him, not that she had a choice, really. I know that. You know that. He knew that. I heard they offered to give her to someone else, and he about flipped his lid." His brow lifted in a question. "So, why do you want him to come back here?" Without taking his eyes from her, he snapped his fingers and the chair moved behind her legs.
She glanced at the wooden structure and took a seat. "Thank you," she huffed.
The corner of his mouth turned up on one side and he gave her a slight nod. "You're welcome."
She opened her mouth to speak, then closed it. She tried twice more before she finally got the words out. "What's in Limbo?"
A mischievous smirk spread across his face. "How should I know?"
She could tell he was hiding something. And she wasn't going to play games with him any longer. Rhyan didn't deserve to be in some Limbo because he couldn't help the way he felt about someone, and therefore control his actions and words. She had to get him back. She needed him back.
Josselyn looked at his smirk a moment longer, then, giving him one of her own, she stood and began to walk away.
Malcolm chuckled, but remained in his seat. "Where are you going?" When she kept walking and didn't respond, he lost his smile, then stood and followed after her. "C'mon, Jossel, I was only playing around with you. Really, what are you going to do?"
"I'm going to visit Isaiah," she said.
Malcolm froze in mid step, then closed his eyes and shook his head as he groaned, "Ah, Hell."
©Copyright Kristie Haigwood 2013 
*This is book 2 in this series but can be read as a stand alone*
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