J.R. Ward: Rapture

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J.R. Ward Rapture
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Rapture: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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Mels Carmichael, reporter for the Caldwell Courier Journal, gets the shock of her life when a man stumbles in front of her car outside the local cemetery. After the accident, his amnesia is just the kind of mystery she likes to solve, but she soon discovers they're over their heads with his past. Over their heads with passion, too ...As shadows walk the line between reality and another realm, and her lover's memory begins to come back, the two of them learn that nothing is truly dead and buried. Especially when you're trapped in a no-holds-barred war between angels and demons. With a soul on the line, and Mels's heart at risk, what in heaven — or in hell — will it take to save them both?

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(The fourth book in the Fallen Angels series)

A novel by J R Ward

For our Rachel,

who not only puts the “heart” in Heartland,

but introduced me to the real live Fi-Fi


With great thanks to the readers!

And as always with love to Team Waud, you know who you are, and so many thanks to Steve Axelrod, Kara Welsh, Leslie Gelbman, and Claire Zion.

None of this would be possible without my family, both those of blood and adoption.

Oh, and of course, WriterDog.

Chapter One


And not as in serious. As in headstone and freshly disturbed earth, as in a body down under, as in ashes to ashes, dust to dust.

Matthias was naked on a grave. In the middle of a cemetery that stretched out as far as he could see.

First thing he thought of was the back tats he’d made his men get, the ones of the Grim Reaper standing in a field of marble and granite slabs.

Fucking ironic, really—and maybe he was going to get sliced and diced by a sycthe at any second.

Try saying that three times fast.

Blinking to clear what little vision he had, he gathered his limbs closer to his torso to preserve warmth, and waited for the scene to shift back to his reality. When nothing changed, he wondered where the wall that he’d been trapped in for an eternity had gone.

Had he finally gotten free of the cloying, crowded torture pit?

Was he out of Hell?

With a groan, he tried to push himself up, but it was hard enough to just lift his head. Then again, finding out firsthand that those religious nuts had been right about a lot of things kind of made a guy want to take a nap: In fact, sinners did go down under, and not to Australia, and once you were there, the suffering made all the stuff you’d bitched about aboveground look like Universal Studios on a free pass.

There was a Devil.

And her living room sucked.

Although the Holy Rollers hadn’t gotten everything straight. Turned out Satan didn’t have horns, or a tail; no pitchfork or cloven hooves, either. She was a bitch and a half, however, and she did wear red a lot. Then again, brunettes looked good in that color—at least, that’s what she told herself.

With his left eye, the one that worked, he blinked again, bracing himself for a return to the dense, hot blackness, with the screams of the damned ringing in his ears, and his own pain ripping up his throat and exploding out his cracked lips….

Nope. Still on a grave. In a cemetery.

Buck-ass naked.

Taking it all in, he got an eyeball full of white marble tombs, and family plots marked with angels, and ghostly statues of the Virgin Mary—although the low-to-the-ground headstones were far more common, as if the runts of the litter had taken over the place. Pine trees and maples threw shadows across scruffy spring grass and wrought-iron benches. Streetlamps glowed peach at their tops like candles on a birthday cake, and the winding lanes might have been romantic in another place.

Here they weren’t. Not in this context of death—

From out of nowhere, scenes from his life passed by his eyes, making him wonder if he wasn’t enjoying a second shot at dying. Or a third, as was the case.

There was no happy-happy in the retrospective. No loving wife or beautiful children, no white picket anything. Just dead bodies, dozens of them, hundreds of them, all ones he had killed, or had ordered killed.

He had done evil, true evil, during his lifetime.

Forcing himself to sit up off the loose dirt, his body was a jigsaw that didn’t fit right, its bits and pieces jammed into sockets and joints that were sloppy in some places, too tight in others. But that’s what happened when you Humpty Dumpty’d yourself, and the medical profession and your limited healing powers were all you had to put things back together.

Shifting his eye over to the face of the grave marker, he frowned.

James Heron.

Jesus Christ, James Heron…

Ignoring the fact that his hand was shaking, he traced the deeply engraved letters, his fingertips sinking into what had been carved into the polished gray grantite.

A ragged breath left his chest, as if the pain he suddenly felt behind his ribs had bullied the oxygen out of his lungs.

He’d had no idea that there was an eternal reward, that your deeds were in fact counted and weighed, that there was a judgment that came on the heels of your heart’s final beat. That wasn’t what the pain was about, however. It was the knowledge that even if he’d known what waited for him, he wouldn’t have been able to do anything differently.

“I’m sorry,” he said, wondering exactly who he was talking to. “I’m so fucking sorry….”

No answer.

He looked up at the sky. “I’m sorry!”

Still no reply, and that was okay. His regrets were jamming up his head so there wasn’t a lot of room for third-party input anyway.

As he struggled to get up on his feet, his lower body buckled and sagged and he had to rely on the headstone for balance. God, he was a mess, his thighs pockmarked with scars, his belly riddled with keloids, one calf nearly stripped off the bone. The doctors had worked relative miracles with their bolts and rods, but compared to what he had been born like, he was a broken toy repaired with duct tape and Super Glue.

Then again, suicide was supposed to work. And Jim Heron was the reason he’d survived for another two years. Then death had found him and claimed him, and proved that the earth just borrowed souls. What was on the other side were the true owners.

Out of habit, he looked around for his cane, but then concentrated on what he was more likely to find: shadows coming for him, either those oily creatures from down below, or the human variety.

Either way he was fucked: As the former head of XOps, he had more enemies than a third-world dictator, and all of them had guns or guns for hire. And as a reject from the devil’s playground, it went without saying that he hadn’t gotten out of jail for free.

Sooner or later, someone was going to come after him, and even though he had nothing to live for, ego alone demanded that he put up a fight.

Or at least make a halfway decent target out of himself.

He started off with a limp, and continued on with the grace of a scarecrow, his body jerking in a series of spasms that culminated in a messy gait that hurt like hell. To conserve warmth, he tried to wrap his arms around himself, but that didn’t last. He needed them to compensate for the lurching.

With his zombie shuffle and his scrambled, what-the-fuck head, he walked on, crossing the scratchy grass, passing the graves, feeling the brush of the chilly, damp air across his skin. He had no idea how he’d gotten out. Where he was headed. What day, month, or year it was.

Clothes. Shelter. Food. Weaponry.

Once he had secured the basics, he would worry about the rest of it. Assuming something didn’t take him out first—after all, a wounded predator became prey fast. It was the law of the wild.

When he came up to a boxy stone building with wrought-iron fringe, he assumed it was just another tomb. But the Pine Grove Cemetery name across its pediment, and the shiny Master Lock on the front door suggested it was a grounds crew facility.

Fortunately, someone had left one of the windows open a crack in the back.

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