Alexandra Adornetto: Hades

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Hades: краткое содержание, описание и аннотация

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Heaven Help Her. Bethany Church is an angel sent to Earth to keep dark forces at bay. Falling in love was never part of her mission, but the bond between Beth and her mortal boyfriend, Xavier Woods, is undeniably strong. But even Xavier’s love, and the care of her archangel siblings, Gabriel and Ivy, can’t keep Beth from being tricked into a motorcycle ride that ends up in Hell. There, the demon Jake Thorn bargains for Beth’s release back to Earth. But what he asks of her will destroy her, and quite possibly, her loved ones, as well. The story that Alexandra Adornetto built in her New York Times-bestselling debut, Halo, comes alive in action-packed and unexpected ways, as angels battle demons, and the power of love is put to the test.

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How art thou fallen from heaven, O Lucifer,

Son of the morning!

— Isaiah 14:12–15

The Devil went down to Georgia, he was lookin’ for a soul to steal.

He was in a bind, ’cos he was way behind; he was willin’ to make a deal.

— Charlie Daniels, “Devil Went Down to Georgia”


The Kids Are All Right

WHEN the final bell sounded at Bryce Hamilton, Xavier and I gathered our things and headed out onto the south lawn. The weather forecast had predicted a clear afternoon, but the sun was fighting an uphill battle and the sky remained a cheerless, gunmetal gray. Occasionally the watery sunlight broke through and fingers of light danced across the grounds, warming the back of my neck.

“Are you coming over for dinner tonight?” I asked Xavier, linking my arm through his. “Gabriel wants to try making burritos.”

Xavier looked across at me and laughed.

“What’s funny?”

“I’m just thinking,” he said. “How come in all the paintings, angels are depicted guarding thrones in Heaven or taking out demons? I wonder why they’re never shown in the kitchen making burritos.”

“Because we have a reputation to uphold,” I said, nudging him. “So are you coming?”

“Can’t.” Xavier sighed. “I promised my kid sister I’d stay home and carve pumpkins.”

“Shoot. I keep forgetting about Halloween.”

“You should try and get into the spirit of it,” Xavier said. “Everyone around here takes it very seriously.”

I knew he wasn’t exaggerating; jack-o’-lanterns and plaster headstones already adorned every front porch in town in honor of the occasion.

“I know,” I said. “But the whole idea creeps me out. Why would anyone want to dress up as ghosts and zombies? It’s like everyone’s worst nightmares coming to life.”

“Beth.” Xavier stopped walking and took hold of my shoulders. “It’s a holiday, lighten up!”

He was right. I needed to stop being so wary. It was six months now since the ordeal with Jake Thorn and things couldn’t have been better. Peace had returned to Venus Cove and I’d grown more attached to the place than ever. Nestled on the picturesque Georgia coastline, the sleepy little town in Sherbrooke County had become my home. With its pretty balconies and ornate shopfronts, Main Street was so quaint it could have been an image on a postcard. In fact, everything from the cinema to the old courthouse exuded the Southern charm and gentility of a long-forgotten era.

Over the past year the influence of my family had spread and transformed Venus Cove into a model town. The church congregation had tripled in numbers, charity missions had more volunteers than they could handle, and reported incidents of crime were so few and far between that the sheriff was forced to find other things to occupy his time. Nowadays the only disputes that happened were minor, like drivers arguing over who saw a parking space first. But that was just human nature. It couldn’t be changed and it wasn’t our job to try and change it.

But the best development of all was that Xavier and I had grown even closer. I looked across at him. He was just as breathtakingly beautiful as ever. His tie hung loose and his blazer was slung casually over one shoulder. I could feel his taut body occasionally brushing against mine as we walked side by side, our footsteps falling in time. Sometimes it was easy to think of us as one entity.

Since the violent encounter with Jake last year, Xavier had hit the gym even harder and thrown himself into sports more vigorously. I knew he was doing it so he’d be better equipped to protect me, but that didn’t mean I couldn’t enjoy the perks. Xavier had more definition in his chest and washboard abs. He was still slender and perfectly proportioned, but I could see the muscles in his arms rippling beneath the fine cotton of his shirt. I looked up at his refined features: his straight nose, high cheekbones, and full lips. In the light of the sun, his walnut-colored hair was streaked with gold and his almond-shaped eyes were like liquid blue topaz. On his ring finger he now wore the gift I’d given him after he had helped me recover from Jake’s attack. It was a thick silver band etched with three symbols of faith: a five-point star to represent the star of Bethlehem; a trefoil to honor the three persons of the Holy Trinity; and the initials IHS, an abbreviation of Ihesus, the way Christ’s name was spelled in the Middle Ages. I’d had an identical one made for me and I liked to think they were our special version of a promise ring. Another person who’d witnessed as much as Xavier had might have lost all faith in Our Father, but Xavier had strength of mind and spirit. He’d made a commitment to us and I knew that nothing could persuade him to break it.

My train of thought was broken when we bumped into a group of Xavier’s friends from the water-polo team in the parking lot. I knew some of them by name and caught the tail end of their conversation.

“I can’t believe Wilson hooked up with Kay Bentley,” a boy named Lawson snickered. He was still bleary-eyed from whatever misadventure had taken place over the weekend. I knew from experience it probably involved a keg and willful damage to property.

“It’s his funeral,” someone muttered. “Everyone knows she’s done more miles than my dad’s vintage Chrysler.”

“I don’t care so long as it wasn’t on my bed. I’d have to burn everything.”

“Don’t worry, man, pretty sure they were out on the back lawn.”

“I was so wasted, I don’t remember a damn thing,” Lawson declared.

“I remember you tried to hook up with me,” replied a boy named Wesley in his lilting accent. He contorted his face into a grimace.

“Whatever … it was dark. You could do a lot worse.”

“Not funny,” Wesley growled. “Someone posted a picture on Facebook. What am I gonna tell Jess?”

“Tell her you couldn’t resist Lawson’s ripped body.” Xavier thumped his friend on the back as he sauntered past. “He’s really built from all those hours on the PlayStation.”

I laughed as Xavier pulled open the door of his sky blue Chevy Bel Air convertible. I climbed in, stretched out, and breathed in the familiar smell of the leather seats. I loved the car almost as much as Xavier did now. It had been with us from the very beginning, from our first date at Sweethearts Café to the showdown with Jake Thorn at the cemetery. Though I’d never admit it, I’d come to think of the Chevy as having a personality of its own. Xavier turned the key in the ignition and the car roared to life. They seemed to move in sync — as if they were attuned to each other.

“So have you come up with a costume yet?”

“For what?” I asked blankly.

Xavier shook his head. “For Halloween. Try to keep up!”

“Not yet,” I admitted. “I’m still working on it. What about you?”

“How do you feel about Batman?” Xavier asked with a wink. “I’ve always wanted to be a superhero.”

“You just want to pretend you drive a Batmobile.”

Xavier gave a guilty smile. “Damn it! You know me too well.”

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