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On Wings of Passion

Prequel to On Wings of Thunder

by M.D. Grimm

A Story from the On Wings Saga

Prequel to On Wings of Thunder

Every story has a beginning…. Dragons. Angels fear them and demons follow them. Formidable beasts of incredible power, they fight each other to the death for dominance. But dwindling dragon numbers cause alarm among the angelic ranks. Surely when they have nothing left to conquer, the fearsome creatures will turn their sights to the Upper Realm.

Roland, an angelic artist of significant talent, doesn’t know what to believe. Part of him longs to see a dragon in person, and his peaceful life of contentment is wearing thin. He wants passion, desire, adventure, and love. He gets more than he bargained for when, along with his sister, he’s ambushed and captured by demons, who bring him to a creature who surpasses Roland’s wildest imaginings.

But the mighty dragon Asagoroth is not all that he seems. Something sparks between him and Roland. Something neither anticipated. Something that will shake the cosmos to its core.

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Excerpt:

ROLAND LOWERED the paintbrush and frowned. Still not the right shade. Damn. With a sigh he went back to his palette and mixed once again. The client had been clear on what color and shade she wanted—it was to be the blue of the sky just after a storm at sunset—and he was determined to deliver as promised. He had a love-hate relationship with commissions. He loved creating art for himself and the enjoyment of others, and clients paid well for his skills, yet if the proposed piece didn’t speak to him, it was extremely hard to find any enthusiasm to create it. He would always rather work on his own pieces, but he needed to feed himself, after all. He didn’t get many chances to put on an art show.

Especially considering much of his private collection dealt with demons. If anyone found that out, he’d probably be questioned regarding his sanity or labeled a traitor.

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He couldn’t help his strange, dark pull toward the volatile cousins of angels. He was an artist, and he saw beauty in many things. Even disturbing things.

Roland lifted his paintbrush once again and tested the color. Perfect. Now he could continue with the sky portion before descending to the battle scene below. His client was the wife of Commander Mykial, and she insisted on a painting depicting her husband’s triumphant routing of a demon horde. The battle happened ten years earlier and it was still one of his finest moments. Delighted with his progress, Roland continued with the piece, barely noticing when the door to his studio opened. He caught a whiff of the intruder’s scent and smiled.

“Ever heard of knocking, Gabryl?”

“You told me once a knock disturbed you more than a silent approach.”

“Ah, so you do listen to me. I’m flattered.”

Gabryl snorted and knew better than to hover when Roland was working. He stayed near the door and waited for Roland to turn around. They’d been friends for years and casual lovers since reaching adulthood, so it wasn’t surprising Gabryl knew his quirks.

Roland didn’t rush himself, and Gabryl was the definition of patience. Once he was satisfied, Roland set his tools aside and finally turned to regard Gabryl.

Gabryl was a fine specimen of masculinity. His piercing green eyes were the first thing to capture Roland’s attention all those years ago. His large golden wings contrasted nicely with his black hair, so dark that blue highlights could be seen when he flew under the sun. His skin was burnished gold in stark contrast to Roland’s porcelain white. He was tall and broad and intelligent, and Roland had used his imposing form as a model for several commissions over the years. He was pleasing inside and out, and it was little wonder Roland had taken to him so quickly.

Unfortunately, despite all that, he never considered pairing with him. Beyond the obvious objection that they were both male and couldn’t produce children—though surrogates were a clear way around that—there wasn’t any passion. Roland would receive contentment if he bonded with Gabryl. That wasn’t horrible by any means, and, in fact, many angels made such a relationship their life’s goal. Passion wasn’t something highly regarded.

Roland could only surmise his artist’s heart refused to settle for anything so mundane. More was the pity since he was quite fond of Gabryl, and he knew the affection was mutual.

He grabbed a cloth and wiped his hands. “To what do I owe this pleasure? Haven’t seen you in nearly a month.”

“I got roped into implementing a new categorizing system for the library.”

Roland raised an eyebrow. “I highly doubt anyone can rope you into anything, dear. You volunteered, didn’t you?”

Gabryl grinned and shrugged.

Roland chuckled. “Knowledge keepers. If you’re not teaching half-asleep students, you have your faces in books.”

“Artists. If you’re not painting, you’re looking for paint or mixing paint, or howling that you don’t have the right color of paint.”

Roland laughed outright at that. “Damn you! You know me too well.”

“Do you ever expect me to forget the meltdown of winter ’66 when you chucked that easel at me?”

Guffawing, Roland managed to peck a kiss to Gabryl’s cheek. “And I’m sure I will be apologizing for that for the rest of my life. Truly I am sorry. I am a temperamental artist and can’t handle it when my supplies betray me.”

With an indulgent smile, Gabryl returned the kiss. “I have a meltdown when I see students crease pages. I understand.”

Roland patted his shoulder before moving to his large and generous paint supply. And, of course, realized he was out of a color he needed—a shade of pink for the sunset. At this rate he feared the painting would never be done.

He sighed long and low. “Typical,” he mumbled.

“Is that for Dina?”

Roland glanced at Gabryl as he nodded to the painting currently causing him a headache.

“Yes. And she was disturbingly precise about everything, right down to color shades and placement of things. I normally wouldn’t take such dictation from a client but, well, you know. Mykial’s wife. I couldn’t exactly say no.”

Gabryl nodded. “She and my brother are quite controlling and rigid. They are well suited.”

“Can’t argue that.”

“He said something rather disturbing to me the other day,” Gabryl said a moment later, voice low and cautious.

Roland looked over his shoulder. “Everything Mykial says to you is disturbing. Talk about a meltdown king. He has us both beat.”

Usually that would get at least a smile, if not a laugh. This time, however, Gabryl simply stared at him, expression hard.

Frowning, Roland turned fully toward him. “I’m listening.”

Gabryl blew out a breath. “This is in confidence.”

“As it always is. You know my lips are sealed.”

He nodded. “He came to me with questions yesterday, and they troubled me. I asked my own before I would answer his, and he finally broke down and told me the reason for his need of my assistance. He wanted me to look at records of dragon sightings, going as far back as possible.”

“Whatever for?”

“There have been a significant lack of sightings recently. They’ve been steadily dropping for the past decade and, in the last couple of years, have nearly ceased altogether.”

“Um, correct me if I’m wrong, but isn’t that a good thing?”

“Not in the least.”

“Now I’m confused.”

Gabryl began pacing, his proud wings fluttering in agitation, his purple robe swishing around his legs. “Dragons seek to dominate and destroy. They target each other because of the challenge and prestige in victory. Sometimes they lead demon hordes against each other as well, showing off their military prowess.”

Roland nodded, still confused.

“They’ve left us alone because they’ve been so focused on each other. But what if there are only a handful left? Or, by the Light, only one left? What do you think happens then?” Gabryl stopped pacing and stared.

Roland blinked. “Oh.”

He nodded. “Yeah. Oh. They might start focusing on us. The last dragon or dragons standing will be the fiercest and most cunning of their kind. They or it will also rally the demons and could lead them in an assault against us.”

Roland swallowed hard. “Why would they give a bird’s ass about us?”

“Territory. Dominance. Arrogance. Take your pick. We have wealth up here, beauty and life. Why wouldn’t they want that as well?”

Cold slithered in Roland’s gut, and he rubbed his stomach. Though angels were naturally cool, his skin temperature dropped several more degrees, and he shivered.

“One dragon in particular has started to make a name for himself.”

Despite his dread, he was fascinated. “Who?”

“Asagoroth.” Gabryl shuddered when he said the name. “Every demon captured speaks of him in reverent tones, as if he was the One Who Brought the Light. He also doesn’t fear being noticed. He’s the only dragon our patrols have reported seeing the last couple of years. One demon even told Mykial that Asagoroth had observed the battle between two dragons and waited until they were clearly exhausted before killing both. The more he wins, the more demons that will follow him.”

“What will Mykial do?”

Gabryl shook his head. “He’ll bring the information to the high chancellor. I don’t know what she’ll do from there. As commander, he can only recommend. Hopefully she agrees to more guards at our outer posts, at least.”

“The very least.” Roland grimaced. “You know how to bring me down, don’t you, Gabby?”

Gabryl glared. “Don’t call me that.”

Roland smirked, though it was tight. Another shiver went through him as the looming threat of a dragon or full-scale demon attack haunted his thoughts. Gabryl sighed and tugged him into a hug, holding him tightly. Roland rested his head on Gabryl’s large shoulder and closed his eyes.

“Be careful, Ro,” he said softly. “I know you sneak out to our outer borders to get items for your paints. Maybe hold off on that. Or go with a guard or something. Keep your eyes open.”

Smiling at his worry, Roland kissed his cheek. “I will.”

Gabryl returned the kiss, and for a tense moment, they stared at each other before Gabryl stepped back. He cleared his throat. Roland chuckled slightly.

“It’s time for supper,” Gabryl said. “I’m eating with Mykial tonight. You should join us.”

“I don’t want to intrude—”

“Don’t be an idiot.” Gabryl playfully shoved him. “My nephews are asking for you and you won’t have to talk to Dina about the painting since it’s supposed to be a surprise.”

“Glad you told me.” Roland put away his supplies before tossing a clean sheet over the canvas. “I might have asked her something about it.”

“I wouldn’t if you don’t want your feathers plucked.”

Roland winced. “Don’t say such things!”

Gabryl laughed and slung an arm across Roland’s shoulders to lead him out of the studio.

COLLAPSE
Reviews:Elaine White on Divine Magazine wrote:

I first read On Wings of Thunder in 2016. It was immediately an instant favourite and I would have bought it in paperback, if it had been released in that form. That's how much I loved it. It became a regular re-read, since then.

When I saw that On Wings of Passion was being released, I didn't even read the blurb before requesting an ARC. But, once I did, I was both heartbroken, hopeful and nervous. I was scared that it could never be the same to read about Asagoroth being in love with Roland, when I was so firmly entrenched with his love for Trystan. And then came the question on HOW to read it – did I read it first? Did I re-read On Wings of Thunder first, to remind me of who everyone was? I was in a dilemma.

I chose to read On Wings of Passion as a prequel, as it was intended, which means reading it first. And...honestly...I'm so glad I did. It is a TRUE prequel. It tells a story that immediately sucks you in, but at the same time, prepares you for the journey that On Wings of Thunder will be. It sets the stage, reintroduces character that I thought I knew, in a way I never saw them before.

Everything that I loved about On Wings of Thunder was here. The romance, the chemistry, the action, the risk, the danger, the excitement. There was a constant thrum of nervous energy, from the first moment Roland found himself in trouble, to the lurking vengeance of Asagoroth waiting for his moment to strike. It was both familiar and new, at the same time. And it was everything that anyone could want, coming into this series for the first time. It can be read before or after On Wings of Thunder, though I totally recommend reading it as a prequel, first.

Despite the 3 years between On Wings of Thunder and On Wings of Passion, it has the same heart, the same beauty, the same hope and despair that the original story had. It managed to suck me in from page one and give me that feeling of coming home, after being gone for too long. That feeling of seeing a friend or family member that you've been away from for years, and suddenly finding that nothing has changed; the years feel like days and that old chemistry and affection is still there. That's what On Wings of Passion is. It's the prequel that On Wings of Thunder deserved; it's the story that all the fans of the first book desperately wanted to read; and it's the beautiful and tragic love that Roland deserved.

Starting with a moving and powerful prologue, that awful mix of pain and joy didn't end until the last page. Nothing makes me happier than the Author's Note, that tells me this may not be the last we ever see of Asagoroth or Trystan.

~

Favourite Quotes

““I screamed at you,” he said softly. “The first time we met, I hurt you. I’m not an heir, so I can’t be part of your plans. I’m nobody. I don’t matter. Yet I’m still alive. You need to tell me why.”
Asagoroth stared for a long, significant pause before he closed his eyes and exhaled softly. Roland gripped part of the wall to keep from being pushed off the shelf.
“I am starting to wonder,” Asagoroth said, also in Middle Enochian, his words thick with emotion, “if you might be all that matters.””


About the Author

M.D. Grimm has wanted to write stories since second grade (kind of young to make life decisions, but whatever) and nothing has changed since then (well, plenty of things actually, but not that!). Thankfully, she has indulgent parents who let her dream, but also made sure she understood she’d need a steady job to pay the bills (they never let her forget it!). After graduating from the University of Oregon and majoring in English, (let’s be honest: useless degree, what else was she going to do with it?) she started on her writing career and couldn’t be happier. Working by day and writing by night (or any spare time she can carve out), she enjoys embarking on romantic quests and daring adventures (living vicariously, you could say) and creating characters that always triumph against the villain, (or else what’s the point?) finding their soul mate in the process.


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