He was breathtaking. The archangel Michael could think of no other word to describe him. His long, blond hair fell down his back in luxuriant waves, stopping just above the perfectly rounded buttocks. The strength in his muscular arms carried him up the cliff side with ease, his feet never missing a step. His pure white wings didn’t have a hint of gray in them, showing all who saw him he was completely at peace in his emotions.
Even though all angels were beautiful, in Michael’s eyes, Lucifer outshone them all.
It had become a habit of Michael’s to wander to the reflection pool at the same time of day Lucifer liked to visit.
Lucifer enjoyed searching for gems embedded in the stones, always striving to find the most perfect pieces for the jewelry he crafted. The best time to see the hidden stones was at dawn, when the rays of the morning sun hit the area at just the right angle.
Michael had discovered Lucifer’s habit of visiting the pool by chance, but now he made sure his morning walk coincided with Lucifer’s swim as often as possible. He loved nothing better than beginning his day by watching Lucifer at his work.
He had every intention of introducing himself one day, but until then he was content to observe.
Michael took a bite of one of the peaches he had picked on his walk from his home on the beach. He had gathered a few, just in case he found the courage to speak to Lucifer this morning. He sighed as he admitted to himself he wouldn’t say anything today, just as he had held his silence yesterday, and all the days before.
He didn’t even know how long he had been watching Lucifer. It must have been several weeks now, if not months. He wished he could think of a single word to say to the aloof son of the morning, who outranked even the archangels.
Michael didn’t think Lucifer had seen him, yet something must have given his position away, because the angel peered over his shoulder from the cliff wall and stared directly at him.
He opened his mouth, willing the right words to come from his lips, even as he suspected he would probably say something monumentally foolish. Before he could utter a word, Lucifer let go of his grip on the rocks and dived gracefully into the deep, clear blue waters below.
Michael toyed with the edge of his robe, wondering whether he should join Lucifer in the pool. Had Lucifer’s piercing stare been an invitation?
While Michael deliberated, Lucifer surfaced and drew in a long breath. He ran his hands through his wet hair, the move drawing attention to his perfectly defined pectoral muscles.
Michael had to say something. Lucifer had seen him and it would be rude not to acknowledge him now.
“Good morning,” Michael called. His voice came out as something of a squeak and he cringed at the embarrassingly juvenile sound. He could have communicated his thoughts telepathically, as all angels could, but he had never enjoyed hearing someone else’s voice in his head. His fellow angels considered him a little odd for this particular quirk, but they respected his foible and spoke out loud unless absolutely necessary. Now Michael wished he had sent his greeting to Lucifer’s mind—at least then he wouldn’t have sounded so childish.
Lucifer inclined his head in response and dove under the water again.
Michael hung his head in disappointment. He had a feeling he had committed some kind of faux pas. Not only had Lucifer failed to reply to his greeting, he hadn’t even offered the smallest of smiles.
Now he thought about it, Michael didn’t recall ever seeing Lucifer smile. Even when he had struggled to reach a particular jewel and had, at last, been successful, he hadn’t smiled at the accomplishment. Michael suspected if Lucifer ever did smile directly at him, he would be entirely lost to the angel.
Lucifer continued to swim, diving under the water before returning to the surface, sometimes with a gem from the bottom, sometimes without. He didn’t look in Michael’s direction again.
Michael ate the final peach, knowing he had no intention of offering the fruit to Lucifer today. When he had eaten the last bite he rose from his place on the grass, intending to head to the communal conclave, where the rest of the archangels would be congregating and monitoring the earth, enjoying the new day.
“Did you enjoy watching me?”
Michael stumbled into a bush, nearly losing his balance entirely. When he faced Lucifer, the angel had exited the pool and stood near the robes he had discarded earlier. Lucifer didn’t seem in any hurry to pick up his clothing. He stood naked and unashamed before Michael, who couldn’t keep his eyes from straying downward.
“Or should I have asked are you enjoying watching me?” Lucifer amended.
Michael’s face burned as he met Lucifer’s gaze. He half expected to see a teasing smile on the angel’s lips, but his customary scowl remained in place.
Lucifer laughed without humor. “Archangels,” he muttered, just loud enough for Michael to hear. “Spare me from ogling archangels who can’t string a sentence together.”
Michael wished the ground would open up and swallow him. He never had trouble speaking when he talked to anyone else. Why had he become tongue-tied at precisely the wrong moment?
Humiliated and dejected, Michael hurried away, leaving Lucifer at the side of the pool.
Michael knew in his heart he wouldn’t go back tomorrow. His one chance to speak to Lucifer, to secure his attention, had slipped past him, never to return.
* * * *
“What brings you here so early?” Gabriel asked as Michael took a seat at the breakfast table two mornings after his humiliating episode with Lucifer.
He hadn’t been back to the pool, following their embarrassing exchange, and Michael’s path had not crossed that of Lucifer’s, much to his relief. He couldn’t believe he had been so foolish as to get caught spying on the son of the morning. What must Lucifer think of him?
“Two mornings together,” Raphael added with a teasing smile.
Michael sniffed haughtily. “Just because I’m choosing to keep you company instead of dining alone at home.”
“Oh, is that what you’re doing?” Gabriel asked. “Because your body might be here, but your mind is clearly elsewhere.”
Raphael laughed. “His mind is probably lingering wherever it is he usually spends these hours, which certainly isn’t in his home.”
“What do you mean?” Gabriel questioned.
“I’ve been to Michael’s house most mornings these last few weeks to invite him to join us, and the place has been surprisingly empty.”
Michael studied his plate of food. He hadn’t realized his presence had been missed. Normally a late riser, he had gone to a great deal of effort to wake early enough to see Lucifer at the pool. He hadn’t imagined Raphael had attended at his home so early.
Any hope Michael had that Gabriel would let Raphael’s comment pass vanished along with his plate.
“Give that back,” Michael demanded.
Gabriel shook his head. “Not until you tell us where you’ve been going so early in the mornings. It must be something important to encourage you to stir out of your bed before the sun is at its zenith.”
Michael rolled his eyes. “I’ve just been walking the heavens, enjoying the birth of each new day.”
Raphael snorted. “This is the same archangel who couldn’t even wake to watch the sunrise from his own private beach, no matter how often we told him the sight would be spectacular.”
Gabriel laughed. “I don’t believe him either. I think our Michael is hiding something.”
“I’m sure he is,” Raphael agreed. “The question is what?”
Michael didn’t want to rise to the bait, but they didn’t need any encouragement. The life of an archangel rarely contained intrigue or mystery and a small part of each of them seemed to relish the same whenever the chance arose. Michael accepted their teasing with good humor, just as he knew they would treat his friendly jibes in the same manner.
“Or maybe it’s who,” Gabriel suggested. “Metatron has appeared rather lonely since he parted company with Sandalphon. Perhaps Michael has been warming Metatron’s bed instead of his own.”
This time Michael laughed along with the others. “No, I promise I’ve not been sleeping in any bed save my own.”
Raphael waggled his eyebrows. “Who said anything about sleeping?”
Michael groaned at the poor quip, but before he could deliver his retort, a hush came over the room. Across the table from him, Gabriel’s jaw dropped in apparent surprise as he stared at something over Michael’s shoulder.
Next to him, Raphael twisted in his seat and his expression morphed into one of shock too.
Michael wondered what might be happening behind him, yet he couldn’t move a muscle to see for himself. His spine tingled and he had the strangest sensation someone was staring straight at him.
“What is it?” he whispered, and in the silence of the room even his quiet question seemed obnoxiously loud.
“The son of the morning,” Gabriel murmured as he set Michael’s plate back in front of him with a shaky hand. “Lucifer.”
Michael must have misheard. Lucifer never came into the communal areas of Heaven. He, along with the other favorites, remained solitary, rarely associating with the rest of the angels, and never in a crowded setting such as this.
Slowly, barely able to draw breath, Michael faced the entrance.
Lucifer stood in the archway, the morning sun behind him. There could be no mistaking his silhouette for that of another.
In the brightness of the light, Michael couldn’t tell what Lucifer searched for, at least not for sure. Only his instincts told him Lucifer had eyes for him, and him alone.
Slowly, Lucifer strolled into the room. Every angel in his path stepped aside to let him pass. Some bowed their heads respectfully, but he didn’t acknowledge their deference in any way.
Finally he arrived at Michael’s table and came to a halt.
“Good morning,” Lucifer said.
“I…” Michael mumbled, once again silently cursing his ineptitude.
“I see you still have trouble forming sentences,” Lucifer commented. “Let us hope you can manage more than a single word by this evening.”
Raphael gathered his wits together first and rose to make a sweeping bow. “Great angel, welcome to our table. Won’t you join us and partake of the fruits?”
Lucifer spared the archangel a momentary glance. “I have already eaten this morning.”
Raphael didn’t seem to know what to say, so he sat back down with a bump.
Lucifer returned his attention to Michael. “This evening, at sunset.”
“Where?” Michael asked, his voice croaking embarrassingly.
“Rumor has it your beach is quite pleasant.”
Michael nodded, not trusting his voice enough to try speaking again.
“Tonight then, Michael,” Lucifer said, before sweeping away in a flurry of robes, everyone once again stepping aside to make way for him.
“The son of the morning knows your name?” Gabriel asked as soon as Lucifer had gone. “Is he the one you’ve been meeting each dawn?”
Michael ducked his head. “I wouldn’t say I was meeting him, exactly.”
“But you have been with him in the mornings?” Raphael pressed. “You kept that quiet.”
There would be no escaping the interrogation and Michael accepted he had to come clean.
“I couldn’t sleep one night and ended up walking through the lands to the north of here. I chanced upon Lucifer coming to the pool of jewels one dawn. It seems he visits there most mornings.”
“And you’ve been at the pool with him,” Gabriel concluded.
“I wouldn’t say with him,” Michael mumbled. “I just happen to be in the area at the same time.”
“Just happen?” Raphael chuckled and leaned in to whisper. “I heard a rumor that when Lucifer is diving for jewels he disrobes completely.”
Michael’s face heated again.
Gabriel roared with laughter. “You’ve been spying on Lucifer?”
“I wouldn’t call it spying,” Michael replied.
“But everyone else would,” Raphael teased. “Oh, Michael, what would we do without you to keep us entertained?”
Raphael and Gabriel laughed and teased him for a little while longer, until Gabriel asked the question that had been bothering Michael ever since Lucifer’s appearance.
“If all you’ve been doing is ogling him, how did Lucifer know your name?”
Michael shrugged. “I don’t know. Maybe I projected it telepathically without realizing.”
“Or maybe he’s been watching you too?” Raphael suggested.
Michael laughed loudly and shook his head. The idea was too preposterous to take seriously. Lucifer hadn’t even seen him until two days ago, and the impression Michael had made was hardly one of note. The far more likely explanation was that Michael had accidentally revealed his name without being aware he had done so.
He supposed it didn’t matter. All that did was that Lucifer would be coming to his beach tonight. Michael didn’t let his thoughts linger on how Lucifer knew where he lived too.
* * * *
Michael sat on the sandy dunes waiting for Lucifer to appear. Sunset wasn’t for at least another hour, but he either sat here or paced the small beach hut until then.
He had already changed his robes four times, before finally deciding on the cream set with the golden trim and sash. If he returned to the hut once more he would, no doubt, change clothes again and still be debating what to wear when Lucifer finally appeared. No, it was better he sit still and wait as patiently as he could for his guest to arrive.
He had spent most of the day wondering what Lucifer could possibly want with him. Had Michael offended him by watching him at the pool? The angel certainly hadn’t seemed too happy to find Michael spying on him. Lucifer’s reaction, combined with Michael's embarrassment, was why Michael had chosen to stay away after he had been caught.
Lost in his thoughts, Michael didn’t notice the minutes slipping away until he saw the shadow of an angel in flight on the sand. Lucifer landed gracefully, several feet away, his back to the sea.
“Good evening,” Lucifer said as he drew closer.
Michael wondered whether he could trust his voice not to betray him again, decided not to tempt fate, and offered a smile to the angel as he gestured to the spot on the sand beside him.
Lucifer sat and stretched out his long legs next to Michael’s. “Why haven’t you been to the pool the last two days?” he asked.
Michael couldn’t meet his eyes. “I don’t go there every day,” he said. He spoke the truth, in so far as it went. Occasionally he missed a morning when he overslept, or when his duties kept him away.
“You’ve never been absent two days in a row before,” Lucifer replied. “Not once, in all the time you’ve been watching me.”
Michael gaped at Lucifer.
“Did you think I didn’t know you were there?” Lucifer asked, and the smallest of smiles appeared on his lips.
Lucifer rolled his eyes. “Foolish archangel, of course I knew. I sensed your presence weeks ago. The first time I could feel your surprise, I don’t think you knew I would be there. After that first dawn you came for me, didn’t you?”
Michael nodded. He had heard rumors the son of the morning was a powerful empath, and Lucifer’s words confirmed the stories.
“Did you never wonder why I kept returning to the pool when there are so many places in this wonderful realm where I can find what I need?”
“No, I guess I didn’t.”
“I enjoyed you watching me. Couldn’t you tell?”
Michael’s gaze drifted down to Lucifer’s lap, where his robes tented ever so slightly. It could simply have been the way the fabric had fallen, yet now the idea had been put into his head, Michael wondered if Lucifer might be aroused.
“Your thoughts are written all over your face,” Lucifer said. “You can hide nothing from me. Why don’t you ask what you want to know so badly?”
“Am I projecting my thoughts?” Michael asked.
“No, but they’re clear to me just the same. Ask the question.”
Lucifer gave him another small smile and Michael’s heart leaped to his throat. “And you were doing so well at constructing those difficult sentences.” Lucifer leaned in to whisper. “Ask me, Michael.”
Michael stared into Lucifer’s sapphire-blue eyes and finally found his tongue. “Are you aroused?”
Lucifer’s smile widened, revealing perfect, pearly white teeth. “Give me your hand.”
Michael didn’t hesitate. He placed his hand into Lucifer’s open palm and let the angel guide him. He didn’t break their gaze as Lucifer placed Michael’s hand over his groin and encouraged him to touch the hardness.
“Have you ever done this before?” asked Lucifer, his voice breathless.
Michael frowned. The hardness in Lucifer’s voice when he asked the question took him by surprise. “It doesn’t matter. My last relationship ended centuries ago.”
Lucifer didn’t seem pacified, so Michael concentrated on stroking him firmly through the soft fabric of his robes.
“What about you?” Michael asked, not because he desperately wanted to know, but because he wanted to hear in Lucifer’s voice how close he was to losing control.
“No one,” Lucifer gasped. “Oh, Michael, that feels so good. Don’t stop.”
Michael laughed. “I have no intention of stopping until you’re so far gone you can’t form a simple sentence.”
Lucifer sank back on the sand, his wings vanishing from sight, just as Michael’s did when their physical presence wasn’t required. Lucifer closed his eyes and Michael took the opportunity to ease aside his robes. By now there could be no mistaking his erection for anything else. The hard flesh rose from a nest of blond curls and Michael licked his lips at the thought of taking the length into his mouth. Not tonight, though. If Lucifer truly hadn’t felt the touch of another man’s hand on his cock, then Michael intended to take his time and let Lucifer enjoy one sensation before moving on to another.
Michael watched the emotions flit across Lucifer’s face as he played with his dick and fondled his balls. He suspected his own face held an equally stunned expression. If anyone had told him when he woke up this morning he would be doing this tonight, he would never have believed them.
Lucifer groaned and raised his hips a little. “Ah, Michael, Michael.”
Michael loved the sound of his name on Lucifer’s lips, especially spoken so breathlessly, almost a plea.
“Let go,” Michael said. “Come for me.”
He could tell Lucifer wouldn’t last much longer. A man could only take so much, and for one who had never done this before, keeping control would be almost impossible.
When Lucifer finally came, spilling over Michael’s hand a few moments later, Michael couldn’t take his eyes off him. Since the first day he had seen him, Michael had considered that Lucifer might be the most beautiful of all the angels. Now, watching him come apart at Michael’s touch, he knew he had been right. The expression of bliss on Lucifer’s face would forever remain in Michael’s mind as the most wondrous sight ever.
Michael reluctantly released Lucifer’s cock and stretched out beside him, resting his head on his clean hand, watching the angel come down from his orgasmic high.
Lucifer blinked at him and the smile spreading across his face was truly stunning. Michael’s breath caught in his throat at the vision before him.
“Come to the pool with me tomorrow,” Lucifer asked.
Michael nodded and Lucifer raised his hand to brush his fingers through Michael’s hair. He leaned up and pressed his lips to Michael’s, the kiss almost tentative and unsure, and such a contrast to the seemingly confident angel.
It was on the tip of Michael’s tongue to invite Lucifer to spend the night in his beach hut. Before he could ask, Lucifer stood and gathered his robes together, covering his nakedness.
“I’ll see you at dawn,” Lucifer said.
He didn’t give Michael a chance to reply before his wings reappeared and carried him into the air.
Michael watched him until he had flown away, into the mountains. He had a feeling he wouldn’t be sleeping much tonight.