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BREAKING GLUTTONY EPISODE ONE By: Shannon Mayer

Shannon Mayer / Breaking Gluttony (The Chronicles of Sin, Book 1)


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COPYRIGHT Breaking Gluttony (The Chronicles of Sin, Book 1)

Copyright Š Shannon Mayer 2014 All rights reserved

Published by HiJinks Ink LTD. www.shannonmayer.com

All rights reserved. Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a database and retrieval system or transmitted in any form or any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying or otherwise) without the prior written permission of both the owner of the copyright and the above publishers. Please do not participate in or encourage the piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions. This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places and incidents are either the product of the authors imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons living or dead, business establishments, events or locales is entirely coincidental. Or deliberately on purpose, depending on whether or not you have been nice to the author. Mayer, Shannon

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BREAKING GLUTTONY: Episode One By: Shannon Mayer

1 “Turn a Vice? How in all that is holy do you turn a Vice? We have been trying for years to stop them but they grow stronger with each and every life they live, drawing mankind deeper into depravity.” The speaker’s voice was rough but still echoed throughout the council room. A thick rope of scar tissue ran diagonally from just below his left ear, across his throat to his right collarbone. A remnant from the first war, a badge of honour for the Archangel’s General, Michael. All nine of the participants in the council nodded at his words.

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“There has to be a way, but I just can’t see it. Not one of them has ever shown any inclination to weaken or denounce their natures. Why would they?” He paused and looked over to Gabriel sitting the furthest away from him. “Are you certain of your sources? Do you believe that the Whore is making a bid for power once again?” Gabriel, one of the least vocal of the Archangels answered with a mere nod of his head. The others drew in a collective breath, but said nothing. The silence became palatable and uncomfortable. Michael’s silver-tipped wings trailed out behind him as he strode about, the thick feathers dusting the floor. Only the faintest of iridescent red was visible on the edge of his wings, a mark of his high standing among the archangels. His eyes scanned the faces and rested briefly on the fair haired healer, Raphael. Shannon Mayer / Breaking Gluttony (The Chronicles of Sin, Book 1)


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Raphael sat leaning back in his chair, blue eyes half closed, seemingly unaware of the conversation. But despite his outward composure, the energy around him vibrated. He gave the slightest nod to Michael, indicating his desire to speak Michael spoke as he paced the room, filling the others in on what he knew. “The Whore is making a bid for power, we know this. We also know it involves the Vices in some way. What we do not know is the how of her uprising. We cannot afford to allow her to usurp Lucifer. She is far more dangerous than he has ever been. That is why we must nullify the Vices, more than ever before they are a danger to mankind. A danger that far outweighs them being the Seven Sins.” Gabriel spoke, surprising the council. “I don’t see why we don’t just find a way to make them mortal and then let them die. Would that not solve the problem?”

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Michael pulled himself together first. “Yes, of course it would solve the problem. But the question is how? How do we make them mortal?” He let out a sigh. “It is just not that easy. The Virtues have free will and they may choose to give up their immortality if they grow weary of the life they lead. The Vices do not have that option, nor are we even sure if they have any recollection of what they were prior to becoming one of the Seven Sins.” Raphael stood up, drawing everyone’s eyes to him. “I have an idea, though how successful it will be will depend completely on one Vice and her reaction to my plan. I think we need to consider this as what can we offer them that they cannot have, have never had, as far as we know. I have done some research and there is a way to make them mortal.” The silence stretched and he spread out some papers on the table before he continued. “The difficulty is that they must Shannon Mayer / Breaking Gluttony (The Chronicles of Sin, Book 1)


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desire to change, they must want to stop being a Vice to begin the process.” Haniel spoke up, her voice hard and clipped. “You expect one of the seven deadly sins, the embodiment of all that is wrong in the world, to willingly give up her powers?” She snorted and Michael shot her a look. “I do have a plan, Haniel,” Raphael said. Michael waved for him to continue. Raphael nodded and stretched out an oversized diagram. “We will need to employ a little help from our cousin, but he is always willing when it comes to matters of the heart.” Another snort from across the table drew Raphael’s attention back to Haniel. She waved her hand at the diagram. “Are you kidding me? Please tell me you do not mean Maximilian? You cannot truly mean to employ the flying nymph for this plan!” She crossed her arms and glared at Raphael. “He Shannon Mayer / Breaking Gluttony (The Chronicles of Sin, Book 1)


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and his cross bow bolts, both are too fickle to be reliable. Not to mention how totally unpredictable he can be once he is loosed.” Raphael held his ground against the only woman on the council. She could be hard to deal with and it was best to tread softly when doing so. “I know, Haniel, but please just look at what I have laid out here. This one Vice, she is the closest to breaking. She just needs a little push in the right direction. A push we must give her before the Whore gets her claws into a Vice.” A deep voice carried from the back of the room. “Love conquers all, is that it?” “Yes, Gabriel. I believe it is the key.” Michael grunted. “She is the favoured one. Do you really think we have a chance to turn her?” Raphael nodded slowly, his eyes meeting each of the other eight Archangels. “The research I have done has turned up some Shannon Mayer / Breaking Gluttony (The Chronicles of Sin, Book 1)


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very interesting facts. In the past she has willingly given herself over to her Vice so that others wouldn’t suffer. I have watched her struggle through the last dozen of her lifetimes, seen her fight in small ways against her Vice. She could lead them all out of the darkness if we give her the opportunity.” “Then give her the chance. If you believe we need our cherubic, winged cousin in on this, then so be it. But be careful, you know how he is once he has been loosed.” Michael’s wings snapped together with a sharp clap, signalling the end of the council meeting. Raphael walked away from the war room, diagram in hand and brows furrowed. A cell phone vibrated in his hand, the world had changed and so had its guardians. “Cousin, you knew I had need of your services. It was good of you to call.” Raphael slowed his stride, finally came to a Shannon Mayer / Breaking Gluttony (The Chronicles of Sin, Book 1)


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standstill and leaned against a pillar made up of the purest of white marbles. “No, truly I have need of your help. There are two people I wish you to use your bolts on. Two and only two. I want your word on it, cousin.” A pause and then, “Excellent. The two I wish you to pay a visit to, you know them as Gluttony and Wrath.”

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2 “Can you feel me, John? My lips caressing your wet skin, my hands sliding over your body, my breasts brushing against your lips. Tell me John, tell me what you want.” My voice, husky and sensual, was the only sound in the empty house. It didn’t matter what this John’s response was, he’d paid his $3.75-a-minute and I made enough money to pay the grocery bill. The conversation lasted twenty one minutes, a little over the average since this John wanted some post-coital Shannon Mayer / Breaking Gluttony (The Chronicles of Sin, Book 1)


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talk. Every John was different, but they really all wanted just one thing and I gave it to them: A fantasy lover, one with beautiful long legs, silky hair, and mountainous breasts that remained perky despite gravity’s best efforts. I leaned back in my swivel chair, the composite frame protesting my 300-plus pounds. If any of my clients ever saw me in person it would be the end of my job. Again, not that it mattered, but a girl has to take care of herself and I do the best I can. I caught a glimpse of myself in the dark TV screen and looked away, but not fast enough. At 5’4”, and immensely obese, the rest of my features didn’t really matter, nor was I interested in picking apart any of my other faults. A stab of shame sent me reaching for a new bag of Oreo’s. I ripped the bag and stuffed two cookies into my mouth. That at least was a feature that was the truth as far as what I told my Johns. My mouth was big. Big enough for far more cookies than Shannon Mayer / Breaking Gluttony (The Chronicles of Sin, Book 1)


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what I was jamming in with my sausage fingers, but I really was trying to hold back. After the third mouthful, I reached for my pop, diet, of course. The fizz went straight up my nose and I found myself choking, gagging on soggy cookies and chemically enhanced liquid that should have been helping me cut back on my caloric intake. Eyes as blue as they were every life I lived, filled with tears as I struggled to breathe. A minute passed, then a second and a third. Was this how I would go out this time? It wouldn’t be the first time I’d choked to death on my own gorge. I guess I kept hoping for a spectacular exit, like Rathburn or Lusiana. All fireworks and taking others with you in an awe--inspiring moment. Really, it would have been a nice change of Exits. Reality crashed back into me along with a painful gulp of air. Taking stock of my surroundings, I could see that I had come close. I lay in a puddle of vomit and my pants were soaked Shannon Mayer / Breaking Gluttony (The Chronicles of Sin, Book 1)


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with urine; it was not a pretty sight and the smell was even worse. The scent of puke was one of the few things I couldn’t stand and the last of my cookies and diet pop spewed out of my mouth and hit the floor with a plop. The fact that the floor was dark--blue carpet would hide the stain, but the smell would linger for weeks, if not months. This would have been my youngest Exit yet. I was always the first of us to go, the very nature of my curse making it impossible to grow old. The rest of the Vices were never far behind, Rathburn was always second, though that thought was not much of a comfort when I was dying yet again. He was always in the line of fire. Every life he led was filled with death and blood, just as mine was filled with heart attacks and cellulite. I caught movement just at the edge of my vision. That damned Book again, its pages waving at me from across the Shannon Mayer / Breaking Gluttony (The Chronicles of Sin, Book 1)


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room. I pushed myself slowly to my knees and waited for the worst of the mess to drip off me. What did I care? The cleaning lady would be here tomorrow and she could deal with it. The walk across the room winded me and sent my heart into over-drive as it tried to deal with the unexpected exercise. I reached the table, and slowly stripped out of my wet shirt and pants. I could barely pull my arms through the sleeves without taking a break. Naked as the day I was born, I sat into the wooden chair. My oversized ass, wet and ponderous, made a fantastic squelching noise. I just didn’t care. I hate my life, I hate what I am, and I hate having to live it over and over again, never once knowing what it is to be normal, to live and laugh with abandon, to just be me and not have to be anything else. I took a deep breath and calmed my thoughts. There was no way out of this. The pages waved at me and Shannon Mayer / Breaking Gluttony (The Chronicles of Sin, Book 1)


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flipped themselves to the verse the Book apparently thought I needed.

Book of Cain 14:2 “And the Lord sayeth unto Lucifer, Eight shall carry thy curses unto the earth and they shall carry their burdens unto the end of time. And the weight that they carry shall never waver, nor shall it lessen. And they shall mourn the day they lose their lives for they shall be bound to the curse and they shall live with it forever.

“Very nice,” I muttered under my breath. I needed to be reminded of the story of my life like I needed another pound on my body. Even I had to admit, though, that this particular verse always seemed directed specifically at me. My weight will never lessen. Nice touch, but it was something I was already painfully Shannon Mayer / Breaking Gluttony (The Chronicles of Sin, Book 1)


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aware of. That was the problem with the Book. It wasn’t anything like the book churches hand out. There are no happy endings in my guide to life. It was written at the same time, but from the other side. The dark side has its version of history, too. The Book on the table was a sentient thing, an entity that thrived on pushing out its thorny gems of advice. Personally, I’d burn it if I could. It was never a comfort and was good only as a big, mouthy paper weight. I grabbed the edge of the book and struggled to shut it. It fought me, its pages whipped out of my fingers as it slid to yet another verse. I didn’t look at the heading, but the highlighted area did catch my attention.

“And for each Vice that shall walk the earth, a Virtue shall be opposing. Virtue and Vice shall each work to sway mankind, influencing the hearts of men to one side or the other. Be they a Virtue or a Vice, they may only influence those of mortal blood. Shannon Mayer / Breaking Gluttony (The Chronicles of Sin, Book 1)


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It shall be up to the hearts of men to choose betwixt and between the light and the dark. And the choice shall be theirs and their choice shall shape the world.”

“Shut up, you over-sized shit ticket.” The Book slammed itself shut. My Book had always been particularly sensitive to being cussed at. I heard the back door bang and Sloan’s voice called out, “Hey, Toni, where are ya, girl?” I cringed, I really, really did not want Sloan to see me like that, but there was no way I could move fast enough for him not to see me. I let out a deep sigh. Some days I thought my life couldn’t get any worse. But then it always did. It looked like today was going to be no different.

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“If you come in, Sloan, I can’t guarantee you’ll have your eyesight when you leave. In fact, I am positive you’ll be wishing you’d made your Exit about three minutes ago.” Sloan stepped around the doorway, took one look and quickly recoiled, the horror on his face speaking volumes. His back was to me now and I could relax my half--hearted attempt to cover myself. I laughed hoarsely. “I warned you! What the hell do you want anyway?” I found it always best to get right to the point with him, otherwise you’d be waiting all day while he dawdled his way along to the reason he was speaking to you. With his back turned to me, he cut a nice figure. Tall and slender, he moved with an extremely lazy grace, but grace none the less. Something I had always lacked. He ran his fingers through his sandy--blonde hair. The man never cut it and it fell halfway down his back in messy waves. Shannon Mayer / Breaking Gluttony (The Chronicles of Sin, Book 1)


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“Toni! Put some clothes on. It’s freaking me out just thinking about you naked behind me.” I smiled and let my working voice loose on him. “What’s the matter, baby, afraid you might like a little slap and tickle?” His whole body shuddered and he made a gagging noise. I grit my teeth. What did I expect? “You’re not a little anything, Toni.” He shivered again; his whole body quivering with what I can only assume was repulsion. “I just came by to tell you there’s a meeting tomorrow night; your damn phone is always tied up. The boss wants a report on everybody. Just the usual, I think.” He flicked his eyes over his shoulder then slowly started to make his way to the door, crab-walking, just to be on the safe side. He didn’t bother to say goodbye and neither did I. Even if one of us Exited right this minute, we’d see each other the next

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time around. And the next and the next and, well, you get the picture. I waited until I heard the door click shut behind him before I attempted to get up. The chair stuck to me and I had to shake it off. I leaned against the table and fought back tears. Why did I think that anything could ever change? The Book’s pages fluttered once more and my eyes went unwillingly to the verse marked:

Book of Haman 16:4 The seven sins argued amongst themselves. And they all argued one with another.

There was a great deal of truth in that particular verse. Our only job, our only goal as Vices, was to drop humanity a notch or two on the goodness scale. There were no rules or restrictions Shannon Mayer / Breaking Gluttony (The Chronicles of Sin, Book 1)


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about working in harmony together. None of us had ever gotten along; that wasn’t our job. Some of us outright hated one another. A soft mew drew my attention to the living room window. There sat my newest acquisition, the neighbour’s Siamese cat who happened to be missing most of its coat and half an ear. Okay, yes, I did steal their cat. But I had good reason. Said reason was suddenly ringing more doorbell, over and over and over again. Little bastard. Then my work line rang and the cat began to yowl for attention. And I was still naked, slimy from vomit and piss. I took a deep breath and shuffled over to my work line first and hit the button to put the John on hold. “Hey Baby, hang on to that dirty little mind of yours and I’ll be right back.” My voice sounded as good as ever even as a recording and the John would wait for hours if need be.

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The door bell continued to ring, a steady drone that only comes with someone holding the button down. “You stupid fat cow! I know you’re in there and I know you took our cat. We can see her in the window!” Thirteen years old and already well on his way to being a ringer for our side, the Vice side, of humanity. That didn’t mean I liked him. Quite the contrary, he was a nasty little puke that was about to get the shock of a lifetime. I made my way to the door, not bothering to wipe myself clean or find anything to cover up. I swung the door open wide and revelled in the shocked eyes, gaping mouth and sudden silence of the neighbourhood terror, Gabe. Named after the angel no doubt, though I doubted he had any angelic qualities at all.

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I leaned towards him, my breasts hanging close to his face. “Well kid, you wanted to talk, so let’s talk.” Nothing, just more gaping and gulping. “What’s the matter, cat got your tongue?” I ran a hand down over my hip and leaned into the door frame. He was going to have nightmares for weeks. The thought made me smile. Stumbling backwards he spit a curse at me and fumbled his way down the steps. “My mother. . .” he stuttered, “I’m going to tell her you fat cow!” I laughed and didn’t bother to hold any of my jiggling body parts while he ran across the communal yellow lawn and into his house. “That’s what you get you little bastard.” I smiled to myself. It was the least I could do after what he’d done to the cat. Even I, a Vice, one of the seven deadly sins, wouldn’t stoop to torturing animals. Shannon Mayer / Breaking Gluttony (The Chronicles of Sin, Book 1)


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Back inside and out of the arid Nevada heat, I picked up my clothes and tossed them into the washer. The rest would have to wait for the cleaning lady. Deanna? Dahlia? Didn’t matter. The cat, I really should think of a name for her, mewed again and I obliged by filling up her food dish. Before I could get cleaned up, the doorbell rang again, followed by a pounding of a fist on the faux oak door. Then the yelling began. “Open up! You stupid fat cow, how dare you subject my son. . . “I didn’t let her finish as I subjected her to the same view I had gifted her son with. She stammered to a stop. “Maybe, Eleanor, if you kept your little prick on a tighter leash, people wouldn’t feel the need to relocate your animals.” I said. “Cover yourself! I can’t have a conversation like this!” Shannon Mayer / Breaking Gluttony (The Chronicles of Sin, Book 1)


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“I can. Doesn’t bother me one bit.” Again I leaned against the doorframe, the edges protesting my weight and digging into my fleshy bits. “In fact, I rather like speaking to the neighbours like this; it tends to keep the conversations short.” I smiled and scratched underneath one breast. I leaned forward, same as I had done with Gabe. “Let’s get to the point. Your son tortures animals for fun which makes him pre-disposed to become, at the very least, an unstable man and at the worst, a serial killer.” Her face went bright red matching her horrendous dye job. “He does not! You don’t know. . . “ I cut her off. “I do know. I’ve even videoed him taking apart the Lorten’s dog last month.” I’d done no such thing, but I knew it was her boy when the dog went missing only to be found in bits and pieces along the side of the road. Shannon Mayer / Breaking Gluttony (The Chronicles of Sin, Book 1)


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She paled. Gotcha. “I’m going to keep the cat and the video. Anything else happens to the animals around here and I’ll mail it into the police, see what they make of an up and coming person of interest.” Not one word came out of her mouth. No denial, no plea. Nothing. She must know what her son was becoming, even she couldn’t miss it. I started to close the door, and then pulled it back open. “You do know that when a serial killer moves from animals to humans, it’s those closest to him that die first don’t you?” If I thought she was pale before, it was nothing compared to the ghostly pallor that drained her face. I waved. “Have a good sleep tonight.” Just for good measure, I let Gluttony take a stab at her as she walked down the steps. She stumbled and gripped her stomach, lurching towards Shannon Mayer / Breaking Gluttony (The Chronicles of Sin, Book 1)


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her house at a speed I doubt she’d managed in a few years. From the deck I could hear their cupboards slamming and plates crashing to the floor. Gabe’s voice rose over it all, screaming and freaking out at his mother’s behaviour. I smiled. That’s what you get when you cross a Vice, I thought, and promptly shut the door.

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3 Finally clean, it only took me an hour and a half in the shower to get beneath all my rolls and crevices. That is one of the perks to living alone. No one else would care if I used up all the hot water. Certainly not the cat. With the air conditioning cranked as high as it could go, I was still sweating, so I opted for a naked day. It was just easier than trying to pull some clothes on. It also meant I was ready for any other interruption of the neighbourly sort. I flipped a blanket over my work chair so there would be no sticking to the leather cushion and plunked myself back into it and slipped my headset on. The next three Johns were regulars. Called at least twice a week if not more. The fourth caller was real quiet.

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“You there baby?” I whispered into the phone, hoping to draw him out and lengthen the conversation. “Just talk to me.” I frowned and realized I’d had this caller before. A couple of times a year he would phone in and would stay on the line as long as I was talking, but didn’t tend to say much himself. So I did what I do best and talked. Twenty minutes later he hung up, right in the middle of me getting to the good stuff. “Damn. Rude and quiet.” The cat jumped up onto my bare legs, startling me. She dug her claws into my skin and I had to force myself not to fling her off my lap. She’d been through enough already. I lifted her up onto the desk and ran a hand down her back. Missing coat and ear bits, parts what was left of her cream coloured coat burned and to top it all off she was skinny as a rail. The only thing I Shannon Mayer / Breaking Gluttony (The Chronicles of Sin, Book 1)


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could help out with was the skinny part. I reached inside myself for Gluttony and pulled it to the surface. Usually it was pretty happy to oblige, but for a cat? Not so much. It worked though. She jumped off the desk and ran to her food dish, scarfing it back, licking the bowl clean. I smiled to myself. It wouldn’t take long at all for her to fatten up. I turned back to my desk and froze. The cat was heaving and the noise was unmistakeable. Ah crap. There, right next to my slushy pile of puke was a much smaller version. I was going to have to pay the cleaning lady double for this mess. There was no way I’d be able to go near it without adding more to it. I sighed and made my way to the kitchen, the cat at my heels, yowling the whole way. We had an early dinner of roast beef, mashed potatoes, garlic bread, milkshake and chocolate cake for desert. Okay and

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maybe I had a few pickles too, but I don’t count them as part of dinner, more of a snack. I took a few more calls after dinner then shut it down, well before midnight. Nearly dying really takes a toll on the body. Not as bad as actually dying, but close. The cat followed me into my bedroom, my snacks in hand, my breath coming short with the walk through the house. I flopped into bed and propped myself up with the pillows. “Gotta keep the airways clear.” I muttered. I flicked the T.V on and let the Bachelorette lull me to sleep, one hand on the bag of cookies I’d brought to bed with me, the other hand on the purring cat. Dreams are normal for me, something I expect. But this dream was one I’d had over and over and it scared me. It started out the same way every time. There was a river, not a big one and a boat, an old boat, not old as in rusted, old as Shannon Mayer / Breaking Gluttony (The Chronicles of Sin, Book 1)


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in ancient from many, many years ago. Waves brushed up against the side of the boat, rocking it gently and a breeze blew over me bringing me the faintest tang of salt. Must not be too far from the ocean. Maybe this was a tributary of some sort. I looked down at my body, surprised to see a trim figure. Not uncommon in my dreams, but still a surprise. My hands were decked out with rings of solid gold and I could feel the weight of jewellery in my hair and ears. But around my neck hung only a single thin silver chain, a thick gold band hanging from it. I frowned and took the band in my fingers and slipped it over one. It was huge, far too big for me. “Momma!” My head snapped up. I couldn’t see anyone else. Surely the kid wasn’t talking to me was she?

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She dashed around a barrel and my heart constricted. Long dark blond curls and eyes as blue as my own in a heart shaped face, she raced towards me, her arms outstretched. She couldn’t be more than six or seven years old. Each step she took towards me, memories reverberated in my mind, flashbacks to her birth and my fear of losing her. Her first giggle, first steps and tooth. The night terrors that sent her flying into my bed. The fever she’d had when she was only a few weeks old. How could I have forgotten her? I dropped to my knees with the sudden rush of emotions, a love so strong I could barely breathe past the ache in my chest. She fairly flew across the deck, bare tanned legs leaping over obstacles as she threw herself headlong towards me. Our fingertips brushed and the dream shattered, sending me shrieking and swearing back to reality.

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I lay in bed shaking, my heart pounding and tears streaking down my face. “It was only a dream.” I whispered. But if that was so, how was it that I knew her so well, knew that she was born under a full moon? How did I know all the things that came to me and why did it hurt so bad whenever I whispered her name? “Selena.” I groaned and rolled over in bed. It wasn’t real, it was the things I wanted and couldn’t have that the dream world gave me. It wasn’t real. The cat mewed at me and butted her head up against mine. The worst part of it was, what if it wasn’t just a dream? What if Selena had been real and I had given her up to become Gluttony?

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Like every other night I dreamed of Selena, I fell back asleep before I could ponder the questions too deeply, and the fog of the dream world stole back the moments it had imparted.

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4 The next day dawned overcast, unusual this close to the desert, and the weather suited my mood. I must not have slept well, my naturally even temperament dampened by the lack of sleep and crappy skies. My John’s caught the brunt of my temper. After the third one hung up on me, I cancelled the rest of my day and moped about the house, eating, watching T.V and sleeping till it was time to get ready for the meeting. The meeting was on the north side of Vegas, a good hour from where I lived on the southern banks of Sin City. I headed

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north on Las Vegas Boulevard and made my way up the Strip, a seething mass of humanity that thrived on the various Vices. Seeing as I hated being the last to show up for the meeting, I left early giving myself plenty of time for traffic and making it into the church without rushing. My junky car putted its way down the lighted Strip, and even it looked good under the garish neon colours, its design suddenly sleek and agile, rust spots blending with the original and various patch jobs of paint. That’s the beauty of the Strip, it can make even the ugliest things seem pretty and exotic. Too bad it couldn’t make me thin. Now that would be a magic act I’d pay to see. I glanced at the various hotels, the Flamingo, Cesar’s Palace and Harrahs to name a few. The water show started as I passed outside Cesar’s Palace, jets of water spewing out in time to music and flashing lights. I yawned. I’d seen it all before. Shannon Mayer / Breaking Gluttony (The Chronicles of Sin, Book 1)


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Stopped at a traffic light, three Hispanic men approached my car, flicking tickets against their hands to gain the attention of the unwary. Tickets that had naked woman and phone numbers plastered all over them. I wondered if any of mine were in their hands. I rolled the window down and the normally hot dry air that was turning into a muggy throat constricting consistency coated the inside of my mouth. The three men thrust the cards out and I took some from each, piling them on the seat beside me. I’d check them later, see what my competition was doing and hopefully finding a few of my own cards in the pile too. “Thanks sweet cheeks.” I said. The men smiled at me, but behind the smiles, their eyes registered their revulsion at what they were seeing. An enormously fat woman taking phone sex cards for woman. I gave them a smile and licked my lips. They

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all backed off in unison. It would have been comical if it wasn’t so downright insulting. I rolled the window up and continued on my way. I passed Sintagious, Greta’s hotel and averted my eyes. We really did not get along and I had no desire to see her anymore than I had too. At the north end of the Strip I approached the Luxor and slowed down. If I could, if I had a say in my life, I wanted to go to Egypt one day. See the pyramids and the Sphinx. The reality was this was the closest I would ever get to a pyramid, real or fake. I turned off on Fitzgerald and just like that, the strip ended and I was back in suburbia. I picked up my cell phone to check the time. Half an hour before the meeting was to start. When I lifted my eyes back up, I didn’t notice the flutter of wings until it was too late to avoid the bird. It hit the windshield and I let out a girly shriek and slammed on the brakes, Shannon Mayer / Breaking Gluttony (The Chronicles of Sin, Book 1)


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screeching into the curb. Lucky for me, suburbia was quiet and there was no one behind me to rear end me. Breathing hard, I rolled down the window and peeked out. I didn’t want to get out of the air conditioning and into the now humid heat. Damn those clouds and the spitting rain. The sound of fluttering feathers reached my ears a split second before the bird flew through my window. I screeched and waved my hands above my head to ward of the rabid creature. “No need to be so dramatic Gluttony.” I froze with my arms above my head and slowly swivelled to stare at the passenger seat. There perched a cherub, sweet faced, blue eyed and grinning, complete with a . . . cross bow and bolt? Oh crap, this was so not good. “You’ve got to be kidding me!” I shouted, knowing that there was no way I could get out of the car fast enough. I settled Shannon Mayer / Breaking Gluttony (The Chronicles of Sin, Book 1)


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for turning my face away and hoping for the best. The bolt slammed into me, drove itself in deep and burrowed its way into my right shoulder, seemingly with a life of its own. I turned back to him, the poison racing through my veins. Didn’t he know that the love was forbidden amongst Vices? A rush of fire raced through me, not unpleasant, but terrifying at the same time. This was not good. He floated down to sit on the passenger seat. “I can see what you’re thinking by the doubt in your eyes, so let me correct you before you make a larger ass of yourself than you already are.” He held out his tiny hand to me. “The names Max, not Cupid, not Eros. Maximillian, the great.” He grinned and winked at me. I stared at him, the words in my mouth dried up on my tongue. This was not happening, I had to be dreaming, still at home in the broken down lazy boy.

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He, Max, continued. “I don’t think the bolt will work to be honest. There are too many safeguards in place to keep you Vices in check. However if you were to say, already be in love with someone. Maybe secretly?” He lifted a blond eyebrow at me. “Maggot flesh. You little prick!” Fear ran close behind the fire. How could he have known? I’d never told anyone. Never said anything about . . . him. He laughed and flew up to the ceiling of the car. “Absolutely! Prick you I did.” I grabbed onto the only thing I had left. Gluttony raged up from within me and I let it latch onto the winged cherub. Fair’s fair after all. Max gasped and rolled in the air. “Ah! I’m trying to help you, you fat cow!”

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“If you’re trying to get me killed then you’re on the right track you idiot!” I leaned against the steering wheel and tried to calm my heart. But all I could think about was a tall dark and handsome guy with a penchant for rage. Max leaned in close to me and I swatted him back, knocking him into the side window before he could do anymore damage. “One day, you’ll thank me for this. You’ll look back to this moment and thank me.” He said, then rolled down the side window and fluttered out. My only consolation was his drunken flying pattern as he struggled with the effects of Gluttony. It took me another fifteen minutes to get myself under control. Every time I thought about starting the car and getting to the meeting, I thought about seeing him and what it would mean.

Finally I pulled it together enough to get going and

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drove as slow as I dared to the meeting place. At this rate, I would barely beat the others there. I passed Mountain Horne road and Duffer drive before finding my way to the abandoned church. I could just make out the sign, worn and faded as it was. “St. Raphael’s Catholic Church.” I mumbled. The roar of a jet crashed over head and I blinked upwards. The stupid church was closer to the Nellis Air Force Base then I was to my Vice. “Probably couldn’t hear the damn sermons.” I said to no one in particular. The car bottomed out as I drove over a small speed bump leading into the parking lot and I had to rev the engine to get it over. I parked with a lurch, my tire lodging itself in a small pothole, and struggled to pull myself out of the car. My body shook with exhaustion by the time I reached the church doors. Yes, I said church doors. Dandy liked the irony of the Seven Deadly sins meeting under the eyes of God. So he says, but the Shannon Mayer / Breaking Gluttony (The Chronicles of Sin, Book 1)


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reality is we always meet in churches where the blessings are no longer active, where there is no power other than that which we bring through the doors. Dandy may be a Duke of Hell, but even he can’t stand inside a blessed church without frying. We as Vices, well, that was a different matter. All of us had at one time or another made the attempt to wander into a church, just too see what had happened. Nothing happens. I don’t know what that means, if it means anything at all. My best guess is we just haven’t been as bad as our demon master. Simple as that. But give us a few more lifetimes then we’ll see what happens then. Throw in the fact that we all lived in, or nearby, Las Vegas, we could only slide further into depravity right alongside the humans. The door creaked softly under my hand, the echo the only sound inside the empty church. I let out a sigh of relief, being late wasn’t an option. I wasn’t comfortable with the way they all Shannon Mayer / Breaking Gluttony (The Chronicles of Sin, Book 1)


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looked at me. I could care less what the humans thought, but the other Vices, well, that was another matter all together. Of all the sins, I got the only one that affected my outward appearance. No, that wasn’t true. Lusiana and Lusius looked like children of Venus and Apollo. Children of the gods. They were so beautiful; people would throw their lives away for a single touch. But other than that, the rest of the Vices were normal. Normal for people who were the embodiment of the seven deadly sins. Shuffling down the aisle, I reached the front and sat down without too much effort. “You’re puffing pretty hard there, Toni. You’re not going to make an Exit already, are you?” Prince’s voice was smooth like whipped cream; it made me cringe. He would have done well in my business if he could have managed to sound less condescending.

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I closed my eyes, took a deep breath and tried to calm my erratic heart. Demon whores and goblin puke, I hated Prince. He chuckled, most likely at my expense; he did so like to look down on me for all my many flaws. It had always been this way between the two of us, more than any of the other Vices, we hated one another. Lifetime after lifetime, we looked for ways to bring the other lower, to make each other hurt. I’d found that the best way to irritate him was to be in good with Dandy. It stung Prince’s pride something fierce to have a fat woman, particularly one who had been doing phone sex for her last few lifetimes, out-rank him in anything. The other thing he hates is to be ignored. So I did my best imitation of a chunk of ice, gave him the cold shoulder, and didn’t bother to answer him.

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I could smell Lusiana and Lusius before I heard them. A mixture of perfume and sex, desire and obsession. I often wondered if we all had our own smells or if it was just the twins. “Do stop teasing the fat one, Prince. You’ll make her sweat and then we will all have put up with the stench for hours.” Luciana’s voice purred past full, pouty lips. I suppose that answered my question. I flicked my eyes over my shoulder in my best “Drop-dead, whore” look. She just laughed and reached for her brother, their softly curling strawberry blonde hair and amber eyes a striking combination. It was no wonder they were so good at creating lust in others. It didn’t hurt that they had both been high school teachers for the last four exits or so. They managed to make sure there were no virgins left in any of the schools they worked in. Not that they serviced their students themselves, of course, they Shannon Mayer / Breaking Gluttony (The Chronicles of Sin, Book 1)


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didn’t need to. One school dance and the orgy that followed would leave what moral standards the kids had in tatters. Enilia and Greta were the next ones in, their heads bowed, whispers soft enough not to be understood, yet they still reached my ears. Envy and greed are often found together in the outside world and it was no different for us here. Enilia was an actress, well known and very envied. Flaming red ringlet curls and striking blue eyes were the combination that made her stand out from the crowd. Greta was, of course, the epitome of her Vice. She ran a casino, taking money from the desperate. And on the side, just to keep it interesting, she dabbled with the mob. Always the overachiever. My heart began to pound; I knew who would be next because Sloan was always last, if he showed up at all, and the other six were already here. Shannon Mayer / Breaking Gluttony (The Chronicles of Sin, Book 1)


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I could hear his footfall, tried not to turn around and stare but couldn’t help it. I shifted my weight to get a better view and the pew creaked underneath me. I wanted to see him, just for a second. The dark hair that curled ever so slightly when he let it get long enough, the storm cloud gray eyes that could pierce right through you. The flush that crept up my cheeks was as mortifying as Prince pointing it out. “You’d better watch yourself, Rathburn. Looks like Toni’s hungry for more than a cupcake.” I let my eyes slide to Prince and wished I could hurry up his Exit, wished I could unleash Gluttony on him and see how he would like eating anything that was available to chew on. That list included dog feces, shoes, paper, and any number of miscellaneous items besides food. Once Gluttony grabbed hold of you, pretty much anything you could fit in your mouth was a go. Too bad our abilities didn’t work like that. They were very Shannon Mayer / Breaking Gluttony (The Chronicles of Sin, Book 1)


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subtle on each other, a whisper that could be denied if we didn’t already have the urge. I could make his stomach growl, but that was about it. My fondest wish was that one day I would get to see Prince humiliated. Eating dog poop would be a perfect start. “You know, Prince, I heard you lost another case today. What was it this time? The jury wasn’t as flawless as you?” Lusius’ voice broke into my thoughts. I felt my jaw drop a little. Lusius was standing up for me? Lusius winked at me from across the aisle. As the only member of our little society to not fall under Lust’s influence, Lusius had made it his mission in life to see me fall. Sweat popped out on my forehead. With Max’s bolt in play, it would be a hard test for me to resist Lusius’ promptings. I stared straight ahead at the stained glass window and tried not to think about Rathburn.

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A crackle of electricity at the pulpit drew all of our eyes as lightning

flickered

ominously

outside

the

stained-glass

windows. A curl of pale red smoke unfurled itself from an everwidening hole in the stone floor of the church. From within the midst of the smoke stepped out a wizened old man, sporting sparse grey hair and skin yellowed with age that hung from his gaunt face. Not one of Dandy’s more flattering visages. Though he did try to spruce himself up with a few decorative pieces. On his right hand, right index finger, to be exact-was a simple gold band. I’d seen this ring on him before. You’d think that being a demon would give you access to innumerable pieces of jewellery, but Dandy, well, I guess he was in a rut. There was never much variation to the guises and decoration he wore. “Where is Sloan?” Despite his apparent age, the voice was young and strong and rather irritated. I smiled, covered my lips with my hand and forgot the ring. It never failed. The meetings Shannon Mayer / Breaking Gluttony (The Chronicles of Sin, Book 1)


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were always the same. I arrived early, Sloan arrived late, Dandy got angry about trivial points, we all gave our reports, and then we all went home. Nothing ever changed. I listened to everyone’s reports, nothing new, everyone giving their best efforts in the destruction of mankind’s morals. I relayed all my information by rote. Not only did I give great phone sex which helped along the twins’ efforts, I’d also started a movement over the Internet that epitomized everything that I am. I had over a thousand hits a day, and the numbers visiting my site were, if nothing else, consistent. It was a site where all the fat people of the world could chat and discuss all the pros of being oversized and wobbly of arm. A place where overeating was not only okay, but encouraged. I had a contest going right this minute to see who could put on the most weight in a month. The leader of the pack was a young guy named Don who, in only two weeks, had put on eighteen pounds. Not bad. Shannon Mayer / Breaking Gluttony (The Chronicles of Sin, Book 1)


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“Last item of business is the Melee next weekend, to be held at John S. Park. That is only eight days away, Vices.” Dandy eyeballed each one of us before continuing. “I expect you will all be there and in top form. This may be the Virtues choice of Melee’s, but that doesn’t mean we can’t give them hell.” He grinned at his poor pun. Not one of us laughed. His grin slipped, then collapsed completely. His voice lowered an octave with his irritation before he went on, exhorting us to excellence. Every six months or so, we had a Melee with the Virtues. Every other Melee they, the Virtues, would set the place and time, then the next time we would. Though in the world at large we Vices ruled the roost, at the Melees the team that won the day was the team who set the stage. We always made sure our settings favoured us, say a bar or a dance club, and they always made sure their choices favoured them. Hence the park theme. Shannon Mayer / Breaking Gluttony (The Chronicles of Sin, Book 1)


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A Melee is where all the Sins line up against all the Virtues, our version of playing Red Rover. We use whatever means possible, without physically touching the humans, to see whose side the crowd sways to, though it always seemed to me that the Virtues had more leeway with that particular rule than we Vices. On several occasions I had seen the Virtues reach out and take a humans hand, though there never seemed to be any repercussion for it. We were not allowed, for the most part, to touch the humans, mostly because what we played on were weaknesses of the flesh. So touching the humans gave us an unfair advantage. When the Melee was held at a location of our choosing the plan was very simple. All I had to do was encourage the humans a little at the bar and the crowd would be soaking up the liquor like little sponges, which left them easy prey for Lusius and Lusiana. And after a little indiscriminate groping, Enilia and Shannon Mayer / Breaking Gluttony (The Chronicles of Sin, Book 1)


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Greta got in on the act. Our basic plan was usually wrapped up with a blistering bar fight thanks to Rathburn and the round would be ours. Sloan would do very little besides trying to distract the Virtues, which was if he showed up at all. It was very different at the Melees that the Virtues set up. We were never able to take them, but it was still a scramble for control. Every Melee showed us that the humans were sliding further and further towards us, the Vices. The Virtues had a harder time keeping their standards intact and we had an easier time swaying the masses. At some point I suspected there would no longer be any Melees because all the humans would have made their choice. That thought made me a little sad. I knew that humans sucked into believing that living the life of a Vice was the way to happiness would find out the truth soon enough. It wasn’t all fun and games on the dark side. Shannon Mayer / Breaking Gluttony (The Chronicles of Sin, Book 1)


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I don’t know if anyone actually kept score of how many Melees we won and how many the Virtues won, but each Melee seemed to be more important than the last. My suspicion was that Dandy had some sort of bet on the outcomes or maybe a deadline was approaching. No one really knows when it comes to demons and angels. Most likely, though, there was a bet on the table. Gambling was just one of Dandy’s many bad habits. I know, I know, it’s hard to believe a demon would have any bad habits. I let my mind wander a little too much during the meeting. Between one thought and the next, Dandy was suddenly standing over me, eyes full of fire and the look of rage I had come to expect from time to time. To the other Vices, I was Dandy’s favourite, the one he gave extra credit to, the teacher’s pet. But we both knew that wasn’t the case at all. I was the one Vice who had tried to change. Sure, I had failed miserably, and Shannon Mayer / Breaking Gluttony (The Chronicles of Sin, Book 1)


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it had been a number of lifetimes ago, but that wasn’t the point. Trying to thwart your demon overlord isn’t really all that good for your popularity. “I asked you a question, Gluttony. Answer it.” His voice had dropped several octaves. He must really have his knickers in a knot over something if he was letting that much of his demon out. The energy that flowed from him vibrated through the empty church and amplified his voice. We all knew that the forms he appeared to us in were not his natural shape. Demons are not pretty creatures and Dandy would be no exception. But he hid it well for the most part, that was, until something irritated him. Like me. I replayed the conversation that I had zoned out of. My memory was good, but it took me a minute too long to remember the question. Dandy’s face began to swell and turn various shades of red. I could feel the others stepping back from Shannon Mayer / Breaking Gluttony (The Chronicles of Sin, Book 1)


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the impending explosion. I didn’t worry about it. What’s there to be afraid of when you know you’ll just come back again? I remembered the question: He wanted to know if I could create similar Web sites for the other Vices the way I had for myself. I watched Dandy with cool eyes, relaxed and calm. Those were my best moments, the times when I could out-wait him. Through his rage, I could see him suddenly realize I was waiting for him to chill. It was quite a show, the puffing up and then the deflating. His face was back to normal, or at least it looked like it had when he’d first shown up. Finally, he smoothed his clothes, and said, “Answer my question. Now.” His voice still hadn’t gone back to normal. “My answer is no. I won’t do any Web sites for anyone else. I already help out the twins with the phone sex and that’s more than either of them has ever done for me. So forget it.

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Gluttony is my job and I’m doing it. I don’t have to do anything else.” I crossed my arms as best I could over my ample bosom. Defiance rarely went over well with Dandy, but I had him on a technicality. We didn’t have to do anything but our own Vice. Period. The kicker was I knew no one else had the technical know-how to set up and run a Web site. All of their skills lay elsewhere. “Gluttony.” His voice began to drop, a sure sign the demon in him was about to make an appearance. “You will do what I say.” “No.” I felt everyone back up a step. A shift in the air in case Dandy went mental. He leaned in to me, breath hot and stinky. Like rotten eggs. I leaned back and plugged my nose.

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“Unless you want to Exit right this minute, Gluttony, you will do the Websites.” “Call the Big Boss, then. If you are so certain about this, call in the Big Guns and then I’ll do it.” The air went still around us. No one wanted Lucifer showing up. Not even Dandy. To have to call in for help in order to deal with your own pet project did not look good. And now we all knew that he couldn’t follow through with his threat because it would make Dandy look weak. Ah, how I love to put a demon in his place. Dandy huffed and puffed for a few more minutes, but there was nothing he could do about the situation and we all knew it. So that was it, the meeting ended, Dandy was gone in a flash of smoke and everyone left. Except for me. I waited for everyone to go. Just as I didn’t want anyone to see me waddle in, I didn’t want them to see me Shannon Mayer / Breaking Gluttony (The Chronicles of Sin, Book 1)


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waddle out. I could hear their voices outside the church, could hear vehicles starting up. The deep rumble of a motorcycle set my heart stuttering in my ample chest. The motorbike belonged to Rathburn, which meant he was already gone from the church parking lot, which meant I wouldn’t see him until the Melee, and then it would be months after that until the next meeting. I caught myself letting out a deep sigh. Damn Max and his freaking crossbow bolt. Yes, I’d always had a thing for Rathburn, that didn’t mean I dwelt on it. Not good for a Vice to have a crush, especially on another Vice. I didn’t analyze my feelings too closely or what they might be trying to tell me. Max had said that the only reason his bolt could affect me like this was that I was already attracted to Rathburn. I can just see it now, Wrath and Gluttony sitting in a tree. Mmm. K-I-S-S-I-N-G. I shook my head. What was wrong

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with me? I looked around surreptitiously for Lusius. Between him and Max, I was in one deep pile of maggot crap. I slumped in my seat and dropped my head back until it touched the wooden pew. My eyes were drawn again to the stained glass window above the pulpit. It had a picture of a rather unknown story. It wasn’t in all the versions of the Bible. The story begins with a young woman who has been widowed seven times. As she prepares each time to marry her beloved (Seven times are you kidding me? Give up already). The demon of lust, Ashmodai, steals the man and kills him before he can knock boots with his new bride. Lusiana really likes this story, at least the part about the husband stealing; she gets a little squeamish about the blood and guts part. Anyways, the young woman prays and like every good Bible story, God immediately answers. He sends his very best and finest archangel for the job, Raphael. Because you see, Shannon Mayer / Breaking Gluttony (The Chronicles of Sin, Book 1)


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Raphael is like the healer of God, so he can not only heal people, he can fix people-problems, too. So this young woman, whose name I can’t remember, she and her latest fiancé, Tobias, they want to get married, Raphael steps in, helps them defeat the demon and they all live happily ever after. I am sure there are other parts to this story but that’s the general idea of it. The picture in the stained glass window that stared back out at me was of Raphael, all archangely, leading Tobias by the hand. The silence around me was my signal to go. I managed to heave my body out of the pew and plodded my way out to my car, hanging onto railings whenever I could. My little car protested as I plunked down in my seat, as it always did, but I wasn’t worried. The worry didn’t start until the engine wouldn’t turn over. The fear didn’t start until the engine wouldn’t even make a sound. Funny thing is, I wasn’t afraid that I would get Shannon Mayer / Breaking Gluttony (The Chronicles of Sin, Book 1)


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mugged, I was afraid I might have to call for help or worse yet, walk home. Fat and stranded. What a combination. “See God? Even you won’t help out those who really need it. Like me, fat, trapped in sin. But where’s my help? Huh? I don’t hear you!” I let out a lip flapping sigh and tried to figure out what to do. I suppose I could phone Sloan, he owed me for all the times he crashed at my place. Though I could be there until Wednesday morning of next week before he showed up. The only real mechanic in our group was Rathburn. I really didn’t want to call him for help. My cheeks heated up at the very thought of having to ask him to come all the way back to the church to help me out of a jam. I had no other option and secretly I was elated. My little cell phone had buttons that were too small for my fingers, but I had the important numbers on voice recognition Shannon Mayer / Breaking Gluttony (The Chronicles of Sin, Book 1)


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anyways. “Rathburn.” I purred out, unable to stop myself from my natural inclinations. The number beeped itself into existence and I was hyperventilating on my end of the line by the time he picked up. “What do you want, Toni?” If I thought Prince was velvet cream, then Rathburn’s voice was rough and deep and. . . . I was really getting carried away with this. I cleared my throat and took a deep breath in an attempt to slow my heart rate, “My car won’t start. Would you come back and look at it? I’m still at the church.” That rough deep voice froze over, was full of ice now. “Perhaps if you left at the same time the rest of us did, this wouldn’t be problem. I could have fixed it while I was there and now I have to make a—no, be quiet. I’m on the phone.”

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Who was he talking to, a client? No, Rathburn would never talk to his clients like that. A thought froze my mind. Max. There are always two arrows in the stories, or in this case, two crossbow bolts. My heart skipped a beat. Could this be it? Could Max have got the shot off and . . .? “I’ll be there in ten minutes.” The line went dead and I tucked the phone away. Damn, maybe I would thank Max when I saw him next. A tap on the window shot a different twinge around my heart. I grasped at my chest and peered out the grubby glass. I didn’t recognize the man and it certainly wasn’t Rathburn, he wasn’t that quick no matter how fast he drove. I rolled the window down a crack to get a better view and ultimately yell at him to go away.

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“Toni, can I speak to you a moment?” His voice was soft, melodious, and I found myself getting out of the car before I could even think about what I was doing. What was I doing? Most humans weren’t worth my time, so why was I giving this one even a second glance? “I heard you Toni. Do you really mean what you said? Do you really want help?” I was frozen to the spot. He had heard me. Heard what I had said about God. I looked at the stranger, really looked at him and felt my head spin. Tall, maybe 6’3”, short blonde hair, blue eyes, kind face, good looking, though that wasn’t what was making my head spin. It was the uncanny resemblance to the glass window above the pulpit, the one of the archangel Raphael. That and the cream--coloured feathers sticking out the bottom of his ankle length coat.

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Raphael started to talk again and I listened, too stunned to do anything else. “You see, Toni, though you didn’t think of what you were doing as prayer, it was technically just that. You wanted help, help to fix something. And since that is my speciality and you are, after all, on hallowed ground, I thought you might be serious.” I swallowed hard and whispered the words that would turn my world upside down. “I don’t know. There isn’t any help for me. I’m Gluttony. But wait, this isn’t hallowed ground, it can’t be.” He shrugged, feathers lifting up with the movement. “Things aren’t always as they seem. You of all people should know that.”

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He was right, but it still didn’t make any sense. How could Dandy stand on hallowed ground? I opened my mouth to ask, but found my tongue tied when I looked up into his face. His blue eyes, so full of kindness, made me think my father, the earth father I was born to this time around. My father was never anything but kind, always said he loved me, even when I was being a bitch, which was often. And then Raphael smiled and said, “I think your mechanic will be here momentarily. I will meet you at your house tomorrow morning at six. I will answer your questions then.” Numb, I nodded, blinked, and he was gone.

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5 The roar of the motorcycle snapped me back to the moment at hand. Rathburn would be able to see all of me if I were standing in plain view. Every last pound and suddenly, that mattered a great deal. But there was no way I would be able to get into my car without a scramble and let me tell you that a fat girl running for her car isn’t pretty, far worse than just standing still. So I stood, and waited while he turned the bike off and walked ever so casually over to me. Like he was about to greet a friend. Silently I rooted for Max. “You’re a real pain in the ass, Toni.” His grey eyes flicked to the car and then back to me. “What are you doing out of the car?”

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I flushed and looked down at my feet. I was a terrible liar, for all my other failings I couldn’t lie worth a damn. “I, umm, I just wanted to stretch my legs.” I peeked at him from under my eyelashes only to see him raise an eyebrow. “Yeah, right.” He flipped the hood up and held it with one hand while he poked around the engine. Leaning against the car, I caught a flash of fluffy white to my left and my breath hitched in my throat. Rathburn continued to putter as Max fluttered closer. Damn the little cherub, he was right, I would thank him if he managed to get a bolt into Rathburn’s gorgeous posterior. I grinned at the cherub and gave him a thumbs up, prior grudges forgotten under the possibility of Rathburn turning those smoky grey eyes my way.

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Max smiled back and I mimed aiming a bow and arrow, just as Rathburn stood up from under the hood. I turned the miming into a stretch and a big yawn. He opened his mouth, then shook his head and leaned back under the hood. “Go for it!” I hissed at Max. “What was that?” Rathburn muttered back to me. Max smiled at me, winked and loosed the bolt. What I expected was a show of fireworks like nothing this world has ever seen. Screaming, ranting, raving, death threats. A torn and trampled feathery cherub. I held my breath waiting for it. The impact of the bolt into his firm lovely rear produced only a very unsatisfying grunt and a shift of his weight from one foot to the next. Rathburn plugged something in, slammed the hood shut and turned and leaned on it. I glanced over my shoulder, but Shannon Mayer / Breaking Gluttony (The Chronicles of Sin, Book 1)


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Max was gone, only a single feather left on the pavement to show he’d even been here. “Was Prince right, Toni? You got a different kind of hunger pang? ‘Because as far as I can tell, the only thing wrong with your car was a sparkplug pulled out and laid very nicely on the battery.” It took me a moment to figure out what he was saying, what he thought I had done. “The caaarr” I stuttered out, too stunned to speak normally “I wouldn’t know what was what if I had a map and a tour guide. You can’t possibly think that I set you up!” My voice ended with a squeak; so much for all my years of vocal training. I watched in fear and, dare I say anticipation, as he walked towards me, all sleek muscle, and full of predatory grace. I would have turned and run if I’d been capable, but that wasn’t the case. I suppose this would be a first--time exit for me, I had Shannon Mayer / Breaking Gluttony (The Chronicles of Sin, Book 1)


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never been murdered, though all the other Vices had at one point or another. His hands came up slowly and I took a deep breath and closed my eyes. I really didn’t like the whole death with your eyes open business, it was just creepy. Rathburn’s throaty chuckle made me peek though my lashes. “I’m not going to kill you, you silly girl.” What was that in his voice? A softness that had never been there before. And then both of his hands were on my face as he rubbed his thumbs gently under my eyes in soft strokes. This couldn’t be happening; it wasn’t possible. I was going to have to send Max a thank-you. Heart hitching, mouth dry, tremors began to shake me. I couldn’t take it in. “Toni, you’re too fat for my taste, though it’s been a long time since anyone put any effort into getting my attention.”

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I was starting to think I should have pulled out the sparkplugs. The fat comment was expected, but I just didn’t want him to stop. My eyes opened of their own accord and I was staring right into his face, his nose very gently brushing against mine. He shifted his weight and I squeaked again. But he only leaned to the side and whispered in my ear, “It’s too bad we’re all so ruled by our Vices. You’re the only woman in this group who’s got any kind of head on her shoulders. In another life, maybe it would have worked for us, but not here, not as Vices.” He pulled back then, dropped his hands and again I had feelings warring for my attention, feelings I couldn’t name and didn’t want to acknowledge. Joy and sorrow so keen it was as if a knife was stabbing me in the guts. I wasn’t sure if I could even get back into my car. He walked away from me, and though it was a nice view, I would’ve rather had him stay. Shannon Mayer / Breaking Gluttony (The Chronicles of Sin, Book 1)


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The motorcycle engine roared to life and I lifted my eyes up, distantly aware of the tears that streamed down my face, tears I hadn’t shed in how many lifetimes? He rode away and I slid into my seat. What just happened? Had I imagined the whole thing? The car started easily now, the engine not giving one sign of distress. Mind tumbling over itself in an effort to make sense of what had just happened, I went to the one place I knew I could get comfort. The M & M store. I pulled up outside the two story building, forcing my car into a parking space that was too small. I scratched the vehicles around me, but I didn’t care. I had the store manager on speed dial and hit the button. “Thomas, this Toni. I’m outside and I need you to bring me two pounds of each. Any colour will do.” Shannon Mayer / Breaking Gluttony (The Chronicles of Sin, Book 1)


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“No can do tonight Toni. You’ll have to come up and get it yourself.” Thomas said and promptly hung up. I cursed and smacked my hand on the wheel. It was standard procedure for me and the M & M store. They had my credit card on file and I slipped the manager an extra bill for delivering me my sweets. There was nothing too is, I would have to go in. I heaved my body out of the car, the crush of people swirling around me as if I were a boulder tossed into a river. Slamming the door behind me, I waddled my way to the front door, the humid heat pressing down on me. Sweat popped out on my body immediately and I cursed Thomas under my breath. The glass doors slid open in front of me and I stepped through into the nearly arctic air conditioning. Sweat froze in little icicles all over me and I shook my head. You couldn’t win,

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not here. You were either cooking your brains or freezing your ass off. There didn’t seem to be a happy medium. “Out of my way tub 'o lard.” A man’s voice growled at me a second before a shove sent me stumbling forward. If I could have spun to yell at him I would have. One glance and the moving throng of people stilled my tongue. There was no way I could ever tell who had said it or pushed me. I clamped my mouth shut and walked to the base of the two flights of stairs. I hated stairs. There had been more than one time in my past lives that stairs had caused me considerable stress to say the least. Why the stairs? The elevator was being serviced. That would be my luck once more coming into play. Making my way to the top of the first flight, a whopping ten stairs left me not only panting and clutching my chest, but made me the center of some very unwanted attention. “Are you alright?” Shannon Mayer / Breaking Gluttony (The Chronicles of Sin, Book 1)


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“Maybe you should do stairs more often fatty.” “Don’t be mean.” “She shouldn’t be in a candy store.” I ignored everyone, thought the comments and the pitying glances continued. The second flight was a blur of sucking air, muscle cramps and glaring at people who dared to look my way. I made my way, slowly to the till. Thomas was there, perky eyed and bushy tailed. “Toni, you came in! What can I get for you?” His voice, high pitched and nearing puberty by the sounds of it grated my nerves and I restrained myself from trying to strangle him. “Two pounds of everything. Now.” I snapped at him, no longer giving any pretence of niceties. He jumped and ran to do what I told him. In less than five minutes I had ten pounds of M & M’s in my arms and I headed Shannon Mayer / Breaking Gluttony (The Chronicles of Sin, Book 1)


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back down the stairs. Despite a wobbly start as the world swayed around me, I made it back out to my car. But I didn’t go home. I made two more stops, one for drinks, and the other for what went best with M & M’s. Potato chips. Then it was off to my favourite place to eat and muse. A smidge under an hour travelling down the 93 west took me to the Hoover Dam. I turned onto the new bridge, drove halfway across and stopped, hitting the button for my hazard lights. The Mike O’Callaghan – Pat Tillman Memorial Bridge had only just been completed. It made it easier for me to come eat. I sure didn’t care that I wasn’t supposed to be parked where I was. Cars went around me, though there weren’t too many this time of night. My car rolled to a stop with a lurch and the open pop I had clamped between my thighs sloshed over and onto my pants. “Damn.” I muttered. Shannon Mayer / Breaking Gluttony (The Chronicles of Sin, Book 1)


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From my spot I could see the whole dam. I rolled my window down and threw my sacrificial M & M over the edge. Red of course and peanut butter filled to boot. You’ve got to appease the dam gods after all. M & M’s popped into my mouth and I varied the combinations so my palate wouldn’t get bored. Then I got down to some serious mulling over what had happened. The Hoover Dam on one side of me, cars zooming by on the other, the crunch of potato chips and sweet sugar rush of M & M’s filled my senses and left me wondering if perhaps I was going over the deep end. Maximillian and his crossbow? Figments. They had to be. Rathburn’s reaction? A lapse on his part. Raphael the Archangel offering to help free me from Vice? A long seated desire manifesting itself in the form of an angel, my mind finally breaking under the strain of loneliness and misery.

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My hand searched through the M & M bag and I held the plastic bag up to my face. Empty, all ten pounds gone. “Damn.� I said. Yes, the pun was intended this time too. A sudden urge to move and I found myself getting out of my car and walking towards the walkway that looked out over the dam. The sandstone coloured structure was enormous and filled my vision, lights along the top making it seem as if I stood in front of a fortress. I drew in breath after breath and tried desperately to wash away the past few hours. Yes, I wanted to have Rathburn in my life, wanted to lose weight. But really, would figments of my imagination help me there? No, of course not. I gripped the railing and looked over the edge. It was a long way down. There would be no way I could survive if I fell. My grip tightened and I thought about what it would take to heave my body over not just one railing, but the two it would take to get me into open air. I let out a snort of derision. I could Shannon Mayer / Breaking Gluttony (The Chronicles of Sin, Book 1)


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barely make it up one flight of stairs; there was no way I would be able to monkey my way over the edge here. I let go of the railing and backed away, carefully making my way back into my car. Fatigue gripped me. Fatigue and the hope that tonight’s events hadn’t been the figments of my imagination I believed them to be.

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6 I don’t remember the drive home, a bare blur of stop signs, intersections. Grateful that the 93 and the 15 were, if not quiet, at least not jammed bumper to bumper, made it so it didn’t matter that I was on autopilot. My pitiful car screeched to a stop in my driveway startling a girly shriek out of me. South of Vegas proper on the outskirts of Sloan-that would be the city, not the Vice- my place looked like all the others down the block. Cookie cutter houses that blurred together, communal lawns, most yellow and only the barest of landscape markings. I didn’t have to use the house key; the door was already unlocked, which meant that Sloan-the Vice- was hiding out at my place tonight. He, like the others, thought I was the favourite so he hung out with me when he believed he was in trouble. So

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that meant after most meetings I had a house guest for a few days until the heat cooled down. I never bothered to rat him out; I rather enjoyed thwarting Dandy in this small thing. I think Sloan also secretly liked that I lived in a town named after him. I flicked on the lights as I went, searching for my less— than--welcome house guest. The cat followed along behind me, mewling softly. I found him in the bathroom, passed out in the tub of all places. I filled a glass of water and threw it onto his sleeping form. One eye blinked open and he looked in my general direction. Only partially sloshed, by the looks of it. Despite how I felt about the situation, I still went through the motions. Wouldn’t want anyone to think I was going soft. “Dandy is going to be pissed at you for missing the meeting. You are aware of that much, aren’t you?”

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He groaned and flipped an arm over his eyes. “Don’t call him that,” he mumbled. “You think I piss him off when I don’t show up. It infuriates him that you don’t use his proper name.” I shrugged even though he couldn’t see it, amused to see the cat hop up on the edge of the tub and peer down at him. “I don’t really care. What’s he going to do to me that is any worse than the way my life is right now?” He flipped his arm off his eyes. “Torture? Unrelenting demon hordes begging for phone sex day and night?” I shook my head and walked out, flicking the light back off as I went. Even in the kitchen I could hear him still yelling out ideas. My steps slowed and I thought about what Raphael had said to me. He was going to be here in--I checked my watch-less than four hours. I had to get Sloan out. There was no other choice. Consorting with angels was a major no-no, not that I was

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seriously considering working with Raphael. Maybe I just wanted to hear what he had to say. The problem at hand though was how to get the lazy ass out of my bathtub. I’d never actually tried to remove Sloan before, never cared how long he stayed, and he was at least some sort of company. I might act as though I disliked having him around, but the truth was it made my day a little better, a little less lonely. But now I had to get him out. Inspiration struck and I shuffled to the cabinet under the sink. My best weapons against Sloan were here and it was my only way to get him out of the house without him becoming suspicious or starting a fight. I grabbed the empty pail, the Mr. Clean, a scrub brush, and some bright yellow rubber gloves. I had never once cleaned the house, the cleaning stuff was there when I bought it, and in theory I knew the logistics of it.

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I made my way back to the bathroom, puffing from carrying the pail and cleaning supplies. The bathroom light clicked on under my pudgy fingers. Sloan curled up in a fetal position, his back to me. I hummed while I filled the sink with warm water. “Sloan, would you mind passing me that cloth?” My question brought his head up very slowly. He watched his own hand grasp the cloth in question and hold it to me, as if seeing a horror film for the first time. I took it from him and dipped it in the now warm and sudsy sink, wrung it out and handed it back to him. “While you’re in there, would you mind just running this around the edge of the tub?” We both watched his hand reach out for the cloth and then instinctively recoil.

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“Are you crazy, Toni? You almost had me doing work! Dandy, I mean Dantalion, would KILL me!” “Then you can’t stay here anymore, not until you’re willing to help a little.” My voice was firm with authority and I was very pleased with his reaction. “You’re not my mother, Toni! I don’t have to do anything. In fact, it’s my job not to do anything! Forget it, I’m out of here.” He leapt out of the tub and the front door slammed behind him before I had a chance to say anything in response. I had a sudden vision of him as a teenager. Not worse than any of the rest of us, but just as difficult for the lack of effort. That went much better than I’d anticipated. I dumped the pail out in the now empty tub and wiped my damp hands across my thighs. They were huge, my thighs that is, both of my hands stretched out barely covered the breadth of one of them.

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The sound of ACDC’s Hells Bells sent me at top speed, not as fast as that sounds, toward the kitchen where I’d left my phone. No one called me at night on my cell phone. What if Dandy knew Raphael had spoken to me? A shiver of fear pulsed through me, startled me with its intensity. I hadn’t been afraid for so long I had almost forgotten what it felt like. Never had I done anything so contrary to my Vice, my lifestyle, as to actually consort with the other side. What would Dandy do if he found out? Far worse, I was sure, than he had promised me in the past for my indiscretions. Out of breath, I checked the call display, and my heart stopped. Okay, that was an exaggeration. But it felt like my heart stopped. The name on the call display was Rathburn. I froze, indecision taking away any ability I had to move. I wanted nothing more than to answer the phone and hear him say. . . I Shannon Mayer / Breaking Gluttony (The Chronicles of Sin, Book 1)


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don’t know what he’d say, but it would be something so grand and maybe even complimentary or even dare I hope, romantic? It was obvious I hadn’t been dreaming in the parking lot, that he had touched me and had said, almost, nice things to me. The ringing stopped and I knew I’d waited too long, he’d given up. The hand holding the cell phone drooped. That was what I got for thinking too much, for not taking the moment and living it. The phone rang once more and I flipped it open, answered before I had a chance to freeze. “Hello?” My voice was whispery, afraid someone might actually answer me. I wanted to melt into a puddle when Rathburn did answer me, despite what he said. “If you tell anyone what happened tonight, I will kill you. Understand?” He always asked if you understood when he threatened you, it was his M.O. Shannon Mayer / Breaking Gluttony (The Chronicles of Sin, Book 1)


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I nodded even though he couldn’t see me. “Okay. Thanks again for getting my car started.” He didn’t answer. The line went dead and I let out a sigh as his name slipped past my lips. Of all the people to have a crush on, I had to look at Rathburn with lovesick, sappy, puppy dog eyes, made ever worse by that little crossbow and bolt problem. Before Max and his intervention, I could daydream about Rathburn, could think about all the “what if’s”. What if I was thin and beautiful like Lusiana or Enilia or Greta? Would he want me then? Never had I actually thought anything would come of my desire for Rathburn. How could it, we were both Vices bound by the same rules. In a lot of ways I was no different than any other girl if you looked beyond the fact that I was reincarnated every time I died, never forgot who I was, and could claim status as one of the seven deadly sins. Shannon Mayer / Breaking Gluttony (The Chronicles of Sin, Book 1)


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My bed beckoned to me and I obliged after I had a snack. The rest of the Oreos, a litre of milk and three quarters of a bag of salt & vinegar chips. For now that would tide me over, but still, I grabbed a box of wagon wheels and a diet pop and set them beside my bed. In case of emergency. Sleep grabbed my exhausted body as soon as I rolled into bed. The cat jumped up and settled herself down on my belly. A few extra pounds wouldn’t bother me. “We’re going to have to figure out a name for you.” I murmured my eyelids fighting a losing battle against gravity. The only bad news was I forgot to set my alarm. I needn’t have worried. After all, I had an appointment with an Archangel; one who I would soon learn had a thing about punctuality.

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END OF EPISODE ONE‌..stay tuned for Episode Two in next months newsletter.

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Shannon Mayer / Breaking Gluttony (The Chronicles of Sin, Book 1)


BREAKING GLUTTONY: Episode One