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First pages

Chapter 1

FIN

 

Fin glided through the hospital’s emergency room hallway with a syringe of blood cupped in his hand, trying to lose his invisible stalker. He hadn’t fed in days and now wasn’t the time to aggravate him.

Damn angel. It’s been a month now.

Enough.

His own unsatisfying blood pooled in his mouth as his teeth dug into his bottom lip. The syringe he hid was nearly pulsating in his palm, beckoning to him. His body wanted to suck it down, but there were a few humans around, and he couldn’t draw attention to himself. All his focus was on putting one foot in front of the other.

One of the nurses approached him. “Good evening, Dr. O’Brian.”

“Evening.” Careful to hide his fangs, he forced a close-lipped smile and continued forward. Despite holding his breath, the angel’s odor of sage and cinnamon still filled his senses, bringing memories he wished to forget. Why wouldn’t the angel leave him alone? All he wanted was to live a normal life—well, at least as normal as possible for someone like him.

He disappeared into the physician’s lounge.

Shit.

Dr. Norfleet sat at the table. The angel was too distracting, Fin should have sensed the human before opening the door.

They exchanged simple nods while Fin assessed the other doctor. He was packing up his meal and would leave soon.

Fin made his way to his locker and turned the dial. Thirty-two, fifteen, twenty-four. It clicked open, but his attention was split between the syringe of blood he hid, the human in the room, and the lack of the angel’s distinct aroma. Slipping his meal under the folded scrubs on the top shelf, his mouth salivated profusely. Too much time passed between feedings. How much longer would he need to wait?

Dr. Norfleet’s voice rumbled from behind him. “Having a good night, Dr. O’Brian?”

He shut his locker. “Yeah. Nothing big tonight.”

The sound of a pager vibrating, then Dr. Norfleet’s sigh filled the silent room. “I gotta run.”

Fin waited, holding his breath until the heavy wooden door clicked shut. Alone at last. He turned back to his locker. Thirty-two, fifteen...

The angel's spicy scent filled the air.

A moan escaped while he spun around and complained into the empty room. “What the hell do you want from me?” His eyes darted between the charcoal tables and the counter filled with computers, but saw no signs of the angel.

Screw it.

He turned back to his locker, holding his breath. The distracting aroma of blood and angel immersed his mind. He turned the dial to the right, stopping at thirty-two again. His hands dropped when a flashback rushed through his mind. Closing his eyes, he tried to push it away, but last moments of his human life flooded in. Blood, there had been so much blood…and that scent he’d never forget while he struggled with the Angel of Death. Then the heightened emotions from his new condition: pain, loss, desire.

Control, Fin, control.

He spun around and snapped, “Show yourself!” His tingling fangs exposed over his bottom lip. There was no reason to hide them from an angel. He was sick of hiding.

 He’d ignored the angel too long, hoping it would go away. Hoping the angel wasn’t there for him, but there was no mistaking it anymore. He was being followed. Hunted perhaps.

“Come out of goddamn hiding!” he snarled. Another breath, but he didn’t calm—only that hidden syringe of blood would do that. He turned back toward the locker and shook his head.

Focus, Fin.

Was this the end? His time to die for good? No matter how many times he told himself he was ready, he wasn’t, despite knowing he had already fulfilled his duty in life. Were the angels coming after him for his sins from twenty-two years ago?

He cleared the lock again, but couldn’t stop the words from flowing out. “How long do I have left?” He leaned his forehead against the cool metal. Should he just rip it open? Would that blow his cover at the hospital?

Still, there was no response. What defenses did he have against an angel? Speed, strength, fangs, none of that would work. Wits. He’d need to behave. Outsmart the being, if that was even possible, especially without feeding.

His heart rate picked up again, and he willed it to slow. He closed his eyes and carefully inhaled the scents surrounding him, trying to become immune. He spun around, using his senses to pinpointed the angel’s location. “Let’s talk like the civilized beings we are.” Fin listened to the softly ticking clock.

The angel glittered into view. Miniscule beams of sunshine flickered as if thrown by a disco ball.

Wow.

She wasn’t what he expected. Not at all. First, he hadn’t even expected a she, especially one who appeared barely eighteen-years-old. Cute, with child-like purity. She looked innocent, perfect, and should definitely not be hanging around with him. He assessed her body, searching for wings, but found none. Careful. As innocent as she seemed, her kind still ripped souls from the humans he tried so desperately to save.

Her voice flowed like a babbling brook. “You can see me?” An eyebrow arched as she waited for a reply.

“Get the hell out of here. Leave me alone!”

“I… I don’t know how this is possible.” The angel shook her head. Her light honey-colored curls shimmered in the light. “I shouldn’t be talking to you…but you need to know that I’m not here to collect your soul and I don’t know how much time you have left.” She seemed almost urgent to put his worry aside.

Fin’s voice was gruff. “Then why are you here, angel? I’m tired of this game.”

She swirled the fabric of her gown in her fingers while biting a cream-colored lip. Her skin was pale with a golden smattering of freckles across the bridge of her nose and her vibrant green eyes.

Fin shifted his weight foot to foot in the silence. “Never mind. I don’t care.” He turned back to his locker. He cleared the lock and began to open it once again. “Just leave me alone. I need to feed.”

Reflections of light appeared on the lockers in front of him. He glanced over his shoulder, confirming she had left, but almost instantaneously, she reappeared in a dance of light.

Of course, she didn’t go anywhere. Fin turned back to his locker.

Her luring voice stopped him. “I need a miracle to earn my wings. A miracle so I can stay on earth.”

A laugh rolled from Fin’s chest, and he spun around, facing the angel. “You’ve got the wrong guy.”

“Not true.” She took a step forward and held out the syringe of blood he had been trying to get. “You’re the one.”

“I’m no miracle.” Fin curled a lip back to show his fangs, and darted directly in front of the angel, only an inch between them. Careful not to touch her, he snatched the syringe from her hand. Her scent was irritating. He growled and kept his eyes glued to hers.

She didn’t flinch, confirming he was no threat to her. He brought the syringe to his lips and drank down the contents, despite his company. Instant relief. His tingling fangs retracted, heart silenced, and mind cleared. It was what he remembered being human was like. Now, he could focus on something besides feeding.

Fin retracted his fangs and headed towards the entrance. Night shift in the emergency room was too busy for this nonsense. There were patients that needed him. “If you insist on hanging around here, why don’t you make yourself useful? You’re an angel, right? There’s a woman I just admitted to the hospice unit. She’s only thirty-five, but she’s dying and will leave behind two young children. She could use your miracle nonsense.”

Her voice was soft and filled with regret. “I can’t help with that.”

“Then what use are you? There are real people here that need help. I’ve got work to do and you’re only distracting me from what matters. You need to leave.” Fin left and shut the door, leaving her alone in the lounge.

 

AVA

 

Ava had been working on her miracle for over a hundred years, and it was official; she was the worst angel that ever existed. Thirteen unsuccessful miracle attempts, but who’s counting? She wouldn’t let this one slip away, but perhaps trailing the vampire at work wasn’t the best strategy. Leaving him alone to finish his shift, she found that young dying woman on the hospice unit. Ava stayed invisible and paced around the hospital bed, deep in thought.

How had that vampire known she was watching him? She had done her research when she first discovered Dr. O’Brian—Fin—was a vampire. She read every book in Sojourn and every book in the human world too. She was certain she was safe.

Vampires and angels weren’t supposed to exist together. They could function in the same world, but only interacted through humans. Then, Fin didn’t exactly fit with what she’d read about vampires. Not only didn’t she expect his skill when caring for patients at the hospital, but his kindness and empathy shocked her. There was no way he was one of those monsters she’d read about. Vampires had no regard for human life, drinking until they were full and sometimes unable to stop.

Ava stopped when the sleeping woman moaned and clenched her jaw. Ava had to do something, not only to prove herself to Fin, but because she was now aware of the situation. As a Fourth Order Angel, her powers were limited.

Contrary to human belief, angels couldn’t cure a fatal disease. They could only intervene in preventable deaths. They could make a tumor stand out more on x-rays, guide someone down a different path, or give the willpower to stop smoking. Nothing more. They couldn’t predict the future, well, most of them couldn’t. She had heard about a few humans with premonitions that became angels with strong psychic abilities. Being pulled in a thousand directions to change fate drove all of them mad. Ava was glad her special power was simple—the ability to detect lies.

Ava sensed, without a doubt, that this woman was dying, and she was close. Ava felt the pull of her essence, like a magnet, meant to call the Angel of Death. The woman’s sweat-soaked brown hair contrasted with the crisp white pillow.

Ava squatted down to read the name on the large syringe in the IV pump—Gwen. Unable to turn the syringe in her spirit form, she moved around the pump to read the medication—morphine. Despite this painkiller, the woman’s breaths were fast, and she still groaned in pain.

That, Ava could do something about, but she’d need to step out of Sojourn and into the human world. If she was a higher order angel, she wouldn’t need to be so physical. Rule number two of being an angel played in Ava’s mind; don’t show yourself to humans. Gwen was sedated, so Ava should be fine.

Ava checked the hall and ensured nobody was coming. She then disappeared into Gwen’s bathroom and stepped into the human world, knowing the bright lights she threw may disturb the sleeping woman. Softly, she tiptoed across the room.

Laying a steady hand on the woman’s cheek, she watched for a flutter of her eyes, a twitch of her lip, and any signs she was waking up. The woman didn’t stir. For a moment, a memory threatened to escape—a sweaty, pain-filled memory of her sister after she contracted the bubonic plague.

Ava tucked the memory away and closed her eyes, seeking out the tendrils of Gwen’s pain with her mind. There were so many, like red strings of differing sizes, all with a mind of their own. They twisted themselves through Gwen’s body, holding tight. Ava grasped one with her will, and then another, pulling them into herself.

Despite her dampened sense of touch, her body was on fire. She grit her teeth to prevent from calling out. Her free hand clenched the railing on the bed until her fingers hurt from their own pain. More and more pain flowed into her and her knees buckled. She focused on pulling the strings tight and dispersing them evenly throughout her body to lessen the intensity.

Every nerve ending tingled and felt as if they would cut through her skin with tiny knives. Finally, they became overloaded and stopped transmitting pain.

Ava pried her eyes opened to a smile on Gwen’s face. She dropped her hand, but before she could enjoy her work, the door creaked. Ava’s heart jumped—she couldn’t get caught visible in the human world. She turned back towards Gwen, whose eyes slowly opened.

Oh, dang.

In a shimmering flash, Ava stepped back into her world, struggling for her breath and intently watching for signs she had been caught. The nurse brought Gwen a new glass of water and wiped some sweat from her forehead. Ava listened closely and ensured there was no talk of angels before transporting herself back to her home in Sojourn.

Completely spent. She collapsed on her bed, shook out the last bit of numbness from her limbs, and fell asleep smiling.

 

FIN

 

A day had passed since Fin confronted that angel and there had been no sign of her tonight. Despite not getting any blood, he was calling the evening a win. He stabilized a gunshot wound—being around all that blood and keeping control was a win in itself, diagnosed kidney stones, and admitted two different patients with pneumonia. Without his invisible stalker, he felt free. He should have confronted her the first night he sensed her—hindsight.

Fin’s shift ended and he retreated to the physicians’ lounge, obtaining his bag from his locker. The room’s door squeaked open.

“Dr. O’Brian?”

“Yes.” Fin ran his tongue across his teeth, making sure they appeared human, and then turned around. “Do you need something?”

Jane held a plate of dessert. “I didn’t see you get any of the cookies I baked from the break room. I thought I’d bring some down here for you.” She set the plate down, then leaned against the table, directly in front of Fin.

A whiff of human blood overloaded him. Her veins lit up in front of his eyes. He stopped breathing and stumbled away from her, attempting to sedate his beast. He felt his fangs tingle. “That was thoughtful of you. I’ll take them home.”

She stood up and took a few steps towards Fin. The open locker pressed tightly to his back as he pulled away from her. Her heart rate had sped up, her mouth was salivating, and Fin could smell a release of pheromones. They bombarded him, arousing his beast. His eyes wouldn’t leave the pulsating artery of her neck. Oh, the sweetness if he’d just take a little bite. A taste. A little sip. Her warm skin on his lips. The comforting liquid massaging his dry throat—comforting it. Images of biting her throat flashed before his eyes.

Shit. He shoved his beast away. “I need to get home.”

She didn’t back down. “Fin… Do you mind if I call you that? We’ve known each other for a year now. Um… I’ve been trying to get your attention, but you’re always so focused. I thought I’d just come out and ask you.” Her heart was hammering, and now Fin sensed sweat on her palms. She cleared her throat. “I was wondering if you’d get a drink with me after work one day.”

A drink? “I… I can’t.” Fin turned and slammed his locker, slinging his bag over his shoulder.

“Oh… I’m sorry… I didn’t mean to intrude. I just thought… Um… I thought you looked at me that way… you know… with interest.”

That way? No, it wasn’t interest. It was thirst.

“If you have a girlfriend already, I apologize. You just keep everything so secretive, that I didn’t know.”

“No, it’s not that. I just… It just wouldn’t work.”

She stepped back, straightening her hair and rubbing the back of her neck. He sensed her disappointment.

“You okay?” Fin asked.

She shrugged. “I had to try. You seem so lonely.”

Lonely was an understatement. “I appreciate the attempt. I’m… flattered. You are a great nurse and quite… attractive…but…” Fin forced a tight-lipped smile, hiding his fangs. “I do need to run. I don’t date anyone I work with. I’m sorry.” Fin headed for the door, smelling her pheromones turn from lust to determination.

“Dr. O’Brian…wait.” Jane handed him the plate of cookies. “I hope you enjoy them. They’re coconut.” An eye bat. He had been picking up on those for months now. It always took the new nurses a while to realize he was off limits—even then, sometimes, it didn’t work.

“Thank you.” Fin rushed out of the department and into the waiting room. He focused on the humans, listening for a moment. There. A rumbling stomach. It was a man with tattered clothes. Fin glided over to him and squatted down. “Are you hungry?” he asked.

The man nodded. A bag of things sat beside him. Definitely homeless. Probably staying inside the ER to keep out of the rain.

Suddenly, every muscle in Fin’s body tensed and felt like they were on fire. The hair on his arms raised and his guts, even empty, churned. He twisted towards the department’s entrance. In walked a too-beautiful female. A vampire. Fin knew it without a doubt.

Fin pushed the cookies into the man’s hands. “Enjoy.” His fangs tingled and grew. He didn’t wait for a thank you, just rushed back into the department towards the employee exit. Why had a vampire come to his work? That had never happened before. There was no reason for vampires to be in the hospital—other than to find Fin.

The only thing different in his life was that angel.

Coincidence?

Fin clenched his fists and couldn’t will his heart to slow.

What had that angel done?

Chapter 2

 

AVA

 

The next morning, Ava transported to the vampire’s home. Despite his wishes, she couldn’t leave him alone. He was her miracle and she wouldn’t fail this time. It was so much easier when she watched humans. They didn’t sense her presence, but none of those miracles had been successful.

Fin was in his kitchen, performing his typical after-work routine of pouring himself a glass of a dark-red liquid. Over the past month, she had been here a few times. One large kitchen/living room with minimal furnishing and no decorations. All the walls were pristine white, just like her chamber in Sojourn. The kitchen was immaculate, probably because vampires didn’t need to eat…well, at least not traditional food. The room only had one L-shaped bare counter surrounding a stove that appeared never used. The lights were dim.

She forced her hands to relax and to stand tall, despite the intense tingle in her stomach. Even though he appeared as only an average person, with light brown hair, a slender build, and medium height, she reminded herself that looks could be deceiving.

Fin hesitated when his glass was full, then spun around in a blur, his gaze directed right at her. Did she step into the human world by mistake? She checked herself. No, she was still in the shadows of Sojourn. Of course, he sensed her.

“What did you do?” the vampire growled with red glowing eyes.

She took a dying woman’s pain away? Was that wrong? Ava stepped out of Sojourn, the reflections from her light reflected against the walls and across the vampire’s face. “Didn’t I leave fast enough? Did Gwen see me? Is she talking about angels?” If the angels caught her showing herself to humans, she’d be punished. There was no doubt about that—especially since it’d be her second time.

“Gwen? That dying mother?” He calmed a moment, but then tensed again. “I’m not talking about her. I’m talking about the vampire.”

“The vampire?”

“Don’t play all innocent.” He shook his head. “Yesterday, there was a vampire at the hospital.”

“Besides you? I…I don’t know what you’re talking about. I didn’t do anything. You’re the only vampire I’ve ever spoken to.”

“You lie!” He took a step towards her.

Ava tensed, but didn’t back away. “I don’t lie!” It was rule number ten. He took another step towards her. Could he touch her? Was she in danger? Of course, not. She could transport away if needed—unless his touch was like an angel’s and grounded her to him. She swallowed.

“Then you led her there. To me. It’s your scent.”

Ava rubbed her palms on her gown, lost for words.

“Answer me, Angel. How did the vampire know I was there?”

Fin darted towards her and she cloaked herself the shadows of Sojourn before he stood where she had been. He reached out, grasping air.

Ava materialized across the room. “I swear I knew nothing about it.”

His eyes still glowed when he spun towards her and advanced. She again retreated to the shadows. She waited a few minutes. His breathing eventually slowed, maybe stopped, and his red eyes seemed to dim. She reappeared in his kitchen, sitting on his countertop. “We could keep this up all day if you like. I’m not going anywhere.” She crossed her arms over her chest. If she failed her miracle this time, she didn’t know how long she’d be stuck in Sojourn before she could have another chance.

Fin closed his eyes and rubbed his hand on his face. When he pulled them away, his eyes were no longer red. Fangs glistened from his partially opened mouth and he sighed. He slowly approached the kitchen and Ava hopped off the counter and stepped out of his way. He picked up the partially poured glass of liquid and sucked it down in one smooth swoop. “You need to get her to stay away.”

“I still don’t know what you’re talking about. What vampire? I spend a lot of time at the hospital too and haven’t seen any vampires there besides you.”

He set his glass on the counter. “Can angels lie?”

“Of course, they can.”

“But do they?” He raised an eyebrow and cocked his head.

“I suppose there’s no answer you’ll believe. If I say yes, you’ll think I’m lying, and if I say no…well, I suppose you’ll think the same.”

Fin dismissed her with his hand. “Go. I don’t want you here. You put me, and others in danger. Go back to Heaven, or Hell, or wherever you came from.”

“I’ve come from neither place. It’s not exactly like that—it’s more complicated.” So complicated, she didn’t understand it all. She was a Fourth Order Angel, which some humans just called a spirit, but she couldn’t freely wander Earth. If she could, she may be happy. No, she needed to stay in Sojourn unless she was working on a miracle.

“I don’t like this,” Fin said.

“You’ve made that obvious, but I’m a little stubborn.”

“And you’ve made that obvious.” He turned away from her to take down a second glass from the cabinet, then filled them both with red liquid. Was he concealing a look of amusement?

If she wasn’t going to leave him alone, she should offer him something. “What did this vampire look like? I can look for her.” Ava followed him as he carried the glasses across his living room and out onto the balcony. The glasses clanked together as he set them down on the patio table’s mosaic stone surface. An image of a delicate lily made from broken tiles was set into the cement—not at all what she expected of him.

Fin pulled out a chair for her, then sat down across the table. “Her most striking feature was rich red hair. She’s a vampire, you’ll sense her.”

Ava shook her head. “If you mean sense vampires like how you can sense me, that won’t happen.”

“How did you know I was a vampire?”

“I figured it out when I saw you drink your first syringe of blood—then I saw your fangs.” She motioned to the red liquid in the glass in front of her, not wanting to dip her finger in it to check its contents. “Blood?”

He cocked his head. “Really? Is that what you think of me?”

Ava stared at him. What else would he drink? “After how you’ve been behaving—yes.”

The corner of his lip twitched, but he restrained his expression. “It’s only wine.”

Ava tested his words to ensure they weren’t a lie. Did her ability even work on Vampires?

Fin picked up his glass and carefully took a sip. The fangs she’d seen earlier were gone. “I don’t think you intentionally brought that vampire, but we need to figure out how to get rid of her.”

Did that mean he’d let her hang around—not like she was giving him a choice, anyway. Perhaps they’d figure out her miracle. She felt herself smile.

Fin interrupted her thoughts. “Stop it. I’m still not helping you with your miracle.”

Turning her eyes away, she examined her wine glass instead. She picked it up and inhaled the aroma. Memories flooded in of when she was human, of things she could no longer have. Fourth Order Angels, like herself, didn’t belong in the human world. She set the glass down, not daring to drink—it was forbidden, though she didn’t know why. None of the rules were explained to her. Blind faith. She didn’t like it. Her voice came out soft. “It’s okay. I don’t expect to perform a miracle anyway. I’m not a very good angel.”

“Then it makes sense why you were sent to me. I don’t deserve to have an angel at all.” Fin looked down at his drink, pain spread across his face. “Taking my soul may save lives, though. Who knows when the beast will take over completely, and I’ll snap. Maybe that’s what you’re supposed to do.” His lips tightened into a fine line and his light brown eyes waited for her reply. “In fact, I’m tired of fighting it.”

Ava didn’t understand the vampire’s belief. “I’m not here for your soul. I don’t do that.” Besides, did vampires even have souls?

Fin repositioned himself in his seat, appearing to relieve some tension.

“Why would you think taking your soul would save lives? In the weeks I’ve been observing you, I’ve only seen you save human lives.” She shook her head. “The miracle can’t be for you anyway. Vampires don’t get miracles.”

“Then why are you obsessed with me?”

Ava stiffened, but steadied her voice. You’re the one who’ll lead me to my miracle. Your pull is stronger than any I’ve felt before.” Ava squinted into the rising sun. Hadn’t she read that vampires couldn’t be in sunlight? She scrutinized the golden rays as they crawled onto the vampire’s legs and up his body. He shifted in his seat, but didn’t appear uncomfortable. Ava stared at the wine. What was she doing? “I shouldn’t be talking with you.” Rule number three: don’t talk to humans. However, he wasn’t exactly human anymore, was he?

Fin drank from his glass. The sun now fully illuminated his face. “Then tell me how to get you out of my life?”

Ava straightened in her chair. “I will not leave you alone.”

Of course, not.” He stood with his empty glass. “Then you need to figure out how to make my life go back to how it was.”

“And what is normal for you?”

Fin grunted and retreated to the kitchen.

“I visited that mother you spoke of—Gwen,” Ava called after him.

Fin stopped, but didn’t turn around. “So, you said. Did you save her?”

The thought that Gwen would soon leave her children motherless, humbled Ava’s words. “No, but I took away some of her pain. It was all I could do.”

The vampire nodded and turned towards Ava. The harsh lines of his face had disappeared. He opened his mouth to say something, but instead turned away again, crossing his living room and putting the glass in the sink. “I’m going to bed,” he called as he disappeared into his bedroom, shutting another door on Ava.

She stayed seated on the patio, overlooking the city slowly coming to life. People and cars the size of toys were moving on the streets below. Fin was so different from everything she ever knew about vampires. He didn’t drink from humans, could be in the sun, could interact with angels, and cared for humans. Was everything she learned about vampires wrong?

 

FIN

 

What the hell are you doing?

Fin kicked himself as he sat on the patio the next morning with two glasses of wine and a chessboard. He had calmed down some, there was no sign of that other vampire tonight. Besides, there was something about the way the angel denied knowing how the vampire found him. A look on her face and a certainty to her voice that told him she told the truth.

You’re being foolish, Fin. She’s an angel.

…and you’re a… murderer.

It’s one of the many reasons he lived his life in solitude.

She won’t leave you alone, anyway. But he was justifying his actions. Truth be told, he had an echoing cavern in his chest that couldn’t be filled.

Fin cleared his mind by watching the sun chase the night away, and the city lights twinkle out. The usual scents filled the air, but no sage and cinnamon yet. He identified the bakery, the magazine printing factory, car exhaust, and tree pollen. Looking off into the distance at the snowcapped mountains, he tried to pick out the citrus and earthy odor of the pines. Nothing, as usual, but it focused him.

Not long after the sidewalks crowded below, rays of pure white light danced in front of him. The angel appeared exactly where he had left her the previous morning. She crossed her arms over her chest and gave him a focused stare with her vivid green eyes. No hiding today, which satisfied Fin.

She briefly focused on the glass of wine he’d poured her, but then turned to the chess game. Her eyes seemed to give off a sparkle.

“If you’re going to hang out with me, at least you can provide me some entertainment.” Fin motioned to the chessboard. “Do you know how to play, Angel, or will I need to teach you?”

The angel pushed a pawn forward then met his eyes. “I can play.” She smiled. “In fact, I love this game.”

Fin held back a smile when he returned the move. There was something about this angel that soothed him. “If I can’t get rid of you, you should tell me what to call you—what’s your name?”

Her eyebrows wrinkled while she scrutinized the board, moving a knight in front of her pawns. “So, you’ve given in?”

Fin tightened his jaw. “I haven’t decided yet. Why is this miracle so important? What does earning your wings do for you?”

“When I died, I chose not to go on to the final resting ground. I chose to have the chance to stay on earth. Without my wings, I’m limited. I only get to be on earth when I’m working on a miracle.”

“Why is being on Earth so important to you?”

She bit her lip for a moment, then her voice was soft. “My twin sister was still alive then. I couldn’t leave her.” Her voice perked up. “She was a nurse—worked at a hospital in San Francisco and I volunteered there a lot to help her. Technology is quite different now, but being in a hospital brings back memories of her that I don’t want to forget. I can’t get enough holding patient’s hands, giving them courage or mental strength to handle a diagnosis, or simply making them feel supported—even if they can’t sense I’m there. That’s some of what my sister used to do.”

“Used to do?”

The innocent angel looked up and Fin felt his heart melt for a moment before he iced it back up. “She’s been gone a while now. In Paradise, I hope.”

“And if you earn your wings, will you get to see her?”

She shook her head. “I don’t know. Like I’ve said, the whole thing is complicated.”

For a moment, Fin felt hope fill his chest. “Family bonds can be the tightest bonds.”

“But I can’t keep trying and failing. I’ve told myself, it’s this time, or not at all.”

“What if you stop?”

“I’ll be sent on to eternal darkness.” She said those words without the emotion Fin would expect. Had she accepted this fate?

Fin moved his next piece, not wanting to think about the guilt this gave him. He watched the angel focus on the board.


AUTHOR Q&A

About me

Joynell Schultz was raised at a zoo (yeah, bring on the jokes) which gave her a love of animals. She spends her days working as a veterinary pharmacist & spends her nights (cough, cough—very early mornings) creating imaginary worlds writing speculative fiction. When she’s not trying to put food on the table (take-out, of course) for her husband & two children (& keeping it away from her sneaky Great Dane), she spends her time reading, writing, enjoying the outdoors, & planning her next vacation.

Q. What was the hardest part of writing this book?
A.
Writing the middle and figuring out the villain. I knew the beginning and the ending, but didn't know how to get there. This book was actually shoved in a drawer for over ten years due to my frustration.
Q. What books are you reading now?
A.
This changes so frequently. I'm usually beta reading a few authors books at all times and I LOVE doing this, almost as much as I enjoy writing. I also enjoy reading & reviewing other indie authors, paying special attention to those that were not selected for Kindle Scout.
Q. Where did the idea for this book come from?
A.
Honestly, I had gotten the flu and couldn't sleep one night. I was the sickest I remember being and the characters came to me while I lay on my bathroom's cool tile floor, wondering if I was going to die. (Yeah, maybe I over-dramatized that a little.)

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Bumbling crooks plan a daring robbery
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Murder and madness infect a remote town
UNIQUE
Unique Woman Uses Demon To Save Her CIty