Grace Fortune meets gorgeous loner Jared Lorn who turns out to be not exactly human. He’s a Nephilim, an angel/human hybrid, descended from a line of fallen angels known as Watchers who are bound in the Abyss. Grace vows to help Jared be free of the curse that binds him to his angel father. She has help from her guardian angel, Ariel, as well as a motley crew of friends and a unique gift: a song that can tame demons. But as their love grows stronger, Grace and Jared are in danger of succumbing to the very corruption that caused the Watchers their downfall.
Targeted Age Group:: 13 and up
What Inspired You to Write Your Book?
With all the interest in the supernatural especially among teens—vampires, ghosts, zombies, etc— I wanted to write a romantic adventure novel about the supernatural forces found in the Bible. Angels, demons, Nephilim: what they are and how they interact in our lives.
How Did You Come up With Your Characters?
They just waltzed into my head one day. Seriously, Grace is just a girl struggling to survive the teen years, with lots of insecurities and hangups. Jared is that gorgeous mysterious boy every girl is hung up on high school–turns out he has lots of secrets. I'm always intrigued by characters with secrets.
She rides in the backseat of her parent’s old station wagon, a junk heap of a car, barely roadworthy. She is singing a song with her mother, You are my Sunshine, her favorite. She is six. It is her first camping trip.
The road snakes through the mountains of Bryson County, Tennessee, the car careening around curves, her father hooting with the glory of it. She sits wedged between sleeping bags and the Big Blue Box, her stuffed bear Bubba, a little white lump with no eyes and barely any fur, clutched in her fists.
They spin around a hairpin turn, blind to the disaster before them, another car in the wrong lane, the driver a young woman with an open bottle of vodka in her coffee cup holder. The wagon swerves, misses the car, then misses the road. It trips over the guard rail and tumbles down the steep, rocky embankment, coming to rest in the ravine. There is fire.
She is trapped, the Big Blue Box crushing her legs. Her mother is thrown, landing thirty feet away; her father pinned behind the wheel, his skull cracked open. Smoke fills the cabin.
I have to pass through, to get her out. It is a gift given to us, to be used carefully, only when necessary. The particles of my being gather together, compressing, forming a human shape, breaking into her world. A blast of intense heat sears my new skin as I reach into the burning car.
I take hold of her, pulling her out of the twisted steel and shattered glass. I carry her to a safe spot and lay her in the tall grass. She looks up at me, though I am sure she can’t see me, her eyes blinded by smoke and fear.
I am wrong.
When the rescuers come, they are astonished to see the blazing inferno, the two dead adults, one burned beyond recognition. And the little girl, lying in the grass, still alive.
They ask her how she got out of the car. She tells them about a man with a face of fire.
“Behind Your Eyes”
I don’t know what I was expecting for my sixteenth birthday. Anna Kennedy got a candy-red Ford Fiesta. My best friend, Ethan Ellerman, got a MacBook Pro. My other best friend, Brianna Reynolds, went to New York to see a Broadway show. I was hoping for an iPhone.
What I got was something I never would have asked for.
It started out pretty normal. We were in the cafeteria, Bree, Ethan, and me, eating lunch like always. The Buffalo Arts Academy was built in what I would call Early Hogwarts style, but the cafeteria (or “Atrium” as we were supposed to refer to it) was converted from a former courtyard connecting two buildings. It was open and airy, criss-crossed by catwalks above, with giant windows on one side that let in as much sunlight as you can possibly get in January in Buffalo.
Bree stuck a pencil in my chicken nuggets and started singing “Happy Birthday” in a loud voice, making the other kids look our way and smirk. Even that wasn’t so unusual. Bree had a habit of singing in public places at random times.
“Make a wish and blow out the candle,” she ordered so I made a wish and blew so hard the pencil fell over. She clapped. Ethan glared at us from behind his laptop.
“It’s a pencil,” he grouched. “You’ll get lead poisoning if you eat those nuggets now.”
“Don’t eat them anyway,” said Bree, who was a vegetarian. “They’re gross.”
Bree only ate salad. I hated salad. It was like eating nothing. Besides, chicken nuggets were my absolute favorite food in the entire world, and the fact that they were served on my birthday made my life practically complete.
“I have a gift for you, too.” Bree had long, straight hair and big brown eyes, the kind of pretty, wholesome face you’d see on a teen sitcom. I don’t know why I didn’t hate her. “Check your SniperSnap.”
I pulled out my old, crummy non-iPhone and looked at the screen. There, for six seconds only, was a picture of him. Standing on the sidewalk in front of the school, wearing a black leather jacket, swirling snow frosting his tousled blond hair. He had just turned, his riveting blue eyes focused on the camera—he looked sort of surprised and a little weirded out. I couldn’t blame him.
“Are you kidding me?” I said.
“I pretended to be taking a selfie. He had no clue.”
“Kind of creepy. But thoughtful, nonetheless.” The picture disappeared.
“Don’t tell me. You’re stalking Blond Boy now?” Ethan gave us The Look over the top of his black-rimmed glasses. He wasn’t really artsy like the rest of us; his main interest was designing video games. But he’d gotten a full scholarship since there weren’t many boys at BAA—it was hard to convince boys to go to a formerly all-girls school.
So boys were kind of conspicuous, but none of them were quite as breathtakingly conspicuous as Jared Lorn. All of us girls took turns stalking him. Maybe it was because he was taller than any boy in the school or that his hair was nearly pure white and his eyes so intensely blue they went right through you like a radiation blast. Not that he had ever looked at me, of course.
“You know he’s a felon; that’s why he’s here,” Ethan said.
“Liar,” said Bree.
“I’m not kidding. He got kicked out of his old school for fighting. Stabbed some kid with a fork.”
“So you’re stalking him, too?” Bree lobbed a cherry tomato at his head.
“Hey, cut it out. I just heard rumors. I checked them out. His dad is really rich or something. So they sent him here as punishment. A school full of girls. Go figure.”
Just then, Jared Lorn appeared in the cafet…I mean Atrium. I dropped my chicken nuggets and stared. It was kind of hard not to. He drifted through the sea of tables and sat at the one closest to the windows, which was usually empty because it was always cold there. He pulled out a phone and started scrolling through it.
A couple of girls soon joined him, sitting on either side. Janelle Miller and Rebecca Rosario, laughing and giggling, offering him food from their own lunches since he never brought his own.
"Sickening," I said.
“Can you blame them?” Bree said with a suggestive hair flip.
I was glad he wasn’t in any of my classes. I would have failed for sure. As it was I was barely passing. ADD, my former school counselor called it. I had trouble concentrating. I tried to listen to the teacher or do the schoolwork, but my mind always drifted, filled with songs I made up, with music that took up too much space in my brain.
The counselor suggested my aunt send me to the Buffalo Arts Academy, because I could play the piano really well without lessons or even sheet music. I was “gifted.” It was better here—the songs in my head had a place to breathe, to live. But I never played them—or sang them—when anyone was around to hear.
“Yeah, he’s pretty perfect,” I murmured.
“Does he remind you of your angel?” Ethan asked with a mocking sneer. He liked to tease me about that story. The accident, the man who rescued me. It was all over the news back then: little Grace Fortune, saved by an angel.
“Cut it out.” Bree fired another tomato at Ethan, who ducked behind his laptop screen just in time. “She doesn’t like to talk about that.”
“Why ever not, Little Mis-Fortune?” Ethan said in a sing-song voice, inciting the gruesome nickname bestowed on me by People Magazine.
I stuck my tongue out at him. “You’re a jerk,” I said. “I hate you.”
“I hate you, too.” He grinned.
I rubbed my knees, which always hurt. Memories of the accident, of my parents’ death, seemed to make them ache even more. Even after three surgeries, my legs didn’t work right. Walking was hard; running was out of the question. I couldn’t bowl either.
I sighed, glanced up at Jared Lorn. He was looking right at me, his eyes like lasers. I think I stopped breathing. There was something behind those eyes, something unnerving, as if he knew things about me that he shouldn’t know or didn’t want to know.
Then he looked away. Bree saw me and laughed. I blushed, sticking my fork in my mac and cheese so she couldn’t see my face, which was probably as red as my hair.
“I think he moved here from Ohio or Oregon, something with an O anyway,” Bree whispered so Jared wouldn’t hear us. “He plays guitar—I heard Mr. Hitchcock say he was amazing, but he refuses to play in any of the ensembles. Pathologically shy, apparently.”
“TMI,” said Ethan under his breath.
“Janelle said she saw him come in with his dad to register. The dad’s this old hippie guy with a ponytail—”
“So you are stalking him,” said Ethan, shutting his laptop and getting up like he was going to leave. “I think I’m going to have to find someplace else to eat lunch…”
That was when the shooting began.
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