So, my Kindle Scout campaign is in full swing now, and it’s great to see the number of people who are viewing the first 5000 words of my new romance novel. But I’d love to see those numbers of views grow even higher. Can you do me a favour? Here’s a taster of Angels Above and Below (you can read more by clicking the link below). If you:
Like it – please then click the Like it link on the left, then sign into your Amazon account and nominate the book for a publishing contract with Amazon. It’s free to do this, and if your nomination is still there on 10 July when the campaign ends and Amazon do decide to publish it, you get a free copy!
Thanks so much for any support!
CHAPTER 1 – A long time ago … and now
Secrets have always existed, as long as there have been people to make and break them. Most are small everyday things; secrets to enjoy privately, secrets to share with loved ones, secrets to laugh and weep over.
But there are other secrets. Those created by God to test and to teach. Universal truths of such magnitude they could affect the Universe itself if revealed before the proper time. These have to be kept, no matter the cost.
And who pays the price of keeping those secrets? Ordinary people; you and me, and sometimes, those who are extraordinary.
CHAPTER 2 – Thursday, December 8
“Look, Mommy, there’s a star.”
Jenna Rogers lifted her head and blurrily followed her daughter’s finger, raised to the sky, which today was a color that needed its own proper name. Something like Coldest Day So Far This Winter Blue. Her nose stung in the chilly wind whipping along 2nd Avenue East, and the gusts made her eyes water, eyes that were gritty from another crappy night with little sleep. Which, yeah, had been the norm in the six months since Mike died. She managed to pull up an interested mommy voice from somewhere. “What, honey?”
“There. Look. A star. You don’t normally see stars in the daytime.”
Jenna squinted. “I can see it now. But it’s not twinkling like a star does. It’s probably a planet. Venus.” She pulled Amy close, gave her a one armed hug, her other hand encumbered by Amy’s Frozen lunchbox. God, her little bones felt so fragile, even cushioned by the thick winter coat. Pink, of course. “Come on, sweetheart. We’ll be late for school if we don’t get a move on.”
For the first time this week the sun shone. Although the way the clouds were barreling in, there’d be more snow in Seattle by mid-morning. Another layer of slippy-slidy adding to the woes of the traffic crawling through the icy slush, tires swishing and crunching. Walking to school rather than getting the car out had been a good choice despite the chill.
Amy was still looking up, feet planted on the sidewalk. Her breath plumed in the frigid air, a column reaching for the sky. The wind whipped her chestnut hair across her face, and she dragged a hand through it, pushed it out her eyes. Those eyes which were Mike’s, navy blue fringed with dark lashes, serious and considering. The evidence he’d lived, and loved.
Jenna reached out and hooked Amy’s hair behind her ears, those little pink shells Mike used to trace with his finger when she was a baby. He’d smile down at her in her crib and muse aloud. How did we make this perfect little creature? “You should really have your hair in a ponytail for school.”
“I don’t like ponytails. They pull.” Amy freed her hair from its ear-cage and returned to her observation of the sky. “Mrs Jarvis says stars are round, like the Sun.” She cocked her head in thought.
Jenna recognized that gesture. She did that too. Yeah, Amy was evidence of her and Mike’s joining, alright.
“If they’re round, I wonder why when we draw stars, it’s with all pointy bits. Like triangles.” Amy paused, pushed her hair away again. “I bet Mrs Jarvis would know.”
Apparently, Mrs Jarvis knew everything. Although elementary school teachers must seem the font of all knowledge when you were seven.
Jenna frowned. Triangles were the interest of the moment; Amy’s room decorated with cut-up bits of paper, brightly colored and glittered and pieced back together. Her interest in geometry had only come to the fore since Mike’s death. Was his passing the catalyst? Maybe. But anything that took her mind off the unspeakable loss of her beloved daddy had to be good.
With a typical child’s ability to flit from one topic to another, seemingly without effort, she said “Mommy, can we have some bees?”
But that was quite a leap from stars. “What do you mean?”
“Bees. That make honey.”
“I know what bees are,” Jenna said drily. “Why do you want bees?”
“Their hives have hexagoms in.”
Seven-year-olds were sweet sometimes. And funny. “Hexagoms?”
“You know, with six sides.”
“Right. So what’s the importance of hexagoms?” Jenna didn’t have the heart to correct her again.
Amy shrugged. “I dunno. But they’re cool. Mommy, can we get ice cream after school?”
Now that was something Jenna could say yes to. “Sure, honey. Where do you want to go?”
“Maroni’s. They do the best.”
She smoothed Amy’s hair down, soft against the palm of her hand. “Yeah, they do. Maroni’s it is, then.”
It took twenty minutes to walk from home to school. If Jenna kept quiet, Amy opened up, gave her mom some insight into how she viewed the world. And with Mike gone those moments with their only child were precious.
The walk along East Miller Street this morning took in hexagoms, Sophie’s mom who’s got a baby growing in her tummy, and the absolute necessity of getting pink pumps cos everyone else has them. And all the time they walked, Amy stepped deliberately on icy puddles, the cracks and shards finding an echo in Jenna’s splintered heart.
Jenna jumped at the sudden voice.
Amy didn’t. Took a moment to stamp on another iced-over smear before she looked up. “Hi, Josh.”
Another voice. Similar. “Hello, Amy.”
“Hi, Billy. Wait for me inside, yeah?”
“Yeah, ok. Come on Josh, race you.”
One small red-haired boy pushed past. And then another, a half-step behind. The Coltrane twins; two of Amy’s class friends who came by for play dates occasionally. Although not much playing went on. More like extra-curricular studying, the boys as keen as Amy on math and science.
She’d always been a bright child. Reserved, but friendly if she liked you. The apple of her daddy’s eye. He was so proud of her. My baby girl has an IQ of 130.
Jenna stopped dead on the sidewalk, the memory of Mike spearing her in the chest and making it physically impossible to draw a deep breath. Even after six months, it wasn’t getting any easier to function.
Amy took her hand and squeezed it. “What’s wrong, Mommy?”
“Nothing.” My heart is in bits and I don’t know if it will ever be whole again. “Just a bit of indigestion. Probably ate my breakfast too fast.”
Amy’s brows came down. “You’re not going to die like Daddy, are you?”
Mike had blamed his chest pain that morning on getting up late for work and gulping his breakfast down. “Oh no, sweetheart, of course I’m not.”
Amy’s lower lip trembled, tears growing fat on her eyelashes.
“Oh don’t, come here. Don’t cry.” Jenna opened her arms and Amy threw herself into them, as close as she could get while burdened by thick coat and school bag.
They stood for a while, just being close until Amy pulled away and wiped her eyes and nose on her sleeve.
Jenna smoothed Amy’s hair back from her face. “You ok now?”
Amy nodded. She fussed with her glove, taking it off to scrabble in a pocket for a tissue. Nose blown and wiped, she looked up and blinked. “Look, Mommy. It’s snowing.” She held out her hand, watched a few snowflakes settle on her bare palm. There and gone. “Mommy, snowflakes have a hexagom shape too. Did you know that?”
Jenna smiled briefly. “No, honey. I didn’t know that.”
“Yep, six sides. And they’re all different too. No two snowflakes are ever the same. Why is that?”
More geometry. “I don’t suppose anyone knows.”
“Mrs Jarvis would. Or God.”
If pushed, Jenna might have had Amy’s confidence in Mrs Jarvis, but she didn’t have her confidence in God. Mike’s funeral service was the last time she’d gone to church. She’d tried once since, but she found she couldn’t sit there and listen to all the blah blah blah about a compassionate God. Not when she couldn’t see any evidence of it.
Amy still believed. But she believed in Santa Claus and the Tooth Fairy, so that wasn’t much to go on. “Maybe.”
A few more minutes of walking and talking got them to the school gate. “Right.” Jenna kissed Amy’s cheek. “I’ll be here after you finish school and we’ll go to Maroni’s for ice cream.”
“Ok.” Amy started toward the building, then paused and came back.
Jenna braced for the question Amy had asked every day for the last six months.
“You will be alright, won’t you?”
“Yes, of course I will.” Jenna forced a firmness into her voice that she didn’t feel. Sometimes what came out of Amy’s mouth was far too adult for a seven-year-old.
“You will be here when I come out? Right by the gate, waiting for me?”
And then sometimes not, with a child’s fear of being abandoned. After all, she’d already lost one parent.
“Absolutely. Nothing would stop me.”
“Ok. Bye.” Amy ran across the playground, soon lost in the jostle of small bodies, a riot of brightly colored fleeces and anoraks.
Jenna sighed. Her hands itched to reach out, pull her daughter back and keep her safe. But she had to let Amy have some semblance of normality, even if it didn’t seem like life would ever be normal again.
She waited at the gate until the schoolyard cleared, absorbing the influx of children like a sponge taking in water. She was the last mom here, the others having dropped off their precious darlings and hurried off. Probably to hair appointments, shopping with the girls, jobs. All the normal things people did in normal life, if they weren’t widowed at 29. She envied them their busy lives. And hated them just a bit too, all the options they had. She swallowed, a familiar sting in the nose telling her she was about to cry. What did she have to look forward to? Finding something meaningless to fill the next few empty hours.
She put up her hood against the snow falling quicker now, a hissing in the wind which stung her cheeks. Yeah, that’s why they were wet.
Samuel’s expression would have been amusing if Endor hadn’t felt so wretched.
“Are you sure you’re ready for this?” Samuel was worried. As well he might be, considering what happened last time his fellow angel was on Earth.
No, Endor wasn’t sure. But if he didn’t try now, when would he. And what use was a Secret Keeper too frightened to Monitor, let alone Persuade or Enforce? He had to involve himself again someday. Had to put that last disaster behind him. He took a deep breath, the scent of old books and furniture polish melding with the earth-after-rain smell common to all angels. A complex scent that already meant home to him, a place he could belong. “Yes, I’m ready.”
Or Phanuel thought so. Had booted him out of Heaven, fed up with his moping around for the last four hundred years. And no angel who knew what was good for him argued with any of the Angels of the Presence. Or not more than once.
“Ok.” Samuel blew out a breath, obviously relieved. “It’s a simple assignment, just to get you back in the swing of things. A child is in danger of revealing a small Secret. She only has to delay for a few weeks and then the Secret can come out. It’s not even really Persuasion. Just distract her. Put her off until the spring.”
Endor winced. Why did it have to be a child? That was the hardest thing after what happened last time.
Samuel reached out and squeezed Endor’s shoulder. “You can do this. I have faith.”
Endor snorted. What was faith to angels? They couldn’t believe in God. They knew God. It wasn’t possible to have faith if you knew. “Ok. Where do I need to be?”
Samuel smiled, his eyes crinkling. “You’ll like this place. It has ice cream.”
Here’s the blurb:
Secrets – who pays the price of keeping them?
The fate of the world depends on fundamental Secrets being kept. Endor’s sole purpose as a Secret-Keeper – one of an army of angels who Monitor, Persuade and Enforce – is to protect those Secrets. But what will he do when the only woman he’s ever fallen in love with threatens to expose a Secret that must never, ever, be revealed?