Last month I promised you an excerpt. Without further ado, here is a snippet from Fallen.
Man has free will, and guardian angels have an eternal place in the holy host.
When unexpected feelings interfere with Malchediel’s guidance of a mortal being, he must decide if his love for one man is true, or the work of the devil. Charged with the soul of handsome but suicidal Bran Weller, Malchediel faces a second challenge: Bran's steadfast belief that homosexuality is not wrong despite the Church’s view of his lifestyle.
In the course of his angelic duties, Mal is tempted to turn a blind eye to long-standing rules of guardianship as he falls in love with his charge. Torn between faith in God and belief that every man deserves love, Malchediel must find a way to balance heart and soul or risk a Fall to Hell.
Note:This book was previously released but has been substantially revised and re-edited in this version.
Excerpt from chapter one:
Angels can, and do, fall from Heaven. Most of the time it is willingly, like today, but other times, they are cast down for their sins, and that fall is much, much harder. I would rather not discuss such topics. It breaks my heart to consider the rare brethren who fail so completely that they fall into the innermost circles of Hell.
A fall is not gentle or graceful, but being as immortal as a sentient creature can get, I am not harmed when I land on Earth. I can be disoriented, which has yet to get any easier with experience, but I accept this and plan my landing accordingly.
I land in a crouch, taking the impact through my legs and up my body. A large object looms in my unfocused vision to the left. It hits me, and I sprawl across pavement.
This hurts much more than falling.
Yes, I am an angel, and yes, it is true I cannot die a mortal death. I can, however, feel pain when ensconced in a human body. I close my eyes and take a silent inventory of myself. My injuries are not severe. I will bruise, but nothing is broken. Human body, but not a human mind; I am confident of my diagnosis.
“Oh, shit. I’m so sorry.”
I open my eyes to see from where the voice emanates. A blur moves toward me from that direction.
The voice asks, “Are you okay?” The face is still fuzzy, but I am settling slowly into my human senses. “Can you move? I’ll call an ambulance.”
His words help me snap through the fog of my fall. I grab his arm as he pulls his portable phone from his pocket. “No,” I say, “I do not need an ambulance.”
I hurt, yes, but doctors would slow me down and do very little otherwise. I heal quicker than a true human, and an angel’s physical form can sometimes cause the little hairs on the back of a doctor’s neck to quiver. They know, but they do not. Professional instinct is strong, though we often appear the same as our mortal charges.
I blink, my eyes focusing on the face hovering over me. I cannot go to the hospital because I have found him. I cannot explain how I know he is the one; I am a guardian angel, and he is my charge. I know.
He is beautiful in his concern, but I recognize sorrow veiled in his deep brown eyes. “So brown,” I whisper. I blink. I had not intended to say a word.
“You’re hurt,” he says, blushing.
“I will be fine.” I sit up, and he turns his hand to take mine and assist me. I am surprised to find I need his strength to steady me. Closing my eyes, I again seek out broken bones or internal injuries. I find nothing, but I am still shaken.
“Are you sure? Look, I’m really sorry. I didn’t see you.”
When I attempt to stand, his hand is there, helping me. With his arm around my waist, I ease myself to my feet. I look up into his eyes. He did not look tall while I sat on the pavement, but now, both of us on our feet, he looks down at me. My heart pounds, and the adrenaline makes me sway on my feet.
“Shit. I really think we should get you to the hospital.” He catches me, though I am not falling. Not any longer anyway.
I pat his arm. “Really, I will be fine. I need a moment to orient myself.”
“Did you hit your head?” His eyes widen. “You might have a concussion.”
“Please, I am sincere.”
I look around me, around us. We have not drawn any attention. Good. No witnesses to my sudden appearance. It is bad enough I have mistimed my fall. I have only fallen twice before, and neither resulted in my charge hovering over me like a protector. Neither resulted in me talking to my charge at all.
It does not matter. Now I must focus on my duty. We are in a parking lot. It would seem that I fell behind his vehicle as he backed out of a space. I do not understand how I could make such a mistake, but even angels are fallible. Only God is not.
When I look at him again, he ceases his objection and says, “I want to do something.” He looks me over. “I’ll have that coat cleaned. It’s my fault that it’s so filthy.” He reaches for his wallet, but I wave a hand, declining. I have no need for money or the services of a dry cleaner. I only need to will the coat clean. As soon as it is not likely to cause him to question.
“If you wish to do something for me, I have one request.”
He nods, eager to make things right. “Sure. What?”
“I am new in town.” I pause; a tickle of tissue repairing itself in one leg distracts me, but only momentarily. “I am craving a cheeseburger. Could you point me in the direction of a restaurant that makes a good…burger?” I hesitate to use any slang at all because I have doubts about my understanding of such words. Their use can be tricky. I have been warned that without slang, I stand out just as much as if I use it improperly, so I try. He does not react as if I said anything wrong, but he does hesitate before answering.
“That’s it? A burger? Well, the least I can do is drive you to the restaurant.”
“I would enjoy the company,” I say. My work would be easier over a meal.
“Company? Oh, um…”
“Did you already eat?” Perhaps I misunderstood his offer.
“Well, no, but I was about to…” The sorrow I saw before flashes behind his eyes again, reminding me I must be careful and caring with this beautiful man in my charge. “I should go to the grocery store.” He shrugged once, and I do not understand the gesture, only the words.
“I do not want to keep you from your responsibilities. A ride to a suitable place would be more than sufficient.” I cannot push him even if he does need my help, which he most definitely does. Man has free will, and I cannot interfere; I can only guide.
He shifts from foot to foot and rubs the back of his neck. When he looks at me, he smiles, but the sadness never leaves his eyes. This hurts me in a way I do not fully understand. I know and recognize pain, not unlike an empathic person, but his burrows into me in a way with which I am unfamiliar. Angels do feel, but we must keep ourselves distanced from it. Mortals refer to this as professional detachment. A guardian without the ability to care for his charge would be just as dangerous as one who cares too much and loses sight of his goals.
“Are you sure you don’t want to talk to a doctor?” he asks. “I’ll cover it if you don’t have insurance.”
I put my hand on his shoulder, intending to reassure him. Medical insurance has been a common concern for mankind lately, so now I understand why he suspects I may be avoiding the hospital. “I am better already,” I say, not needing to hedge the truth. We cannot lie, but we can come close. This is neither; I have already healed what little injury I suffered.
A vehicle—a car—rolls by. The driver shouts out his window about blocking traffic. I reply that he has room to drive by even as he does. He continues with the answer of a gesture I have learned is meant to be an insult. I am not insulted, but instead curious that he should be offended by me.
My charge forgets his concern for my health and laughs, shaking his head. “It’s not the best parking job,” he says, waving at his car parked halfway out of the straight white lines. Then he adds, “Come on. I’ll buy you dinner.”
Copyright © Pia Veleno
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Happy reading! Have a wonderful December, and holiday of your choice.