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Kimberly Loth Books

Fallen Angel

Fallen Angel

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Naomi thought she’d eliminated the threat.

She thought wrong.


Female shades are being murdered faster than they can be discovered and Naomi has never felt more helpless.

She sends her protégé, Sunday, to Tombstone, Arizona to keep her out of harms way only to discover she sent her right into the snake den.

Torn between going after the murderer and rescuing the girl she promised to protect…Naomi’s choice is literally life and death….

Download now to find out if Sunday can survive….

Synopsis

Naomi thought she’d eliminated the threat.

She thought wrong.

Female shades are being murdered faster than they can be discovered and Naomi has never felt more helpless.

She sends her protégé, Sunday, to Tombstone, Arizona to keep her out of harms way only to discover she sent her right into the snake den.

Torn between going after the murderer and rescuing the girl she promised to protect...

Naomi’s choice is literally life and death…

First Chapter

The kiss was everything a guardian’s kiss should be. Full of dark chocolate and roaring ocean waves. The guardian himself wasn’t bad looking either, with his deep brown eyes and rock hard abs. He wrapped his hands around my waist and leaned into me for a deeper kiss. It tasted so good. And he smelled amazing. Sunscreen, with a hint of chlorine. He smelled like summertime. I might have moaned.

But his name escaped me. Johnny. Jack. J-something. It was so freaking embarrassing and distracting. I couldn’t really enjoy the kiss when I knew I would humiliate myself afterwards, when he would offer to give me his number, the way they all did. Hopefully he wouldn’t notice I couldn’t remember his name. His number would just be deleted later, but still, I didn’t want word getting around that I couldn’t even remember names. My reputation was bad enough as it was. 

“Sunday?” Ginny called. 

I extracted myself, and the boy licked his lips and raised his eyebrows suggestively. Perhaps Ginny could rescue me from this. 

“I should go,” I said and tried to escape around the side of the greenhouse toward the pool, where Ginny would be waiting. Probably with a lecture ready. 

“Wait.” He grabbed my hand. I met his eyes, which was a mistake. I was such a sucker for pretty faces, and this boy had the prettiest brown eyes. It didn’t help he was a total sweetheart. 

What was his name? 

I had to think fast because I’d already stepped onto the path, and the stones burned my bare feet. I smiled at him and took a few steps backwards. He didn’t let go and stumbled after me. 

“Look, Sunday, I know you don’t normally do this, but I really like you. Maybe we can catch a movie later or something.” 

How sweet. He thought this was going somewhere.

“I’d like to, but I don’t think that’s a good idea. Puck says I’m not allowed to date you guys.” For once, I was grateful for Puck’s stupid rules.

“Sunday!” Ginny called again. If I didn’t get out soon, she’d come looking for me, and I didn’t want her to catch me hiding behind the greenhouse with a shirtless boy. We’d been swimming, so the shirtless was somewhat appropriate, but it still didn’t look good. 

“What do you call this? Doesn’t Puck have issues with you kissing us?” 

Damn he was hot. Those abs. 

Concentrate.

I shrugged and tried to back up again. My feet were killing me. “He doesn’t know. If he did, we’d both be in trouble.”

The boy tugged at my hand and pulled me toward him, into the shade. I was so relieved I didn’t register how close we were. 

“Then at least promise to meet me again. Please.”

He planted his lips on mine, and without thinking, I wrapped my arms around his neck. Oh heaven. 

I heard the toe tapping first. Ginny was good at that, but I couldn’t bring myself to untangle from that angel boy.

“Sunday, why don’t you introduce me to your friend?”

I jumped away from him. J-something at least had the wherewithal to look guilty.

“Sorry,” I muttered.

“I didn’t ask for an apology. I asked for an introduction.” 

Now, if the boy was smart, he’d introduce himself. But of course he wasn’t one of the suave ones.

“Ginny, this is one of Puck’s minor guardians. He was swimming with me, and we found that we liked each other’s company.”

She smirked. Ugh, she knew.

“And his name is?”

I held her gaze. I never backed down from a fight, but my cheeks reddened. “I can’t remember.”

Then I met his eyes because I owed him that much. His easy smile turned into a frown, and he stormed off without saying a word. 

I picked up my cat, Lincoln. His patchy fur scratched my bare skin. He’d been nudging me since before Ginny had arrived. He didn’t like confrontation, and he knew it was coming. I patted his head and waited for her lecture. 

“Sunday, this is the fourth boy I’ve caught you with behind the greenhouse. This needs to stop.”

I dropped my eyes. Four wasn’t that bad. I didn’t even know how many boys I’d really kissed behind the greenhouse. It’d been three years since Naomi rescued me from my wretched destroyer father. At first I wasn’t sure about the boys, but they spent a lot of time hanging around Puck’s place, especially by the pool, and after a year or so, I’d nearly forgotten what it was like to be holed up in a house with destroyers.

“But I like kissing them.”

She sighed. “I’m afraid you’re building a reputation you won’t want in a few years. Just pick one boy.”

“Where’s the fun in that?” I asked. 

Her eyes crinkled. “You’ve been hanging around Ricki too much.”

I set Lincoln down. “Puck won’t let me date them. What else am I supposed to do? They’re always here.”

She put her arm around me, and we strolled toward the house. “Maybe Puck needs to move out and find his own place.” 

“Right, and leave Naomi here?”

She laughed. “Maybe they’ll get married this spring.”

I rolled my eyes. “That’s not going to happen.”

“It better. I don’t think I’ll be able to cancel on the wedding planner for the third time.”

I grabbed my towel and sketchbook off a chair. It was open to the sketch of J-something’s chest and abs. 

Ginny studied the drawing. “Pretty accurate. But you missed your lesson this morning. You knew what the deal was when you quit school.”

I squirmed. I was good at missing things I didn’t like. It was never my fault, but somehow stuff always happened that caused me to avoid doing something I dreaded. And I didn’t quit school. It was just one more thing I hated. 

 When I first started public school, I liked the social aspects of it. But I got into a lot of trouble for talking, and I had a hard time sitting all day. I ended up in the principal’s office at least once a week. As soon as I turned sixteen, I took my GED test without informing Ginny or Naomi. I passed and didn’t look back. Ginny and Naomi still felt I had things to learn, so I had lessons with them every day. Ginny’s lessons were more of the business variety, where Naomi taught me about guardian stuff. I liked Naomi’s lessons better. 

“It was a mistake, I swear. Last night Little Ale got a hold of my phone. I got up this morning before the sunrise and left to sketch the mountain in early morning light. When I checked the time on my phone, it said eight, but when I got home, it was actually noon.”

“You mean to tell me you don’t know the difference between eight in the morning and noon.”

“You know I get distracted when I’m drawing.”

“I also know you don’t like lessons on taxes and world events.” She sighed. “If you aren’t careful, Naomi is going to send you back to school.”

I clenched my fists. “I know. I’ll be better. I promise. Can we do the lesson now?”

“No. I need to go meet with a client. But tomorrow for sure.”

“I won’t miss it. I promise.”

She shook her head and made her way into the house. I checked my phone. It was just after two. I settled on the lounge chair. The door opened, and I glanced up. Maybe J-something was back. 

But nope. It was the last person I wanted to see. 

Puck. 

I didn’t like him. But that wasn’t his fault. Not really. 

When Naomi came back from Arkansas, she jumped right into his arms and didn’t leave for six months. Naomi had been like me before, trapped with an evil destroyer, and I wanted her all to myself, but every time I asked her to go swimming or watch a movie, she brought Puck along. 

I got it now. Mostly. She had a lot to process, though no one told me the whole story. 

Puck settled in the lounge next to me.

“You seen Naomi? I can’t find her, and her phone is turned off.”

I shook my head. 

He eyed me. “Hmm. You know. She hasn’t left you here alone in a very long time.”

“So?”

“So. I know she’s teaching you the ways of the guardians, but she’s been pretty protective of your lessons. I’d like to see what you know.”

I squirmed. “Shouldn’t you just ask her?”

“I do. She just says you are lazy and not showing a lot of promise.”

I sat upright “What? That’s so not true. She won’t let me do anything real. I keep trying, but she tells me that I have to master the basics first. I have. I swear. She just doesn’t believe me.”

Puck chuckled. “So. You wanna show me what you can do?”

Oh. That was sneaky. I bet Naomi said no such thing. 

“I guess, let me go change.” I was curious what he would have me do. I wished Naomi had been as diligent about my training as Ginny was about my school. She never taught me anything real. Except shields. She taught me how to do shields first thing and told me I wasn’t allowed to let anyone know I was a shade. Most boys couldn’t tell unless they kissed me with a shield down, so I couldn’t drop my shields. Ever.

I changed quickly and met Puck out by the pool again.

“How’s your shield?” he asked.

“You tell me.”

He closed his eyes for a second. “Good. How often do you leave it up?”

I shrugged. “Most of the time. It’s just easier if I leave it up all the time.”

He smirked. “Easier to kiss them?”

I blushed.

“Yeah, I heard about that. I’m going to have a talk with Joshua. The rest of them too.”

Joshua. That was his name. For some reason knowing that made me feel better.

“Why does it matter?”

“For one, I need my men focused, and you’re proving to be too distracting. Plus, if you ever let your shield down while kissing, it’d be over.”

“What do you mean?”

“Naomi is determined to keep you a secret. Herself too. Though I knew what she was the moment I kissed her.” 

“Why does she want to keep me a secret?”

“I’m not quite sure because she used to be gung ho about women practicing openly. But she always has her reasons. You’ll have to ask her.” Puck looked over the pool for a moment. “So far, you’ve told me you mastered the basics. Why don’t we see what you are really capable of?”

Easy-peasy. I might not practice, but I was good. 

“What do you want me to start with?” I asked.

“Make me smile.”

I filled his head with a vision of a sunrise and a room with the smell of tulips. A wide grin spread across his face. 

“Next?” I asked.

We went through a few more basic exercises. I sent his own emotions back to him, counteracted negative feelings, and threw up shields. 

“Can you sense hidden emotions?” He tugged at his collar. I rolled my eyes. He was acting like I knew nothing. “What am I feeling right now?”

“Irritated. But I’m not using my ability to sense that. I can see it written across your face. What’s wrong?” He’d been growing increasingly agitated throughout the lesson.

He ran a hand over his face and let out a breath. “I can’t believe I didn’t see this before. You’re far more advanced than Naomi led me to believe. When do you practice? Because according to Naomi, never.”

“I don’t,” I admitted. “It comes naturally. I don’t like practicing because I’m not allowed to actually do anything with it.”

He leaned against a table and crossed his arms. “Naomi hasn’t done you any favors. You two need to be introduced into the guardians. You could be an incredible force. Let’s see what kind of special powers you have.”

“Special?”

“Some people have powers that are more advanced. I have a few guardians who can read minds, and a couple who are particularly good at predicting behaviors. A few are adept at mimicking a destroyer, but the most common one is healing. I’d say about a third of all guardians can heal. Surely, a few of the boys have offered to heal those scars on your back.”

“Yeah, so did Naomi, but I want to keep them. I thought healing was something all guardians could do.”

“Nope. I can’t. Come on, let’s go to the greenhouse. It’s best to practice on plants.”

“Okay, just no roses.”

“Naomi burned you out, huh?”

“You could say that.”

I followed him into the greenhouse, and we started our lesson. Puck was a better teacher. Naomi’s lessons were tedious and boring, and she never bothered to check if I’d mastered a skill or not. She would just jump to a lecture about practice. She did a lot of demonstrating and talking but didn’t often give me an opportunity to show her what I could do. 

“Let’s start with something easy.” He found a small tree and snapped a twig so it was barely hanging by a strip of bark. “See if you can mend this. Those guardians who can heal will think of anything that represents new birth.”

I gently wrapped my hand around the broken twig. I thought about what new birth meant to me. When I lived in Arkansas, we had a farm and a few farm animals, but I wasn’t crazy about any of their births. They were always messy and gross. Then I remembered working with Mother in the garden. She taught me how to plant all sorts of things. My favorite memory was when she allotted me a patch of dirt, and I planted the beans all by myself. I watered them every day and sat for hours to watch for the little green stems to peek out of the dirt. 

I inhaled and smelled the deep earth and felt the warmth of sunshine on my face. I tasted rain. Then I withdrew my hand.

The twig was like new. 

Puck whistled and then pursed his lips.

He gave me a few increasingly more complex plants, and each of them was easier to heal than the previous.

“You’re a fast learner,” he said, rubbing his forehead.

I shrugged. “None of this has ever been difficult for me.”

“I think we’ve underestimated you. Let’s see what you can do with this.” He held out a dead cactus. “If Alejandro was still alive, you would have never found one of these dead, but Naomi’s world is all about the roses. Give it a whirl.”

Healing something and bringing it to life were two completely different things. I had to think for a minute before I could decide what I would use. I settled on a newborn baby’s cry, a sunrise, and the salty smell of the ocean. 

The squat, round cactus turned a vibrant green with curved thorns.

Without warning, Puck whipped out a knife, sliced open his palm, and shoved it in front of me. Before I could process what was happening, I directed all the energy I just summoned for the cactus into Puck’s hand. The bleeding stopped, and his palm was good as new.

I didn’t even touch him. 

“Holy shit,” Puck said. 

“What?”

“I’ve never seen anyone do that without physical touch. Ever.”

I puffed out my chest. Yep, I was that good. Finally, someone noticed. 

 Puck crossed his arms, and his nostrils flared. 

“Should I have left you bleeding? What’s the problem?” I asked.

“You’re unbelievably powerful. That’s what Naomi’s been hiding from me. Seriously, I’ve never seen anything like you before. We should begin the official training process. You could be a guardian by Christmas.”

I bounced on the balls of my feet. “Would I finally be allowed to do the stuff minor guardians get to do?”

“Not exactly, but you would definitely be useful.”

Finally, someone thought I was capable of more than just the stupid basics. I did a happy dance. 

Puck waited until I was done. “I can’t do anything without Naomi’s permission though. I wonder why she didn’t tell me.” He frowned.

 My shoulders fell. “That won’t happen. She doesn’t think I can handle it.” 

“Well then, we just need to convince her to let you join us. If we play our cards right, she’ll have to give in.”

I could barely contain my excitement. I reached over and gave him a hug, something I didn’t think he was expecting. 

Just like that, Puck and I were friends.

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