An excerpt from Woe for a Faerie by Bokerah Brumley
New Haven City
I couldn’t stop Hannah’s murder. Transforming took too long, and I already knew I wouldn’t arrive in time to save the little girl from her attacker.
“Help me, Ailin,” she screeched, reaching across realms with her mind. “He’s killing me. I can’t breathe. His hands…”
In a moment, a flash, through her eyes, I recognized the alley she was in, the one next to the orphanage. An ugly shadow that moved over her, the strangle of fat fingers around her neck, and the stream of shrieking thoughts that tore through her mind.
When Hannah screamed, I froze. Every message, every mission faded from my mind. She needed me. I had to protect her. She didn’t have anyone else. No mother.
I reached toward her, picturing her location. It took too long to cross from the supernatural to the mortal, but it was the only option. I hoped I would make it in time.
A breeze that smelled of New Haven City, and the mortals that populated it, buffeted my face, and Hannah called for me again. The second time she called, her voice held no strength. She faded.
I hadn’t been the angel assigned to guide her or protect her, but I had to go. Faster. I had to get there. I pushed through the separation, the sandpaper edges scraped against my skin. If only I could get there.
I stretched toward her as I bled from my supernatural plane into hers, stepping down onto the edge of a four-story building. I peered into the alley that matched what I’d seen through her eyes. The loud hum of humans drowned out Hannah’s whimpers. People were a constant engine of chaos, running in the background, and I strained to hear her.
But there was nothing. No warmth as her soul recognized me, no responding warmth echoing in my insides. I loved her.
“Hannah?” I whisper-yelled, my voice hoarse with worry.
Her silence destroyed my hope.
A familiar flutter caught my attention on top of the skyscraper across the ally. Slowly a dark figure wrapped in robes, consolidated on the fire escape.
No. No. No.
The angel of death hovered nearby. He wouldn’t leave New Haven City without Hannah’s soul. I clamped my hand over my mouth to keep my scream from escaping. One final gurgling wail followed the rip of Hannah’s flesh.
Hannah’s guardian was nowhere to be seen, and fury seethed inside my heart.
I cried out, then. Hannah might not have been my divine purpose. Maybe she wasn’t my charge to protect, but I had flown as fast as I could. I meant to reach her before something happened that I couldn’t fix.
My creators demanded obedience to the hierarchy. I could not move against the Death Angel. The laws of the supernatural assured it. I could only watch the end unfold.
Longing curled my toes and weakened my ankles until I swayed and wished an avenging justice onto the world. I should have been sooner. I should have sacrificed myself to save her. I could have. As an angel, I existed inside the spiritual, hidden from the physical, and I remained to watch of the rest of the hideous scene play out.
A long sigh drifted toward me, intermingled with the low grunts of evil bent on finishing its task of destruction. He doused a bright light, the impact of that moment slammed me into a darkness so deep.
I stepped over the edge and landed on the pavement behind the creature that dared harm my Hannah. I tucked my wings away.
Her last heartbeat shuddered through me.
My knees trembled, and I crept forward.
She left her body. It was finished.
Death gathered her in his arms, and the laws of my world meant I had to leave her in the arms of its mercy.
Above us, tears streaked the gargoyles faces, weeping each time an innocent died. She made no more sounds. I arrived too late.
My sweet Hannah.
Each moment that ticked by, a resolve grew and hardened in my heart.
Vengeance could still be mine.
He dragged her lifeless body into the corner of the alley and covered her with dirt and trash. One foot shoeless, the other tied in a ballet slipped that her mother had given her as a reward for good grades.
I grimaced at the row of gargoyles beside me, positioned every few feet along the parapet that surrounded the flat portion of the rooftop. Thunder interrupted the cacophony of prayers that the stone figures funneled upward from a thousand voices below.
The clouds parted. Another brilliant flash of lightning illuminated the posh uptown. Fire escapes laced the sides of the old buildings. Each one crisscrossed the walls like jagged arrows, the ladder-tips pointing to the alleyway.
Defeated, I turned toward the high-rise apartments behind me. From a window, another man watched the city, his finger tapping his chin. A helicopter whirred overhead.
An empty train ran along its elevated tracks. The windows blinked like celluloid frames of a silent film, and the rhythmic clacking was the orchestral accompaniment. On this street, a woman wept at a bus stop, and a siren echoed like the memory of the cries of the condemned, burned at the hypocritical stake, hundreds of years ago.
Obedience thwarted my intentions. I wasn’t supposed to step in. The One Rule was clear. Do only what you’re told when you’re told to do it. Nothing more, nothing less.
I couldn’t help Hannah. I had been too late to rescue her.
What useless wings.
My lovely Hannah: guilty of childhood and sentenced to death by a predator.
I leapt up into the darkness. My black feathered pinions opened wide, a futile benediction over the masses. I wanted to get away from the horror, but instead, my bare feet landed softly on the fire escape directly above the man that still studied his achievement.
I wrapped myself in my feathers, looking between them like a child watching a scary movie. A bright flash accompanied the click of a camera shutter. The creature wanted to remember his filthy work. Then he slipped away without retribution, free of torment.
I didn’t need pictures to remember the ugly. My fingernails tore the flesh of my palms as I screamed at the absence of miraculous intervention. I spent my grief, weeping in an alleyway that evil emptied of life.
My tears were lost in a torrent of raindrops. Again, I’d been beaten from head to toe by a reality without the freedom of choice, a reality that forced me to watch an innocent die without intervening.
Outrage billowed within me. I would find a way to balance the scales. I would no longer be constrained by any leading by my own.
I stepped from the metal landing, weightless for a moment, my eyes closed to shield against the truth of an existence without her laughter.
Hannah was dead.
Angels weren’t saviors, and I refused to be Ailin anymore. I would remake myself as an arbiter of vengeance. I needed to feel something more than woe.
A Few Days Later
Congealed blood clung to my wingtips, and terror became my tailwind. Hard and fast, I flew. With each downstroke, I tried to fling the evidence away from me.
The colorful dawn crested the horizon and chirruping songbirds flapped along beside me. Today’s breezes did not sing through my feathers like every day before, and joy did not come with the morning.
I gasped and tried to still my shaking.
If I could get away from the city, the consequences wouldn’t catch me. Sick of being told what to do, I’d veered from my purpose. Rage had poured through me, and, for a moment, Free Will had been my dearest companion.
Fear set my teeth on edge. I knew what came next, even as I tried to outrun it. No face could hide forever from their reckoning.
As I crossed over the reservoir, the sun disappeared.
My world plunged into darkness.
Birds screeched and scattered through the sky as I struggled against an invisible net.
The tips of my iridescent feathers ignited in blue flames. The warm kiss of heat tingled along hundreds of feather shafts and swelled until I was engulfed in a searing, mid-air bonfire, and plummeting toward New Haven City Park.
The white-hot blaze burned until it devoured my purpose and turned my beautiful wings to ash. That’s the trouble with real Justice. It doesn’t give out grace cards.
At least The Fall would kill me.
Vengeance always has consequences.
Woe will do anything for those she loves...including violate the angelic code that binds her.
Her beautiful wings incinerated, Woe is cast out of the sky and down to the streets of New Haven City. She can no longer fly. The claustrophobic agony of being mortal leaves her helpless.
After her fall, the mysterious Fae prince Arún saves her from an attacker, then abandons her at the church where she once served as a messenger. Left in the care of the brooding balance keeper Jason, Woe must learn to be human. And learn to live without her wings.
Jason comes face-to-face with his humanity as his androgynous angelic messenger is dropped on his doorstep as a gorgeous mortal woman. His desire for Woe threatens his vow to keep New Haven safe. Can he convince her to join him and his Keepers, or will he lose Woe by pushing her too hard?
Despite swearing off love and prophecy entirely, Arún finds himself drawn to Woe. The more he saves her, the more he falls in love with her. Will Arún give in to his destiny or deny his growing feelings for Woe?
Woe must make a choice. She must choose who she will become, and which love will heal her. The reserved and down-to-earth Jason, or the wild, fairy tale devotion of Arún?
Will Woe become a queen? Or a guardian for New Haven innocents?
Bokerah Brumley sweeps onto the Paranormal Romance scene on angel’s wings with this fast-paced fantastical story about vengeance, redemption, and love. Readers will love her imaginative world and the clean, sweet romance of Woe for a Faerie.
Who will Woe choose? Read Woe for a Faerie today to find out!