The long awaited second book in the Angel series (following Angel: Camden's Journey) is now published and available at Amazon.com, BN.com and in all e-book stores. Softcovers are available at Amazon.com.
I intend to write five books total for the Angel series. I'm well into the third book, and even I'm surprised at where the characters go on this adventure. You'll find the first chapter of the third book at the end of Angel: The Awakening. This series is truly an exciting and unique adventure that you won't want to miss!
If we’re blessed, life consists of heartbreak and happiness, failure and success, adventure, romance and deep personal introspection. The exciting second book of the Angel series, “Angel: The Awakening” contains all that we hope and dream for in life.
After suffering an injury from a dark angel, young Camden James rides to a Rocky Mountain cabin to meet White Dove, a spiritual healer. While Angel has healed the boy’s physical wound, only White Dove can hope to mend a wound to Camden’s soul. Isolated in a high mountain paradise, Camden embarks on a personal quest through physical training and spiritual healing. With the help of his spirit guide, Tornado Joe, Camden discovers an incredible dual-life purpose and unimagined secrets of the mountain property.
After the wild ride of the first in the series: “Angel: Camden’s Journey”, prepare for an adventure to become lost in; a serene journey often interrupted with heart-pounding action!
Owl vision reaches beyond the veil that separates the physical from the spiritual. Owl filters light from darkness to remind us that both realms exist simultaneously.~ White Dove
Camden James stared into the eyes of darkness poised inches from his face. The pupils were bottomless with the inky despair of the damned. The creature hissed; its putrid breath stung his nostrils. A wicked grin split its lips like a cat that had cornered a mouse.
Frigid air chilled Camden’s fingers and face while a vice-like grip cut his wind. His skull ached with building pressure. The creature opened its great maw. Camden’s inability to breathe would be a blessing; the demon’s vile breath would not affect him this time. He felt his jaws force open as the creature sucked air, devouring a thin ribbon of light streaming from his mouth: his soul. The strength of life slipped away.
A wail from a thousand demons hammered Camden’s skull. He opened his eyes to dislodge the nightmare and attempted to scream but was unable to force air from his lungs. In truth, he lay paralyzed in his sleeping bag straining to taste the cool Colorado air. He opened his mouth wide to inhale. Nothing. The boy was destined to suffocate here, alone in the forest beneath the brightest moon in memory.
He willed his paralyzed arms to move. Again, nothing. He focused his attention to his legs. As if mind and body had disconnected, he was unable to perform the simplest commands. Then, he concentrated on the pointer finger of his right hand.
Bend! His thoughts screamed. Bend!
With a loud sucking noise air filled his lungs. The boy writhed in agony, grasped his right thigh, and drew it to his chest. The surrounding pine trees absorbed his tormented cry.
After anguished moments, painful muscles that had drawn taut as steel wire began to ebb. He loosened his grip and willed each muscle to relax. After another minute, breathing came easily. He pulled his sweat soaked torso from the sleeping bag. An icy morning sting drove the nightmare further from his mind.
Camden examined the focal point of his misery; a three-inch crescent shaped scar on his thigh glowing crimson in full moonlight. The last remnants of pain forced a groan. Perspiration dried quickly and his body chilled. He slid into the down cocoon and snuggled to a fetal position.
So this is the nightmare Angel predicted, he recalled the biker’s words, it will manifest at the beginning in nightmares more lucid and terrifying than imagination. The wound will throb as a constant reminder of your affliction, eventually transforming you into the nature of the beast you destroyed. And so it begins...
He winced with the memory of Abe’s blade piercing his flesh, and the reason for his journey. According to Angel, Abaddon, “Abe,” had been a dark angel. The demon had driven steel forged in the bowels of Hell into his thigh. Camden had thrust that very sword between the shoulder blades of the wicked bastard. Demon or not, the monster had lit up like a Christmas tree before exploding in a cloud of dust. Good riddance.
Angel had also mentioned that the blade possessed some paranormal power to tear a hole in a man’s soul. Unconvinced, Camden only knew it burned like hell. Regardless, he now traveled north at Angel’s insistence in search of a healer.
Camden had met Angel, the gentle giant, briefly following the battle with Abaddon. Afterward, Angel had healed his battered body, broken arm and all. He didn’t subscribe to Maggie’s imaginings that Angel had come from heaven, but there was certainly more to him than was human by most people’s standards. He had formed his opinion of the man first hand; Angel was likely stronger than anyone on the planet, including Abe. He respected Angel’s gentleness with little Hank and his kindness toward Henry and Maggie, and to himself for that matter. Angel was an okay guy in his book.
Strangely, he longed for his New Jersey home; the home where he had left his mother to nurse his abusive father. He recalled his rage as the beast had arrived home in a drunken stupor to find his mother, the willing victim upon whom to thrust his private hell.
The sound of a fist on her cheekbone had triggered the boy’s violent wrath. That night the beast had fallen. Of his own volition, he had severed ties with his mother, destined to travel a dozen states to bed down in this damp patch of pine forest.
Camden pressed the backlight button on his wristwatch, a gift from twin Texas roughnecks. The time was six-thirty. He imagined Henry at the diner griddle frying eggs, bacon, and perhaps country ham and pancakes for morning patrons.
Beautiful Maggie would wipe sleep from her eyes and stumble toward little Hank’s bed. She would tenderly prod him awake at least three times before the little guy would stir and mumble, “Morning, Mommy.”
She would search dresser drawers for a matching outfit before pouring his cereal and milk. As her son ate, she would linger in the shower before carting him off to school and her fifth grade-teaching occupation.
He missed the simple life of the family. They lived the American dream, a home, family, and ambitions comprised of comfortable routine. He imagined they might consider their lives mundane in comparison to his own wanderings. Still, he would trade it all to dine again at Maggie’s table. How he missed her angelic face.
Another face pushed aside all others in his thoughts, that of Naomi; the woman with the flat tire that he had met a few-hundred miles back in New Mexico. Their meeting had been brief while he had helped her change the tire. As payment, she and her father had fed him a sandwich. Now, she dwelled in his memory. A reminder from only–when was it? It had been only yesterday, around noon. Yet, like a soft whisper, her image triggered a memory from a far distant past.
His reflection embraced her gentle voice like an old friend. The woman was familiar in a way that caused him to wonder if somehow they had played together as children. He rummaged through shards of childhood memories in search of a tiny, dark haired Hispanic girl with emerald eyes and came up empty. He was uncertain whether her image drove away loneliness or it was the glowing clouds from a not quite risen sun. The boy released a long slow breath, foregoing the memory to focus on the present, lying beside his Harley Davidson, alone in vast woodland at the foot of a great mountain. The forest was quiet. Night creatures had fled at the sound of his screams.
Movement on an overhead branch caught his attention. He squinted to focus on a form through dim light, a bird, a dove to be exact, perched above, peering at his pitiful form on the ground; a white dove watched.
“Good morning,” he greeted. A chattering chipmunk answered. He laughed and thought that someone should invent an alarm clock with that chatter. The dove paced the branch then took flight over the treetops.
His stomach grumbled from hunger. He pulled on blue jeans and a sweatshirt scavenged from the bottom of the sleeping bag then crawled out and stretched his spine and limbs. He slipped on a pair of sneakers and rolled the sleeping bag tight, tying the roll behind the cycle seat.
From the cycle saddlebags, he retrieved a goatskin canteen and streamed water down his throat. He tossed the canteen into the saddlebag and stepped a few yards away to a nearby pine tree.
After unzipping his fly, he relieved himself while wondering what ancient instinct had caused him to step away from where he had slept to pee. He yanked the zipper still considering the mysterious urge. It’s not like I’ll sleep here again tonight, weird, he thought.
He turned the motorcycle key and woke the Harley Fat Boy with a deafening roar. The chipmunk scurried for cover as the young man turned the handlebars and steered toward the pavement. When he reached the highway speed limit the cycle cruised with a low rumble on the winding mountain highway. The autumn equinox had passed two days previous and crisp Colorado air warned of a cold fall season. The speed compounded the wind’s effect sending a shiver through his bones.
He drove Highway 84 leading to Pagosa Springs where he intended to pick up State Highway 160 toward Durango. A shorter route through Creed and Gunnison would be a logical choice; however, trucker’s tales of the magnificent Silverton scenery drew him.
Traffic was sparse through foothills where golden aspen leaves dotted evergreens. Such vistas were unheard of on the east coast. An azure sky framed a bright sun warming high mountain air.
After an hour and a half ride, Chimney Rock and Courthouse Mountain towered to the west. He studied the lone rusty pinnacle jutting skyward, sacred ground to Native Americans, he suspected.
Fifteen minutes later the cycle engine quieted when he released the throttle slowing to the Pagosa Springs speed limit. The growling engine echoed in his ears. At lower speed the air warmed his skin. He knew the ride ahead led to higher elevations, which required a warmer jacket.
Along Main Street, buildings displayed a rustic old west feel. Despite a town built around tourism, the streets were tidy and spacious and buildings weren’t packed together like crayons in a box. Out here, he reasoned, folks had all the land they needed. A handful of out of state vehicles occupied parking spaces, signaling that most summer tourists had likely returned home.
The rider rolled the cycle into an available space in front of a quaint redbrick establishment advertising ski and leather apparel.
The boy dismounted and stretched aching knees after a one hundred mile ride. He rubbed a chill from his arms and stepped onto the sidewalk.
An elderly African American man leaned against a building wall. The boy eyed the stranger as he passed. A dusty overcoat hung loosely over disheveled clothing and scuffed, gray shoes. He recognized a narrow brimmed Trilby hat since his grandfather had often worn one. The old man peered through sleep-depraved eyes and said, “Mornin’.”
Camden simply nodded then stepped through the shop doorway. “Hello!” A female voice called from somewhere among rows of folded T-shirts.
“Hi there.” The boy looked through the shelves.
A middle-aged woman with an armload of assorted garments emerged in the aisle. She smiled genuinely, “Just browsing or can I help you find something in particular?”
“I’m looking for a leather cycle jacket. I expect it’ll be cold up north.”
“No doubt.” She sized him up. “I have a few on the rear wall. Not much demand this time of year, anyone who needs ‘em has already bought ‘em.” She waved a finger for him to follow to the rear of the building where a half dozen leather jackets hung on a rear wall. After sorting through jacket tags, he slipped one on. The jacket fit as if it had been custom-made and a one hundred-eighty dollar price tag seemed reasonable.
“I’ll tell you what,” the woman said, “those things will hang until spring. I’ll let you have it for one-thirty.”
“That’s nice of you, I appreciate it.”
When he stepped from the shop wearing the new jacket, the elderly man looked up from the pavement. “Excuse me, sir. Can you spare change for a meal?”
The request made him uneasy. Money was tight and he didn’t know when he’d find work again. A soft voice spoke in Camden’s mind, Give all you can afford. He paused and reached for his wallet, “Uh, sure. I suppose I could spare a couple dollars.” The voice repeated, Give all you can afford. He offered three-singles from his wallet.
He approached the motorcycle, mounted, and started the engine. As the cycle cleared the city limits, the encounter with the man faded from his memory.
An hour later he motored through Durango and turned north on Highway 550. The ride along a narrow cliff-top highway into Silverton was spectacular. Tree leaves seemed brighter, air fresher, and even the motorcycle engine hummed quietly as if unwilling to disturb the splendor.
After a brief lunch stop, he filed Silverton to memory and continued north. In Montrose, a metropolis compared to Silverton, he turned west on Highway 50 through Gunnison National Forest and passed clear waters of Blue Mesa Reservoir.
Twenty minutes after leaving the reservoir, he rode through Gunnison streets, then north into shaded canyons splitting the ribs of the Colorado Rockies. He parked along the highway to examine a crudely etched map; courtesy of Angel. He was on track judging from the northwest course he had followed from Gunnison. He drove another mile up the highway and turned east on Lost Canyon Road, then passed a road sign announcing Gunnison National Forest.
Lost Canyon Road seemed an appropriate name for the stretch of blacktop. Dwellings were sparse. The dry air and altitude proved more invigorating here than he recalled in the Smoky Mountains. Flickers of sunlight filtered through the trees. Wind chilled as the altitude increased. He rolled by secluded cabins abandoned amid fiery autumn leaves.
As the cycle climbed winding blacktop, the air nipped at his ears. Stretches of sunlit pavement offered warmth until he passed into icy shade. At high altitude, surrounding peaks had dwindled to foothills. He slowed the engine, scoping aspen trees for a turn off marked on Angel’s map.
When he topped a hill and looked ahead to a winding climb he slowed to a near stop. He recalled from the scrawled map that he had come too far. He steered a U-turn. The cycle inched along the highway as he studied narrow openings in the forest. Suddenly, his eye caught an anomaly. The toe of his boot pressed the brake to stop the bike. He cut the engine and searched shadows between the leaves. His ears strained for any sound.
He glanced over his shoulder and up the road, then back down for traffic. The highway was as quiet as the forest. He resumed the search, uncertain if his eyes had played tricks. There! Concealed in shadowy foliage, a pair of unblinking eyes looked back.
Camden stared and for long moments neither conceded to blink. These were not the eyes of the beast. Soft brown eyes studied him with simple curiosity.
The boy diverted his attention to a truck approaching from down canyon. As the truck neared, he broke his stare. The pickup driver waved a casual greeting; Camden nodded as the vehicle passed. When he looked back, the eyes were gone. Was he looking in the wrong place or had he imagined the eyes?
Unconvinced, he again searched the shadows.
Had it been a ghost? he wondered. Was this another effect of the sword’s curse? Methodically he picked his way along, examining each tree and bush, branches and overgrown grass.
The figure appeared suddenly and startled him. Ten yards ahead between the blacktop and the trees, a young girl braced her hands on her hips and eyed him impatiently.
“H-hello,” he stammered. The girl appeared to be around ten-years old and honey blonde ringlets dangled below her shoulders. She wore a light-blue summer dress splayed with colorful flowers. Beneath her snow-white socks rolled neatly at the ankles, black shoes shone as if made of plastic. Appearing as though she had dressed for church, her presence seemed out of place. The girl’s expression softened, then she waved.
“Are you lost?” he asked. The girl shook her head. “Do you live around here?” She raised a finger and pointed down canyon. “You don’t talk much do you?” She stared blankly. “I’m looking for a woman named Dove. Do you know where she lives?” The girl turned and pointed into the forest.
He asked, “She lives back there?” The girl nodded.
Of course she does, he thought. “Can you tell me how to get there?”
The girl examined the rider briefly, then turned and paced a dozen steps along the road before turning into the forest. She paused and motioned for him to follow.
Camden started the engine and steered to where she had entered. The girl trod several yards along an overgrown mountain road. He swiveled the front tire and followed.
The girl walked with purpose. The bike rolled at such a slow pace that he walked as it rolled. His guide never looked back; nor did she seem distracted to either side. He peered into small clearings as they passed, searching for…what?
The rumbling engine broke the quiet, causing the rider mild embarrassment; perhaps the reason she had eyed him with scorn at the roadside.
The young guide broke from the trees and into a huge meadow. Over the pine tops he spotted a rooftop. “This must be the place,” he muttered under his breath.
As they rounded the stand of pine trees he viewed a handsome log cabin. A stone chimney split Great Room windows over a massive porch that stretched the two viewable walls of the home.
With his gaze transfixed, he nearly collided with the girl who stood facing him. She pointed toward the rear of the cabin, apparently directing him to park. The girl waited while he rolled the bike next to a garage constructed of rough-hewn pine planks. After cutting the engine he dismounted. His knees burned. He stretched and examined a towering cabin wall. The girl motioned for him to follow and rounded a corner of the deck. When Camden climbed the stairs, the front door opened.
“Keira!” a woman greeted. Camden’s mouth went dry as a Native American woman, an eerily familiar woman, emerged. Her high cheekbones and bronzed skin told of her Cherokee heritage. Long black hair drawn in a ponytail reached below the small of her back. She wore jeans and a T-shirt the color of purple grapes and was barefoot. He had seen this woman before.
“You’ve brought a visitor?” As she spoke, her hands deftly motioned in sign language. The little girl’s fingers responded to her question.
Camden blurted, “She’s deaf!”
The woman’s grin displayed pearly white teeth, “Yes,” she said. “She’s quite aware of that.”
“Y-you’re Dove…” he stammered.
“And you must be Captain Obvious,” she laughed, “Angel told me you were on your way.” He extended a hand which she dodged handily to embrace him. “We hug here.”
The boy uncomfortably returned the embrace before she turned to Keira. Again, her hands moved quickly as she spoke, “Keira, the cupcakes are about cooled. Would you like to frost them?” Keira nodded and responded in sign. Dove placed a hand on her shoulder to lead her through the door.
For a moment Camden paused in the doorway, recalling where he had last seen the woman. When the Texas drill rig had exploded beneath him he had lost consciousness. The vision of this woman replayed in his mind.
He stood in a valley of high mountain cliffs surrounded by trees and wildflowers encircling a crystal blue lake. A woman stood between him and the lakeshore. The woman’s bronzed skin contrasted a luminous white gown. Ebony hair cascaded over her shoulders and reached to her tiny waist. Long fingers stroked the neck of a white-tailed doe which seemed to revel in her attention. At her feet, a golden eagle eyed his approach.
Dove’s head turned as a smile parted her lips. “Welcome, Camden.”
Then he flashed to the end of the vision:
The vision of Dove waned. In her place the likeness of a bird, a large white dove. Its wings spread above, mimicking the wings of an angel before dissolving from view.
Her voice whispered softly in his thoughts, “we will meet again.”
Her call through the cabin door snapped him back to reality. “Are you coming in?”
“Uh…” He shook off the haze. “Coming.”
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