I'm pleased to announce, after all of the waiting that Angel: The Breach is now published! You all have been good sports with my teasers, and I hope you won't be disappointed in this, the third book of the "Angel Series."
Available now on Kindle at Amazon.com and will hit all online e-book stores soon. The softcover version should be available by the end of the weekend.
In the third book of the Angel Series, Camden James feels the pull of his future and his want for family. At the same time he is torn; he had consigned his destiny to travel and destroy dark angels. What did he have left to offer a family?
Still, memories of Naomi haunt him. Her presence brings out the best in him; a peace and a connection to his true spirit.
While training in the virtual worlds, Camden encounters a female dark angel; a demon more wicked than Abaddon. After the encounter he believes that his reputation has caused the dark angels to hunt him.
His relationship with Naomi strengthens when she visits Colorado until Camden discovers footprints of the female dark angel dangerously close to the property.
Angel: The Breach is a spiritual journey that reaches just beyond our grasp; where rewards are great and failure may bring the end of a soul.
A Harley motorcycle rumbled past the city limit sign of Clinton, Oklahoma. Ninety-seven days ago, the rider had promised to return on this day and nothing would prevent him from keeping his word.
Why had he agreed to meet in the middle of January? He had preferred the three previous months in warm California weather to this frozen Oklahoma highway. California had been nice. He replayed his visits to Sea World, Disneyland and night rides up and down the coast.
Campgrounds and motels had been his home. Sometimes for a night at a time and others for a week or more when he had met folks he enjoyed spending time with. Always, his wandering spirit had urged him to move on. He had ridden up to Mount Shasta and then to the Giant Redwood forests. Nightlife in Los Angeles had proven too energy intensive yet quiet dinners alone in fine restaurants had left him feeling that something was missing.
He had ridden into Mexico for a weeks’ stay in the little resort town of Rosarita. The required passport had held up his trip longer than he had planned while he completed the application, using Dove’s address as his mailing address. When the passport had arrived at the cabin, Dove had promptly forwarded the document to him in care of a San Diego post office. Twenty miles south of the California border, Rosarita had provided him with his first glimpse of life in another country. The cliff-side resort where he stayed overlooked the Pacific Ocean and straight below, a small beach where he often walked or just sat late at night.
What surprised him most about Mexico had been the poverty along Highway 1. Small shops and taco stands dotting the highway had been built from materials that one could scrounge from a trash dump. Though he spoke no Spanish, the vendors accustomed to tourists understood his every request. Children played behind the stands or along the highway shoulders in the hot desert sun; finding their entertainment in the simplest of things, a tin can, a ball, or sticks and stones.
Upon his return, the California beaches and mountains had provided prime locations for meditating wherever the mood suited him at the time. Through the meditations, he had gained a new understanding of his connection with the universe and The Creator. He felt more centered now, willing to accept life as it came without judgment.
The peaceful months had been rarely interrupted by the dark angels. No battles of any significance, though two had tested his metal. The encounters had been just enough to sustain his fighting skills.
His spine quivered with a chill despite a thick leather jacket and chaps, along with gloves, boots, and a full shield cycle helmet that had kept him warm until the Oklahoma border. Fortunately, previous training with Tornado Joe in the virtual worlds had consisted of regulating his body temperature; only extreme temperatures affected him now. The cycle’s speed and resulting wind created a chill that pushed his limits for tolerating cold. He slowed the bike to the town speed limit; a slower speed cut the icy bite.
Despite their shared phone calls over the past three months, Camden James had missed her face and the touch of her hand. Two weeks ago during their last phone call, Naomi hadn’t mentioned his return. Still, he suspected, she has counted the days.
He had first met Naomi, her two daughters, and her father on an isolated highway in New Mexico and helped them change a flat tire. The resulting roadside lunch had meant little to him at the time, but days later her memory continued to haunt his thoughts. Months later, when he accompanied Angel to visit a sick friend in Oklahoma, he again met Naomi. Angel’s sick ‘friend’ was her father. Unfortunately, her father was not one to be healed and Camden had spent days and nights with her after her father passed on.
Camden glanced at his watch. 4:14 P.M. Naomi would soon end her hospital shift. Camden turned right and steered through town before slowing and easing the cycle into the hospital parking lot. After circling the lot, he parked beside Naomi’s yellow jeep.
He dismounted, removed the helmet and gloves, and then stretched his legs and spine. He warily crossed icy asphalt and again glanced at his watch, 4:37 P.M.; time enough to retrieve a hot cup of tea. The warm air inside the hospital embraced him. He unzipped the jacket and navigated a hallway to the cafeteria.
A blonde woman dressed in nurse’s whites and toting a tray smiled at him when he approached a machine labeled: Tea.
“How is your day?” he asked.
“My day is good, thank you.” She blushed before walking away.
He poured a steaming cup then paid a cashier. After returning to sit on the cycle he again checked his watch.
Sweet tea warmed his empty stomach. The cold air chilled his sweat dampened shirt. He studied his reflection in the cycle mirror and ruffled his hair with his fingers. I need a haircut, he decided.
Cottony clouds floated overhead in a deep blue sky. The nearby traffic droned with the sound of commuters leaving work for the day. A car slowed and stopped in front of the hospital entrance. A young male driver exited and rounded the car. A nurse stepped out the doors wheeling a woman caressing a blanketed bundle. The man opened a car door and assisted the woman inside before he buckled the bundle into a car seat. Soon, with a wave to the nurse, they drove away. When the nurse returned to the building, the doors opened and a dark-haired woman dressed in medical scrubs and a white down coat stepped outside. Camden grinned. The two women conversed for a moment before the dark-haired woman waved goodbye then walked toward him. Camden emptied his cup.
The woman had crossed half the distance when her eyes locked on him. She paused to stare intently. He didn’t recall ever seeing her hair drawn into a bun before now. He stood to wave and she sprinted toward him.
Camden spread his arms when she leaped to embrace him. Then, she kissed him deeply. His knees quivered. Naomi tossed her head back and closed her eyes. “Mm… that’s yum!”
“Did you miss me?”
She winked, and stroked his cheek. “Not a bit. I wondered if you’d remember.”
He kissed her forehead, “I’ve dreamt of this moment since I left. I like the hair bun; kind of a sexy librarian look.”
She laughed, plucked out a hair-tie and shook her head. Her dark hair cascaded over her white-coated shoulders. “Better?”
“Darlin’, you couldn’t get any better.”
“You dork. You rode your Harley in this weather. I told you to buy a car.” When he didn’t respond, she glared, “Honestly, what will I do with you?”
“Just love me.”
“I do love you.” She brushed aside his bangs, “You need a haircut.”
“Yeah, I’ve been meaning to get to it.”
She smiled warmly. “Follow me.”
When she stepped to the jeep, he called, “To the ends of the earth, Nay.”
As Naomi backed her jeep from the parking space, Camden buckled on the cycle helmet, slipped on his gloves, and fired up the Harley engine.
Riding through the quaint town brought fond memories. Red brick buildings line downtown streets that lack a modern mall. Residents shop in small stores and grocery markets. He searched for a fast food restaurant chain and found none.
He trailed the jeep turning right at a street corner and then three houses beyond and into her driveway. Camden parked and pulled off the cycle helmet. He dismounted and opened the jeep door.
“Aw…” She cooed and patted his cheek. “Your mother raised you right; remind me to thank her sometime.”
“She’d love that.”
She cradled his arm as they walked to the porch. When she unlocked the door, he followed inside.
“The house is quiet,” he said.
She hung her coat on a wooden coat tree. “The house is too quiet sometimes. The girls are at Mrs. Anderson’s. Do you remember the lady up the street with the roses?” then, she grinned, “You know, four houses from where you tackled the dog?”
Camden hung his coat and helmet on the stand. “I remember Mrs. Anderson. How is she?” He followed Naomi to the kitchen and sat at the table while she retrieved two beers from the refrigerator. She popped off the tops and set his on the table before sliding out a chair to sit.
“She’s an absolute saint. She watches the girls while I work and most nights while I’m at school. I worry that it’s a lot for her to handle but she says she enjoys young voices in the house again.”
Naomi lifted the phone receiver and dialed. After a moment, she spoke, “Hi, Mrs. Anderson, it’s Naomi. I’m home if you’d like to send the girls along. Did they behave today?”
After a short pause, she continued, “Well, you have a way with them. It sounds like they mind their manners for you. What’s your secret?”
Her laughter reminded him of how much he has missed her voice.
She continued, “Well, maybe one day I’ll learn from your experience. I appreciate all you do. I’ll have them come straight over after school tomorrow, okay?” Another pause before she concluded, “Have a peaceful night; you deserve it. Bye, bye.”
She paused to ruffle Camden’s hair before sitting. “Mr. Shaggy, you seriously need a haircut.”
“I’ll have it done while I’m here.”
“Mm…” she sipped from the bottle. “I always cut my father’s hair. I’d be happy to do it.”
“You have enough on your plate. I promise to have it done.” He slid his hand across the table to intertwine her fingers in his. “So how are you? Have you and the girls settled in?”
She thought for a moment before nodding, “Yeah, we’re good.”
“And ninety-seven days was long enough?”
She laughed and replied, “It was long enough, even though I missed you and sometimes wished you would return sooner. I needed time to get my feet under me again. You know?”
“I absolutely know,” he agreed although he didn’t know. He had never lost someone close as she had. Aside from his mother, no one held a place in his heart as her father had in hers. Camden had grown fond of Maggie, Little Hank, Henry, and the Gustavssons, after living with their families for a time, yet they weren’t family no matter how much that he wished they were. Family is family. Even the strongest friendship couldn’t replace blood bond. He had always considered his beliefs sound despite the strained relationship with his father. Still, he cherished a connection with the Munoz and Gustavsson families. They shared a kinship he could only hope to experience.
A child’s call interrupted his thoughts, “Mom, we’re home!”
Naomi called out; “We’re in the kitchen, girls! We have a visitor.”
Seven year old Emily entered from the living room. Her bright eyes bulged as she spied the man at the table. “Camden!” She dropped her backpack and slid the coat off her shoulders. Both landed in a heap on the kitchen floor.
Naomi sighed, “Aw geez.”
Emily bounced onto his lap and Camden greeted her, “Hey, sport. How are you?”
Reagan followed into the kitchen and waved casually, “Hey, Camden.”
“Hey, Reagan. How’s school?”
“Boring,” she grumbled and slumped on a kitchen chair.
“Well, I’m sorry to say it gets worse before it gets better. You’ll survive.”
Camden estimated that Reagan had been about nine years old when they had met in New Mexico, making her eleven now. He had figured Naomi’s age to be about twenty-five at that time, twenty-seven or twenty-eight now; roughly seven years older than he was and their age difference had never come up. Naomi had given birth to Reagan at a young age, if his estimations were correct; still she hadn’t aged a day since they had met.
Naomi called, “Em, do your coat and backpack belong on the floor?”
Emily shrugged then slid to the floor, retrieved the coat and pack, and trudged dramatically from the room.
Naomi called after her, “The backpack goes in your room!”
Camden grinned and then asked, “Does school bore you too?”
“Hardly. I feel like I’m months behind the others. Most of them are much younger, but boy, they’re sharp. I don’t know how kids get so smart these days.”
He squeezed her hand, “Be patient. You’ll shine… you just wait and see.”
She smiled in the way that he adored. “You’re such a blessing.” She studied him for a moment, “Have you ever been bored, even once in your life?”
“Why doesn’t that surprise me?”
Emily returned to the kitchen and asked, “When’s dinner? I’m hungry.”
“I don’t know. What do you plan to cook?”
“Okay, okay. Give me a minute to rest my feet and I’ll whip up something.”
Camden offered, “I haven’t eaten pizza in ages. Do you have a pizza place in town?”
Naomi and the girls nodded.
“Would you let me buy dinner to celebrate my visit?”
Naomi winked, “Where in heaven did you come from?”
Camden asked, “Reagan, what do you girls like on your pizza?”
“Em and I like pepperoni and lots of cheese. Mom likes hamburger, onions, and bacon. So we usually split one.”
“If you’ll find a phone number we’ll order, okay?”
Reagan stood to retrieve a phone book and cordless phone.
Naomi brushed his bangs aside, and kissed his forehead. “I need a shower. Girls, would you keep an eye on Cam while I shower?”
“Yup!” Emily answered, “Camden, want to see my homework?”
“I’d love to see your homework.”
Naomi tugged at his hand before releasing it to cross the kitchen.
Emily plopped onto his lap and spread a stack of papers on the table while Reagan called in an order for two large pizzas, one with anchovies on half. “Ew, again,” she said after hanging up. Then, she disappeared down the hallway.
Twenty minutes later, Naomi returned with damp hair, dressed in a white button down dress shirt and blue jeans.
“You look amazing,” he said.
He squeezed her hand, “Seriously. How did you get so beautiful?”
“Well–seriously, Mom always said beauty is more about attitude than good genes. I try to remember those words.”
Emily slid from his lap into a kitchen chair. Naomi replaced her on Camden’s lap, wrapped her arms around his neck and kissed him. “I can’t believe you’re here. It’s been so long.”
He nuzzled her neck, “and you smell as beautiful as you look.”
She slapped his chest, “Stop. You’ll embarrass me.”
Naomi held her arms draped around his neck while Emily read aloud from a schoolbook.
Thirty minutes later a ringing doorbell interrupted the moment. “That should be the pizza.” He scooted Naomi from his lap.
“Yay!” Emily followed him to the front door.
Emily carried the pizza boxes to the kitchen while Camden paid the driver; a late-teen aged boy with fading acne and disheveled blonde hair.
Camden asked, “What do I owe you?”
Camden handed the boy thirty-two dollars in cash from his wallet. “Keep the change. Been busy tonight?”
“Not yet, but it’ll pick up in about an hour. I appreciate it, have a nice night,” he said before turning on the porch.
Camden closed the door. Reagan appeared from the hallway and Camden followed her into the kitchen.
“I don’t want no anchovies,” she said.
Naomi corrected her, “I don’t want any anchovies.”
Reagan grinned, “Good. We didn’t get you no anchovies.”
With a smile, Camden retrieved sodas from the fridge while Naomi gathered plates from the cupboard.
After dinner, the girls did their homework in the living room. Naomi and Camden cleared the dishes and loaded the dishwasher. When they finished, Reagan and Emily toted blankets and pillows from the hall.
Naomi asked, “Movie night?”
Reagan called from the living room, “I borrowed a new release from Amber. You guys can join us if you want.”
Naomi winked at Camden, “Oh we can, can we?”
He nodded, “I’d enjoy a movie.”
The girls laid on the floor covered with blankets while Camden and Naomi settled in close on the sofa. Camden found the action picture a pleasant distraction, though gunfights and explosions seem made for movies rather than reality. No matter how talented the writer, cinema masked the truth of violence. Moviemakers avoided the sorrow of lost life regardless of how wicked the bad guy might have been.
Midway through, Naomi stopped the DVD while Reagan popped popcorn in the kitchen. When the movie ended, Naomi hustled the girls off to bed. Then, she plopped onto the couch next to Camden and yawned.
“You’re whipped.” He said.
“I am; a long day but a good day. I work tomorrow and Saturday, but I’m off Sunday and Monday. I hope you won’t be bored. Oh, that’s right, you don’t get bored.”
“I’ll be fine. I’ll watch the girls after school if you’d like to give Mrs. Anderson a break.”
Naomi sat on his lap, straddling his legs to face him. “You’re sweet. You wouldn’t mind?”
“Of course not, I’ll enjoy hanging out with them.”
“I’ll talk to the girls in the morning and if they agree, I’ll call Mrs. Anderson.” She kissed him, “Thank you for coming. I truly have missed you.”
From her seated position, he perceived a change in her energy. Their energy shifted. Her essence flowed into his chest and into his heart to fill him with loving peace. Electricity mingled and swirled in a bright aura to seal out the world around them. For an eternal moment, her energy reunited with his.
Although he had suspected that she might be the twin flame that Dove sometimes mentioned, the reunion removed all doubt for him. For the first time, he understood perfection. She at once became his present and future. Never before had an instant shown him the future with such clarity.
Naomi sighed, “Wow.” He cocked an eyebrow. She draped her arms over his shoulders and drew him close. Their lips touched softly. “Don’t tell me you don’t feel it. This closeness is consuming.”
He held her waist in his strong hands. “Mm… I thought it was just me.”
She shook her head subtly. Her lips brushed against his. “Not just you.” When she kissed him again, her breath played moist and hot on his tongue. Their sighs whispered. The aura pulsed.
She broke the kiss to snuggle against his shoulder then sat up to run her fingers through her hair. “Dad always said, ‘if something seems too good to be true, it probably is.’ Somehow, I know this –this–whatever this is, is more real than I’ve ever known.”
“It scares me. I’ve been hurt before. I never, ever want to lose you.”
“Well, I never want to be lost.” He extended his hand, “Let’s make a pact never, ever let me get lost.”
“You have a deal, Mr. James.” She shook his hand and then extended her little finger. “Now, pinky promise.”
He entwined his little finger with hers. “Pinky promise.”
She kissed his closed eyelids and groaned. “I’ve never wanted anyone like this.” Then she laughed nervously. “But the girls are here so you can’t sleep in my room.”
He tickled her spine, “Another reason why I love you. I don’t mind sleeping on the floor.”
“You won’t have to. I cleared out Dad’s bedroom and turned it into a guest room, just in case you ever returned.”
“You doubted that I’d come back?”
She stroked his cheek. “Only in my loneliest moments.”
He extended his little finger, “Pinky promise–no more of those moments.”
The following morning, sunshine peaked through a narrow gap in the bedroom curtains. Camden rubbed sleep from his eyes and scanned the bedroom to recall his whereabouts. Recent waking had become this way more often. Free of physical chains, his spirit sometimes wandered when he slept. Remembering any dream details always proved frustrating with hazy recollections of faraway places that he’d never visited, even hinting of other realms. In his thoughts, he heard Scottish bagpipes and smelled heather.
He didn’t know how he knew the scent as heather. He had never smelled the plant that he was aware of. Still, the distinct scent brought a vision of a hillside meadow peppered with a beautiful sturdy shrub. He dismissed the fantasy and climbed from the small bed before pulling jeans on over his boxer shorts.
Inside of his backpack he found his cleanest dirty shirt and slipped it on. When he reached the hallway, soft voices led him to Naomi and her daughters in the kitchen. He noted Naomi’s loosely fitted medical scrubs.
“Good morning, sunshine,” she greeted him.
“Mornin’… what time is it?”
“Just past seven. The girls have agreed to let you watch them after school. I called Mrs. Anderson. She says she needs to go to the market and thought it might bore the girls anyway.”
“Excellent. What time do the girls get home from school?”
“Usually around three-thirty. If they’re late, they’re dawdling on the way home.”
Emily protested, “We don’t dawdle, Mom. We explore.”
Naomi smiled, “Then it’s time to explore for your backpack. Make sure to pack your homework. Wear mittens and scarves. It’s winter.”
The girls replied in unison, “Yes, Mother.”
Naomi set a plate of pancakes and eggs on the table in front of Camden. “So you’ll have the day to yourself. What will you do for entertainment?”
“Normally, I’d use the time to ride around and see the town. Too cold though. Can I fix anything around the house?”
She sat across the table and propped her chin on her hand while he ate. “I don’t expect you to work. You’re our guest.”
“I’m not one to sit and watch television, or even read for extended periods. You’ll do me a favor if you’ll let me help out.”
“How ambitious are you?”
“Name it, I’ll get it done.”
“Okay…I’ve been meaning to clean the screens on the bathroom and kitchen faucets. They clog with hard water deposits. Can you handle that?”
“Sure, that should take about ten minutes. What else?”
“You’ll find tools in the garage. The garage needs organizing. I’ve stored Dad’s belongings out there and left no room for the jeep.”
“Done. Anything else?”
She smiled. “That’s enough, more than enough. I appreciate it.”
Camden finished breakfast and rinsed the plate in the sink. “Thanks for breakfast. It was delicious. I’ll clean the kitchen too. Maybe fix dinner, if you’ll trust me.”
At the kitchen counter, she wrapped her arms around his waist, “I’ve never thought of you as the domestic type.”
Reagan and Emily entered with their book bags slung over their shoulders. “Bye, Mom.” Reagan hugged her.
Naomi returned the embrace, “Keep an eye on your sister. See that she gets to her first class.”
After the girls donned their coats in the living room and headed out the door, Naomi glanced at her wristwatch. “I need to go. You’ll be okay?”
He swatted her backside as she turned toward the living room. “I’m a big boy. I’ll be fine.”
After assisting with her coat, Camden walked her to the driveway. Their goodbye kiss lingered before she closed the jeep door and backed from the drive. He watched her stop at the corner and then turn toward town before he walked the drive and opened the garage door.
She hadn’t exaggerated the dozens of stacked boxes inside. Two upholstered chairs and an end table sat at the front. He waded between chairs and boxes to a workbench. From inside a large red toolbox, he selected a set of channel grips.
In the kitchen, he removed the faucet aerator. Next, he searched her cupboards and discovered a bottle of vinegar. He soaked the small chrome parts in a vinegar filled cup while he moved to the bathroom to repeat the removal.
While working, he mentally inventoried the garage and the best method for organization. While waiting for the parts to soak, he gathered his laundry and loaded the washing machine.
Within half an hour, he reassembled the faucets and returned to the garage.
Naomi hadn’t been clear on how to organize the garage, only that she’d like it organized. Below the workbench he found a stack of two-by-six pine boards. The toolboxes contained ample tools including; hammers, nails, a T-square and a power saw.
Over the next hour he cleared the garage, stacking the boxes and miscellaneous items in neat piles on the driveway. He measured and cut several wooden planks and then secured uprights against the side and the back walls, taking a break only to change laundry from the washer to the dryer.
By noon, he finished assembling the shelves, swept the floor, and then stacked the boxes neatly on the shelves. The chairs and end table fit in a back corner. He cleared the cobwebs from the overhead rafters with the broom and then swept the concrete floor again.
At 2:10 P.M., he finished wiping down the tools and organizing the workbench. Finally, he closed the garage door and returned to the house.
Housework occupied him until just after three o’clock, including drying, folding and packing his laundry. He then showered and changed clothing before returning to the living room.
A corner rocking chair appeared to be her father’s lone possession remaining indoors. He recalled his first visit to her home after her father had passed. She had taken comfort in the old rocker, wrapped in a blanket that had been her father’s favorite.
The memory seemed a lifetime ago. Since then, they had shared laughter over the phone and he had listened on rare moments when she had cried over her loss. Those occasions had lessened over the months. Yesterday he had sensed that she had filed those memories to the place that such memories go, to focus on moving forward.
Unlike his previous visit, this time he had come for no reason other than his own intention. He had come because he wanted to. At the same time, he wondered if he had completed his calling on his last visit. He mentally reviewed their time on the couch last night and their strange energy exchange. Why am I here? He wondered. Why does this visit seem so important? I have never looked forward to seeing anyone like this before. How can this connection seem so special? All totaled we’ve spent a week together?
He realized in addition to their limited face time, they had shared phone conversations and exchanged intimate thoughts.
“It is what it is.” He heard Angel’s words speak clearly.
“That it is, my friend,” he said.