The data elves hath decreed some of my books need new back-end tracking numbers and thusly, I must deactivate the original Angelbound and release a new version instead. Upon hearing this news, I decided to add a new wedding epilogue to the book, because that’s how I roll.
Long story short, check out this epilogue preview from the special edition of ANGELBOUND. The new title releases May 1. I hope you enjoy the sample!
Three weeks ago, I defeated Armageddon. Go me. Yet ever since that uplifting kickassery, there’s been an unexpected downside: hella boring dreams. As in, I spend all night eating kale. Looking for a lost shoe. Or even watching myself sleep.
Makes me want to poke out my dream-eyes with a fork.
But that’s not what’s happening tonight. Nope. Right now, my dream-self stands on the command deck of a starship.
Amazing, right? It gets better.
This isn’t just any space vessel, mind you, but the star cruiser Xenolith from my favorite human television show, Stellar One. In my dream, everything around me is crafted in silver and white. A dozen crew members stand poker-straight before long consoles. All of them wear matching silver onesies because that’s just how it works in space. And in the captain’s chair sits the Commander Starling. I spent my entire sophomore year obsessed with his battle tactics. Outside of TV-land, Starling is a human actor named Foster Reins.
Well, he used to be mortal.
A few years back, Foster choked on a tuna sandwich, died, and became a ghoul. But in my dreams, Foster is still one hundred percent alive: tall and pale with a swoosh of dark hair over his wide blue eyes.
Long story short, this is a good dream.
A massive viewport covers one wall of the command deck. Starling gestures in that direction. “Track Havoc activity,” he orders.
My dream-self claps. The Havoc are badass aliens. They aren’t demons, but not everything can be perfect.
The viewport flares to life, showing squat little humanoids in red luminescent armor. The Havoc. Which brings up a classic question for Stellar One fans. Why wear armor that makes you glow crimson? It’s totally unhelpful when trying to stay not-dead in battle. For the record, I’m one of the fans who say, relax, it’s a TV show.
“Cease displaying the Havoc,” calls Starling. The viewport turns dark once more. My shoulders slump. Too bad the Havoc fun is over. That said, Starling’s next command makes up for the lack of glowing aliens.
“Show me Myla Lewis!” he cries.
My dream-self grins. Suh-weet. Me time.
The viewport brightens again. This time, it shows me in my Scala robes at the Great Summit, aka the big meet-up after I kicked Armageddon’s ass. My goal for this event? Return Purgatory to self-rule. The view screen shows a scene from the meeting-a-thon in the Ryder ballroom. At this point, it’s just me, the Ghoul Oligarchy and go time. All during the summit, these four undeadlies tried to kill self-rule for my people.
This little chat is no exception.
“We cannot leave Purgatory,” hiss the Oligarchy in unison. “Quasis are not ready to govern themselves.”
View Screen Me huffs our a breath. “Only because you ordered your minions to hide all the files and stuff.” We don’t yet have computers here in Purgatory, so this is a huge deal. “Honestly. I sleep for a few days after fighting the King of Hell and what do you guys do? Lock up all the bureaucratic everything. Not okay.” I also suspect they’ve left some crap around to screw with my Scala powers, but one thing at a time.
“Many quasis have begged us to stay,” counter the Oligarchy. “We only wish to heed their requests.”
I fold my arms over my chest. “We’ve been over this, guys. Soon the quasis will vote on referendum Q8-29. My people can then decide whether to restart our old republic—”
“With your mother as president,” interrupt the Oligarchy. They totally hate Mom, by the way. Mostly it’s because she won’t put up with their crap. What can I say? It runs in the family.
“No kidding,” I counter. “She’s the only one who wants the job.” The rest of Purgatory’s too scared of the Oligarchy. Not that I’ll admit that part out loud.
“Your people may also vote to maintain their ghoul overlords.”
“It’s possible,” I allow.
In one fluid movement, the Oligarchy lift their bony chins. “See? Even you agree.”
“I did not agree.” I raise my pointer finger. “What I said is that it’s possible. Don’t bet on it, though.”
Outside the ballroom, voices raise in the hallway. Everyone’s waiting for the Oligarchy’s word on the referendum. Even The Eternal Times is out there. Sadly, if we don’t get this vote scheduled, it may never happen. For the last twenty years, my people have been taught to do whatever the ghouls order. We quasis must start thinking for ourselves, pronto. This referendum is key.
Moving in tandem, the Oligarchy shake their heads. I suppress a shiver. It’s so creepy when they do stuff in unison. “We must respect the true wishes of the quasi people,” declare the Oligarchy. “We refuse to allow the vote.”
Which they can. Mostly because they hid all the voting machines.
Anger shoots through my limbs. On reflex, my tail arcs over my shoulder. Battle mode. For days, I’ve been holding back from going nuclear on these clowns. After all, I’m a demi-goddess now. I must act more mature. But it’s been a long week of talking in circles.
Welcome to superpower time.
“Listen to me carefully,” I say in a low voice. “We’ll open these doors and announce that the vote will happen. Otherwise, Armageddon gets a one-way ticket out of Hell.”
Key fact: I’ll never release Armageddon, but the Oligarchy don’t know that.
Lifting my arm, I summon a few dozen igni to materialize around my hand. For a moment, nothing happens. Then I hear the muted voices of my igni singing. It’s music only I can hear, and it means they’re coming to the rescue. A moment later, small bolts of power dive and swirl about my palm.
The Oligarchy gasp in unison. I won’t lie; that’s pretty satisfying.
When I next speak, I make sure that my eyes flare demon red. “I have had it with you guys. If you weasel out of this vote, I will release Armageddon, zip up to Heaven, hang out on a cloud, and leave you down here to manage the shit-show on your own. The King of Hell hates you guys. As in loooooooooathes. He’ll roast you for all eternity while I watch the barbeque.” I lower my voice to what I like to call, lethal level. “Just try me.”
The four ghouls share a long look before slowly bowing their heads. “In that case, we agree to the referendum.”
I’ve heard this before. “And where are the voting machines?”
“Hidden in the tunnels under Purgatory’s Arena.”
I purse my lips. That’s a really good hiding place, actually. “Good. Let’s go chat up the press.” And then I’ll find my buddy Walker and have him reclaim those voting machines. Walker’s awesome like that.
Back in my dream, I stare at the viewport and sigh. Single-handedly forcing the Oligarchy to support the vote was fun. Dragging over a space-age swivel chair, I plunk my dream-butt down. If I had some demon bars and a remote, this could be sophomore year of high school again. Hitching my right leg over the chair’s arm, I lean back and wait for more me-related ghoul ass-kicking to appear onscreen. That’s not what happens. Instead the viewport blinks out. Everything darkens. A chorus of strange voices reverberate across the command deck.
“Great Scala,” says one. “Come out!”
“Bless my kitten,” adds another.
“Show us your igni,” cries a third.
Crap on a cracker. These voices are not part of the Stellar One show. Sadly, my daytime reality is shoving its enormous ass into my dream life. Grr. A moment later, the command deck vanishes. I’m back in my mangy bedroom, tangled in my covers. Sitting up, I peep through my curtains to scan behind my one-story ranch house. In the misty pre-dawn light, my back lawn lies covered with a sea of strangers. Young. Old. All different kinds of skin colors and tail types.
My worshippers. Still here. Ugh.
I scan the crowd. There’s an old dude with a cane, top hat, and a salamander’s tail. A little kid with freckles who jumps in a mud puddle. I even spy an old lady in a purple tracksuit. Everyone stands a few yards from my window. I frown.
That’s not right.
Where are my guards, anyway? I can’t see much through the break in the curtain. Even so, there’s no sign of the thrax warriors that Lincoln sends to protect me. Normally, my guards stand about five yards away from the house, constantly enforcing a little policy I like to call, no lookie no touchie.
A moment later, a wrinkled face pops into my line of vision. It’s the old lady in the tracksuit. “Great Scala, there you are. I need you to sign my armpit.” Her voice carries easily into my room. No surprise, there. The walls of my house are paper-thin.
My mouth falls open with surprise. “You need what?”
“Your signature on my armpits,” she says slowly. “So I can get the letters tattooed.”
This is too much. I almost don’t want to know the answer, yet I can’t help but ask. “And why would you do that?”
“The tattoos will siphon off your powers. Then I can fly around, superhero-style.”
“Huh.” And that’s all I can say.
Ever since I became the Great Scala, a shit-ton of crazy beliefs have sprouted up overnight. People think I can heal their pets or predict the future. Not to mention all the new businesses. There’s a fresh cosmetics line called The Myla Look. Plus, there’s the Scala Girl brand of clothing, shoes, hair products and snack foods. I don’t get any money out of it—that’s how things work in Purgatory. Whatever. The only time I get involved is when I fake-sponsor something crappy, like the Myla Loves Ghouls calendar. I killed that thing, fast.
But empowering quasis to fly via armpit tattoos? That’s a shocker.
All of a sudden, the tracksuit lady steps away. Her face becomes replaced by one of Lincoln’s guards, Harvey, a doughy guy with a round face, button nose and big ears. He’s also a sweetheart and total goofball, which is why he’s my fav.
“Sorry about that,” says Harvey. “She got past us.” No question who she is in this scenario: tracksuit grandma.
“What happened?” I ask.
“We saw what looked like a fire demon.”
Memories from my dreams appear. “Wait. Was it a little round being in glowing red armor?”
“Yes. How did you know?”
“That’s a quasi kid who’s dressed up as one of the Havoc, aka the meanie aliens from Stellar One.”
Harvey frowns. “Stellar what?”
“It’s only the biggest human television show in the history of ever.”
“Television.” Harvey nods slowly. “I’ve seen those technology boxes while on demon patrol.” He tilts his head. A mischievous gleam shines in his mismatched eyes. “Are you in danger?”
And here is why Harvey’s my fav. His question is actually code for, do you want me to call Lincoln? It’s been way too long since I saw my guy, so I nod. “I’m in total and serious danger.” Most guards would never push the rules for me, but Harvey’s a softie.
Reaching into the pocket of his body armor, Harvey pulls out a purple paperclip and snaps it in two. A pouf of violet smoke balloons into the air above his palm. That’s because Harvey wasn’t really holding a paperclip. Nope. That thing is a thrax magic charm, and seeing those in action never gets old. In this case, Harvey’s charm alerts a messenger to hit Antrum and find my guy. Nice.
Harvey clicks his heels and bows slightly. “Back to duty.”
“See ya, Harvey.”
Fresh voices sound from inside my house. This time it’s Mom, and does she ever sound pissed.
“How dare he?” calls my mother.
Yipes. That’s not Mom’s “you’ll be late for school” level of worry. Something is seriously wrong. Pulling off my covers, I slip on a robe and head for the kitchen.
This ought to be good. Or, considering how my life typically goes, epically bad.
–end of sample–
Releases May 1. Live to preorder on: