Wednesday, February 17, 2016

Book Blitz + #Giveaway: Angel in Training by C.L. Coffey @CLCoffeyx @yaboundtourspr

Angel in Training
by C.L. Coffey
Release Date: February 17th 2015

Summary from Goodreads:

After a night out turns fatal, a misunderstanding with the Archangel Michael presents Angel with a chance at Eternal Life: the opportunity to earn her wings and one day become an archangel herself.

Angel is given the task of protecting her charge, trainee detective, Joshua Walsh. There's no denying the attraction between Angel and Joshua, only Michael has pretty strict rules: no drinking, no drugs, and certainly no relationships with humans. Thankfully, she's got other things to deal with, like trying to convince Joshua New Orleans has a serial killer who is preying on other angel potentials like herself.

Angel must quickly learn that when keeping someone safe, doing the right thing is not always the easiest, especially when you've got an archangel looking over your shoulder.

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Eternal Life

Mardi Gras
New Orleans

The fake ID was working a treat. I was drunk. Possibly too drunk. The last time I had gone out with my friends, the fake ID I had used then had lasted exactly three bars before somebody had realized it was fake, and confiscated it. With this in mind, we had drunk a little quicker in the first few bars, expecting the same to happen again. It hadn’t; but by that time, I didn’t care.

It was my twentieth birthday, and I was celebrating it in the heart of New Orleans; bar-hopping along Bourbon Street, which is exactly the last place I wanted to be.
I had spent the first thirteen years of my life living in a small town in the north of the United Kingdom. For as long as I could remember my birthdays had been spent with my mum and dad, camped out in the living room in a makeshift fort, eating ice cream and watching movies. On my thirteenth birthday, I had kicked up a fuss and told them I was too old to be camping in forts, ignored the hurt look on my parent’s faces, and gone out with my friends. Three weeks later they died in a car accident.

Not long after that, arrangements have been made for me to go live with my aunt Sarah in New Orleans. Seven years later, I still hadn’t lost my accent, or the feeling that I didn’t really belong here.
I looked around the busy bar, spotting the doors to the bathroom, and after yelling in a friend’s ear that I would be right back, I made my way over. It wasn’t until I was washing my hands that I realized just how much the world was spinning. I clutched at the sink and stared at my reflection in the mirror … I sucked in deep breaths, and decided it was time to switch to water for a while: the reflection staring back startled me.

My name is Angelina, but everybody calls me Angel. Tonight, my friends had decided we were celebrating my birthday in fancy dress. The four of them were dressed as angels. I, on the other hand, was dressed up as the devil. I had found a slinky red dress, which was short enough that I had left the house wearing a pair of jeans underneath, because I knew my aunt wouldn’t let me leave wearing it, regardless of how old I was. The jeans had been quickly discarded and left in the back of Hannah’s car, along with a more modest pair of heels. Right now, the matching red heels added an extra 4 inches to my height, making me over six-foot.

It wasn’t my outfit, however, which had startled me. It was the matching bright red hair. Normally, my hair hung in loose blonde curls. Earlier in the afternoon I had taken a bottle of cherry red hair dye to my head and accidentally left the color on double the recommended time. The result had been an incredibly vibrant head of hair. I’d also taken the time, along with three bottles of hair spray, to flick out all of the layers. Thankfully, I would be able to wash the color out before I could get used to it.
I finished washing my hands, and quickly dabbed my face with cold water, avoiding my eyes even though my normally green eyes were now bloodshot. I didn’t want my make-up to run.

I stepped out of the bathroom and walked straight into a wall. Or at least, that’s what it felt like. When the wall stepped back, and a pair of arms grabbed my shoulders to steady me, I realized that the wall was in fact, a person.

“I’m so sorry,” I said, looking up. Further apologies died in my throat. My gaze was met by a pair of mesmerizing, warm brown eyes.

The eyes narrowed in concern. “Are you okay?”

I opened my mouth, ready to start apologizing again, when a hand grabbed mine and spun me around. “Nina is bored of the music,” Rachel told me. “We’re going to the next bar.”

I scowled at my friend, and glanced back, seeking out those brown eyes again. Only they had disappeared, along with the guy they belonged to.

I lasted another two bars, still drinking hurricanes - lethally strong fruit cocktails made with both dark rum and white rum. By now, the buzzed feeling had definitely been replaced by double vision and unsteady legs. I leaned against the wall seeking out any of my friends. When I established they weren’t there, I left the bar and stepped outside into the street.

By this point, we had made it quite far down Bourbon Street, away from Canal Street and towards where the bars started thinning out, giving way to a more residential area. I slowly scanned my surroundings and finally spotted the white dress of an angel before it disappeared around the corner of one of the streets off Bourbon.

I stumbled after it, turning the corner. My friends had disappeared again, but there was only one place down here they could have gone. Midway down a small crowd had gathered around one of the buildings, from which music with a heavy bass-line was escaping.

I had to slow my shaky pace and use the walls for support. I was wobbling past the entrance to an alleyway when a noise caught my attention. The moment I took a few steps down the alleyway, I knew I had made a mistake. From behind, a hand clamped over my mouth preventing me from screaming as I was pulled back against a torso. The next thing I was aware of was several sharp pains in my abdomen.

At that point, I had stopped trying to pull the hand away from my mouth, and instead felt my stomach. As my hand touched something wet, I was released. I fell backwards into the wall, and couldn’t keep myself from sliding down it, the rough brick scratching at my back, before I collapsed on the ground. I was too drunk, and too weak to do much more than stare at my hands in the dim light.

As soon as it dawned on me that I was staring at my own blood, the pain set in. I opened my mouth, ready to cry for help, but all that came out was a wet cough.

I must have passed out because I woke up to a hand pressing at my hands which had been clutching at my stab wounds. “You’re going to die,” a melodic voice told me. He sounded strangely calm, and strangely familiar. “But you have a choice about what happens next.”

I stared up at him, trying to make two dancing figures become one. “Help me,” I rasped, my words quickly turning into a wracking cough.

“I’m trying to,” he sighed, one hand leaving my stomach to grab my elbow. His hand felt wet. “You need to listen to me carefully. You can either slip away and have eternal happiness, or you can take the other option. You could have the chance at eternal life.”

His voice was growing fainter and I was getting colder. I could feel the flow of blood that had been seeping from the knife wound to my stomach was slowing as it passed through my fingers.

This wasn’t how I wanted to die. I wanted to be in my bed, as old as science would allow, surrounded by kids, and grandkids, and great grandkids. I certainly didn’t want to die slumped against a dirty alley wall off Bourbon Street, dressed in an outfit that would have onlookers thinking I deserved this. But I didn’t have any fight left in me. I couldn’t even keep my eyes open any more.

“I need you to give me an answer,” the voice told me, more urgently now. There was a moment of warmth as I felt his hand pressed against my face. It was enough to make my eyes flicker open and find his warm brown ones staring at me. “I can’t make the decision for you,” he added, his voice softening.

“Save me,” I begged. I think maybe only my lips were moving. All the strength and energy finally escaped me. The last thing I saw were those two brown eyes as I closed my own.

* * *

I awoke feeling completely rested. I stretched, pushing out my arms and legs before allowing my eyes to open. The room I was in was dark, and I could hardly see anything, but when I reached for the lamp and my hand hit wall, I knew instantly I wasn’t in my room.

I was in my third year at Tulane University, still trying to work out what I was going to do next, even though I was ages away from my graduation. I had done the obligatory first year living in the dorms but had then moved back into my aunt’s house in Lakeview, an area in the north of the city, as soon as I had been able to. When I arrived at my aunt’s house seven years ago, Sarah had given me free reign of how I wanted my bedroom decorated. And this room definitely wasn’t the large bedroom I was used to. For one, my bed stood in the middle of the room - it was impossible to reach out and hit wall, unless I was going behind the large oak headboard.

I closed my eyes trying to remember where I’d gone to sleep. I was supposed to be staying at Rachel’s. Her parents had gone away for an anniversary cruise, leaving her at home with her older brother. Only this wasn’t Rachel’s room, nor was it her spare room.

I couldn’t remember much about my evening’s antics. I sucked in a deep breath and held it. I didn’t feel hung over, and I certainly didn’t feel drunk still. But there had to be a reasonable explanation. I sat upright and swung my feet around, over the edge of the bed. They didn’t hit the ground. I’m on the taller side of average, measuring in at five feet nine without shoes on. Most beds are low enough that when I sit on them, my feet touch the floor. My bed is low anyway - a gorgeous antique four poster that my aunt had acquired from an auction in Mississippi – and I’m frequently catching my shins on it. This one was high and, judging from the fact I could feel both sides, a single – an empty one at that. This was promising in the sense that I hadn’t gone home with a stranger, but it still didn’t explain where I was.

I gave myself a moment for my eyes to adjust to the darkness. I could just about make out a chest of drawers and a wardrobe from the little amount of light that was coming in through the curtains. I walked over to the door, feeling for the light switch and flicked it on, wincing as the room exploded into light.

I waited for my eyes to become accustomed to the brightness only to discover that I was still no closer to recognizing the room. The floor was wooden and dark, matching the furniture. There was nothing fancy about any of the pieces in the room; they were very plain, like the furniture in a college dorm would be. With the exception of the thick claret curtains which matched the blankets on the bed, I could have sworn I was in a single dorm room that had yet to be decorated by its occupant. The only thing on the wall and the only thing that was remotely decorative was the large ornate wooden cross hanging above the headboard. There wasn’t even a mirror on the wall.

I turned, reaching for the door handle, but stopped, my hand hovering mid-air. My attention had been distracted by the white lace around my wrist. I glanced down, my mouth finally dropping open. “What in God’s name am I wearing?” I muttered as I gaped in horror at the monstrosity that was covering me.

This was most definitely not the little red dress that I had gone out in. It was white, came down to my ankles and it hung like a sack. Either someone with a really weird fetish had kidnapped me and dressed me in a Victorian nightdress, or I had taken my drunkenness to a whole new level.

I shut my eyes and I took a deep breath, turning the door handle. I didn’t realize until I exhaled deeply that I had been expecting it to be locked. The door didn’t creak when it opened. I peeked out into the hallway which was brightly lit by long fluorescent lighting tubes. The walls were the same dull cream color as the room I was in, and the woodwork the same dark wood. To my left, the hallway ended abruptly with a window, again covered in the thick claret curtains. To my right, the hallway stretched out, a half dozen doors breaking up the cream.

I stepped out into the corridor and pulled the door closed behind me, noting the cross with small golden numbers of 238 engraved in the center. My stomach chose that moment to start churning. Rather than the normal butterflies feeling, it felt more like there was a flock of geese flying about in there.

I took another deep breath. It still looked like a dorm. I was alive, unhurt, and dressed … albeit in a very odd outfit, but there was still a small possibility that I had put it on myself. I walked down the hallway, ignoring all the numbered doors that I passed, aiming for the one at the end.

This door opened into another hallway, almost identical to the last, and eventually, another door at the far end. This time the door opened up to the stairway, the wooden steps curving downwards.
For some reason though, I kept walking past the stairs. It’s hard to explain but something in my gut was leading me elsewhere. I walked to the other end of the building and took the last door on the right. This one led to yet more stairs, stone this time, and less elaborate – like an unlabeled emergency exit. I followed the flight of stairs down, walked along another corridor, and then finally, came across a door to the outside.

It was still night time. The inky night had the orange tint to it which most cities have, the street lights barely making anything other than the moon visible. It was quiet too, although I could hear noise in the distance – I don’t think I was too far from Bourbon Street.

I rounded a corner and bit back a scream. It took me a moment to get my breathing under control as I realized that the thing that had startled me was a nun. More specifically, it was a statue of a nun with a serene face, her hands in prayer, glowing in the moonlight.

As I glanced back at the building behind me, another wave of confusion washed over me as I worked out where I was. The Old Ursuline Convent. It was situated a few blocks from Bourbon Street, easily in walking distance, but it was also a museum which certainly should have been closed at this time. I had been past it a couple of times with my aunt, though never inside it. I was definitely trespassing, and I still had no recollection of how I had gotten there.

“What have you done this time?” I asked myself as I hurried for the exit. I was near the gates when I spotted the light coming from the small church within the grounds. Again, that same gut pull had me changing direction and heading to the side door of the church.

This door, like all the others, was unlocked and opened noiselessly. Inside, although equipped with electric chandeliers, it was lit with hundreds of candles, bathing the room with a soft and inviting glow. I took a couple of steps in, looking around in awe.

I’m not religious, I don’t believe in God, and the last time I went to church, despite my aunt’s disappointment, was the day of my parent’s funeral. That being said, this church was beautiful.
It was bigger than I expected, with high ceilings and row upon row of uncomfortable looking wooden pews. Above the main entrance was a gallery which looked down upon the altar. The altar itself was simply magnificent. There were columns, gold moldings, and a truly impressive painting of what I would guess was a depiction of some verse in the Bible – angels flying alongside a man on the ceiling. It wasn’t the Sistine Chapel, but it was a work of art.

The painting held my attention for so long that I didn’t even notice the figure that sat a few rows from the front. I walked towards him, my bare feet hardly making any sound on the marble floor. My eyes nearly popped out of my head as I drew close. He was wearing a light gray suit with polished shoes: an outfit that seemed exceedingly expensive, and made him look older than he was. Looking at his profile, he was only about twenty-five at most. The clothes, while perfectly fitting, made him look like he was closer to thirty. He was also beautiful.

If someone could sculpture perfection, he was it. Even sitting down, his head bowed and lips moving with a silent prayer, I could tell he was tall. His blonde hair, the color of gold, was kept long enough that it spiked up slightly.

He wasn’t my type. I go for the tall, dark, and brooding– the polar opposite of what he seemed to be – but even I had already decided that if he asked, I was handing my number over.

“Hello, Angel.” He didn’t turn his head.

I blinked. “How do you know my name?” I demanded. My voice felt too loud for my surroundings, but I had never met this guy before. I would remember someone that delicious.

He finished his prayer and stood, giving a small nod to the cross. He stepped out, moving in front of me, but kept a large gap between the two of us as he considered me.

I glowered back at him, my arms crossing my chest as I inwardly groaned at the flush I could feel working up my neck and into my cheeks. His eyes were brown. A warm brown. Somewhere in the recesses of my mind, it sparked a memory, but it was like trying to grab mist as I tried to place it.

“I read your ID,” he eventually told me.

“What the hell are you doing going through my things?” I demanded. “Where the hell is my bag?” My arms had started flying around me in a slightly crazed fashion as I became more annoyed at the thought of him going through my things, but they suddenly froze. The only ID I’d gone out with was my fake one. “It has Prudence on my ID,” I said, slowly.

Although his posture remained relaxed, the guy sighed and shifted his weight. “Will you please not refer to hell in that context within a house of the Lord?” he requested, politely.

“I will damn well refer to hell all I want to, until you can give me a reasonable explanation as to why I woke up in a museum in this thing,” I gestured to the gown. “And why the hell are you going through my belongings?”

His hands slid under his jacket and into his trouser pockets. “You are dead.”

I snorted, the noise echoing around the room. “Dead?” I repeated. “I’m walking and talking,” I pointed out. “I’m hardly dead.”

There was another sigh. “You are dead. It is your vessel that is walking and talking.”

I couldn’t help but pull a face. Gorgeous or not, the guy was insane. “Whatever,” I told him, turning on my heel and marching for the main door. “This vessel is walking and talking her way out of here.”
“Stop!” His command echoed loudly around the room.

And I stopped. Trust me – it wasn’t because I wanted to, but because my feet physically wouldn’t let me. It was as though they were listening to him, and not me. As if by their own accord, they swiveled on the spot, turning me back to him. He hadn’t moved. He was still standing, relaxed, with his hands in his pockets.

I swallowed back the fear that was beginning to build up in the back of my throat, and I crossed my arms, glaring at him with a false bravado. “Who the hell are you, and what the hell have you just done to me?”

His eyes narrowed. “Angel, I have asked nicely, now I am telling you:  not talk like that in the house of the Lord.”

I was ready to snap back at him that I would talk however the hell I damn well wanted, but I couldn’t. Just like my feet, my voice didn’t seem to be under my control either.

His gaze softened and he took a few paces to close the gap between us. “You are dead,” he told me again, his hands coming to rest on my shoulders. “You died six months ago. Don’t you remember?”
My brave act crumbled as my bottom lip began to quiver. Great, I was going to cry. “What do you want from me?” I asked him, my voice breaking. Short of killing me, I had no idea what the guy wanted, and even if I wanted to (which I didn’t), I didn’t think I could come up with some form of explanation as to why I was there. The tears began to leak from my eyes and I quickly brushed them aside, furious at myself for showing weakness. If he was going to kill me, I damn well didn’t want to show him how scared I was.

“You don’t remember,” he repeated, this time as a statement. He ushered me over to the nearest pew and sat me down just before my knees gave out from under me. “Angel, you died,” he told me again, gently this time. “You were dying when I found you and I offered you a choice. You chose this.”

“I can’t be dead,” I told him, shaking my head. My hand clutched the back of the pew in front of me. It just wasn’t possible. “I can feel my heart beating. I can feel the grain of the wood underneath the polish.”

“You’re going to be an angel,” he said.

I shook my head again. “And how do you know my name?”

“No, you are an angel.”

“I haven’t forgotten my name,” I told him, a hint of ice somehow finding its way into my tone. “I just don’t understand what you want with me? What have I done? Why do you want to kill me?”

“Angel,” he said softly, his hand covering the one I was using to clutch the pew. “I didn’t kill you. I don’t know who did. I gave you a choice between eternal happiness and eternal life. You chose life. You have been given the opportunity to earn your wings and become an angel.”

“Become an angel called Angel?” I asked him, pulling my hand free from under his. “An angel called Angel?” I repeated. Suddenly a glimmer of a memory hit me. I was back in that alleyway and he was crouched beside me, staring at me with the same intensity in his chocolate eyes as he was now. “No,” I told him, finding my feet. “I chose life, not eternal life. I thought you were going to save me!”

“I did,” he told me, taking a step back. He looked surprised. “You are to become an angel.”

“I don’t want to be an angel,” I yelled as I pushed past him. “I want to be me. A normal, human, living, me.” I ran for the door, pushing it open and stumbling into the street. It was deserted with only a handful of cars parked in the area.

“Angel, come back here,” the guy ordered, still within the church.

Once again my body seemed to take on a life of its own as my feet carried me back into the church. He closed the door behind me and watched me warily. There was no holding back the tears now. I was full on sobbing my heart out. There were no such things as angels. The guy was a lunatic and he was going to kill me.

“Okay,” he sighed, slipping his jacket off. He draped it over my shoulders and led me back to the door I had originally entered the church through, back into the convent grounds. Somehow, even though there wasn’t a hint of a breeze, the hundreds of candles extinguished themselves behind us.
He took me back into the main building. In the foyer, behind an elaborate desk, another guy, almost as good looking as my supposed rescuer, jumped to his feet. He nodded at us, his eyebrows rising as he saw me. Instead of saying anything, he just sat back down.

There were more people in on whatever this was, I realized, as I was led up the wooden staircase and through the doorway directly opposite. This door led to another staircase, which in turn, opened up into a very large office. Judging from the slanted ceilings, we were in the attic.

To one side there were two brown leather couches facing each other, a small wooden coffee table between them. The guy sat me down on one of the couches before walking over to the sideboard and pouring a glass of clear liquid from a decanter. He walked back to me, offering the tumbler to me and sat down on the opposite couch.

I sniffed, wiping my nose and tears away with the back of my hand in a very unladylike manner. I ignored the un-amused look I was getting and took a gulp from the glass.

“It’s water,” he confirmed at what I am guessing was a startled look on my face. I was expecting vodka, and frankly, I was disappointed that I didn’t have it. “You’re too young to be drinking,” he added.

“Are you going to kill me?” I asked him, refusing to move my gaze from the glass I was cradling.

The guy sighed, “Angel, you are already dead,” he told me. “You are an angel Potential.”

I glanced up, surprised to find patience in his eyes, despite the fact he had told me this several times now. “But there are no such things as angels!” I told him, a slight hint of desperation tainting my words.

His eyes rose upwards, staring at the ceiling. “It is not mine to question,” he sighed. “But are you sure you chose the right person?”

I looked up, half expecting a voice to start booming out, but nothing happened. I lowered my gaze and found the guy staring at me, his eyebrow arched in mild amusement. I rolled my eyes and took another sip of water. “Fine,” I groaned. “Let’s just say that for one moment I agree to believe in angels and all that jazz.” There was another arched eyebrow sent in my direction. I ignored it. “What on earth would possess you to make me one? I don’t believe in angels. I don’t believe in Heaven and Hell, and I’m sorry, but I really don’t believe in God. Surely there are hundreds of other people who are better suited to this?”

The guy settled back, one arm resting on the arm of the couch. “There are,” he agreed. “However, there are only a handful of people who can become an angel. I’m not sure what you’re thinking, but there aren’t as many angels as you would assume.”

I frowned, trying to remember back to high school when we were supposed to be studying the Bible in one of our classes. I had spent most of those hours, staring longingly at the back of Steven Cooper’s head. “I thought you made thousands of angels?”

The guy gently shook his head. “I didn’t make them. We were created billions of years ago. Once there were enough to rival every human on the planet. Today we are vastly outnumbered. A while back we lost some of our number. A third of us fell and the Fallen have been growing in size while we remain the same.”

“So this is your recruitment drive? Me?” I was only just stopping myself from laughing.

He shrugged at me. “Essentially, yes. The world has changed. The population has increased and we need to increase our numbers to reflect this. We archangels-”

“Archangels?” I blurted out, cutting him off. “You’re an archangel?”

He nodded. “I am Michael.”

I quickly finished the drink, again wishing it had a kick to it, and slumped back into the couch.
“We archangels,” he continued, “Were sent to Earth to prepare for war. Recently, we have set up Houses in strategic locations around the world, to find as many Potentials as possible to help in the fight against the fallen.”

“Of all the places in the world, you ended up in New Orleans?” I asked, unable to keep the sarcasm from my voice.

Michael nodded. “Yes,” he agreed, apparently not registering the sarcasm.

“Please,” I muttered, pulling a face. “Hurricanes, poverty, homes that are never going to be rebuilt, oil spills... this city has had so much crap thrown at it, and you’re telling me that there are angels here?”

Again, Michael nodded. “Yes. Regardless of what has happened or what is happening, this city fights.”

Okay, he may have had a point. The citizens of New Orleans were resilient; I’d give him that. “And you think you’re going to find Potentials here? Angel Potentials?” My eyes widened. “You think I could be an archangel? The Archangel Angel?”

“You have the potential, yes,” Michael confirmed. “Assuming you can earn your wings.”

“But I’m only twenty!” I pointed out to him, awkwardly scratching my head. “I dropped out of girl scouts before I could earn any badges and you want me to earn wings?”

About the Author:
Cheryl works in an office by day. By night she leads a (not-so) secret life DJing, and throughout it all, is constantly scribbling away as the plot bunnies demand constant attention.

Her first novel was written when she should have been revising for her exams. While it is unlikely to ever see the light of day, it was the start of long relationship with the evil plot bunnies of doom.

A need to do more than just one subject led her to the University of Hull, where she graduated with an honours degree in American Studies. For the third year of the four year degree, she was able to call Baton Rouge home. Since then, Louisiana has claimed a large chunk of her heart, and remains a place she will always consider home.

LSU was where she discovered FanFiction and currently writes (mainly) CSI:NY stories and a Rescue: Special Ops story. 

When not transcribing the stories of the angels and archangels, working, or DJing, she is at the beck and call of three cats – all of whom rank higher in the household than she does. 

Author Links:
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