Welcome to my first ever Throwback Thursday! Less than ten weeks from now DANGEROUS ANGEL, the final book in The Earth Angels miniseries, will be released (March 31st, sqeeeeeee!). Because this thought plunges me into the deep end of nostalgic warm and fuzzies, I’m revisiting the stories leading up to this series’ conclusion. First up is the opening scene in NOBODY’S ANGEL, Book One in The Earth Angels. Have a quick read-through and leave a comment, and you could win a $10 Amazon GC tomorrow. Enjoy!
“I can’t believe it…”
“There was so much blood.”
Fragments of conversation hit Kendall Glynn from all sides, but the words were no more than an irrelevant buzzing in her brain. She was just as oblivious to the emergency vehicles scattered outside San Francisco’s top-rated KPOW TV station. Some of her colleagues were crying, while others spoke to police. The sea of people behind the yellow crime-scene tape all looked the same—eager spectators hoping for a glimpse of more blood, more madness.
She’d had enough of both to last a lifetime.
“Miss? Have you been treated?”
Kendall’s zombielike shuffling halted at the deep melodic voice close to her, and she turned to discover an EMT had appeared at her side. For a long moment she stared at him while his words slipped across the frozen surface of her mind without leaving a mark.
“I’m not hurt.” Her voice came from far off, unrecognizable and rough around the edges. Which made sense. The last time she’d used it had been to scream.
“You might not be hurt, but you are in shock.” Somehow she was moving again, heading for the back of an empty ambulance. It wasn’t until he helped her into it that she realized he’d pulled her along like a lost two-year-old. “I’m going to check you out, okay?”
“This blood, it’s not mine.” Amazing, how calm she sounded.
“I understand.” After settling her on the side of a gurney, the paramedic lifted her chin with a gloved hand and flashed a penlight across her eyes. “You’ve got lovely eyes, just like emeralds. Do you have a name?”
“My name is Zeke Reece. I’m going to take your vitals now, okay, Kendall?”
“I’m not hurt.” He had to understand she wasn’t the one who needed his attention. “The others, Dave Beamer and Jane Walters, they’re the ones who...” Oh, God.
“They’re being taken care of.” A blood-pressure cuff slipped over her arm. Began to squeeze. “You were close to them when it went down, right? Can you tell me what happened?”
“I don’t know.” Confused, she shook her head. “One second Dave was doing his job—smiling into the camera and reading the copy I wrote about a couple of murder-suicides. It was my first lead story.”
“Maybe he didn’t like how I wrote it.” She couldn’t seem to stop shaking her head. “The next thing I knew, Dave was choking our anchorwoman so hard I thought he’d snapped her neck, before he took his pen and…”
“Easy.” Zeke moved to sit beside her and pushed her head between her knees. “You’re not allowed to go that white, Kendall. Makes me think you’re going to faint.”
“I don’t know what happened,” she said again, closing her eyes and willing the queasiness to pass. “Everyone was screaming. It wasn’t until I got close to Dave that I realized he was yelling the loudest. It’s like he was possessed, jamming his pen into his own neck while he screamed for someone to stop him. I jumped on top of him, but…” She gulped in air until the ringing in her ears went away. “I think he’s dead. I think Dave is dead.” She trembled on the verge of admitting she’d seen the essence of Dave’s life drain away, just as she’d witnessed her grandfather’s life essence drift from his body in the hospital when she was a child. She’d told her mother about it, and had been reprimanded for letting her imagination run away with her like crazy Aunt Maggie, a woman who read palms and talked to spirits for a living. But deep down Kendall had always suspected what she’d seen that day was real, and Aunt Maggie probably wasn’t as crazy as her family claimed.
After tonight, though, she couldn’t help but think she might not be standing as securely on the stable ground of sanity as she’d once believed.
“I’m sorry to say you’re right.” The EMT’s deep voice brought her back with a jolt. “Dave Beamer didn’t make it. Jane, though, is still alive. That’s something.”
Kendall let out a shuddering breath as the nausea passed. “I’m fine now.”
“I’ll be the judge of that.” But he let her straighten up, his hand on her back. It felt sturdy and warm, but if this was what it took to get a hot guy to sit next to her, she was all in favor of eternal spinsterhood.
Lord. How awful she must be, thinking that at a time like this.
“Your color sucks.” With that professional assessment, he reached into a duffel bag and fished out a flask. “Let’s try some non-regulation emergency medicine packed just for such an occasion. Do you have any allergies to seventy-five-year-old brandy?”
“I have no idea.”
“No time like the present to find out.” With that, he tipped the flask into her mouth. Fiery liquid scalded her throat, but the sting brought the world back into sharp focus. “Better?”
“Maybe.” She gasped after downing what felt like half the flask. That had to be what it felt like to chug jet fuel. “I think I can now breathe fire.”
“Sounds like a cool superpower to have.”
Kendall half-laughed, then was shocked she was capable of such a thing. “Did they teach you that technique in EMT school?”
“Nah, Boy Scouts. Always be prepared.”
Kendall trembled on the verge of laughing again and glanced at the man seated beside her. She must be in some serious kind of shock, was all she could think. That was the only way she could explain overlooking a square-jawed, raven-haired behemoth of a man with the most mesmerizing golden-brown eyes she’d ever seen. His chin was shadowed with a cleft at the point, and the arch of his brows had an elegant curve that made her fingers itch to trace them. She almost lifted a hand to follow through with the urge, and had to look away to stop herself from getting touchy-feely with a complete stranger.
“Your color’s coming back.” To her surprise he indulged in some face-touching of his own, laying the back of his gloved hand against her cheek. “Nice and warm. Brandy does have its medicinal merits, doesn’t it?”
“I think I’m going to make it.”
“I never had a doubt.” Tucking the flask back in the duffel bag, he pulled out a packet of wet wipes. “Once you get some of that blood off you, you’ll feel even better. May I?”
“Oh. Uh, I can do it—”
“Yeah, but I can see it.” Clearly not a man who took no for an answer, he began to massage her face with the cold wipe. “No one else is as covered as you, did you know that?”
“I’m not sure I want to know that.”
“Seems to me you were the only one who dived into the fray.”
“Oh?” Kendall frowned, oddly distracted by his touch. “Does that make me weird?”
“Depends. Were you and Dave Beamer close?”
“I’m not close to anyone here, yet. I’m a transfer from a small-market radio station in Half Moon Bay.” She leaned into his hand without thinking, almost nuzzling him. “I’ve only been at KPOW for three months, working as a researcher and assistant editor.”
“So you didn’t know him?”
“I didn’t say that. Dave was the first real friend I’ve made here, and he was the one who gave me a shot at the lead story tonight. He wasn’t threatened by me, my ambitions are in investigative journalism rather than anchoring. We hit it off right away, so much so that I’m comfortable in saying that wasn’t Dave tonight. It just wasn’t him.”
“Did he look different?”
“Since he’s never stabbed a ballpoint pen into his jugular before, I’d have to say yes.” Fearful she might puke at any moment, Kendall focused on his soothing ministrations. “There was a light in his eyes.”
“What color was it?”
Her closing eyes snapped open. “What?”
“That veil must have had some color. White or red, perhaps.” He continued to wipe at her cheeks, before sliding down to her neck. “Maybe you didn’t see anything.”
“It was white.” She arched her neck as luxurious warmth spilled from where his gloved hand lingered over her pulse point. “Milky white. Guess that sounds kind of crazy, huh?”
“Witnessing death puts a tremendous amount of pressure on people—violent death even more so. Who knows what really went down tonight? There we go.” He balled up the wipe and tossed it before he crooked a finger under her chin. “Feel better?”
“Um.” His heavy-lidded eyes were soulful, looking into hers as if she were all he could see, and her nerves beneath his fingers tingled as though from a lover’s caress. How appalling. A colleague killed himself right in front of her, and here she was getting overheated by a calendar-worthy first responder. “Yes, thanks. I should be able to drive home now,” she added, nodding toward her car not too far from where the ambulance was parked.
“Yeah. No.” He moved to hop out of the back before offering her a hand. “You’re getting a ride home.”
“Oh, please don’t bother—”
“If you don’t agree, I’ll follow you in the ambulance, lights on and siren blaring. At least then everyone would know to stay away from a potential hazard on the road.”
Something in his eyes convinced Kendall he wasn’t kidding. In the end, she followed along in his wake when docility wasn’t part of her nature. Her brain spun its wheels in an effort to think of a way to keep him by her side a few minutes longer, the need to simply be with him inexplicably powerful. But all she could do was thank him when he handed her off to a police officer, who did some hot and heavy ogling of her own when he walked away.
“With paramedics like that, I’d be willing to suffer a little emergency every now and again,” the woman muttered, eyes trained on Zeke’s firm backside.
Despite being in wholehearted agreement with her, Kendall gave her a sharp look. “I’d say one dead anchorman qualifies as more than a little emergency.”
The other woman arched her brows. “Both victims were breathing, last I heard.”
As the affronted cop led her to a patrol car, Kendall frowned. Obviously her shock-benumbed brain conjured up the impossible image of Dave’s spirit drifting vaporlike from his body; that made total sense. But why had Zeke sounded so sure Dave Beamer was dead? As they drove off, she searched the triage area for the paramedic with soulful eyes and gentle hands, and suffered an almost mournful pang when he was nowhere to be found.
Feel free to check out my Pinterest storyboards of all The Earth Angels books, as well as my other projects. :)