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Born in Twilight - An Excerpt

The Wings in the Night relaunch continues with book 5, Born in Twilight dropping about 36 hours from this writing on Tuesday, August 23rd.

Here is the opening scene of this bigger, thicker, lusher Wings in the Night novel. At the end there's button to click you through to the page with the blurb, all the order links, and the rest of the series. Paperback coming to Amazon any day now.





“I am damned. I am damned. I am damned.”

Those words were the only ones I could utter as I stumbled through the city streets that first night of my new life. My hair was in tangles, my clothes torn and dirty. Passersby looked at me and then quickly looked away, their eyes flashing with alarm—or was it contempt?— as their steps altered to give me a wide berth. It was as if they knew.

I’d been on the right path. Or I thought I had. Perhaps I’d been a bit too confident in my righteousness. Pride goeth before a fall, after all. But surely the sin of pride didn’t warrant this severe a retribution. Surely it hadn’t been the hand of God that brought me this low.

No. No, God had nothing to do with it, nor Satan himself, but a monster—a creature far more hideous than even Lucifer in all his evil glory could ever be.

For thirteen years I’d been as pure and as holy as I envisioned the very angels to be. From the darkest night of my life—the night my mother had left me at the altar at St. Christopher’s, promising she’d come back for me soon—I had done only good. Though I’d barely been old enough to know good from bad then, a nine-year-old child abandoned by her mother learned quickly enough. If I were only good enough, perhaps she would come back for me.

She hadn’t. But it had only served to convince me that I hadn’t been good enough. It only served to make me strive to be better.

The sisters had raised me well, taught me all they knew of the ways of truth and righteousness for His name’s sake. And I hadn’t left them when I’d come of age, but instead, had clung to the refuge I’d found among them.

My final vows would have been spoken a week from that horrible night. Just one more week. And I wondered, for just a moment, if I’d have been safe from the monster had I taken the veil sooner. Would my devotion have protected me then?

“I am damned,” I muttered again, this time sinking to the steps of a beautiful cathedral. I didn’t gaze up at the spires, or wonder at the beauty of the stained-glass windows. I couldn’t. When I looked at the colors, my monstrous eyes refused to linger on the heavenly blues and greens and golds. They focused instead on the bits of scarlet-colored glass, and on those alone. That color caused a hunger to stir in the depths of my soul, a sinful hunger, one I could not—would not—assuage.

I’d gone out alone that wintry night, despite the sisters’ dire warnings....


My soft-soled shoes made squeaking sounds as I raced down the steep wooden stairs from my cell. I was in a hurry to be off. It was snowing outside! The first snow of the winter, and how I loved it. I’d been pacing my chamber, unable to concentrate on my studies, or much of anything else for that matter. All I seemed able to do was glance at the small, white-faced clock on my wall and scowl at its slow ticking, before turning back to my single window to gaze longingly out at the snow.

We were not a cloistered order, exactly. We did go out among the worldly, but only in service to the Lord or when Mother Mary Ruth saw it as absolutely necessary. Tonight, it was my turn to work at the shelter several blocks away. And while I knew I should be rejoicing at the opportunity to serve God by helping my fellow man in his time of need, I wasn’t. I was rejoicing in the opportunity to go out in the brand-new snow.

I pulled a light shawl over my habit, which was a simplified version of the ones the true sisters wore. I’d have one like theirs soon—in just over a week, when I took my solemn vows.

My steps faltered as I reached the bottom of the staircase and saw Sister Rebecca, who was to accompany me to the shelter, leaning against the newel post and looking sickly.

“Sister, what’s wrong?” I rushed forward, my heart sinking as much at the thought of having to stay in tonight as at the thought of Sister Rebecca being ill. We always worked in pairs at the shelter, always traveled there and back together.

“Stomach virus, or so I suspect,” she replied. She was young, like me. It had been only a year since she’d taken her final vows, and I sometimes thought it was a shame she’d never married or had children, as lovely as she was. And as I thought it a small, niggling doubt tried to creep into my brain, but I shook it off. This was the only life I’d ever known. I remembered almost nothing from before my mother left me here. I wouldn’t know how to live among the worldly. Besides, I wanted to be good. And there wasn’t a better way, was there?

“Don’t worry,” Sister Rebecca said, valiantly lifting her chin and trying to paste a smile over her grimace. “I’m not going to beg off. You’ve been looking forward to this all day.”

Had I been so obvious? I averted my face. “No, Sister Rebecca. I won’t have you going out when you feel so poorly. You should be in bed.” I pressed a hand to her forehead and felt heat there. Then I turned her around and helped her toward the stairs. “Now go on upstairs and rest. I can certainly tend to the needs of the homeless without a partner on the verge of collapse.”

She stiffened, as I’d feared she would. “You will most certainly not go out alone! You know the mother superior’s rules.”

“Surely she’d make an exception of she knew you were sick. She’d never insist you go with me.”

“She’d insist you stay home.”

“Lucky for me she’s not here, then.”

Sister Rebecca shook her head slowly. “Look at you! Your eyes are sparkling tonight. What has you so excited, Angelica?”

“The snow,” I said, spinning around and stopping when I faced the window and could see the snowflakes pirouetting in the glow of the streetlights outside. “I want to be in it. I want to feel it on my face.”

Her soft hand came down on my shoulder. “There will be other snow.”

“But this is the first,” I said, and I faced her once more. “Please let me go. I’m a grown woman. Grown women traipse about this city by themselves every day.”

‘‘Not women of this order,” she began.

“Well, technically, I’m not of this order...yet. So I can do what I want.”


I stopped on my way to the door, and turned to face her.

She smiled, and I saw the fever in her pink cheeks and shining eyes. One strand of golden hair had escaped her wimple and curled against her cheek. “You’re a very strong-willed young woman, Angelica,” she said, but her smile remained. “And adventurous, and more than a little bit mischievous. I often wonder if you’ve given enough thought to the decision you’ve made.”

But I only shrugged. “I’m going to the shelter. Mother superior can lecture me when she returns, but until then. I’m going out in the snow.”

She nodded as if in defeat. “Hurry, then. Don’t miss your bus. If you do, you come straight back here—” But I was already out the door.

Oh, the snow! I’d always loved winter. I tipped my face up to let the icy, wet flakes fall against my cheeks and my nose. And even tasted them the way a small child might do. They coated everything I passed, like powdered sugar on parked cars and sidewalks and windowsills and front stoops. I dawdled, because it enchanted me so. I remember thinking it was like magic, that first snow of the winter—like a fairy tale come true. And I remember telling myself that I was far too old to be so giddy over a simple thing like snow—dancing in it like a little girl. But I couldn’t help myself. I was giddy. 

And wrong, I was wrong to have come out alone, blatantly breaking the rules of the order. But I’d done so often enough in the past that the sisters must surely expect it by now. I disliked rules. I’d probably have to change my rebellious ways and conform a bit better once I took my vows, but I refused to do so until then.

After that...

Again, that shiver of doubt. Again, I shook it away. I’d think about that later. Not now. All I wanted to do right now was walk alone at night, breaking the rules with every step, and enjoy the snow.

And that is precisely what I did. When I finally reached the bus stop on the corner though, it was only to see my transportation rolling away without me.

It threw me, but only for a moment. After all, I was almost a sister of the Order of the Sisters of Mercy. I was good. I lived my life serving God, and surely no one else did so with such enthusiasm as I. Certainly, wherever I went I was walking within the protection of His love. In fact, I’m sure I felt invulnerable, though where I got that idea, I do not know. It was not something the sisters would have taught me, not something I’d read in my studies. But I felt it, all the same. I felt surrounded by a protective shield that would let no harm come to me, and because of it, I foolishly decided to walk the six blocks to the shelter. And that, I later realized, was the foolish pride that led to my downfall.

He was waiting, crouched in the shadows of a garbage-strewn alley. The monster called out to me as I passed, and my steps slowed to a reluctant stop. What a fool I was.

“Sister! Sister, please, help me.”

My beloved snow fell in gentle puffs as I turned to look into the darkness, unable to see the owner of that plaintive voice. I stood a little straighter, feeling a hint of fear for the first time. “Who’s there?” I called. “Come here, where I can see you.”

“I can’t. I’m hurt. Please, Sister. Don’t let me die here in the cold. Help me!”

My fear did not evaporate. It was simply outspoken by my unwavering confidence. I was a servant of the Lord, and I would walk where even His most trusted angels feared to tread, if that were what was necessary. I’d help this poor soul in the alley. But I’d be careful, cautious, wise. Tentatively, I stepped into the blackness, and an icy shiver raced up my nape, chilling me right to my soul. I should have known, oh, I should have known right then not to go a single step farther.

“Over here,” he moaned, drawing me closer. Closer, until the lighted, busy street was out of reach. And when I was close enough, still blind in the darkness, he came at me. Bony arms with the strength of Samson closed around me, nearly crushing me, and a hand clapped over my mouth. I struggled. Mightily, I struggled. For though devout, I had never been timid or weak, or cowardly. I kicked him with a force that surely should have broken his shins. And I boxed his ears hard enough to knock him unconscious, I twisted and pulled against his grip, and tried to bite the hand over my mouth. But nothing I did to him seemed to have any noticeable effect. He didn’t flinch, or even draw a harsh breath. My heart pounded so loudly it deafened me as he dragged me deeper into the alley. Silently, I began praying for, salvation from this madman, praying for my life to be spared. Lord, forgive me for that error. I should have been praying for my immortal soul, not the preservation of this life, this body.