Title: The Angel by the Tower: Book 1 of the Keeper Chronicles
Author: Marla A. White
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Gabriel wakes up naked and alone in the desert with only one clear memory–he must find Abby Campbell before it’s too late. Normally it wouldn’t be a challenge–he is her guardian angel after all. Unfortunately, a dispute with his heavenly Boss has left him busted down to a mere mortal with no wings, no powers, and no idea of exactly what he’s supposed to protect Abby from. Once he convinces Abby he’s not completely bonkers, they work together to find the key to a mysterious tower and the ancient evil locked inside. But the answers force Gabriel to choose between saving Abby and being exiled from Heaven forever.
“I’ve known Gabriel for, oh, it seems like forever. He’s such a typical man in every way except for one insignificant thing.” She paused to watch Gabriel fidget before adding, “He’s a terrible liar.”
“Evelyn, stop. Now.” The fire in Gabriel’s eyes turned them from brown to black as he tried to will her into silence. It reminded Evie of the warrior he once was, one of God’s mightiest. Her smile deepened at the memory of a time back before he gave it all up for this ridiculous guardian angel job and look where that got him. Banished and abandoned—again.
“In fact, I don’t believe he’s capable of telling a lie. If you ask him a direct question,” she turned toward Abby, encouraging her, “he’s practically compelled to tell the truth.” Except it was more than that; a guardian angel’s one weakness is they’re incapable of lying to those they watch over. Was he still angel enough despite being thrown out of Heaven for the rule to apply? It would be fun to find out.
Abby shifted uncomfortably in her chair, “Oookay, good to know. I guess. So, how long have you two known each other, anyway?” She fixed her gaze on Evie, sidestepping her trap. Well done, little girl, Evie thought as she took another delicate sip. The good thing about being a demon was the same rules about lying didn’t apply to her.
“Seem like eons—how long has it been, Gabesy?” She laughed, knowing how much he hated the nickname.
“Don’t know Evelyn, I’ve lost count. Mere numbers don’t do the time spent with you justice.”
Her smile faltered. They’d once been as close as two beings could be—did he resent the time they spent together? Or was it the exhaustion of this latest burden he’d taken on speaking? Maybe he’d find a splash of margarita refreshing. Her fingers tightened around the stem of the glass when the woman’s hand intercepted hers.
“Throwing your drink in his face will feel good for about a half a second until everyone in the restaurant is staring at you.” The woman’s voice was full of kindness and concern, two emotions Evie found nauseating. Glancing between her and Gabriel, the human continued, “It’s none of my business, but anyone can see you two have issues you need to talk out.”
“It doesn’t matter. It’s in the past.” Those great big brown eyes Evie had missed so much implored this Abby person to let it go. Instead, she reached out and touched his hand, her other hand still resting on Evie’s.
“God knows I’m no expert in the romance department, but it seems like you two have a connection.” At their pointed looks, she drew back her hands and clasped them in her lap. “I’m sorry, I know you’re my boss and I barely know you, but believe me it sucks to let something special slip away. Whatever came between you, was it as bad as you think?”
Evelyn sat back for the moment she’d been waiting for. Was Gabriel still angel enough he had to tell the truth?
After a long pause, he raised his face and shot Evie a look of coldness she hadn’t seen in a long time. “We might have had a connection once, a long time ago, but it turned out we didn’t know each other at all. All we are now are friends with a shared past.”
His words sent a shock wave through Evie. She sat there, sorting out what they meant. If he was one hundred percent angel, he could only speak the truth to Abby, and that would mean she meant nothing to him anymore. Or was he so human he could lie?
Then words came sputtering out of Gabriel’s mouth in reluctant snippets. “Evie and I…” he stammered, his teeth clenched tight to stop more words from spilling out, but it was a battle he’d already lost. “We were angels together.” So Evie had her angel back, but the victory was hollow, knowing now he was serious when he said the only thing they shared was a past.
Gabriel turned to Abby with a sigh of defeat. No longer fighting his compulsion to tell the truth, his words tumbled out in a torrent. “And yes, I mean that sort of angels. Halos, harps the whole nine yards. Even though it bent so many rules, we were in love.” His voice crackled with emotion as he continued on, a storm brewing behind those eyes. “You asked it if was as bad as I thought. When the Rebellion came, Evie chose my brother Lucifer over me.”
The stunned silence at the table was the only comfort Evie gained from his painful admission. He might still choose humans over his own kind, but Gabriel could not be friends with this one anymore. He would be as alone as she was.
After a moment, Abby cocked her head to one side, the corner of her mouth turning up into a half-smile as if she was unsure if she was being ‘punked’. “So you’re the Archangel Gabriel—”
“Not the archangel,” he interrupted, “just plain Gabriel.”
“Right, guess it was a popular name back in the beginning of time.” Abby’s disbelief made it even more amusing for Evie.
“I only know one,” she clarified for the human.
Abby sounded even more dubious as she continued on. “So you were both angels, but she got cast out making her a—”
“Demon.” Evie offered smoothly, having nothing to hide or be ashamed of.
Abby continued as if talking to a five-year-old, directing her question to Gabriel, “Which would make you—”
He bowed his head, once again trying to fight the truth from coming out, which made Evie smile even broader. “That’s a bit more complicated.”
“I’ll bet. Speak slowly, I’ll try to keep up,” Abby replied sarcastically, her patience wearing thin.
“I was a guardian angel. In fact your guardian angel until yesterday.”
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“The Angel by the Tower” takes the typical angel story and tips it on its ear. There’s the immediate mystery of how to save the world from destruction, but there’s also the bigger mystery of what did Gabriel do to get kicked out of Heaven and will he ever get to go home? And will he want to now that he’s been reunited with his demon ex-lover Evie? But there’s isn’t the only romance as life-long friends Abby and Ryan explore if there’s more to their relationship. And a dragon. Who doesn’t love a good dragon story?
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Marla White started her illustrious career as a storyteller at the age of four by drawing on the TV screen to help Winky Dink get out of mortal danger, earning her a firm spanking. Deterred by the negative feedback, she studied to be a park ranger instead until she realized it was really a TV show about park rangers she liked, not the actual outdoors. She works in television development and teaches story workshops at UCLA Extension.
Appropriately, she found out on April Fool’s Day she’d sold her first book, "The Starlight Mint Surprise Murder” to Wild Rose Press.
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