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Authors: Lisa M. Basso

A Shimmer of Angels

A SHIMMER OF ANGELS

Lisa M. Basso

For John and Jackie. Without you two I never would have put words to paper. You are loved and missed every day.

A SHIMMER OF ANGELS is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are either products of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

Copyright © 2013 by Lisa M. Basso.

A Shimmer of Angels

All rights reserved. Published in the United States of America by Month9Books, LLC. Month9Books is a registered trademark, and its related logo is a registered trademark of Month9Books, LLC.

www.month9books.com

Summary: Sixteen-year-old Rayna pretends she doesn't see angels, until students start showing up dead, forcing her to reveal what she's seen and what she knows.

ISBN 978-0-9850294-3-2 (tr. pbk) ISBN 978-0-9850294-2-5 (e-Book)

1. children’s 2. fiction. 3. fantasy. 4. A Shimmer of Angels. 5. Lisa M. Basso. 6. young adult. 7. Paranormal. 8. Angels.

No part of this ebook may be used or reproduced in any manner whatsoever without written permission, except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles and reviews.

For information, address Month9Books, LLC, PO BOX 1892 Fuquay-Varina, NC 27526.

www.month9books.com

Cover design: Stephanie Mooney

Cover art copyright©: Month9Books, LLC. 2012

eBook formatting: Studio 22 Productions

Praise for A SHIMMER OF ANGELS

“Rayna is a courageous heroine who finds herself in the middle of two gorgeous angels and a fascinating world. I look forward to more from Lisa M. Basso
!” —Karen Mahoney, author of The Iron Witch

Acknowledgements

Writing a novel is a journey the likes of which no one can truly be prepared for. It’s so much more than sitting at a desk alone. So, in honor of that, there are a few (dozen) people I’d love to thank.

First of all, I have to thank Georgia McBride for falling (pun intended) in love with this story and believing in it enough to take a chance on it and on me. These words would not be on this page, and this story may never have been shared with so many if not for you.

To my incredible editor, Mandy Schoen, who is, simply stated, a genius. Our long, back-and-forth e-mails helped keep me sane, and your incredible insights kept me afloat and pushing forward. Thank you for understanding my twisted characters and finding ways to make them shine (and lose their $#!*).

I also want to thank Courtney Koschel, Rachel Bateman, Ashlynn Yuhas, Brittany Howard, and Kelly P. Simmon. And to all of the Month9Books family, including the generous, talented, amazing up-and-coming Month9Books authors whose books I can’t wait to get in my hands and devour: thank you.

I couldn’t go on any further without thanking my mom for loving me so fiercely and showing me how far a hard-working woman can go in life. Even though we live so far away now, no distance will ever be too great for us. (P.S. so sorry for those pesky teenage years, but without them I wouldn’t be so dead-set on writing for Young Adults.)

Thanks Dad, for taking care of me, always being there, and for passing on a seriously unique (and sort of messed up) sense of humor.

And, of course, Randy, for encouraging me to take that big step and finish my first novel, for pushing me when I need it and letting me work when and where ever the muse strikes. Thank you for being my rock. You truly are the love of my life, and I still can’t believe how lucky I am.

To Lesley Jones, my unbelievably awesome, go-to writerly friend who is always there when I need an ear no matter how busy you might be. For all the e-mails, chats, brainstorming sessions, hours of gaming and giggling, and most importantly the crazy cat-lady silliness. Never, never change, and keep reaching for the stars.

I’d also like to thank my fabulous critique partner, Katee Robert, for helping me along on this crazy writing journey, and for letting me share in those thrilling, smexy stories of yours.

Terry, Danny, and Katie Gripton, my second family, for taking me in so long ago when I felt lost, and for letting me keep coming back (and not just for a summer or two).

My dear Andrea Creighton, the truest, most dedicated friend any girl could ask for—the kind that freaks out (in a good way) when you tell her you’re going to be published, and inspires me to be sillier every day.

A huge thank you to the readers. Without your extreme good taste, I wouldn’t be here in this amazing position. To my blog and Twitter friends, my breaks revolve around you and your crazy antics. To everyone I may have forgotten, and everyone to come, thank you, thank you, thank you.

A SHIMMER OF ANGELS

Lisa M. Basso

Chapter One

Doctor Graham said I was in remission the day he signed my release papers, and I believed him. God knows, I wanted to believe him. Armed with three prescriptions and an outpatient schedule requiring weekly visits with a counselor, I’d left, because anything was better than that place.

The thing about beliefs? Even the strongest can be shattered by the simplest of things.

Hallucination-free for six months now, I should have expected it wouldn’t last. And judging by the golden-haired boy across the street—the one sporting the curved wings—remission had just become a fond and distant memory.

I squeezed my eyes closed.
Please don’t be real. Please don’t be real.
My heart sputtered and cold disbelief coiled around my lungs, reminding me that pleading never worked. So I sucked in a breath and opted for common sense instead
. Angels don’t exist. They never had
. Dr. G had made me see that during our therapy sessions. And yet, three months, twelve days, and fifteen hours after my release, there they were. Again.

I used to see them all the time—winged beings, walking around. They were the cause of my frequent, thirty-day stints at the Sunflower Serenity Mental Health Clinic—or the SS Crazy, as I called it—over the past three years. But they were just projections of an unstable mind. I understood that now. I pulled in a slow breath and forced my eyes open.

I felt stupid relieved to find the wings gone, the guy they’d belonged to swallowed up by the crowd outside the window. I would have laughed at my foolishness had my pulse not been jumping. It was a slip, nothing more. The first in months.

A plastic cup bounced off the black-and-white checkered floor, pulling me back to the hectic shuffle of the diner. Waitresses scrambled to talk, shouting over the louder patrons. Exhausted-looking parents wrestled with squirming kids, shoveling food down their throats before dropping them at school. It was Heaven compared to the silence of a mental institution’s cell, and nowhere near as … colorful as mealtimes with the clinically insane.

“This place is crazy busy.” Lee leaned across our table, his bony elbows bumping the salt shaker on one side, his empty hot chocolate mug on the other. “Are you sure you want to work here?”

Leland Alexander Kyon—spiky-haired beanpole and geek extraordinaire—was not only a total dork, but the best friend I’d ever had. He knew me better than anyone, and if he thought this was a bad idea, I probably should have listened.

“Well, I need a job. My dad says kids today should learn the value of a dollar.” I laid the back of my hand over my forehead and sighed dramatically, mostly to distract him from the way my knee kept bouncing against the underside of the table and the trembling of my fingers set against my own mug of hot chocolate. “So Laylah and I are destined for a life of diner servitude and bad tips.”

It wasn’t a total lie. Dad’s tech job paid well, but my stints at the SS Crazy had resulted not only in my restored sanity, but also huge medical bills. Dad swore it hadn’t affected our financial situation, but I knew he wasn’t being straight with me. It was the little things: the off-brand cereal, the badly patched uniform skirt Laylah had worn every day for a week, even the way he emptied the swear jar every Saturday morning before we’d get up. My family was hurting, and it was my fault. Besides, there was college to think about. I couldn’t let Dad take out loans for me. Not after everything I’d put him through.

Too bad neither Dr. G nor Dad agreed with me that I should have a job. Something about the risk of stress-induced relapse. But Dr. G didn’t have to worry about college. He’d already put his son and daughter through grad school.

I probably could’ve chosen any old job, but I wanted something that would make me feel normal again. And what’s more normal than a waitress at the all-American Roxy’s Diner?

I straightened the silverware over my folded paper napkin, making sure the bottoms of the fork and knife lined up, even as I inched the spoon up to balance the difference in length. A toddler in a highchair across the aisle screamed and flung his chocolate milk at the floor, dousing a passing waitress in a wave of brown, milky rain. I tensed, my fingers knocking the silverware askew.

Lee and I watched the mother send the poor waitress scampering for a milk refill. He shook his head. “Whatever, Ray. It’s your sanity.”

I froze, cutting him a shocked glance. I’d never told Lee about the sanitarium. His mention of my sanity was merely Lee being Lee. Unless he suspected … But he wasn’t looking at me, turning instead to dig some cash from his book bag.
He doesn’t know how messed up you are,
I reminded myself.
And he won’t if you just
breathe, act normal.
I hated keeping the truth from him, but I hated the thought of him knowing it even more. He was the only friend I had, and I intended to keep him.

Lee tossed a five on the table. “Just remember what I told you: stay positive.” He leaned back in his seat and crunched down on a dark piece of sourdough toast. “Perky wouldn’t hurt, either.”

I speared him a glance. “Perky? Really?”

“Darlin’?” Our waitress called, her voice grating like sandpaper. Weathered laugh lines and crows’ feet defined an otherwise pretty face. “You still interested in the job?”

I nodded and murmured, “Wish me luck.”

Lee shot me a double thumbs-up.

I followed the waitress to a booth by the window. She angled for the seat facing the back of the building, which would leave me the seat with a clear view out the front window, where angel-guy had been. There was no way I’d let the possibility of seeing another set of imaginary wings doom this interview. I moved quickly, sliding in behind the waitress to claim her seat.

The back wall of the café was blissfully wing-free. I let out a small breath.
See? You can do this.

“Have a seat,” the waitress invited, her voice sharp with sarcasm as she took the seat across from me. My face flushed with embarrassment as she examined me, much the same way Dr. G had so many times. Like there was something not quite right with the person across from her.

Nerves turned my stomach, and I wrung my hands together under the table. During my time at the facility, I’d learned that when you’re wearing a smile, it’s easier to pass yourself off as happy. As
normal
. So I flipped the happy switch I’d been perfecting. The corners of my mouth fluttered as I tried to hold a smile that wasn’t as convincing, or as solid, as it used to be.

Pull it together, Ray
.
Normal kids hold down jobs, and you’re
normal now.

The name tag pinned to the waitress’s pink-and-white frilly uniform read “Daphne.” She leaned across the table to flick a crumb to the floor, and I noticed the dark line of a hairnet behind her ear. And I’d thought the nude stockings and white nurse’s shoes were the worst part of the uniform.

“Can you tell me about the job?”

Daphne slapped her notepad down on the green-and-pink speckled tabletop. “We open at six every morning. We close at ten, midnight on weekends. The work is hard, the tips are crap, and the neighborhood gets rough after dark.”

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