The Book of the Watchers
A warm hand brushed Luce’s face and tucked a strand of hair behind her ear.
Rolling onto her side, she yawned and opened her eyes. She had been sleeping deeply, dreaming about Daniel.
“Oh,” she gasped, feeling her cheek. There he was.
Daniel was sitting next to her. He wore a black sweater and the same red scarf that had been knotted around his neck the first time she’d seen him at Sword & Cross. He looked better than a dream.
His weight made the edge of the cot sag a little and Luce drew up her legs to snuggle closer to him.
“You’re not a dream,” she said.
Daniel’s eyes were blearier than she was used to, but they still glowed the brightest violet as they gazed at her face, studying her features as if seeing her anew. He leaned down and pressed his lips to hers.
Luce folded into him, wrapping her arms around the back of his neck, happy to kiss him back. She didn’t care about her unbrushed teeth, about her bed head. She didn’t care about anything other than his kiss. They were together now and neither of them could stop grinning.
Then it all came rushing back:
Razor claws and dull red eyes. Choking stench of death and rot. Darkness everywhere, so complete in its doom it made light and love and everything good in the world feel tired and broken and dead.
That Lucifer had once been something else to her— Bill, the ornery stone gargoyle she’d mistaken for a friend, was actually Lucifer himself—seemed impossible. She’d let him get too close, and now, because she had not done as he wished—killed her soul in ancient Egypt—he had decided to wipe the slate clean.
To bend time and erase everything since the Fall.
Every life, every love, every moment that every mortal and angelic soul had ever experienced would be balled up and discarded at Lucifer’s reckless whim, like the universe was a board game and he was a whining child giving up when he began to lose. But what he wanted to win, Luce had no idea.
Her skin felt hot as she remembered his wrath. He’d wanted her to see it, to tremble in his hand when he took her back to the time of the Fall. He’d wanted to show her it was personal for him.
Then he’d thrown her aside, casting an Announcer like a net to capture all the angels who’d fallen from Heaven.
Just as Daniel caught her in that starry noplace, Lucifer blinked out of existence and incited the Fall to begin again. He was there now with the falling angels, includ ing the past version of himself. Like the rest of them, Lucifer would fall in powerless isolation—with his brethren but apart, together but alone. Millennia ago, it had taken the angels nine mortal days to fall from Heaven down to Earth. Since Lucifer’s second Fall would follow the same trajectory, Luce, Daniel, and the others had just nine days to stop him.
Darkness everywhere, so complete in its doom it made light and love and everything good in the world feel tired and broken and dead
If they didn’t, once Lucifer and his Announcer full of angels fell to Earth, there would be a hiccup in time that would reverberate backward all the way to the original Fall, and everything would start anew. As though the seven thousand years between then and now had never happened.
As though Luce hadn’t at last begun to understand the curse, to understand where she fit into all this, to learn who she was and what she could be.
The history and the future of the world were in jeopardy—unless Luce, seven angels, and two Nephilim could stop Lucifer. They had nine days and no idea where to start.
Luce had been so tired the night before that she didn’t remember lying down on this cot, drawing this thin blue blanket around her shoulders. There were cobwebs in the rafters of the small cabin, a folding table strewn with half-drunk mugs of hot chocolate that Gabbe had made for everyone the previous night. But it all seemed like a dream to Luce. Her flight down from the Announcer to this tiny island off Tybee, this safe zone for the angels, had been obscured by blinding fatigue.
She’d fallen asleep while the others had still been talking, letting Daniel’s voice lull her into a dream. Now the cabin was quiet, and in the window behind Daniel’s silhouette, the sky was the gray of almost sunrise.
She reached up to touch his cheek. He turned his head and kissed the inside of her palm. Luce squeezed her eyes to stop from crying. Why, after all they’d been through, did Luce and Daniel have to beat the devil before they were free to love?
“Daniel.” Roland’s voice came from the doorway of the cabin. His hands were tucked inside his peacoat pockets, and a gray wool ski cap crowned his dreads. He gave Luce a weary smile. “It’s time.”
“Time for what?” Luce propped herself up on her elbows. “We’re leaving? Already? I wanted to say goodbye to my parents. They’re probably panicked.”
“I thought I’d take you by their house now,” Daniel said, “to say goodbye.”
“But how am I going to explain disappearing after Thanksgiving dinner?”
She remembered Daniel’s words from the night before: Though it felt like they’d been inside the Announcers for an eternity, in real time only a few hours had passed.
Still, to Harry and Doreen Price, a few hours of a missing daughter was eternity.
Daniel and Roland shared a glance. “We took care of it,” Roland said, handing Daniel a set of car keys.
“You took care of it how?” Luce asked. “My dad once called the police when I was a half an hour late from school—”
“Don’t worry, kid,” Roland said. “We’ve got you covered. You just need to make a quick costume change.” He pointed toward a backpack on the rocking chair by the door. “Gabbe brought over your things.”
“Um, thanks,” she said, confused. Where was Gabbe?
Where were the rest of them? The cabin had been packed the night before, positively cozy with the glow of angel wings and the smell of hot chocolate and cinnamon. The memory of that coziness, coupled with the promise of saying goodbye to her parents without knowing where she was going, made this morning feel empty.
The wood floor was rough against her bare feet. Looking down, she realized she was still wearing the narrow white shift dress she’d had on in Egypt, in the last life she had visited through the Announcers. Bill had made her wear it.
No, not Bill. Lucifer. He’d leered approvingly as she tucked the starshot into her waistband, contemplating the advice he’d given her on how to kill her soul.
Never, never, never. Luce had too much to live for.
More about the author
The sky is dark with wings . . .
And time is running out for Luce and Daniel.
In order to stop Lucifer from erasing the past, they must find the place where the Fall began. Only Luce can break the curse, and it is her choice alone that will decide all of their fates.
But as Dark Forces gather, great sacrifices will have to be made in this final, epic struggle . . .
In the fight for Luce, and for Love, who will win?
The astonishing climax to the FALLEN series. Heaven can't wait any longer.