Genre: YA Supernatural
Word Count: 52,000
Seventeen-year-old Nanette Dunston has taken her own life, hoping to find the peaceful and pain-free existence she imagined heaven would bring. Instead, she finds herself trapped between periods of utter darkness and visions of a fourteen-year-old girl named Vera. Nanette has no idea why she's following Vera around her high school until she meets Warren, who explains that both he and Nanette are Guardians, angels assigned to protect the living. In order for Nanette to pass from angelhood to sainthood, she must keep Vera from committing the same sin she did—taking her own life.
Unfortunately, Nanette is no Clarence Oddbody, angel second class. She’s bitter, she’s a teenager, and not only does she not have her wings yet, she has no tangible body or voice with which to persuade Vera her life is worth living. In addition to seeing the tragedies in Vera’s life, Nanette remembers the horrors of her own: the failure of her parents’ marriage, the rejection slip from her dream college, and the fact she killed her best friend.
Frustrated by her inability to reach out to Vera and haunted by her old memories, Nanette wants to give up, but then she sees what happens when another Guardian at the high school surrenders. A Death Shadow enters the school cafeteria, finds the fallen angel, and with its thirteen tongues of flame swallows the fallen angel into the fiery pits of hell. If Nanette’s going to ever find peace in the afterlife, she’ll have to find a way to protect both herself and Vera from the Shadows.
Getting the gun is easy. Mom’s never tried to hide it from me and my sister. As soon as Dad moved out three years ago, she bought it for our “protection.”
In her bedroom, I slide open the top dresser drawer and pull out an old skeleton key hooked to an angel key ring. At the foot of Mom’s bed, I kneel in front of Grandma’s old cedar chest. I run my fingers over the rose design that disguises the keyhole. After slipping the skeleton key in, I turn it and listen for the click. It’s easy to hear in the empty house.
The heavy lid creaks as I open it, and a faint cedar scent greets me. When I was little, Mom told me that cedar chests were supposed to hold a woman’s most treasured items before and after she married—lace tablecloths, fine linens, dresses, photos. We don’t have much of that. Instead, Mom has filled Grandma’s old cedar chest with Cecille’s and my old report cards and baby books, a lock of chestnut hair from my first haircut, the First Communion dress both Cecille and I wore, and our baptismal candles. I dig deeper. Somewhere in this chest is a shoebox. And in that shoebox is a .38 snub-nosed revolver wrapped in a kitchen towel.