by Jo Noelle
Cassie is going to heaven—if she can get amnesty from hell in the next twenty days. Her assignment is to change the eternal destination of a girl in Albuquerque to earn admittance into heaven.
But when Cassie returns to earth during her three-week, mostly-mortal assignment, her old habits get in the way, (apparently habits don’t die when you do), the partners assigned to help her are anything but helpful, and it turns out the girl she is supposed to help is the only enemy she made on her first day of school.
Oh, I’m so going to hell.
Things aren’t all bad—it helps to have a hot angel on your side. Mmm-Marc. Even though he’s all about heavenly business, Cassie would like to make it personal.
Assignment with benefits.
This young adult novel is a coming of age story with a clean romance, packed with action and suspense.
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Moments blink like snapshots flashing on a screen. Bright lights strain against the passenger windows that crumble away as my vision blurs—like a 3-D movie without glasses. A hazy glow radiates around my hands, fingers strangling the steering wheel. Before my head snaps back against the headrest, I look up at the mirror and catch a glimpse of Korbin in the back seat, a pale light glows around him—an aura? His soul releases and whispers away.
“No,” screams through my mind, but the word dies behind my lips.
Momentum—the car down rolling down the riverbank, crushing the roof, blasting glass shards against my cheek, neck, shoulder, and chest—lays the VW to rest in the stream. That’s when Reece’s soul leaves, easing out as she hangs limply toward me from her seat belt. Someone stop this. She can’t die. My heart races. Someone save her. With my mind thick and syrupy, struggling to reopen my eyes, I blink slowly. Reece’s blood swirls through the water, puddling in the roof. Let her live. Take me. The keys in the ignition rock back and forth, tapping against the steering column and each other. Click, click. Then nothing. The smell of hot tires and gasoline rides along my shallow breath, leaving an oily taste in the back of my throat. I try to swallow, but can’t.
Mom and Dad sit close to the broken window beside me, unaffected by the icy water flowing around them. Some part of me wants to cry and crawl into their arms, and another part wants them to leave, not to see me this way, but somehow they know I need them. Are they really here? Maybe if I could touch their faces or feel their fingers wrap around mine—my hand reaches for their wavering ghostly images, then falls helplessly toward the door.
“Cassie.” Mom’s head sags and her shoulders shake, her hands covering her face. She was never much of a crier, even watching movies, while Dad and I turned our faces and stealthily swiped away the tears before they could run down our cheeks. But now she isn’t strong and Dad’s arms circle her, pulling her gently away and holding her up as she reaches toward me. “I would take you with me if I could, baby.”
Though Dad whispers in her ear, I hear his voice pierce my mind. “We can’t interfere.” Then his attention turns to me. “We’re here. It’s what we can do. Everything’s okay, Cassie.” Does he mean okay, I’ll live, or okay, I’ll die? Dying is not okay.
My soul hovers, still tacked to a faint pulse, looking down at my body as if I’m separate from myself. Blonde curls fall in tangles and cling to the bloody gash in my forehead. Wind blows through the broken windows, freezing my skin and eyes, drying the blood on my face and arms. A burning sensation, like coals deep within my bones, shoots out to my muscles and runs along my skin.
It’s disorienting to watch myself, bleeding and bent, like watching someone else. I’m dead. That thought solidifies as the terrifying prospect becomes more real. The airbag lies limply between me and the steering wheel pressing into my chest. A bone in my left leg has pierced my jeans. I continue to survey myself, and the damage is staggering.
Time gasps, and in the next moment red, blue, and white lights skitter against the rocky canyon wall and slide across the ice and snow around us as police and EMTs arrive, their faces grim. They want to save us.
The car lurches. My soul crushes back into my body. Tight. Confined. Reanimating each cell. Frigid air burns my lungs, then rushes out in a howl as life scorches through me, enlivening each fracture and wound.
Author Jo Noelle
Jo Noelle grew up in Colorado and Utah but also spent time in Idaho and California. She has two adult children and three small kids. She teaches teachers and students about reading and writing, grows freakishly large tomatoes, enjoys cooking especially for desserts, builds furniture, sews beautiful dresses, and likes to go hiking in the nearby mountains. Oh, and by the way, she’s two people—
Canda Mortensen and Deanna Henderson, a mother/daughter writing team.
They began writing separately several years ago but found the process much more fun when they started collaborating. They are debut authors, with Lexi’s Pathetic Fictional Love Life as their first completed work. Other titles include Newbie and Damnation.
Deanna attended college before marrying and starting her family.
Canda received a Bachelor’s degree in Elementary Education, a Reading Specialist endorsement, and a Master’s degree in Educational Leadership. Her day job focuses on teaching teachers and children about literacy.
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