Three months have passed and Melina thought she was safe. Safe from the effects of the angel powers and safe from the Noxin demons. But she thought too soon.
Just as she’s starting to enjoy her new powers and her new relationship with Lee, the slight pain she still experiences after using the powers starts to grow worse. As the pain becomes more and more unbearable, she finds herself lashing out at innocent people with unex-plained anger and hatred. Then to make matters worse, she sees a Noxin demon again.
No one, not even the elders, seems to know what’s happening to Melina, or how a Noxin demon found her. And when she’s introduced to Dean, another unique human like herself, she learns that his pain is completely gone, which only makes her situation even more con-fusing.
Grasping for any type of answer, Melina throws out one possible explanation after another. But as her angry feelings intensify, and her angel powers grow weaker, she begins to think there might be something malevolent inside her that’s trying to take over. It’s not long be-fore her internal struggle spirals out of control, and her body is turned into a battlefield that’s torn between good and evil.
Melina fears that if no solution is found, then she might lose all the people she loves, especially Lee. But what scares her even more is that she might lose herself to evil.
Ashley Stambaugh grew up in a small town in Illinois where she and her two siblings creat-ed some of the best memories playing on their family’s farm. She stayed in the southern re-gion of the state to attend college where she earned a Bachelor of Arts degree and also met her husband.
Now, she and her husband live in central Illinois and spend their time creating new memo-ries with their two rambunctious boys and their comical black Pug. She also enjoys reading, taking long walks, and finding great bargains. When her sons are a little bit older, she has a great desire to travel with her family. Oh, and she also has a slight obsession with chocolate.
When she’s not busy chasing after her two young children or losing herself in a good book, you can find her curled up on her couch with her laptop, writing.
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Melina took a sip of her coffee and gazed out at the lightly falling snow. Mesmerized by its delicate beauty, she didn't even notice when someone took a seat in the chair across the table from her.
"How’d I know you'd be sitting at a window seat?" the voice mused.
Her eyes widened in excitement as she turned and smiled at the newcomer. There sat Lee, bundled up in his black wool coat, a gray and black plaid scarf wrapped loosely around his neck, his tawny hair messed about from the wind. She leaned over and gave him a soft kiss, a slight blush reddening her cheeks. They had been together for almost three months now, but she still got flushed and giddy around him.
She turned back to look out the window again. "It's breathtaking, isn't it?"
Lee chuckled. "Yeah, snow's pretty to watch. But if you know you have to drive in it later, it loses some of its luster."
"That's why I walked here," Melina said as she pointed down at her tall, black snow boots.
He smiled at her. "I'm happy to see your Christmas gift is being put to good use."
"These put my old pair to shame. They're much warmer. I can go for a lot more walks now." Melina grinned then returned her gaze to the snow. "I'm trying to catch sight of my first snowflake. It's snowed six times this month already, and I still haven't seen one."
"I'm sure you'll have plenty of opportunities, seeing how it's only the third week of January and how much you love to watch snow." He let out another chuckle just as Nina, the owner of the café, showed up with his coffee.
She was a plump, older woman with short, spiky white hair and always had a smile on her face. "Good morning, Lee." She beamed at him as she set the steaming coffee mug down on the table. "I brought you your usual."
"Thanks, Nina," he said and then took a sip of his drink.
"You're welcome, sweetheart. You two let me know if you need anything else." She gave them both a quick wave then made her way back to the front.
Lee looked back over at Melina. "I'm sorry I'm a bit late. I know you said you wanted to get out of here before the morning crowd arrived."
"It's all right," she said, shaking her head. "We still have about twenty minutes or so before the usual rush shows up."
He held her gaze, his light brown eyes full of concern.
Melina averted her eyes down to her coffee mug. She didn't want him to pick up on her anxiety, but she must've been doing a lousy job of hiding it, because she could still feel him staring at her.
"I'm okay," she said as she lifted her eyes back up to meet his. "I'm just—" Melina's voice cut off as she suddenly let out a short cry. Her hand shot up to her head as her face contorted in pain.
"What is it? What's wrong?" He jumped up from his chair and knelt down beside her.
She rubbed at her aching forehead as she struggled to speak. "Too many… people. Too many… thoughts. My head… it feels like it's… going to explode."
Lee furrowed his brows as he stood up from his knees and glanced around the room. "There aren't even ten other people in here."
A low groan escaped her. "It feels like a hundred." She continued to massage her temple when suddenly the pain intensified. "Ahh!” she screamed as she raised her other hand up to her temple. “My head feels like it's on fire now."
He quickly threw some money onto the table then slid his arm around Melina. "Come on. Let's get you out of here." He hoisted her up from her chair, and let his arm slip up underneath hers.
"It burns! It burns!" she cried as she squinted her eyes shut. "What is going on?"
"We're almost out of here. Hang on." There was a side exit a few steps away from them, and Lee led her out through the door as discreetly as he could. Melina hated not saying good-bye to Nina, but if she saw her in this state, she would become overly concerned and cause unnecessary stress.
They stepped outside and the windswept snow caused her to turn her face into Lee's shoulder. When they were several feet away from the café, she finally lifted her head and said, "I need to stop for a minute." She released her arm from around his neck but continued to lean on him.
"Okay," he said, keeping his arm wrapped snugly around her. "I'm parked just up at the end of the block. Do you think you can make it there?"
She nodded and slid her arm up around his neck again. When they had finally reached his SUV, he helped to ease her down into the passenger seat. He shut the door for her then ran around and climbed into the driver's seat.
"What happened in there?" he asked as he started the engine and turned on the heat.