ISBN 10: 0373210418 / ISBN 13: 9780373210411
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The choices I had made led to the moment when fate took over.
I would learn a lesson I wasn't prepared for.
And Death would be my willing teacher.

Five years ago Abbey Chandler cheated Death. She survived a horrific car accident, but her lucky break came at the expense of her mother's life and changed everything. After she crossed paths with Death--by taking the hand of an ethereal boy made of clouds and sky--she would never be normal again.
Now she's the target of Death's Ravens and an innocent boy's life is on the line. When Nate Holden--Abbey's secret crush--starts to climb Alaska's Denali, the Angel of Death is with him because of her.
Abbey finds out the hard way that Death never forgets.

Vom Autor: Excerpt from ON A DARK WING:



Abbey Chandler

Palmer, Alaska

I had countless excuses for missing the bus that afternoon, five years ago. In the grand scheme of the universe, what was five minutes? I could have carved out five minutes from talking to my friends after school or taken five minutes off my stop at the 7-Eleven. Three hundred lousy seconds to grab a Pepsi and a bag of Cheetos. No big deal, right? When I saw the school bus pull away from the curb from across the street, I didn't even run to catch it.

In the endless dreams I've had since then, I never run for that bus. Not once.

Even in my sleep, I couldn't change what I did. It felt like my feet were stuck in cement. It had been way too easy to reach into my backpack and make a call on my cell phone--a call that changed my life forever. The choices I made that day, all of them led to that one moment when the school bus drove off and fate took over. I would learn a lesson I wasn't prepared for.

Death would be my willing teacher.

All the strangest parts of my memory lingered to taunt me. Not the pieces I needed most. Guess that was my punishment. My memory had holes, a damaged and wounded thing.  No amount of therapy or hypnosis or father daughter talks has ever shed light into those dark corners.

Dad says he doesn't blame me, but I can't see how that's true. I blame me. I can't even look at him without feeling my own guilt and shame. I'm stuck where I am, unable to move on. I sure as hell can't go back and fix it. So I did the only thing I could.

I quit talking about it. I had to. 

I should've been the one who died. It should have been me. I cheated Death and lived past my expiration date, but my lucky break would come at a price. I'd become obsessed with what happened the day I got my mother killed.

Guess you could say I was dying to know the truth.


Five Years Ago

"This is the third time this month that you missed the afternoon bus, Abbey."

"But Mom, it wasn't my fault." I strapped the seat belt across my chest as my mother pulled our SUV from the curb and headed for the Parks Highway. "I was reading in the library and I lost track of time. I swear."

The sun had already gone down for the day. A steady chill settled into the night air. In Alaska, that's how the dark side of the year happened. The days were short, making everyone crave sleep. The long summers made up for it, but in the dead of winter, it felt like life had been put on hold. If you didn't get outside at lunch, you missed any hope of seeing daylight before darkness played the bully and took over.

"Oh, yeah? You were reading, huh." Mom gave me that look--the one that said she wasn't buying it. "What were you reading, hot shot?"

When Mom turned onto the highway that headed home, I rattled off a book title that I knew she'd never read. I guess lying came naturally, like a rite of passage or something.

"How were the Cheetos?" she asked.


"Your fingers are a dead giveaway, Abbey. You were at the 7-Eleven, weren't you? Is that why you didn't make the bus?"

I looked down at my hands. Even in the dim glow off the dash, I saw my fingertips were colored. Like, seriously neon orange. My mind raced with what I'd tell her, but I never got the chance. I looked up a split second before it happened.

I never even screamed.

On pure instinct, my body grew rigid. When I braced a hand against the dash, Mom looked at me. An eighteen-wheeler had crossed the center lane veering straight for us. I couldn't even warn her. If Mom hadn't turned her head in time, and yanked the steering wheel right, we would've hit that monster truck head on.

On impact, the high-pitched grind of tearing metal punished my ears. Our SUV flipped and rolled. As our windshield caved and shattered, shards of glass cut my face and hands. All I saw were flashes spiraling in front of me like I'd been strapped into a roller coaster barreling straight down a dark track, twisting and turning in agonizing jerks. My seat belt pinned me. When the dashboard crushed into my chest, everything else caved in, too. The crash happened so fast, yet went on forever. When the SUV finally came to a dead stop, an eerie quiet settled in.

My ears were ringing and when my eyes blinked open again, I saw the blur of the dash, fogged by wafting smoke. The headlights off the eighteen-wheeler caught smoldering debris and suspended it in the rig's beams. I felt a sudden urge to move, but I couldn't. When the warm taste of blood filled my mouth, something felt seriously wrong.

Momma. me.

I searched for her, but couldn't move my head. I didn't even sense her next to me. I felt alone, cocooned in pain and deepening shadows. How long I lay there shivering, I didn't know, but eventually I sensed something that, to this day, I have never forgotten.

A strong presence filled the SUV.

Soothing heat replaced the numbing cold that had settled in my bones. It made me want to close my eyes and sleep, but a strange urgency wouldn't let that happen. I strained to stay awake and searched the shadows, waiting for a glimpse of something...anything to explain the eerie feeling.

After an intense light stabbed my eyes and sent a shock of pain down my spine, I saw movement. Something eclipsed the truck's headlights. It drifted toward me, inching closer until it hovered over my body. The brilliant glimmer swept over me and through me. Even though I could see through it, the light took shape and substance. The ghostly flicker turned into a body with arms and hands...and finally a face.

A boy's face.

I was only ten, but he looked older, like a high school boy. He had the most intense eyes that I'd ever seen. Beautiful. They were deep blue and reminded me of the frigid depths of the ocean. His eyes were the only real color on his face, but that wasn't the most incredible thing about him. White tufts undulated and billowed within the boundaries of his filmy body, beautiful and peaceful. He conjured memories of a perfect summer day with me lying on my back on a grassy hilltop, picturing animal shapes in the drifting white clouds.

When I shifted my gaze back to his eyes, I saw a long tunnel with a glimmering light at the end of it, a light eclipsed by the vague shapes of bodies undulating on a watery surface. Those wavering images calmed me. At that moment, I felt a part of them, as if I belonged. He comforted me in a way no one ever had.

The boy fascinated me. I must have had the same impact on him. He stared at me with such concentration that it looked as if he were memorizing my face. Who are you? I wanted to ask, but I couldn't make my lips work.

When he reached out his hand, a strong impulse made me take it.

"A-Abbey?" My mother's choked whisper broke his spell over me.

I pulled from his grasp and shut my eyes as the haunting sound of her voice held me without even a touch. Oh, Momma. In the many nightmares that would follow, her voice would punch through the allusion of that strange boy and slap me with the harsh reality of what I'd done. That would be the last time I ever heard my mother's voice.

She died that day because of me and I had a hollow ache deep inside that left me grieving over something I could never change.

Five minutes.

Five minutes would have meant everything.


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