Fallen

( 9 )

Overview

At the end of the 21st century, the future of humanity hangs in the balance, caught between the radioactive waste of a half century of nuclear wars and the repressive authority of the Republic. Angels sacrifice their wings to join a secret fraternity of freedom fighters, risking classification as mutants and consignment to the Republic's slave dens. Each warrior is a volunteer, but no angel anticipates the full cost of his fall.

The Eyes of the...

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Overview

At the end of the 21st century, the future of humanity hangs in the balance, caught between the radioactive waste of a half century of nuclear wars and the repressive authority of the Republic. Angels sacrifice their wings to join a secret fraternity of freedom fighters, risking classification as mutants and consignment to the Republic's slave dens. Each warrior is a volunteer, but no angel anticipates the full cost of his fall.

The Eyes of the Republic are Everywhere.

Lilia Desjardins has never played by the rules and she isn't about to start when her estranged husband's death is declared an accident. Lilia knows Gid better than that, and if anyone is owed justice, it's the most decent man she's ever known. She leaves all she knows to risk the dark heart of the Republic-only to find that she herself has been targeted by forces unknown and that her deepest secret has not only been uncovered but will be used against her.

Adam Montgomery will do anything to complete his earthly mission and return to the existence he knows, even if he has to seduce the enigmatic Lilia Desjardins. But when his contact is murdered and he must rely upon Lilia's silence to save him from the slave dens, Adam knows that his wings might be only his first sacrifice.

As danger and intrigue surround them, Lilia and Adam realize they must work together-body, mind and soul-in order to save the world.

This new edition includes changes from the original addition, bonus content and an excerpt from Guardian.

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Product Details

  • ISBN-13: 9781927477342
  • Publisher: Deborah A. Cooke
  • Publication date: 10/27/2013
  • Pages: 372
  • Product dimensions: 5.50 (w) x 8.50 (h) x 0.77 (d)

Meet the Author

Bestselling author Claire Delacroix sold her first romance, a medieval called THE ROMANCE OF THE ROSE, in 1992. Since then, she has published more than fifty romance novels and numerous novellas. She has also written under the names Claire Cross and Deborah Cooke. THE BEAUTY, part of her successful Bride Quest series, was her first book to land on the New York Times List of Bestselling Books.

She has an honours degree in history, with a focus on medieval studies, and is an avid reader of medieval vernacular literature, fairy tales and fantasy novels. She makes her home in Canada with her husband and family. When she isn't writing, she can be found knitting, sewing or hunting for vintage patterns.

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Read an Excerpt


Chapter One

Wednesday, October 28, 2099

Lilia's plan was simple:

1. She would attend the Nuclear Darwinists' conference in New Gotham to present the award to be given in honor of Gid. Renaming the existing award had been her idea, after all, and was the perfect cover for what she really wanted to do.

2. She would discover the truth about Gid's death.

3. She would quit the Society after the award was presented, preferably with some panache.

4. She would stay out of trouble.

The last item was the only one Lilia expected to be an issue: she had only added it to her list to keep her mother happy.

Her mother didn't need to know how quickly that item had been ditched.

Lilia had only been in New Gotham for an hour and she was wearing Gid's second best pseudoskin, idling a rented Kawasaki and considering the best way to enter the old city of Gotham unobserved. Revving the bike and wasting precious canola were the least of the multiple offenses either committed or pending.

She didn't idle the bike because she was worried about breaking the law. Lilia did that all the time. Old cities were off- limits, by senatorial decree, which meant those who ventured into them had to fend for themselves. Usually Lilia welcomed that edict-it meant less interference.

What troubled her was that the guys in the bike rental place had been joking about the wolves in Central Park.

Wolves. Was it true? It was one detail she hadn't planned for. Lilia hadn't given their chatter much credence, not until there was just the muck of the Hudson between herself and Gotham.

The sight of the old city was what gave her pause.

Gotham was big, dark, and legendary-she'd known that before. In this moment, though, it crouched on the other side of the river, a blackened wreck of what had been a glittering metropolis. It was hard to imagine that once it had shone with so many lights that its illumination had obscured the stars above.

Now the stars had no competition. The steady rain and the darkness didn't do the old city any favors-it looked like hell.

Maybe it was.

Lilia was sure that Gotham wolves would be bigger, more numerous, and more nasty than most.

But rumor wasn't going to stop her. This was a one- time shot. She kicked the bike into gear and turned into the darkness of the Lincoln Tunnel. Her geiger was already ticking faster than she might have liked, which meant she was soaking up radiation faster than would have been ideal.

As she drove down the curving ramp, Lilia held her breath, hoping that the tunnel wasn't blocked. She turned onto the straightaway and the bike's high beam showed that the snaking length of the tunnel was unobstructed. There was just a couple of inches of water on the roadway and the vehicles-there must have been some-were gone.

Pilfered, most likely, and raided for parts.

Her geiger settled to a slow tick.

Lilia grinned. Her legendary good luck was holding.

She accelerated and the roar of the bike's engine reverberated in the tunnel. It felt good to ride, as good as being cut loose from a corset, as good as kicking five pounds of underskirts aside. Even better, the Kawasaki had guts.

As the darkness closed behind her, she felt a prickle of fear. Lilia didn't like darkness, never had. Logic, though, had dictated that the tunnel was the best option for entering the city. The tunnel shielded her from the radiation on approach, giving her more range once in Gotham, and it muffled the noise of the motorcycle from curious ears.

Had Gid, the king of logic, come this way?

The tunnel was long, or seemed longer than it should have been. It said something about Lilia's fear of darkness that she was relieved to emerge into the hot zone of Gotham itself. She burst from the tunnel like a bat out of hell and her geiger went wild. She had a heartbeat to note the wet road, gleaming like obsidian, before the bike tried to skid from beneath her.

Lilia swore as she corrected the skid.

The wolves chose that moment to howl.

The rumor was true.

Even better, there were a lot of them; their howls echoed one after the other. Wolf telegraph. Lilia knew enough about wolves to know that they were summoning each other as a little welcome committee.

It made sense to move fast when she looked like lunch. Her heart was pounding as she turned to race into the valleys of the old city.

Lilia wasn't unprepared for this adventure: she carried her nifty new laze, the one Joachim had bought her as a bonus for snagging the angel- shades. She'd brought Gid's old suit because even his second- string pseudoskin was a better quality than any of her own. They'd been almost the same height and if it was a little snug around Lilia's curves, well, there wouldn't be a fashion show in the old city. And her dark cape would keep the eyes of Sumptuary & Decency averted when she was in public areas.

Like the bike rental shop.

Since there were multiple hungry carnivores in her vicinity, Lilia fretted about the extra- heavy- weight- gauge mesh in the polymer of Gid's pseudoskin. How much would it slow her down? Her calculations had suffered from a small omission-would it be a fatal one?

Better not to dwell on that.

She'd memorized the map of Gotham from the archives, using a public reader to access it rather than her own palm. She'd told no one where she was going. It was a bit late for Lilia to see the parallels with Gid's last fatal trip.

She'd avoided radiation for the past two weeks to allow herself maximum time in Gotham. Even so, the required monitoring patch on her sternum was already emanating a slight glow. There was no question of turning back. The shade who had contacted her out of the blue had implied that he knew something about Gid. Lilia didn't know how to find the shade again.

It was now or never.

She drove faster. Skeletal hulks of old buildings stretched like fingers into the night sky, their height cast in impenetrable shadows. The thrum of the bike's engine echoed and was magnified, as if a herd of motorcycles had invaded the ruin. Audacious young trees pushed their way through the cracks in the pavement, as opportunistic as the wolves.

There were no lights anywhere in Gotham, but the moon was nearly full and the night was surprisingly clear. Silver light slipped into more than one apartment, creating snapshots Lilia didn't want to see. The streets were slick with water that reflected the moon and stars.

The gray dust was thick and dark over everything beyond the road, and it was probably mixed with ashes. Lilia didn't have to speculate on what those ashes might have been: she knew. They had studied the hit on Gotham at the Institute for Radiation Studies-it was, quite literally, textbook stuff. Ten million people had made their homes in the city and roughly a quarter of a million had managed to evacuate before the firestorm started.

Lilia had never thought she'd see the damage live.

Few did.

Maybe more people should see it, she thought. Maybe the Republic should offer tours. The old city of Gotham was a poster for disarmament.

Maybe that was the real reason why old cities were off- limits.

Not that Lilia was cynical about the objectives of central authority. Nuh- uh.

The odd thing about Gotham was that it seemed to be awake. Everything she could see was destroyed, broken, trashed, and abandoned, yet there was a strange watchfulness. She wasn't at all convinced that she was alone, much less unobserved.

Gotham felt sentient. Most old cities didn't have that kind of aura. Lilia had visited enough of them to know. She shivered, although she wasn't cold.

Maybe it was the wolves. Lilia was sure she saw the yellow eyes of wolves in every shadow. She was sure she heard the pad of their footfalls as they tracked her course.

But it would have been weird for wolves to have so much presence, even if they were starving.

Was someone else watching?

Or was the city haunted?

Lilia didn't want to know.

It shouldn't have been far from the end of the tunnel to her destination, but the city didn't quite look as it had when the archived map had been made. The debris piled into the streets wasn't that easily distinguishable in the dark from actual buildings in decay. Lilia took a turn, realized she'd made a mistake, turned back, and tried again.

Precious time was slipping away. She accelerated the bike even more, choosing one risk over another. Broadway and Seventh had become one cavernous pit, so Lilia made a quick U-turn. She had to retrace her course and go up Eighth, across Fiftieth, wasting precious moments.

Two blocks left, then one. She was breathing hard, perspiring beneath her pseudoskin.

It was 20:59. Was she too late?

Would she get out of Gotham alive?

Or would she die here, just like Gid?

Lilia turned the last corner to her destination, sprayed an arc of water as she skidded the bike to a halt, and stared. Unlike the rest of the city, Rockefeller Plaza was eerily similar to the way it looked in the archival photos.

But dark.

Extinguished.

Creepy. Lilia hesitated, revving the bike. The plaza appeared to be closed box, a sculpture at the far end being its focal point. There was a black hole in front of the statue, a pit of darkness that seemed to devour what little light there was.

"There's a place in Old Gotham where the shadows are darker . . ."

She remembered the shade's reedy voice all too well and her mouth went dry. His signal had been bootleg, on an unauthorized frequency, and the audio had broken up. Most people couldn't have received the signal, but Lilia had her palm tuned to pirate frequencies. Even so, his voice had sounded as if he was pinging her from another world. But then, Gotham could have been another world.

Lilia considered the plaza and didn't like the lack of exit options. She turned up the audio on her helm and heard only the pattering of rain on stone. She tried very hard to be prudent, but being prudent wasn't one of Lilia's best tricks.

Her palm chimed the hour.

It was time for the rendezvous.

She roared into the plaza.

As she drew closer, she saw that the statue at the far end still had enough of its gilding to glint in the moonlight. It depicted Prometheus, bringing .re to mortals and risking the wrath of the gods by so doing. Considering what the human race had done with that bit of technology, to Lilia's thinking the gods had good reason to be pissed off with him.

Two dark sentinels loomed on either side of the steps that descended into the darkness before Prometheus, but she didn't spare those sculptures more than a glance. Lilia parked between them at the top of the stairs.

No one was waiting there.

There was, however, something below.

That something was human in form. There had once been a pool beneath Prometheus, at the base of the stairs, and that something was on the pool's lip. He was lying on one side, but not moving.

Maybe not even breathing.

The moonlight touched the small figure, the spaces on either side of the stairs left in impenetrable shadows.

Lilia had a very bad feeling, but there was only one way to be sure. She'd come this far, and she wasn't coming back. She glanced over her shoulder and saw a line of yellow eyes closing into the shadows behind her.

So much for her luck.

She left the bike running and leapt down the stairs. Under the weight of Gid's pseudoskin, she felt as if it took half of forever to get to the bottom. The wolves, she knew, were moving faster.

Lilia was sweating furiously when she turned on the external speaker in her helm. "Y654892?"

Big surprise-he didn't answer. Lilia glanced back and found eyes glinting at the top of the steps. The wolves were drawing closer to the idling bike than she'd expected.

Hunger made them brave.

"Y654892?" Lilia shook his shoulder, because there was an off- chance that he'd settled for a doze while waiting for her.

At her touch, he rolled to his back. Even though she'd not expected anything good, Lilia screamed at what she saw.

The visor on his helm was open, as if to deliberately display the "third eye" right in the middle of his forehead. His normal eyes were staring back at Lilia, their blue irises glassy and lifeless. His skin was already puffing from the radiation exposure, his face mottled and red.

Lilia didn't scream because he was dead.

She screamed because he had been eviscerated.

Y654892 HAD been cut open from gullet to groin, then sliced crosswise from shoulder to shoulder and hip to hip. His skin was pulled open, like the doors to a secret chamber, the four corners pinned fastidiously to his patched and ancient pseudoskin. What Lilia had thought was shadow and rainwater beneath his body was actually guts and blood.

She retched when the first whiff made it through her filters. He hadn't been dead long. Lilia fought her gag reflex, having learned that hurling in one's helm is never the best choice.

She managed to control herself, then looked again. In case she'd had any doubt as to his identity, his pseudoskin had also been cut away to display the tattoo on the inside of his left forearm.

Y654892.

Point taken. He was never going to tell Lilia, or anyone else, anything about Gideon Fitzgerald.

Somehow Lilia snagged images of Y654892's mutilated body. Some routine kicked in, a learned response to document and catalog. She could thank the Institute for Radiation Studies for that much.

The wolves howled behind her, probably salivating in anticipation of the special du jour, but she tried to ignore them. She had a few moments, no more, to look for clues.

Where had the shade come from? There was no sign of his transport, which could have told Lilia a lot. She didn't have time to search for it, not with her radiation patch glowing so hot.

Y654892's bootleg palm was the best source of information. It would have been easiest to datashare with him, but Lilia couldn't bring herself to do it.

Not with a corpse.

She rationalized that she'd have to expose her own skin to release her probe and that sounded persuasive. Either way, it was infinitely preferable to use the camera in her helm to grab images of the last dozen things he'd pulled up himself, in the hope one of them was what he'd planned to share with her.

She still had to touch him to operate his palm, and that was bad enough. Standing in his blood and guts, even in the rain, just about finished her.

Lilia didn't really see the images she captured-she was too busy fighting the urge to vomit. His palm faded to nothing after she snagged the sixth image.

That was that. The last spark of electricity in his nervous system had died. The only option was to datashare, letting his palm borrow the power of hers.

Fat chance.

Time to go.

Lilia pivoted to find the first wolf descending the steps.

The big shaggy leader eyed her, and his manner couldn't have been called friendly. She held his gaze, meeting canine challenge with one of her own. He snarled. Lilia walked toward the stairs with deliberate steps, removing her cloak as she walked. She also pulled her laze.

As she climbed the stairs, he growled. The others hung back, waiting to share the spoils, or letting him do their dirty work.

Maybe wolves weren't so different from humans.

He was a mangy- looking beast, a few open sores on his back, his fur matted. He was so emaciated that Lilia could see his ribs. All he had left was determination and she felt a certain respect for that. She could have fried him, but it didn't seem fair.

They'd negotiate this the old way.

Lilia climbed another step and he descended another one. He was completely on the steps, front paws two steps lower than his hinds. It was likely to be the only advantage Lilia got.

She moved very slowly, as if hesitant, and he crouched to leap, assuming he had time on his side. Wrong. As soon as he was bent, Lilia flung her cloak over his head. She fired the laze into the pack surrounding the bike. They scattered.

Lilia ran to the bike.

The big male was faster than Lilia had expected- older and wiser, or maybe someone had played this trick on him before. He tore through her cloak in record time. He lunged and snapped at her leg, only missing because Lilia was a bit faster.

Or a bit luckier.

"So, it's true that no good deed goes unpunished." Lilia kicked him square in the chops. He stumbled, growled, and came up to fight, blood running from his chin. He leapt toward her, fangs bared.

To hell with respect. Lilia fired right into his chest.

He fell, whimpered, and shuddered one last time.

There was a smell of cooked meat and another little puddle of blood on the stone, both of which she could have done without.

The other wolves retreated to the shadows ringing the plaza, growling with dissatisfaction. Lilia lunged for the bike, her heart pounding that it took so long to get there. She didn't dare waste an instant of the pack's uncertainty.

When she rode out of the plaza, she looked back. The rest of the wolves had gotten over the shock of losing their leader: they were slipping down the stairs to partake of the feast. There wouldn't be much left of Y654892 soon.

Would they eat their leader too?

Better not to think about that.

She had one beat to feel relief and turn the bike toward the tunnel before she heard deep laughter, right in between her own ears. It came from everywhere and nowhere; it echoed inside her own thoughts.

Lilia tried to tell herself that she had picked up a stray signal, and that the frequency had somehow resonated with the speakers embedded in her helmet, producing an apparent echo in her own thoughts, but even she knew that was crap.

It was as impossible to bullshit a bullshitter as she'd always believed. What had just happened was impossible.

Alone in the old city-or maybe not quite as alone as she'd thought-Lilia panicked. She rode carelessly, pushing the bike to its max speed, intent only on getting her butt out of Gotham ASAP.

Then she went straight to the police station in New Gotham to report Y654892's murder. She was in the door of the precinct before she realized her mistake.

By then it was too late.

Excerpted from Fallen by Claire Delacroix.

Copyright © 2008 by Claire Delacroix, Inc.

Published in October 2008 by Tom Doherty Associates, LLC.

All rights reserved. This work is protected under copyright laws and reproduction is strictly prohibited. Permission to reproduce the material in any manner or medium must be secured from the Publisher.

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Customer Reviews

Average Rating 4.5
( 9 )
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Sort by: Showing 1 – 11 of 9 Customer Reviews
  • Anonymous

    Posted September 14, 2008

    Readers will appreciate this entertaining urban romantic fantasy

    In 2099, Lilia Desjardins does not believe the official declaration that her estranged spouse Nuclear Darwinist Gideon ¿Gid¿ Fitzgerald died in an unfortunate accident. She assumes there is a cover-up but hesitates to make inquiries as she knows how dangerously repressive the Republic is and how lethal life in Gotham is.-------------------- A few months earlier, FALLEN angel Adam Montgomery had his wings surgically removed so he can go undercover as a cop inside the New Gotham police department his mission is to assist Raziel, known as Rachel on this orb, save the earth. However, he is irate with Rachel as she refuses to provide him with information beyond looking for abnormalities within the police. Adam and Lilia meet at the New Gotham station when she mistakenly enters to report the eviscerated murder of Y654892. When Rachel is brutally murdered, Adam feels cut off and alone as he has no contact and no concept of the mission especially specifics. His only hope resides with Lilia, who is investigating Gid¿s death as he thinks there is a link.-------------------- Readers will appreciate this entertaining urban romantic fantasy from the moment Adam¿s wings are clipped and enters wolf laden Central Park and never slows down as Claire Delacroix paints a nightmarish future. The story line is action-packed mostly driven by the horrifically vivid bleak post nuclear war world but also to a degree by the lead couple as he now understands temptation and she hesitates to trust anyone with her ¿skins¿. Hopefully Ms. Delacroix provides future tales in this FALLEN future venue.-------

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  • Anonymous

    Posted August 5, 2008

    Most Outstanding Read!

    I'd just like to start out by saying that I absolutely loved FALLEN, the first in the fallen angel trilogy by Claire Delacroix. Set in the year 2099 in the city of New Gotham 'the old city was devastated by nuclear bombs', the hero and heroine of the story work to complete their respective missions, despite interference from the Republic, a government that rules by fear and appears to be without compassion for humanity. In this edgy world, the Republic tracks people electronically, women are forced to wear corsets and long hair to comply with decency codes, and there's a new slave society of 'shades,' humans who have genetic defects caused by radiation. It's into this gritty existence that Adam Montgomery descends, an angel who voluntarily gives up his wings in order to help humans............... Lilia Desjardins is a shade-hunter for the circus, harvesting the condemned souls before the Republic can get them and consign them to horrible fates. On a quest to learn about her husband's death, she leaves her home in the frontier and travels to the dark urban center, looking for answers. Courageous and determined, she risks radiation exposure in the old city, seems to leave a trail of dead bodies in her path, and clashes with New Gotham Police detective, Adam Montgomery. Lilia is at the same time annoyed with, and intrigued by, Montgomery, who is a by-the-book cop one moment, and a sexy rebel the next. She can't decide if he's part of the watchful Republic, or a man she can trust with her darkest secrets.................. Montgomery is also on a mission, to save humanity. When Lilia appears at the police department with 'palm' images of a dead shade from the old city, he takes notice. When he learns that she is somehow connected to his own personal investigation, he is determined to learn her secrets. As more bodies are discovered, including Montgomery's earthly contact and mentor, all the evidence points to Lilia as the murderer. Luckily, Montgomery, whose talent is reading humans, senses that Lilia is innocent............... Montgomery and Lilia must work together to figure out why she's being framed, who the real murderer is, and uncover a malevolent plot that threatens death and destruction, all while evading the watchful eye of the Republic. Their mutual attraction is present from the beginning, but as they grow closer, Montgomery and Lilia's sizzling chemistry and developing emotional connection put them in danger of caring more about each other than they should............ I highly recommend FALLEN to any reader. I typically don't read paranormal or urban fantasies, but since I like Delacroix's other work 'she also writes under Claire Cross and Deborah Cooke', I took the chance I'd like this too. And I did -- so much so that I read it in one sitting! I very much look forward to the second book in the fallen angels' trilogy.

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