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HIGHBORN
HIGHBORN
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BOOK DETAILS

Yvonne gives an overview of the book:

EVERYONE DESERVES A SECOND CHANCE. BRYNNA MALAK MIGHT BE THE EXCEPTION TO THE RULE. Brynna is a fallen angel trying to earn redemption. She’s escaped from Hell in search of a new life on Earth, but Lucifer’s deadliest hunters are hot on her trail. Police Detective Eran Redmond is after her for a different reason: he needs Brynna to help him find a serial killer who is terrifying Chicago . . . and the trail leads them right to Hellspawned demons of the most dangerous kind. She’s also got a very human problem: dealing with a stubborn, attractive cop who makes her long for everything she knows she can’t have. Staying alive long enough to earn a shot at Heaven will mean breaking some major rules in the mortal world, as she learns just how complicated and wonderful being human can be. With so much stacked against her, even Brynna has to wonder if she’s crazy....
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EVERYONE DESERVES A SECOND CHANCE. BRYNNA MALAK MIGHT BE THE EXCEPTION TO THE RULE.

Brynna is a fallen angel trying to earn redemption. She’s escaped from Hell in search of a new life on Earth, but Lucifer’s deadliest hunters are hot on her trail. Police Detective Eran Redmond is after her for a different reason: he needs Brynna to help him find a serial killer who is terrifying Chicago . . . and the trail leads them right to Hellspawned demons of the most dangerous kind. She’s also got a very human problem: dealing with a stubborn, attractive cop who makes her long for everything she knows she can’t have.

Staying alive long enough to earn a shot at Heaven will mean breaking some major rules in the mortal world, as she learns just how complicated and wonderful being human can be. With so much stacked against her, even Brynna has to wonder if she’s crazy. But she’s not giving in without a fight.

Not a chance in Hell. . . .

Read an excerpt »

One

A butterfly saved her.

Being what she was, she’d always been partial to anything with wings, and the fireball missed her only because she leaned sideways to look at the creature where it was balanced on the back of a park bench in Chicago’s Lincoln Park. Two inches wide at best, the butterfly was orange and yellow, plus a couple more colors that never registered because of the agony that suddenly ran up one arm and nearly spread to her neck and jawline.

A Hunter had already found her!

She dropped forward and rolled away from the next fireball, then scrambled around and behind the bench. A third fireball, small and white-hot, arced across the space in which she’d been standing only a second before, then disintegrated against a massive old tree. It made a sound like a fast-moving forest fire, then instantly burned out, leaving a smoking, circular scar on the tree’s thick trunk. On its heels was a scream from a woman who had come around the bend in the path just in time to see the miniature blast.

Good. Getting humans involved would put the balance on her side, give her a chance to escape while her pursuer was forced to hide. He wouldn’t kill her, but it was glaringly obvious he was going to have fun hurting her before he dragged her back.

Like she was ever going to let that happen.

It wasn’t difficult to lose herself in the trees off the path while the Hunter tried to follow without being seen. Once he made it into the trees, she could hear her attacker crashing after her, and all it took to leave him behind was stealth—he was overconfident and noisy; she was neither. She stayed close to the ground, almost on all fours, and moved as fast as she could, intentionally weaving in and out of the populated areas. In these she was barely more than a blur that made passersby frown and blink, and when she got to the edge of a body of water next to a sign that said SOUTH POND, she sucked in air and slipped into the warm mud- and leaf-choked liquid without hesitating. She didn’t breathe for a long, long time, swimming blindly away from the danger and coming up like an alligator at the water’s edge several hundred feet later, slow and cautious as only the top of her head and her eyes broke the surface.

She was safe.

For now.

SHE WASHED HER FACE and hands at a water fountain in the park, then pulled clean water through her hair until she felt reasonably presentable. Water was such an amazing thing—refreshing and clear, sweet against her skin despite the chemicals added by the city’s processing system. Although she hadn’t been able to stay and appreciate it, she’d even enjoyed the dirty, slightly polluted water in the pond.

Quickly moving west and away from the upscale lakefront area, she found some clothes hanging on a line in a small backyard. In this world of modern conveniences, she didn’t think people did that anymore—hang clothes out to dry—but perhaps this person wanted the smell of fresh air in the fabric. To her sensitive nose, Chicago’s exhaust-choked air wasn’t truly fresh, but people here were used to it.

Taking the simple T-shirt and denim jeans and the worn pair of athletic shoes she found by the back door was stealing, but she was out of options and that, surely, was not even a blip on the chart of her many crimes. Besides, walking around in rags stinking of pond water and streaked with dried mud wasn’t going to help her accomplish her task. The stolen jeans fit her tall frame surprisingly well, although the T-shirt was stretched snugly across her wide back and small breasts. The fabric was tight around her biceps, and every movement of her right arm sent a hot jolt down the flesh burned earlier. The side of her neck and face were deep pink from the heat spillover, but the pain was minor; her hair was singed and still smelled of fire. But she was quite used to that smell.

“That’s a pretty nasty burn on your arm.”

The voice came from her right and belonged to a nice-looking guy in his late thirties, who was a good four inches taller than her own six foot two. She was in Walgreens, a store like a twenty-first-century apothecary, staring at a shelf full of gauze and burn salve and thinking about the products on display. Her own physical pain was something she hadn’t had to contemplate in quite awhile. The last time she’d paid it any mind, human medicine had been little more than someone waving burning clumps of herbs over a wound and uttering a meaningless chant. Was there anything among the brightly colored boxes on these shelves that would actually soothe the monstrous stinging on her arm, or would it simply be a waste of time? Humans were certainly good at that. Because of what she was, a lot of things—how to dress, how to talk, even a culture’s customs and slang, just came to her automatically. But for this, she really had no idea, simply because she’d never needed such a thing. And in the meantime, here was this man.

No, not a man.

A nephilim.

A child fathered by an angel and born of a human mother.

She could smell him, in the way that only her kind could. It was an unmistakable thing, deep and alluring, as though he were surrounded by a mist of clean ocean water. The scent was so strong and so unexpected that all she could do for an overly long moment was breathe it in, pull it deep into her lungs and hold it there while she reveled in his nearness as his essence spread throughout her body.

A double heartbeat later, she exhaled. Without conscious thought, her tongue flicked over her lips, seeking the last trace.

He was looking at her expectantly. The burn—right. He’d said something about it. “Yeah,” she responded at last. Her voice was low and husky, a bit hoarse. She hadn’t actually spoken in centuries—it simply hadn’t been necessary—and she certainly hadn’t carried on a conversation with a human. Was there something else she should say about her injuries? What would this nephilim want to hear?

No, she reminded herself. Don’t think of him as nephilim, think of him as a man. After all, that’s all he knows that he is. Just a man.

The guy looked down at her arm again, then his gaze skimmed along the display. “This,” he said, pointing to a small blue-and-white box labeled BURN JEL. “If you’re not going to see a doctor, this is your best bet. Wash the entire area thoroughly every morning and evening, then spread this stuff on a piece of sterile gauze and scrub off the newly formed skin until all the dead skin is gone and the new is growing in evenly. It’s called debriding. It’ll be painful but it will help it heal and keep scarring to a minimum.”

She shrugged, then winced as the movement pulled the fabric of the shirt against her arm. “I don’t care about that,” she said. She wanted to keep him talking, but her people skills sucked. “It justxs … hurts.”

He nodded. “I’m sure it does, but there’s not much over the counter that’s going to help the pain. The ointment has a small amount of lidocaine in it, and you could take some aspirin along with that. You could also try one of the burn sprays, but I wouldn’t expect much out of it, not at that level.” He nodded at her arm, then fell silent for a moment. “You know,” he added finally, “that’s a fresh second-degree burn. I can’t believe you’re not going to see a doctor.”

She managed a small, strained smile. The pain made that easy, even if normal conversation was a challenge. “I thought you were one.”

He looked momentarily surprised, then shook his head. “Me? No, I’m an EMT.”

She squinted at him. “What does that stand for?”

“Emergency medical technician. I drive an ambulance.”

“Next best thing.”

“To a doctor?” He shook his head again, this time more emphatically. “Not at all.”

“Well,” she said. She hesitated, finally stepping back from the shelf. She’d run out of creativity and couldn’t think of anything else to talk about. “Thanks for the advice.”

His eyes widened. “Wait—aren’t you going to pick up some supplies?”

“Maybe later.”

“Ah.” He frowned at her, then his expression smoothed. She realized instantly that he knew she had no money. As much as he dealt with people, he was probably an expert at reading situations. “I’m Toby. What’s your name?”

Name? Of course—she should have one of those, yet she hadn’t given it a moment’s thought. Giving her real name was unthinkable, but what should she call herself? Twice before she had been formally named, and she had used thousands of others through the millennia; for the first time, now she could choose her own. A million alternatives flashed through her brain, letters and languages with little rhyme or reason, still others with hidden purpose—

“Brynna,” she blurted.

All right. That would do.

“Very nice,” he said, but it was clear he was thinking about anything but that as his hand dug in his back pocket and brought out a worn leather wallet. “Listen, Brynna. I think you could use a little hel—”

The left side of his head caved in.

There wasn’t much sound with it, just a sort of thump and a crystalline tinkling that seemed to come afterward, almost as an addendum to the actual event. One moment Brynna was gazing at Toby, whose expression was sincere and vaguely like that of an eager-to-please child as he prepared to offer her money; in the next, she was blinking at a misshapen red hole easily two inches around. It was a huge and ugly thing that gouted blood down his shoulder; even more hideous was the way the right side of his skull had suddenly bulged...

About Yvonne

Yvonne Navarro lives and works in the high desert of Southeastern Arizona, in a climate that’s supposed to be warm.  Alas, leftover cold from Chicago seems to have followed her there, at least in the winters, and global warming is screwing up the rest of the year.  Her novels...

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Author's Publishing Notes

HIGHBORN is the first book in the Dark Redemption Series -- http://www.darkredemption.net. The second, CONCRETE SAVIOR, comes out in June 2011.