Ashley Wade has a new FF paranormal romance out, Nephilim book 1: In Search of Angels.
It was just supposed to be a standard surveillance job for Lea, but as she falls deeper for her subject, she discovers secrets and darkness surrounding her job. In a world filled with angels, nephilim, and magic, can she keep the ones she cares for safe while running from something darker than any of them can imagine?
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Agent Aaliyah “Lea” Shield sat on the dog-park bench. She watched the woman lean forward, gather her shoulder-length cocoa-colored hair to the side, and take a long sip from the bubbling water fountain spout. How cool and refreshing the water must be on a day like today—the radio announcer had said the temperature would be in the high ’90s. Even more refreshing: the woman herself, Sophie.
Lea found it challenging to maintain a single train of thought. As an agent, she was all business all the time, but now her thoughts danced between how cool the water must taste and how beautiful Sophie’s lips were: a conflict, to say the least. As her objective stood, Lea hastily regrouped, focusing on her task again.
Sophie studied the area around them, cornflower-blue eyes piercing the distance between them, causing Lea to shudder. Her eyes were uncommonly soft and caring, the depths of which were deeper than the deepest lagoon. Lea couldn’t look away despite knowing the direct eye contact could possibly blow her cover. The shared gaze captured her soul—and her fear was that it would not let go.
Lea grew uncomfortable the longer she held Sophie’s gaze. Although quite skilled at undercover work, she was a bit out of her element at the dog park. Everyone around her was outfitted in running or exercise gear, as was Lea unfortunately, but she felt seriously out of sorts and regretted not just wearing her three-quarter-sleeve indigo tunic and slacks like she’d wanted to. Her line of work normally called for more than a pair of shorts or yoga pants and tank top, a more buttoned-up kind of look, but from time to time, it also required her to be inconspicuous. And despite her great discomfort, she was on the job despite how much she wished she weren’t in such tight and revealing attire, definitely not her style.
Lea focused on Sophie as she ran her hand through the fountain and then swiped it across the nape of her neck. Lea sighed, captivated as the woman reached down to pet her large beast of a dog’s head, the tank she wore sliding up her torso and exposing her tawny-colored midsection. Lea quietly cleared her throat as Sophie stood, stuck her free hand in the front pocket of her denim shorts, and led her dog down the path in Lea’s direction.
Lea hastily transitioned back into her cover as an everyday dog-park visitor, reaching down to interact with the mutt at her feet while keeping watch. Hopefully, it wasn’t obvious she’d been watching Sophie instead of the curious panting terrier Lea had borrowed from her best friend, Eileen.
Sophie meandered farther down the trail, closing the gap between them. Lea’s heart leaped and fluttered as she fought to maintain focus and clarity. Since the first time she’d seen Sophie, Lea had attempted to read her and been unable. Finally though, she connected with the woman’s mind. The mismatch of images that assaulted her were confusing and slightly overwhelming as she tried to discern and navigate through them. And then they stopped abruptly as though she’d been kicked offline and changed to something like a blank screen, the blue screen of death, if you will, on a laptop in need of technical support.
The first time she’d seen her, Lea had no idea they would become such a huge part of each other’s worlds. But now, she knew how deeply intertwined their worlds would become—and there was no turning back.
Sophie strolled by without even a glance in Lea’s direction, leaving her shaken and trying to understand why she could connect with the woman this time unlike all the other times before. Lea tried to shake the feeling off as made her way back to the car to give her report for the week. After dropping the borrowed dog at her bestie’s house, she headed into the office.
The headquarters of the Angelic Order of Nephilim, AON for short, was tucked into a quiet business park on the up-and-coming northwest side of San Antonio. The office they occupied had been there nearly twenty years. The building with the connecting garage stood seven-stories tall. The top five floors were AON offices, while various businesses and an attorney’s office filled the bottom two levels.
Unbeknownst to most in the building, security was crucial to AON. Anything above the fourth floor was only accessible by a passcode obtained from security via a camera and speaker.
Lea wiped her brow as she stepped into the stuffy elevator. The citrus smell of a freshly cleaned space greeted her. She pressed the button to take her to the sixth floor, glanced up at the camera, placed her right index finger on the barely noticeable print reader, and positioned her head for the iris scan. Once verification was complete, a disembodied voice from the speaker relayed the passcode that would allow her access to the higher floors.
Using an app on her iPhone, Lea entered the passcode and then leaned against the cool mirrored wall of the elevator, trying not to notice her disheveled appearance, complete with sweaty mousy-brown locks, in her reflection. Next time she had an assignment in the field, she would make sure she changed into something a little more appropriate before coming by the office. It was important to her to always appear professional to her coworkers even if she had just finished a sweaty stake out. Lea hummed along to an instrumental version of a song she recognized playing overhead.
The elevator door opened to a flurry of activity. Lea shuffled past several others in suits and work attire as she moved through the carpeted maze of cubicles to the secure area that housed her desk, all the while extremely self-conscious about her outfit. They’re all wondering what the heck happened to me. She shouldn’t care, but she did.
After an additional iris scan, she gained entrance to her division’s area of the sixth floor and made her way to her cubicle. Unlike most desks she passed, hers was absent of decor, only her books and manuals present on the desktop. No family photos or cute odds and ends decorated her cubicle. Aside from the fact that Lea wasn’t close to her family, she wasn’t at her desk enough to enjoy décor of any kind even if she’d wanted to.
Realizing she hadn’t grabbed a cup of tea on the way in, she padded toward the breakroom, mug in hand. Lea glanced down to avoid making eye contact with anyone on her way. She didn’t care for frivolous conversations about life outside of work—a life she didn’t really have, if she were honest. She’d sooner extract her own tooth than partake in a conversation about the latest episode of The Bachelor or the latest going-ons of the Kardashian clan. Instead, she kept to herself, speaking when spoken to unless it was work related.
Once settled back at her desk, Lea slipped off her running shoes and grabbed a thick folder from a drawer. Lea was eager to review the file on her mystery woman. Although she’d practically memorized every detail in it, she was afraid she’d missed something. Why was this woman of such interest to the Order? It was unusual for her to question the assignments she was given. But after being in the woman’s mind, there was no way she could just take orders without knowing more.
Ever since Lea had learned about AON, she’d made it her goal to work for them after she’d finished college. Shortly after turning twenty-one, she’d been accepted into AON. The past five years had been a lot of work, but she’d progressed through the ranks and become a full-fledged field agent just six months before. After she’d received her first permanent assignment at the South-Central Texas district office located in San Antonio, Lea had packed her car, her Persian cat Angel, and hit the road. She hadn’t looked back on her small East Texas hometown or her disapproving family since.
Her responsibilities, thus far, had mainly been field work: the tracking and apprehending of both unregistered and fallen nephilim and angels. Like angels, nephilim were special creatures. According to the laws set forth by the Council, the governing body established in the beginning to keep the species in check, all nephilim—and angels for that matter—were to keep the secret of what they were from most humans. Those who opted to couple with humans had to be registered and have their relationship vetted by the Order to ensure those humans would adhere to the same regulations nephilim did. It was controlling in a day and age where you were free to love who you wanted, but there were solid reasons for the laws.
Over the millennia, humans had become a great threat to the nephilim. After discovering the nephilim possessed abilities like no other, many sought to harness such powers for their own use. Humans—and other factions such as demons or fallen angels—experimented on the nephilim, attempting to harness their powers for evil purposes. Some believed that the nephilim, half angel and half human, held the key to everlasting life, and they were determined to utilize this key for themselves.
As Lea sipped her tea, she perused the open file in front of her. What is so important about this case…this woman? On the surface, Sophie—known to the Order as Sophiel—was an average, law-abiding twenty-three-year-old, and a recent child-psychology graduate with aspirations of leaving her mark on an ever-changing world. She’d just started a job with the Angels Rescue Center, an organization under the jurisdiction and ultimate control of the Order and Council, specializing in placing children of the winged variety in safe, secure homes for possible adoption. The minors placed had either been removed from or never had a proper nephilim or angel household who could properly deal with the gifts they possessed.
Lea set the file aside and made the decision to do some additional digging via the internal network on the organization itself, also known as ARC. According to the Order’s records, ARC was founded by Zacharael and Dazielle St. James. The couple established the agency twenty years ago after a tremendous need arose for homes that could accommodate children born from the unique union of nephilim or angels with humans, or even with each other. As time progressed, it became apparent even a “blessed”—as approved unions were thought of—joining did not always ensure a proper home for a child with special abilities.
Nephilim were each born with special gifts and abilities, and as Lea scrolled through page after page of electronic records, she contemplated how gifted some of the children the agency came into contact with really were. She knew from spending each summer growing up at a camp for young nephilim how extraordinary a nephilim’s range of abilities were. And the nephilim handled by ARC seemed just as gifted if not moreso.
“Agent Shield,” a deep voice said from behind her.
“Yes?” Lea spun her chair toward the voice.
The large-built, maple-wood-skinned agent stood at the entrance to her cubicle. If she recalled correctly, his name was Simiel. But she didn’t know him, or really anyone she worked with, that well.
She did notice though, the man wore enough cologne to give Lea a migraine, and she tried not to inhale.
“Sorry to startle you, ma’am. You’re wanted in Supervisor Marco’s office when you have a chance.”
Simiel swiveled on his heels and marched off, reminding Lea of a robotic soldier.
Lea nodded to herself, pulled her sneakers on, and stood. She’d give her end-of-the-week briefing, and then it’d be time to call it a day. She grabbed her backpack and strolled to her boss’s office. She had plans to head to the lake with some friends for the weekend. A handful of her childhood friends—also nephilim and angels—had organized a last-minute lake-house trip to break the monotony of city life. She wasn’t sure how she’d handle the time free from watching every move Sophie made, but she needed the break. And despite her angst about missing out on Sophie’s weekend, she knew she needed the time to herself.
Ashley Wade, affectionately known as Ash, is a native Texan who has five dogs and three cats. She’s been writing since she can remember, and her mother kept every single piece she ever wrote—even the ones you can hardly read. This is her first book release, and she’s excited to share her world of nephilim with readers. When not reading, writing, going to school, or just relaxing, Ashley is a full-time editor. The written word inspires her on a daily basis.