Chapter 1

I don't know how it happened.

Henry and I were separated.

Buildings, cars, people flashed by as my feet barely touched pavement.

The blur of white was still on my tail; I could smell him…

I was too afraid to look behind me. Henry's warning flashed through my mind again, in that boyish, lilting tone: "You ever see white, kiddo, ya don't look, ya don't think – you run." At the time I'd smiled to hide the chill that ran up my spine. He'd smiled back, an easy smile, a confident smile. You had to disassociate to deal with the prospect of being hunted.

And now it was happening. The blocks whipped past. With quick glances right and left I had to make a decision. Would it be better to just take off? I could make a faster getaway…but I'd also be more visible. Then a black thought – did I really think I could out-fly an angel?

Abandoning the idea of an aerial escape I turned down an alley; maybe I could lose him in the labyrinthine back ways of New York City. Right, left, fence, left, I tore through each passage with a speed human runners could only dream about. Luck, however, was not on my side.

One final turn and I stopped centimeters short of a brick wall.

The dead end towered over me on three sides. I swung around, preparing for a mean vertical jump, but it was too late. He had me cornered.

I finally got a good look at him. I'd never seen an angel before; all of my preconceptions were second-hand. He wore their signature white suit, impeccable to the last detail. White leather shoes and a white fedora perched over shaggy black hair completed the picture. He stared back at me with hard, unforgiving green eyes.

My fear was palpable. My whole body shook, limbs frozen like a deer in headlights. I'm not ashamed to admit it. Everyone knows that when someone is pursued by a man in white, it's more likely than not that they're never coming back. Ever.

His face was a cold mask. My breath caught in my throat as he lifted his hand over my head. The blood pounded in my ears.

I'm not ready to die…

The hand plunged down, reaching inside my skull. I screamed out in agony; his now incorporeal fingers expertly probing through my brain. My knees buckled and his other hand shot out to grasp my throat, pinning me against the wall. With the precision of a surgeon he continued the delicate process of extracting my memories. It was excruciating. My consciousness began to waver when suddenly the torturing hand was removed, now relegated to the task of forcing my chin up to look at him.

Through foggy, half-lidded eyes I could see a small hint of confusion in his features. He searched my face, but I had little to offer. Unsatisfied, he finally spoke.

"What are you?"

His voice was rich and deep, yet the confusion managed to creep into his tone.

I could hardly keep my eyes open, but I knew the answer – the true answer.

I managed to whisper, "I don't know."

His eyes narrowed and he tightened his grip on my throat.

"I'll ask you once more – what are you?"

I looked at him in all-pleading honesty and repeated, "I don't know."

For a moment his grip tightened further, closing off my windpipe completely. He stared down at me with a flash of confliction, and then he was gone.

Drawing in a glorious breath, I let myself slide to the ground.