Finale

Hardcover | October 23, 2012

byBecca Fitzpatrick

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Fates unfurl in the gripping conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Hush, Hush saga.

Nora is more certain than ever that she is in love with Patch. Fallen angel or no, he is the one for her. Her heritage and destiny may mean they are fated to be enemies, but there is no turning her back on him. Now Nora and Patch must gather their strength to face one last, perilous trial. Old enemies return, new enemies are made, and a friend''s ultimate betrayal threatens the peace Patch and Nora so desperately want. The battle lines are drawn—but which sides are they on? And in the end, are there some obstacles even love can''t conquer?

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From the Publisher

Fates unfurl in the gripping conclusion to the New York Times bestselling Hush, Hush saga.Nora is more certain than ever that she is in love with Patch. Fallen angel or no, he is the one for her. Her heritage and destiny may mean they are fated to be enemies, but there is no turning her back on him. Now Nora and Patch must gather their strength to face one last, perilous trial. Old enemies return,...

Becca Fitzpatrick received a degree in Community Health from Brigham Young University in 2001. After graduating, she worked as a secretary/teacher/accountant at an alternative high school in Provo, Utah. She took a writing class in 2003. Her first book, Hush, Hush debuted as a New York Times bestseller.

other books by Becca Fitzpatrick

The Complete Hush, Hush Saga: Hush, Hush; Crescendo; Silence; Finale
The Complete Hush, Hush Saga: Hush, Hush; Crescendo; Si...

Paperback|Oct 1 2013

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Hush, Hush
Hush, Hush

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see all books by Becca Fitzpatrick
Format:HardcoverDimensions:464 pages, 8.25 × 5.5 × 1.5 inPublished:October 23, 2012Publisher:Simon & Schuster Books for Young ReadersLanguage:English

The following ISBNs are associated with this title:

ISBN - 10:1442426675

ISBN - 13:9781442426672

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Reviews

Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved this series Amazing! This series was never boring for a second it was always so interesting I loved it. Every book :):) I will probably reAd them over.
Date published: 2016-01-21
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An Exciting Finale In "Finale" the last chapter in the "Hush Hush" series Nora and Patch's troubles have magnified after the death of Hank Millar. Nora is the inept head of the Nephilim army and doesn't want war, her enemy Marcie Millar has taken up residence in the Grey's house, and Patch has developed a strong working relationship with Dabria, an ex-girlfriend who's still in love with him. As if things couldn't get any worse Nora has to convince the Nephilim that she isn't in league with Patch and the other fallen angels if she is to gain their trust, save herself from the dire consequences of her oath, and end the war. Under the guise of breaking up with Patch and training with her popular Nephil lieutenant Dante Matterazzi Nora begins to assume her new role, but with doubts about her ability to lead she unsuspectingly becomes addicted to devilcraft, an elixir that enhances her physical and mental strength while depleting her willpower. With difficult decisions, betrayal, lies and secrets swirling about them Nora and Patch must not only resolve the troubles that threaten their welfare but hold tight to their love and trust. The theme of love versus race is amplified further in "Finale" as Nora and Patch struggle to hold on to their love while finding an equitable solution to the clash between their factions. Reminiscent of a modern day Romeo and Juliet, the forbidden lovers pit their wits against two immortal races; one that invades the other's body like a parasite for two weeks at Cheshvan. The intensity of the plot is often diluted by humor as Nora's best friend and archenemy clash not only in their work habits but in their struggle to win Scott's affection. I like the way Becca Fitzpatrick builds tension and suspense, using devices like a poisoned knife and devilcraft to intensify the plotline. Threads of this story follow not only Nora and Patch's struggle to end the looming conflict between immortals and to eliminate devilcraft, but also their search for the truth about Pepper Friberg's blackmailer. The pace is fast, apprehension growing as events unfold although the plot focuses more on Nora as she recognizes her sympathy for, and pledges her support to the Nephilim while trying to reconcile their distrust, uncertainty and even betrayal. Yet for all the confusion and unrest in their lives Nora and Patch's bond grows deeper even when jealousy rears its ugly head when the names Dabria and Scott are mentioned. Nora Grey's character has grown considerably in this series like her strength and agility after being pumped full of pure Nephilim blood by her biological father. Although she still grapples with fear of failing both as a leader and in her love life, she's become stronger, more resilient and determined. Patch Cipriano an alpha male in personality continues to be smart, clever and resourceful; a fallen angel respected in his community. Although he keeps tight control on his emotions, he makes sure everyone knows the strength of his love for Nora. In this story Scott Parnell is a loyal, trustworthy and protective friend to Nora, while Marcie Millar remains an egotistical, spoiled airhead who yearns for stability in her life. Vee Sky is more intense ,strong-minded and hides secrets that could undermine her relationship with her best friend. Pepper Friedberg the archangel with a double life appears tough until confronted, transforming into a snivelling coward. Dante Matterazzi who's a cocky and egotistical Nephil turns out to be a conniving and manipulative traitor to Nora's disappointment. It is the complexity and realism of these well-developed characters and others that adds drama, spice and passion to this page-turner. I thoroughly enjoyed "Finale" with an ending that was surprising yet satisfying. I felt the series got better with each new installment, with the final novel complimenting the others. I look forward to reading more in future by Becca Fitzpatrick.
Date published: 2015-04-14
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love love love I loved this book! Boring at first, but a great way to end!
Date published: 2014-08-07
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Action-Packed Finale by Becca Fitzpatrick is the final novel in the Hush, Hush Saga. It was a great ending to Nora’s story and provided a good conclusion to the series. However, I found that everything you thought you knew about the characters in the story was turned upside down as early as the first chapter. This story had plot twists at every turn! When you thought one thing was going to happen and work out perfectly for Nora, something else happened and ends up adding more conflict to her life. This novel contained non-stop action and did not give the reader time to take a break from processing what was happening. This is what made the book one of my favourite of the series – the plot twists and action scenes. I am the type of person who loves action scenes in books but doesn’t care for them in movies. Some may find this peculiar but I love trying to imagine things from someone’s writing instead of having it all laid out with me like it is in movies. The Hush, Hush Saga as a whole was a good read. Like many other series, some books were better than others, but all of those books are needed to complete the story. Overall, I would recommend this novel, and series, to anyone and everyone looking for a good read.
Date published: 2014-05-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Finale There were so many mean comments in the book, but I was screaming at how amazingly this wrapped up the series. Oh wow, I just have no words an am smiling like an idiot! Haha
Date published: 2014-05-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love this book!! I was anxious the entire time. A little disappointed about how vaguely things ended with Patch & "Angel", but I'm definitely happy that it ended happily. I'll be recommending these books to everyone!
Date published: 2014-04-02
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Finale I really enjoyed the earlier books of this series, and I'm glad there was an epilogue to this book. But this book sort of lost me mid way through, it just seemed to drag. It wasn't bad just moved slower than the other books.
Date published: 2014-02-17
Rated 5 out of 5 by from All Such a good series of books
Date published: 2014-02-06
Rated 5 out of 5 by from All Really great ending to the Hush, Hush Saga. This book was a real page turner from page one until the very last page. I couldn't put the book down, it really is one of my favorites.
Date published: 2014-01-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Loved it Couldn't asked for a better ending
Date published: 2013-11-05
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Finale It was good.. too bad we didnt really get to know the characters portrayed towards the end after everything that they went through. Overall I enjoyed it, excellent job.
Date published: 2013-11-01
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Finale Awesome ending to a great series. I wish there was more!! I couldn't put it down.
Date published: 2013-10-10
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Best book ever! Oh. My. Gods!!!! This is the best one so far!!! Amazing writer! I wonder what she'll think up next! Can't wait!!!
Date published: 2013-09-07
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love it Wow I really do love this whole series it kept me reading and the ending was perfect
Date published: 2013-07-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Finale Excellent series. Enjoyed all 4 books.
Date published: 2013-06-21
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Meh If you read my review of Silence then you know that I loved loved loved the first 2 books in this series and loathed Silence. So with the fact that I hated Silence I went into Finale with extremely low expectations. Was it the best book in the series? No. Was it the worst? No. It did leave me feeling happy for Patch, Nora and Vee. I was content with their endings. I won’t lie I was getting bored while reading it probably until about page 300ish once all the action started up. For me it was too slow with all the talking and drama. I wanted more action and less talking or at least talking that got us somewhere. Overall, I think it was a good ender for the series taking into account the series of events that happened in Silence. I wouldn’t say this series is my favorite but I know a lot of people would disagree with me. I don’t want to give away any spoilers but you may cry during one scene at the end I know I was sad and you might be happy about a revelation about a certain friend or you may be pissed off about it. I personally liked it.
Date published: 2013-02-27
Rated 4 out of 5 by from A perfect ending but a little slow When i was reading Finale it was really good but I found it a little slow at the start. I thought it got alot better towards the ending but I found that the ending seemed a little rush. But i did think it really was a great ending but not as good as some of the other books from the series.(Like the first or the second) I will say I'm sad to see the series go.
Date published: 2013-02-23
Rated 5 out of 5 by from One of my favourites. I wish this series wasn't over. :(
Date published: 2013-02-16
Rated 1 out of 5 by from At least there isn't a fifth book. I finally got around to reading "Finale". I had been putting off reading it because I was so let-down with “Silence”…I wasn’t excited to read this one at all. I remember after reading “Hush, Hush” and then “Crescendo” I was dying for the release of the next book “Silence”. Unfortunately, even though I LOVED "Hush, Hush" and LOVED "Crescendo" even more, I can't say the same about the rest of the series. "Silence" really is where everything started to go downhill. It kills me to even think that I’m giving “Finale” 1 star because of how much I love the first 2 books. But honestly, “Finale” really was the final nail in the coffin. I was hoping “Silence” was just a glitch in the series, but that wasn’t the case. It sucks that the series had to end on a negative note. Everything that happened in “Finale” was too perfect and easy. Everything seemed to be easily solved. I hated that. Nora would question Patch, but then be fine with him 2 seconds later. She lied to him and he didn't even bat an eyelash. Nora is injured, it's easily fixed and forgotten. Nothing was believable. And I’m all for a happy ending with rainbows and sunshine…but it all just seemed to come together too quickly. I wasn’t a fan of the ending at all. It was soo lame. One word to describe this book: Disappointing. On a more positive note, at least there isn’t a 5th book. ;)
Date published: 2013-02-09
Rated 4 out of 5 by from Rip my heart out why don't you! I'll admit, I did not like this series to begin with. I enjoyed Hush hush but the second book was disappointing. This last one though...boy has this series been redeemed for me. It was so hard just to put the book down, especially at the end. My heart was racing as I read those last few chapters. I found myself terrified; I just knew someone was going to die. (SPOILER) I am devestated that it had to be Scott. Now that this series is over I'm left feeling content unlike most books. Maybe that means that it is not as good but I'll take it as a good thing.
Date published: 2013-02-03
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Perfect End to the Series I started this book yesterday. If it weren't for the fact that I have a cold I would've finished the book in one day, not two. Could hardly put it down. I'm still undecided if I like Hush Hush or Finale better, but I'd say they're both equally good. Before reading Finale, Hush Hush was number one on my list of favourite books. The Hush Hush series is absolutely fantastic. It's unpredictable, sexy, and has a LOT of action. I highly recommend it. That's all I can really say. After reading the book, I felt very excited and jittery. I'll probably be thinking about the book for several days. I seriously wish the series would continue on.
Date published: 2012-12-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Love it!!!! I just finished Finale yesterday and i couldn't put it down. My favorite of the series would probably be Hush Hush but i loved this one. You could feel the love Nora and Jev/Patch have. I'm the kind person who always complain about endings, how they're always "happy endings" but in this case I wouldn't have it any other way.
Date published: 2012-11-25
Rated 3 out of 5 by from Disappointment Why, Becca Fitzpatrick, WHY?! The series already went downhill with the publishing of Silence, and I was hoping that it would go uphill again. It just kind of... died out. Finale was probably the worst one out of the series; this is like the Halo series all over again. There was literally, NO ROMANCE, at all between Nora and Patch -- it was crazy!! They were so damn cute together in the first few books, and in this one they're pretty much against each other the whole time. Actually, Nora was the one who was pretty much against everything Patch tried to do for her. I hated the way she just made assumptions about Dabria -- Patch's ex -- and didn't even trust Patch enough to know that he loved her. I hated how in the last book where they needed each other the most, Nora doesn't trust him. Throughout Finale, I felt like a robot until the very end where they miraculously had feelings and emotions towards each other again. Another thing I disliked, also mentioned in Rola's review, was the lack of clues. There were NO CLUES or hints that led up to a certain someone being a Nephilim. (refer to spoiler rant down below) Maybe it was a technique to keep us in the dark like Nora, to be as surprised as Nora was, but I was pretty darn pissed that I couldn't pick it up. Normally, I would have liked surprises, but honestly, please drop some hints for the reader to pick up. Plus, the writing style kind of enraged me as well. I didn't notice it at first, but once I did, I couldn't stop noticing that most of the sentences were like five words and didn't even go in depth into anything. Just a plain sentence. I think I only liked the ending and the parts where Scott showed up because he was the only one acting anything like a human. Yes, I know, they're not human, but that doesn't mean they can't have emotions like they did before. He was still the funny, chill guy he was in the books before and I hated that he didn't show up as much this time. Truthfully, this series -- or saga as they call it now -- was one of my favourites and I hated how it turned out so horribly. I know a lot of people have different feelings about this, and even though I'm giving it 3/5, I didn't like it as much as I thought I would. And by the way, 60% isn't a good mark either for those people who think 3/5 is a decent rating. One final note on this series: It was quite similar to Twilight, except I loved Twilight to the end.
Date published: 2012-11-20
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Finale to remember i loved the ending an amazing way to end an amazing series. i fell in love with the series when I started reading Hush,Hush. It has had some high and low points. When you start reading this series you can't but help fall in love with the main couple Nora and Patch. It is sad to see that the series has come to an end. In it's finale the hush,hush series has proved that true love can conquer any thing even a war.
Date published: 2012-11-15
Rated 5 out of 5 by from I Don't Want Their Story to End! I LOVED the Hush Hush series. To say that I was addicted to the series is an understatement. I've also been following the series shortly after the release of the very first book, Hush, Hush back in 2009, and I rushed into Chapters every year to get the next book, finishing its sequels within two days. So to learn that this was the final conclusion was quite bittersweet to me. Of course, the entire series is supernatural romance, but in the first two books, it was more sexual tension--which was why Patch became such an addicting character. Over the third book (Silence) and this forth and final one, it turned into a love story. STILL, Patch and Nora's story was addicting, and of course there was still tension, drama, and suspense lurking around the Nephilim, the Fallen Angels, and the brewing war. That balanced it out for me from being JUST a teenage love story. It was a nice conclusion. Everything wrapped up, and it was truly a conclusion. Unlike Silence, when it was in the works of being published, Fitzpatrick was contemplating whether or not it would be the last book. When readers got to the end of Silence, it was obvious it wasn't going to be the last book (this was before she announced there would be a forth and final book). Finale, was actually it: the finale. My heart was mixed with emotions: I wanted to cry, I wanted to scream, I wanted to sigh, I wanted to smile. It was a great book to end the series, but that's it for Patch and Nora. It's now up to our imaginations to know what's left of their relationship. I must admit: the VERY first time I heard the title being announced, I went "WHY WOULD YOU CALL THE VERY LAST BOOK IN THE SERIES, FINALE?!" It sounded VERY cliched. Last book of the series, and it's called Finale. It wasn't until a while longer I found out that "finale" is actually a musical term. All the books in the Hush Hush series were musical terms, which is why the last book was called Finale. Not so much that it was the very last book of the series, though I'm quite positive it did have some influence. I am quite upset that the entire series is complete. I've followed this series for more than three years. And every year, when the next book came out, I finished it so quickly, I would be dying for the next year to come so that the next book would be released. Now, the series is all complete. It's quite bittersweet for me. I am really going to miss Patch and Nora. I wish someone could erase my memory of what happens in the entire series, so that I can read it again, and enjoy every moment without remembering what happens next.
Date published: 2012-10-27
Rated 5 out of 5 by from An amazing Finale! As to be expected, Becca Fitzpatrick's last book about Patch and Nora was utterly stunning. Written with such ease and grace, it blew me away! With twist after twist, she brings you backwards and forwards. Tying her plot into each of the other books, she creates a remarkable story that has you dying for more. With a shocking ending that has you reeling, she makes the best of their lives and proves that everybody can be happy. With the most amazing plot line, she has you constantly waiting for more and keeps the pages turning. I was unable to put it down. Leaving you smiling, gasping, reeling, shocked and everything in-between, this is defiantly a book you will never forget!
Date published: 2012-10-26
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Goodbye Patch and Nora Finale is the fourth and final novel in the Hush Hush Saga and I couldn't be happier as well as sad to say goodbye to these beloved stories and characters. Finale takes the final stand against Fallen Angels and Nephilim and Nora has to decide to how to lead the Nephilim army without breaking her blood oath to Hank and keeping her relationship with Patch. This is the reason why I love these books, they are filled with everything you need to keep you interested in the story from start to the last page, Becca Fitzpatrick has a talent to engage readers and make her fall in love with the characters and want to finish the book in one sitting. I really felt like the book wad tied up perfectly, that was what I was worried about, I was scared that when we got to the final page that there would still be a loose end but Becca really finished things off for the readers and I'm happy about it. I thought the story was great and I was very interested to see how Nora would deal with everything that was getting thrown at her and I feel like she did a good job with things. I will say that even though Nora did a great job there was a few times that she was acting immature especially when it came to a few things with Patch. Yes lets talk ( swoon ) about Patch for a bit......could he be anymore perfect and amazing? ya I thought so as well, he really held his own in this story and showed how much he loved and cared for Nora by helping her as well as letting her take the lead on things. All the side characters really brought the story to it's climax and helped bring the whole book together for the amazing ending. There was one aspect of the ending I did not like but I feel like it had to happen. There were a couple of surprises about a couple of characters that were awesome by the way. Last but not least the Epilogue, it was very cute and sweet and everything I wanted for the book and the Saga. Overall this was an amazing book and this series is in a class of it's own and I want to thank Becca Fitzpatrick for making such an amazing series for me as well as countless fans to FALL IN LOVE WITH, even though I'm sad to say goodbye this had an amazing run and will be on the rereads for years to come and is one of my favorite series out there. PEACE OUT HUSH HUSH ( I really wish Patch was real *wink wink * ) :0)
Date published: 2012-10-25
Rated 5 out of 5 by from Can't wait!!! Love the hush hush series!! Can't wait for this book to come out! :D
Date published: 2012-10-16
Rated out of 5 by from so excited for this book to come out! :D
Date published: 2012-09-13
Rated out of 5 by from OH MY GOD I'M SO EXCITED!!!! I slightly forgot there was going to be another book, and it comes out this fall!!
Date published: 2012-08-23
Rated out of 5 by from OMG! i cannot wait for this book :) i am so excited, i hoped that she would write another one for this series and she granted my wish :) YAAAYYY :)
Date published: 2012-06-30

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Read from the Book

Finale CHAPTER 1 TONIGHT I’M NOT A PARTY GIRL. THE EARSPLITTING MUSIC, THE gyrating bodies, the inebriated smiles—not my thing. My ideal Saturday night would be at home, snuggling on the sofa and watching a rom-com with my boyfriend, Patch. Predictable, low-key . . . normal. My name is Nora Grey, and while I used to be an average American teen, buying my clothes at the J. Crew outlet and spending my babysitting money on iTunes, normal and I have recently become perfect strangers. As in, I wouldn’t know normal if it marched up and poked me in the eye. Normal and I parted ways when Patch strolled into my life. Patch has seven inches on me, operates on cold, hard logic, moves like smoke, and lives alone in a supersecret, superswanky studio beneath Delphic Amusement Park. The sound of his voice, low and sexy, can melt my heart in three seconds flat. He’s also a fallen angel, kicked out of heaven for his flexibility when it comes to following rules. I personally believe Patch scared the pants off normal, and it took off running for the far side of the world. I might not have normalcy, but I do have stability. Namely, in the form of my best friend of twelve years, Vee Sky. Vee and I have an unshakable bond that even a laundry list of differences can’t break. They say opposites attract, and Vee and I are proof of the validity of the statement. I am slender and tallish—by human standards—with big curly hair that tests my patience, and I’m a type A personality. Vee is even taller, with ash-blond hair, serpentine-green eyes, and more curves than a roller coaster track. Almost always, Vee’s wishes trump mine. And unlike me, Vee lives for a good party. Tonight Vee’s wish to seek out a good time took us across town to a four-story brick warehouse throbbing with club music, swimming with fake IDs, and jam-packed with bodies producing enough sweat to take greenhouse gases to a whole new level. The layout inside was standard: a dance floor sandwiched between a stage and a bar. Rumor had it that a secret door behind the bar led to the basement, and the basement led to a man named Storky, who operated a thriving pirated anything business. Community religious leaders kept threatening to board up Coldwater’s hotbed of iniquity for disorderly teens . . . also known as the Devil’s Handbag. “Groove it, baby,” Vee yelled at me over the mindless thump, thump, thump of music, lacing her fingers through mine and swaying our hands over our heads. We were at the center of the dance floor, being jostled and bumped on every side. “This is how Saturday night’s supposed to be. You and me gettin’ down, letting loose, working up good ol’-fashioned girl-sweat.” I did my best to give an enthusiastic nod, but the guy behind me kept stepping on the heel of my ballet flat, and at five-second intervals, I had to shove my foot back into it. The girl to my right was dancing with her elbows out, and if I wasn’t careful, I knew I’d get clipped. “Maybe we should get drinks,” I called to Vee. “Feels like Florida in here.” “That’s ’cause you and me are burning up the place. Check out the guy at the bar. He can’t take his eyes off your smokin’ moves.” She licked her finger and pressed it to my bare shoulder, making a sizzling noise. I followed her gaze . . . and my heart lurched. Dante Matterazzi lifted his chin in acknowledgment. His next gesture was a little more subtle. Wouldn’t have pegged you for a dancer, he spoke to my mind. Funny, I would have pegged you for a stalker, I shot back. Dante Matterazzi and I both belonged to the Nephilim race, hence the innate ability to mind-speak, but the similarities stopped there. Dante didn’t know how to give it a rest, and I didn’t know how much longer I could dodge him. I’d met him for the first time just this morning, when he’d come to my house to announce that fallen angels and Nephilim were on the brink of war and I was in charge of leading the latter, but now I needed a break from war talk. It was overwhelming. Or maybe I was in denial. Either way, I wished he’d disappear. Left a message on your cell phone, he said. Gee, I must have missed it. More like I deleted it. We need to talk. Kind of busy. To emphasize my point, I rolled my hips and swung my arms side to side, doing my best to imitate Vee, whose favorite television network was BET, and it showed. She had hiphop stamped on her soul. A faint smile quirked Dante’s mouth. While you’re at it, get your friend to give you some pointers. You’re floundering. Meet me out back in two. I glared at him. Busy, remember? This can’t wait. With a meaningful arch of his eyebrows, he disappeared into the crowd. “His loss,” Vee said. “He can’t handle the heat, that’s all.” “About those drinks,” I said. “Can I bring you a Coke?” Vee didn’t look ready to give up dancing anytime soon, and as much as I wanted to avoid Dante, I figured it was best to just get this over with. Suck it up and talk to him. The alternative was having him shadow me all night. “Coke with lime,” Vee said. I edged my way off the dance floor and, after making sure Vee wasn’t watching, ducked down a side hallway and out the back door. The alley was bathed in blue moonlight. A red Porsche Panamera was parked in front of me, and Dante leaned against it, arms folded loosely over his chest. Dante is six feet nine with the physique of a soldier fresh out of boot camp. Case in point: He has more muscle tone in his neck than I have in my entire body. Tonight he was wearing baggy khakis and a white linen shirt unbuttoned halfway down his chest, revealing a deep V of smooth, hairless skin. “Nice car,” I said. “It gets the job done.” “So does my Volkswagen, and it cost considerably less.” “Takes more than four wheels to be a car.” Ugh. “So,” I said, tapping my foot. “What’s so urgent?” “You still dating that fallen angel?” It was only the third time in as many hours that he’d asked. Twice by text messaging, and now face-to-face. My relationship with Patch had gone through a lot of ups and downs, but the current trend was upward. We weren’t without our issues, however. In a world where Nephilim and fallen angels would rather die than smile at each other, dating a fallen angel was a definite no-no. I stood a little taller. “You know it.” “Being careful?” “Discreet is the watchword.” Patch and I didn’t need Dante to tell us it was wise not to make a lot of public appearances together. Nephilim and fallen angels never needed an excuse to teach each other a lesson, and racial tensions between the two groups were getting hotter with each passing day. It was autumn, October to be exact, and the Jewish month of Cheshvan was just days away. Every year during Cheshvan, fallen angels possess Nephilim bodies by the droves. Fallen angels have free rein to do as they please, and since it’s the only time during the year they can actually feel physical sensation, their creativity knows no bounds. They chase after pleasure, pain, and everything in between, playing parasites to their Nephilim hosts. For Nephilim, Cheshvan is a hellish prison. If Patch and I were so much as seen holding hands by the wrong individuals, we’d pay, one way or another. “Let’s talk about your image,” Dante said. “We need to generate some positive media around your name. Boost Nephilim confidence in you.” I gave a theatrical snap of my fingers. “Don’t you just hate it when your approval ratings are low?” Dante frowned. “This isn’t a joke, Nora. Cheshvan starts in just over seventy-two hours, and that means war. Fallen angels on one side, us on the other. Everything rides on your shoulders—you’re the new leader of the Nephilim army. The blood oath you swore to Hank is in effect, and I don’t think I have to remind you that the consequences of breaking it are very, very real.” Queasiness pinched my stomach. I hadn’t exactly applied for the job. Thanks to my deceased biological father, a truly twisted man named Hank Millar, I’d been forced to inherit the position. With the help of an otherworldly blood transfusion, he’d coerced me into transforming myself from mere human into purebred Nephil so I could take over his army. I’d sworn an oath to lead his army, it had gone into effect upon his death, and if I failed to do that, my mom and I would die. Terms of the oath. No pressure. “Despite every cautious measure I intend to implement, we can’t completely erase your past. The Nephilim are digging around. There are rumors you’re dating a fallen angel, and that your loyalties are split.” “I am dating a fallen angel.” Dante rolled his eyes. “Could you say it any louder?” I shrugged. If that’s what you really want. Then I opened my mouth, but Dante was beside me in an instant, covering it with his hand. “I know it kills you, but could you make my job easy just this once?” he murmured in my ear, glancing around at the shadows with obvious uneasiness, even though I was positive we were alone. I’d only been a purebred Nephil for twenty-four hours, but I trusted my new, sharper sixth sense. If there were eavesdroppers lurking, I’d know. “Look, I know when we first met this morning I carelessly said the Nephilim would just have to deal with me dating a fallen angel,” I said when he lowered his hand, “but I wasn’t thinking. I was angry. I’ve spent the day giving this a lot of thought. I’ve talked to Patch. We’re being careful, Dante. Really careful.” “Nice to know. But I still need you to do something for me.” “Like what?” “Date a Nephil. Date Scott Parnell.” Scott was the first Nephil I’d ever befriended, at the tender age of five. I hadn’t known about his true heritage back then, but in recent months he’d taken on the roles of first my tormentor, then my partner in crime, and eventually my friend. There were no secrets between us. Likewise, there was no romantic chemistry. I laughed. “You’re killing me, Dante.” “It would be for show. For the sake of appearances,” he explained. “Just until our race warms to you. You’ve only been a Nephil one day. Nobody knows you. People need a reason to like you. We have to make them feel comfortable trusting you. Dating a Nephil is a good step in the right direction.” “I can’t date Scott,” I told Dante. “Vee likes him.” To say Vee had been unlucky in love was putting it optimistically. In the past six months she’d fallen for a narcissistic predator and a backstabbing slimeball. Not surprisingly, both relationships made her seriously doubt her instincts in love. Lately, she had unequivocally refused to so much as smile at the opposite sex . . . until Scott came along. Early last night, just hours before my biological father had compelled me to transform myself into a purebred Nephil, Vee and I had come to the Devil’s Handbag to watch Scott play bass for his new band, Serpentine, and she hadn’t stopped talking about him since. To sweep in and steal Scott now, even if it was a ruse, would be the ultimate low blow. “It wouldn’t be real,” Dante repeated, as if that made everything just peachy. “Would Vee know that?” “Not exactly. You and Scott would have to be convincing together. A leak would be disastrous, so I’d want to limit the truth to the two of us.” Meaning Scott would also be a casualty of the ruse. I did the hands-on-hips thing, going for firm and immovable. “Then you’re going to have to come up with someone else.” I wasn’t enamored with the idea of fake-dating a Nephil to boost my popularity. In fact, it seemed like a disaster in the making, but I wanted this mess behind me. If Dante thought a Nephilim boyfriend would give me more street cred, so be it. It wouldn’t be real. Obviously Patch wouldn’t be thrilled, but tackle one problem at a time, right? Dante’s mouth compressed into a line, and he shut his eyes briefly. Summoning patience. It was an expression I’d grown quite accustomed to over the course of the day. “He’d need to be revered in the Nephilim community,” Dante said thoughtfully at last. “Someone Nephilim would admire and approve of.” I made an impatient gesture. “Fine. Just throw someone other than Scott at me.” “Me.” I flinched. “Sorry. What? You?” I was too stunned to burst into laughter. “Why not?” Dante asked. “Do you really want me to start listing reasons? Because I’ll keep you here all night. You’ve got to be at least five years older than me in human years—total scandal fodder—you don’t have a sense of humor, and—oh yeah. We can’t stand each other.” “It’s a natural connection. I’m your first lieutenant—” “Because Hank gave you the position. I had no say in that.” Dante didn’t seem to hear me, charging ahead with his make-believe version of events. “We met and felt an instant and mutual attraction. I comforted you after your father’s death. It’s a believable story.” He smiled. “Lots of good publicity.” “If you say the P word one more time, I’m going to . . . do something drastic.” Like smack him. And then smack myself for even considering this plan. “Sleep on it,” Dante said. “Mull it over.” “Mulling it over.” I counted to three on my fingers. “Okay, done. Bad idea. Really bad idea. My answer is no.” “You have a better idea?” “Yes, but I’ll need time to think it up.” “Sure. No problem, Nora.” He counted to three on his fingers. “Okay, time’s up. I needed a name first thing this morning. In case it isn’t painfully obvious, your image is headed down the tubes. Word of your father’s death, and subsequently your new leadership position, is spreading like wildfire. People are talking, and the talk isn’t good. We need the Nephilim to believe in you. We need them to trust that you have their best interests in mind, and that you can finish your father’s work and bring us out of bondage from fallen angels. We need them to rally behind you, and we’re going to give them one good reason after another. Starting with a respected Nephilim boyfriend.” “Hey, babe, everything okay back here?” Dante and I swung around. Vee stood in the doorway, eyeing us with equal parts wariness and curiosity. “Hey! Everything’s fine,” I said a little too enthusiastically. “You never came back with our drinks, and I started to worry,” Vee said. Her gaze shifted from me to Dante. Recognition sparked in her eyes, and I knew she remembered him from the bar. “Who are you?” she asked him. “Him?” I cut in. “Oh. Uh. Well, he’s just some random guy—” Dante stepped forward, hand extended. “Dante Matterazzi. I’m a new friend of Nora’s. We met earlier today when our mutual acquaintance, Scott Parnell, introduced us.” Just like that, Vee’s face lit up. “You know Scott?” “Good friend of mine, actually.” “Any friend of Scott’s is a friend of mine.” Inwardly, I gouged my eyes out. “So what are you two doing back here?” Vee asked us. “Dante just picked out a new car,” I said, stepping aside to give her an unobstructed view of the Porsche. “He couldn’t resist showing it off. Don’t look too closely, though. I think the VIN number is missing. Poor Dante had to resort to theft, since he used up all his money getting his chest waxed, and boy, does it gleam.” “Funny,” Dante said. I thought maybe he’d self-consciously fasten at least one more shirt button, but he didn’t. “If I had a car like that, I’d show it off too,” Vee said. Dante said, “I tried talking Nora into a ride, but she keeps blowing me off.” “That’s because she has a hard-A boyfriend. He must have been homeschooled, because he missed all those valuable lessons we learned in kindergarten, like sharing. He finds out you took Nora for a ride, he’ll wrap this shiny new Porsche around the nearest tree.” “Gee,” I said, “look at the time. Don’t you have somewhere to be, Dante?” “Turns out my night’s open.” He smiled, slow and easy, and I knew he was relishing every moment of intruding on my private life. I’d made it clear right off the bat this morning that any contact between us had to be done in private, and he was showing me what he thought of my “rules.” In a lame attempt at evening the score, I glared my meanest, coldest look at him. “You’re in luck,” Vee said. “We know just the thing to fill up your night. You’re gonna hang with two of the coolest girls in all of Coldwater, Mr. Dante Matterazzi.” “Dante doesn’t dance,” I quickly interjected. “I’ll make an exception, just this once,” he answered, opening the door for us. Vee clapped her hands, jumping up and down. “I just knew this night was gonna rock!” she squealed, ducking under Dante’s arm. “After you,” Dante said, placing his palm on the small of my back and guiding me inside. I batted his hand away, but to my aggravation, he leaned close and murmured, “Glad we had this little chat.” We haven’t resolved anything, I spoke to his mind. This whole boyfriend-girlfriend thing? Nothing is settled. Just a little something to bear in mind. And for the record, my best friend isn’t supposed to know you exist. Your best friend thinks I should give your boyfriend a run for his money, he said, sounding amused. She thinks anything with a beating heart should replace Patch. They have unresolved issues. Sounds promising. He followed me down the short hall leading to the dance floor, and I felt his haughty, goading smile the whole way. •   •   • The loud monotone beat of the music drove into my skull like a hammer. I pinched the bridge of my nose, cringing against a swelling headache. I had one elbow perched on the bar, and I used my free hand to press a glass of ice water against my forehead. “Tired already?” Dante asked, leaving Vee on the dance floor to slide onto a bar stool beside me. “Any idea how much longer she’s going to last?” I asked wearily. “Looks to me like she’s caught her second wind.” “Next time I’m in the market for a best friend, remind me to shy away from the Energizer Bunny. She keeps going and going. . . .” “You look like you could use a ride home.” I shook my head. “I drove, but I can’t leave Vee here. Seriously, how much longer can she possibly last?” Of course, I’d been asking myself the same question for the past hour. “Tell you what. Go home. I’ll stay with Vee. When she finally drops, I’ll give her a ride.” “I thought you weren’t supposed to get mixed up in my personal life.” I tried to sound surly, but I was exhausted, and the conviction just wasn’t there. “Your rule, not mine.” I chewed my lip. “Maybe just this once. After all, Vee likes you. And you actually have the stamina to keep dancing with her. I mean, this is a good thing, right?” He nudged my leg. “Quit rationalizing and get out of here already.” To my surprise, I sighed with relief. “Thanks, Dante. I owe you.” “You can pay me back tomorrow. We need to finish our earlier conversation.” And just like that, any benevolent feelings washed away. Once again, Dante was the thorn in my foot, relentless in his pestering. “If anything happens to Vee, I’m holding you personally responsible.” “She’ll be fine, and you know it.” I might not like Dante, but I did trust he’d do what he said. After all, he reported to me now. He’d sworn allegiance to me. Maybe my role as leader of all Nephilim would have a few perks after all. On that note, I left. It was a cloudless night, the moon a haunting blue against the black of night. As I walked to my car, the music from the Devil’s Handbag echoed like a distant rumble. I inhaled the chilly October air. Already my headache ebbed. The untraceable cell phone Patch had given me rang in my handbag. “How was girls’ night out?” Patch asked. “If Vee had her way, we’d be here all night.” I stepped out of my shoes and slung them on my finger. “All I can think about is bed.” “We’re sharing the same thought.” “You’re thinking about bed too?” But Patch had told me that he rarely slept. “I’m thinking about you in my bed.” My stomach did one of those flutter things. I’d stayed the night at Patch’s place for the first time last night, and while the attraction and temptation had definitely been there, we’d managed to sleep in different rooms. I wasn’t sure how far I wanted to take our relationship, but instinct told me Patch wasn’t quite so indecisive. “My mom’s waiting up,” I said. “Bad timing.” Speaking of bad timing, I unwillingly recalled my most recent conversation with Dante. I needed to bring Patch up to speed. “Can we meet tomorrow? We need to talk.” “That doesn’t sound good.” I smacked a kiss into the phone. “I missed you tonight.” “The night’s not over. After I finish up here, I could swing by your place. Leave your bedroom window unlocked.” “What are you working on?” “Surveillance.” I frowned. “Sounds vague.” “My target’s on the move. I have to roll,” he said. “I’ll be there as soon as I can.” And he hung up. I padded down the sidewalk, wondering who Patch was keeping an eye on, and why—the whole thing sounded a little ominous—when my car, a white 1984 Volkswagen Cabriolet, came into view. I threw my shoes into the backseat and dropped behind the wheel. I stuck the key in the ignition, but the engine didn’t roll over. It repeatedly made a strained, chugging sound, and I took the opportunity to think a few choice and inventive words at the worthless piece of scrap metal. The car had fallen into my lap as a donation from Scott, and had given me more hours of grief than actual miles on the road. I hopped out and propped the hood, glaring speculatively at the greasy labyrinth of hoses and containers. I’d already dealt with the alternator, the carburetor, and the spark plugs. What was left? “Car trouble?” I flipped around, surprised by the sound of a nasally male voice behind me. I hadn’t heard anyone approach. More perplexing, I hadn’t sensed him. “It would appear so,” I said. “Need some help?” “Pretty much I just need a new car.” He had a greasy, nervous smile. “Why don’t I give you a lift? You look like a nice girl. We could have a nice talk while we drive.” I kept my distance, my mind spinning wildly as I tried to place him. Instinct told me he wasn’t human. Nor was he Nephilim. Funny thing was, I didn’t think he was a fallen angel, either. He had a round, cherubic face topped with a thatch of yellow-blond hair, and floppy Dumbo ears. He looked so harmless, in fact, that it made me instantly suspicious. Instantly uneasy. “Thanks for the offer, but I’ll catch a ride with my friend.” His smile vanished and he lunged for my sleeve. “Don’t go.” His voice rose to a whine of desperation. I took several startled steps back. “That is— I mean— I was trying to say—” He gulped, then hardened his eyes into glittering beads. “I need to talk to your boyfriend.” My heart beat faster and a panicky thought seized me. What if he was Nephilim and I couldn’t detect it? What if he really did know about me and Patch? What if he’d found me tonight to get a message across—that Nephilim and fallen angels don’t mix? I was a brand-new Nephil, no match for him if it came to a physical confrontation. “I don’t have a boyfriend.” I tried to stay calm as I turned back toward the Devil’s Handbag. “Put me in touch with Patch,” the man called after me, that same desperate squeak pinching his voice. “He’s avoiding me.” I picked up my pace. “Tell him if he doesn’t come out of hiding, I’ll—I’ll—smoke him out. I’ll burn down the whole of Delphic Amusement Park if I have to!” I glanced over my shoulder warily. I didn’t know what Patch had gotten himself mixed up in, but I had an uncomfortable feeling swelling in my stomach. Whoever this man was, cherubic features aside, he meant business. “He can’t avoid me forever!” He scurried away on his stumpy legs until he blended into the shadows, whistling a tune that sent a jitter down my spine.