Exclusive Excerpt Sister opens the door to a small reading room with green carpet and white bookshelves

, and we pause before going in. All at once she pulls me to her chest and kisses my head. “Be brave, Merri, my love. You must do what you must do. We only want what's best for you.” And then she...leaves. She leaves me here, before I even see who's in the room. For the longest second, I stay on the threshold, staring at the man who is facing the bookshelf. My eyes run down the length of him, expecting to find Jesus or one of his Sicarios, but that's not what I find. I don’t know who this man is. He’s tall, with dark hair and large bones. Long legs, wide back, big shoulders. He looks lean, almost sick, because I can tell he shouldn't be. He reminds me of a starved lion I saw once in a documentary. He turns toward me slowly, and as he moves I'm frozen, like in those nightmares where you're being chased but you can't run. At first I'm not looking at his features—only the expression, which is somehow both solemn and surprised. And I feel like I've been struck dead, because he has an angel's face. It's not just the flawless blue of his eyes or his celebrity-perfect bones. It's not his perfect, straight-line nose or that lush, cherubic mouth. It's not his smooth skin. It's what I see inside his eyes. Something so intense, so sad, so ecstatic, so relieved, that I know he must be God's answer to my prayer. For the longest moment, he just looks at me. I feel like I'll unravel in the brilliance of those ice blue eyes. I'm so thrown off I whisper exactly what I'm thinking. “Are you here to take me?” His lips curl slowly, into something that's not at all a smile. My heart stops as he steps slightly closer. “Rescue you.”