My heart thudded wearily, like it’d been broken into a million shards of glass. I’d never felt so lost. So vulnerable. I wanted my parents. I wanted my sister. I wanted our lives back. I wanted everything the way it was before Jordan died.“I miss you so much, Jordan. I only wanted to be with you again. Please,
Sis. Tell me what to do.” I hung my head. “I need you.”
“It’ll be okay, Keely.” Not my sister’s voice. Not even close.
I jerked my head up and looked around. He was just as mysterious as I’d remembered, in his black shirt, pants, and duster. All that black was in stark contrast to his wavy blond hair and those eyes. They were what I’d call a forever blue—the kind of eyes that seemed as though they could read souls. I’d never seen irises like his—bright, like they were lit from behind. He was handsome for someone of my parents’ age—early forties. What was it about those eyes that calmed me when I should have been terrified at finding a complete stranger in my room? For all I knew, the effects of the tequila and sleeping pills hadn’t worn off. He definitely wasn’t a paramedic. But, he had saved my life, and then politely waited for me to clean up and get dressed.
“Thanks,” I said. “For what you did.”
“I have no idea what you see in her, Banning. Doesn’t seem worth it to me,” another voice said.
A second guy entered my room. He was about my age, packing pure attitude and a lean, fit physique into a red Harley Davidson t-shirt and a pair of faded Levi’s. His short brown hair was perfectly mussed, and he had fierce, dark eyes. And apparently, an equally fierce tongue.
Who were these two? They almost acted as though they knew me, yet this felt all wrong. My first semi-coherent thought, based on the man in black’s attire, was that he worked with Dad at the District Attorney’s office and the younger guy was his smart-ass son, or maybe his assistant. Dad had done this before—had someone from the office stop by to pick up a brief or some notes. But who’d let them in the house?
With a bit of effort, I managed to lift my head in the newcomer’s direction.
“And you are?”
Instead of answering, he simply rolled his eyes. What a jerk. Maybe he’d be a bit more cordial over that pot of coffee I wanted. Or not. I stood and shoved past Mr. Attitude.
He grabbed hold of my arm. “Relax, Sunshine.”
His grin creeped me out. I pulled away, but he blocked my path. “Who the hell are either of you?” I asked, finally becoming a bit freaked out now that the ice in my brain had started to thaw. I no longer cared that the man in black had saved my life. This was weird.
He turned and walked out of my room into the hallway. “You explain it to her, Banning. This is your deal, anyway.”
The guy in black, Banning, apparently, motioned for me to follow him from my room. “Come on, Keely. Let’s talk.”
Even in my current dazed state everything felt wrong. Maybe these men weren’t who I’d first thought. I shook my head in an attempt to jump-start my brain. The motion only made my vision blur. I really needed that coffee.
“I’m Banning,” he said, extending a hand. “I’m here to help you.”
I didn’t take his hand. I wanted to sit down and collect myself before I vomited or fell over. I steadied myself against my desk instead. “No offense, but you look like the mafia. Or an undertaker.”
He laughed and his blue eyes lit up his face again. “Neither. This isn’t going to be easy to hear, Keely.”
Great. He even sounded like Dad. I paused, my brain finally clicking into
gear and setting off an alarm. It dawned on me why he was here. Something horrible had happened to my parents on the way home from the dinner party. “My mom and dad—are they okay?”
Banning raised a hand. “They’re fine, Keely. Really. But I do have a bit of bad news.”
“Are you from Dad’s office?” I asked, now certain again that he was, and certain, too, that he was lying about Mom and Dad’s well being. After all this, I couldn’t imagine something happening to them. I was still having some minor difficulty unscrambling all my thoughts. That did it. Tomorrow, I was becoming a health freak.
“Five minutes, I think. Then they’ll be here,” Mr. Attitude called out. “Tell her, Banning. What are you waiting for?”
“Tell me what?” I asked.
The younger man returned, still in his perpetual state of annoyance. “You’re dead, Sunshine. Banning here is a reaper. I’m Daniel, the demon who’ll be escorting you and him to hell at the end of next week.”
♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥ ♥
Writer of urban fantasy, the paranormal, and all things eerie and curious. Lover of scary books and funny movies, sports cars, chocolate, and changes of season. Owned by two incredible dogs and an iMac. Author, wife, sister, freelance tech writer, and IT geek.
Author of The Haunting Season, The Book of Lost Souls, & Don’t Fear the Reaper.
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