Happy Halloween, Humans!
Here’s a little something-something as a Halloween treat from the world of Styx…
THE REAPER’S KISS Excerpt:
After raiding Lethe, the underground lair of the Head Reaper, Brent and I convened around a piping hot radiator in my livingroom. The temptation to sit on it and warm my buns was there, but I resisted. What was impossible to resist was standing side by side with Brent without touching. And the more we sought warmth, the closer we became. Too soon we were all but hugging in effort to regain our body heat.
Had he suggested removing our clothes, I would not have partaken. I would have liked to know what the rebel Brent Hume was like in the bedroom, but not right before Lethe, in Lethe, or after Lethe, and certainly not standing over a radiator, shivering ourselves silly.
My clicking teeth slowed as the radiator, and Brent’s body heat, melted a layer of ice on my clothing. “Did you… you get the Reaper’s name?”
He pulled down the collar of his shirt to expose a white notecard inside a plastic bag—the prize from Lethe. A name was scribbled on it, but from what I could see the writing had bled. Brent noticed a second after me.
“Mother fucker,” he groused. “The ink got wet.”
“Of course it did.” It was too much energy to roll my eyes. For now, I needed heat. Lots and lots of heat.
He held the baggie up to the overhead light. “I see a name. Baird.”
“Is that a last name or first? Is it a male or female? Who is it?” My shivering worsened my panic, which in turn worsened my shivering. “We did this all for nothing, didn’t we? Didn’t we?”
“Good Hades, calm down, Scrivener.” He turned from me when I tried to get a peek at the name through the soggy baggie. Not one to take such an obvious cue to give him space, I went for it, using my own shivering to launch into the air. Quick as he was, he underestimated my determination. The baggie was in my hands before my feet touched the floor. Being short and swift was a fine offense against tall and slow.
“Hey!” he barked.
“It says Baird. It’s a last name.” I ducked when he reach around my shoulders, thwarting his effort to retrieve the baggy. “But I can’t read the first name. No knowing if it is a guy or gal.”
“Give it back.” Brent refused to continue reaching for the prize, as if little ol’ Olivia outplaying him was a front to his ego.
“I don’t know a Baird,” I said.
“Neither do I. This means I can’t just look the Reaper up and distract him or her like I had planned.”
“So I was right?” I dropped my arms to my sides as we faced each other, Brent looking as bewildered and broken as I felt.
I sighed to keep from breaking into tears. My shoulders and head felt heavy. The couch seemed a great place to throw myself down and let my emotions pour out. I would’ve found out, if Brent did rush at me and grab the baggie. There was only a small glimpse of his wicked smile before we found ourselves entangled, both vying for the prize. A moment after, I found out what it would be like to collapse onto the couch, only with the Eidolon, too, falling over top of me. The springs of the IKEA beast cringed from our weight.
Thoughts of Eve and the name Baird flitted away in exchange for one very real thing hovering above me.
I grew tense but hopeful when his eyes turned to my lips. I knew what that meant. Every woman did. However selfish and grossly out of place it was, I was okay with one kiss, more curious than frightened to discover what it is like to kiss an Eidolon who could drain my life. Perhaps my motivation was to ridicule Fate by kissing the lips of Death himself. Or maybe I was cold, tired, and downright horny.