Hallowed Ink Press
When it comes to death and love...only one is guaranteed.
Four decades ago Nora died. A tragic event for someone so young; however, four decades ago Nora was also given a second chance to walk among the living.
A Death Warden with a mysterious past, her job is to escort the newly expired towards the light, battling with the Soul Hunters who want the freshly dead to help with their own evil purposes buried in the dark.
When Nora's charges suddenly become targets, she realizes that the hunters are after far more than just souls. A shift in power between good and evil threatens to change everything, risking the lives of the only family Nora has ever known.
Devastated and angry, she's forced to face the man she once loved - a man who chose darkness over her - in order to find the answers she needs to stop the horror from escalating. Yet, while a lost relationship still haunts her broken heart, a new Warden with secrets of his own will enter the mix and quickly alter everything Nora believed to be true.
Death is unavoidable...but sometimes, so is love.
No one invites Death to a party.
Luckily, I wore a disguise. . . and I wasn’t Death, exactly. It’s true I might linger around humans on their way out of this world, but I wasn’t the one who decided their fate. I just had to explain it all.
Knowing what type of scene I was about to enter, I decided to use my free time in this realm—as well as my natural petite body—to their fullest advantage. Grimacing at the hideous tunic I wished I could leave behind forever, I morphed into a pair of skinny jeans, black corset, and high heeled boots that clung to my calves like liquid leather. Concentrating a little more, I looked down to admire my success. The matching hot pink thong and lower back tattoo peeked out in all the right places, promising these poor souls favors I would never honor.
At least I didn’t plan on it.
“Wow! Where did you come from, Angel?”
I looked up to see a tall, blond frat boy standing next to the door. His hungry eyes and wide smile tempted something inside me. Not lust, it was pity. He eagerly grabbed at his friend’s arm, directing his attention toward the new fresh meat. I hadn’t even made it up the porch of the old house before being spotted. Although, if being honest with myself, I loved his reaction. I walked up the stairs and stood in the doorway.
Horrible reggae-techno music blasted onto the street, and with each beat of the overly loud bass the windows pulsated. I’d just stepped into the middle of a raging college party. A brief sense of sadness crept through me as I imagined the life I could’ve had as one of the living, if only it hadn’t been cut so short. I never made it to college. Never had a chance to get drunk and be stupid. Never even had a real date.
But when I took in my surroundings, I remembered that I wouldn’t have missed very much.
College students littered the ground floor with their gyrating bodies and arrogant sense of selves. More spilled onto the stairs leading up to the bedrooms, reminding me of cows being led to slaughter. A combination of darkness and smoke from legal and illicit substances created a ghostly haze throughout the house. Glow sticks hung around people’s necks and settled in the bottom of clear plastic cups, giving the cheap beer an odd tint.
“I don’t think we’ve met you before.” The doorman commented while using the proverbial fraternity ‘we’. He was cute. Young and inexperienced, but still cute. Built like an athlete with round, dark eyes and fashionably messy hair, I knew college would probably be the best years of his life. I wondered how long he’d have after that; after losing the hair, gaining the beer gut, and sitting with his co-workers from a hideous job talking about the good old days.
“No, you haven’t.” I smiled, turning on the charm. “I’m looking for Todd.”
“Is that so?” He stepped away from his post and moved closer. Devouring me with his eyes, he offered a wicked smile full of blatant innuendos. He stood close enough for me to smell his cologne over the cigarettes and stale beer stench clinging to his clothes. Not bad. I placed a hand on his muscular arm and rose up on my toes.
“Yes, that’s so.” Not a sexy statement, but I knew how to make it one. I’d had a good teacher when I joined the ‘other side’. Ignoring the sudden pang of longing in my heart, I continued playing my role. With a slight whisper, my lips passed by the frat boy’s neck and brushed close to his ear. His sharp intake of breath let me know I’d hit my mark.
Bending his head down to accommodate our height difference, he returned the flirtatious gesture by speaking directly into my ear.
“Oh, that’s too bad.”
His hand slid around my lower back and ever so slightly pulled me a little closer. He took a deep breath, seeming to commit my scent to memory. A small sensation of his lips against my shoulder sent shivers through my body just before he let out a deep sigh.
“Are you sure you want Todd?” He sounded rather serious, but frat boys had a code, and if I belonged to Todd this one wouldn’t give me too much trouble. Not unless I asked for it.
I giggled and gave a tight squeeze on his arm. “I am right now, but I’ll let you know if it doesn’t work out.”
Pulling back, I looked into his eyes and saw the potential a few more moments of flirting could hold. And the danger. It had been a long time since I commanded this kind of attention.
“Promise?” he asked with a wink.
I nodded, and he pointed to the living room-turned impromptu dance floor. Giving him a final killer smile, I sauntered toward the center of the party feeling his gaze on me the whole way.
Todd McCormick was drunk.
Reeling on wobbly feet, he attempted to dance with his girlfriend, whose slurred speech and loud laughter indicated her own state of induced oblivion. As the center of attention, he sang a bad version of Brown Eyed Girl to Emily in between cheek kisses and gulps of beer. A couple of his friends joined him on the chorus and gave her a serenade only the inebriated could truly appreciate. They were enjoying themselves.
I’d been watching Todd for two decades, and one thing I could say was that when he wanted to let loose, he gave it his all. I suppose I envied him a bit for his youth and naïveté—two characteristics I’d lost a long time ago. Responsibilities, angst, and death now filled my days. I suppose one could argue that I chose this for myself, but I could also argue that I really didn’t have much of a choice at all. And now, here I stood, flirting with college guys while watching others make complete idiots out of themselves with no idea what was in store for them.