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Exclusive Reyes Pov III from Eighth Grave After Dark

 

 

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from Eighth Grave After Dark?

(“Warning: Spoiler Alert”)

“I

 found her.”

 

    

     I turned to the kid, Angel, and tried to keep control of my emotions. I knew it wouldn’t take him long to find her if she was still on earth. My fear was that she’d ascended. That she was no longer on earth and had taken her rightful place as grim reaper. Or even god of her realm. She’d come into her powers. There wasn’t a damned thing I could do about it if that was her choice.

     “Where is she?” the Daeva asked.

     The Daeva’s inquiry gained the attention of everyone else in the room, since they couldn’t hear the kid. Didn’t know he’d gotten back.

     Cookie stood and glanced from the Daeva to me, then back again. Dutch’s uncle Bob did the same while Amber and Quentin watched with wide eyes.

     Gemma had been pacing the kitchen floor, but she stopped and questioned me, her expression hopeful. “What? Did your guy come back?”

    “Angel. Your sister’s investigator. He’s back and he says he’s found her.”

    She covered her mouth with a hand, then rushed to Cookie and hugged her.

    I turned to the kid. “And?”

    “She’s so bright now, it’s hard to find her center. To find her in all that light. But she’s in some town in New York.”

    “New York?” I asked.

    “Like from the story. That town with the headless horseman. Sleepy Hollow.”

    “What the fuck is in New York?”

    The kid shrugged as everyone once again turned toward me askance.

    “I don’t understand,” Gemma said.

    “Neither do I.” Swopes was getting angry. The unknown did that to humans.

    “She’s only been gone an hour,” Gemma said. “How could she possibly have gotten to New York in an hour?”

    But the Daeva knew. He’d stilled the minute the kid said it.

    I stepped to him, anger coursing through my veins like liquid fire. “Why are you surprised, slave? This is your fault.”

    He stood and stepped toe-to-toe with me. In all honesty, the fact that he looked like a kid meant nothing. He was centuries older than I and had been the deadliest Daeva in hell. On any other day, if he got really lucky, if the planets aligned and the tides shifted the gravity of the earth a centimeter to the left, he might have a snowball’s chance of kicking my ass. Today was not that day.

    He seemed to have something to say, so I fought the urge to break his neck outright.

    He leaned in until I could see the minute details of his irises. “You’d been evicted, fuckhead. Daddy had taken over your digs and was about to kill your daughter. What would you have had me do?”

    “Not that,” I said. He’d done the unthinkable. He’d told Dutch her name. Her celestial name. And now all that power coursing through her veins would be almost uncontrollable, as she’d proved with her trip northeast.

    Swopes had moved closer to the Daeva and me, knowing what we were capable of.

    A  slow grin spread across the Daeva’s face. “Afraid she’ll figure out exactly what you are, gutter rat, what you’ve done, and leave your insignificant ass?”

    “The only thing I’m afraid of is how much I’m going to enjoy burying your body tonight.”

    “You’re nothing more than primordial ooze that slithered up from the basement, and she’s a fucking god.”

    “A god?” Gemma asked. “Is that metaphorical?”

    But the Daeva wasn’t finished digging his own grave. I gave him all the rope he needed to hang himself.

    “Why would you ever believe yourself worthy of her?”

    “There are innocent people in this room,” Swopes said.

    “Reyes,” Cookie said. She’d stepped closer. Placed a hand on my arm. Looked up at me with those gorgeous blue eyes of hers. “Please find her.”

    I swallowed back my anger—and my sudden thirst for Daeva blood. She was right. We needed to find out what was happening with Dutch, not start a war between us.

    “There’s something else,” the kid said.

    I glared in impatience.

    “I think she’s lost her memory.”

    The Daeva, anger still surging through him, grabbed the kid’s dirty T-shirt. “What do you mean, you think?”

    The kid pushed him. “Get off me, pendejo.” He brushed his shirt, as though that would help, before continuing.    “I mean she doesn’t remember who she is. But, I don’t know, maybe she remembers other things.”

    Quentin, who could see the kid as well as I could, was telling Amber what he could understand. Going by his signs, he’d pretty much nailed it.

    Amber stood and walked to me. “Is that right?” she asked. “Charley has lost her memory?”

    “What?” Now it was Gemma’s turn to place a hand on my arm. “Reyes?”

    I grabbed my jacket off the back of a chair. “I’ll find her.”

    “Wait,” Gemma said. She sank into a seat at the table. “We need a plan. You can’t just go up to her and force her to come home. If she doesn’t know who you are, you could do more damage than good.”

    “I won’t force her to do anything.” I started for the door when the Daeva decided to press his luck again.

    “Listen to her first,” he said. He’d grabbed hold of my arm, and the seething anger I’d felt before came back ten times stronger.

    But Robert was beside me, too. “Please, Reyes,” he said. “She’s very good at what she does.”

    After a moment, I’d calmed down long enough to sit at the table and listen to Dutch’s sister go on and on about her sister’s psyche. About how fragile it had to be at that moment with everything she’d gone through. And now she vanished before our eyes only to end up somewhere in New York with no memory.

    “She must have suffered from some kind of psychotic break, Reyes. We need to give her time to recover.”

    “I’m not leaving her up there alone,” I said, making sure my tone spoke volumes on the subject.

    “I’m not saying that. I’m just saying, we need to reveal her past to her slowly, to let her try to find her way back on her own.”

    “So, what’s your plan?” Robert asked her.

    She thought a moment, then glanced at him. “How much vacation time do you have saved up?”

    “As much as I need.”

    She smiled. “Okay, here’s what we do.”

    We got as much information from the kid as we could about where Dutch was and who she was with; then Gemma laid out a viable plan for us. One that involved most of us going to New York. Amber and Quentin had school, so they would stay back, but the rest of us were headed to the Northeast. I chartered a plane. We would leave in seven hours. Not soon enough, in my opinion, but the others had to make arrangements.

    The longer we waited, however, the more danger Dutch would be in. With no memory of who she was—of what she was—she was more vulnerable than ever before, and my father had emissaries out there just itching to separate her head from her body. Not to mention the three gods of Uzan. Throwing them into the mix was like bringing nuclear weapons to a knife fight.

    Everyone left to make arrangements and clear their schedules, leaving me alone in the house with the Daeva. He stood without saying a word and started for the stairs.

    “You’re wrong,” I said.

    He stopped but didn’t turn around.

    “I’ve never believed myself worthy of her.”

    “At least we have that in common.” He took the stairs three at a time, and I couldn’t suppress my doubts about him. Why was he here? What did he have to gain? I’d been suspicious of him from day one, and my suspicions grew stronger by the minute.

    Finally, after a long wait, I said, “You can come out now.”

    Dutch’s father appeared in front of me. He was almost as tall as I was. Thinner, though. Lighter. “I’ll keep an eye on her until you get there,” he said.

    “I have the kid for that.”

    He hesitated. “I’ll help.”

    “How did you know about the spies?” I asked him. I’d been very curious about that. How he’d told Dutch about the spies. How he’d known about them in the first place.

    He shrugged a bony shoulder. “You know how it is. You hear things on this side.”

    Before he knew what I was up to, I grabbed him by the throat, making it impossible for him to disappear, and shoved him back against the fireplace. I couldn’t actually choke him, since he was already six feet under. I just felt better with my hand around his throat. “I won’t ask again.”

    He scoffed. Fought my hold. Failed. “What can you do to me that hasn’t already been done?”

    With a smile as sincere as a used car salesman’s, I leaned in to him. “I can send you to hell.”

    He stilled, but only for a minute. “Bullshit. You can’t send anyone to hell.”

    “I’m the portal. I can send anyone.”

    “Look,” he said, giving up the struggle. “It’s not what you think.”

    “Enlighten me.”

    “I had no idea what Charley was. I swear. Not until I died. Only then did I discover that my wildest imaginings didn’t even come close. I mean, seriously? A god? But you know what your father is planning for her. And for my granddaughter.”

    “Better than anyone.”

    “Well, I did what I do best. In my early years on the force, I went undercover, sometimes for months at a time. I collared more dealers than anyone on the force.”

    “Ah, so you’re undercover. Doing what, exactly?”

    “I’m a spy. What else?”

    His treachery stunned me. “You’re spying for the very people who want your daughter dead?”

    His mouth formed a crooked smile, mostly because I still had him by the throat. “I am. I told you, I’m undercover. And I know who Duff was reporting to. The man in the black Rolls. I’ve seen him. He’s one of your father’s emissaries.”

    “You’re not impressing me, Mr. Davidson.” I prepared to send him to hell. He was better off in hell than spying on his daughter for my father.

     “Think about,” he said. “You knew me before I died. Do you really think I went to hell?”

    He had me there. He was a good man for the most part.

    “It took me months to get in with them. To convince them I’d been sent by the big man downstairs. And the more we talk about it, the more likely you’ll blow my cover. So if you wouldn’t mind getting the fuck off me.” He shoved my arm and I lost my grip, but he didn’t disappear. Least he had balls.

    “Still don’t believe me?”

    “Your word is not evidence,” I said, giving him a long leash. If he disappeared now, I’d know he was lying, and next time there’d be no exchange. I’d throw him into hell before he knew what hit him.

    “In your room, underneath the slats on the bed.”

    Fine. I’d bite. I strode to our room, the one Dutch and I had shared for over eight months, and shoved the mattress off its frame. A picture floated to the ground. I stepped into the square frame and picked it up, though I didn’t need to look. It was the picture Dutch had of me when I was around fourteen, the one she’d managed to get from a crazy old lady who lived in a building I’d once lived in growing up. The man who raised me, Earl Walker, used to take pictures of his handiwork. This one was of me tied up, bruised and bloodied. But I’d endured worse. Still, I felt the emotion that charged through my wife when she looked at it. I wondered why she kept it. She’d even brought it here. Why?

    “To remind her,” Leland said. He’d appeared beside me. “She thinks she is going to prevent anything like that from happening to you ever again. She thinks she is your savior, and it’s going to get her killed. Just look at what she tried to do tonight. She tried to trade her life for yours.”

    As gratingly right as he was, he hadn’t convinced me of a damn thing. I put the picture in my back pocket and started to pack. “This isn’t evidence.”

    “I was just making a point.”

    “And that point is?”

    “That the man who did that to you—the man you made a quadriplegic and who you think is in a care facility drinking his meals through a straw—is the man in the Rolls.”

    He’d caught me off guard. I shot around to face him.

    He nodded. “The emissary has been inside him for weeks. Who better, after all? He knows more about you than anyone. Knows how you think. Your weaknesses. Your habits.”

    “No one knows how I think.”

    “But Earl Walker knows better than most. The beast inside him, the emissary, finally killed him yesterday and now has complete control of his body.”

    “Thank God for small favors.”

    “Those things are bloody hard to kill once they’ve burrowed inside a human host. These aren’t your average demons.”

    “I know that. I was there, remember? I saw what one did to your bitch wife.”

    “Then why didn’t you know about Earl Walker?” he asked me.

    I stopped.

    He nodded. “I think your father let you see exactly as much as he wanted you to see. There’s still a lot you don’t know and a lot I can help with. I’m in, Reyes. Let me do what I do best, but first let me help with Charley. She’s my daughter. I have a right.”

    There was no denying that Leland had been a good man when he was alive, but death did things to people. Their good nature didn’t always survive the trip into the supernatural world. I was beginning to think, however, that Leland’s did.

    “I want reports every two hours,” I said, stuffing a handful of shirts into a duffel bag.

    “You got it. But Reyes, there’s a reason I told you all this.”

    I gave him my full attention. “More good news, I assume?”

    “Not really. I just find it odd that Charley ended up in Sleepy Hollow, New York, of all places.”

    I shook off the dread clawing its way up my spine, and asked, “Why?”

    “Because that’s where Earl Walker is now.”

*This POV is a bonus chapter in Eighth Grave After Dark by Darynda Jones

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