(Spoiler Alert for those that have not read Fifth Grave Past the Light.)
* Warning: Explicit Sexual Content Must be 18 years or older to view.
Shimmer as Told Through the Eyes of Reyes Farrow
by Darynda Jones
Charley Davidson sat up straight on the edge of my sofa and blinked at me, her huge, gold eyes sparkling beneath dark lashes. She wore a soft sweater that looked like heavy cream against her skin, and dark jeans that molded to every sensual curve she possessed. She’d kicked off her boots and sat with one leg curled underneath her. To say that she looked charming would be to deny those other aspects of her that made her so incredibly unique. The sensuality. The allure. The fact that she was the deadliest creature this side of forever. Fortunately for many, that fact had escaped her thus far.
She glowed in the low light of the fire. Her essence seemed to bask in its warmth. The blinding light she was forever enshrouded in absorbed the soft yellows and oranges from the flames licking over the crackling logs. It gave her a shimmering incandescence. Enwrapped her in a blush of gold. The effect was surreal and intoxicating. I’d have to remember to build a fire more often.
When I’d first remodeled this apartment, the one right next to the exquisite being sitting next to me, I’d installed an electric fireplace. Seemed like a good idea at the time. It looked real. Sounded real. Even put out heat. But it was no more real then the world around me. So I had it ripped it out and replaced with an actual wood-burning fireplace, not an easy task in a building with no chimneys. Money may not be able to buy happiness, but it could damned well buy a flue.
But that lesson drove home the fact that things on this plane were rarely what they seemed. Take people, for example. Humans. Those who feign interest in my wellbeing are never concerned simply out of the kindness of their hearts. They want a return on their investment. Most often, that return is me. Their hunger when they look at me is palpable. Their desire abrasive. Unwelcome. Their smiles fake and full of need.
But Charley Davidson, aka Dutch, was the real deal. The genuine article. I never doubted where I stood with her. If she was mad at me for any reason, she damned well let me know it. And she didn’t let me get away with much. The honesty was refreshing and addictive, just like Dutch herself.
But her light, her luminosity that was the quintessential element of all grim reapers, was what lured me to her in the first place. Before I remembered what a reaper was. Before I remembered what I was. Being near her, even incorporeal as a child, was like a standing at the epicenter of heaven. The glow of her essence was warm. Nurturing. Soothing. And yet blisteringly hot.
As I studied her, I couldn’t help but wonder what Christmas lights, sparkling in a dizzying array of colors, would do to her aura. Would they dance through the mists of warmth that radiated out of her? Would she reflect the multicolored lights like a prism and cast shards of colored lights along the walls? Lights that only supernatural beings could see?
I fought a grin as I questioned both that and her latest choice of careers. She was always coming up with one scheme or another, but this latest one had me baffled. “A reporter?” I asked, trying not to make it sound as outlandish as it was. It didn’t work.
Her mouth thinned, her expression meant as a reprimand, and a dimple appeared at one corner of her full lips. “No,” she said, shaking her head. “I don’t want to be just a reporter. I want to be an investigative reporter.”
The grin I was fighting won, hands down, revealing my true thoughts on the subject. “So, being a private investigator, the owner of an apartment complex, part owner of a bar and grill, a consultant for the Albuquerque Police Department, part-time bartender, and the only grim reaper this side of the universe isn’t enough?”
The dimple deepened as she drew in a long ration of air. She placed the pen and notebook she’d brought with her—presumably to take notes during her first interview as a bona fide snoop—on my coffee table, then turned back and leveled her best glower on me.
“That’s my professional life. Professional.” She paused, arching her brows and giving me time to absorb her meaning. Sadly, I was more interested in the dimple that reappeared at the corner of her mouth every time she flashed that reprimanding expression. “This is my personal life. I’ve decided to become a reporter more as a hobby. Because, you know, how hard can it be?”
I cleared my throat and shifted in my seat. “You do realize you just offended every reporter alive. And probably many who aren’t.”
She didn’t argue. “You have a point, but seriously, I know people.”
She leaned toward me. The movement stirred the air between us and her scent wafted closer. I breathed in the aroma of apple blossoms and vanilla. I couldn’t tell if it emanated from her shampoo or a light dusting of perfume. Whatever it was, I’d buy her a case. It suited her. It was fresh and sharp yet deeply alluring.
“Think about it,” she continued, and I had to force myself out of my musings. “I could interview famous people no one else can get to. You know, the dead ones. Imagine the assignments I could get.”
She continued talking as I studied the cleft in her chin. I tried to focus, but that cleft was damned sexy. I barely caught scraps of information as she spoke. Something about Abraham Lincoln wrestling with Jane Austen, and Hitler doing meth. And as fascinating as Hitler’s drug dependence was, I could not seem to drag my attention away from the shadow the cleft created. Or the way she splayed her slender fingers when trying to convince me of something.
“The possibilities are endless!”
Her excitement brought me back. Her enthusiasm was admirable, albeit misguided.
I relaxed into the corner of the sofa and balanced a lowball glass of neat bourbon on my thigh, noting the fact that the amber liquid swirling in the cut crystal matched Dutch’s eyes to a tee. The first time I’d seen those eyes, the first time I’d left my physical body and traveled toward her beckoning light, I was three, and she was making her first appearance on this plane.
I’d only recently made the acquaintance of the man who would raise me and learned the reason for my acquisition. Perhaps it was because of my otherworldly status, but even at three I wanted nothing more than to die. To rid myself of my earthly body. To stop the advance of course hands and cruel teeth.
Then I saw her. Felt the warmth of her glow. She was like a safe harbor in a storm and I relished every trip I made to her. At first, and for many years after, I thought she was a dream. A figment of my imagination. An angel I’d conjured to offer me comfort in my hours of need. It wasn’t until I was nineteen and behind bars for a crime I didn’t commit that I remembered what I was. Slowly and with painstaking precision, I remembered why I’d been sent to Earth. Why I chose to be born in human form. Why Charley Davidson was like a magnet, luring me to her, unconsciously demanding my attention with a mere thought.
Grim reapers had more power than any other supernatural being on this plane. One day Dutch would learn that. Until then, I’d let her continue to believe I had more power than she did. It served my purpose for the time being. When she became all that she could, she’d learn that I was nothing more than speck of dust she could wipe off the face of the earth.
The sudden silence struck me and I realized I’d been staring. In turn, she stared back. I could feel desire spark inside her and spread. It caused a physical reaction of my own. A longing in my gut that only Dutch could stir.
I placed an index finger across the seam of my mouth and slowed my heartbeat so I could study her without pouncing like an addled schoolboy. But the hunger in her eyes was almost my undoing. She had no idea how easily I fell when she was near. I decided to warn her off her current path. “If you keep looking at me like that, this is going to be a very short interview.”
She tore her gaze away. “Right,” she said, clearing her throat and reaching for her pen and notepad again. “Right. So, does this mean I can ask you some questions?”
“You can ask me anything,” I said. I left out the part where my answering her questions was still optional, but she quickly picked up on it.
“Let me rephrase,” she said, tapping the pen against that gorgeous cleft. “Does this mean you will answer my questions?”
After a thoughtful moment, I said, “I’ll answer anything you ask.”
Excitement rushed through her, causing me to smile behind my hand. “Fire away,” I added.
She shimmied into a comfortable position, propped her elbows on her knees and, with pen in hand, said, “Okay, what was it like growing up in hell?”
Straight to the point, like always. She was about to be very disappointed. I almost felt bad. Almost. “Yes,” I said matter-of-fact.
Without missing a beat, she nodded and wrote down my answer before continuing. “Great. Okay, on that note, what was it like having the first fallen angel as your father?”
She was playing along. God, I loved it when she played along. It made the game so much more fun. “Sometimes.”
She bent her head to write again. Long locks of her chestnut hair spilled forward over her shoulders. “Mm-hm, and what is your aversion, exactly, to Christmas?”
Ah, I suddenly understood. “Whole wheat,” I said.
She kept writing, but I could feel her disappointment. It dampened the excitement that had been rushing through her. Leeched out the adrenaline that had coursed through her veins.
Never one to be accused of bad sportsmanship, she raised her lashes, and said, “That was deep. I’m touched.”
Though not intentional, the double entendre cut straight through my gut. “I can touch you much deeper than that if you’ll let me,” I said, unable to help myself.
She breathed in a soft gasp.
I figured now was as good a time as any to call her on her misdeeds. “This wouldn’t happen to have anything to do with a certain box I found outside my door this morning.”
“What?” she said, doing a one-eighty. “What box?” Appalled, she tossed her pen onto the notepad. “I’ve never seen a box in my life.”
I had to school my features to remain impassive.
She sat on the crux of more arguments before caving completely. “Okay, fine, let’s say, for argument’s sake, there was a box of indeterminate size and shape seen in the general vicinity of your threshold. Did you open it?”
I let one eyebrow inch up in admonishment. It was my turn to reprimand. “I thought we agreed.”
“We did. I swear.” She did the Boy Scouts sign. Not sure why. There was nothing boyish about her lush curves. “But it’s not fair that you can get me something for Christmas and I can’t get you anything.”
I shrugged, unconcerned. “But we agreed.”
She rolled her eyes. “We only agreed because a naked lady with a knife mistook me for a pauper, and I needed backup. That chick was like a triathlete.”
She’d summoned me the night before when naked woman with a knife was chasing her, yelling, “Death to all paupers!” Drugs may have played a big role in that woman’s murderous rage. But I’d made her promise not to get me anything before I’d help her out of that sticky situation. I had a feeling she reneged on our agreement.
“Doesn’t matter,” I said. “A deal’s a deal.”
“Ugh.” She threw herself back onto the empty space on my sofa and tossed an arm over her forehead. It was all quite dramatic. “Reyes, why? The true joy of Christmas is in the giving. If you don’t let me give you a gift, you’re sucking all the joy out of the whole season like a fuel-injected, twin-turbo Hoover.”
I laughed. “Not my problem.” As she lay there moaning in annoyance, I decided to give in. “Fine,” I said in acquiescence, and she bound up off the sofa, hope welling in her eyes. “I may have opened the box.”
She clasped her hands together, the image endearing. “And?” she asked.
“And . . .” I paused as the hope radiating out of her and brushed over my skin. “And, you’ll have to see for yourself.”
Her gaze darted to my crotch so fast, I had to fight back a bark of laughter. “Really?” she asked. “Like, right now?”
The thought of her checking flooded me with anticipation. “No time like the present.”
I’d propped one arm on the sofa. I took my other arm and draped it over the back, my drink dangling from my hand. But I wanted her to know the invitation was real. Her gaze raked over me from head to toe, the interest in it undeniable. An electrifying heat pooled low in my abdomen causing me to harden beneath her stare.
Taking a deep, calming breath, she reached forward to unbutton my jeans. Her fingers trembled and the realization that she was both nervous and excited was like being struck by lightning. I couldn’t move. I couldn’t tear my gaze off her as she slowly led the zipper down. It didn’t matter how many times she touched me, the visceral thrill that spiked in my core every time her skin brushed across mine leapt inside me.
The evidence of my interest was unmistakable beneath my boxers. I waited for her to comment on the gift she’d bought me. Instead, she crawled onto my lap, her movements graceful like an antelope, and leaned forward until our mouths almost touched, until the scent of her cherry ChapStick mingled with the liqueur on my breath. Then she reached beneath my waistband, her delicate fingers encircling my rock hard erection, and a bolt of pleasure shot straight to my core.
I heard the glass slip from my grasp. It dropped onto the thick carpet with a thud as she released me from the confines of my jeans, lowered herself to the floor, and took my cock into her mouth. I sucked in a sharp breath of air, steeling myself as I took a handful of her hair to slow her attack, to control her rhythm. I could already feel the swell of arousal, the rush of blood through my erection as her mouth slid down the sensitive shaft, as her teeth grazed the skin. I hardened even further. Ignoring my iron grip, she swallowed every inch of me, the exhilaration agonizing and raw as she pulled back, paused a tense moment, then swallowed me again.
I bit back a curse as my hips came off the sofa. “Dutch,” I said through clenched teeth, warning her to slow her assault. I was no schoolboy, but holy fuck she could suck cock. A man could only take so much before losing all control.
Dutch felt the same rush of pleasure that I did. I could feel the nuclear heat melting her from the inside out, and she was not about to ease her attack. I plunged my other hand into her hair and pulled her up until she was lying against my chest. Holding her prisoner there, I ripped at the button of her jeans and pushed them down over her delicious ass. Goose bumps erupted over her silky skin as cool air hit it. I ran my fingers over the lush roundness before ridding her of her jeans and panties completely and lifting her over me into a straddling position. It allowed my mouth complete access to the exquisite folds between her legs.
I braced my hands on her hips and suspended her in midair as I tasted her. As I tormented her. The moment my tongue brushed across her clit, she sucked in a sharp breath of air. Her reaction caused a liquid heat to permeate every molecule in my body. She braced her hands on the sofa for balance, shaking as I dipped her closer and suckled her before easing her back to feather soft strokes over her swollen flesh. Every brush of my tongue whipped the molten lava inside her, churned it until it reached a fever pitch. The ecstasy radiated out of her and washed over me like an electric wind, leeching into my pores and saturating every inch with a succulent fervor.
She was about to come. I felt it rocketing toward her, but before the orgasm had a chance to manifest, she fought her way off me, clawing at my wrists, pulling at the fingers that had locked her to me like a vice. I’d wanted that orgasm as much as she had, but I eased my grip and let her straddle my chest. Once there, she leaned over and grabbed handfuls of my hair.
With her mouth at my ear, she whispered, “I want you to bury your cock inside me. I want to feel the earth quake when you come.”
I groaned and obeyed without hesitation. Pulling her into my arms, I rolled us over until I was on top. In one, quick movement I plunged inside her. She was sleek and hot and wet. My entrance spiked the pleasure within her, the pressure of my erection making her gasp aloud.
She wasn’t the only one. I had to pause, to get a hold of my senses. I held my position inside her, buried to the hilt, but only for a moment, only long enough to get control and to give her time to adjust to my size before I pulled back and plunged in again. She cried out, but I didn’t offer her quarter a second time. My thrusts grew increasingly quicker, increasingly harder as I hooked an arm under one knee, spread her farther apart, and milked her closer and closer to the edge. She clawed at my back. The sharp sting only heightened the arousal roiling inside me. Her own arousal swelled like a tidal wave and I thrust inside her harder, faster, slamming against her until I felt an explosion coming from within her, one final surge of hot energy. It burst and crashed against me, welding my teeth together until her orgasm siphoned the pleasure pulsing through me, channeling it until it reached nuclear levels. I came in a volatile surge of force, the blast thundering through me in sharp, startling waves.
I clasped her to me, a low growl escaping as spasms of pleasure spilled through me. And the earth shifted beneath us. Our energies collided, fused together and created a powerful fissure in the space-time continuum. The earth rumbled beneath us until the atoms inside of our bodies calmed and the excitement ebbed.
We lay breathless as the earth settled around us, still half-clothed, limbs entangled. Dutch’s sweater had been tugged and twisted until her stomach showed beneath it. I ran my hand along the dip of her waist and over the swell of a creamy hip, marveling at the soft afterglow our lovemaking had invoked in her. We were on my rug, while the furniture that was normally on my rug had been either toppled over or pushed off the carpet altogether.
Dutch reached up and ran her fingertips underneath my half-buttoned shirt. She slid them down my spine and over my buttocks, causing an immediate response to coil over my skin. I nestled my face into the crook of her neck, breathed in the fresh scent of her hair and skin.
Then I remembered what started this whole event in the first place. Namely Dutch’s insistence on buying me a gift against my wishes. My very explicitly stated wishes. “What did you think of the gift you gave me?” I asked her, trying to sound aggravated. It didn’t work.
She lifted her head and grinned as she took in the clothes tossed haphazardly across his living room floor. “I think those boxers probably look better on the ground than on you.”
I leaned back so she could see the astonishment on my face. “Are you dissing my Jingle Bells boxers?”
“Not at all,” she said, feigning concern. “It’s just, you look better in the buff.”
I could live with that. I relaxed against her again but couldn’t resist a little more ribbing for good measure. “I’m wearing them every day for the rest of my life.”
She laughed out loud, the sound like champagne bubbles in the air, the gold in her eyes sparkling in the half-light of the fire. “You wouldn’t dare.”
The challenge narrowed my lids. “Watch me.”
“I’ll burn them.”
I shrugged a shoulder. “Then you’ll have to burn me, too. I’m never taking them off again.”
She sank her teeth into my shoulder, my thin shirt doing little to protect from the sting of her bite. It only served to excite me. I grabbed her head and held it to me a long moment. Then I lifted up again and gazed down at her, watched as a soft blush blossomed on her cheeks. I ran my thumb over her bottom lip and down to the cleft in her chin.
After a minute, she broke away from my stare and said, “Speaking of presents, what did you get me?”
My brows shot up. “That wasn’t enough?”
A rather insulting bark of laughter filled the room. Cleary it had not been. I’d have to try harder next time.
“That little tryst we just had?” she asked. “No way are you getting off that easy.”
Figured as much. I cast a sideways glance to a drawer in the coffee table. The one that was nowhere near the spot it had been in when we began the evening. Without hesitation, she lunged forward. Sadly, I was still on top of her, so I got to watch as she struggled to reach the drawer. I tried not to laugh out loud. Inside, however, I was enjoying both her comical efforts as she flailed about and the hedonistic pleasure her wriggling caused.
After a struggle that rivaled that of a spawning salmon during its annual journey upriver, she finally opened the drawer and searched blindly inside. I waited, fascinated with her tongue as she thrust it out one side of her mouth in concentration. Grabbing hold of something at last, she pulled out the box wrapped in gold foil I’d placed there.
“Is this mine?” she asked, excited.
I aimed for the same perplexed look she’d given me earlier when I’d asked about the box outside my door. “I’ve never seen that box in my life.”
She lay back on the carpet and chuckled. “It’s a simple yes/no question.”
“My thoughts exactly.”
“Ah,” she said, understanding.
I was referring to the question I’d asked her recently. Another simple yes/no question. She had yet to give me an answer.
“Can I open it?” she asked.
“It’s all yours.” Fighting a grin, I lowered myself to her side and propped up my head to watch.
She tore through the wrapping and took out a blue velvet box. She glanced back at me as though unable to believe her eyes. After pulling her bottom lip between her teeth, she lifted the lid. Two rolls of cushioned velvet sat inside. The slit that those cushions made should have held a ring, but it didn’t.
Sucked to be her.
She gaped at me. “What is this?” she asked, appalled.
“It’s a simple yes/no question,” I said, trying to keep a straight face. I lay back, crossing my arms behind my head. “When I get an answer, you get the rest of your gift.”
“That’s blackmail,” she said, sputtering in disbelief. But I could feel her emotions as easily as she could. Disappointment was not one of them. She was having just as much fun as I was, playing this game we played.
Still, I really did want an answer, preferably an affirmative one, and I wanted it soon. So, yeah, a little blackmail never hurt. “That’s good business,” I said. “It doesn’t make sense for me to give you a ring if you say no. I’d be out a lot of time and money. This all hinges on one tiny English word.”
She snuggled against my side, staring into the box as though imaging the ring it might have held. “What if I answered you in pig Latin instead? Would I get the ring then?”
“But you know pig Latin as well as I do.”
“If you can’t say yes or no in simple English, the deal’s off.”
She popped onto an elbow, a mischievous grin lifting the corners of her exquisite mouth. “Yes or no in simple English,” she said, seeming quite pleased with herself.
“It’s too bad, really,” I said, ignoring her. “The cut is exquisite.”
She sighed and rested her head on my shoulder, but not before making sure every strand of hair on her head fell across my face. Unmoved, I blew a lock out of my mouth and ignored the rest. Well, not ignored so much, as breathed in the fresh scent. Luxuriated in the velvety feel.
“It’s not going to work,” she said, still gazing at the box. “You can’t blackmail me into marrying you.”
I took her chin between my fingers and lifted her face to mine. “Honey, I’m the son of Satan. I could blackmail you into giving your first born to a traveling circus if I wanted to.”
She lifted a single brow in acquiescence. She believed me. She believed that I had power over her. That she would lose if we ever went head-to-head. I would let her continue to believe it for now. I’d keep the fact that she could crush me into dust with a single thought under wraps for a little while longer. I had only one true defense against her, and someday I’d tell her what that was, for anyone who knew her name, her true celestial name, had a tiny particle of power over her. It would give me an advantage should I ever need it. Should our otherworldly goals ever conflict. I was the son of public enemy number one, after all. And I had sins to account for.
Still, the mere thought of the two of us at odds brought me such pain, such agony, that I rarely let it cross my mind. But she was a reaper. One day she’d start acting like one and I would be defenseless against her. Until that time, I would drink her in like my life depended on it. I’d waited so long, centuries in fact, for her to be born on earth. Forbidden fruit often produced the sweetest nectar. I would stall any battles yet to come as long as possible, and then I would surrender to her, let her annihilate me, because life without her would be unbearable.
Until then, however . . .
I lowered my head, placed my mouth on hers, and let my fingers explore the folds between her legs again. She squirmed and let her legs fall open under my touch, and I reveled in the feel of her once again.
Have you read Shimmer?
(Spoiler Alert for those that have not read Fifth Grave Past the Light.)
“GLOW” by Darynda Jones is in its entirety the sole property of Author Darynda Jones and may not be copied or used without sole permission from the author.
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