ABOUT THE BOOK:
Grim Reaper Charley Davidson is back in the final installment of Darynda Jones’ New York Times bestselling paranormal series!
Charley Davidson, Grim Reaper extraordinaire, is pissed. She’s been kicked off the earthly plane for eternity—which is exactly the amount of time it takes to make a person stark, raving mad. But someone’s looking out for her, and she’s allowed to return after a mere hundred years in exile. Is it too much to hope for that not much has changed? Apparently it is. Bummer.
She’s missed her daughter. She’s missed Reyes. She’s missed Cookie and Garrett and Uncle Bob. Now that she’s back on earth, it’s time to put to rest burning questions that need answers. What happened to her mother? How did she really die? Who killed her? And are cupcakes or coffee the best medicine for a broken heart? It all comes to a head in an epic showdown between good and evil in this final smart and hilarious novel.
Summoned to Thirteenth Grave
What, pray tell, the fuck?
It wasn’t until I felt the sun on my face that I knew, really knew, I’d made it back. The bright orb drifted over the horizon like a hot air balloon, blinding me, yet I couldn’t stop looking at it. Or, well, trying to look at it. After giving it my all through squinted lids, I gave up and closed them. Let the warmth wash over me. Let it sink into my skin. Flood every molecule in my body.
God knew I needed it. I hadn’t had a drop of vitamin D in over a hun- dred years. My bones were probably brittle and shriveled and splintery. Much like the current state of my psyche.
But that’s what happens when you defy a god.
Not just any god, mind you. No siree Bob. To get booted off the big blue marble, one had to defy the God. The very One a particular set of children’s books called Jehovahn.
The Man had some serious control issues. I bring one person back from the dead and bam. Banished for all eternity. Exiled to a hell with no light, no hair products, and no coffee.
Mostly no coffee.
And, just to throw salt onto a gaping, throbbing flesh wound, no tribe. In this dimension, the one with the yellow sun and champagne-colored sand on which I now walked, I had a husband and a daughter and more friends than I could shake a stick at. But in the lightless realm I’d been banished to, I’d had nothing. I floated in darkness for over one hundred agonizing years, tormented by dreams of a husband I could no longer
touch and a daughter I could no longer protect.
She would be gone by now. Our daughter. I will have missed her entire life. The thought alone shattered me. Cut into me like shards of glass every time I breathed.
But I’d missed more than her life. It had been prophesied that she would face Lucifer in a great battle for humanity. That she would have an army at her back and, fingers crossed, a warrior at her side. And that she would stand against evil when no one else could.
I’d wondered for dozens of years if she’d won, the pain of not know- ing, of not being able to help, driving me to the brink of insanity. Then I realized something and a peculiar kind of peace came over me. Of course she’d won. She was the daughter of two gods. More to the point, she was her father’s daughter, the god Rey’azikeen’s only child. She would’ve been wily and cunning and strong. Of course she won.
That’s what I’d told myself over and over for the last thirty-odd years of my exile. But now I was back. An exile that was supposed to be for all eternity stopped just short, in my humble opinion, of its goal.
Unfortunately, I had no idea why I was back. I’d felt myself being drawn forward, pulled through space and time until the darkness that sur- rounded me gave way to the unforgiving brightness of Earth’s yellow sun. That big, beautiful ball of fire I’d so often complained about as a resident of New Mexico, where sunshine was damned near a daily occurrence.
And here it was, bathing me in its brilliance as my feet sank into dew-covered sand with every step I took. I walked toward it. The sun. Craving more. Begging for more.
“I will never complain about you again,” I said, tilting my face toward the heavens, because the thought of my daughter growing up without me wasn’t the only thing that had driven me to the edge of sanity. Nor the heartbreak of missing my husband. His hands on my body. His full mouth at my ear. His sparkling eyes hooded by impossibly thick lashes.
No, it was the perpetual darkness that pushed me so far inside myself I could hardly stay conscious.
I’d tried to escape. To find my way back to my family and friends. Boy, had I tried. But it seemed like the harder I struggled, the deeper I sank. The realm in which I’d been cast was like an inky, ethereal form of quick- sand. If not for the wraiths . . .
I stopped and bent my head to listen. Someone was following me, and for the first time since materializing on the earthly plane, I tried to take in my surroundings. With my vision adjusting, I could just make out the sea of peaches and golds that stretched out before me. Sand as far as the eye could see.
Then it hit me. The Sahara. I’d been here before. With him.
I started walking again, slowly, making him come to me as I used every ounce of strength I had to tamp down the elation coursing through my veins.
I’d dreamed about this moment for so long, a part of me wondered if it were real. Or if I were hallucinating. But I felt the warmth radiating from his body and I knew. Heat—his heat—pulsated over me in rich, fervent waves, stirring parts of me that hadn’t been stirred in decades. Or churned. Or even whisked, for that matter.
I dared a glance over my shoulder. My knees weakened and my stomach clenched at the sight. Dressed as a desert nomad in traditional, sky-blue garb, he followed at a leisurely pace. A light breeze pressed his robe against his body, outlining his wide shoulders, long arms, and lean waist.
A turban of the same sky blue had been wrapped around his head and face until only his eyes shone through.
Dark. Shimmering. Intent.
Like that could fool me. Like I wouldn’t know my husband from a thousand miles away. His essence. His aura. His scent.
Of course, the ever-present fire that licked over his skin, the lightning that arced around him, didn’t hurt.
He moved like an animal. A predator. Powerful and full of confidence and grace. Every step calculated. Every move a conscious act.
And he was closing in.
I turned back to the horizon, my heart bursting with the knowledge that my husband was still here. Still on Earth. Still sexy as fuck.
And yet, there was something not quite . . .
I whirled around to face him when I realized part of what I was feeling, part of the tangle of tightly packed emotions that made Reyes Reyes, was anger.
No. Not anger precisely. Anger would be far too tame a word. He was livid. Furious. Enraged. And it was all directed at me.
ABOUT THE AUTHOR:
New York Times and USA Today bestselling author DARYNDA JONES won a Golden Heart and a RITA for her manuscript First Grave on the Right. A born storyteller, she grew up spinning tales of dashing damsels and heroes in distress for any unfortunate soul who happened by, annoying man and beast alike. Darynda lives in the Land of Enchantment, also known as New Mexico, with her husband and two beautiful sons, the Mighty, Mighty Jones Boys.