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Eleventh Grave in Moonlight

By:Darynda Jones

Eleventh Grave in Moonlight - Darynda Jones
1

Lord, help me be the sort of person my psychiatrist medicates me to be.

—T-SHIRT

I lay on a psychiatrist’s couch, a couch I’d named Alexander Skarsgård the moment my gaze landed on its buttery curves and wide back, and wondered if I should tell Dr. Mayfield about the dead kid scurrying across her ceiling. Probably not.

She crossed her legs—the psychiatrist, not the kid, who was male—and gave me her most practiced smile. “And that’s why you’re here?”

I bolted upright, appalled. “Heavens, no. I’m totally over the whole evil stepmother thing. I just thought, you know, full disclosure and all. FYI, I had an evil stepmother.”

“Had?”

“She died.”

“I’m sorry.”

“No worries. She had an ugly demon inside of her at the time.”

“I see.”

“Wait, no, that was her outfit. The demon wasn’t that ugly.”

“Ah.”

“No, seriously, her outfit was hideous.”

“Perhaps we should get back to the fact that you’re the grim reaper?” She pushed plastic-framed glasses up a slender nose. Thankfully, it was hers.

“Oh, right.” I relaxed again, falling back into Alexander’s arms. “I pretty much have the reaper thing down. It’s the godly part of me I’m struggling with.”

“The godly part.” She bent her head to write something in her notebook. She was quite lovely. Dark hair. Huge brown eyes. Wide mouth. And young. Too young to be analyzing me. How much life experience could she possibly have?

“Yes. Ever since I found out I was a god, I’ve felt a little off balance. I think I’m having one of those identity crisises.”

“So, you’re a god?”

“Wait. What’s the plural of crisis?” When she didn’t answer, I glanced back at her.

She’d stopped writing and was looking at me again, her expression mildly expectant. And ever so slightly taxed. She was trying to decide if I was playing her. I wasn’t, but I could hardly blame her for thinking that. Dealing with delusions of grandeur was probably an everyday aspect of her life. Trying to sort out the legit from the cons.

When she continued to stare, I said, “I’m sorry, what was the question?”

“You’re a god?”

“Oh, that. Yes, but to quote a very popular movie, I’m a god, not the God.” I snorted. Bill Murray was so awesome. “Did I forget to mention that?”

“Then you’re not the grim reaper?”

“Oh, no, I’m that, too. I volunteered. Kind of. Long story. Anyway, I thought you could hypnotize me. You know, give me a full-access pass to my pre-birth memories so I won’t be blindsided again.”

“Blindsided?”

“Yes. That’s why I’m here. Because my sister refuses to do regressive therapy with me, and—”

“Your sister?”

“Dr. Gemma Davidson?” The shrink-wrap community couldn’t have been very big. Surely she knew my sister.

“Dr. Davidson is your sister?”

“Is that a problem?”

“Not for me.”

“Fantabulous.” I rubbed my hands together. “Okay, so, you know how you’re going through life, remembering everything that ever happened to you since the moment you were born—”

“You remember the moment you were born?”

“—and suddenly someone says, ‘Hey, remember that time we singed our eyebrows lighting that bowling alley on fire?’ only at first you don’t remember singeing your eyebrows while lighting a bowling alley on fire, but then you think about it and it suddenly comes to you? You totally remember singeing your eyebrows while lighting a bowling alley on fire?”

She blinked several times, then wrenched out a “Sure.”

“It’s like that. I remember being a god, but not totally. Like parts of my celestial life have been erased from my memory.”

“Your celestial life.”

“Right. Before I became human? I think I have a glitch.”

“It’s … possible, I suppose.”

“I mean, who knows? I might already have a way to defeat a malevolent god that’s loose on this plane and not even realize it.”

“A malevolent god?”

“The malevolentest.”

“And he’s loose on this plane?”

“Yes. And trust me when I say you do not want him here. He takes his death and destruction very seriously. And he has zero respect for human life.”

“Mmm.” She nodded and went back to taking notes.

“Zero,” I added for emphasis, making an O with my fingers. Then I waited. She had a lot to write down. When she kept at it long enough to outline a novel, I filled the silence with, “It’s funny. My husband thought it would be pointless to come here.”

She laid her pen across her notepad and gave me her full attention. “Tell me about him.”

“My husband?”

“Yes.” Her voice was very soothing. Like elevator music. Or summer rain. Or Darvocet. “How’s your relationship?”

“How much time do we have?” I snorted, cracking myself up.

My husband, a.k.a. Reyes Alexander Farrow, didn’t find my joke as funny as I did. It happened. I felt him before I saw him. His heat brushed across my skin. Sank into me. Saturated my clothes and hair and even warmed the cool gold band on my ring finger.

As he passed over me, all darkness and billowing smoke, he paused to whisper sweet nothings in my ear. I barely heard him over the rushing of my own blood. Whatever he said made my nether regions clench in anticipation. Then he continued on his journey, materializing on the other side of the room where he stood in a corner to watch from afar. Ish.

“Just kidding,” I said as his eyes glistened in the low light. “He’s kind of awesome. He’s from down under.”

“Australia?”

“Hell.”

His eyes narrowed, but any threats he may have been trying to hurl my way were nulled and voided by the smirk playing about his sensual mouth. He crossed his arms at his wide chest and leaned back into a corner to observe my goings-on.

He’d been doing that a lot lately. Popping in to check up on me. It could have had something to do with the fact that I had waged war with not one god but two. The malevolent one and the Good One. The Big Guy upstairs.

I decided to ignore my husband to the best of my abilities. I was here on a job. If I couldn’t stay focused despite being bombarded with the most delicious distraction this side of the Flame Nebula, I was no better than a gumshoe-for-hire PI.

Oh, wait. I was a gumshoe-for-hire PI. Which would explain the job I was currently on. It paid the bills. Sometimes.

“Okay, let’s get back to your husband. You mean he’s from hell metaphorically?”

I refocused on the good doctor. “Oh, no. Quite literally. Technically, he’s a god, too, but he was tricked by two other gods—one of which I’ve already trapped in a hell dimension and the other of which I’m currently trying to trap and/or horribly maim—and handed over to Lucifer, who created his only son out of the god’s energy.”

She frowned and squinted her eyes like she was trying to imagine it all.

“Okay, so, basically, you take the energy of a surly god”—I held up an index finger to demonstrate—“toss in some fire and brimstone”—I wiggled my other fingers around said index—“top that with a little sin”—I pretended to sprinkle sin over the mixture—“whisk for five minutes, and voilà.” I flared my fingers as though I’d just done a magic trick. “Rey’aziel incarnate.”

When Reyes scowled at me, I fought the urge to giggle. Nothing like having your entire existence boiled down to its basest elements.

“Rey’aziel?” Dr. Mayfield asked.

I bounced back to her. “Sorry. Reyes Farrow. My husband. You know, I used to think explaining the particulars of my less-than-ordinary life to a total stranger would be difficult, but this hasn’t been bad. I was born the grim reaper: check. I was still learning about my abilities when I found out that I had once been a god with my own dimension: check. I’m married to the son of Satan, a.k.a. Reyes Alexander Farrow, who we recently found out is also a god, through no fault of his own: check. My stepmother was a hell-bitch extraordinaire: check. Somehow that seems important in this situation. And there is yet another god, a malevolent one, on this plane who is in cahoots with Reyes’s dad and wants to kill our daughter, whom we had to send away to keep safe.” I beamed at her, purposely ignoring the pang in my chest at the reminder that my daughter had to be sent away from me just to be safe. Just to have the barest glimmer of hope to live. “This has not been bad at all.”

When it looked like Dr. Mayfield was going to try to refute something I’d said, I raised a hand to stop her. “I know what you’re going to say. And, yes, technically being the son of Satan, among other things, makes my husband an iffy prospect.” I shot him a grin. “But he was a god first. The God Jehovah’s little brother, in fact, and I like to think that that part of him, the good part, is stronger than the evil part that emerged when he was forged in the fires of sin and raised by demons in a hell dimension. Though,” I said, scooting closer, “the minute you get a load of him, your first thoughts will definitely be the carnal kind, if you know what I mean.” I gave her a conspiratorial wink. When she only stared, I added, “Boy’s hot.”

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