Home > Reaper Uninvited (Deadside Reapers #2)

Reaper Uninvited (Deadside Reapers #2)
Author: Debbie Cassidy

Chapter One

“Get up,” Azazel ordered. “Get up and fight me.”

I pulled myself off the mat and shook off the pain radiating through my body. “Seriously?” I rolled my shoulders. “You need to get laid or something because there is a whole load of tension running through your body, and you’re channeling it into—Fuck!”

I dove out of the way to avoid a body slam.

He ground smoothly to a halt and turned to face me. “You talk too much. It will get you killed.”

“Or.” I held up a finger. “It might buy me time. You know, most villains love the sound of their own voices. Monologues are a key factor in any evil scheme. If I can get the bad guy talking …”

He circled me, and my heart rate did that crazy pitter-patter-thud that it always did when he was near lately. He was like a predator—a powerful, silver-haired, growly predator—that, half the time, I wasn’t so sure I wanted to run away from.

It was that darn mark. It had to be messing with my head. Or maybe it was just the fact that I knew it was there.

That he didn’t know.

That he might see it.

That he might find out he was my… No. Fuck that. No way.

I fell into a defensive stance, then, shifting to attack mode, let loose a battle cry and charged him.

His eyes widened in shock. Yes! Didn’t see this coming, did you? But then his lips curved in a smile.

What? No. Was he laughing at me? I was so going to—

Slam into his forearm, because he’d stepped to the side and put his arm out.

I lay on the mat, winded, embarrassed, and pissed off. Fucking hell, was I moving in slow motion or something?

“I hate you.” My words came out as a wheeze.

Why couldn’t we train at night when his vision was compromised. He wasn’t completely blind at night, but he didn’t see like regular people. Just auras and shapes, or so Mal had told me. Not that it affected the way he moved, but still, I’m sure I’d be able to get the drop on him then, right?

I studied his powerful shoulders in the workout vest. The way they bunched as he crossed his arms and stood looking down his nose at me. The man was a tank, a powerhouse, a fucking killing machine. Hell, I could probably poke his eyes out, and he’d still find me. Probably by the scent of my adrenaline. I bet he had super sniff power, too.

“You did good,” he said.

“You’re insane. You call this good?”

“You didn’t bleed today.” And then he turned and walked out of the room.

Fucker.

I glugged a glass of water and refilled it.

“You look like something I’d scrape off my shoe,” Cora said, sauntering in and plopping herself onto the nearest seat.

“Just say it. I look like shit. I know it. I do have eyes.” I smoothed back tendrils of hair that were stuck to my forehead. “I need a shower and a massage. I ache so bad I’m tempted to take Iza up on her butt rub offer.”

Cora snorted. “I’m sure she’d love to get her hairy little hands on your gluttonous maximus.”

“It’s gluteus not gluttonous, and for the hundredth time, she is not in love with me.”

This was the latest from Cora and Cyril. They both believed that Iza had a crush on me. Ridiculous, of course. The imp was merely doing her job, and very well, too. I had baths run for me, clothes washed and ironed, and she even put a heating pad in my bed every night to help soothe my aches from training. Over the past month, I’d learned to accept that the more I asked her to chill, the more she felt she had to do. So, I’d backed off and let her do her thing.

Azazel only worked me out during the day. Parkour, floating, scythe work, dagger play, and his favorite, the beat-down. He called it hand-to-hand, but it was usually Fee-to-mat. He tended to go AWOL in the evenings, though, and then Mal would take over.

Either one or the other was my shadow recently.

“There’s pasta in the fridge,” Kiara said from the kitchen doorway. “Well, similar to what they call pasta in the human realm.” She smiled warmly. “I put a little extra garlic in there for you.”

The appearance of Conah’s soulmate brought conflicting emotions. Kiara was … nice. Like really nice, but Conah … I still couldn’t be in the same room as him without feeling awkward, and there was no logical reason for that. Nothing had happened between us, and to be honest, I was beginning to think the problem was in my head, that I’d imagined a thing between us. Still, the thought of being alone with him made me feel sick, because what the fuck would I say to him? What would we talk about? Luckily, I’d succeeded in avoiding alone time with the golden-haired, blue-eyed Dominus for the past month.

“Thanks.” I grabbed a bowl out of the cupboard. “Want to join me for a late lunch?”

Kiara looked torn. “I’d love to, but we’re running low on supplies, and I need to fly to the market before it closes.”

The last food delivery had been over a week ago by Drake and Carriage—huge, black, flying lizard creatures that pulled a carriage loaded up with supplies. It was usually an imp’s job to order the food, but Kiara had taken over while here. Wait … She was leaving the quarters … Did that mean she was leaving Conah behind?

Cora caught the panic on my face and, leaning back in her seat, tipped her head back to look at Kiara. “You and Conah have fun now.”

Kiara rolled her eyes. “Conah does not do shopping.”

Shit. Conah was staying back. My pulse kicked up. “Then wait, I’ll come with you.”

She bit her bottom lip, eyes smiling. “Fee, have you seen yourself?”

I looked down at my sweat-soaked T-shirt.

“Let me rephrase that. Have you smelled yourself?”

I winced. “That bad?”

“No, just … Demons have sensitive noses.”

There was no option but to bow out gracefully. “I guess a shower it is.” And then I’d lock my doors until it was time to head to Deadside.

Kiara blew me a kiss and retreated.

I sagged against the counter. Nowhere but my room was safe now. I quickly piled pasta onto my plate.

“You can’t hide forever,” Cora said with a sly smile. “Now’s the time to confront Conah about his lies.”

Tension gripped the back of my neck. “There were no lies.”

“Just omissions.”

“Nothing happened.”

“But he gave the impression he wanted it to.”

We’d been over this. “Cora, what’s gotten into you?”

She crossed her arms under her breasts. “I’m sick of you evading. Conah had no right to get your hopes up. He should have been upfront about his betrothal.”

“It never came up.”

“Because he hid it.” Cora’s eyes flashed. “You have a right to be pissed off.”

“Being angry at Conah takes energy away from being angry at the bad guys. In the grand scheme of things, an almost-romance hardly matters.”

“Fine. What about the mark on your chest? When are you going to deal with that? Don’t you think Azazel has a right to know?” She narrowed her eyes. “Just like you had a right to know Conah was engaged?”

Ooh, well-played. But I was sticking to my guns on this one. “No. No, I don’t.” I yanked the collar of my top down to expose the mark. “It’s fading. It’ll be gone soon, so shut up about it.”

She stared at the mark and pressed her lips together. “Fucksake, woman, that doesn’t change the fact that it was there. It doesn’t change the fact that Az is your soulmate.”

A shiver skated up my spine. “I don’t need a soulmate.”

The concept scared the shit out of me. Especially since Cora had done some sleuthing, and by sleuthing, I meant chatting up the locals to get the full deets on what a soul mark actually was. It turns out that a soul mark needed to be confirmed. You were literally binding your soul to another.

Both parties had to accept the bond in a special ceremony. I didn’t know what happened if you ignored the mark or failed to do the binding, but I figured it would just go away. I needed it to go away because the thought of being soul connected to anyone, especially someone as closed off and detached as Azazel, scared the shit out of me. I was a demon raised as a human, and I doubted I’d ever see things the way they did, and to be tethered to one …

They were either cold or full-on. They loved with no holds barred and hated with every fiber of their being. Compassion wasn’t a warrior trait. It was reserved for the hearth. But they did prize their brood mothers—nannies who took care of the demon spawn for the nobility.

It seemed all or nothing with very little gray, and for someone who was used to compromise, to finding the middle ground, it was all a little too much. Besides, wasn’t it enough that I was bound to a celestial scythe?

“I just want to find the bad guys and kill them, hopefully managing to stay alive in the process so as not to fuck up Lilith, you know, the queen of the underworld.”

Cora dropped her arms to her sides, and the tightness in my chest eased a little. She was no longer in combat mode.

“I just want you to be safe,” she said. “And that mark … Being bound to Azazel could keep you safe.”

“He’s cursed to protect me. Trust me, he’ll keep me safe.”

“I know, but that’s a curse. He has no choice but to protect you, but what if he wanted to protect you?”

I snorted. “Because I’m his soulmate? Honestly, I doubt that would make a difference. He hasn’t acted any nicer toward me since I got the mark. Heck, this mark’s probably a glitch.”

“Or it needs to be activated with the ceremony for him to feel the connection,” Cora pointed out.

How had we got back to this? Annoyance flared in my chest. I drew a calming breath. She was thinking about my life. About what was best for me like she always did. Hell, she’d asked Mal to arrange three months of leave for her with Soul Savers so she could stay with me until I got used to the gig, and there was no doubt that she’d made being here easier. But the topic of the soul mark was closed.

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