GOOD TO THE LAST DEATH SERIES
You Light Up My Midlife Crisis
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Release Date May 24, 2021
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Midlife is definitely a journey. The road has massive potholes.
And the crisis… it’s the gift that keeps on giving.
Being forty is supposed to be freaking fabulous not fatal.
Taking on a daunting new job minus the description isn’t the smartest move I’ve ever made, even if it was to save a friend. Hopefully, it doesn’t turn out to be the stupidest… or deadliest.
Why can’t things stay the way they were? I love my old job. Supergluing ghosts back together and solving their issues is its own reward. Not to mention, I’m seriously good at it. Although, I must say, I’m ridiculously excited for the new Death Counselor’s arrival in nine months…
Adding to my problems, there are four new angels in town who are riding my butt and judging every move I make. Literally. Who knew destroying one Immortal could cause me so much trouble? If I’m found guilty, I’ll be pushing up daisies.
Luckily, my nutty friends have my back and the Grim Reaper has my heart. What could possibly go wrong?
Nothing is impossible. I am living proof. Let’s just hope I live to prove it.
READ AN EXCERPT
“Holy shit,” Jennifer shouted, skidding to a stop with Charlie right behind her. “Is that a floating arm?”
While I was used to random arms and legs lying around, Jennifer was not. “It is,” I said, pulling her back and shooting Tim a look.
I didn’t know what was happening. But I did know that Jennifer was one hundred percent human. There was no way I wanted her near a floating arm. I had no idea if anything else was attached to it.
“On it,” Tim said, leading Jennifer a safer distance away.
“The hand is holding June’s soul,” Charlie cried out. “We still have fifteen minutes to get it back in her.”
His hope for his beloved wife was contagious, and a collective sigh of relief was exchanged amongst everyone. As Charlie slowly walked toward the hand, the soul orb twinkled briefly then disappeared.
His knees buckled and he went down like a broken man. The Immortal Enforcer was one of the most powerful people I knew. Right now, Charlie was a mere shell of himself.
“No,” I hissed. “Unacceptable.” I had a sick feeling I knew who the hand belonged to. I’d immediately narrowed it down to four people—for lack of a better word. “Show yourselves, you lying cowards.”
Again, without fanfare.
Again, without wind or lightning.
The Angels arrived.
The four stood in a row in my decimated front yard where a celestial war had just taken place—a war they were supposed to have refereed. Rafe, Gabe, Abby and Prue might look angelic, but to me they were trash. Weak, lying, horrible people. The blood on their hands from today could have been massive. They hadn’t shown up until the death and destruction was over. From the bored expressions on their faces, it was clear they didn’t care. Their pretty exteriors belied putrid insides.
June’s soul was perched in Prue’s hand.
“You’re late,” I snapped.
“You’re rude,” Prue countered.
“Well, no thanks to you, I’m still here,” I said. “You have something that belongs to me.” I held my hand out for the soul.
“And you have information that belongs to us,” Abby reminded me with a sour expression on her otherwise beautiful face.
“Terms were broken,” I said in an icy tone. “You didn’t hold up your end. You snooze, you lose. Give me the soul. I’m the Death Counselor. It belongs to me.”
“Interesting you should mention that,” Rafe commented, staring at Clarence while speaking to me. He nudged Gabe and nodded in my father’s direction.
Gabe stared with rapt fascination.
Was the Archangel Michael a rock star in Heaven? From their reactions, I’d have to go with a yes. Otherwise, it was just weird.
“Stop staring at him,” Abby hissed. “He’s nothing.”
Abby was a bitch. I was kind of done with bitches for the foreseeable future. However, they had something I wanted.
“The Archangel Michael is not nothing,” Heather said, stepping up to my side. “He’s a more honorable Angel than any of you could ever dream of becoming.”
Rafe raised a brow and Gabe chuckled. “Not surprising,” Gabe said, referring to Heather’s words. “However, I wonder if she would jump to his defense if she knew.”
“Knew what?” my father inquired, eyeing the quartet warily.
Abby’s expression grew uglier. “That she’s your daughter,” she hissed.
“She already knows,” my father said in a frigid tone that gave the four Angels pause. “That is none of your business. I’d suggest we move on.”
The four were silent as they exchanged glances. Rafe shrugged and turned his attention back to me. “As I was saying, it’s interesting that someone who killed an Angel would think she still had the job of Death Counselor.”
Were they serious? Clarissa had a bounty on her head that was their damned responsibility to take care of. The assholes had left their dirty work to me and were now trying to punish me for doing their job. Not to mention, Clarissa had tried to kill my father and me. It had boiled down to her or us. The choice had been a no-brainer.
“Enough,” Gideon growled. “Just because you were too fucking fragile to do your damned duty when you knew the crimes committed and the punishments that were to be doled out, you will not pass judgment on the one who did your foresworn work. Am I clear?”
Prue laughed and eyed Gideon with female appreciation. I wanted to slap her.
“You have no jurisdiction in our community,” she said with a dismissive wave of her hand. “Fallen Angels are beneath us.”
“Far beneath,” Gabe added with a condescending smile at Gideon.
“It would give me great pleasure to behead all of them,” Gideon said.
“That might be a little much,” I told him. “We still have to get June’s soul and put it back in her.”
“Fine,” Gideon agreed begrudgingly. “However, I’m leaving the option open.”
“You dicks are correct for once. The Grim Reaper does not have jurisdiction,” Candy Vargo announced, coming out from behind my father. I almost laughed. She had waited to make an entrance. It was fabulous. “But, as the Keeper of Fate, I have jurisfuckingdiction everywhere, assholes. Nice to see you losers again. Did ya miss me?”
The Angels backed away quickly. While it was every kind of awesome to see the Angels’ fear, it might not be helpful.
“Thank you, Candy Vargo,” I said. “I’d say the Angels are appallingly thrilled to see you. If I need your assistance, I will definitely ask for it. You feel me?”
I still had no clue what Candy Vargo had done to the Angels, but it was obviously heinous.
“Okey-dokey,” Candy said, blowing a kiss to the Angels and stepping back.
“You know what?” I glared at all four. “I’m really tired. Today has sucked so far. Get to your bottom line. I need to eat and then sleep. But right now, I have about fourteen minutes to get that soul back to its rightful owner. It might be a serious blemish on your records if you kill an innocent.”
“Not to mention, she’s the human wife of the Immortal Enforcer,” my father added in a tone that made them think twice.
Charlie was literally shooting silver flames from his eyes. I could tell he was gauging what would happen if he simply went for June’s soul.
I didn’t want to find out.
“If I tell you what’s in the book, will you give me the soul?” I asked quickly before Charlie took the matter into his own dangerously sparking hands.
Prue smiled. It didn’t reach her eyes. Part of me thought I was insane to trust them again since they’d lied already. But the clock was ticking. If there was a chance to get June’s soul without anyone else being incinerated today, that was the way to go.
“Yes,” she said.
“Immediately?” I asked.
She rolled her eyes. “Yes.”
“Unharmed. In one piece?” I pressed. I wasn’t leaving anything to chance this time. The Angels were a very literal bunch.
“Yessssss,” she hissed.
Heather pointed at her watch, then tossed me the notebook with the translation from the book. There was no time to waste. I knew it might backfire, but we were at the point of no return for June. My gut told me to take the risk.
Clearing my throat, I read, “Out with the old. In with the new. Strange happenings are on the horizon. Paths will converge and truths shall be revealed. The future lies in the deadly hands of one. Choices will be made. Who makes the choices and what choices are made remain to be seen.”
All four of the Angels laughed.
“As I predicted,” Rafe said. “But before we return the soul, I’d just like to point out that none of you here have the ability to put it back in without killing your friend.”
That was not what I wanted to hear.
“Can you?” I demanded, wondering what price I would have to pay to make that happen. Whatever it was, I would gladly pay it.
“Interestingly, no,” Rafe said. “It was removed by the Angel of Mercy. It must be replaced by the Angel of Mercy.”
“That might present a little problem,” I snapped. “Did you know this all along? You got what you wanted, knowing I wouldn’t get what I wanted?”
“All you asked for was the soul,” Abby reminded me with a brittle smile. “You didn’t say anything about the safe return to the owner.”
“Are all of you flying freaks so damn literal?” Candy demanded.
“We are,” Gabe said, backing away a little.
“Disgusting,” my father said, staring daggers at the group. “A deplorable representation of our kind.”
“Be that as it may,” Rafe said, uninterested in rising to the bait. “As the text said, there are choices to be made. Who makes the choices and what choices are made remain to be seen.”
I blew out an exasperated breath and willed myself not to imprison them in an iron cage. “Riddles won’t work. I have ten minutes.”
“The Angel of Mercy job is open, Daisy,” Prue said. “You might want to think about taking it.”
“Are you out of your freaking mind?” I shouted. “I’m the Death Counselor. There are no others. I’m the last one. The balance would be thrown off and that would cause a shitshow. And that’s only one of the problems. I’m not Immortal—which I would think is a huge issue. Plus, there is no way in hell I would be able to send souls to the darkness. That’s not how I roll. But hey, here’s an idea to chew on. Why don’t one of you take over the job to make up for fucking up today?”
“Daisy,” Gram snapped. “While shit and damn are just fine in a pinch, we do not drop the f-bomb.”
I closed my eyes and nodded contritely. “Sorry, Gram.”
“I say fuck all the time,” Candy Vargo pointed out.
“Yep, I know,” Gram said. “We’re gonna tackle that after we get you to shave your legs regularly.”
“Fuck,” Candy muttered.
My father seemed as confused as I was. As were Gideon, Heather and Tim. Charlie was still plotting how to get June’s soul back while causing as much harm to the Angels as possible.
And we had less than ten minutes.
“I can’t be the Angel of Mercy,” I said, trying to make them understand. “For all the reasons I told you. I’m the Death Counselor. I’m good at it and I love it.”
“You are not the only Death Counselor,” Gabe said. “Your arrogance is astonishing.”
“Actually, yours is,” I muttered. “Where is this other Death Counselor?”
“She will arrive soon,” Rafe said.
“Okay,” I said, ready to headbutt him. “I’ll bite. Define soon.”
The Angel’s eyes traveled down my body. It didn’t feel sexual to me, more curious. However, Gideon growled and put his arm around me possessively.
“Answer me,” I insisted. The Angel was cruising for a deadly bruising from the Grim Reaper.
“Nine months,” he replied, staring at my stomach.
I grabbed Gideon so I didn’t hit the dirt. My knees felt shaky and I was positive I’d misinterpreted.
Candy cackled. “We’re gonna have a baby to spoil,” she shouted.
Maybe I hadn’t.
My gaze jerked to her. “We use condoms,” I shouted.
“Don’t matter,” she said, still grinning like a fool. “What’s fated is fated. I just didn’t think Gideon’s little swimmers would work anymore. He’s old.”
Gideon’s arms tightened around me.
“I don’t…” he began.
“Know what to say?” I finished for him.
“I’m shocked,” he said.
I was thrilled. I couldn’t help it. I wanted to scream and dance with joy. But there were two issues standing in my way. The Angels didn’t deserve to see my happiness. Most importantly, I had no clue how Gideon felt.
“Happy shocked. Or horrified shocked?” I asked, then held my breath.
“Overcome with joy shock. Over the moon shocked. Humbled shocked, but…”
“But?” I asked.
“But it’s your decision,” he said, tempering his elation.
There was no time to play games. I wasn’t a game player anyway. “I love you. I want the baby we made together. You have made me the happiest woman in the world. We good?”
“More than good,” Gideon replied. “We’re also running out of time.”
He was right. Charlie was ready to explode.
My earlier thoughts raced through my mind and consumed me with guilt. Why was there even a doubt in my mind? I had the chance to save one of my dearest friends. Only minutes ago, I wondered the price I would have to pay to make June whole again. I was certain whatever it was I would gladly pay it… yet, now I wasn’t as sure.
My mind was a chaotic hot mess. I went back to my old standby… a list.
Was this going to make me Immortal? Probably a good question to ask.
Could I stand living forever? I couldn’t answer that. I was forty.
Would it be an issue if I wasn’t sure I believed in God? Most likely.
Could I make the decision to send ghosts to the darkness? Probably not.
I would be in direct opposition with the man I loved and the soon-to-be father of our child. Would that cause a wall between us? Again, no clue.
Could I live with myself if I didn’t save June’s life?
No. I could not.
I had the muddiest clear answer in the world. And I was going with it.
“Five minutes,” Charlie said tersely.
“Yes,” I said, taking June’s soul from Prue’s hands. “The answer is yes. I will be the Angel of Mercy.”
“Excellent,” Prue said. “And so, it shall be recorded,” She waved her hand and shimmering yellow crystals fell from the sky and covered the lawn. “Daisy Leigh Amara-Jones shall henceforth be graced with the title the Angel of Mercy.”
“That’s it?” I asked.
“That’s it,” Prue confirmed. “Job is yours now whether you change your mind or not. You’re stuck.”
I nodded. “I have to go,” I said, turning and moving toward the house.
“Wait,” Abby snarled. “Is that a human?” She pointed at Jennifer in shocked surprise.
“I am,” Jennifer said.
“And you were witness to all of this?” Abby demanded.
“Damn straight,” Jennifer confirmed with a thumbs up. “Much better than Twilight.”
“Unacceptable,” Abby hissed, waving her hand in a circular motion at Jennifer.
Jennifer cried out and fell to the ground.
“What did you do to her?” Tim roared, sounding scarier than I’d ever heard him. “ANSWER ME.”
“She’ll be fine, Courier,” the bitchy Angel growled. “I wiped her memory of all of this. She has not been harmed.”
“Says you,” Tim snapped, picking up Jennifer carefully and shielding her from further abuse.
“Oh,” Rafe yelled as I took the porch steps two at a time. “A couple more things.”
I paused with my back to him. I seriously didn’t have time for this. “What?” I turned and faced the arrogant ass.
“Be prepared to fail. Reintroducing a soul into a human body is rarely successful.”
“Fuck you,” Candy snarled at him. “Might have wanted to start with that upfront.”
He shrugged and laughed. “Daisy will still be brought up on charges for killing her predecessor. A tribunal shall be announced shortly.”
“Is that all?” my father demanded, walking menacingly toward the Angels.
“Almost… Dad,” Rafe said. “I’d say it was nice to finally meet you, but it’s not.”
The Archangel stopped dead in his tracks. My father stared at the Angels. There was little to no emotion coming from either side.
“Wait. What?” Heather shouted. “We’re related to those lying shitbags?”
And the world kept spinning off its axis. I’d have to absorb the stomach-churning news of my extended family later. There were far more important matters at hand than being distantly related to assholes.
“Go, go, go!” Charlie shouted. “Three minutes.”
Using my freakish speed, I raced up the stairs. My friends were right behind me.
This had to work.
Screw the Angels. They’d lied about other things. They could have lied about this.
“Stay with me, June,” I whispered as I touched her icy coffin. “I need you back. Charlie needs you to come back. We all need you.”
Winning was the only option.
I was the new Angel of Mercy.
I was making new rules—and losing was out of the question.
The life-affirming afternoon sunlight streaming through the windowpane was in stark juxtaposition to the scene in front of me. With only a little over two minutes to go, I stared at my dear friend. Feeling light-headed and ready to hurl, I wondered if becoming the Angel of Mercy came with extra knowledge. It certainly didn’t seem like it. I had no damn clue what to do.
“Everyone, back away,” Gideon said, slashing his hand through the air over June’s frozen tomb.
Sparks of blood-red fire left his fingertips engulfing the bedroom in an eerie glow. For the briefest of moments, I was alarmed that none of what was happening felt strange or foreign to me. The unbelievable and impossible had become my normal.
Several of my deceased roomies huddled in the corner of the bedroom to watch—including the gal I called the Tasmanian Devil. She was a wild one with a penchant for scaring people by hiding in drawers and popping out unexpectedly, but she appeared curious and calm. I wasn’t sure it was a good idea to have them here, but there was no time to shoo them away. I was down to nine dead guests. Not too long ago there had been over fifty, give or take a few. Since they could float right through each other it was difficult to count them.
Gideon waved his hand again. The ice that had encased June melted away. There was no puddle of water—no evidence that she’d been interred in a frozen coffin. June’s body wasn’t blue or swollen. She simply looked like she was sleeping on the bed in my sunny guestroom. She wasn’t. Technically she was dead… or almost dead. And it was my job to save her.
There were a few problems.
The tension was high and the silence was deafening. My father stood at the foot of the bed. My mom and Gram floated in the air next to him. Missy and Heather held hands and stood in the open doorway. Tim and Candy Vargo flanked Gideon. The three stood right behind me. Charlie placed himself at my side and didn’t take his eyes off of his wife.
My heart raced as fast as my mind. Scanning the room, I hoped to the darkness and back that someone at some time in their absurdly long life had witnessed what I was about to try… or at least something similar. I wasn’t sure what similarwould entail, but I was willing to take any advice I could get.
“Quick question,” I said, hoping I didn’t sound as freaked out as I felt. “On the outside chance that anyone has seen this before, I could use a hand.”
No one said a word.
“Anyone?” I asked.
“Any ideas?” I asked, staring helplessly at the shimmering golden orb in my hand.
“We could open her mouth and shove it in,” Candy Vargo suggested, sounding as unsure of herself as I’d ever heard her.
“Mmkay,” I said, staying neutral. Candy could be violent. “That doesn’t feel right, but thank you.”
“What about handing it to her?” Tim tried.
“She’s kind of half-dead right now,” I pointed out. “Not sure that would work.”
Tim nodded. He still held a passed-out Jennifer in his arms. “I see your point. I’m going to take Jennifer elsewhere. If she wakes up, she won’t understand since the deplorable Angels took her memory of who we truly are.”
“Yes,” my father said. “Do that.”
Tim left without a sound.
I dove into the minds of the dead. I transported Missy when she was in danger. I ran at the speed of light. I knocked down trees with my hands. I could do this. I had to do this.
“I’m going with my gut,” I whispered. There was too much to lose. Grasping at straws right now was all I had. I sent up a quick, silent prayer to God. I still wasn’t positive I believed, but by taking on the job of the Angel of Mercy it was a fairly safe assumption he or she was my boss.
“Ask more questions, Daisy,” Gideon said, placing his hand on my shoulder. “Talk it out.”
I nodded jerkily. Gideon’s touch centered me. Time was ticking. Charlie was like a bomb about to explode. Considering Charlie was the Immortal Enforcer, that could be very bad indeed. “Where does a soul live in the human body?”
“The soul lives in the heart of a human,” my father said. “The heart is the first organ to appear during embryonic development. The soul guides the heart and the heart protects the soul.”
Awful visions of Candy Vargo carving Gideon’s chest with a dagger for the black magic ritual were stuck in my head. That was a no-go. June was human. She wouldn’t survive being carved like a turkey so I could place her soul directly on her heart.
“The heart encompasses love,” my mother whispered.
Charlie reached out and touched the deathly still June. “Love is the hushed feeling that’s the catalyst for the next breath of air you take. The entirety of love means that when it’s gone, broken pieces become obvious to the naked eye. What is strong becomes weak. It’s intangible—no spoken word can truly make sense of it. I know this to be true. My search spanned millions of years. I never found love until June. She’s my oxygen and my reason.” He paused, then turned his bright silver gaze on me. “Just try, Daisy. If June’s demise is fated, it will be as it should be.”
Charlie was correct. The only way to truly fail was not to try.
My breath caught in my throat. The responsibility was overwhelming. My love for June was different than Charlie’s, but it was strong and real. And I understood what he meant. I felt the same for Gideon.
Nodding again, I let my heart take over. “Take my hand, Charlie. Gideon, touch my back,” I instructed. The soul orb in my hand twinkled. I took it as a good sign. “Charlie, imagine June alive and whole. Picture her in your mind.”
“As you wish,” he whispered, closing his eyes and gripping my hand in a tight embrace.
My next question felt strange and wondrous at the same time. “Gideon, can you protect our child?”
I felt his smile even though he stood behind me. “I can and I will.”
My relief was extreme. I’d never been someone’s mother, yet the fierce need to protect the tiny person inside me was all-consuming.
As the Grim Reaper, Gideon represented darkness. I was banking on me embodying light. The intertwining of the light and dark was needed for balance. Charlie symbolized love and justice. The power of three. An atrocity had been done to June by Clarissa. I had a chance to right the wrong.
“Candy Vargo, sing,” I directed.
“Sing what?” she asked.
“I don’t know,” I said as a bizarre sense of calm washed over me. “Just pick something pretty and make sure it’s in a dead language.”
“Can do,” she said with a grin.
The melody was haunting. It filled the room and bounced lightly off the walls in a surreal and enchanted way. A buzz vibrated under my skin. Leaning down, I kissed June’s soft cheek and gently placed the glimmering golden soul orb on her chest over her silent heart. I felt both Charlie’s and Gideon’s power and strength in their touch. Without thinking, I took my free hand and cupped June’s cheek. The connection was shocking and searingly painful. Sucking my bottom lip into my mouth so I didn’t cry out, I hoped that June wasn’t experiencing the same pain. Hopefully, if she was, she wouldn’t remember.
Gideon’s hand tightened on my shoulder as the sensation of blazing-hot knives ripped through my body and tore me apart. Standing rigidly still and keeping my connection to June, I gritted my teeth and bore it. I was sure my skin had melted from my bones, but no one shrieked in horror. Diving into the minds of the dead was no piece of cake, but it was a whole hell of a lot easier than placing a soul back in a body.
“Stay focused,” Gideon whispered as he wrapped his free arm around my waist so I didn’t fall. “You’re stronger than you know.”
“Baby’s okay?” I gasped out.
“The child is stronger than both of us. She’s fine.”
I decided to believe him. The alternative would be devastating. My body convulsed in agony as the soul glimmered and dissolved into June’s chest. I didn’t remove my hand from her cheek. My gut and my heart told me staying physically connected to June was the key. My survival instincts told me to run like hell. I ignored them. The air was being squeezed and stolen from my lungs. Black spots raced across my vision. Thousands of needles pricked at my skin. I held on.
I refused to let go.
Charlie’s grip on my hand tightened. Under normal circumstances it would have hurt. The circumstances were not normal. I squeezed back. Something snapped. Unsure if it was my bones or his, I paid no attention. Bones could heal. There was no healing June if this didn’t work.
“Too much,” I choked out, keeping my hand on June’s cheek with an effort that I was sure was going to kill me. “It’s too much.”
“Scream,” Heather insisted. “Let it out.”
The permission was so cathartic, I almost cried.
I didn’t. I screamed.
I screamed with fury at the vicious pain racking my body.
I screamed for the gross injustice that had been done to June by Clarissa.
I screamed out the sadness I felt at Steve’s departure into the light.
I screamed at the truth that my mother had been murdered by Clarissa.
I screamed with hatred at the Angels who had left my father and me to die by Clarissa’s hand.
They had failed.
I had no plans to do the same.
Golden crystals rained down from the ceiling and scattered across the bed and hardwood floor. A spring-scented wind blew through the room, mixing with the crystals and making it difficult to see. The pain in my body was replaced by a feeling of anticipation so strong, I thought I might float away on the breeze. Only Gideon’s touch kept me grounded in reality.
The sound of a beating heart echoed in my ears and grew louder with each passing second. Candy Vargo continued to sing. The melody got swept up in the wind, and the swirling breeze sounded like an eerie accompaniment.
It was beautiful.
My hand on June’s cheek didn’t feel like it belonged to me. It belonged to something much larger and far more important. Closing my eyes, I simply breathed into all the emotions dancing through me.
And then everything stopped. The wind abated. Candy Vargo stopped singing. The crystals ceased to fall from the ceiling. The silence was as loud as an explosion.
Too terrified to open my eyes, I eased my hand from June’s cheek and waited.
“Holy shit on a fuckin’ stick,” Candy Vargo grunted.
“Oh my God,” Heather muttered.
“Did it work?” I whispered with my eyes still tightly shut.
“And then some,” Gram said, sounding shocked.
“Charlie?” June asked groggily.
“I’m here, June,” he said in a voice clogged with raw emotion. “And so are you.”
I’d never heard such beautiful words in my entire forty years. My body tingled and sagged with intense relief. If Gideon didn’t have a grip on me, I would have dropped to the ground like a sack of potatoes.
“Wow,” my mom said. “I’m not sure…”
“She’s alive,” my father said firmly. “That’s all that matters.”
Hang on. While Charlie’s words were encouraging, no one else’s words were. Did I give her two heads? Was she deformed? Had I ruined one of my best friends?
“Open your eyes, Daisy,” Gideon urged.
Slowly, I followed his direction. My lashes were caked with crystals, and I was sure what I saw was wrong. It was impossible.
June was beautiful, but she wasn’t exactly the June I remembered.
Wait. Nothing was impossible.
“Umm, Charlie?” I asked, wildly concerned. “How exactly did you picture June?”
Charlie looked as surprised and alarmed as everyone else. “You weren’t specific.”
“Mmkay,” I said, trying to figure out what we were supposed to do now. “While that may be true, can you answer my question?”
Charlie cleared his throat, then scrubbed his hands over his face. “I pictured her as the woman I fell in love with all those years ago.”
I nodded slowly. “So… umm… you pictured June at what age?”
“Twenty-five,” he whispered so softly, I barely heard him.
“Well, that makes sense,” Candy said with a chuckle. “Gonna be kinda hard to explain though.”
“Understatement,” Heather said under her breath.
“What happened?” June asked, sitting up and looking around the room. “Did I faint?”
I exchanged a quick glance with Gideon, who was as perplexed as I was. Sitting down on the edge of the bed, I gently brushed June’s hair out of her face. “Do you remember anything?” I asked.
She stared at me for a long moment, then shook her head. “No, I don’t. I’m so sorry. Did I ruin the luncheon?”
“No,” I told her, unsure what to do.
Charlie saved me. “If everyone could leave June and me alone, that would be helpful.”
“Not a problem,” Heather said, grabbing Missy’s hand and hightailing it out of the room.
My father nodded. He quietly left with the ghosts of my mom and Gram following. The Tasmanian Devil and her cohorts silently faded away. Gideon touched my shoulder and gave it a slight squeeze.
“Remember, the truth works the best,” Candy Vargo warned Charlie. “You’re not God. Don’t be making no rules for anybody or bending reality.” Shoving a toothpick into her mouth, she walked out of the room.
“Daisy,” June said, shaking her head in confusion. “I feel like…”
“What?” I asked with a smile, trying not to gape at the twenty-five-year-old version of my fifty-seven-year-old friend.
“I don’t know,” she said with a confused giggle. “I just don’t know.”
“That’s okay, June.” I leaned over and kissed her cheek the same way I’d done when she’d been on the edge of death.
She touched her cheek and smiled absently. “My goodness, I think I had the strangest dreams.”
“We’ll be downstairs if you need us,” I said, taking Gideon’s hand and turning to leave the room. I didn’t trust myself to keep acting normal. June didn’t need me to stare openmouthed at her.
Charlie smiled at me. His joy was visceral. I felt it all the way to my toes. I had no clue how he and June were going to go forward, but it was now in his court.
“Didn’t expect that,” Gideon said as we descended the stairs.
“Nope,” I agreed. “They have kids older than June. Not sure how that’s going to work out.”
“They might have to move away—start a new life,” Gideon said. “Possibly have to stage their own deaths.”
The thought stopped me dead in my tracks. “That will be awful for them. June worships her kids and grandkids.”
Gideon ran his hands through his hair. “I don’t see a way around it. Charlie can easily age himself to match June and they can be together.”
“Is June Immortal now?” I asked, feeling wonky. I wasn’t sure trading death for Immortality was a good plan for her. “Will she age?”
“Remains to be seen.” Gideon shrugged. “None of us have ever witnessed anything like it. I have nothing to base an assumption on.”
Had I played God? Did I hurt June more than I may have helped her?
“Daisy,” Gideon said, putting his hand under my chin and raising my gaze to his. “Stop. Do not go there. Regret is a waste of time. June’s life was stolen by a monstrosity. You gave June and Charlie a gift that can’t be repaid. It’s on Charlie as to how June came back. He’ll have to figure it out.”
I nodded. “That’s huge,” I said.
“Correct. However, not so long ago you knew nothing about any of this,” he pointed out. “You’re doing fine.”
I raised a brow and grinned. “Define fine.”
Gideon laughed. His laugh made everything alright in my world. I craved the sound. He placed his hand on my stomach and gazed into my eyes.
“I love you, Daisy Leigh Amara-Jones. I’m besotted with the life we created inside you. As Charlie wisely said, love is an intangible emotion that words don’t suffice in describing,” he said, making my heart skip a beat or three. “It’s invisible—weighs nothing. However, it’s stronger than any magic I’ve come across in my millions of years. You’re my addiction and my meaning, Daisy. You’re the person I was destined to find.”
Throwing my arms around him and almost making us tumble down the stairs, I kissed him. “Actions speak louder than words,” I whispered. “And yes. I am fine.”
Gideon gave me a naughty lopsided smirk. “Fine you are,” he agreed, copping a feel of my bottom. “Very, very fine.”
I rolled my eyes and grinned. “You’re not too bad yourself, Reaper.”
“Thank you, Counselor,” he said, then paused. “Or rather, Angel.”
I wrinkled my nose. “We’re gonna need to discuss that.”
“It can be arranged,” he agreed. “How about this evening? I want to take you somewhere.”
I liked the sound of that. “Works for me. Let’s go make sure everyone is okay. I’m worried about Jennifer too.”
“Never a dull moment,” he said, taking my hand.
“You got that right.”