Special First Look in A REAPER MADE: Rhys

We’re approximately 2 weeks away from release day for A REAPER MADE. I’m suddenly remembering that this is a real book, that real people will hopefully read and enjoy. Maybe my nerves are a little tight. Maybe I’m stress eating. Maybe just read this new little excerpt and let me know your thoughts…! 😀

Some context: This is part of Chapter 4. Grace, her mentor Tully, and best friend (and witch) Tessa visit a supernatural bar named Luther’s in order to meet one of Tully’s contacts. Luther’s is the big introduction to how this fictional supernatural world works. Grace’s mentor has had suspicions about souls being taken, so he’s called someone who can help. This is the introduction of Rhys, a Shapeshifter ally I had fun getting to know. Writing characters is such a unique process, their very beings coming to and sort of bossing you around with what they’ll do. Rhys is one of those characters. Hope you enjoy!

CHAPTER 4

Luther’s was dark and smoky, the shadows shifting as their owners got comfortable. Music played in the background while murmurs of conversation floated between the tables. Supernatural beings (supes) knew they were safe here; no dark magic or demons were allowed. Anyone else, however, was welcome to spend their money here, including the two vampires at the bar, a suspiciously hairy guy to the far right, and several others who appeared human but I knew would be anything but.

Inside Luther’s everyone got along, no matter how many of us went bump in the night. Tully said it was actually humans with their fairy tales and bedtime stories that made people think supes couldn’t get along. Like that old vampire versus werewolf stigma – provided they stuck to their own territories and didn’t attack each other, they had no beef. They were happy to ignore each other, while other supes got along just fine. We all knew that demons were the ones to fear.

A voice snapped me out of my people-watching. “Didn’t think you’d actually come, Tully.”

“Why is that?” Tully asked the tall shadow in front of us.

The voice became clearer as its owner stepped in front of us. “Reapers don’t spend a lot of time in bars.”

I looked up to see him standing at our table, a handsome man that had plenty of eyes following him to our table. The brown bomber jacket and navy henley shirt couldn’t hide his broad shoulders and chest. His dark hair fell in a neat sweep, trimmed on the sides and just tousled enough to be fashionable. Dark eyes flashed beneath his brows as he scanned the room over his shoulder. I was surprised at his good looks; most shifters chose not to stand out in crowds, instead choosing average and forgettable appearances. This guy would catch attention standing next to movie stars.

“Rhys,” Tully greeted him. “Have a seat.”

Rhys had already caught the waitress, a cold beer bottle in his left hand. He slid into the booth next to my mentor. He gave me a nod, but his eyes lingered on Tessa. “Hi there.”

She bobbed her head in greeting, more interested in the why than the who. “Hey.”

Rhys looked at Tully, motioning to Tessa. “How come you didn’t tell me about her?”

“I did,” Tully said, his reply short, “she is the witch.”

“Usually when they’re her age, they’re covered in warts,” Rhys said.

Tessa’s brown eyes narrowed over her drink. “Keep your comments to yourself and your tongue will stay in that shifty mouth.”

I bit my lip to keep from laughing, used to Tessa’s aggressive stance to strange men, supernatural or otherwise. Tessa had been around long enough not to trust just anyone, especially someone who could change their appearance at will. Rhys grinned at her, taking no offense at her statement. Talk about a heartthrob; his straight white teeth would’ve dazzled me had I been a living teenager.

“Thank you for meeting me here,” Tully said, bringing us back to the topic at hand. “If you don’t mind, I would like to dive right into why I needed to speak with you.”

“By all means,” Rhys said, his face becoming businesslike. “Did you bring what we discussed?”

Tully gave him a sharp nod, passed a blank yellow envelope to the shifter. I hadn’t even raised an eyebrow before Rhys slipped it into his inside jacket pocket. I didn’t miss Tessa’s nudge to my leg as we both wondered what the hell was in that envelope. It wasn’t like Tully to make sketchy deals; doubt began to build in my chest. Tully didn’t see my worried expression.

“What did you find out?” Tully asked, his voice so low we had to lean in to hear him.

Rhys shifted so that his back was to the outside of the booth to prevent outside listeners. His eyes flicked to us and back to Tully.

“It’s what you suspected,” he said. “Souls aren’t passing over. Half the state’s been deposed of Reapers and no one’s got a clue as to where they went.”

A gasp escaped me; I hadn’t known what to expect but that certainly hadn’t been it. Tully shot me an annoyed look before turning back to Rhys. Tully looked, for lack of a better word, puzzled. I’d never seen his face so curious or lost.

“Are you certain? I have noticed there are more living than not as of late,” he said. “Souls are not crossing over the way they should.”

“Couldn’t that be an overpopulation problem?” I asked, my eyes going back and forth on the men. “You know, make more Reapers and solve the problem?”

Rhys shook his head. “My girl ‘H’ is a solid resource. Says there’s been rumblings of a magical entity, something outside of the usual stuff. Could be someone’s harnessing power.”

“Like who?” Tessa butted in.

“Dunno.” Rhys shrugged. His eyes twinkled as he smirked at her. “Maybe witches.”

She scoffed at the dig. “Or a greedy shifter.”

Rhys almost smiled at her return, clearly enjoying the dynamic. Tully stuck his hand in the middle of the table to get between them.

“Now, now,” Tully said, “if we had to guess, I would insist on the obvious choice of a demon.”

A shadow seemed to come over our table, our expressions sour at the mere word. No one liked demons. Both the witch and shifter paused long enough to consider the Reaper’s statement. When the silence continued, Tully nodded to his confidante.

“Thank you for your help, Rhys,” Tully said.

Rhys drained his beer bottle and nodded, slipping out of the booth. “If you need anything else, you know where to find me. Ladies, here’s my number if you need anything. Anything at all.”

He dropped a piece of paper across the table and gave us a nod. He snuck in a wink to Tessa, who rolled her eyes. I looked down at the table to prevent Tully seeing my grin. Rhys made his way to the exit, slipping out the door without another glance.

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