Today I wanted to share a piece of my upcoming release A REAPER MADE. In case you haven’t seen the synopsis on the book page, here’s what you have to look forward to in this fun full-length NA fantasy novel!
Grace had finally gotten used to her new afterlife as a “Made” – a Reaper who used to be human. When Made Reapers and souls begin disappearing, however, Grace and her mentor Tully suspect demons. Grace’s worst fears are confirmed when her living family is threatened.
She’ll have to break every rule in the Reaper book to save them, including using a little magic to become temporarily human. With the help of Tully and her witchy friend Tessa, Grace goes undercover to save the fates of kidnapped souls – only to discover that demons aren’t working alone. Betrayal and distrust runs deep and Grace discovers that sometimes even Reapers are prone to humanity.
I also wanted to share an exclusive sneak peek and am happy to reveal the first full chapter to you now! Keep reading to learn more about Grace and her Reaper responsibilities and be sure to check back on the book page for updates, the upcoming cover reveal, reviews, purchase links, and more. A REAPER MADE is scheduled for a late October release – just in time for Halloween!
A REAPER MADE – CHAPTER 1
The old woman in the hospital bed took in a ragged sigh that sounded like a struggle. She looked around the room, to the bouquet of wildflowers that sat in a plastic jar at the foot of her bed. Then her watery blue eyes focused in on me, sitting in the chair next to her. I sat up, leaned in to take her wrinkled hand in my smooth one.
“Who are you?” she asked, her tone fearful.
“I think you already know the answer to that, Anna,” I said, keeping my voice low and smooth. No need to further frighten them before they passed on.
I shook my head, a curtain of dark hair swaying with the motion. She swallowed hard.
“Not quite. More like an escort.”
Many humans knew us by name, but it still surprised me when they came out and said it. I nodded, a slow movement to prevent her from panicking. Everyone feared dying. It was my job to help them transition.
Anna looked to the closed door and back to me. “You…can anyone else see you?”
“When I want them to, yes. Right now, however, it’s just you and me.”
The old woman blinked hard and when she opened them again, a single tear streaked down her cheek. I gave her hand a reassuring squeeze.
“Anna, it’s all right. You’re moving on.”
I shook my head. “I can’t answer that. No one can. You must discover it for yourself.”
Anna withdrew her trembling hand from mine, put it over her heart. “I don’t know if I’m ready.”
“I wouldn’t be here if you weren’t.”
“What about my family? My daughter, my grandchildren? Can I say goodbye?”
“You saw them this morning, don’t you remember?”
Confusion crossed her face. Anna had been struggling with dementia in addition to her illness, but I knew to be patient. It was in the job description. When she still didn’t speak, I prodded a little.
“Anna, it’s time.”
She gave me another scared look. “Will it hurt?”
“No,” I assured her. “All you need to do is close your eyes and relax.”
Anna appeared to consider her options, her grip tightening on the thin sheets. She sucked in a deep breath, wincing at the rattle in her lungs. Then she steeled herself, looked at me and nodded. “Okay. I’m ready.”
I gave her a warm smile and put my hands on hers. “Close your eyes.”
She did as instructed, the scared look on her face fading as she relaxed into the bed. I sent warmth from my hands to hers, waited for her soul to disengage from her physical body. After maybe ten seconds, I felt a shift in Anna. A sigh escaped her, the air leaving her withering lungs and decaying body. Keeping my hands on hers, I stood and waited.
Then Anna’s spirit came forward, her hand in mine as she lifted herself from the physical plane. Without problem, Anna stood tall next to me, looking younger than she had in years. Her body may have been old and weathered, but her soul, as like most others, appeared younger, vibrant. Most of the older souls, once out of the body that held them back, were happy to feel alive again. It was one of my favorite things about the job, to see the light shine in their eyes after years of aging and physical pain.
Anna gripped my hand, looked back to her body lying peacefully on the bed. She gave me a relieved look. “You were right, that didn’t hurt at all.”
“I’m glad,” I told her with a smile. “Do you want to say goodbye?”
“To that old thing?” she said, waving her hand at her wrinkled body. “I suppose I should, but now that I’m out, all I can think about is the next step.”
“Not unusual,” I said, the corners of my mouth turning upward. Now that Anna was free, the spunk she’d had in her youth returned. I motioned my head towards the door. “Come. Walk with me.”
She didn’t let go of my hand as we walked through the door and out into the hallway. No one so much as blinked at us as we wandered. At first, Anna tried to skirt around obstacles and people, before she realized she went right through them. Before we’d even reached the end of the hallway, she was practically skipping.
“I haven’t felt this good in years,” she said. “Do you think I’ll reunite with my husband?”
“I can’t answer that for certain, but he’ll know you’re coming. He’ll find you if he can.”
“He used to say he’d follow me anywhere. I’ve missed him so much.” She smiled at the memory, then paused as though realizing something. She turned to me. “What is your name?”
“Grace,” she repeated. “Thank you.”
“It’s my pleasure. Would you like to continue walking or do you think you’re ready?”
Anxiety flashed across Anna’s face before she swallowed hard and nodded. “I think…I think I’m ready to go.”
I squeezed her hand. “May you find peace in your afterlife.”
A warm breeze swept through the hallway, though the living continued as though nothing were happening. The wind found us, circled around and played with my and Anna’s hair. I let go of her hand and took a step back as Anna looked around.
“Am I supposed to walk into the light?” she asked.
I couldn’t help but smile at the question; it seemed like everyone always asked. I shook my head. “There are no bright lights. It’s okay – take a deep breath and be patient.”
Souls didn’t need to breathe, but I always saw them do it before they moved on. It seemed to calm them down as it would’ve had they been in their human bodies. Old habits died hard, I supposed, but if that helped them feel better, I saw no need to point it out.
The breeze picked up, turned into an unseen tornado that swirled around Anna. Her hair went in every direction but her posture stayed still. As she closed her eyes, I saw a smile grow on her face. Then the wind took her, and Anna’s soul faded away in front of my eyes. Warmth grew in my chest, as it usually did with each peaceful passing, and I smiled briefly before turning back into the retirement home to find the next soul.