I wanted to give you a little taste of REAP & REVEAL, book three, in The Reaper Series but the problem is, I don’t want to REVEAL too much if you’re just starting the series. With that in mind, I thought Chapter Four was reasonably safe.
The reaper kitchen was part Animal House, part Army mess hall, and part The Waltons. It was clear to Nate which part the reaper Raguel fell into as he tried to impress the three women of the household by tossing pizza dough into the air.
“You see? Nothing to it. A child could do it.” Ragu caught the dough over his arm and let it slide gently to the granite tabletop.
“A child is doing it,” Samkiel offered, accepting the full wrath of Ragu’s playful glare.
“Ah, but you’ll be begging for more very soon, my friend. Once you’ve had Ragu’s saucy meat and dough, you won’t go back to any other.”
A brief moment of stunned silence followed, and then laughter exploded around the room. It had been a long time since most of them had had anything to laugh about. Even Ruth was in the kitchen tonight, although in a wheelchair, visibly pregnant and under the fierce eye of Temperance, her guardian angel. Or more accurately, the unborn child’s guardian angel.
Even though Ruth was only four-and-a-half months along, she was advancing quickly. Maybe reaper pregnancies were different. Deacon had been no help in that department. Being born himself was his only source of knowledge on the matter. Besides, the guy was scared to death with worry over her most of the time, so even gentle questioning nearly pushed him into full-blown paranoia. Nate had learned to get his answers elsewhere.
He’d been caring for Ruth as best as he could, getting occasional advice from the OBGYN at Oakland Hospital since St. Mary’s Hospital was out of commission. Permanently.
The media has pegged the disaster as an earthquake along the New Madrid fault line. It was the biggest disturbance that had been measured since 1811. The building wasn’t even salvageable and demolition had already begun. The place was sorely missed in the community.
Being at the city’s epicenter, it had also cared for a steady stream of homeless people who were now so far from Oakland’s ER, the EMTs and several off-duty docs and nurses had formed a team of their own to offer triage and minor care in an empty warehouse clinic nearby the former hospital’s location.
Olivia had been a mitigating force behind the group’s formation, and she had even set up a free kitchen that fed the homeless downtown. Kylen had forbidden her to conduct any nighttime visits. Not that Nate could blame him after what had happened the last time she was downtown alone.
Nate sat heavily on a chair, as exhausted as if he hadn’t slept at all. Of course, with those dreams of Maeve, it almost felt as though he hadn’t.
“’Bout time you turned up in here.” Deacon crossed the room and took a seat next to him. “What happened to you last night? We debriefed after everyone got in, but Oreo said he saw you head straight to your trailer. What gives?”
Bo circled, chasing his tail three times around, then settled onto the floor beside him, resting his head on Nate’s lap with a sigh.
Nate threaded his hand through the hellhound’s fur. “Just didn’t feel like recapping a night full of failure.”
“It’s more than that. We need to keep track of how many demons we see, how many we kill, how many are potentially left. We’ve made a real dent these past few months. We need to keep the pressure on. Which means every pair of eyes is important. Yours included.”
Nate felt every pair of said eyes in the compound settle upon him.
“You know Bo and I weren’t looking for demons, Deacon.” Nate stared hard at the reaper.
They’d had this conversation several times. Deacon was the leader of the reapers now. The Powers. But he wasn’t Nate’s boss. Not really, because Nate wasn’t a reaper.
The rest of the Authority crew could now enter and travel through the consecrated subway from unconsecrated ground. They could also consume the unhosted demons, destroying them in a permanent manner as a result of their allegiance to the Authority. And a few had other gifts. Like the ability to transport the wanderers to a holding cell in Purgatory.
Those gifts were a little bit special. While Nate had always been able to travel through the consecrated subway from wherever he pleased, he did not share most of their other gifts. The dreams were new, however, and he needed to tell Deacon about it… Still, he couldn’t bring himself to lay it bare before the entire group.
“Don’t start with me, Deacon. If it was Ruth out there, your priorities would be elsewhere, as well.”
“It’s not just that we need you and Bo to track demons for us, Nate. We can’t protect you if you’re out there doing the Lone Ranger thing.”
“Bo is with me. He can protect me. You’ve seen him shred a demon.” Bo gave a little whine in agreement and licked Nate’s pant leg.
“I agree that finding Camael is imperative. It’s your methods that worry me. What will you do if you do find her without us to back you up? Bo may be enough to protect you from a few demons, but you won’t stand a chance against Camael alone. At least stay within sight or sound of one of the teams. Promise me that.”
Nate shook his head. “I don’t make promises I can’t keep.”
“Pizza’s ready! Dinner…is served.” Ragu pulled a steaming pizza out of the former fireplace turned wood-fired oven to cheers of appreciation.
Nate’s stomach growled. Deacon gave him one last hard look and retreated back to Ruth, filling a plate with pizza for her as he made his way through the food line. Nudging Bo’s twenty-pound head off his lap, Nate joined the back of the line. He was starving.
Ruth’s close encounter with a reaper coma had been all he needed to convince him to take care of himself. So far, knock on wood, he hadn’t needed to replenish anyone since they’d set up the new compound. Even though the other reapers acted like a bunch of frat boys in their free time, they were dead serious about maintaining their health and their strength.
Each had been chosen for their particular skill set by Grim himself and recruited to the Authority. Except for Maeve, who was fairly new, and Ruth, who was brand-spanking-new, the rest of them had been reapers for well over a hundred years each. Deacon and Kylen were two hundred plus some change. The only active reaper older than them was Grim. Yes, the Grim Reaper. Grim had enjoyed the sunset of his career mostly free of demon activity. But now that was in the past.
Thinking of nasty demons brought Nate full circle, back to the puzzle of what to do about Maeve. How was he ever going to be able to anticipate where she would be next? He certainly wasn’t going to be able to capture her and exorcise the angel if he couldn’t lay physical hands on her. Camael was too smart to walk onto a demon trap even if it could hold him. Besides, Nate had only successfully accomplished that once—with a demon. He’d never trapped an angel. Didn’t even know if it was possible.
It had to be possible. After all, for every yin there was a yang, right?
Last in line, he grabbed a slice of pizza and tossed it over to Bo, who snatched it from the air and swallowed it in one gulp.
Damn, that dog can eat.
Nate piled three more face-sized slices onto his own plate, stacking them like pancakes and headed back to his chair. He almost made it, too.
Then his head exploded.
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