Home > Reaper Unveiled (Deadside Reapers #4)

Reaper Unveiled (Deadside Reapers #4)
Author: Debbie Cassidy

Chapter One

Snow swirled outside the frosted windows of Lumiers. Winter had a grip on Necro City, and Christmas was a few short weeks away.

Did demons do Christmas?

Would the guys let me decorate the house?

What the fuck was I thinking? Of course they wouldn’t because we’d probably be in the Underealm. I’d probably be dead. Because, unless Cora’s plan worked, in a few short days, Lilith would get her first look at me and realize I looked like her nemesis Eve, put two and two together, come up with a kazillion, and it would be off with my head.

My head…I touched my neck. I fucking liked my head on my shoulders.

No, don’t think like that. Be positive, remember? Focus on the warm and cozy coffee house and the amazing smells. I’d already gone through an éclair, a cinnamon swirl, and a scone with fresh cream and jam.

“Fee, you look like you’re about to be sick,” Cora said from across the table. “I knew you should have stopped after the cinnamon swirl.”

I took a gulp of mocha. “I’m fine. I’m okay. I just…Do you really think this is a good idea? Vi will have questions.”

“And we’ll answer them,” Cora said. “Just let me do the talking, okay?”

I pressed my lips together to cut off my next words because I knew Cora well enough to anticipate her reaction.

She eyed me over the rim of her mug. “For fucksake, Fee, spit it out.”

“We have to tell her I’m planning to mate with Grayson. She needs to know before she decides whether to help us.”

Cora stared at me like I’d sprouted horns. “Are you insane?”

“Cora…”

“Fee…” She mimicked my pleading tone. “You don’t tell someone you’re going to steal their man and then ask them to help save your life. You might as well hand her a dagger and tell her to stab you in the face instead.”

“It’s wrong to get her to help me and then tell her afterward.”

“Maybe,” Cora said. “But if it’s a choice between being a wanker and letting my friend die, I’ll be a wanker.”

God, she had a way with words.

“Look,” she continued. “The guys have nothing. Zip. Nada. Mal tapped all his resources trying to find another bloodwitch with the power to create an amulet to glamour your appearance and hide your bloodline, but he came up empty. Conah spent hours in the Academy vault looking for a solution in the ancient texts they have. Nothing. Vi is our only option. She’s a Masterton witch with connections. She can help us.”

“Without knowing why?” I arched a brow. “The bloodwitches wouldn’t care why. They just want blood, semen, and pain, which is why Azazel went to them in the first place. It’s why Mal has been trying to find one. Don’t you think they’d have gone the legal route otherwise?”

“I know,” Cora said. “But they don’t know Vi like I do. She’ll do this on the sly for us. I know she will, and we won’t have to tell her the full details.” The bell above the door pinged, signaling another customer. Cora peered over the balcony. “She’s here. Let me do the talking.”

My stomach churned, and I took another gulp of mocha. Lie, lie, lie. No, not a lie, an omission. Still wrong. So wrong.

Shut up, voice of morality. Shut up, if you want to live.

“Cora, Fee!” Vi clipped over to us in low-heeled boots, her face all smiles. “I’m so glad you invited me out for coffee.”

Cora pulled out a chair for her.

Vi made herself comfortable and beamed at us. She looked so happy to be here for coffee with the girls. It made my stomach ache to reveal we had an ulterior motive. Not Cora, though. She dove right in.

“Look, Vi, babe, this isn’t just a social meetup.”

Vi blinked at her. “It isn’t?”

“We need your help,” Cora continued. “You know me, I’m straight up, so I’m not going to beat around the bush. We need your help, but we can’t give you all the details as to why.”

Leana, the totally pink owner of Lumiers, appeared by our table with a tray and set a mug of black coffee in front of Vi. “You sure you don’t want a flapjack with that?” she asked.

“No, thank you,” Vi said.

Leana grinned at me. “Another éclair?”

My stomach grumbled even as my mind rebelled. “No, thanks.”

“Oh, I almost forgot, Azazel left his jacket the last time you two were here. I’ve got it around back if you could let him know.”

Azazel…Where was he now? The guys hadn’t been able to get a hold of him to tell him about the invite. He was cursed to protect me, and if he failed, if Lilith killed me, then she would be the one to suffer the consequences of the curse. Even if he no longer felt anything for me, he’d come back for his mother. If only they could get in touch with him.

Leana was looking at me with concern. “Is everything okay?”

No, it wasn’t. I missed Azazel, and I’d cried myself to sleep each night since he’d left, aching for his touch and the sound of his voice. Aching for him.

“Everything’s fine. I’ll let him know about the jacket.” I gave her a bright smile.

Cora caught my eye across the table, and I couldn’t bear to see the sympathy in them. I dropped my attention to my large mocha that seemed to contain a never-ending supply of the chocolatey coffee.

Leana retreated, and I forced my focus back to Vi, who was looking between me and Cora expectantly.

“What do you need?” she asked, but her tone was slightly flatter now, and the brightness had gone from her eyes. “You know I’ll help if I can.”

And she meant it. Even though she was disappointed we’d dragged her here to ask for something, she would still help us. Guilt was a noose around my neck.

I couldn’t do this. I couldn’t ask her for a favor and then stab her in the back a couple of weeks down the line. She was a friend. And friends deserved honesty.

Cora’s boot connected with my shin under the table. She knew what I was about to do. Must have read it on my face.

I was probably fucking myself over, but there was no other way for me. “Vi, before you agree to help us, you need to know you’ll be helping me. And before you say that’s fine, you need to know that I’ll be asking Grayson to mate with me when he gets back from his trip.”

Her mouth parted on a soft exhalation. “What?”

“I don’t know if he told you, but it seems I mated with Hunter in wolf form without realizing it, and now Hunter is after me to complete the mating in human form. That wouldn’t be a problem—I mean, I could just avoid him—but it turns out we’re fated mates, which means I go into heat once a month, and if I don’t succumb to Hunter, it will kill me.”

Vi’s chest was rising and falling faster now.

“Mating with Grayson will take the edge off,” I said in a rush. “It will give the wolf a mate it can accept.”

Vi plucked at the handle of her coffee cup. “Grayson isn’t your fated mate, so he’d be the next best thing. Don’t you think he deserves more than that?”

“Yes. Of course, I do. But if I don’t do this, I’ll have no choice but to go to Hunter, which would, in turn, give him and his pack all the benefits of an alpha female and all the power, something I know Grayson wouldn’t want. Something I don’t want either. I care about the Regency Pack. I don’t want to fuck them over by handing myself to Hunter.”

Vi took a gulp of her coffee and winced.

There was silence.

Oh God, say something, woman.

Fuck it. “Grayson might turn me down. I don’t even know…I just wanted to be honest with you about what I need to do to survive.”

She nodded deliberately. “Thank you. I appreciate it.” She met my gaze. “You’ve got honor, Fee, and I think you’d make a fine mate for Grayson.” Her throat bobbed. “He’ll no longer need my coven once he has you.”

He’d no longer need her, is what she was saying.

“Look, Vi, I don’t want to come between you guys. I just need to be mated, so the heat will stop. I just need Grayson’s help. He mates with me, Hunter leaves me alone, and I’ll do my duty to the pack. The rest…The rest can stay as it is if that’s what you and Grayson want.”

She smiled softly. “I appreciate the offer, but you don’t believe that. Anyone can see that there’s a connection between you two, and mating will only make it stronger, and I…I deserve more than to be the other woman.”

I opened my mouth to protest, but she cut me off with a raised hand.

“No, it’s fine. I’ve been preparing myself for this ever since Grayson brought you into his pack. I can’t compete with nature and the Loup’s primal instincts. I don’t want to.” Her eyes welled, and she blinked back tears. “I’m just glad he’s found someone honorable and decent to take my place.”

My throat was tight with emotion. “Vi…”

“Don’t… Just tell me how I can help you. I want to help.”

Cora took over. “We need an amulet made. One that will glamour Fee and hide her blood ancestry.”

Vi frowned. “Why would you want that?”

“Fee has to go to the Underealm, and it’s dangerous for her to go as herself. We can’t tell you more, but you’d be saving her life if you helped.”

“Death in the Underealm or death by heat,” Vi pondered. “Death seems to want you.”

There was a slight edge to her tone, but then, could I blame her? I’d just dropped a bomb on her that shattered her relationship, and now I was asking her to save my life. God, she was a saint.

“Can you help us?” Cora asked.

My friend was unashamed when it came to saving my ass.

“I can’t personally make such a powerful amulet,” Vi said. “But I will make inquiries. We have several powerful witches in the Masterton Coven and a few outside connections I can tap. I’ll know for sure in a day or so. When do you need it by?”

   
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