“I don’t know what it is about her, but she sets my soul on fire by simply existing.”
SIMONE, AVAILABLE FOR PRE-ORDER
What’s good, world! My name is Chase. I’m the bass player for Scorpion Tail, and here’s my confession.
This happened a while ago, but I’m gonna try and remember all the details.
One night, I was at a party. Not by choice. I was riding with Slice that night. We were supposed to grab a bite to eat then head to MonaLisa’s pad for an unscheduled jam session. But Slice got a call while we were on the road and the plans changed. He said we had to make a pit stop to his boy’s crib to pick up his fam, and get some “drank and bitches”.
His words. Not mine.
He asked me was I cool with that. What was I gonna say? No? He was my ride. Besides that, who turns down drank and bitches? Again, his words.
We rolled up to this big ass pad on Paper Mill road. I felt outta place before I even entered the house.
Slice knew everybody. He was giving fist pounds and partial man hugs everywhere we went.
Right away, I noticed the scattered skin. The dolls were out in masses. Fuckin’ Kardashian look alikes of every shade. Some were in dresses that barely covered their assets, and others were in bikinis, thongs showcasing bubble booties. One thing was for sure, they wanted attention. And they got it! Fellas were on the prowl.
I stuck out like a sore thumb, there weren’t many white dudes around. Just another reason to feel outta place. I strolled behind Slice with my hoodie on and my head low. When Slice disappeared to do his own prowling, I made a beeline for the kitchen.
Food and booze, they had plenty of it, so I got my fill.
I saw this chick in a red hoodie, sitting in a corner with a cigarette clasped between her fingers. She wasn’t like the other broads. For starters, she actually wore clothes—baggy jeans and Tims. She had a goth-like vibe going on. Her hair was long, but her sides were shaved. Dark lipstick, choker, charcoal eyeliner… Yeah, total goth chick. I couldn’t take my eyes off her. She was such a unique beauty. She looked like Lauryn Hill and Aaliyah had a baby together.
Some dude approached her. He was clearly thirsty, even though he had a beer in his hand. He tossed a few pickup lines at her. Not sure what she said to him in return, but that kat got 38 hot. “You stank ass, uppity biotch!”
Most chicks would be pissed. Not her. She laughed in his face, straight footing his pride. Dude went ballistics. He started calling her everything under the sun, spitting at her, throwing hands up and shit!
I didn’t know her, but that shit bothered me.
Slice came outta nowhere and hemmed that kat on the wall, forearm to the throat. Dude didn’t wanna catch them skull-crushing hands, so he was quick to apologize then he bailed the fuck out. Smart move. Everybody knew Slice not only beat the drums, but he cracked craniums too.
Okay, I’m gonna do a little dialoguing here. Try to keep up.
Slice whispered something to the hoodie chick that made her giggle then he rushed over to me. “Aye Chase, I got a little something to deal with over there.” He nodded his head to his left.
Two chicks were looking at us. Well more like looking at him. Girls didn’t flock to me like that. I was the odd ball—skinny white dude. Only time chicks looked my way is when I’m shredding my bass. Anyway, they had that look about them. You know the look, when you’re zooted and got the monster munchies, and you’re presented with freshly glazed donuts, Krispy Kreme delight. Yeah, that look. Heat seekers.
I came back at him with, “That looks like two somethings to deal with.”
“Four if you count them big ass tit-teys.”
I couldn’t help but laugh. Slice was a fool.
“You see the spit-fire tom boy over there?” He was talking about the hoodie chick.
“You mean Lauryn Hill and Aaliyah’s love child?”
Got him to smile with that one. “Her name’s Rochelle. We call her Roc. She’s my fam from NY. Keep an eye on her. Let me take care of these two Beckys real quick, then we can bounce.” He checked his watch. “Gimme ‘bout thirty.”
Thirty minutes? Sounded like bullshit. “More like two hours. They look like they’re gonna require an extended stay. Hope you had a Red Bull earlier.”
“Bruh, you stoopid!” He laughed then tossed his keys and wallet at me. “But you’re right.” He headed upstairs, with a doll on each arm.
After that, I picked a spot in the kitchen and just chilled. I had a perfect view of Roc, who was still posted way across the room in her corner. Some dudes near me decided to light up a fat ass doobie. I couldn’t hit it myself, due to my druggie past, but I wasn’t ‘bout to walk away from a contact high.
“Yo, Chase. It is Chase, right?” Roc was suddenly in my face. I would’ve stumbled back, but she had me pinned against the counter.
I didn’t remember taking my eyes off of her. But I did remember some chick sprinkling a line of powder on kitchen island, so I may have been momentarily distracted. That’s probably when Roc ran up on me. She moved fast tho! I swear she vampire-whooshed across the damn room in the blink of an eye.
She grabbed my hand and pulled me along.
“Oh-kay,” was all I could say. She had me baffled as fuck. Like, why was she dragging me around and stuff? And why was I letting her?
She pulled me over to the other side of the kitchen, near the fridge. Then she snatched the half-drunk beer outta my hand.
“Ayyyeee…” I reached for it ‘cause I wasn’t done with it. Took time to cut a lime, squeeze it in to enhance the flavor and shit, so I wanted to nurse that bitch.
“Here.” She shoved a new cool brew against my chest.
She was easy on the eyes from afar, but she was hella pretty up close. That New York accent made her even cuter. Her hoodie was partially unzipped. Beneath it, she had on a fitted half top. I wasn’t trying to stare or nothing, but she had to be larger than a B-cup.
“Thanks, I guess.” I grabbed the neck of the bottle, but she didn’t let it go.
“You were trying to catch a contact over there?”
“Don’t play coy. I read all through that bullshit. You were trying to get high.”
“I was trying to enjoy my beer.”
“While posted next to pot heads and dragon chasers? Right. Try again.”
She had me there. I smiled. “You got superpowers or something, ‘cause I swear I took my eyes offa you for a hot second and—”
“That was a long ass second.” Finally she let go of the bottle. “You were watching ole’ girl sniff those lines. You feenin’ for a hit or what, golden boy?”
Damn, was I watching her that hard? “Why you treating me like a junkie?”
She cocked her head. “Aren’t you? Slice made it sound like you were ‘bout to slip off the edge.”
Like, WHAT THE FUCK? How he gonna do me like that? Her first impression of me was that I’mma damn drug head. Fuckin’ Slice… If I could kick his ass, I would. “Don’t know what he told you, but I’m not that guy anymore.” I walked past her and headed for the counter across the kitchen.
“Where you going?” she had the nerve to ask.
I almost didn’t answer. Didn’t want to take my anger out on her tho. Not her fault I have a fucked up past. “Sounds like you’re policing me.”
“You don’t hear my sirens?”
Had to hand it to her, she had some cute comebacks. “Lime. I like lime in my brew.”
Her voice followed me. “Oh, so you a saditty white boy?” She giggled. “Go ‘head with yo’ lime then.”
I knew she was joking. She had just insulted the fuck outta me by calling me a druggie to my face and this was probably her way to make up for it. But I was too damn irritated, and frankly embarrassed, to let it slide off my shoulder. I walked out the house and headed for Slice’s truck. Yeah, I was ghosting her. I know Slice told me to keep eyes on her, but I wasn’t in the mood to take a tongue-lashing from New York’s finest spit-fire all night.
I leaned against the hood and pulled out my ciggy pack. By the time I lit up, Roc was standing in front of me.
“Okay, now ya’ getting creepy. This is just plain out weird.”
“Are you running from me, golden boy?”
“Hells yeah! You’re gonna follow me all night?”
“That’s what I do, follow suspicious white boys around just in case they get the urge to shoot up some shit.”
“Oh wow, you’ve added racism to your insults. Nice. Please, keep it coming.”
“Aw c’mon, I’m just fuckin’ with you, Chase. Lighten up. To be honest, you’re the most interesting thing about this whack-ass party, which we both know is nothing but a skin buffet. So yeah, consider me your shadow.” She did this cute pouty thing with her thick lips. “Did I hurt your feelings back there? When I mentioned the drugs?”
I shook my head no, then I nodded yes. “I’m fuckin’ sensitive, okay. You can’t tell I wear my emotions on my sleeves?”
She stared at me for a moment, smirking. “You wouldn’t last a day in New York.”
“Probably not. Why’re you here?” I’d been curious about that since I saw her.
“Uhh, I dunno really… Visiting? I got a little time off from work and I wanted to get away from the bustling city for a while to catch myself, but maybe I should’ve picked another place. I haven’t been here a whole day and I already wanna get back home.”
“No, I mean… here. Chicks like you don’t hang out at these type of parties.”
“You ain’t lying! This is definitely not my scene. What about you?”
“I got dragged in.”
“Same. I came with my cousin, but she ditched me to run off with a shiny new side piece—typical—kinda like Slice ditched you to get his smash on with the Amber Rose and Kim K duplicates. Sorry, it runs in the family.”
“Ah it’s no sweat. I’m used to it by now.” I brought the cigarette to my lips to take another puff.
She moved in closer and stole it from me. She took a slow hit then huffed smoke out through her nose. I have no idea why that made my dick rock hard. She was suddenly all up on me, breasts to chest, body to body, straight invading my space! It caught me off guard, had me frazzled, but I didn’t say shit about it. Why would I?
“What’re you hiding under these golden blinders?” She brushed my hoodie back and lifted my shaggy hair from over my eyes. Her face changed. Like, she looked shocked. She stared at me and I stared back at her. Her thick lips quivered, like she wanted to say something but didn’t know what to say.
Had her speechless. Ha-haa! “Careful, Roc. I can see into your soul now.”
She let my hair flop back over my face and stepped back from me. “Damn boy, those are some wicked blue eyes you got there. I see why you hide them. One flash of those pretty blues and you’d be jumped by all that skin in there.”
I blushed. Not sure why. This ain’t the first time a girl told me I had nice eyes. “Nah, I don’t know ‘bout all that.”
She finished my cigarette and tossed the bud on the ground. “I’m ready to go. Wanna get outta here and go somewhere?”
Now that came from left field. I couldn’t answer right away. Usually when a chick uttered those words, it meant she was ready to give up the cookies. I didn’t want to assume that about her. She was so complex. Plus, she probably wasn’t checking for me like that. It was possible she just wanted to get the fuck away from all the people and noise. I knew that feeling well.
“Where do you wanna go?” I heard myself ask.
“I dunno, anywhere but here.” She rounded the truck and opened the passenger door. “How ‘bout your place.” She climbed inside. “You do have a place, right?”
My place? I don’t remember what I was thinking after she said that. But I do know I wasn’t thinking about Slice, or what he would do to me if the trip to my house ended with something a little physical. Hell, I wasn’t even thinking about how he would get home. I slid into driver seat and started the engine. “A’ight then. My place, it is.”
Yo, I got a jam session to run off to, so I’ll say to be continued for now. I’ll catch up with you next week with the rest of my confession.
There was a time in my life when I simply didn’t give a fuck.
I figured no matter how hard I tried, I would always end up on the dark side of my nature, so why care?
You see, I’m a blood child.
I seek out crimson where ever I go, ‘cause it was the color shown to me the day I turned into a killer.
Ah, the memories…
Most people wouldn’t admit something like that, or smile about it. It’s supposed to be buried in that big ole’ closet stocked with those dirty skeletons.
Believe me, I tried to convince myself I was anything but a killer. I tried to blend in with the world around me, do my hair a certain way, dress appropriately, be a normal black chick. Whatever that may be. I pulled it off for a long time.
Then, one day I woke up and I said, fuck it. Fuck this charade, fuck this bloody world! If you see me for what I really am, so be it. I like it better that way.
I want you to see me.
I want you to feel me.
I want you to hear me.
My voice is a call to the hell hounds. You hear it? That soulful, raspy whisper that caresses your soul? Sounds pretty, doesn’t it? Cherish it, ‘cause once I rip my fingers across the strings of my guitar, that whisper will turn into a howl.
I know. I’m being a cocky little bitch. You gotta excuse me. I don’t know any other way to be.
Now that I’ve serenaded you, and torn into your soul with my venomous shredder, let me draw a scarlet river with your blood. Is that such an odd thing for me to desire?
Didn’t you know I was a savage? Well baby, now you know.
The gym would close soon.
I wanted to stick around and sneak a peek at Chad, like I did on most nights. But he disappeared after his last session ended.
For months I’d been watching him, trying to conjure up the nerves to talk to him. To at least say ‘hi’. I couldn’t even give the man eye contact without tucking my tail between my legs and scurrying off like some scared doe.
God, why did you make him so freakin’ sexy!
His dark, slanted eyes, sun-kissed complexion, and not to mention his heart-stopping smile, were something to behold. He was mixed—Caucasian and Asian, maybe. I wasn’t sure, but his features were a combination of something incredibly beautiful.
As expected, Chad was always surrounded by women. They circled him like vultures, strutting around with their perfect bodies shoved in tiny short-shorts and snug sports bras.
I stepped off of the Elliptical machine and glanced down at my curvy body. Sure, I had a cute face, but the rest of me needed a lot of work. I didn’t stand a chance in hell of being with him, so why the hell was I pining after him? He probably didn’t even know I existed.
A voice came over the intercom. “The gym will be closing in fifteen minutes.”
Plucking the earbuds from my ears, I rushed back to the locker room. It was Friday night, so the place was basically deserted. Since I had fifteen minutes, might as well enjoy a ten minute sock in the hot tub.
I pulled out the bright pink bikini my best friend got me for my birthday. I hate bikinis! They were unforgiving to my little stomach pudge, but it was the only bathing suit I had, so it would have to do.
I bundled my curly fro to the top of my head and pinned it there with a flower clamp. Afterwards, I changed into the bikini, grabbed my towel then padded back to the pool area. As soon as I rounded the wall, I stumbled to a halt. For a second, I couldn’t believe my eyes. It couldn’t be…
He was reclined in the hot tub, his head back and eyes closed. The gurgling water kicked up over his exposed flesh, adding a gloss to his gorgeous body.
“Je-sus,” I whimpered.
His head jerked up and eyes flew open. He stared at me with an unreadable expression on his face.
Panic seized my heart, my breathing escalating.
Suddenly, a smile touched his lips. “It’s okay. Come on in.”
The erratic pounding beneath her chest had her pulse racing. Her body felt strange. A static charge started at her head and worked its way down to her toes. In waves, it rolled back up her body and left the center of her back pulsating. “What the hell…?”
Bewildered, Rayne reached back under her shirt, and brushed her fingers over her dragon tattoo. She vividly remembered when she got it. It was years ago in Hong Kong. On that day, she was a little tipsy, and feeling mighty damn adventurous.
As she stroked her tatted flesh, it thumped against her fingers like a heartbeat. Weird!
In the thick of her confusion, something really freaky happened. Time slowed down. Rayne turned in a circle watching everything in motion drag to a sluggish pace. After that, everything went mute. She couldn’t hear the sounds of cars driving by, or the chatter of the people walking along the strip, who literally moved in slow motion as they sauntered by.
It was like being caught up in some bizarre dream.
A presence… She felt a presence that made her insides flutter. She’d felt this presence before, in her mind. Could it be him? Demetri? Had he actually found her?
Nervously, she clutched the end of her shirt and scanned the area for just a glimpse of him. No one stood out. No one even looked her way. Was he teasing her, or was her mind truly playing tricks on her? “That’s it, make me even crazier than I already am,” she muttered.
Along the side of the street, a cab pulled up next to her. The driver, a middle aged man with a cropped haircut and a broad smile, stepped out of the car. He trotted around the vehicle to where she stood and opened the back door. Sweeping his hand through the air, he gestured for her to enter.
Without asking any questions, she slid into the cab.
It was a quiet ten minute ride to the beach. Still smiling, the driver helped her out, and then waved for her to follow him.
Her Adidas’ rubber soles dug into the sand as they trudged along the deserted beach.
Off in the horizon, a pale pink tint from the moon beamed over the small waves in the ocean and highlighted the grains of sand. They sparkled under her appraisal like a trillion tiny diamonds in the spotlight.
The driver led her to a small gazebo near the shore. Sheer red curtains covered the openings. Through the transparent fabric a chaise lounge sat in the center of it. On the side, was a tall bucket filled with ice, chilling a large bottle. Probably wine. Long metal torches on either side of the shelter added to the glow already cast from the moon above.
“This is lovely, but why’d you bring me out…?” She turned to find the driver gone. “Ohh-kay, Houdini, where’d ya’ go?”
A gentle breeze blew ripples over the water and pushed the curtains back, as if to welcome her into the cozy enclosure.
Swallowing hard, she moved toward it.
A deep croon brushed the side of her neck. “Do you approve?”
Startled, she whirled around and tumbled backwards. The heel of her shoe dipped into a patch of soft sand and she lost her balance.
A pair of hands caught her by the arms. She was jerked upright and drawn against a hard masculine body. Her breath came out in shorts spurts as his arms circled her waist. “Oh God,” was all she could whimper.
Deathly afraid to look up into his face, she clutched the lapels of his jacket and squeezed her eyes shut. Panic picked at her nerves. Suddenly, she realized she was holding her breath.
Breathe, Rayne, breathe.
This was no dream, or vision. This was actually happening. He’s here! He’s really here!
The enticing scent that made her horny as all hell swirled around her in teasing ribbons of ecstasy. She couldn’t help but breathe him in with every inhale.
His long fingers slipped beneath her chin and tilted her face up to his. “At your request, I am here.”
She opened her eyes and her next breath got caught in her throat. Whoa!
Jet black, wavy hair draped his broad shoulders, and framed his porcelain face. Mid-high cheekbones and a narrow-bridged nose added to the perfection of his features. Accented by a fan of thick black lashes, bright, exotic eyes that shimmered like the ocean were fixed on her.
Plainly put, this man was crazy hawt, a real stunner. Never in her life had she seen a man, or woman, so incredibly beautiful. He was unreal. Just looking at him made every muscle in her body tingle, every nerve quiver and her lady needs increase. “Demetri?” she whispered, giving into the shudders darting up and down her spine.
His plush lips curved up into a sexy smirk, enhancing his beauty as he slowly removed her shades. “Hello, Angel.”
A Kiss of Ashen Twilight Excerpt
At the sound of her name, she immediately turned to Jace. The look in his eyes and the subtle tremor of his hungry voice alerted her of what he really needed. Blood.
Right away she pulled her curly hair away to bare her neck to him.
“No, Ariya,” he said weakly. “I can’t take your life. I’ve never—”
I’ve never fed before without killing in the process.
She silenced him, leaning down to press her lips against his in a kiss. “I trust you,” she whispered into his mouth in a kiss.
I can’t chance it, Ariya, his words echoed in her mind.
Ariya remembered his words about the feed.
With the right person, it is highly pleasurable, but potentially deadly. It’s hard to put into words the heights of bliss one rises to as they are pushed to the edge of death. Unless they share the experience with me, apparently. Then they don’t survive at all.
She sensed him tense with her remembrance and a wash of fear fell over him at the risk. Despite it all, she couldn’t let him die here. She refused to stand by and lose another person. This was the only option, even if she had to force her blood in his mouth to help him stay alive.
His understanding was confirmed as she felt his cold, yet gentle, touch. His hand caressed her skin in reluctant movement as he reached out to cradle her head. Pulling her down to him, he entangled his fingers with her tight, curly locks and sharply sucked in a gulp of air before speaking.
“Ariya, please forgive me.” Jace gripped a handful of locks in a tight fist and opened his mouth to reveal his white, shiny fangs.
With a soft growl from deep within his throat, he sunk his teeth into the soft skin of her neck.
Pain shot throughout her body, mixing with waves of pleasure. Jace held onto her as he fed, taking with her blood not only energy to revive him, but her very essence that mixed with his own. It drained into him as he took more and more.
Ariya’s blood was on fire with a passion she had never felt before. Sensual pleasure shot straight to her core. She wanted more. She needed to have more of him.
Just when she thought her body was ready to explode, he released her and she fell back on the sandy ground with shallow breaths.
Jace’s hands curled into claws and his back arched as he released a loud thunderous roar. His body regenerated itself right before her eyes from a scalded, damaged figure to his youthful, pale handsome form. His breath slowed until he calmed as the night stilled around them. He didn’t waste another moment before rushing over to Ariya.
“Ariya—” He grabbed her arms and helped her sit up. Gently, he caressed the two puncture wounds he had made on her neck.
The pain dissipated under his touch and when Ariya brushed her finger over the tender area, she found it smooth, as if he had never fed. How did he do that?
“Jace?” she said, her voice weak even to her own ears.
“Yes, baby. It’s me.” He brushed his fingers against her hair, smiling as he gave a gentle laugh.
Sirens loomed in the distance and the spell between them had been broken.
“Looks like that’s our cue,” Rich said with a gruff edge to his tone.
Jace looked up at his Uncle watching them in silence. “Uncle, I know you don’t condone–”
Julian held up his hand, silencing Jace. “We’ll discuss this later. Come, you can rest at the Ashen Twilight House.”
Rich tapped Gael’s chest before gesturing to their waiting vehicles.
Gael nodded in response. “We need to clear out before the Mortal law enforcers show up with tons of questions.”
Car engines started up like a musical symphony followed by a succession of doors opening and closing. Jace scooped Ariya up into his arms and rushed over to a nearby limo where Rich held the back door open.
Jace froze as something dawned on him. “Your bike.”
Rich waved him away. “Uncle’s got it taken care of. Come on.”
Jace climbed in the back, settling across from Gael while he set Ariya down in the seat next to him. Rich tapped the top of the limo in short succession before climbing in to join them. As soon as he closed his door, the limo started on its way.
Ariya shifted position to rest on Jace’s chest as he embraced her. Wrapping her arms around his torso, she exhaled softly, finally feeling the weight of the night’s events slip away.
“She lived,” Rich said, smiling proudly.
Jace nodded. “That she did.”
“You know what this could mean?” Gael leaned forward, folding his hands while resting his elbows on his knees.
Jace didn’t respond and Ariya wondered what he was thinking after hearing Gael’s question. As he looked down to meet her gaze, realization struck him like the heat of the sun’s rays on his cold skin.
After tonight and the act they shared, Jace knew his immortal days had been changed forever.
Spirited Away Excerpt
Shanti expected pain, but her whole body hummed, like that glowing feeling after an orgasm. God, it had been so long since she’d felt that hum of electricity between her thighs. If only this feeling were from a man, but it wasn’t.
The last thing she remembered was the blue scorpion coming towards her, then pain in her leg. She’d heard that some predators sent endorphins into their prey as they ate them. If so, she wished she’d gotten stung to death a few months earlier so that she could’ve experienced this kind of release before laying down a chunk of her savings in search of a spiritual release in India. This feeling traveling through her body was the ultimate release.
Oh no, she groaned, she was dead.
That eight-legged freak had killed her.
All she’d been doing was looking for a sign from God. But she guessed God intended to talk to her face to face.
Shanti struggled to open her eyes. When they adjusted she saw the dark blanket of night disturbed only by the stars that poked through. She wondered where she was. That looked like the Big Dipper over there. Was she still on Earth? Maybe she was having an out of body experience?
But…no. It felt like she was still in her body.
The tingling in her leg continued. It radiated down to her toes and up through her spine. There was no pain. Instead it felt…good. Really good.
Her mind turned once more to the sweet release that hummed at the base of her spine. She gave into the need to press her thighs together. But the friction didn’t work. It only increased the pressure. And that wasn’t the only place she felt a delicious pressure.
It radiated up and down her leg. She also felt a pressure resting on head. When she tried to blink, she felt an obstruction on her brow. Her eyes flicked over to the side. A hooded figure loomed over her.
This must be the Angel of Death. Wasn’t that Saint Peter? But she was pretty sure Saint Peter didn’t wear a hood. Plus there were no shimmering wings.
Maybe it was Anubis, the Egyptian god of the Underworld. That was whom her father had expected to meet at the end.
Shanti had spent many nights wondering who greeted her parents at the end of their lives. Her parents subscribed to different religious systems from each other. Her father began his life praying to Jesus, then prostrating to Allah, and finally ended up following a cult that worshiped the ancient Egyptian gods. Her mother had been a different story, or rather the same continuous story. From birth to death, Shanti’s mother continued her lifelong devotion to Shiva. In life, her parents’ different beliefs didn’t interfere with their love. They had been the most accepting people she’d ever known.
Shanti had never subscribed to any particular religion. She’d gone through so many in her youth that they all melded together. She did know that there was a Creator. It was evident in every blade of grass, in the organic systems of all living creatures, in the perfection of the ecosystem.
That is, before humans began poking at it with a stick.
Shanti was surprised to find her easy acceptance of this next stage of her existence. She was health-conscious by birthright. She’d expected to live an active life as an octogenarian as the coach-potato adults and the handheld-device addicted youth in her community withered away after half a century. She’d wanted to be able to say ‘I told you so’ to everyone in her community who went against her and continued to pollute the waterways. She’d wanted to dance in front of them in her svelte yoga body as they all lay in hospital beds on dialysis. But they’d have the last laugh.
Thirty was too soon to go. But so far death was having its perks. For example, that building buzz of an orgasm.
She wanted to hold still and let the waves of pleasure consume her. But then they stopped. The pleasant pressure released from her leg, but not her forehead.
She looked down at her leg. The hooded being had removed his -or maybe her- hand. Shanti tried to peer into the darkness of the hood, but she could see no facial features. She saw no dog muzzle to indicate Anubis either.
“Am I going to heaven?” Shanti asked.
“To Nirvana?” She wracked her brain through all the religions her parents had introduced her to.
“Elysium? Shangri-La? Zion?”
Still no response.
“Well I can’t be going to Hell. Not with all the work I’ve done for the environment and animals.”
The hooded figure pushed his hood back, revealing his face and Shanti let out a blood-curdling scream.
She’d never thought the Creator was a being like her. She didn’t think such a craftsman had a huge ego to craft its highest being in its own likeness. Plus she believed in evolution, which told her that humans were not born first, neither were they naturally the highest on the food chain. Had it not been for a meteor, the dinosaurs would have eventually evolved to write the stories that would make up religious texts and humans would be worshiping a reptilian god.
It was a shock to see such a different being up close and personal.
The closest approximation Shanti could use to describe this being was that he looked like a depiction of the Buddha. Not the human prophet Siddhartha Gautama, who was an Indian human male. This being resembled the cone-headed Buddha depictions with nodes around his dome instead of hair. His skin was a pale shade of blue. His eyes were overlarge and without lashes.
When all the air left her lungs at the end of the scream, Shanti calmed down and caught her breath. As common sense returned, she guessed this all made logical sense. She was in India after all. It was only fitting that one of that culture’s idols serve as her guide into the afterlife.
The being held up his hand. Even his fingers were overlong. It took Shanti’s mind in a different direction, wondering if all of his limbs were long.
God, she was horny even in death.
The hooded figure stretched out his fingers to her as though he wanted her to take his hand. After a brief moment’s hesitation, Shanti placed her hand in his. The second their palms touched, warmth flooded her body.
Pictures flashed through her mind. She saw an Indian woman smiling at her, surrounded by other cone-headed males with big eyes. Blue men, purple men, green men. Then stars. So many stars. And planets. Planets of colors she’d never imagined.
Was this what she could expect after life on Earth? To travel amongst the stars?
Shanti blinked and refocused on the being before her. His lips hadn’t moved, but she got the sense that he was communicating with her.
“Would you like to see the stars?”
Shanti gasped. Her gasp was the only sound in the clearing. His lips still hadn’t moved. The words she’d heard in her head hadn’t really been words, more of an image of the stars in a sea of dark space and a sense of someone welcoming her into that space.
“I have not heard the language of the Earth for many years.” His large eyes probed hers. “My deepest apologies if you find this invasive.”
He went to withdraw his hands from her. Shanti clasped it back, tightly.
“No. Its fine,” she said. “It’s just -I’ve never experienced this before. Well of course I’ve never experienced this before. Unless there’s such a thing as past lives, which my mother believed in, but I’ve never been so sure. I don’t really know what I believe, which is crazy now that I sit here before you and you’re giving me a choice of what to do next with my soul.”
Shanti stopped her tirade and took a deep, cleansing breath. She stared up at his eyes. His deep, soulful eyes.
“Did you understand any of that?” Shanti asked. She waited to hear his response, but it sounded from within her, from somewhere deep within. It began in her gut and radiated to her head. She struggled to concentrate on his words, or were they his thoughts?
“I understand that my touch does not repulse you.”
His thumb rubbed the ridge of her hand. Shanti felt a thrill skitter up her arm. “I like the way you touch me,” she said.
A small smile ticked at the corner of his mouth. His lips were full. She wondered what they would feel like against her lips, her neck?
His hand moved to her neck.
Shanti’s eyes widened. “Oh god, are you reading all of my thoughts?”
He shook his head slowly, his eyes were still fastened to her neck. “I do not understand all of your words.”
His eyes traveled across her lips. Shanti felt the heat. She pulled the corner of her lower lip into her mouth.
His eyes locked on her mouth. “I can read your emotions, you desires, clearly.”
Shanti’s lips parted. His nostrils flared.
Oh God, was she seriously flirting with this…she didn’t know what he was.
“I am Eloheem.”
Shanti knew that word. It was the Hebrew word for angel. So this was it. She really was dead. She looked down at her leg. The wound was closed. Only a red spot remained, but the redness was fading fast before her eyes.
“I sense unease within you.”
Shanti turned back to him. But he was no longer looking at her eyes, lips, or neck.
“Does it still ache?” His hands went to her thigh. When his long fingers brushed her skin, Shanti shivered. That pleasure-filled pressure running to her core once more. Her eyes closed unbidden and a soft moan escaped her lips.
“I sense another ache in you.”
“Yes,” she moaned aloud.
The physical feel of his fingers combined with the mental invasion of his voice threatened to send Shanti over a cliff of pleasure.
“Tell me your name,” he whispered into her mind.
“Shanti.” This time the sound hit her ears.
Shanti opened her eyes. His large eyes roamed over her body leaving a trail of heat in its wake.
“If you come with me,” he said into her mind once more, “you will never ache again. I promise you…”
Shanti watched as his mouth opened. She saw his tongue, saw his teeth clench the second before he sounded out her name once more.
Shanti couldn’t form any words with her lips. Luckily she didn’t have to. He said he could read her emotions, her desires. What she felt was crystal clear. She reached for his hand once more. When their fingers clasped, Shanti knew her life, or whatever this existence now was, would be forever linked to this man, or whatever this being before her was.