Drip Drop Teardrop Page 6

Avery sighed, leaning against the doorframe of her aunt’s bedroom, watching the soft rise and fall of her chest. Aunt Caroline was sleeping a lot lately. Her energy was just… non-existent. Avery hadn’t been into work at all this week. She felt her throat closing, the muscles working painfully to stop the spill of tears and the sob that was desperate to wrench out of her. Tonight she’d actually had to help her aunt bathe. Her capable, beautiful aunt. The truth of it all made Avery want to throw up. It looked like Caroline had less time than they’d thought.

Eyelids heavy with exhaustion, Avery pushed away from the door wishing to God she could scream until she was hoarse. Instead she turned silently and padded into the sitting room, fully intending on collapsing on the sofa bed and sleeping for a million years.

“Holy Jesus Crap!” She shrieked quietly, coming to a stop. Her heart got stuck somewhere in her throat.

Tall, dark scarred guy was in their sitting room, standing in front of the television. The scar seemed to pulse at her menacingly and she swallowed, having forgotten how much it unnerved her. Fear clawed at Avery’s chest as he moved towards her.

Understanding crashed over her in mammoth, terrifying waves, pulling her under. She couldn’t swim these waters. “No!” she whisper-shouted. “You’re not getting her!”

“Avery-”

“No! I know what you are!” Tears cascaded down her cheeks. “I know,” she sobbed, trying to catch her breath. “And you’re not getting her. I’m not ready yet!”

He moved so fast all she saw was a blur of darkness, like a streak of black paint across a grey canvas. Suddenly she was in his arms and he was hugging her, hushing her cries, whispering soothing nonsense words in her ear. Avery pushed against him, terrified of this dark creature.

“No!” She pushed and he reluctantly let her go. “I know what you are.”

He frowned at her, rubbing his cheek in thought, his fingers brushing the groove of the scar. “I’m not here for your aunt, Avery.”

Relief immediately whooshed through her and she sagged against the back of the sofa.

“Not yet,” he amended.

Avery glared at him. “Why are you stalking me? Is it me? Am I dying?”

He smiled softly, drawing her attention out from the scar to his face. “No.”

She trembled, edging away from him. “Then what does Death want with me?”

His eyes seemed to spark to life and he shook his head. “You always amaze me.”

She shook her head. “You don’t know me.”

“Of course I do. I know you better than anyone.”

Why did he look so sad at her rejection? Didn’t he know how scared she was? “Why are you here?”

“You know why I’m here. I’m here for you.” He reached out a large elegant hand for her and she stumbled back. He grimaced. “Please don’t be frightened of me. I would never hurt you.”

“B-b-but you’re d-death,” she stuttered moving further back until she hit the wall. “Why else would you be here for me?”

He sighed, running a hand through his hair, seeming far too human for her liking. “Can we sit? Will you listen while I explain?”

“Do I have a choice?”

He tilted his head, a sardonic smirk playing on his lips. “Let’s try not to be melodramatic, Avery. You always have a choice.”

Watching him carefully, Avery nodded, feeling as if she was watching this play out from a distance; it was so surreal. Yet, she knew this was no nightmare. It was happening. “Explain.”

“Do you want to sit?”

“Not particularly.”

“Fine,” he huffed, actually seeming affronted by her manners. He folded his large body into her aunt’s armchair and Avery almost smiled at how ridiculous he looked against the floral pattern of the fabric covering. “My name is Brennus.”

“And you’re Death?” Avery asked warily, trying to remember if she had accidentally taken some hallucinogens in the last 24 hours.

He shrugged. “Depends on what you mean by Death?”

Avery rolled her eyes at his blasé tone. “Death. As in Angel of. Grim Reaper. Black hooded cloak. Big scythe.”

Brennus chuckled and sank back into the chair, appearing completely relaxed. “Well that’s not right at all. For a start… there isn’t only one Death.”

The breath whooshed out of her body. “You mean you’re not… alone?”

Seeming amused by the idea he shook his head slowly. “You really think one guy can take care of all the deaths in this world?”

Well… when he put it like that… no.

She replied with a jerky shake of her head.

“There are many of us. Once ordinary men and women, we were offered the chance of immortality in exchange for ferrying the dead into their afterlife.”

Avery felt sick. She shivered, her eyes narrowed on him. “You chose to do this? Why would you do that?” This man, this immortal, who she was at once attracted to and wanted to run from, was some soulless creature who had sold himself to the underworld for the chance at immortality. She was disgusted with herself for being drawn to him.

Brennus’ face darkened, his eyes flashing dangerously, reminding her who he was and how powerful he was. “You misunderstand, little one.”

Even though her breath was coming in shallow gasps, Avery was determined not to be browbeaten by this… creature. “Then explain.”

“We don’t kill people, Avery. We just show them the way when their time is up.”

“But why would you want that kind of job?”

“Someone has to do it.”

At his sad answer Avery felt a little faint and she let her body slide down the wall until her bottom hit the wooden floors. “What do you want with me?”

Sighing, Brennus leaned forward, his elbows on his knees. His gaze had softened again as it washed over her face, tallying her features. “We’re called the Ankou. Or the Thana, depending on where you’re coming from.”

Avery just stared at him, not even asking what he meant.

“My province was London,” Brennus continued. “I was responsible for seeing the safe journey of the dead there over to their afterlife-”

“For how long?” Avery interrupted, needing to know, no matter how upsetting (could it get any more upsetting considering she was sitting here talking to Death?).

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