Title: WAKING THE DEAD (Book 2 of The Dead Series)
Author: Kerry Blaisdell
Genre: Urban Fantasy / Paranormal Romance
Publisher: The Wild Rose Press
Hyacinth always assumed dying would simplify her life. But when her new boss, Archangel Michael, sends her on her first official mission—to retrieve a powerful rock from a collector in Germany—things go downhill fast. For one thing, the Dead keep popping up, expecting her to guide them to the Afterlife. For another, her part-demon nephew Geordi's powers are starting to leak out, at age seven. What if Michael finds out about him? Worse, what if Satan does?
Then there's her love life-after-death. Rooming with a dead French cop no one else can see is complicated enough. But when Jason, Geordi's lying Dioguardi Demon cousin, resurrects himself—so to speak—all Hell breaks loose. Literally. Can Hyacinth get Michael's rock back before Satan steals its powers and breaks free of his prison? Or will her single-minded pursuit put those she loves—and the rest of the world—in the path of Satan's fury?
I’m pretty sure my landlady’s alive, but you never know. At least, I don’t.
My name’s Hyacinth Finch, and a couple of months ago, I died and was brought back to life—sort of—by Saint Michael the Archangel, who’s now my boss. Also sort of. It’s complicated.
Basically, if you met me on the street, you’d think I was one hundred percent alive, no strings attached. But if I met you? Thanks to the “side effects” of rebirth, I wouldn’t know if you were alive, dead, or somewhere in-between, unless you told me.
Then there’s this whole thing where my former neighbor, Jason Jones, turned out to be related to my nephew, Geordi Dioguardi, and they both might have demon blood in them.
Well, Jason does for sure; it’s Geordi we won’t know about until puberty. And he doesn’t know I’m the Walking Undead, or that he’s being babysat by a dead cop he can’t see, named Eric Guilliot. See? Complicated.
Anyway, since my landlady wanted money—cold hard cash she could spend at the market—it’s a safe bet she’s a breather. She blocked the stairwell leading up to the Zürich flat I share with Geordi and Eric, looking like a six-foot tall, Swiss-German metal door in her gray sweater, matching slacks, and sensible black shoes. Her hair was gray too, but her eyes were a watery blue. Not a hint of black, thank God, so at least she wasn’t a demon. Probably.
I suppressed a shiver and shifted the heavy paper grocery bag in my arms, putting on my best Trustworthy Tenant smile. “Frau Blauch. So lovely to see you today.”
Her frown deepened, and she pointed a finger at my nose. “Rent. You pay now.”
She’d appeared from her basement apartment just in time to prevent me from getting under cover of the small overhang above the stoop. The chill late-October drizzle that had fretted all day wasn’t much more than a mist now, but it was enough to dampen my bangs and drip cool rivulets into my eyes. I blinked them away, wishing again that Jason hadn’t ditched us. For one thing, he’s even taller than Frau Blauch. For another, he can charm the pants off just about anyone. Me included.
I suppressed a shiver of a different sort and said to Frau Blauch, “I’m happy to pay you. But you said I could have an extra week to sort out my finances.”
“Ja,” she said agreeably. “Rent. Due now.”
The bag started to slip, the weight of peanut butter, milk, and fresh veggies pulling on my aching arms as I hiked it back up. The thing is, she was right. The rent was past due, and deal or not, I don’t renege on my responsibilities. I bend the truth now and then, and my past is shadier than you might expect—okay, I’m a former graverobber and sometime dealer in goods of, er, questionable origin—but I’m an honest thief. Think George-Clooney-charming, not He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named-evil.
To make matters worse, Michael was due to pop in any day now, demanding I start my new job. He’s a busy guy, leading all those souls to their Final Destination, while also fighting off Satan’s minions. Since, like the kid in the movie, I see dead people, we struck a deal. If I “pre-sort” some of the Dead for him, I get time to find a good foster family for Geordi. But once he’s settled, I’m off to whichever After Life is reserved for semi-reformed grave-robbing liars.
I have other ideas—like staying with Geordi permanently. But that’s a whole other problem.
Frau Blauch’s gaze flicked over the wet grocery bag. “You haf little boy, ja? He is upstairs, allein—alone?”
Crap. I switched gears to Conscientious Parent and nodded toward the store one door down. “I only left him for a minute—just to get some food.”
Her brows lowered further, and she glanced pointedly at the streetlights, which were coming to life. It might be mid-afternoon, but the heavy gray skies meant it was dark already, and I couldn’t very well explain, My dead roommate is babysitting. But our window faces the street, and Geordi’d leaned over the flower box on the sill, watching me go into the store, then waving when I came back out. I’d also seen Eric hovering near his shoulder, like a moody blond—and built—guardian angel.
If only he wasn’t invisible to everyone but me.
Frau Blauch said, “Is not safe, little boy allein like zat. He has nightmares, ja? I hear him, at night. You leave him again, I call Polizei. You pay rent—tomorrow.”
She ducked through the small door off to the side of the stairwell, leading to her basement rooms. She was right about this, too. I shouldn’t leave him, and he did have nightmares. What kid wouldn’t, after what he’d been through? Was still experiencing?
I sighed and stepped over the stoop into the musty stairwell, lugging the now-soaked grocery bag up the stairs. Geordi, bless him, heard me fumble with the lock and ran to open the door, flinging himself at me. “Tata Hyhy!”
By some miracle, I didn’t drop the groceries, and I managed to get one arm around his shoulder, squeezing back. He smelled of moist earth and sweet, late-blooming flowers, and I surmised he’d been digging around in the Angel’s trumpets in the planter, searching for bugs. I leaned back, and sure enough, his fingernails were black and his face was smudged.
“Find any as-yet undiscovered species of insect, Professor Finch?”
That made him giggle, but I detected uncertainty, too. I let the bag slide to the floor—who cared if a few jars broke?—and pulled him tight for a full-on, aunt-who-loves-him-more-than-life hug. Frau Blauch was right. Regardless of how close the market was, a seven-year-old shouldn’t be left in what he perceived as an empty apartment.
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