Even the toughest resurrectionist needs protection sometimes…
And make no mistake: Dani is tough…so tough even the grave couldn't keep her down. Ever since mysterious beings brought her back from her tragic murder, she's been using her newfound powers to restore justice to the world of humans. It's hard, dangerous work, and sometimes a little backup doesn't hurt—especially when it comes from a hunky cop like Sam Lopez.
There's only one catch: Dani's past has taught her that she can't trust another man. Besides, Sam has demons of his own to battle. They'll just have to ignore the heat that's building between them. Until a great evil begins to rise, and then Dani and Sam need to get closer than they've ever been.
Office of Dani Wright, Resurrectionist
“I'm not going to have to walk around with a bullet wound in my forehead forever, am I?” Betsy Capella asked and looked at me, her eyes not quite focused. After being deceased and in cold storage for nearly a year, it was understandable. The senses took a little time to warm up and remember what they were supposed to do.
“I don't think so. It should fade as you recover more fully. These things take time.” Not exactly a lie, not exactly the truth, and I hoped I interjected enough sympathy into my voice. A little sympathy went a long way. I didn't know the answer to her question as I've only performed resurrections for a year or so. I haven't been doing this long enough to come up with a stat sheet. Each resurrection was different, just as each death was different. The state and success of recovery of the deceased depended on how long they've been gone, and if we've stored them or they were buried in a traditional way. Embalming was not a good thing if you intended to return to a living state. Cremation was a bad idea, too. Way bad.
Betsy sat more upright and smiled, the corners of her mouth a little tight and dry. Though her hair had been prepared prior to being put on ice, it now looked brittle and unkempt. No surprise there. “I'll bet some makeup will help.”
Yeah, and a Spackle trowel to slap it on with. “Give it a go. I hear there's a sale at Macy's this week.” Looking down at the contract she signed, I added the date. Being dead and on ice for so long, she wasn't up on current events. “Do you want to go with us to the 'yard? You don't have to, but if you would like to, someone can drive you and follow us to the site.”
“The yard? What's that?” A frown of confusion puckered the bullet wound between her eyes. Ew. Not attractive.
“Graveyard.” Where the life-swap rituals were completed, sending the killers where they belonged.
Before answering, Betsy put away the compact someone had given her. Most newly resurrected had a difficult transition at first, that's why I didn't keep mirrors around the office. Let 'em get used to the idea of being awake and alive again before they wondered what they looked like. Sometimes it wasn't pretty.
“No. I just want to go home, see the kids, and take a shower.” Rubbing her hands on her arms, she shivered. You go a year without a shower and see how you feel. I'd recommend a good exfoliant, like steel wool. Maybe I should come up with a nice gift bag for the undead. That would be good PR.
She looked across the room at her ex-husband and dismissed him as if he meant nothing to her. I suppose that was the best attitude. He was the one who'd put her in the ground in the first place, so she obviously meant nothing to him. In my book, turn around was simply justice, served neat.
She rose from the chair and wobbled a little, then got her land legs again. I didn't know quite what to call it when they've been in containment. Grave legs? Geez. This job just got freakier all the time. Every day was Halloween around here.
Betsy's family was weepy and gathered around her, then pulled away. A few wiped their hands on their pants. Grateful for, but at the same time repulsed by, her condition, and astonished that she was one of the lucky ones. If her body hadn't been found and put in containment quickly, none of this would have been possible.
Without my death and the death of my child, it wouldn't have been possible either. Now was not the time to renew the grief of my past. The cramp in my chest that I refused to acknowledge tried to make its presence known, but I pushed it away as I always had. Some newly resurrected had a hard time remembering what had happened to them, and that was probably for the best.
I, however, will never forget. It made me what I was now, and I could never go back.
So many of the resurrections involved spouses and ex-spouses. Women who, like me, had married the wrong man and hadn't lived to tell about it. Other life-swap cases I handled included cops killed in the line of duty, women killed by estranged, possessive husbands, and kids murdered by their mothers' psychotic boyfriends, who-oh yeah-just happen to be pedophiles. Fortunately, for me, I was sent back from the other side for another game of life and a chance to right the wrongs done to others just like me. Yippee. It was a living as well as a mission.
Now, it was my turn to stand, and I got up from behind the desk. I loved wearing heels, really tall ones, especially with a mini-skirt. Gave me the height to look down on these assholes so they knew that a woman was the one putting them in the grave for good. I had long black hair that I wore straight, just past my shoulders, and skin that appeared perfectly tanned year 'round. Not my choice, my mixed ethnicity. But it was my eyes, which were an odd shade of muddy green with yellow flecks that gave me the advantage over the nut jobs I dealt with. Some said it was like looking into hell when I gave them the right stare. Frankly, I no longer believed in hell, so I didn't know what they're talking about. Just my natural charm coming out my eyes.
“How you doin', Rufus? You ready for all this?” He was a weasel of a man, not much to look at even on a good day. Dark brown eyes that were too closely set, a short wiry frame, and the disposition of a rabid coyote. Probably had a dick the size of a baby-dill, too. I've discovered the meaner a man's disposition, the smaller his dick. Hmm. Wonder why? We may never know.
“Fuck you,” he said and spat at me. He actually spat at me. Thankfully, his aim was just like his breath. It stunk.
“Sorry. I don't fuck dead guys.” After glaring him down, I wiped the spit off of my left shin with a disinfectant wipe from my desk. I didn't wear hose, so the feel of his slime touching my skin was just sick.
“You're gonna pay for what you do. Someone's going to get you, you evil witch.” He made the sign of the cross as well as he could in shackles. Kinda tough, though.
The guards on either side of him just laughed, and that made me smile. As close to a warm fuzzy as I'd ever get. I wasn't warm, and if I was fuzzy I needed to shave my legs.
Though my office was housed inside the Albuquerque Police Department headquarters, it was only for show and cheap rental space. The guards knew who was in charge, and who paid their salaries. Loyalty was a sweet deal.
“Really?” Turning, I let my eyes wander over his hot pink jail jumpsuit. I took a cue from that sheriff in Arizona who made the inmates wear pink underwear and live in tents outside no matter how freaking hot it is. Unfortunately, pink was not a good color for most men, unless they were gay or under three years old, and Rufus was no exception. “Let's go boys. We don't have all night.”
The drive to the 'yard was long. Sometimes it was too long. Gave me too much time to think about what I was doing and why I was doing it. Despite my minor reservations, it was best for everyone involved. No one in society would benefit from having murdering bastards walking around, even if they were behind bars. So it was the 'yard for them. I didn't like to use the word cemetery for the life-swaps because it was too pretty of a word. Grave was the important part, and that's where they were going. Permanently.
The guards were equipped with a bullet proof, four-wheel drive van. No windows. One drove, one rode with a shotgun trained on the life-swapper, and I mentally prepared for what I was about to do. It took a lot of energy for every ritual, and I was usually too wasted to drive safely back safely. Maybe it would get better the more resurrections I performed, but for now, I had guards. Men liked to drive anyway, so I didn't mind.