Date Published: November 17
Publisher: Acorn Publishing
Twenty years ago, Reaper of Souls Kassidy Simmons battled Azra-El, the
Angel of Death and won—or so she thought.
Now, a number of strange and unexplained deaths are afflicting
Kassidy’s quiet New York town. She wishes she didn’t care. But
Her empathic abilities are expanding beyond her control, and the intense
emotions are tearing apart her relationships. They’re also degrading
the magical wards put in place to protect her from other Reapers and the
even deadlier Wraiths—onyx-eyed henchmen of Azra-El.
Allied with her longtime mentor and a college professor with ties to
her past, Kassidy learns that the untimely deaths are regenerating Azra-El,
and that the only way to stop him is with the Scythe of Cronus, the
legendary weapon of the God of Death.
To save her loved ones and reset the natural order, Kassidy must journey
home and confront a past she’s been running from for two decades.
She’ll face-off with enemies, old and new, and through a haze of fear
and addiction, Kassidy will learn the secrets of her heritage, and challenge
head on the one being she fears most—herself.
“You shouldn’t be able to do that here, Reaper,” he said, pointing to the sickle at his throat with his eyes.
“What?” Kassidy asked absently.
Kassidy gasped at the weapon pressed to his throat. He was right. She shouldn’t be able to do that. No Reaper, not even a Wraith could manifest weapons in the Nexus. The only beings with that power were the Primus—and he never did it because he simply didn’t need to wield that type of power there—and Death himself.
She backed away, staring at the sickle, then willed it to transform back into a hand.
“Perhaps now you see why I found you so interesting,” Azra-El said.
“Okay, found and still find. Happy?”
There was that fucking smile again.
“What do you want?”
“Come on. Can’t we catch up? How’ve you been, love?”
“Fuck you! That’s how I’ve been. Now what do you want?”
“Okay, fine. I want to kill you, of course. That goes without saying.” He shrugged his shoulders. Nonchalant. Playfulness intertwined with menace.
Kassidy inched back from him, each step slow and deliberate. She tried to drift out of the Nexus but couldn’t. He’s fucking blocking me! Shit!
“We didn’t finish our last conversation, my dear. It was like we were talking, and then all of a sudden, you stabbed me with those blades. I don’t even know where you found those fucking things. But I never got a chance to argue my point.”
“That you and I need to work together to establish some new rules to the natural order.”
“Oh, that line of horseshit,” Kassidy said.
“You wound me.” Azra-El, held his hand to his chest, feigning offense.
“Yeah, I did wound you. Sadly, not enough.”
Azra-El’s hands dropped to his side.
His eyes radiated a dim red. She did her best to remain calm, but every Reaper knew that when his eyes glowed that way, he was angry.
“You’re after my power, aren’t you? You wanted to fatten me up, make me stronger, then kill me and absorb my abilities. That was your plan.”
“I mean, can you blame me?” he asked with a sly grin. “Look, in any corporation, the idea is to get promoted, right? Not to stay in the same position doing the same thing millennia after millennia.”
Kassidy’s fists clenched tighter. She shifted from side to side, doing her best to keep her rage in check. “So that night you found me, that was a set up?”
“In exchange for power and immortality, you instructed a boy to terrorize me? To beat me? To . . . rape me?”
Azra-El held up a hand.
“Whoa. I told him I needed you to be down and out. I needed you in a state near death.”
“But you didn’t care how he did it?”
“And all so you could have power? You ruined my life for power?” Kassidy asked.
“Ruined your life? Ruined your life! I saved you, you ungrateful little bitch! I gave you a chance to take vengeance. Vengeance on him, on all the Jeremy Reins of the world. On everyone who’d ever treated you wrong. I gave you a chance to be powerful for once in your miserable fucking life! And for that gift, you spat in my face and tried to kill me.”
“You orchestrated all of it. You took away any chance for me to be normal, to find my own way. You turned me into a monster, a killer, all in an effort to make you more powerful. You didn’t save me. It was all for you. I was happy to die. I was happy to fade away.”
Kassidy advanced toward Azra-El again. Her power building. Fists clenched.
“Then why did you say yes?”
Those six words stopped her in her tracks. She relaxed her fists.
“Cat got your tongue? Or are you afraid of the truth?”
“That deep within there’s a darkness, a hunger, a thirst for power, for reckoning. You needed what I gave you, and when it was offered, you willingly accepted.”
“You tricked me. With what I went through, what human being wouldn’t want that?”
Azra-El laughed again. His eyes dimmed, transitioning from red to their natural state. “Sweetheart, you’re not human. Do you think most humans walk around feeling the emotions of others? Sensing when death is near? Do you think they see Reapers and Wraiths as easily as they see stop signs and clouds in the sky? Even now you have abilities beyond the norm. You bested two Wraiths in the last few days. You bested me twenty years ago. No, my dear, whatever you are, it isn’t human. Far from it. Why do you think I chose you?”
About the Author
Dennis Crosby grew up in Oak Park, IL and completed his undergraduate work
at the University of Illinois in Chicago. With a degree in Criminal Justice,
he spent six years working as a Private Investigator and during that time
developed an affinity for writing poetry. While working on a master’s
degree in Forensic Psychology, Dennis transitioned into social service.
Dennis has spent the last twelve years working with men and women
experiencing challenges with mental health and addiction. He currently
serves as Clinic Director for an Opioid Treatment Program.
With a lifelong passion for writing, Dennis wrote dozens of short stories,
tapping into his creative side, but did not pursue the finer points of the
craft until later in life. After leaving Chicago and moving to San Diego,
Dennis had the opportunity to get more involved in the writing community
where he strengthened his skills. To further augment his writing skills,
Dennis completed an MFA program at National University.
A self-proclaimed geek and lover of pop culture, Dennis still lives and
writes in San Diego, CA.