Today is my birthday! Yay for getting…older and stuff. To celebrate I’m sharing my favorite scene from the Persephone series, which just so happens to be a creepy scene set on Halloween. Share your favorite creepy moment from a book in the comments below to enter to win either a copy of any one of my ebooks, or (if you already have them all) a Daughters of Zeus/Persephone canvas bag. I also signed up for this awesome Wicked Warriors blog hop so that my awesome readers can get a chance to win a kindle!
“Mom, I’m home!” I dropped my book bag on the floor by the door. I didn’t have a lot of time to hang out at the house. I was due in the Underworld soon.
“Mom?” I rounded the corner into the kitchen, anticipating my after school snack. Sure she couldn’t be trusted to tell the truth, and she was scheming and manipulative, but she always made a good snack.
A Reaper was sitting at the table in her place. I came to a surprised stop, aware of two other Reapers slipping behind me. “Where is she?” It took more effort than I cared to admit to keep my voice from trembling.
The Reaper picked up a note from the table and read in a ridiculous falsetto voice. “Persephone, went to Buford with Minthe to shop. Cookies are in the oven. See you in the morning.”
I threw a quick glance at the oven to make sure the house wasn’t going to catch on fire. It was off, she must have left them in there just to keep them warm.
Shit. Buford, Mall of Georgia, the Melting Pot, and outlet malls. Mom would be home late. Again. She’d been out almost every day lately. It was all our fighting, I realized with a sudden clarity. She was avoiding me too, just like everyone else.
“Looks like we have you all to ourselves,” the redheaded Reaper said with a grin.
I shrieked in pain as one of the Reapers grabbed me from behind, fingers digging painfully into my ribs. Something in their touch was different. I actually felt it. Not just a tearing feeling at my soul, but actual hands on my actual flesh.
It hurt like hell.
“Happy Halloween,” one of the Reapers hissed.
I screamed as they dragged me through my house. One of the Reapers bumped into a chair and knocked it down. That never happened. Were they corporeal?
“Let me go!” I lashed out and actually managed to land a blow on one of their shoulders. It hurt me, I was still touching him after all, but for a second I thought I saw the Reaper wince.
“Swear fealty to Zeus.”
I shook my head and he wrapped his hand around my neck, sending shock waves through my body. I couldn’t breathe. I clawed desperately at his hand, and his grip tightened. I felt myself getting dizzy. He released his hand, and slammed me into the wall. “Swear fealty to Zeus!”
His fingers dug into my jaw, and he lifted my chin until I was staring into his eyes. “You think this hurts? We’re just getting started.”
His lips found mine in a cruel, bruising kiss, tearing at my soul. There was no desire in his kiss, no attraction at all. It was just supposed to hurt. I struggled against the pain, trying to kick my way free, but the other Reapers shifted, one grabbing me roughly by the arms, the other taking hold of my legs so I couldn’t lash out.
Light sparked in the redhead’s fingertips. I wasn’t sure what that meant, but it couldn’t be good. Suddenly his fingers passed through my flesh. My screams ricocheted off the walls and one of the Reapers clapped his hand over my mouth. With strength I didn’t know I possessed, I wrenched free. I was out the door in a flash and halfway to the driveway, car keys in hand, when I smacked into a solid wall of flesh. I shrieked and fell backward, scrambling away.
“No! Please! Don’t!” I lashed out blind with panic.
“Persephone! Stop, it’s me!” Hades pulled me to my feet and I threw myself into his arms. Hades! Hades was here. The Reapers wouldn’t touch me if I was with him. I wouldn’t have to feel that horrible pain again.
“What happened?” Hades held me at arms length, and looked me up and down. “You’re as white as a sheet! Are you okay? Persephone, talk to me!”
I tried to answer, but couldn’t stop gasping for breath. Horizontal lines zigzagged in my vision. My high pitched whine sounded in my ears, and my knees gave way. Hades caught me before I hit the ground. He glanced toward the house then back at me, and swore.
“Okay, okay…” he kept his voice soothing, but I could hear the panic beneath his words. He pushed my hair off my neck, fingers fumbling for a pulse.
“What?” He gasped, drawing back.
“Is she okay?” The red-headed Reaper emerged from the house, trying and failing to sound concerned.
My grip tightened on Hades, and I glanced around for the other two Reapers.
“Is the house clear?” Hades demanded. When the Reaper nodded, he hoisted me into his arms and walked toward the house.
“No!” I tried to get free but a wave of dizziness pushed me back into Hades’ arm.
“It’s okay.” He flung open the door, and looked around before laying me down on the couch. The Reaper followed on his heels, looking concerned.
“Put your feet up.” Hades demanded, grabbing the sofa pillows and stacking them under my feet. He pulled the blanket off the back of the couch and draped it over me.
“What’s wrong with her?” the Reaper asked.
“She’s in shock. Where’s Demeter?”
The Reaper indicated the note on the kitchen table. Hades snatched the note, and made a disgusted noise. “‘What happened?”
The Reaper shrugged. “She was sleeping and freaked out. Must have been a nightmare or something.”
I glared at the Reaper, cursing their ability to lie.
Hades turned to me. “Is that what happened? Did you forget to shield your dreams again?”
“No.” I barely managed the one word answer, my voice was so hoarse.
“So you’re trying to tell me this was just a run of the mill nightmare?” Hades asked the Reaper, his voice dripping with skepticism. When the Reaper shrugged, Hades asked, “Where are the others?”
“They went to get you. I stayed behind to protect her.”
“No one else was here? You’re absolutely certain.”
“Not that I saw.”
“Persephone, was anyone else here beside the Reapers?”
I shook my head.
Hades knelt, and pried the car keys from my grip. “So when she wakes up hysterical, grabs her keys, and runs out of the house, your plan was to let her get behind the wheel of a car?”
The Reaper narrowed his eyes. “What did you expect me to do, restrain her? In case you’ve forgotten–” He waved his hand in my direction. I flinched. “I can’t touch her.”
Hades’ hand shot out, snapping the Reaper’s wrist. “You’re going to want to start being honest with me.” He tightened his grip. “What really happened?”
The Reaper gasped, face paling. “I told you, she woke up and went nuts–”
Hades twisted the Reaper’s arm, using it to steer him into the wall. “Then why are there bruises around her neck?”
The Reaper’s eyes went wide. “I..I don’t know. Someone must have…” He trailed off, noticing Hades had gone very still, gaze riveted to the Reapers arm.
A single strand of my hair clung to the Reapers sleeve, shining like a golden beacon against the dark material. Hades yanked the Reapers sleeve back, exposing the scratches decorating the Reapers wrist.
“What did you do?”
“I can explain.”
“Did you touch my wife?” Hades’ voice was low and dangerous.
Hades’ fist slammed into the Reapers face. A shield dropped. I blinked, staring at the place where Hades and the Reaper had been. My vision was swimming, I felt lightheaded, a wave of dizziness overwhelmed me and my eyes rolled shut.
“No you don’t.” Hades was beside me in a flash. I bolted upright, looking behind Hades for the Reaper. He was at the table, a shield had formed around him, gluing him in place. His face was puffy, like Hades had used it for a punching bag.
“It’s okay.” Hades’ voice was soothing. “It’s going to be okay.” He gently kissed my forehead, searching for echoes of pain and panic. His fingers traced a sensitive spot on my neck. I flinched, feeling the network of bruises laced around my throat from the Reaper’s grip. He pushed my sleeves to the side following the red impressions left by the Reaper’s fingers. His jaw clenched when he found the handprints on my side.
Healing warmth spread through his palms, erasing the pain wherever they touched. His fingers brushed the bruises on my leg, his gaze went dark. I could feel the rage coursing through him. He was like a powder keg, ready to explode. He took a deep breath, struggling to maintain his temper when his finger traced my lips. He clasped a hand to my cheek, probing further. For a second I could feel my soul as solid and certain as any other part of me.
“Gods,” Hades swore, as he assessed the condition of my torn and battered soul. I felt flash of power, and it fell back into place, whole and unharmed.
Behind him, the Reaper gasped for breath.
“What’s happening to me?”
Hades stiffened, and pulled away. He studied me for a moment, and I knew he wanted to make sure I was okay before he dealt with the Reaper. I nodded and Hades stood.
“I’ve brought you back to life.” Hades’ voice was cold.
“Don’t get too excited. The condition is temporary.” Hades gave the Reaper a dark grin. “You seem like the type of guy that likes to experiment. You got real creative tearing my wife’s soul to bits. Surely at some point you must have wondered what it felt like.”
“N…no.” The Reaper looked like he wanted to say more, but couldn’t. Thanatos must have found some way to bind him. He looked to me, eyes wide in desperation.
Sucks, doesn’t it. I sat up on the couch, flashing the Reaper a savage grin. He read my thoughts on my face and gulped. “You don’t understand. It wasn’t just– I didn’t– There’s more–” His voice gave to an anguished cry when Hades reached out and grabbed him by the shoulder.
“Please! Stop!” he screamed, writhing in agony.
“How many times did she say that?” Hades demanded. “How many times did you make her beg?” His hand turned white, and his hand plunged through the Reapers’ neck.
The Reaper let out a guttural cry.
“How long could a normal human soul survive this? Did you ever wonder that?” Hades shook the Reaper, he moved limply, like a rag doll. “Let’s find out.”
There was a bright flash of light, and the Reaper was gone.
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