Authors: Ella Norris
Tags: #fantasy, #steamy, #fates, #chocolate addiction, #humour adult, #witty and charming, #mythology and romance, #mythology and magical creatrues, #fun and flirty
I knew I should think otherwise. I knew I
should be scared. The gray slacks and matching oxford shirt he was
wearing showed wrinkles from being slept in, his hair was still
sticking up and the corners of his gray eyes were tilted down in
concern behind his glasses.... his appearance was so contrary to
the presence he had about him- it was odd, disconcerting… but not
scary. Scary or not, instead of taking the time to catalog the
man’s appearance, I should have been doing something to get the guy
out of my apartment.
Running out into the street screaming Help!
Police! There's a strange man in my apartment! crossed my mind, but
I’ve never been one to run around panicked. I'm more of a
bullshit-my-way-through-until-I-figure-it-out kind of person.
Besides, I was exhausted, still pretty weirded out and my body felt
like I’d overdosed on muscle relaxers- limp and unmoving. I
couldn't go anywhere even if I wanted to, and, more importantly,
before I kicked the guy out, I had questions that needed to be
"Who the hell are you? And what happened to
the little creepy guy?" I asked, managing to sit up.
"I am the man hunting the little creepy guy.
He left you lying in the doorway, dead. I moved you here to your
couch so as not to attract any unwanted attention."
"Dead?" I asked while trying to rub some
feeling back into my legs.
"Yes, dead," he replied, as he sat down in my
favorite chair. It was orange corduroy- rocked and swiveled.
"I don't feel dead."
"That would be because you're not.
Apparently, I seem to have restored your soul."
"Okay…" What else was I supposed to say? “And
He sighed and stood up, and up, and up. I did
say he was a big guy, right?
Bowing slightly, he said with a disgruntle
sigh, "I am Caisus Black. I have also been called Master Assassin,
Deliverer of Souls, and Hand of Death. I serve Hades, the Lord of
the Underworld. I have given your soul back and, in doing so, made
you immortal and indebted to my Sire. You, Myra Jane Collier, must
accompany me to the Underworld to greet Hades and see what is to be
Okey, dokey. Obviously he’d had too many Coo
Coo Puffs, but I didn't think he was lying when he said he had
saved my life. I don't think it happened like he said, but there is
no doubt in my mind creepy guy had bad intentions, and whatever he
had done that left me feeling broken on the floor sure felt like it
could have been death. I needed to think, and I needed more
information, like how the hell he knew my name.
"How the hell do you know my name?"
Caisus Black pointed to the pile of papers on
my dining room table. "It was typed on your utility bill."
Wow, now I really felt stupid.
"Look, I think you're going to have to start
over with the explanations."
He sat back down, his elbows on his knees,
his hands hanging loosely in between them. His shoulders and back
were bowed forward with all of his weight balanced on the balls of
his booted feet. He looked like he was coiled and ready to spring
into action at any moment-obviously, he did not get the beauty of
the orange chair.
"As I said, I serve Hades, the Lord of the
Underworld. Sebastian, the man who assaulted you, also works for
Hades. We gather souls meant for the Underworld and send them on to
await Hades' judgment. Sebastian took your soul and, in doing so,
your life, though The Fates had not ordained it."
"Why did Sebastian want my soul?"
He adjusted his glasses, making them crooked.
"It is a long story, too long to get into now. We must report to
Hades as soon as possible."
I have to say, this kind of pissed me off.
Here I was on my couch, feeling like my head was being infested
with termites, my legs and arms still the consistency of Jell-O,
and a man I had never met before, sitting in my favorite chair, in
my apartment, was telling me that answering the question of why
some creepy friend of his murdered me was too long a story for him
to get into. It didn't matter that he was batshit crazy, and I
probably wouldn't understand anything he said- I deserved an
"Look, you don't know me, so I'm going to
clue you in. I don't like men, at all. Nothing against you
personally, I've just seen what the Y chromosome has to offer, and
I've never really been impressed. Not to mention, one of my
earliest and only goals in life has been to not be like my mama.
Considering that my mama put the male species,” any male of the
species, “ahead of everything else,” especially me, “let's just say
I've decided I'm better off without them." Why in the hell did I
just tell him all that?
Caisus leaned back. "You prefer women."
Why was it assumed if you didn't have or feel
the need for a man in your life, you must be attracted to
"No, unfortunately, I've only ever been
attracted to men. However, I've always believed love was about what
was on the inside, not the packaging." It was a lesson I learned
very early with my mama, though eventually, her packaging became
just as blackened and harsh as her insides.
I swung my legs around in front of me and was
rewarded with a lovely pins and needles sensation from my thighs to
"My point is, just on general principle, I'm
not going to like you, and if you have any chance of getting me to
go somewhere with you," there was no way in hell, "you're going to
have to answer my questions."
Caisus sighed, "I don't know."
"You don't know what?"
He sighed again. "Sebastian has gone rogue, I
don’t know why. I don’t know why he targeted you. I was assigned to
retrieve him- that was all. I also had no intention of giving you
back your soul, not that I didn’t want to, but I didn’t know I
possessed the ability to do so. I believe The Fates bestowed the
power on me at their whim. In short, I carried you to your couch
and, feeling a moment of shame at Sebastian's actions, I wished I
could mend what he had broken, and then you were whole again."
Sheesh. “I need chocolate," I said, standing
up and, with only a little wobble- yay me- walked into the
Caisus Black followed. "What are you
"Getting a cake roll."
"We must go, Myra Jane Collier. We do not
have time for a cake roll."
"There is always time for a cake roll, Mr.
My apartment was laid out in what my mama
would have called a Goldilocks floor plan- it consisted of three
rooms: small- the bathroom, medium-the bedroom, and large- the
living room/dining room/kitchen area. She would have also gone into
a long lurid tale about why the bedroom was just right, but we
don't need to go there.
According to the style magazine I stole from
the teacher's lounge, when you have one large room that has several
functions, you're supposed to use furniture to define the space. My
space was defined on an art teacher's salary. I had a table with
two chairs for eating breakfast- the breakfast room, a table with
two chairs for eating dinner- the dining room, and I had a TV for
watching, plus two chairs and a small couch to place my ass in
while doing so, that made the living room.
So when I say Caisus Black followed me into
the kitchen, we actually only stepped eight feet, avoided the
dining room table, went a few more steps and, avoiding the kitchen
table, arrived at the long butcher block rolling cart that was
disguised as my counter.
"You can call me Riley," he said.
I looked up at Riley. "You can call me Myra,"
I said, turning my back to him as I started cleaning up the
paraphernalia from my previous night's lapse in judgment.
The still half full bottle of rum went on top
of the fridge, and the empty Haagen-Dazs Dark Chocolate Raspberry
ice cream container was tossed in the trash- it took real will
power not to stick my finger into the container for a swipe of any
remaining chocolaty goodness. I wiped the counter clean of any
left-over sticky Coke residue and shook the box of Little Debbie
cake rolls until two packages of cake rolls landed with a pleasant
plop onto the counter. I couldn't help but sigh. It had been a
rough night, and until I shook the box, I wasn't sure if I had gone
through all of my stash.
"We must not hesitate any longer, Myra. Hades
grows impatient," Riley said from behind me.
I turned around. He was standing less than
one foot in front of me, his arms folded across his chest, his eyes
stern and his mouth thinned in what I assumed was supposed to be an
overall stance of seriousness, but his glasses were still crooked,
his hair was still sticking up in several places and his clothes,
in the bright lights of the kitchen, looked even more rumpled than
"You can't expect to pull off menacing with
little wire rimmed glasses, and certainly not when they're
crooked," I said.
"I wasn't trying for menacing. I am being
patient and kind," he said, a little defensively and, may I point
out, not at all patient and kind.
I really didn't know what to say; being
social, having men in my apartment, was so not my thing. I still
had an unopened package of cake rolls in my hand, so I focused on
removing the cellophane wrapper without damaging the integrity of
the chocolate icing on the outside of the cake.
Riley was intently watching my progress- his
shadow kind of loomed over me. His shoulders and chest were
definitely broad, but he wasn’t bulky with muscles bubbling under
his flesh, instead, the muscles I could see on his forearms- where
his shirt sleeves had been rolled up- were sleek and sinewy. His
hands though, would be better described as paws, misshapen as they
were, with large rounded knuckles and flattened, cracked, callused
fingers. I wondered what a crazy person did to have hands like his.
He could probably very easily kill with such hands.
I waited for the idea of being in the same
room with a possible murderer to affect me- a tightness in my belly
or a chill crawling up my spine. I waited…took another bite of cake
roll… waited some more…nothing. I just didn't feel it. I knew Riley
wouldn't hurt me.
Brrr… Now, that thought sent shivers crawling
uncomfortably up my back.
"Would you like a cake roll?" I asked,
handing him one of the twin little cakes. He took it, sniffing it
for several seconds. I was about to take it back when he stuffed
the whole thing in his mouth, his eyes widening as he chewed.
He continued to chew and do weird swishing
noises with his mouth while I took my time savoring each bite.
"There's a strange film on the roof of my mouth," he said, still
making the swishing noise.
"That's the shortening. Don't worry you get
used to it."
"I don't think I could ever get used to such
a thing. Now that you have had your cake, we must leave for the
Underworld. Hades only exudes patience when he is performing
torture. He doesn't like to wait."
"Well he's going to have to because I'm not
going anywhere with you."
I'm not sure what I expected Riley to do, but
pulling out a chair, turning it around backwards and sitting in it
with his arms resting on the back, facing me, was not it. I waited
for him to say something, but he just sat there. I guess this was
him acting patient and kind again.
"What are you doing?" I asked, not attempting
to curb any snottiness from my voice.
"You must appear before Hades. I must take
you. I won’t force you to go, but I won’t leave either," he
"Look, I rarely have my shit together on a
good day, and yesterday ended up being a disaster, before I
supposedly had my soul taken from me and subsequently died. So, how
about you give me a break, and come back another day?"
"I cannot come back another day. Already
Hades' ire grows to fearful proportions. He shrugged. "Soon he will
force us to appear before him.”
"So why don't you go about your business and
I go about mine and, if by some chance this turns out to be Bizarro
world and Hades really does exist, I'll see you there. It'll be
nice; I hate being somewhere new and not knowing anyone."
"You don’t believe me," he said, resting his
chin on his folded forearms.
I opened the second package of cake rolls.
"No I don’t. I actually think you're nucking- futs, but for some
strange reason beyond my ability to comprehend, probably having
something to do with the drunken disorderly I pulled last night, I
seem to have some kind of weird fondness for you, and though I've
told myself I should probably be running out into the street
screaming for the police, I can't seem to be bothered enough to do
so." I took a bite of cake roll. "Ha, maybe I'm the one that's
Riley watched me finish the first and then
second cake roll. I know it wasn't very hospitable not to share,
but truthfully, I’m not a very hospitable person. My mama never
taught me any better. I did offer him a glass of milk- which he
declined as he continued to silently watch me, waiting.
I thought about ignoring him and going to
bed. I thought about screaming my head off at him, hoping he'd be
annoyed enough to leave. I thought about sitting down in front of
him and staring at him in return- see how he liked it- and yes, I
even thought, once again, about calling the police. The problem
with all of these ideas was that none of them were workable.
If I went to bed, I would not be able to
ignore him- therefore, I would not be able to fall asleep. I could
scream my head off, I'm actually quite gifted at the verbal assault
stuff- I've been called a loud mouth more than once- but I really
don't think he'd care. Besides, I had this weird idea in my head
that Riley might really in fact be a giant fluffy bunny in disguise
and in desperate need of affection, so I couldn't do it anyway.
Well, not with any feeling, and what would be the fun in that?