Kiss of the Reaper
Death is Not the End
There’s this moment when you die.
This final sliver of time when the Grim Reaper comes to lead you through to the other side. When you are bathed in the glee he exudes at introducing another soul to his cold, dark world, and you have a split second of complete and utter fear at what lies ahead. Fear of the afterlife you have no control over. Fear of the Reaper.
But not all deaths end the same way.
And the Reaper isn’t who you think he is.
This is the story of how I died…and how Death himself brought me back to life.
KISS OF THE REAPER is a standalone fantasy novel that spins off from Ellis Leigh’s bestselling Feral Breed Motor Cycle club paranormal romance series. Readers who have read the FBMC will recognize many of the characters, but you do not have to read FBMC to enjoy this love story between the Grim Reaper and the dead witch he can’t stop obsessing about.
I reached for my mother’s hand, needing a little guidance to find the right spot in time. Bringing my sight in line with hers. The cards flipped immediately in my mind, so many futures laid out before my eyes. So many lives being lived without my presence. The cards stopped at a scene that I couldn’t quite grasp, the image like something from a television show.
The card on top showed me the boarding school for sure, but the entire building and surrounding area looked wrong. The image in my mind appeared grayed-out and deeply shadowed, as if all the color had seeped from that little patch of the earth. Dehydrated and moody, as if the entire island had been absorbed by the land between the living and the dead. I searched for Scarlett in the windows of the big house I’d never physically entered, trying so hard to ignore the way my vision blurred and went staticky whenever I sought more detail, beginning to recognize the wisps of black vapor rising into the air.
“No,” I whispered, gripping my mother’s hand tighter. In the vision, the wind howled, and what looked like dead leaves blew across the wide front porch. Autumn on the island, a time of shifting from tourist season to rest. Very few locals lived on the island year-round, so once the tourists left, it should have been quiet and safe. Should have been a time of peace. Should not have been disrupted—
And then I saw her.
Lying on the porch floor, right outside the front door. Dark hair with bright red streaks like fire slowly fading to gray as it fanned out across the wood planking. That flame-like hair stood out as the only hue against the gray background, the only impregnation of color in a world of shadows.
The hair…and the blood. So much blood.
The vision shifted suddenly, the cards reversing themselves to show me another scene. This time, Scarlett was alive and bright, running through the snowy woods with a green scarf around her neck and a smile on her face. Her own soul mate, a shifter named Shadow who carried the spirit of both wolf and tiger, plodded along behind her in his wolf form. The two playing what looked like a happy and fun game of hide-and-seek.
One more shift in the vision, another reminder of what was to come. One last vision of my vibrant sister dead and gray on the floor of her boarding school. The flame within her snuffed. Her magick lost.
I didn’t need guidance on what the visions meant. Option one, option two. Dead or alive. Scarlett’s path had not been chosen yet, decisions that would determine her fate not yet made, but she didn’t have much time left to make those choices. Death was coming.
I took a good look at the scene playing behind my eyes, focusing on every detail. I saw no defensive wounds, no sign of a fight. No burn marks or scorches around her. Perhaps someone she had known had done that to her, someone in her trusted circle. A friend could soon betray her. Or maybe the attack had been mystical in nature—something not of the ordinary stealing her life too suddenly for her to react. It was impossible to know.
The wind howled again, dead leaves definitely flying up and around the windows. An indicator of time that crossed dimensions. Even in the Summerlands, we experienced the seasons. As witches, the equinoxes were especially meaningful to us, and we celebrated them just as we had while alive. The dead leaves indicated Mabon, the second celebration of the harvest season. We were still in Laghnasadh, or August Eve—the first harvest—though that would be ending within a matter of days as we rolled through toward Mabon.
The leaves danced on the air again, my own element giving me one last chance to home in on the timing of this tragedy. I watched each leaf with interest, paying particular attention to the details. Green centers, brown edges—not completely dead or dried. Early Mabon for sure, which meant…
“Days,” I whispered, my mouth going dry with the knowledge of how soon Scarlett’s life could be over. “We only have days.”
But our skill, our precognition, had given me the gift of those days. Scarlett’s death had been in the future, which meant it was something I could stop. I could play a game of cat and mouse with Death to stop him from taking a life deserving of more time. I would just have to challenge him from his side of the playing field, from the land between that of the living and the afterlives. I would have to face off against Death on his own turf to save my sister.
I’d beaten him once before—I could do it again.