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I’ll get mad at them later.

The pain will be distracted no longer.

Staggering to my feet, I look around, confused. How do I find my way home in this mess?

I manage to walk, despite the pain, focusing on the guys, thinking of everything about them. It seems to lessen the pain.

Two people stumble over themselves, gaping at me like they’ve been traumatized.

“It’s just a naked body,” I tell them with a bitter smile as I flip them off and keep hobbling along.

Dying apparently makes me very cranky. Especially when I come back whole and struggle to cling the form I once despised.

I tell ya, there’s just no way to make me happy right now.

I can’t even conjure some clothes for myself. And somehow I’m still dirty even though I did go phantom.

“Sheesh, someone get me a cheese plate to go with my whine.”

Yeah, my recycled-yet-slightly-altered bad pun doesn’t even cheer me up.

The back alley I turn down doesn’t look promising. The guys are in a much nicer area.

The three guys who swing their gazes up in shock and very alarming delight has me looking over my shoulder as I pass them.

They’re definitely about to piss me off.

Predictably, they cut off my exit and surround me, all of them leering.

“What do we have here?” Mr. Cliché asks from behind me.

“You have a very naked girl who just dug out of her grave—figuratively speaking on the digging portion. If I’m a zombie, you idiots will be the first I infect,” I tell them flatly. My gaze deliberately dips to one’s crotch. “And depending on your intent, the bite wound could be vicious.”

The one in front of me looks hesitant now, as though he’s not sure if he wants to do terrible things to a girl who might just be crazy enough to bite away his manhood.

I’ll do far worse, but they’re human and don’t know that. Yet.

“I’m in a lot of pain, and I’m a little lost right now. I’m almost suspicious it’s because I’ve been away from my four very ungrateful boyfriends for too long. Care to hurry up and exercise your free will so I can decide if I’m going to kill you or not?” I ask with an impatient smile.

The one in front of me turns and runs when I smirk at him. When I flick my gaze to the right, the guy there sees something in my eyes I’m apparently missing.

Or maybe it’s the fact the concrete under my feet seems to be sizzling and burning away without fire the longer I stand here. That’s rather curious.

It makes me look back on everything that’s been going on since I woke and consider all the burning smells.

He runs as well, while the one behind me jerks me back by my hair and calls them a string of very emasculating names.

My lips tense when the fella jerks me back harder, trying to force me to the ground. But he cries out in pain before I even do anything to him.

“I think that’s enough free will for the day,” I say before reaching back and grabbing his hand, yanking it away before throwing him against the wall with it.

His eyes widen as I stalk toward him, and I grin as he starts convulsing.

A sick feeling lands in the pit of my stomach, and I blink back, staring at the man who is nothing more than a pile of ash now.

What the actual hell just happened?

Cursing, I turn and start walking again. For whatever reason, I just enjoyed killing him way too much, and I didn’t even particularly mean to kill him. I’m not even sure how it happened so fast. One second he was there, and the next he was ash.

Sure, he needed to die. He’s not exactly going to be missed from humanity, but killing has always been an indifference of sorts—in the short time I’ve had the ability. I neither like nor dislike it.

I’m going to choke those bastards for burying me if the distance has made me someone who enjoys killing.

I’m not sure how the two are linked, but all my instincts point to those four assholes.

Sighing, I turn around. Then brighten.


I know where that damn pawn shop is.

Hobbling, I ignore the indignant gasps and the four fender-benders I cause as I cross the street and hurriedly move toward the pawn shop.

Any time I stop for too long, the concrete starts burning again. This is new.

Even the casket was burned all the way through in the back where I was touching it. I assumed that meant I was in hell.

Is this a side effect of dying? Or has this been something I never experimented with?

When I pull Harold’s door open, I hold on too long, and the handle burns off and turns to ash in my hands.

He’s immediately in front of me, the tip of a sword pressed to my neck.

“Who the hell are you?” he growls, even as my feet start burning through his store’s floor.

That tip draws closer, pressing into my neck. My last experience with a blade has me freezing in fear for a second.

“If I don’t run in place or something, I’ll keep burning a hole through your floor.”

He looks so puzzled about the words I choose to use when a sword is pressed to my neck. I’m a little confused by my own thought process.

“I realize we’ve never been properly introduced, and I’m afraid to shake your hand at the moment, but if my quad doesn’t come to me soon, I’m afraid I might die again. And I just got myself out of a very depressing grave.”

He pulls the sword back, still looking terribly confused, and I hiss out a breath while jogging in place, stopping the burning.

His eyes dip to my breasts, given the fact the running-in-place has given them some bounce, but they come back up quickly.

“Sorry,” I tell him, not sorry at all, “but you’re quite literally the only person I know outside of them. And Lake. But Lake is dead now, because—”

“Who the fuck are you?” he asks on a rasp.

“I still haven’t quite figured that part out yet,” I tell him, only adding to his confusion. “But I do need your help, Harold.”

The sound of my voice is a little off, and it comes out with quite the enchanting echo. He sneezes then glares at me.

“No need in trying to force me. This is neutral ground. No one from hell or anywhere else is allowed to force anything on neutral ground.”

“The only thing I’m trying to force is my other form, so that I can quit running and trying not to burn the ground. No such luck. I need my guys. I think. I’m not sure, but I think. Please. The Kincaids.”

The name has his entire demeanor changing. I’m going to ask them what’s up with this weird name and why they’re pretending to be brothers. After I bitch about my simplistic gravestone.

“You’re picking the wrong fight right now,” he tells me, his eyes narrowing.

“Oh, I’ll be picking a fight about that damn pathetic excuse for a headstone and the fact it took me dying to get roses. But first I need to hug them or something, so call them.”

He looks wary. Understandably. He doesn’t know me, and strangers are hard to trust.

“Call them and tell them one sentence, and I swear they’ll want to see me,” I assure him.

He points that sword at me. “If this is a trap for them, it’ll do you no good. This place has been sanctioned. No deaths can happen here.”

I still haven’t figured out why a pawn shop is an ideal location for sanctuary. Nor do I particularly care.

“If I don’t find them soon, I can assure you my death will happen right here,” I go on. “Just do it. I’m going to walk around so I can quit all this bobbing up and down.”

He huffs like he’s not sure what exactly to make of me.

So I give him the one line that always seems to help an older guy along with decision-making with a younger girl. “What would you want someone to do if it was your daughter standing before them as I’m standing before you now?” I ask with as much emotion in my tone as possible to sell it.

I’m jogging and not standing, but pointing that out just sounds weird, and it’s not the way they say it in the movies.

Movies, please don’t fail me this time.

He sighs as he grabs his phone.

He’s already dialing someone when he says, “I’ll kill you if you make me regret this.”

I give him the winning words, and start perusing his store as he dials three different people, cursing them for not answering. I strain to listen, making sure he’s not calling someone else to come take away the crazy naked girl burning holes in his shop floor.

“Yeah?” a hoarse voice asks, sounding very unhappy to be answering the phone. The word is so gravelly, I’m not sure whose voice it is.

“Got a pretty little naked girl here looking for you,” Harold tells him.

Hmm…that might work too.

“Don’t give a fuck,” the familiar voice of Gage says with a little more definition in his tone.

Harold glances over at me, and I give him the get-on-with-it look.

“Comoara trădătoare, is what she says—”

His words are cut off, when Gage is suddenly in the room and throwing him up against the wall with his hand clutching Harold’s throat. Harold’s eyes widen in horror, as the phone slips from his hand and he struggles to pull Gage’s hand away.

“Where’d you hear that phrase?” he growls, putting his face right in front of Harold.


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