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“From the treacherous treasure herself, of course,” I drawl, wiggling my fingers at him.

Harold collapses in a heap as he heaves for air, while Gage turns a black-eyed murderous glare on me, his lip snarling as he moves toward me in a less-than-ideal manner.

He looks pissed instead of apologetic for having buried me.

In a blink, his hand is suddenly on my throat as he tosses me against the wall and starts strangling me. “Who the fuck are you?” he snaps.

I shove his chest so hard he’s launched across the room, hitting the wall with so much force that he bounces to the ground beside Harold.

Harold grabs his abandoned sword, racing toward me, but a renewed sense of energy is swirling through me after having felt Gage’s touch. I sling him across the room without even touching him.

That sword clatters across the ground, and Gage grabs it, his eyes on me as he slowly stands, weapon in hand.

“Have you lost your damn mind?” I shout. “How long did I have to be dead before you assholes forgot me?!”

I see just a spark of hesitation.

“You have a handful of seconds to drop that sword before I sling you like sleeping Harold,” I warn him, gesturing at Harold, who is unconscious. “I would rather be hanging on the side of a mountain or plummeting from a fiery lake than be so near a sword. Neither of the first two ever actually killed me. And I hate waking up trapped in boxes now too, by the way. Quit piling on.”

The sword clatters to the ground, and he staggers back like he’s seeing a ghost. Speaking of…

I change to phantom form easier, but it’s still a strain to hold it. Sensing them still proves difficult as well.

“Where’d she go?” Harold groans from the floor, looking around.

Gage continues to stare at me with a stupefied expression. “Keyla?” he asks as though he’s scared to say the fake name aloud.

“I already told Jude I desperately need a new, more badass name. Now I’m certain. Not even Keyla could have just climbed out of a grave without freaking out.”

The second I go whole, Gage is suddenly blurring to me again, and just as I’m about to defend myself, I stop. Because his lips land on mine, and he pulls me to him in a crushing embrace as he kisses me stupid.

“I’ve been alive too long,” Harold grumbles from somewhere nearby.

Gage’s hold is a little painful against my still bruised and battered body, and I break the kiss. But he immediately starts kissing me harder, even as the wall behind us starts to catch fire.

A loud whooshing mixed with something high pitched forces us to break apart as Harold goes to using a fire extinguisher on us and the wall. An alarm wails over our heads as though we can’t see the fire and need to be squealed at by the infernal contraption.

Still crabby.

“What the fuck?” Gage roars.

“She’s going to burn the whole place down. Get her the hell out of here.”

Gage snatches me at the waist, and we’re gone in a dizzying instant.

His lips are back on mine in the next, and we’re backing up against a familiar feeling kitchen island. That also starts burning against my skin.

He rips me away from it, staring at it like he’s confused, and I leap onto him, since his clothes are already falling into ashy heaps. The rest of him is clearly fireproof, which is the important part.

Then again, I never questioned if I could hurt him. It’s like I knew I couldn’t.

“What’s going on?” he asks on a rasp whisper, even as I cling to him like a spider monkey. “Am I mad?”

“Mad like crazy or mad like angry? Because I was thinking a little of both, since you threw me against a wall. What the actual hell?”

My legs tighten around his waist, and my arms tighten around his neck, as he reaches up and cups both sides of my face.

“You’re fucking dead,” he finally says, as though he’s trying to convince both of us of this. “And never recycled.”

I push away from his hands and start rubbing my cheek against his like a cat starving for affection, because the pain seems to lessen the longer he’s touching me, or maybe he’s just that distracting.

“I gathered as much when I woke up in a damn coffin,” I tell him, still rather unhappy about that. “You could have at least buried me in the backyard so I could find my way home. Or just let me keep the west wing of the house.”

He laughs a little too wildly, and I pull back as he starts running a hand through his hair. I’m clinging to him without any help, because his hands are no longer touching me.

“I’ve gone crazy. I’ve reached a state of imbalance, and I’ve officially gone as mad as we all worried we’d become.”

“I’m very confused, at the moment,” I tell him, looking around to see the house is a little trashed.

Furniture is flipped over. Windows are broken. It looks like they’ve stopped giving a damn about how pretty their home is. It’s always been kept so clean and almost regal.

Now it looks like they’ve been fighting so hard to stay alive in my absence. How many people have tried to kill them?

“Where are the others?” I ask, worrying about him being alone when I’m possibly too weak to defend him.

“What the fucking hell?” Ezekiel’s voice has me snapping my gaze over, and I grin broadly at the man gaping at me.

“You see her too?” Gage asks, his hysterical laughter tapering off as his hands slide around me at last, helping me hold myself up.

“What is she?” Ezekiel asks, glaring at Gage. “What the hell have you done?”

Gage’s grin slowly spreads. “It’s really her,” he finally says, then looks at me again like he’s finally convinced.

“Yes, it’s me. And just because you’re finally acting happy to see me, that doesn’t mean any of you are off the hook for that terribly simple headstone. Where were my damn quotes? I’ve said some very memorable and insightful things that should be shared with the world.”

Something crashes to the ground, and I look over as a grin starts to spread over Ezekiel’s face, even as he slumps against a table. But it’s seeing Kai gripping the edge of the same table that has me doing a double-take. How long has he been there? And why do they all seem that surprised to see me?

I mean, we met while I was a spirit who’d somehow clawed her way back into existence. It shouldn’t be that hard to believe I’m back again.

A vase lays broken on the ground before them, one that used to don that table, and dead flowers are spilling from it without a drop of water.

“Exactly how long have I been dead?” I decide to ask.

“Just over a month,” Gage says reverently, his eyes raking over my face as I turn to look at a mirror.

My hair is messy for the first time ever, since I never fixed it in phantom form. As a person who hates a messy appearance, it’s rather irksome, but there are far more important things to deal with at the moment.

Besides, I don’t look like a rotting corpse, so I’ll consider it a win.

“I look damn good for a dead girl no matter what form I’m in,” I say aloud, trying to lighten this terribly stuffy air.

“It’s really her,” Kai says, a hesitant grin starting to form.

My body washes over with tingles as the three of them so close starts to push that pain much, much deeper down, almost extinguishing it completely. It’s such a different sort of pain than I’ve ever felt, nothing like the pull of being away from them too long leaves me with.

As the pain ebbs, the reality of the situation slowly starts to sink in.

Gage lets me down when I start wriggling, and I test my theory. The floor doesn’t start burning under me. I knew it was linked to all of them, just like the horrible pain.

They weren’t together, and I couldn’t sense them like usual. I think them being separated from each other was what was making me hurt and tearing my heart in four different directions.

How long have they been apart?

Gage jogs off, and I hear him in the kitchen as the other two just silently gawk at me. Ezekiel even startles back a step when I start toward him.

Determined, I strut right up to him anyway, and throw my arms around him. “Either hug me back, or I swear I’ll never let you sleep peacefully again,” I threaten when he remains still in my grip.

In the next instant, two strong arms almost squeeze me too hard, and a shuddering breath snakes out of him as he trembles just slightly.

I pat his chest, and struggle to get free, but he finally lets me go to Kai.

Kai, unlike Ezekiel, is on me before I can reach him, his hand roughly digging into my hair as he kisses me so hard I feel the bruising power of his relief.

My arms slide around his neck, returning the kiss, as Ezekiel presses against my back again, his lips moving to my neck.

“It’s definitely her,” Kai groans against my lips before tearing his away as he steps back and adjusts his very happy-to-see me erection.

Ezekiel turns me, his lips finding mine just as hungrily. Now this is the reception I expected the first time I came into their lives as a real girl.

Much better than my last experience.

His hands travel down my bare body, pulling closer as the kiss heats. I almost don’t hear Gage talking on his phone in such a quiet voice.


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