Home > The Curse of Tenth Grave (Charley Davidson #10)(10)

The Curse of Tenth Grave (Charley Davidson #10)(10)
Darynda Jones

“Mine’s better.”

Damn it. He was right. As much as I loved Caroline and her amazing mocha lattes, few things on the planet compared to Reyes’s huevos rancheros. He knew what chile did to me. He knew what he did to me, decadent creature that he was. He totally should have been a master chef. Or a male stripper. Or an exotic dessert. Reyes à la mode. I’d eat every bite of him and lick the plate clean.

Without another word, he pushed off the frame and left, but not before I caught a hint of his earlier anger. It was a protective type of thing, and I couldn’t help but wonder if he was hiding anything else. Did I miss a vital detail in the video?

I guess I could do something crazy like ask him. We worked in the same building, so the journey wouldn’t be long. He had the restaurant on the bottom floor, and I had the offices on the top, and they both sat about fifty feet from our apartment building.

It was a great arrangement most of the time. But as I was trying to get back into the swing of things, the closeness only emphasized the distance I’d been feeling from him. The chasm.

Thankfully, during the fifty-foot walk to my office and the dozen or so stairs and the welcome mat I somehow managed to trip over every single day, I had an epiphany.

Cookie had beaten me to work, which was a good thing. I needed to announce my epiphany and proclaim my inevitable victory.

“I am going to seize this day,” I said to her when I walked over to her desk.

She was on her knees going through a cabinet, so I actually said it to her butt.

“Good for you,” she mumbled from inside the cabinet. “You can start by telling me where you hid the staples.”

“I’m serious, Cook.” I peeled off my jacket and tossed it toward a hook on the wall, missing by about twelve feet. But not even that would stop me. “No more wallowing,” I said as the black jacket crumpled to the ground like so many of my exes. “It’s time to take action.”

“Stapling is an action.”

“The way I see it, there are two kinds of people in this world.”

She paused her search and straightened to give me her full, undiluted attention. “This should be good.” She was still on her knees. It was kind of like being worshipped.

“There are those in this world who, when they have to get up in the middle of the night to pee, turn on the light. And there are those who leave it off.” I graced her with my best look of absolute determination. Jaw set. Shoulders straight. Eyes narrowed—just a little—as I anchored my fists onto my hips and looked off into the distance. “I pee in the dark, baby.”

“Which explains why you stub your pinkie toe so often.”

“I am the definition of adventurous.”

“Not to mention accident-prone.”

“I am getting my daughter back.”

A knowing grin slid across her. “Attagirl.”

Beep, or Elwyn Alexandra, was currently being cared for by Reyes’s human parents. The same parents he’d been stolen from as an infant. They were wonderful people, and I couldn’t have been more grateful for their willingness to help us, but giving her up for good had never been part of the plan. Not my plan, anyway.

She was also surrounded by a veritable army of both human and supernatural protectors, any one of whom would give up his life for her. Again, my gratitude knew no bounds. But, again, my own need to protect her, to care for her and watch her grow, was stronger than anything I’d ever felt in my life. It was a constant clash of wills, a continuous struggle as though the devil that sat on one shoulder was forever battling the angel that sat on the other, and their arena resided right in the middle of my chest.

I drew in a deep, determined breath just as the emptiness of my cavernous stomach hit me. “Now that that’s settled, when is lunch?”

She bent back to her task. “We just ate. But we can play Find the Staples until then.”

“Fine.” I looked around for something to do. “I’ll just sharpen pencils.” Pencil sharpening sounded important. Right up there with Pilates and solving world hunger. I started for my office, which was a hairbreadth past our reception area, a.k.a. Cookie’s Domain.

“And hunt for staples?” she asked.

“Bottom right-hand drawer of your desk.”

“I’ve already looked there.”

“They’re under your copy of Man Parts.”

“What?” I heard a soft bang and then a drawer opening and papers rustling as I started a pot of coffee. “I don’t subscribe to Man Parts.”

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