Home > The Curse of Tenth Grave (Charley Davidson #10)(3)

The Curse of Tenth Grave (Charley Davidson #10)(3)
Darynda Jones

In a nutshell, is he good or evil?

All evidence would point to the latter. It was hardly his fault. He was forged in the fires of sin and damnation. Did that affect him? Did the evil that forever burned in his home dimension leach into him as he grew up? As he fought to survive the cruelties of being raised in hell by a bitter fallen angel? As he rose through the ranks to become a general in his father’s army? To command legions of demons? To lead them into war and sacrifice?

After all this time, after everything we have been through, I thought I knew my husband. Now I wasn’t so sure.

One thing I was sure of was the fact that I needed to learn his true godly name. It couldn’t be Razer. That term had to be an interpretation of his true name. Or perhaps a nickname. If I knew Reyes’s godly name, I could do what Satan did. I could trap him, if need be, in the god glass I kept with me always.

I shifted back onto this plane, patted the pendant in my sweats pocket, and turned to the girl beside me. The one who clearly had no intention of leaving.

After forcing my biggest and brightest fake smile, the one made of irritation and paint remover, I asked, “Why don’t you have Rocket read it to you?”

Rocket was a mutual friend who’d died in a mental asylum in the fifties. He was also a savant who knew that names of every human being on Earth who’d lived and died. Ever. Strawberry crashed with him and his sister, Blue, though I’m not sure the departed actually sleep. I hadn’t seen Rocket in weeks, and his place was first on my list of places to hit for the day, now that my one and only case was almost over.

Strawberry crossed her arms over her chest. “He can’t read it to me.”

“Why not?”

I was expecting her to say, “Because he’s dead, and he can’t turn the pages.” What I got was, “Because he can’t read.”

I finally leveled a semi-interested gaze on her. “What do you mean, ‘he can’t read’? He writes the names of the departed all over the walls.”

That was his main gig. Rocket scratched thousands and thousands of names into the walls of the abandoned asylum, all day, every day. It was fascinating to watch. For about five minutes, at which point my ADHD kicked in, and I’d suddenly have places to be and people to see.

She rolled her eyes. “Of course he can write names. Duh. It’s his job. Doesn’t mean he can read them.”

That made about as much sense as reality TV.

“They aren’t there for him to read, anyway,” she added as she picked at the sleeve of my T-shirt that read MY BRAIN HAS TOO MANY TABS OPEN. “They’re for her.”

As intrigued as I should’ve been, intrigue was not as intriguing as one might imagine at six o’clock in the morning. Especially after pulling an all-nighter. I took another sip. Studied the steam rising out of the cup like a lover. Wondered if I should use my powers over the next twenty-four hours for good or evil. Evil would be more fun.

Finally, with the patience of a saint on Xanax, I asked, “For who, hon?”

Her large irises bounced back to mine. “For who what?”

I shifted toward her. “What?”

“What?”

“What did you say?”

“For who what?”

I fought the urge to grind my teeth into dust and asked, “If not for Rocket, for who—whom—are they written?”

She pursed her lips and went back to lacing tendrils of my hair into her tiny fingers. “For whom is what written?”

I’d lost her. And I suddenly had a raging desire to sell her on the black market. It would do me little good, though. Poor thing drowned when she was nine. Not many on Earth could see her. My luck I’d have to take her back and give the buyer a refund. Then I’d have to mark the perv’s soul for hell for trying to buy a child on the black market. Seriously, what the fuck?

I took another sip for strength and then explained as simply as I could. “The names Rocket writes on the walls of the asylum. If he can’t read them, who are they for?”

“Oh, those!” Suddenly excited, she tried to disentangle her fingers and took half my scalp with her. She spread her arms like wings and began running in circles around the apartment making engine sounds. No idea why. “Those are for Beep.”

I paused mid-scalp-rub. “Beep?” A tingling sensation racing over my skin. “My Beep?”

She stopped just long enough to shoot me a look of exasperation before flying around the apartment again. Not literally. “How many Beeps do you know?”

I blinked at her for a solid minute with my mouth slightly agape. Drool slipped from one corner as I tried to wrap my head around what she’d just said. If only I had more brain cells at 6 A.M. They didn’t even begin to amass until around 7:12, and the all-nighter didn’t help.

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