Home > The Curse of Tenth Grave (Charley Davidson #10)(5)

The Curse of Tenth Grave (Charley Davidson #10)(5)
Darynda Jones

“Aren’t we all?” he asked, and I paused to study him.

He studied me back, his lashes narrowing as he took me in, and I wondered if he really understood, on even the basest level, what he did to women. A man just trying to make it through the day? Uh-huh. Right.

Strawberry landed again, plopped onto the coffee table, and let her feet dangle beneath her. “I like what you’ve done with the place.”

Reyes grinned and ducked back into the kitchen, hopefully to make me the breakfast of champions, whatever that might entail. I took the opportunity to once again scan the vastness of what used to be my microscopic apartment. I hadn’t seen it for over nine months, eight of those having been spent at a convent—long story—and the other one spent as an amnesiac waitress at a café in Upstate New York.

At some point during our recent adventures, Reyes had renovated the apartment building. The entire thing. The exterior remained relatively unchanged. A few fixes here and there, a good cleaning, and it was good to go.

The interior, however, had been completely overhauled. Each apartment had been updated as students graduated or long-term residents moved into one of the newly renovated ones while theirs received the same treatment. But the third floor, the top one, had received a little extra attention.

It now had only two apartments, ours and Cookie’s, each consisting of over thirteen thousand square feet of absolute luxury.

The rooftop storage units had been opened up so the ceilings in half of the apartment were now over twenty-four feet tall. Metal rafters zigzagged across our ceiling. Two adjoining gardens sat on the flat part of the roof outside, complete with lights and a pond and real plants. The whole place look positively magical.

Reyes kept only one room locked and had refused to open it when he brought me home for the first time in months, but locked doors were never much of a problem for me. The day after we’d arrived home, I took advantage of the fact that he left earlier than I did and broke in. I’d flipped the light switch and stopped short. The room had been decorated in mint green stripes and pastel circus animals and equipped with a bassinet. It was Beep’s room, and the fissure in my heart had cracked a little more.

“I’m going to see if Blue wants to play hopscotch.”

She disappeared before I could get out a good-bye. Or good riddance. Either way.

I looked past where she’d been sitting toward Reyes’s plush cream-colored sofa. He didn’t get it at a garage sale like I’d gotten my previous sofa. Her name had been Sophie, and I often wondered what happened to her. Was she lamenting the days away at a dump site? Sure, she’d only cost me twenty bucks, but she’d been with me a long time. I hated the thought of her being destroyed.

Then another thought hit me.

Speaking of discarded items, “Hey,” I said, suddenly concerned, “where did you put Mrs. Allen and PP?”

PP, a.k.a. Prince Phillip, was an elderly poodle that had once fought a demon for me, doing his darnedest to save my life. He and Mrs. Allen had been living down the hall since I’d moved in, and if anyone had a right to live here, to have one of these sparkly new apartments, it was those two.

Reyes lowered his head. “Her family had to put her in a nursing home.”

My spine straightened in alarm. “What? Why?”

He bit down. “A lot’s happened since we’ve been gone.”

“You should have told me.”

“It happened last month. You wouldn’t have known her.”

I paused to absorb that. He was right. Didn’t make it any easier to swallow. “Where is she?”

“At a retirement home in the North Valley.”

I made a mental note to visit her. “What about PP?”

“PP?”

“Her poodle. The one that saved my life, I might add.”

He fought a grin. “He’s with her. The home where she is allows animals.”

“Oh, thank goodness.” I slumped in the chair and put my chin on the back. Reyes was right. A lot had changed. Including the state of my cup.

“I’m going to make another pot if you want more after your shower,” I said, hopping up and heading that way.

He lifted a wide shoulder, studying his own cup. His bare feet were crossed, his other shoulder propped against the opening to the chef’s kitchen, and I slowed my stride to take it all in.

“I’m not sure I want to shower today,” he said.

“What? Why?”

A panty-melting grin as wicked as sin on Sunday slid across his handsome face. “Your aunt Lillian keeps … checking in on me.”

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