The Grim Life Book #2
The Grim Life: Book Two
Dating is tough... especially when you’re dead.
Max and Kody never really figured life out, and their afterlife isn’t proving any easier. They were supposed to live happily ever after, escorting souls to heaven for the Big Guy—as in God—but then their boss, the mysterious angel Slade, delivered some shocking news about the undead.
Their afterlife just got a lot more complicated.
The appearance of the undead shades can only mean one thing: wraiths—the malevolent incarnation of stranded spirits. But what do they want with Kody? If that wasn’t enough for Max to worry about, Slade makes a cryptic remark about the end of Max and Kody’s relationship—and Max already resents the time Kody spends with Slade.
Kody’s family is still reeling from his death, and his sister is spiraling out of control. She blames their mother, religion, and God. When Kody and Max form a plan to help save her faith and her heart, it could bring the wraiths into the mortal world... and the boys might not have the power to fight them.
Only love can push back the darkness and heal the wounds in their hearts. But sorrow and confusion might drive a wedge between Max and Kody when they need most to stand together.
- 1 To Be Read list
Publisher: Harmony Ink Press
Heat Level: 3
Romantic Content: 4
Ending: Click here to reveal
Protagonist 1 Age: Under 18
Protagonist 2 Age: 18-25
Tropes: Hurt / Comfort
Word Count: 74000
Setting: spirit world, earth
Languages Available: English
Series Type: Continuous / Same Characters
“You did a great job training Kody to be a reaper these last three months, Max," Slade said. "And you executed your first two crossovers beautifully. Better than I expected actually.”
He smiled at us and I couldn’t stop the swell of pride. Maybe I was a better reaper than I thought.
“That being said,” he went on. “You’re not ready for more than one crossover a day, Kody.”
“Why not? The others take care of more,” I protested, not liking the idea of being odd man out, different once again from my fellow reapers.
Slade gave me a wry smirk.
Did he know how drained I still was after Jeremy’s crossover?
Who was I kidding?
Of course he did.
Slade must think I’m the worst reaper ever.
“I don’t. Trust me, you’ll get there soon enough,” Slade assured me. “But for now, just one a day. And I want the two of you to keep working as a team.”READ MORE
Max grinned, obviously liking the idea, but the news only upset me further. Fighting back my emotions, I forced a smile for Max. What if the rest of the crew thought I couldn’t hack it as a reaper? As much fun as it would be to spend all day with Max, I didn’t need a babysitter.
“Did you encounter any shades or wraiths when you were in the human realm?” Slade asked, oblivious to my disappointment. Or ignoring it, who knew?
“Nope,” Max answered.
Slade arched his brows. “Now you wouldn’t be keeping anything from me, would you?”
“Do you think we saw wraiths and just decided not to tell you?”
“I know you’re telling the truth,” he said with a smug grin. “I was just seeing if you were gonna lie to my face or not.”
“Not cool,” he muttered and Slade chuckled.
“Well, you’re probably going to start seeing them soon enough,” he told us bluntly. “I can’t always send you on safe cases during the day.”
My stomach twisted, but Max sat up straighter. He might be physically and visually younger than me, but he was a lot wiser. He always had a tendency to pick up on the things Slade left hanging between the lines. “Wraiths can only come out at night?”
“No,” he said with a sigh. “Not necessarily. But they are more active at night. Being a black entity, it’s easier to hide in the shadows. Make sense?”
We nodded, absorbing the information. Piercing gray eyes surveyed us. “On the other hand, shades are leaving limbo and wandering this realm constantly, day and night. And I can’t keep them away from you much longer.”
“What do they want?” Max asked.
Slade turned his gaze on me, chilling my undead body to the proverbial bone. “They’re looking for Kody.”
Slade nodded, face grim.
“But I-I don’t understand… w-why?” I spluttered over my words, hands shaking. “What-what did I do? Is it because I wasn’t supposed to be here? Did I do something wrong? What…?”
A gentle, familiar hand took mine and the rising panic slowed as a warm sense of strength and love funneled into me. Pulse slowing, I met Max’s soft, patient eyes.
“Kods,” he said. “You didn’t do anything wrong.”
“No, that would be you, Max,” Slade muttered.
“Hey,” he snapped, his hand tightening on mine. “Saving Kody was the right thing to do in the long run. Are you gonna hold it over my head how I did it forever?”
“Maybe.” Slade smiled. “Yeah. As long as it keeps amusing me, I probably will.”
Max grumbled something, but I couldn’t find any humor in their usual banter. Though his hand felt reassuring in mine, my entire body remained tense.
First the drama with my parents, and now shades were looking for me… how the heck was I supposed to deal with all of this?
“Kody,” Slade began in a rumbling tone that had me wondering if he spoke out loud and in my head at the same time, “I need you to take a deep breath and listen.”
The power of his angelic gaze, the soothing melody of his voice coupled with the supportive touch of my boyfriend managed to calm my heart rate. I placed a second hand over Max’s, gripping him like a lifeline.
Nodding, I did as he asked.
“I wish I didn’t have to burden you guys, but that’s the reason I called you here,” Slade went on. “The shades are looking for Kody, not the wraiths. But the danger comes because wherever a large group of shades are, the wraiths are sure to follow.”
“Why?” Max demanded.
“Looking for new recruits, I suppose.”
He nodded, storing the info to add to his whiteboard, no doubt. “Why did the wraiths follow me before? What did they want?”
“The wraiths were never following you, those were shades you sensed.”
“But you said—”
“No, Max, you said wraiths, and I just didn’t bother to correct you because I was done talking about it at the time. I was more interested in reuniting the two of you than splitting hairs on details that you weren’t ready to know about.”
Max opened and closed his mouth as if he didn’t know if he should be pleased or annoyed by Slade’s reply. I could already see his mind whirling as he reevaluated some of his theories. “Okay, so they weren’t wraiths, which I suppose explains why they were easily scared off. And why they didn’t try to take the bodies of my charges.”
Slade chuckled, seeming to enjoy bursting some of Max’s hypothesis bubbles. “You think so? You’re quite the detective.”
Max frowned. “Whatever. So why were shades following me?”
“They knew you were Kody’s reaper.”
“That makes no sense. You killed Kody,” Max argued. “Why would they look for him through me?”
Slade frowned at his choice of words, but Max didn’t back down. Depending on which of them you asked, it was a gray area whether or not my death was murder or the fact I was supposed to die. Max refused to see it. He’d forgiven Slade for completing my death on the hood of a delivery van right in front of him, but he hadn’t forgotten.
Probably never would.
Thankfully Slade chose to ignore it. “Shades are supposed to reside in limbo. Wraiths are basically corrupted shades, so they’re in limbo too. That is, when they aren’t in human bodies,” he explained calmly. “They all knew Kody was in limbo with me, but they couldn’t get close because I was protecting him. The shades were following you because, like the wraiths you met, they know you’re Kody’s protector, and they were hoping to run into him again.”
The entire time I’d been talking to Slade, shades and wraiths had been watching me? My hands resumed their shaking, and Max shifted until he held them both between his stronger but smaller ones. For a moment I felt safe, protected by his touch.
“I’ve been shielding you boys every time you go into the human realm, but I can’t keep doing it forever,” Slade confessed, looking weary, tired.
That meant… every time I snuck away to Mom’s he’d been forced to keep these beings away from me? I’d caused some of the exhaustion creasing Slade’s normally serene face. If only I’d been able to stay away. If only I’d been obedient—
Slade raised his hand and shook his head, stopping my thoughts in their tracks. “Move on, Kody,” he said, then addressed Max. “Most shades are harmless. They’re just spirits who’ve lost their way.”
“Doesn’t mean I want them anywhere near me,” I said privately to Max, though doubtless Slade heard me too.
He squeezed my hand with promise. “I’ll keep you safe, babe.”COLLAPSE