Posted by Lexxie Couper on Friday, August 3rd, 2012
What’s Five for Friday? It’s the first five pages of a past release. It’s whetting your appetite. It’s a blast from the past. It’s something a group of authors are doing now. Five for Friday is cool.
My husband has been spending quite a lot of time working on the Jeep he bought earlier this year. He’s preparing it for the upcoming zombie apocalypse *grin* So that made me think of Death, the Vamp and his Brother, which is about lust, love and the threat of THE Apocalypse. Enjoy.
It’s not easy getting a date when you’re the Grim Reaper.
Looking at herself in the bathroom mirror, Death sighed. It was way too long since she’d last had sex and she was horny.
She flicked a critical eye over her naked body. High, round breasts, a narrow waist and smoothly curved hips. Long legs and firmly toned arms. Not a dot of cellulite in sight, not even on her inner thighs, the one place an immortal female Entity was likely to experience such a mortal affliction.
She looked good. Damn good. Not that anyone noticed. Millennia of traipsing around the world of man, severing life threads in a long, body-concealing, head-covering cloak did little for her reputation as a hot babe. About the only entities that had any idea what she really looked like were her fellow Horsemen and, despite her escalating sexual frustration, the idea of a physical relationship with any of them made her shudder. It’d be like sleeping with her brother, or in Famine’s case, her sister. Eww.
Death, or as she preferred to call herself in this millennium, Fred—she’d been a fan of The Flintstones since 1960—sighed again and turned from the mirror. She couldn’t stand around moping about her lack of a sex life for the rest of eternity. She had work to do.
In an instant, the iconic black cloak so immortalized by popular culture covered her body from head to foot.
She scowled and wrinkled her nose. The robe vanished, a pair of faded Levis, a snug Ramones t-shirt, six-inch stiletto boots and a New York Yankees cap replacing it in a shimmering instant of light and color. Fred nodded her head with a grin. She didn’t feel like conforming to the dress code today. If the Powers had a problem with that They could stick it in Their metaphysical ears. Her first claim was in Sydney, Australia, and she’d be damned if she was going to stalk around in the Aussie summer sun in a stifling cloak, whether the living could see her or not.
Killing the light, she left the bathroom, throwing her scythe a quick look where it sat propped against the head of her bed.
After a brief consideration, she shook her head. Nope. Not today.
A pair of sunglasses materialized in her hand—large, black and bug-like with two small diamond scythes embedded in each temple.
Fred grinned again and slipped them onto her face. She maybe sexually deprived and as horny as hell but she looked good. And really, when a girl was going to work in a demanding job, looking good was vital.
Even for the Grim Reaper.
“I. Don’t. Care.” Turning from the sea-spray-crusted window, Patrick “Wato” Watkins ground his teeth. He clenched his cell phone in his right hand, frustration making his blood boil. If his brother wasn’t already dead, he’d kill him. “I’m not coming home, Ven. I have a job to do and I’m not leaving the beach just because you’ve got a bee in your bonnet.”
Ven, aka Steven, aka annoying-as-hell older brother, ground his teeth in return. Patrick could hear his sibling’s molars connect and press together through the phone.
“When are you going to listen to me, brother?” Ven asked, his normally deep voice unnaturally deeper. Whether from anger, worry or the high position of the sun, Patrick didn’t know. Ven was usually asleep at midday. Being awake and in an argument probably brought the demon lurking in his blood closer to the surface than usual.
“It feels wrong. Let the other guards babysit the tourists. You’re the boss. Delegate.”
“Yes, Ven. I am the boss.” Patrick turned back to the window, studying the thousands of swimmers—tourists and locals alike—enjoy a gorgeous summer’s day at Bondi Beach. “Which means I can’t just bugger off.”
Out there in the crystal blue waves lurked danger. Sharks. Rips. Undertows. Blue-bottles…all waiting to catch a swimmer unaware. To bring pain, suffering, maybe even death. He’d be damned if he was leaving those swimmers’ fates to chance. His team was good. God knows, Bluey had been swimming since birth. The senior lifeguard’s rescue rate was the second highest in the country after his own, but—like Ven—Patrick had an uneasy itch in his gut. Unlike Ven, his sense of disquiet had nothing to do with a supposed attack from an unknown “thing” and everything to do with the large number of people enjoying the famous stretch of beach. On a day like today, there were close to forty-thousand souls on the sand and in the water. That equaled roughly forty-thousand possible drownings, shark-attack victims, blue-bottle stings…
Patrick’s gut itched again. No matter what threat his brother imagined in his paranoid imagination, he couldn’t leave.
But he’s not being paranoid, is he? You know exactly what threat—
Shutting down the unwanted thought, Patrick scanned the surf, focusing on a group of Japanese tourists bobbing ignorantly close to Backpacker’s Express. If the beach’s notorious rip took them into its embrace, they’d be out to sea and two miles south before they even realized they were no longer in Bondi waters. It would take at least four lifeguards to round them up, leaving seven to keep the rest of the beach’s visitors safe. Seven men to deal with any emergency on the mile-long stretch. His team couldn’t do that without their boss, no matter how good they were.
He bit back a frustrated sigh. Just a typical day at work. Danger and death lurking everywhere. He couldn’t pack it all in just because his brother thought he was in danger. Besides, it was the middle of the day. What type of paranormal nasty attacked in the middle of the bloody day? And on a busy beach, no less?
The kind in a black suit, maybe?
He ignored the silent question, turning his attention to the packed surf instead. It was a glorious summer day on Australia’s most famous beach. Perfect, in fact. Blue, cloudless sky, clean five-foot waves, warm seventy-one degree water. If said unseen paranormal attack was going to happen, it sure as hell wasn’t going to be today. What Patrick would more likely be confronted with on a day like today, what the itch in his gut was probably warning him about, was the possibility of a careless, overconfident tourist taking their life in their hands by not swimming between the flags. That, he could deal with on his own. He didn’t need his vampire big brother to save a drowning person. When it came down to it, Ven wasn’t up to swimming these days anyway, not during sunlight at least. He was known to pick up his old board for a midnight surf or two…when he wasn’t trying to protect Patrick from God alone only knows, that was.
Shaking his head, Patrick lifted his phone’s mouthpiece closer to his face. “Sorry, Ven. I’m staying put. Either come and get me or go back to sleep.”
“Ha, ha, brother. Really funny. Will you bloody well listen to reason for a—”
“I gotta go, mate.” Patrick cut him off. “I’ll call you when I get home.”
He pulled the phone from his ear, flipped it shut and threw it on the counter before him with a shake of his head and a wry chuckle. Ven had spent the last thirty-six years thinking he needed to protect Patrick from some unknown entity, and Patrick had spent the last eighteen of those years arguing with Ven the entire thing was unnecessary. Nothing was after Patrick. Nothing. Nothing could convince Ven differently however. Thank bloody God the bloke spent his days “sleeping”, otherwise Patrick would probably go crazy and shove a stake in his chest just to get some unsupervised personal space.
Who in the hell would be coming after him anyway? A simple lifeguard in Australia?
You know who, Patrick. You just have to—
“You see that group in Backpacker’s, Wato?” a slightly raspy voice sounded to his left, cutting the dark thought dead.
Grateful for the interruption, Patrick gave his second in charge a quick nod. “Yeah, I see them.”
Bluey handed him a pair of binoculars, concern creasing the sides of his pale blue eyes. “One of them’s flounderin’.”
Patrick took the offered glasses. “Tourist?”
Bluey shook his head. “Don’t think so. Not Japanese, at least. Too big. Too blonde. Forty, forty-five years old, I’m guessin’. Take a look.”
Lifting the binoculars to his eyes, Patrick focused in on the group of swimmers bobbing in the surf’s choppy southern swell. Five people moved up and down with the rolling waves, their heads breaching the deceptive water, sinking below the surface and emerging again. Five people thinking they were safe when they were in dangerous territory. Five people who would need to be rounded up ASAP. Five people—
A man burst upward from the water, thinning blonde hair plastered to a domed skull, sunburnt face distorted in abject fear. He struggled to stay above the inescapable waves, the sea pouring into his open mouth every time he shouted for help. One flabby arm clawed above the surface to wave, once, twice, before he sank below the surface with terrifying speed. Gone.
“Fuck.” Patrick threw aside the binoculars. “He’s under.”
He moved without thought, the act of rescuing a drowning swimmer second nature to him. He’d spent the last fifteen years doing it every day. Ordering Bluey to contact the two guards patrolling the southern end of the beach, he charged from the patrol tower. He snatched up a rescue tube and his board and sprinted across the sand, dodging sunbathers and beach volleyballers on his way to the water. It would take approximately six minutes to get to the man in Backpacker’s Express. By Patrick’s reckoning, five minutes too long.
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