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Показать все книги автора/авторов: Harrison Kim
 

«Something Deadly This Way Comes», Kim Harrison

Prologue

I’m Madison Avery, dark timekeeper in charge of heaven’s hit squad . . . and fighting it all the way. Funny how timekeeper never popped up on my “careers good for you” when I did the test at school. The seraphs say I was born to the position, and when the choice was take the job or die? Well . . . I took the job.

“Fate,” the seraphs would say. “Bad choice” if you ask me. Even now I don’t believe in fate, and so I’m stuck working with a confused dark reaper who is trying to understand, and a light reaper twice fallen from heaven who thinks my ideas are a lost cause. Instead of just following orders sent down from above, I want to do things my own way, which involves trying to convince people to change. My only hope is to locate my real body so I can give the amulet back and forget the entire thing happened, because convincing heaven that I can save lost souls is looking impossible. It’d be a lot easier if my own people weren’t working against me.

Chapter One

The hot sun seemed to go right through me, reflecting off the aluminum bleachers to warm me from my feet up as I stood beside Nakita and cheered Josh on. He was running the two-mile in an invitational, and they were doing the last bit right on the track. The front three runners had begun to pick up the pace for the last hundred yards. Josh was ahead, but the guy behind him had saved some push for the last bit, too.

“Go, Josh! Run! Run!” Nakita yelled, and surprised, I lowered my camera to look at her. The dark reaper didn’t especially like Josh—she’d almost killed him once—and her excitement was unusual. Her pale face was flushed, and her eyes, usually a faded blue, were bright as she leaned forward and grasped the chain-link fence between us and the track. She was wearing a pink top with matching pink nail polish to hide her naturally black nails. Open-toed sandals and capris helped her blend in, and she looked nothing like one might imagine a dark reaper, capable of “smiting” lost souls.

I was dressing down today—at least for me—in jeans and a black, lacy top. My hair, though, was its usual purple-tipped cut, hanging around my ears, and I still wore my funky yellow sneakers with their new black laces with skulls on them. They matched my earrings.

“He’s right behind you!” the angel in disguise shouted, and her matte-black amulet sparked violet at its core. More evidence she was excited. Shaking my head, I turned back to the race, bringing my camera up and focusing on the finish line. I snapped a picture for the school paper as Josh squeaked over the finish line. My smile was full of a quiet satisfaction that he’d won.

“He won! He won!” Nakita exclaimed, and I gasped when she pulled me into jumping up and down with her. I couldn’t help but give her a hug back, breathless as I caught my balance. She certainly wasn’t acting like one of heaven’s hit squad, as excited as if she was Josh’s girlfriend. Which she wasn’t. I might be. Maybe.

“Barnabas.” Nakita shoved his feet where he reclined two rows above us. “Josh won. Say something!”

The former light reaper pushed his hat up and gave her a dry look. “Whoopee,” he said sarcastically, then pulled his long legs closer and sat up, squinting in the sun. “Madison, you were going to work with me today on hiding your amulet’s resonance.”

Grimacing, I looked down at the jet-black stone cradled by silver wires that I wore around my neck. Besides giving me the tactile illusion of a make-believe body, hiding me from black wings, and giving me my connection to the divine, my amulet sang. Sort of. Mimicking a natural aura, the black stone rang like a bell that only the divine could hear. Anyone who knew how to listen could find me in a second—be they friend or foe. Which might be a problem if I was out trying to keep my own people from killing someone, and which was why I needed to learn how to hide it. After hanging out with Josh, of course.

“She can do that later,” Nakita said primly. “He won!”

I felt a twinge of guilt. I had promised to work with him after school, but I’d forgotten I’d also promised Ms. Cartwright I’d take pictures of the track meet for the school paper.

“Sorry,” I said softly, and he shrugged, making no effort to hide his boredom.

For all his sour attitude, Barnabas had been on earth longer than Nakita and therefore had all the subtle nuances of human behavior to fit in with the track moms and cheering girlfriends better than Nakita. His lanky build and faded T-shirt only added to his sigh-worthy looks, but Barnabas truly didn’t have a clue how good he looked. Nakita didn’t know why guys followed her around looking for dates, either. That the two of them hung out with me had the popular cliques cross-eyed.

“This was his only race,” I offered hesitantly, and Barnabas leaned back, stretching out on the warm bleacher to put his hat over his face.

Turning back to the track, I snapped a picture of Josh as he accepted the congratulations of his teammates. Sweat made patterns on his shirt, and his blond hair was dark with it. He was the only one apart from Barnabas and Nakita who knew I was technically dead; not only had he been there as I had died, but he had held my hand during the whole thing. Yep, I was dead: no heartbeat unless I got excited or scared, no need to eat—though I could do it in a pinch to fit in, and I hadn’t had so much as a nap in months. It had been fun at first, but now I’d give just about anything to enjoy a juicy hamburger and crispy fries. Everything sort of tasted like rice cakes.

“I didn’t know you liked sports,” I said to Nakita as Josh waited for the runners to pass before crossing the track to talk to us through the fence.

“We have contests,” she said. “This has the same appeal.” Her gaze went from the runners to the moms chatting among themselves, barely conscious of the meet at all. “I came in third once, with the blade,” she added.


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