And I was immediately sorry I had. His eyes. Oh. His eyes were the worst part. They were soft and human, like a puppy trapped in that bloated and loathsome body.

I almost pitied him as he crouched to avoid hitting the ceiling.

Almost.

But any pity I felt was instantly displaced by an overwhelming urge to do something, anything, to hurt this man who’d stolen my life. An atavistic impulse kicked in—and when I say kicked . . . I did! Just as I’d kicked Dante in the brimstones back on the road to Hell, I kicked Conrad in his overgrown shin with all my might. And face-planted on the carpet as my coma toes, and then my entire body, passed right through him.

“You!” he cried, fear in his voice. But his eyes weren’t on me, they were on Dante.

I hauled myself up off the carpet to stand before Conrad, yelling and waving my arms at him. But just like Shannon, he wasn’t even aware of me.

But Dante he could see.

My Reaper stepped up beside me, overlong hair and sexy black robe billowing about him as if the winds of justice blew for him alone.

“I, Dante Alighieri, Reaper First Class, by the powers vested in me, hath come to collect thine soul and escort it back to Hell!”

Gosh, he was so cute when he did that. I hadn’t appreciated him the first time he’d come for Conrad’s soul and taken mine instead, but now I did. My knees grew weak and my heart pounded. Five more minutes of his manly Reaper act and I might find myself forgiving him.

He brandished his glowing scythe, holding it high and threatening.

Behind me, Shannon had finally caught enough breath to start screaming.

Oops, I’d forgotten all about my own scythe. If I’d been thinking straight, instead of fighting with my boyfriend, I could have reaped Conrad’s giant crimson ass by now.

I yanked my scythe from my waist. But before I could activate my shiny repurposed farm implement, before Dante could swing his scythe, Conrad dashed around us, his hooves gouging great holes in the carpet tiles. He banked off the big oak desk, charged ’round the front and dove beneath it, out of sight.

Shannon’s screams cut off abruptly. She ceased cowering in her dad’s chair. Instead, she sat up straight like a cheap mannequin with rebar up her, uh, back, eyes glazed, expression dazed.

I ran around—okay, through—the desk, but I didn’t see how Conrad could fit under it. And when I checked, he hadn’t. Where had he gone?

And then Shannon turned her focus my way. She had her father’s eyes and I don’t mean she’d genetically inherited his eye color. She actually had Conrad’s eyes peering out from her otherwise familiar face.

She opened her mouth, but no scream sounded. Instead Dante and I were treated to one of those classic villain bwahahaha! laughs.

Should have seen that coming, I thought, retracting my scythe.

As the laugh faded away, a small moan drew my attention. Behind the big executive chair, half hidden under the credenza, a second Shannon lay sprawled. While the one in the chair seemed solid and earthbound, the one on the floor had a hazy, ethereal quality.

“Dante,” I whispered from the corner of my mouth, turning my focus back on Conrad, who was now wearing his daughter like a bespoke suit. “He’s displaced her soul! Get him out! Get him out of her!”

Dante’s personal wind had dropped away, leaving him with nothing more than tousled hair, more tousled than usual, that is. “I don’t know if we can. Or if we’re even allowed to.”

I turned to face him, tears blurring my vision. “What do you mean ‘allowed to’? He’s stolen her body just like he stole my life! We have to get him out. I know there aren’t many laws in Hell, but surely there’s a law against this!”

Dante moved up beside me again, lowering his scythe. “I don’t know, Kirsty. After all, possession is nine-tenths of the law.”

GINA X. GRANT

Gina writes wacky fiction featuring crazy creatures. She loves the absurd, the funny and the fantastical. Despite a degree in business management, Gina has kept her quirky sense of humor, which bleeds through in everything she writes.

She lives in Toronto, Canada, just blocks from the house she grew up in. She’s married to a friendly curmudgeon from a mining town in northern Ontario. Together, they live with a miscellany of rescued pets, all named for famous jazz musicians.

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