Third Grave Dead Ahead

Third Grave Dead Ahead by Darynda Jones Read Free Book Online

Book: Third Grave Dead Ahead by Darynda Jones Read Free Book Online
Authors: Darynda Jones
guilt?”
    He didn’t even slow his stride, but I’d stung him. I felt it in one quick burst before he disappeared around the corner.
    After stewing a few minutes—only partly because of the coffee thing—I gathered myself up and walked back into Cookie’s office.
    “We’re so busted. He knows about the coffee.”
    “He’s wrong,” she said without looking up from her computer, almost as though her feelings were hurt.
    “No, I’ve really been taking his coffee.” I sat in the chair across from her.
    “I’m not overqualified.”
    “Yes, hon, you are,” I said, hating that whole honesty-is-the-best-policy business.
    She stopped typing and focused on me. “No. I love this job. Nobody does what we do. Nobody saves lives like we do. How could anyone ask for more?” Her passion surprised me. I’d never realized how she felt about what we did.
    I forced a smile across my face. “He’s just upset. He’ll calm down. Well, maybe not about the coffee.”
    Cookie thought a moment, then said, “Maybe … maybe if you told him.”
    “Told him what?”
    “I mean, he knows you can see the departed, Charley. He would understand. Really he would. Even your sister knows you’re the grim reaper.”
    I shook my head. “I can’t tell him something like that. What would it to do him? To know that his daughter was born the grim reaper?” The death-incarnate gig had such a bad rap.
    “Give me your hand.”
    I glanced down at my hands, then eyed her warily. “Did you get into palm reading again? You know how I feel about that stuff.”
    She chuckled. “I’m not going to read your palm. Give me your hand.”
    I did, reluctantly.
    She took it into both of hers and leaned toward me. “If Amber were capable of what you’re capable of, I would be so proud of her. I would love and support her no matter how creepy her job title.”
    “But you aren’t like my dad.”
    “I disagree.” She squeezed lovingly. “Your dad has always supported you. All of this negativity, this pent-up aggression and self-loathing—”
    “I hardly loathe myself. Have you seen my ass?”
    “—all of it is because of your stepmother, the way she’s treated you. Not your father.”
    “My stepmother is a bitch,” I said, semi-agreeing. “But I don’t know if I can tell Dad. Not that. Not the grim reaper thing.” I pulled my hand back.
    She let me. “I just think it might make him feel better about all of this, if he knew you had more on your side than just your ability to talk to the departed.”
    “Maybe.”
    “So, seriously, your accountant is crooked?”
    “As a do-it-yourself haircut,” I said, grateful for the change in subject. “It took me forever to find an accountant with flexible morals.” I added a double wink to get my meaning across. “Apparently there’s this whole code-of-ethics thing they have to get past.”
    My cell rang. I fished it out of my front pocket and checked the caller ID. It was Neil Gossett, a friend I’d gone to high school with who was now a deputy warden at the prison in Santa Fe.
    “Hello?” I said, because Charley’s House of Pasties seemed wrong.
    “Reyes wants to talk.”

3
     
Damn it, Jim!
—T-SHIRT
     
    “A long time ago, in a galaxy pretty much exactly like this one, a little girl was born to a set of wonderful parents named Mom and Dad.”
    “I already know this part.”
    “She had a head of dark hair,” I said into my phone, ignoring Gemma, my slightly OCD sister, as I steered Misery onto the interstate toward Santa Fe. Hopefully, there were no cops around, because I really didn’t need another ticket for talking on the phone while driving.
    Garrett had dropped off Misery after he checked for any mechanical damage from the fender bender, and Misery seemed to have forgiven me, so we were good to go. I set Cookie on the mundane task of checking out the good doctor’s background, then tore out of the office so fast, papers went flying behind me.
    “And she had shimmering

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