Haunted by memories of her murdered twin, Keely Morrison is convinced suicide is her only ticket to eternal peace.
But in death, she discovers the afterlife is nothing like she expected. Instead of peaceful oblivion or a joyful reunion with her sister, Keely is trapped in a netherworld on Earth with only a bounty-hunting reaper and a sarcastic demon to show her the ropes.
When the demon offers Keely her ultimate temptation--revenge on her sister's killer--she must determine who she can trust. Because, as Keely soon learns, the reaper and demon have been keeping secrets and she fears the worst is true--that her every decision changes how, and with whom, she spends eternity.
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SNIPPETS: DON'T FEAR THE REAPER
Sometimes it isn’t the cruelty in people’s stares that hurts.
“It’s not fair,” I said. “Death is when we need each other the most.”
Banning smiled that forlorn smile of his. “No, life is. We just don’t see its worth then.”
Here I was—seventeen, dead, and thoroughly nostalgic.
I stared out the window once more, hoping that whoever George Manero was, he’d be luckier in death than I had been. I had expected sanctuary and found that I couldn’t have fallen farther from heaven’s grace.
Our lives had been altered forever, but the way we understood each other hadn’t. Not even death could do that.
I’d lost sight of heaven, God, and everything good, but not Jordan. Some things transcended both life and death. Some things never died.
Jordan had kept my secrets and I had kept hers. In the end, it came down to just one secret between us that took her life. Now, it would take mine. I should have said something, but nothing I said or did now could bring her back or make anyone understand what she meant to me.
Are you here, Jordan? Are you with me? Tell me about heaven...
I didn’t want to die. Not really. I was just tired and didn’t know of another way to stop the pain. Doctors removed a bad appendix. Dentists pulled rotten teeth. What was I supposed to do when my very essence hurt, when the cancer I’d come to call depression made every decent memory agonizingly unbearable?
I remembered thinking how we’d talked about homecoming, choosing a college. Spring break. Prom. Saying goodbye to our classmates, teachers, and public education. The end of what we’d be able to call our adolescent years. The beginning of our adult years. In all those endings and new beginnings, death, the mother of all endings and new beginnings, never entered into the equation.
As I stood there in the breeze, in the absence of my other self, I understood there were lessons I still needed to learn. I knew this with such force, such clarity. I had a lot to learn about the afterlife, and I had to accept that my past and present would never again be the same. But, the hardest lesson of all? That there would always be people in my world who I loved beyond everything else, people I couldn’t live without, but had to let go of.
“Now he didn’t like demons,” Daniel said.
“How do you know? Maybe he just happened to notice fellow ghosts.”
Daniel smiled and shook his head. “No, he’s used to seeing earthbounds heading for the morgue. Besides, I know the look. I get it a lot, especially here. Earthbounds don’t much care for us demons. Neither do reapers or angels. Can’t say I blame them.”
I didn’t want to ask why Daniel frequented the morgue.
“You said reapers hunt down people in purgatory?”
“Yeah. Sometimes. Purgatory’s troublemakers. Demons, mostly. But, I guess the occasional problematic earthbound, too,” he said with a shrug. Another couple of people gave us unsavory glances.
“Bad-ass? Yeah,” Daniel agreed. “You only saw the nice side of Banning. When he has to collect a soul and send it packing to hell in a hurry, he can be downright brutal.”
I straightened, trying not to think of Banning as anything other than kind. Parental. Thinking of Banning as some wild-west marshal with a scythe unnerved me.
I took a deep breath and followed Daniel into Autopsy Room B. Instantly, I recoiled. A solid wall of stainless steel coolers caught my eye first.
My body was behind one of those. Me.
Slowly, my eyes shifted to the middle of the room, toward the gleaming, stainless steel autopsy tables and beside those, rolling carts with drills, thick needles, and bone saws. I wanted to rub my arms, but Daniel was watching me and I did my best to look unshakable.
Get it together, Keely. Act normal.
But this wasn’t normal. I wanted to see my body. No matter how I told myself that I didn’t have to, that I’d come strictly to see if Jordan had been here, I knew better.
Liar, liar, soul’s on fire.
Under the circumstances surrounding her death, I wondered if Jordan had a different agenda—a bit of darker unfinished business. Like figuring out a way to get back at Pete.
“When earthbounds stay here for a long time, before they move on—if they take in all the negative energy you said they do, do they start to think differently? Act differently?” I asked.
Banning shifted in his seat. “Some.”
He shrugged. “For some who don’t move on, quite a lot. They become bitter. Some become unstable.”
I listened to the rain beating against the windows. Loneliness washed over me again. My whole life had been built around the knowledge that my sister was there for me. Now that she wasn’t, I feared the worst.
Michelle Muto lives in northeast Georgia with her husband and two dogs. She loves changes of season, dogs, and all things geeky. Currently, she’s hard at work on her next book.
Where to find Michelle
WHAT PEOPLE ARE SAYING:
“Don’t Fear the Reaper by Michelle Muto exudes beauty that is so tantalizingly dark…” ~ Shana Vanterpool, Sizzling Reads
“In One Word ~ Stunning.” ~ Andrea, The Bookish Babes
“It certainly grabs you by the front of the shirt from the very first page and doesn’t let you go until you finish reading.” ~Courtney Cole, author of The Bloodstone Saga
“a haunting journey” ~ Aobibliosphere
“This book will move you; it will make you laugh, cry, cringe and hold your breath in anticipation.” ~ Sheila, Why Not? Because I Said So!
“Muto’s beautiful writing keeps you turning page after page.” ~ Danielle La Paglia
“…great characters, a plot that keeps the reader interested, and a truly fabulous writing style. I’ve already said that I’m a big fan of Miz Muto’s, and I’d recommend this book to anyone!” ~Courtney, Fuzzy.Coffee.Books
“Muto has created a fascinating afterlife” ~ Dee Kay
“Best first chapter in a novel – Ever! Michelle Muto hooked me from word one and kept me gripped until the end.” ~Christine Butler, author of The Awakening Trilogy & The Voodoo Follies
“The book began with suicide and ended with hope and the journey that Michelle takes you on to get you there is unforgettable” ~Shirley, Creative Deeds
“…easily my favorite read of all time.” ~ Thomas Amo, author of An Apple for Zoé
“Michelle Muto is one to watch” ~ E.M. Tippetts
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