Howler's Night

Howler's Night by RS Black

Book: Howler's Night by RS Black Read Free Book Online
Authors: RS Black
Mexican throw rugs on the floor, an overstuffed leather couch, a pair of love seats, and Grace’s familiar recliner tucked away in the corner.
    Adam gestured us forward. “She’s back in her room.”
    Ash threaded our fingers together, and I let him. Maybe he was remembering Grace’s and my past. To be honest, it wasn’t far from my mind either.
    It seemed like forever ago that I’d thought she’d betrayed me into killing Kem. I knew the truth of it now, but it was still shaky footing between us.
    When I entered her room, it took me a moment to realize the feeble and decrepit woman lying prone on the bed had once been my vivacious handler.
    Asher stepped in close to me, and I leaned into his touch, needing it more than I’d realized.
    Her hair had been snow white for years already, but now it was patchy and stringy. Most of it had fallen out. Her loose skin was a dull yellow peppered with liver spots, big and bold across her hands and the sides of her scrawny neck.
    There wasn’t much to her now, mainly skin and bones. The white gown she wore draped like a funeral shroud across her skeletal frame. But I couldn’t hide my twitch of discomfort when I got to her face.
    Half of it drooped, like someone had taken a marker to it and injected acid straight down the center. Her left eye, the left corner of her mouth, and even her left nostril sagged a good inch and a half lower than the opposite side.
    The only similarity I saw between this Grace and the one I used to know was the keen blue of her eyes.
    “Dora.” Her voice was stronger than I would have imagined possible. She held out a quivering hand to me.
    Taking a deep breath, I eased myself off Asher and walked slowly to her side. “Grace,” I said as I took her hand and rubbed it gently.
    Her thin skin felt as fragile as rice paper.
    Sighing, she rolled her head to the side. “Leave us be, boyos,” she said, eyeing the four males behind us.
    Adam, Cain, and Abel left immediately. Asher seemed a little more reluctant though. He stood by the door, staring between the two of us.
    Only the right side of Grace’s face lifted into a grin. “She won’t hurt me, Priest. There be nothing here to take.”
    She laughed, but it soon morphed into a booming chest cough that was painful to hear. I helped sit her up and rubbed her back soothingly until the worst of it passed. I caught a sharp whiff of eucalyptus oil and the faint odor of mold. It was a scent firmly associated with the elderly. Adam was right; Grace wouldn’t have much longer for this world.
    Groaning, she shook her hand and motioned for the glass of water sitting on her end table.
    Handing it to her, I nodded at Ash. “I’m okay.”
    “You sure?” His hot gaze roamed my face.
    “Aye. Aye. She’s sure.” Grace shooed him out, and finally, but still clearly reluctantly, he turned and left. “That boy is sprung for you, demon girl.”
    Against all odds, not only did I grin, but I chuckled. I’d forgotten how much I’d enjoyed Grace’s sharp wit. “And who in the world taught you that word?”
    “Well, I do live with a bunch of teenaged hotheads. I hear things.” She took one final sip from her cup and then handed it back to me with a grimace.
    I helped settle her back against the pillows. A small moan spilled from her lips.
    “Does this hurt?”
    “It all hurts now, lass. I’ve not got much longer. I think we both know that, aye?”
    She didn’t seem saddened by the prospect, so much as realistic. I shrugged. I didn’t want to think about the finality of death—I’d already seen too much in my life. I patted her cheek. “So what’s my task, beelzebub?”
    She chortled loudly, which resulted in yet another coughing fit. This time she refused to let me sit her up. Several minutes passed before she got her breath back.
    “Don’t make me laugh,” she wheezed.
    My lips twitched. “Sorry. I couldn’t help myself.”
    “Beelzebub, indeed.” Huffing, she rearranged the pleats of her

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