Excerpt from Death Dealer by Ashley Robertson

Excerpt from Death Dealer

by Ashley Robertson

It became harder to breathe as Mia fought the tears that had, unbeknownst to her until now, welled up in her eyes while she’d been lost in thought. Surprise flitted through her mind as she wondered when the last time she’d cried even was. But tears didn’t matter—she knew that with certainty. Nothing could change what was coming and Mia dreaded it with every ounce of her being. The only comfort she could take was in knowing that at least the old woman would be asleep when it happened. No more pain. No more sadness. No more nursing home. Soon, all of that would be gone, taken away by her death.

So when the hand that held the remote went slack and the old woman’s head drooped slightly into the pillow, Mia knew it was time. Trepidation tightened in her chest as she gripped the top wood frame of the window and pushed upward, using some extra power in the movement to ensure the window would open—even if it were locked. With a snap, pop, creak the pane shuddered ajar. The wood, swollen with moisture, forced Mia to stop, not because her advanced strength was tested, but she simply didn’t want to make any noise that would awaken the old woman. It would be better that way—for both of their sakes.

Now with a gap about three inches tall, Mia stopped her efforts and lowered her hands to her sides. This was more space than she needed, and she quietly chuckled to herself, sometimes underestimating her own power. She glanced at her surroundings once more to ensure she was alone and then closed her eyes and concentrated on being inside the room. Her whole body prickled with energy seconds before the pain sliced through her like sharp, twisting metal that attached to her insides and squeezed around each part. Sweat broke out across her brow and pooled between her breasts—like it had every time before this one—as her physical body slowly broke down, piece by piece, disintegrating into an opaque gray mist that now hovered just outside the window, drawn inside by the three-inch opening and the person sleeping unawares. After entering the room on a current of cool air, she floated to the side of the bed, still in mist form, letting her senses fill of the old woman. Peppermint, most likely the mouthwash she’d used, was most dominant, but under that was the soft aroma of roses and thyme, her favorite perfume, and just beneath that was the bite of body odor that confirmed it’d been days since she’d been properly bathed. A growl rippled through the opaque haze of Mia’s misty shape as anger surged red in her mind, drowning out the television that played an old rerun of Bonanza.No more of this shit, Mia thought, I’m taking you away from here—far, far away from this God-forsaken hellhole.

Mia materialized back into her physical body, her skin a light shade of tan as if the sun had gently kissed it, but it wasn’t the sun that had given her that color—it had been her father’s half-Mexican lineage mixed with her mother’s small percentage of native Indian, which also gave her high cheekbones, brought her height to five and a half feet, and there was a touch of a widow’s peak centered above her brow and sweeping back to the luminous chestnut waves that fell behind her shoulders and landed in the middle of her back. After swiping her palms down the thighs of her black leather pants, she leaned over the bed and carefully slipped the remote from the old woman’s boney grip—a hand that was once so much younger with smooth, creamy skin now uneven with bumps and raised veins that looked like blue tunnels beneath the paper-thin surface of her flesh, fingers once elongated and beautiful now with a crooked arch and swollen, rounded knuckles that her gold wedding band would never be able to slip over. A lump barreled its way up Mia’s throat as she set the remote on an end table that was littered with used tissues and plastic cups of half-filled water before focusing her attention back on the old woman. Bending over and stretching her body so her lips were closer to the old woman’s ear, Mia whispered, “I love you, Grandma,” the strain in her tone evident in the soft sound of those words.

It still stung deep in Mia’s heart that she had been unable to make it during most visiting times, which were inconveniently between the hours of ten in the morning and four in the afternoon, and because of that, she’d always wondered if by chance things had been different, her grandma would’ve remembered who she was just one more time while still alive. Four years ago, Alzheimer’s had stolen away Mia’s beloved grandmother, yet the old woman’s body remained a fragile shell to the soul that resided within.

And now Mia was here to collect it—just like all Death Dealers did.

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Comments

  1. I checked out the reviews on Amazon and they’re all good! I’m definitely interested. What an intriguing book!

  2. Thanks for featuring me and trouble shooting the excerpt 🙂 I appreciate you. ~AR

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