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Chapter 2

“Where are we? What happened to me and why didn’t I just go off to the afterlife?” Lila gazed at Death, waiting for a response.

His shoulders slumped as he straightened up to stare at her, or so she thought he was staring at her.

A smooth baritone voice answered out of the darkness, “We are in my home. I brought you here because I couldn’t take your soul like I’m supposed to. You died and you should’ve been whisked off to be reborn again but that’s not what the forces at will want. As for what just happened, I’m not really sure.”

He removed his hood with one hand, revealing a man of about twenty-five with devastatingly good looks. This was Adonis and an Abercrombie & Fitch model thrown together. His features looked like they were carved from stone and the angles of his face threw harsh shadows that gave him somewhat of a rugged look. Deep blue eyes were set below average black eyebrows and atop his head was black cropped hair.

Lila had to look away and put her head in her hands.

“I don’t understand. Shouldn’t you know what happened?” she sighed as confusion racked her mind.

She could feel his eyes burning into her even though she wasn’t looking at him. “I don’t know what happened, but I will find out. You are also the first person to ever not be afraid of me. Normally people try to run, fight me, and rarely some will welcome me, but not you.” He walked closer to her and stared at him head on as he came closer to sit on the coffee table a few feet away.

“Dude, you have no idea. Aren’t you supposed to be some rotting skeleton or something? I’m also really confused with this situation. I died. I shouldn’t be here. My life is over.” Lila couldn’t help the melancholy in her voice.

Death watched her with the keen eyes of a raptor. “That’s just what people choose to depict me looking like. Death is what people fear and I’m what they don’t want to see until they absolutely have to. I’m just an ancient god doing what I was created to do. As for your life being over, this is like a new start.” He gazed at her with a half-smile that was way too sexy for a spirit of death.

She could feel her lower pelvic muscles clench involuntarily. “So, you’re just a person, like anyone else.”

“I’m a god. I’m actually the oldest one around. I’m technically the Balance of the cosmos. I juggle life and death, but somehow only the part about me being over the dead has been popularized over the centuries.”

Lila nodded, feeling a little more relaxed.

Okay, he was a god. A major god. Pretty much the most powerful one around and he was casually sitting before her and chatting with her like it was nothing.

He chuckled softly smiling that half-smile of his, “I haven’t had a conversation with another person in a long time. Well, a non-god to be exact. Normally, mortals fear me or fall to their knees and beg for mercy, so this is really fucking odd.”

“Am I supposed to?” her eyebrows rose a few inches.

Pressing his lips together he said, “No. It’s really annoying when people do that.” He wrung his hands together as his gaze went to the floor.

“Okay.” she straightened my clothes out of awkwardness.

His eyebrows knitted together, “What happened to your ankles? Were they like that before they died?”

Reaching out he propped up one of her legs on his knee and ran his fingers over her ankle bone. Gently, his rough fingers traced her ankle bone and felt around it.

The skin over her ankles was bruised black and blue.

Lila stared at him in shock that he was so casual before she found her voice again. “Um, when I was a kid, I had a disease that made my knee and ankle joints brittle. My ankles break easily and frequently. Medically, it’s called Osteogenesis Imperfecta, and I have Type One. The one time I did break some bones, it was an accident. I’ve sprained my knees before, but my ankles got it worse. I had to wear crutches until high school to get around. I didn’t want to be like one of those helpless wheelchair kids, so I got through the years of physical therapy. Even up until I died it still affected me. I guess my disability made it easier for that guy to kill me. My knees gave out at the wrong time.”

She watched him inspect her ankle and knee, feeling his rough skin against hers.

Lila found it really weird and unnerving. She didn’t know anything about him other than what he told, and he was getting up close like he had known her forever.

Talking about her disability brought back a lot of memories of being bullied all throughout grade school because she was different from the other kids. She shoved the pain away and focused on the present.

“I see. I can feel that they’ve been broken numerous times. Does it hurt to walk?” his eyes shot towards hers, looking down at her.

“No, I can walk fine. Running or jogging is the hard part. Dancing is even uncomfortable. I don’t want to risk breaking anything. You get charged an arm and a leg to go to the hospital these days, so I’m always careful.” He nodded as she talked, starting to feel like an animal behind a cage.

Lila moved her leg back and he pursed his lips, looking towards the window momentarily before settling back on her.

He stood up, causing her to see how tall he really was.

The man was very imposing from down below and she instinctively shrunk in size a bit.

“Follow me. I should get you situated for the time being.”

She stood up before him, nodding.

Out of nowhere he took her hand and led her out of the room and into a hallway. They walked down the hall until they came to a set of double doors.

They were dark heavy doors with golden handles on them.

Death pushed the doors open and led her into a lush opulent bedroom. It was feminine in every aspect.

A large white bed dominated the left wall with white netting draped all around it, creating an almost ethereal look. Most of the floor was lush white carpet.

A huge chandelier, mostly crystal with light bulbs, dominated the ceiling. A large makeup dresser, a wardrobe, and a plush couch were located to the right of the room across from the massive bed. Nightstands on either side of the bed had a crystal opulent lamp that faintly glowed from the light bulbs, casting intricate shapes onto the bedding and cream painted walls.

Long flowing silk white curtains framed the window, blocking most of the dark weather outside.

Lila could only stare in wonder at the interior of the room as she was led inside it.

“This is where you’ll stay, until I figure this out. I hope it is adequate enough.” He withdrew his hand and gazed at her.

“Wow. Wow is all I can say.” She said softly as she took in the room.

Out of the corner of her eye, she saw his half-smile. “It’s rather late, so I will leave you to get some rest. You need some rest after what you’ve been through.”

“Yeah, some sleep would be fantastic, actually. Thanks, a lot.” She shyly looked at the floor, avoiding looking at him.

He turned to leave but stopped as he started to close the door saying, “My name is Azrael, just so you know. It would be really weird for you to call me Death. If you need anything, I’ll be down the hall in my study. Sleep well.”

He left, shutting the door behind him.

She sat on the bed and gazed around the room. It felt weird being taken in by a god like that. All of it was weird and made no sense. What happened to her made no sense and shockingly, Azrael had no idea what happened either.

Wasn’t he supposed to know?

Lila sighed.

Sleep was what she needed. All of these questions swimming around in her thoughts wore her out and right then she wanted to smack the pillows and curl under the sheets.

Lila drew back the white comforter and lied down on the cloud of a mattress, curling in a little skinny ball.

The pillow was ultra-soft and cool, just like the sheets.

She turned the lamp off and closed her eyes, welcoming sleep like an old friend.

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