“We need to come up with something else next time. I am not going back into a morgue.” I ran my hand through my hair, trying to shake off the smell of death. I still wasn’t used to the silky feel of my hair. I missed the gentle hiss of snakes, but ever since I realized how much I had been hiding behind them, I was making more of an effort to stay in human form.
It hadn’t even been a whole year since my return, resurrection, or whatever we were calling it now. That time was spent blocking out all thoughts of my past life and keeping any dark feelings and emotions locked firmly behind the walls in my mind. This happy person I was showing the world wasn’t me, though. I wasn’t unhappy, don’t get me wrong. I loved my new life and everyone in it. But I wasn’t all kittens and rainbows. The darkness I’d kept buried was slowly escaping, seeping through my very being. Part of me wondered if that darkness fueled my need to master bringing the dead back to life.
Flopping down on the couch, Luke kicked his shoes off and tried unsuccessfully to hide a smirk. “Your call. I don’t know if we even have to do it again. You just brought back twenty-six people and barely broke a sweat. We’ve just been practicing, developing your skills, and I think you’ve honed this skill.” He had been careful to keep our conversations light over the past few weeks, and I was grateful, but there seemed to be heaviness weighing him down.
I was just as happy to stay away from more in-depth topics, so I asked, “I wonder what else I can do. I mean, bringing people back from the dead is pretty big.” I wasn’t sure if my abilities were growing, or if I had always been able to do more than turn humans to stone. I tilted my head to the side, thinking. “Since I can turn people into stone, do you think I could turn other things into stone?” I had never experimented with what I could do before.
“You better not be talking about animals, because that shit is not happening.” Luke tensed, his naturally gentle voice deepened slightly with obvious displeasure as he sat up.
His tone surprised me. He knew I’d never do anything like that. Wondering what was going through his mind. I laughed, trying to keep things light, and kicked at his leg. “You know damn well I’d never do anything to an animal. My experiments are only on humans. I would never experiment on animals.” Animals were innocent. Humankind, however, was not.
Luke looked a little sheepish and let out a long, relieved breath, relaxing back into the couch. “No, I know you’d never do that. It just took me off guard when you mentioned other things, and my mind went to a dark place. What did you have in mind?”
Still looking at him through narrowed eyes, I leaned on the windowsill. “Is there something going on with you? Anything you want to talk about?” Something had felt off with him for a while, but I had hoped by now he would’ve talked to me about it.
Keeping his voice light, he shrugged and said, “Nothing to worry about. What did you have in mind?”
I forced myself to relax. Luke would talk about it when he was ready. I hoped. It was harder to stay in human form when my emotions ran high. Any strong feelings affected my hold on my human form, so I took a long slow breath and said, “I thought since I have some control over what type of rock I can turn people into, we should see if I can turn one kind of rock into another.”
Smirking, he asked, “Getting bored playing with dead bodies already?” Shifting on the couch, he stretched his body, relaxing. “Might not be a bad idea. Playing with rocks would be a lot less risky than dealing with the crazy dead guys.”
I walked to the window and looked out at the setting sun. We had probably tracked down every dead body in a hundred-mile radius so I could practice. Our most recent trip had been to the hospital morgue, and I was pretty sure it would be our last. So far, we hadn’t seen any negative effects. But to be fair, we hadn’t really kept track of them either. “Do you think we should have kept better track of them?” I asked, voicing my thoughts.
Shrugging, Luke replied, “Nah, I think we’d hear about it if any of them had been causing trouble. It seems like they have been normal when they come back.”
He was right. They did seem normal—all of them. Which, to be honest, bothered me. It seemed too easy, too perfect, almost too good to be true. I walked from the window to stand in front of him. “I guess you’re right.”
He grabbed my hand, pulling me, so I landed on top of him on the couch. Laughing, I wrapped my arms around his neck and laid my head on his shoulder. He ran his lips lightly over my neck, spreading heat throughout my body. The hungry look in his eyes surprised me, and I froze, unsure of how to respond.
Luke’s arms tightened, pulling my body flush against his as he made a soft growling noise deep within his chest. He wrapped my hair around his hand, and I gasped when he tugged, pulling my head back. He pressed his lips lightly to mine, kissing me softly. When I tried to deepen the kiss, he used my hair to pull my head back, keeping his lips just out of reach. I moaned in frustration and tried to pull his head to mine. He smiled and released my hair, lifting me as he stood.
We had spent many nights in each other’s beds, but something had changed. There was an intensity in his actions that wasn’t there before. He carried me to his bed, and all thoughts vanished, replaced with an overwhelming need. Just as he pinned my hands above my head and started to do something magical with his mouth, we were interrupted by a loud pounding on the front door.