Beautiful Monster - The Exchange (Book One) Chapter 5

“Carly,” Lev called. He knelt beside her and patted her face with a trembling hand while Alexei hovered over them.

“Is she dead now?” Alexei asked.

Lev ignored him, smoothed Carly’s hair, and whispered soothing words into her ear. He hardly knew what he was saying and part of him realized she must be okay. She was in spirit form now, effectively dead. Nothing could hurt her. It was what she’d just witnessed that bothered him most and was no doubt the cause of her distress.

Carly opened her eyes, and they quickly widened as she stared at a spot on Lev’s face.

“A bit of blood, Brother.” Alexei attempted to wipe Lev’s chin clean, but Lev pushed his hand away and thumbed it off himself.

“Are you okay?” Lev asked Carly.

“Yes, my dear. I heard you…well, that you died,” Alexei added with a smirk.

Lev shot his brother a nasty look and helped Carly to her feet. The two of them deposited her on a dining room chair.

“Alexei can see me?” she said to Lev, but didn’t wait for a reply when she caught sight of the still prone Tony. “Aren’t you going to help him?” Carly’s voice was tinged with alarm.

Alexei rolled his eyes and let out an exaggerated sigh. “Suppose so. Poor fellow.” He picked up the young man, hefting him over a shoulder as easily as if he were stuffed with cotton balls, took him out of the room, and was back in an instant. “He’ll live. Still has a pulse.” He looked from Lev to Carly. “Anyone going to fill me in on what’s going on? Are you, or are you not dead, Carly?”

“Well, yes, I suppose you could say I’m dead.”

Alexei wiggled his eyebrows. “You managed to turn her in time, you devil,” he said to Lev, who promptly shook his head.

“No. It’s not like that. She’s not one of us,” Lev explained.

“I’m in spirit form,” Carly replied.

Alexei sat down with a thump in the chair opposite her, the one Tony had previously occupied. “Well now, this is interesting. I don’t quite get it, but it does sound intriguing. I suppose the two of you undead can now be together forever?”

Tears slipped from Carly’s eyes, and she turned away.

Lev gave his brother another dirty look. “No. She has to leave. We only have two days left to spend together.”

Alexei seemed to be enjoying the conversation. He crossed his thin legs and stroked his stubbled chin. “Where pray tell does she have to go? To, like, Heaven or something?” He chuckled.

Lev looked to Carly for the answer. He wasn’t quite sure himself. She’d said she was going to another dimension, but he had no idea what that meant.

Carly shrugged. “Just another place, hopefully better than here.” Her eyes met Lev’s, and tears filled them again. “Except you won’t be there with me.” Carly’s expression changed. She looked upset as if suddenly remembering something. “I didn’t know about…about what you do.”

Lev knelt down beside her. “You mean how I feed?”

She nodded. “You never drank from me.”

He didn’t know if she was upset or relieved.

“I didn’t want to hurt you,” he said softly.

“But you said you fed from animals. Was that a lie?”

Lev sighed and hung his head. “Yes.”

He felt her hand in his hair, caressing, pushing it back from his face. He looked up at her. “I would have understood. It’s your nature.”

“I’m gonna go see Tony,” Alexei said, rolling his eyes. “Catch ya’ll later.” He flounced from the room with a little wave.

Lev was relieved his brother was gone, though he knew he could listen in on their conversation if he wanted. But he probably wouldn’t. Alexei was easily bored.

“Wouldn’t you have been scared of me then? If you knew the truth?”

She nodded slowly. “Probably in the beginning. But I know you love me enough to keep me safe. I don’t think you would’ve hurt me, would you?”

His response was immediate. “No! Never.”

“We only have two days left. How will we spend them?” Carly said, changing the subject. Though she was smiling, it was without humor.

“We’re going to find a way to stay together, and we’ll use our last days to figure out how.”

“But you’ll have to go to ground. You’ll have to sleep. There’s not enough time. Besides, I don’t think it’s possible. I have to leave the earth plane and…” She let her words trail off.

“And, you have a soul and I don’t,” he finished for her.

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I'm a USA Today bestselling author. I've written 12 novels and I also work as an editor. I love crypto, writing and Boston terriers.

Beautiful Monster - The Exchange
Beautiful Monster - The Exchange

Lev Baronovsky, a soulless creature of the night, has a problem. Carly, the love of his life has just died in an accident and in three days will pass to the other side. Without a soul, he cannot cross over with her and the thought of spending eternity without his beloved is unbearable. Is seventy-two hours enough time to find a way? With the help of his brother, Alexei, they must face the vilest creature of all, Boris, an ancient one with selfish motivations of his own. A CHAPTER A WEEK WILL BE POSTED

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