Home > Goddess (Runes #7)

Goddess (Runes #7)
Author: Ednah Walters

Chapter 1. Are You Dying?



Standing before the girls’ bathroom mirror, I ignored my audience and stared at my reflection as medium runes coiled and spread up my arms and neck. I tried not to cringe. They crept up my cheeks and head, my scalp tingling. If circus freaks or mutants were in, I would be their poster girl.

“You look hot,” Andris said. He was seated on the edge of the counter, arms crossed and a cup of caramel macchiato in his hand.

Of course, he would think a freak was hot. I rolled my eyes and shook my head. I was busy trying to focus on engaging the right runes.

“Maybe not as hot as him,”—Andris angled his head and did a slow trek down and then up the guy behind me—“but you know me. I like variety.”

I met Syn’s eyes in the mirror and tried not to laugh. Most guys would have been insulted that Andris was coming on to them, but not Syn. The Grimnir was so comfortable in his masculinity he tended to ignore Andris. This was not the first time they were hanging out with me in this bathroom on the top floor of my school. Sometimes Echo was around to make sure the souls behaved, and other times it was just Syn. On the Valkyries’ side, it was usually Andris. I was an equal opportunity medium since prom night when souls needing closure had come to our aid and helped us with their evil brothers and sisters.

“You can’t handle me, Valkyrie,” Syn said in his smooth sexy voice.

Andris shrugged. “You have no idea what I can handle or dish out, Grimnir. I once had this Nubian lover who taught me amazing tricks that could rock anyone’s world. She—”

“Shhh. Stop showing off. She’s ready,” Syn warned.

I’d already put on my gloves and opened the notebook. I picked up the pen and glanced to my right at the line of souls. They stared at me as though I was their last hope, and I guess I was. They didn’t see the runes the way Mortals and Immortals did. To them, the black runes glowed and dazzled, drawing them to me the same way runes on a reaper’s scythe drew them. The difference was reapers could turn their scythe into a weapon and disintegrate a soul. I’d never hurt them.

A year ago, I was just another ordinary high school girl vlogging about hot guys when a jealous Immortal etched medium runes on me and turned me into a magnet for the dead. Fear had landed me in a psych ward, but I grew stronger after that. Now that I knew how to use the runes to stabilize possession, I could listen to a soul’s last request without fainting.

The short balding guy first in line was dressed in custom-made gym clothes. His shoes were designer and even the class rings on his fingers said he’d belonged to some exclusive secret society before he died. He looked like he was in his sixties, yet he had the body of a thirty-something, which meant he was bound for Asgard, where souls of athletes and soldiers resided.

Behind him stood a girl in silk pajamas and a bad perm, her eyes flashing with rage. She was so thin and emaciated she must have been ill before she died, which meant she was bound for Helheim, home of the souls of the sickly and those dead from old age. I wanted to hear her story, but I had a rule I lived by. I treated all the souls the same. Young or old, rich or poor, whatever the race, it was a first-come-first-serve basis. Word had spread about what I could do, so now I dealt with long lines during each session. Today, the bathroom was packed.

I smiled at Baldy and extended my hands toward him. He stepped forward and blended with me. A shiver crawled up my spine as my body adjusted to the invasion. The medium runes made the possession easier, but they didn’t completely stop my stomach from roiling or the slow energy drain. Souls sucked on energy of those they possessed, even mediums like me.

Are you dying?

I blinked when the question drifted into my psyche. Souls rarely asked me personal questions. They tended to be self-absorbed.


You are not going to stop helping us?

Of course not. Whatever gave you that idea?


Who told you I was dying? I asked.

Instead of explaining why he’d asked, he started talking about what he wanted me to do. Sighing, I wrote. Sometimes souls conveyed their thoughts so fast I had to tell them to slow down so I could catch up. Others were hesitant to share their intimate moments, and I either had to reassure them or scold them. A few times, I cried for the ones with painful pasts. Whatever the case, I validated their feelings, justified or not.

Baldy had instructions for his lawyer, his girlfriend—I didn’t judge—and his three children: two daughters and one son. I didn’t do wills, but I could help with the rest of what he’d requested.

He moved out of me, and I studied the letters—one for his children, one for his girlfriend and soon-to-be-born son, and the last for his lawyer. It turned out his wife had died and his girlfriend was expecting. His squiggly handwriting was barely intelligible, though. I might have written down his thoughts, but the handwriting wasn’t mine. Even the signature at the bottom was his. Any forensic expert would not prove he hadn’t written the letters.

I passed them to Andris, who shoved them into envelopes and wrote the names on the outside. He didn’t bother to wear gloves like I. He didn’t care if they tried to find where the letters came from and found his fingerprints. Soul reapers were hundreds of years old, Immortal, and used runic magic. He had no problem making people forget things, including him. I, on the other hand, couldn’t afford to leave evidence behind. I didn’t deliver the letters either, not after that first time. People asked way too many questions.

“Over here, Dunbar.” Andris waved at the empty stalls. “When Cora is done, you’re leaving with me.” He glanced at the remaining souls in line, his eyes narrowing on a woman. “I promised to take her with me. She’s Svana’s, and so is the dude in the ill-fitting suit. How many can you do now?”

“Twelve. Maybe fifteen.” Surprise flashed on his face while Syn frowned. I usually only managed to help half that number of souls during lunch. “I’m skipping first period after this.”

“Why?” Syn asked, straightening.

“We have a substitute teacher this week. A total creep. Plus, it’s a writing class, and I’m done with my piece.”

“Creep how?” Andris asked.

“What has he done to you?” Syn added.

“Down, boys. He hasn’t done anything to me or I would have dealt with him by now.” I hadn’t learned cool runes only to have them fight my battles. Besides, Ockleberry hadn’t done anything to deserve letting these two loose on him. He just liked staring at cleavage a little too much. I wasn’t sure what runes to use on him yet, but he was going to wish he never did that again.

“You have the addresses?”

Andris looked at the letters. “No, but I know where to find his people. I’ll be invisible, so they won’t see me coming or going.”

I focused on the skinny girl and gave her a smile, but her expression didn’t change. Most souls looked confused right after death, but these weren’t recently departed. They were runners hoping to communicate with their relatives one last time and were usually angry. Before I started helping them find closure, they’d try to fix things their own way with little results.

I allowed her to possess me. The first emotion to hit me was rage. It was more than usual. I waited until the runes dampened the effect of her emotions.

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