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416 pages, Hardcover
First published August 30, 2022
"I'd prefer you not summon me whenever the urge strikes."
The voice was not what she expected. It wasn't ice, nor gravel, but the sound of water in a meadow, slipping over her skin and inviting her in for a midnight swim.
"I'm a busy man, you know."
Whoever designed this place was an odd soul. A soul, Signa decided, that had been begging for this house to be haunted.
They’d certainly gotten their wish.
It had been weeks since Signa had seen the reaper. Only a final breath would draw him out from hiding, and he never left empty-handed. At least, that was the way it was supposed to be. But Signa Farrow was a girl who could not die.
She rather disliked puzzles, for she had a bad tendency to need to solve them. Life, she believed, would be much simpler if one had the answers all laid bare before them.
Stop worrying about society and playing its game, hoping that you’ll be good enough, Death urged her. There is no such thing as true goodness, there is only perception.
“You are no soft thing to be coddled.” His voice was soothing as the season’s first rain, and she shivered from the way it glided upon her skin. “You are bolder than the sun, Signa Farrow, and it’s time that you burn.”
“Because I have waited an eternity to meet you, Signa Farrow.” The words were a balm she clung to, relishing. “To me, you are a song to a soul that has never known music. Light to someone who has only seen the darkness. You bring out the absolute worst in me, and I become vindictive toward those who treat you in ways I don’t care for. Yet you also bring out the best in me— I want to be better because of you. Better for you.
“I know how society teaches us to be soft and dull and compliant, but you will not be any of those things, do you understand? Do not change the parts of yourself that you like to make others comfortable. Do not try to mold yourself to fit the standards someone else has set for us.
“I have waited for you for millennia, Signa Farrow.” There was a silky husk to his voice now, too pleased for his own good. “Since the dawn of this earth, I have waited. You are mine, and I am yours. And together, this world is ours.”
But Death did not need to be seen; he was to be felt. He was a weight upon the chest, or a collar buttoned too tight. A fall into frigid, lethal waters.
Death was suffocating, and he was ice.
If there was one constant that Signa could count on, it was that no matter where she was, Death would find her.
All her life, she’d hated Death. And yet, she’d spent years chasing after him like a moth to a flame.
”All those I touch,” Death whispered, “die.” His other hand pressed against her cheek suddenly, and he breathed out a wondrous sigh so heavy that Signa’s entire body warmed. “Except for you, Signa Farrow. When I touch you, I feel you. On you, my influence is temporary.”
She could feel his shadows now. Could feel them along her skin, brushing against her neck and lips. Igniting parts of her that she’d never known could be awoken.
Every day, it seemed, there was another side of him to discover. So far, this was her favourite.
And yet, when he offered his hand and asked, “Will you trust me?” her body moved forward without hesitation. Gloveless, she touched her bare skin to his shadows, wrapping her fingers around his.