Release Date: October 30th
My name is Genevieve Clare, professional mourner, destined to spend my days donning a black suit and throwing myself on top of caskets for money. Sometimes I mixed it up and threw myself on top of a willing warm body instead. Finding the right warm body though, that was a different story.
I approached Bryce Oskin, with caution, and when I reached his side, he demanded, “Who the fuck are you?”
Charm and disarm. Charm and disarm.
“I’m Genevieve Clare, Mr. Oskin,” I said with a grin. “I believe you hired me to come to your funeral? Mind if I join you?” I brought my own bag of goodies and opened a white baker’s box from Brewster’s.
“You some kind of spooky chick?” he asked, his eyes squinting as he studied me.
If I didn’t know any better, I’d think he was… sweet on me already. “Kinda, yeah. If by spooky you mean I get paid to go to funerals, give people a nudge, and check for a heartbeat. Oh, and I live at Eden Hills. Then yeah, I’m spooky.” I grabbed a plastic fork and took a bite of amazing cake. It was always amazing, but today it seemed more amazing than usual.
“There,” I nodded toward the folder I’d set down on a little table to his side. “I just need you to sign on the dotted line. And the bag there is from Ruby. But I’m taking over the goody-bag duties, so tell me what you like and I’ll get it for you.” I licked my lips and did it seductively because I knew this was a man who appreciated a woman. Also known as a dirty old man. “Want a bite?”
“You gonna tell that Nazi Nurse Ratchet on me?” He jerked his head toward Cheryl.
“Are you gonna drop dead from half a slice of cake?” I countered.
“Then I think this is the start of a beautiful friendship, Mr. Oskin. I visit once a week, unless I have a funeral, usually on Tuesday or Wednesday. I always bring cake for my clients. If there’s something you don’t like, just tell me. But I usually bring a selection.”
“You do this every week?” he asked, disbelief in his voice.
“What do you mean?”
“You eat like that every week? When you see other clients?” His eyes slid up and down the length of my body.
“I have a high metabolism.” I smiled. It really was a miracle I wasn’t as big as a house. But my sweet tooth was limited to sharing with clients. I had to give myself some sort of boundaries.
He grabbed the plastic fork I’d handed him and stabbed the slice of Meyer lemon cake with vanilla bean cream cheese frosting. His eyes closed, and when they opened, he said, “God bless you.” After a few more bites, he asked, “So, you’re gonna open up my box and poke me before they burn me, right?”
“Yes, sir, I’ll make sure you’re good and dead.”
“Spooky chick.” His tone was gruff, but his lip tipped up in the corner.
I saw it with pride. Disarmament, accomplished.
Bryce Oskin had ordered the Shake N Bake. I had permission from most of the mortuaries and crematories to open the casket and check the body. I mean, you could just tell when someone was dead. By the time I had my turn with the deceased, they were most likely already embalmed. But some of them chose not to be, or if they were, they hired me to come to their place of death and make damn sure there was no chance in hell they were coming back to life.
A while back, there was a highly publicized case in Southern California. A woman had been pronounced dead and taken to the hospital morgue. But when they opened the fridge for her to be transported to the funeral home, they saw obvious signs of a struggle. She’d been put in there alive.
I’d never been afraid of death, and, after my family died and the man I loved almost had, I embraced death in my own strange way. I made it my life’s work, I guess. While it took a lot to creep me out, that story gave me the heebie-jeebies something fierce. It was all over the news. Every staff member from the hospital to the morgue was investigated then sued or fired or both. And, of course, old people sitting in the common room of a rest home from the wee a.m. hours to beddy-bye time, saw that story six times in one day, minimum. I ended up receiving so many requests to make sure they weren’t breathing, I added the Shake N Bake to my website.
#1 - With Tony, it seemed to take a lot to get me going. When Ahren walked into a room, I wanted to smother him with my vagina.
#2 - "It was a work of art, beautiful, as if carved by the masterful, dirty, filthy hands that knew exactly what a girl like me would want."
#3 - "We’re all gonna die, Cookie. Death is the devil you know. The better you live, the more you piss him off, and he just hates that. Right now, you’re lettin’ him get his way.”
#4 - So when I looked at him in the truck, I saw this man I’d loved for years. This time, instead of looking at him with the eyes of a silly girl, an awkward teen, a romantic young woman, or a grieving daughter…this time, I looked at him with the eyes of a woman in love. A woman who knew her heart, finally, and I knew, in that moment, nothing would ever part us again.
#5 - Now, seeing all of him, I fell a little more in love that day because, in my mind, he’d always been perfection. But no one is perfect, not in the real world. His fragility made him so in my eyes.
#6 - “Little pieces,” I whispered.
“Sorry?” he asked against my hair.
“Just when I think I can’t love you more, you give me another piece to add to my heart.”
#7 - “Love it when you talk to me about cement. It makes me think about your cock,” I said against his lips.
Julie is a Southern California native, a fan of a really good story (preferably romance with a happily ever after), really good pie (preferably pumpkin) and copious amounts of coffee (preferably Folgers).
She has always enjoyed writing and at one time thought she could be a singer songwriter...the 'writer' part is the one that stuck.
Julie is obsessed with pi...the equation(and the food). She's allergic to cats and cantaloupe and hates mushrooms...so if you ever want to give her a gift, those are out for sure.She currently lives with her own romance hero husband and two boys in Melbourne, Australia.