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It’s a Wonderful Midlife Crisis

Good To the Last Death Book 1 
by Robyn Peterman
Genre: Paranormal Women’s Fiction 

A Paranormal Women’s Fiction with a bit of class, and a lot of sass, for anyone who feels like age is just a number!

Whoever said life begins at forty must have been heavily medicated, drunk, or delusional.

Thirty-nine was a fantastic year. I was married to the man I loved. I had a body that worked without creaking. My grandma, who raised me, was still healthy, and life was pretty damned good.

But as they say, all good things come to an end. I’d honestly love to know who ’they’ are and rip them a new one.

One year later, I’m a widow. My joints are starting to ache. Gram is in the nursing home, and dead people think my home is some kind of supernatural bed and breakfast. Gluing body parts onto semi-transparent people has become a side job—deceased people I’m not even sure are actually there. I think they need my help, but since I don’t speak dead, we’re having a few issues.

To add to the heap of trouble, there’s a new dangerously smokin’ hot lawyer at the firm who won’t stop giving me the eye. My BFF is thrilled with her new frozen face, thanks to her plastic surgeon, her alimony check, and the miracle of Botox. And then there’s the little conundrum that I’m becoming way too attached to my ghostly squatters… Like Cher, I’d like to turn back time. Now.

No can do.

Whatever. I have wine, good friends, and an industrial sized box of superglue. What could possibly go wrong?

Everything, apparently.

All in all, it’s shaping up to be a wonderful midlife crisis… 

Amazon

 


Chapter 2

“Happy Birthday, old lady,” Missy said with a grin, handing me an extra-large iced coffee.

My bestie was beautiful, inside and out; tiny with wild curls and perfect mocha-colored skin. Her fashion sense was Boho-chic slash artsy-fartsy slash I’ll wear whatever’s clean, evidenced by the gypsy skirt, combat boots and concert t-shirt she was wearing. Somehow Missy made it work and look fabulous. Her normally dark curly hair was enhanced with purple and pink braids this week.

“Chocolate syrup?” I asked, gratefully taking the cup from her and ignoring the insult. She was forty-two. She’d earned her old lady status several years ago.

“Two squirts for the birthday girl,” she replied, winking.

“Thank you, and I think I’ve failed at life,” I announced as I walked through the piles of red, yellow and orange fallen leaves. The crunch beneath my sensible shoes was wildly satisfying. Being a few minutes late for work was risky, but indulging in caffeine with my best friend was necessary.

The park had seen better days but was still lovely in a small-town way. It was full of old gnarled trees that Missy and I had climbed as children. Rows of purple blossoming mums lined the perimeter and a few hardy marigolds still clung to life, even though an early cold snap had withered everything else. The local ladies club—The Gladiolas—maintained the area. Normally the ladies did more gossiping than gardening, but a few of the old gals clearly had green thumbs.

“You’re forty, dude. You have to fail until you’re at least forty-one and a half to accomplish definitive failure,” said my dearest, if not most supportive friend while sipping her coffee. “It might also help to stop drinking an entire bottle of wine and banging an accountant.”

“Tell me about it,” I muttered with a shudder of disgust. “I’m never drinking again.”

“Until tonight at your birthday party,” Missy pointed out.

“Doubtful,” I said with a laugh. “Definitely no merlot. If I have a glass, I’m sticking to chardonnay.”

“Good plan,” she said with a smile and then turned serious. “Daisy, I’m proud of you for getting out there. I just think you can do a teeny-tiny bit better than boring Stan.”

“Hence, why I’m not drinking tonight.”

“Ahhhh, very good plan.”

“Thank you,” I said with a curtsy.

“Welcome.”

Glancing across the park at the old country church, I immediately averted my eyes.

They were over there. A line of dead people with sad eyes and garbled sounds falling from their lips, with their papery hands and dressed in Sunday clothes. Getting the hell out of town would be smart, but stupid was my new middle name.

“What are my good qualities?” I asked Missy, wanting to talk about anything to avoid blurting out that we were being observed by a pack of poltergeist.

“Is that a trick question?” she shot back with a smirk.

“Depends on your answer.”

“Your boobs,” she replied with a giggle as she drained her umpteenth coffee of the morning. “You’re going to be late for work.”

“You are too.”

“I own the bookstore, dude. I can’t be late. I’m the boss.”

“I’m serious about the qualities thing. My girls are nice according to Boring Stan of the Hairy Back, but I have to have at least one other good quality.”

“His back is hairy?” Missy cringed and choked on the last sip of her drink.

“Like a hair shirt.”

We contemplated that foul piece of information in silence. Scooping up a few colorful leaves, I stared at them. The texture reminded me of the handless woman’s papery skin. I carefully tucked them into the pocket of my coat and made a promise to myself to check a man’s back before I banged him from now on—not that I was going to bang anyone soon.

Missy bumped my shoulder and smiled. “You’re good, Daisy. You’re one of the truly good ones.”

My return smile didn’t reach my eyes. I took her hand in mine and led her to a crumbling old concrete bench. Her hand was smaller and far warmer. With a quick squeeze, I let go and sat down. Lies really weren’t kind. Even the ugly truth was sometimes less painful than hearing what others thought was the right thing to say.

Most of the past year, no one knew what to say to me. After Steve died in a car accident, people treated me like spun glass. But not Missy, which was why I loved her.

“Fine. I’ll take it. I’m a good girl with a nice set of knockers.”

“I didn’t say you were a good girl. I said you were good. Big difference. However, the knockers compliment stands.”

“Semantics. You know, I don’t think that guy from the bank committed suicide.” I lay back on the bench and shielded my eyes from the early-morning sun. “They’re all saying he was tired and he wanted out. I don’t believe that.”

Missy’s groan was audible as she pushed my legs over and seated herself next to me. “I think you think too much. He died and we’ll never know.” She blew out a long, slow breath and picked at the rim of the empty paper coffee cup. “Why is it even important?”

“I suppose it’s not,” I admitted. “I just want to know.”

“Well my dear, that’s not possible unless you have a direct line to the afterlife, whatever the hell that might be.”

Missy stood, crumpled the cup in her hands and tossed it in the trash. “I have to get to the shop. It looks kind of bad when my employees are waiting out on the curb,” she said, walking away. “And you have to quit going to funerals of people you don’t know. It’s getting seriously depressing.”

“There were only three people there. I felt bad for him,” I protested as I sat up and watched her walk away.

“Uh huh,” Missy replied without looking back.

I kept my eyes on my best friend until she disappeared around the corner and then reclined back down on the bench. Missy was correct. I needed to stop going to funerals of strangers. It was a morbid habit formed early in life. Gram used to do it. Since my husband died, I found myself doing it far too frequently. I’d always thought Gram went to show respect and pray for souls, but as an adult, I realized she was simply nosey. If I had to explain my own behavior, I’d be at a loss. I didn’t pray for souls and I wasn’t nosey.

Maybe I had a death wish.

“I’m a hot mess,” I whispered as the wind blew through the trees and a mass of orange and red leaves floated to the ground in swirling funnels. Vibrant little tornados danced through the park and I watched, captivated.

Peeking at the church steps, I sighed. My secret wish that the wind would blow the ghosts away hadn’t come true.

Sadly, Missy was incorrect with her other observation. I did indeed have a direct line to the afterlife as of a few hellacious weeks ago. It was messing with my sanity, my chi and my social skills. How in the hell did I end up the lucky gal that all the dead folks liked to hang out with?

I glanced back over at the church. There were ten of them in different stages of decomposition, waving hopefully at me. My smile to the dearly departed was forced, but I was nothing if not polite. Sometimes being Southern sucked. I gave a half-hearted wave back to the lifeless gang, stood up and scurried off in the opposite direction. I didn’t have time to hang out with the corpses this morning. If I arrived too late, I could lose my job—and my mortgage didn’t pay itself. Evidently, I’d already lost my mind. Losing my employment would be horrible.

With one last furtive glance back, I wondered exactly how many dead people were in town and wanted to be my friend. The situation was getting out of control.

Furthermore, I was sure a few of the dead who were unaware of the rules would show up for my birthday dinner tonight—a big no-no. I’d probably made a mistake saying I would host my own party, but it was just my closest girlfriends. My old farmhouse was big and comfortable. Well, except that it was loaded with dead folks.

It was really unpleasant to eat with corpses at the table. The ones who were privy to the protocol that dinner was my personal time weren’t real good at sharing the rules with the recently departed. Plus, if I found any more random body parts around the house, I was going to evict all of them. Pretending I didn’t see them was going to be my new modus operandi.

Understanding them was a serious problem. Apparently, the dead had their own way of communicating. It was a mystery to me.

I’d spent a few hours in the linguistics section at the library to see if I could find anything that remotely resembled what I was hearing and came out more confused than when I went in. It was guttural in tone and sounded more like garbled consonants than words separated by spaces. There was a frantic intent, and I knew there was also laughter. The old dude floating over Stan’s shoulder this morning was proof positive of that.

“I’m a whack job,” I mumbled.

I picked up my pace on the off chance they were following me down the street. Normal behavior would be impossible if I had to share my cubicle with decaying strangers.

My mind couldn’t leave the puzzle of my current nightmare alone. Had I cracked for real? Was I really seeing dead people or was I inventing them in my head? Had the movie The Sixth Sense Part Two started filming in my sleepy little town and someone neglected to inform me that I was staring in it?

Again, the best way to handle an un-handleable situation was to ignore it…and that’s exactly what I was going to do.

***

“I want to make myself perfectly clear here,” Clarissa said, annunciating to the point of ridiculous. “He’s forty-five, single and hotter than sin. He’s mine. If I catch any of you making a move, I will make your life a living hell.”

“Like you don’t do that already,” June muttered under her breath with an eye roll.

“I’m sorry,” the redheaded, overly made-up she-devil snapped at poor June. “Did you have something pertinent to add?”

“No,” June replied as the heat crawled up her neck and landed squarely on her adorable face.

I’d missed the first five minutes of the dressing down by our psychotic team leader, but it clearly had to do with a new lawyer who had joined the firm—it usually did. Every so often we got a live one, and Clarissa’s biological time clock was ticking so loudly we all needed earplugs. She’d hit on everything with male genitalia for the last several years. I was constantly surprised that the firm hadn’t been hit with a sexual harassment lawsuit by one of its own. Two of the partners feigned being gay for a few months just to escape her advances.

I glanced around the small break room and bit back my grin. It wouldn’t do for Clarissa to think I was laughing at her. The sheer amount of work she would pile on me was reason enough to pretend I was taking her seriously. I adored the gals I worked with except for our narcissistic leader. Being a paralegal could be as boring as watching paint dry, but my coworkers made the forty-plus hours a week tolerable.

Truth was, I was the only single gal in the room besides Clarissa and I would never date a lawyer—too shady. Plus, after last night, I was off men for the foreseeable future.

June, the sweet mutterer, was fifty-seven and happily married with four awesome kids. Heather, somewhere in her later thirties, was a vocal lesbian and always in a relationship. Jennifer was sixty-five and had sworn off men after her fifth divorce.

That left me, and I was sure the lecture was for my benefit. However, the viper had nothing to worry about. I was tied up dealing with an army of dead people at the moment. Dating anyone was off my to-do list for the near future or ever. Next time I got horny I was going on a date with my battery-operated boyfriend aka BOB. I’d had my fill or lack thereof with professionals, courtesy of Stan the Two-Minute Man.

Daisy,” Clarissa snapped. “I need you to run some depositions to the courthouse and stop by the Piggly Wiggly to get coffee and filters. Then you can take the rest of the week off.”

“Wait. What?” I asked, shocked. It was only Monday.

Gasps filled the small room, mine included. The firm was in the middle of an enormous amount of cases—all mind-bendingly boring. We’d all had to stay late for the past several weeks. There was no way I would leave my posse unprotected from Clarissa’s wrath and with an absurd amount of work to do.

“You heard me,” she said calmly as she admired her French manicure critically.

When the hell did she have time to get a manicure?

“Clarissa, there’s a lot of work to be done and I need to be here,” I reasoned as neutrally as I could, given the fact that just looking at her made me want to throat punch her.

“Oh, you’ll be working,” she shot back with saccharine sweetness. “Just not here.”

My stomach dropped, and I closed my eyes as I considered how to handle the situation. If I didn’t come to work, it would throw up red flags to the partners and I could lose my much-needed employment despite being ordered to do so. If I called the crazy woman out on her absurd directive, I could lose my job anyway.

Whoa. Was I getting fired right now? On my freaking birthday because Clarissa had aspirations of banging a gross lawyer and wanted all single gals out of the picture?

“Why?” Heather demanded, narrowing her eyes at Clarissa.

Heather was the only one who wasn’t afraid of Clarissa besides me, but Heather had family money to back her up while I needed my job. Actually, Heather wasn’t afraid of anyone, including all the lawyers in the firm or anyone in town. She was a genius and only days away from taking the bar herself. The irony was that she hated lawyers and only planned to practice so she could further her agenda—rights for women. Gay women to be more specific.

Gay marriage had been legalized, but our wealthy, old-money, homophobic little town hadn’t gotten the memo. Apparently, religion trumped the law here. Heather could go anywhere with her brains and drive, but she grew up here, and this place tended to keep its own no matter how much its own wanted to leave.

“Because I said so,” Clarissa replied quickly over her shoulder as she made for the door.

Even Clarissa didn’t like to tangle with Heather. We all watched in silence as she hightailed it out. I was relieved when Heather didn’t push it. As despised as Clarissa was, her job was ironclad. Her father owned the firm. Clarence Smith was as compassionate and kind as Clarissa Smith was mean and horny, but she was his daughter and there was no winning for anyone pitted against her.

“It’s fine,” I said as I put my hand on Heather’s shoulder to stop her from going after the nasty witch. “I can’t afford to lose my job. I’ll just stop in every morning and take a bunch of work home.”

“It’s all because of the new guy,” June said with a snort of disgust. “She’s afraid he’ll see you and go all gaga.”

“I think June’s right,” Jennifer agreed.

“That’s ridiculous,” I said with a shudder, remembering the Stan debacle. “I’m not in the market for a man and lawyers don’t do it for me.”

“It would make my year if women did it for you,” Heather announced with an exaggerated wink.

I laughed and pressed the bridge of my nose. “While I find that wildly flattering, and I really do, I just like penises better than vaginas.”

“Can’t blame a girl for trying,” Heather replied with a friendly shrug. “If you ever switch teams, I’m your gal.”

“I’ll keep that in mind,” I said as I grabbed the folder intended for the courthouse and picked up my purse. “Do you guys really think she doesn’t want me here because of the new lawyer?”

It was mind-boggling. I was forty and a widow for the love of everything absurd.

“Who knows what goes on in her pea brain,” Jennifer said. “Clarissa is batshit crazy. It wouldn’t surprise me a bit. That new boy is supposed to be quite pretty and Old Redhead Ass Spray Tan doesn’t like competition.”

I groaned as I checked my wallet for money. I knew I could turn in a receipt for the coffee and filters, I just wasn’t sure I could cover the cost. Maybe getting fired wouldn’t be so bad. It would force me to get a job with better pay. Or better yet, leave town to find employment in a place where I didn’t see dead people. I’d just take Gram with me.

“If I was known as a man-hungry piranha, I would understand her ridiculous overreaction,” I said absently as I searched the bottom of my purse for a couple of nonexistent dollars. “However, I’m not.”

“Honey, all you gotta do is stand there and the boys fall all over themselves,” Jennifer told me as she handed me a twenty. “When you get reimbursed, pay me back.”

“Thank you,” I told her gratefully. “And men most certainly do not fall all over me.”

“Another reason to become a lesbian,” Heather chimed in with raised eyebrows and a silly grin.

Jennifer grunted and smacked Heather playfully on the arm. “Watch out or I’m gonna become a lesbian. After as many divorces as I’ve had, cohabitating with a woman is starting to sound good.”

“You keep me updated on that.” Heather chuckled as she topped off her coffee and picked up the pile of paperwork scattered all over the table. “I’ll take your old ass with me to the girl bars.”

The thought of Jennifer trolling for women with Heather would keep me smiling for the rest of the day. Heather was long, lean and athletic. Jennifer was a tiny, round couch potato. They would make a motley pair.

“She doesn’t have to worry about me going after a shifty new lawyer—hot or not,” I told the girls. “I do not shit where I eat.”

“Honey, with all that dark curly hair, amber eyes, long legs and those knockers, it doesn’t matter where you shit,” Jennifer informed me as the others nodded their agreement.

“Genetics,” I said dismissively. My looks were hereditary. It was a shell. What counted was what was inside. Inside, I was a disaster. “And that was a really gross analogy.”

My looks were compliments of my long-dead sweet mother—inherited along with her terrible taste in men. With the exception of Steve, I wasn’t the best judge of nice guys. After my mom died, I’d been raised by my wonderfully foul-mouthed Gram, who didn’t have much better luck with the opposite sex than her daughter or her granddaughter.

“If you wanna be invisible to the male species, you’re gonna have to gain fifty pounds and get a haircut like our friend Heather here,” Jennifer announced with an enormous grin.

“I’m going to ignore that,” Heather said. She scrubbed her hands through her very attractive pixie cut and gave Jennifer the middle finger. “I happen to like my hair and you can shove it up your ass.”

“Ladies, that’s enough,” June, the resident peacemaker, chastised with a giggle. “We need to get back to work. But honestly, Daisy, when was the last time you had a date?”

Her question was asked kindly. These women adored me as much as I adored them, but my personal life was mine—embarrassingly awful and mine. They had worried about me for months after Steve died. It had taken me almost a year to decide that my husband would want me to be a happy person and not mope around for the rest of my life.

It was actually a dream… he’d visited me in a dream. Steve had yelled at me for about an hour. It was awesome. He told me to get a haircut with some fun highlights and stop eating donuts for dinner. My best friend in the world forbade me from wearing sweatpants, t-shirts and flip-flops to the grocery and was appalled at the state of my manicure. I took him up on his bossy advice, but dating was not on the table anymore.

After Hairy CPA Stan of the Small Man-junk, I was done. Plus, I now had my deceased houseguests to deal with. Dead people and dating didn’t go well together.

“I went on a date of sorts last night,” I said. “It sucked and I’m taking a break.”

“Good luck with that,” Jennifer commented evenly as she put six sugars in her coffee. “Every time I make a statement like that, I end up with another husband sucking me dry.”

“Holy crap. Why do you have broken blood vessels around your eyes?” Heather asked with concern as she gently touched Jennifer’s face.

“Botox,” Jennifer replied with an eye roll and a laugh. “Got my alimony check from that bastard Scott and spent it on my face. When the divorce settlement from Bob comes in, I’m thinking about getting the fat sucked out of my ass and thighs.”

Jennifer certainly knew how to render a room silent. Heather just shook her head and sighed. Jennifer was on a self-improvement kick that didn’t include exercise or eating right. All she needed was money—compliments of her exes—and a plastic surgeon.

“Shit hasn’t kicked in yet,” Jennifer went on as she added another overflowing teaspoon of sugar to her coffee. “Got it done five days ago. Don’t think it worked. I’m still as wrinkly as Albert Einstein’s ass after a three-hour bath.”

“Dear God,” June said as she watched Jennifer create her caffeinated sugar rush. “You’re going to get diabetes. You need to use the fake kind.”

“Too many chemicals,” Jennifer told her. She added one more heaping teaspoon of sugar just to watch June blanch. “You can get cancer from that crap.”

“You’re disgusting,” Heather informed Jennifer as she looked on in horrified amazement.

“Thank you,” Jennifer replied with a smirk and a small curtsy. “But back to Daisy…”

Damn. I was hoping to get away without any more character assessments or advice.

“You just need to put yourself back out there and maybe date a guy with tattoos,” Jennifer suggested as she took a sip of her drink and gagged.

Pride made her drink the cup of caffeinated sugar. I laughed as I watched her power it down.

“I’ll take that under consideration,” I promised as I headed for the door.

Maybe taking a week away from my well-meaning coworkers would be a good thing.

Or maybe not.

I’d see them tonight at my birthday dinner. My birthday. My rules.

No discussing Daisy’s love life.

Good luck to me.

 

 

 

Whose Midlife Crisis Is It Anyway?

Good to the Last Death Book 2 

Midlife’s a journey. Enjoy the ride. Crisis included.

Never knew that life after death was far more dangerous than real life.

Never in my forty years did I think my new normal would be gluing body parts back onto ghosts and hosting a houseful of dead squatters. Thank God for superglue and a strong stomach.

Never thought I’d date the Grim Reaper and that I would be the one to blow it. I mean, how idiotic does one have to be to get dumped by a dude who lives in Hell?

Going about business as usual is not usual in any way. No one is who they seem to be… and to be honest, neither am I. What I’d known to be true has turned out to be myth. The Angels are frightening and the Demons are hot. Wait. I mean not. Who am I kidding? The Grim Reaper is very hot—like a freaking pre-menopausal hot flash hot.

Now I’m in a race against time and all sorts of unsavory supernatural horrors to save my deceased gay husband’s afterlife. And that was a sentence I never thought would leave my lips.

Whatever. I’ll yank up my big girl panties, stock up on wine and lean on my girlfriends as needed. As they say, when the going gets tough, the tough get inebriated… or something like that.

With everything to lose, I have no choice but to grow some lady balls. That I can do. I just hope balls will be enough.

I had planned to live midlife in peace, not in pieces.
Good luck to me… 

Amazon

 


Chapter 2

So far, midlife had been a shitty journey. The ride had been out of control, and the crisis was included—whether I’d ordered it or not.

“I can’t help you,” I whispered. “I’m so sorry.”

She didn’t acknowledge my words. I was unsure if she’d even heard me since I’d barely heard myself. My throat was raw from the recent crying jag I’d indulged in after June and Jennifer left. Of course, I’d eaten the entire tin of cookies June had made as well. It was not a good day so far. My voice sounded foreign to my own ears, and I was fairly sure I had chocolate chip cookie crumbs in my sweats.

Talking about Gideon wasn’t something I had wanted to do. It was still too painful and entirely my fault that he’d disappeared—something I would regret until the day I died. I’d done it thinking I was avenging Steve. I’d been gravely mistaken.

Staring at the dead woman who sat on my couch felt like a breath of forbidden fresh air. The others were gone, and I felt the loss like an open wound. The ghost sat quietly and stared at her hands. Every few minutes she would glance my way. She was either newly deceased, which I doubted due to her state of decomposition, or she hadn’t heard the word on the street yet.

I’d quit my unpaid secret side job. I was no longer the Death Counselor. Never again would I glue body parts back onto semi-transparent ghosts or help the dead find closure so they could move forward to whatever the heck came next. My inner debate as to the truth of the afterlife still waged violently inside me.

Closing my eyes, I almost laughed. Almost. I still had six cases of superglue in the garage. I hadn’t smiled for real in what felt like an eternity. It was inappropriately fitting that the first thought that made the corners of my lips turn up was the recent memory of reattaching arms, legs and jaws for my former dead roomies.

Did I want to quit? No.

I had to. There was no choice. I’d done it in a moment of desperation, but it had been the right choice. Steve was safe and Steve was here.

A month ago, I thought I’d lost my mind. I was wrong.

Three days ago, I’d almost destroyed my world. Correction. I did destroy my world and my happiness. I also came very close to destroying my best friend. As much as it shredded me, I was of no use to the sad specter sitting in my living room.

Knowing there was nothing I could do for the woman, I felt like I’d lost my humanity—my mind would have been an easier loss to take.

“You’re in the wrong place,” I tried again, hoping she understood me. “I can’t help you.”

Her reaction was full of confusion.

Join the club…

“I mean, it was the right place,” I said, realizing that I was confusing myself. “But it’s not anymore.”

The poor woman must think I’m nuts. She would be correct. I wasn’t certifiable, but I was definitely missing a few screws.

“I had to stop,” I told her, unsure if she could follow what I was saying.

Most of the dead understood English, but the young woman in my house could be an exception. I was surprised I could see her at all. I assumed that once I’d quit, I would lose the ability like Gram had. Thank God I could still see Steve.

“Sssiiiiiiinngea,” she said. “Booooooouuns.”

Shaking my head, I tried once more. “I can’t do anything for you. I wish I could, but I can’t.”

The woman appeared to have been young when she’d died—maybe mid to late twenties. She was lovely in a sad and decomposing kind of way. Most of the dead were a bluish-gray hue, but I could make out that her hair had been blonde by the few strands that still held color. It was difficult to tell her exact age. She was rough-looking—missing part of her head and a good deal of her jaw. For some bizarre reason, she was familiar to me.

Being compassionate had bitten me in the ass repeatedly. Why stop now?

“Do I know you?” I asked, realizing it was an unfair question since there was nothing I could do for her. Making her leave so she could find someone who could aid her was what I should do, but…

Who in the hell that could be was anyone’s guess. The gift had been passed from my gram to my mother, and then to me. As far as I’d understood, we were the only line of Death Counselors. But since the dead hadn’t come back, I took some comfort at the possibility that there were indeed more than just Gram and me in the world.

“Sssiiiiiiinngea booooooouuns,” she repeated in a broken whisper.

“Let me explain,” I said, unable to decipher her words. “I used to be the Death Counselor, but I messed up.”

She waited and stared at me with sad, sunken eyes and a trembling body.

Messed up is actually a mild term for it, but I’m not a big cusser. I mean, I do say shit and damn, but the F-bomb would have worked in my last statement, and I’m not really good with that one,” I went on as if the conversation we were having was even remotely normal. “You don’t really need to hear about my prowess or lack thereof with profanity. So anyway, my dead husband—Steve—came back to tell me he was gay and…”

What in the hell was I doing? The dead woman wasn’t my therapist.

But wait… She needed to understand why I couldn’t help her. The truth didn’t always set you free. It was complicated and horrifying in my case, but if the travesty that was my life could convince the gal on my couch to seek help elsewhere, then so be it.

“I thought I’d gone insane,” I told her, moving across the room and sitting next to her on the couch. “I didn’t tell anyone that there were ghosts all over my house and following me to the grocery. I mean, who are you going to tell that to without them having you locked up in the loony bin? Right?”

The woman simply stared.

There seemed to be no judgment in her eyes, or more likely, she had no clue what I’d just said. It didn’t matter. I’d finish what I’d started and, at the very least, she might think I was so unhinged she’d leave. I didn’t want her here, but I didn’t want to hurt her feelings either. She was dead, for the love of everything unholy. She’d already been through enough.

Plus, being Southern dictated my polite manners. Being Southern could seriously suck.

“So… umm… I figured out a way to communicate with my squatters,” I continued. “It’s called dead man mind-diving… or dead woman, to be nonsexist and fair. In a moment of absurdly inappropriate dead-humor, I thought about having a t-shirt made.”

She didn’t laugh.

I didn’t blame her. My comedic skills were sorely lacking, and it was one of those jokes that you had to be there to get.

“Sorry about that. So, then I embarked upon a life of crime and committed a misdemeanor for my dead friend Sam. I don’t regret it at all. However, I’m not cut out for ten to twenty in the state pen. You feel me? I was completely relieved I could use a Ouija board to help the others. Mail fraud is the other illegal hobby I took up. I sent post-dated letters and cards to the loved ones of my dead guests so they wouldn’t have unfinished business. Risky? Sure, but it was way easier than breaking and entering.”

The woman politely nodded. She lost her head. Reaching forward, I caught it in my hands and handed it back to her.

Standing up, I sighed. “Hang on a sec. Stay here.”

Sprinting to the garage, I convinced myself gluing her head back on didn’t mean I was taking the job back. I couldn’t. It would endanger one of the people I loved most in the world. However, sending the poor woman on her way knowing that her head was firmly attached was the right thing to do. It would suck all kinds of butt for her to wander around without a head.

As long as I didn’t solve her problem, a little superglue surgery was fine.

“Can you hand me your head so I can glue it back on for you?” I asked as I sat down next to her again.

Not a sentence I thought I would ever speak.

She had propped it back up on her neck. With what I thought was a smile—it was hard to tell since most of her jaw was gone—she carefully handed me her head.

Turning it at an angle so her eyes weren’t staring at me, which would have freaked me out, I used two full tubes of superglue. It was slightly excessive, but I wasn’t in the business of gluing body parts on anymore. I didn’t need to be careful about overuse. Plus, I had no clue how far she would have to travel for help. Extra glue could hopefully keep her head attached to her body for months if she was careful.

“For this to work, I need to hold it in place for two minutes,” I explained, making eye contact again since her head was no longer in my lap. “But since it’s your head, I’m gonna do it for three minutes. Cool?”

“Sssiiiiiiinngea booooooouuns,” she told me.

“Umm… okay,” I said, looking around for my dogs.

Donna the Destroyer wasn’t actually a dog at all even though she resembled one. I’d found out she was a Hell Hound and could understand the dead better than I could. I’d barely blinked an eye at the news. Since I was hanging out with deceased people, gluing on appendages and living a life of crime, the fact that my puppy was a denizen of Hell was the least of my problems. Plus, I adored her.

Karen the Chair Eater could not see the dead. However, she could dig a hole in the yard the size of a refrigerator without an ounce of shame. She’d eaten all of my mums and had room-clearing gas for thirty-six hours. Again, I didn’t bat an eye. I simply held my nose and loved her anyway.

The dogs were nowhere to be found.

“I don’t understand you,” I said apologetically.

“Sssiiiiiiinngea booooooouuns.”

“Mmmkay,” I said, glancing down at my phone to see if the three minutes were up.

There was no way I could hug her and go into her mind to talk to her. I’d figured out the system by trial and error with a little help from Donna the Destroyer. It hurt like a mother humper to mind dive, but it worked. The dead’s voices were as clear as if they were still alive.

But I wasn’t the Death Counselor anymore. I’d be risking Steve’s afterlife if I did.

“Singea Bonus?” I tried. “Is that your name?” I’d never heard a name like that before, but if she was from another country, she could have an unusual name.

She tried to shake her head, but I had a darn good grip on it.

“Sssiiiiiiinngea booooooouuns.”

“Not your name?” I asked. “How about Sissy G. Boons?”

She reached up and gently touched my face. Her skin felt like dry paper. I was still amazed that the ghosts were somewhat corporeal even though I could see through parts of them.

“Naawwwooo,” she said.

Breathing in through my nose and slowly out through my mouth, I fought back every instinct I had to help her. It wasn’t in my nature to walk away… but I had to.

Standing up and moving to the other side of the room now that her head seemed like it wasn’t going to tumble off of her neck again, I put some distance between us. If I hugged her so I could understand her, the darkness might come back for my dead, gay best friend and former husband. I’d stopped it from taking him by quitting. Taking the job back on wasn’t possible. It was a risk I was unwilling to take no matter how much this woman moved me.

“Look,” I said, hoping I sounded firmer than I felt. “I’m going to tell you my story in a nutshell, and then you have to leave.”

“Sssiiiiiiinngea booooooouuns.”

“Right,” I said, twisting my hair with my fingers and forcing myself to take a seat across the room. “I already told you that I can see the dead. Well… actually, you could probably figure that out since we’re having a conversation of sorts.”

The woman stared at me and clasped her hands politely in her lap. She was quite easy to talk to and it felt kind of good to lay it all out on the table, so to speak.

“Here goes nothing. I turned forty. I had a mind-numbingly boring job as a paralegal. Turns out my bitchy, sex-obsessed, evil ex-boss Clarissa happens to be the Angel of Mercy. I seriously want to kill her for what she did, but apparently, you can’t kill Immortal people. Who knew? That’s incredibly unfair and total bullshit, but I’m getting ahead of myself. However, I would like to point out—probably more for myself than for you—that nothing is as it seems to be. Movies have very bad information in them about good and evil and I’m a freaking idiot for assuming so many things that were dead wrong. Oops, sorry about the dead thing. I should have just said wrong, not dead wrong. That was rude,” I said apologetically.

She tilted her head slightly to the right and waited for me to keep spewing out my heinous life story. I was wildly relieved that it stayed on her neck and didn’t fall to the floor and roll around. Superglue was some amazing stuff.

“Then the dead started showing up. I got a dog, and then I got another one. I committed a misdemeanor or two, and then found out from Gram that I was a Death Counselor. It would have been great to have known that shit a little earlier, but whatever. Then to make weird even weirder, Steve—my dead, gay husband—showed up to apologize. His unfinished business was to help me find a man who could love me the way I deserved to be loved. I forgave Steve because that’s how I am and he’s my best friend. I do have to add that I was kind of shocked that I didn’t know my husband was gay. I didn’t think I was that person. You know?”

I was also kind of shocked that the dead gal on my couch hadn’t left the house screaming in terror. She was either brave or she didn’t understand a word I was saying. Or she was possibly Southern, like me, and was too polite for her own good.

“In the past month, I’ve grown some fairly massive lady balls. I fell in love with the Grim Reaper and screwed that up to the point of no return. I didn’t trust the right person and I might have damned Steve to the darkness. The only way to stop that from happening was to quit being the Death Counselor. Steve isn’t supposed to go to the darkness. He’s meant for the light.”

“Yausssss,” she said with a very careful nod.

My gaze jerked to hers and I stared with surprise. I thought she wanted my help. Was I wrong? Did she have a message about Steve? I was pretty sure she’d just agreed with my assessment that Steve was meant to go to the light.

“You know Steve?” I asked, feeling light-headed and shaky.

Never again was I going to assume that I knew what the hell was going on. It had almost ended me. Lately, my mind was filled with thoughts of ending myself after I made sure Steve was okay. My future without Gideon was so bleak it made me ill.

“Naawwwooo,” she said.

“Wait,” I said, squinting at the ghost. “When you said yes, did you mean that Steve is supposed to go into the light?”

“Naawwwooo.”

“Is he supposed to go to the darkness?” I asked as my eyes narrowed dangerously.

I wasn’t real sure how to fight a ghost, but if she had come to take Steve into the darkness, she was about to lose her head again, and I wouldn’t give it back. Was she a bad dead guy… or girl? Were there dead politics I knew nothing about? The absurd possibilities were endless.

“Naawwwooo.”

We were getting nowhere fast. My gut had led me vastly astray recently, but the woman on my couch didn’t seem evil—just sad, lost and in need of help. I wasn’t the one to do that. She needed to leave. Just her being here might make the others think it was okay to come back. As long as I wasn’t the Death Counselor, Steve could stay on this plane until I destroyed the vicious Angel of Mercy and made things right. Of course, there was a fine chance that I would die in the process, but at this point, it might be a welcome escape.

Looking down at my hands, I felt like crying. I wanted to help her. It wasn’t going to happen.

Closing my eyes, I tried one last time to make her understand. “I can’t help you. You need to find someone who can. I’m sorry.”

When I opened my eyes, she was gone.

 

 

A Most Excellent Midlife Crisis

Good to the Last Death Book 3 

Midlife’s a bumpy journey. The ride is a freaking rollercoaster. The crisis is real.

With my life back to normal–normal being a very relative word–one would think I’d catch a break.

One would be very wrong.

With an Angel gunning for me and a Demon in my bed, life couldn’t be more complicated. Not to mention, I’m going to have to make a rather large life choice.

Do I want to live forever?

Does anyone? Forever is a very long time.

Whatever. I’ll think about it tomorrow… or next week… or next month. As long as I have my girlfriends, my dogs, a super-sized case of merlot and my deceased squatters, I’m good to go.

My midlife crisis. My rules. If it doesn’t kill me dead first, I plan to have a most excellent midlife crisis. 

Amazon

 

NYT and USA Today best selling author, Robyn Peterman writes because the people inside her head won’t leave her alone until she gives them life on paper. She writes snarky, sexy, funny paranormal and snarky, sexy, funny contemporaries.
Her addictions include laughing really hard with friends, shoes (the expensive kind), Target, Coke with extra ice in a Yeti cup, bejeweled reading glasses, her kids, her super-hot hubby and collecting stray animals.
A former professional actress, with Broadway, film and T.V. credits, she now lives in the south with her family and too many animals to count. Writing gives her peace and makes her whole, plus having a job where she can work in her sweatpants works really well for her. 

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Desiree Kessler
Desiree Kessler
July 1, 2020 7:19 pm

This sounds like a good series! I love the covers! ❤

Elizabeth H.
Elizabeth H.
July 1, 2020 5:55 pm

I love the cover!

Helen
Helen
June 29, 2020 9:56 am

I love the covers. They seem to fit perfectly with the midlife crisis and mystery theme.

Cheryl C.
Cheryl C.
June 28, 2020 5:51 pm

Eye-catching covers!

Anne
Anne
June 23, 2020 12:47 pm

Read the first two books in the series on kindle unlimited. Was ready to start this one only to find out I have to wait until AUGUST.

Teresa Warner
Teresa Warner
June 22, 2020 9:17 am

New author for me and the cover is different! Sounds good!

Robyn Peterman
June 21, 2020 6:25 pm

Thank you for hosting me!

Seyma Bennett Shabbir
Seyma Bennett Shabbir
June 20, 2020 8:59 pm

The cover looks great!! Flowers and a skull. Sounds like romance, murder and mystery! My favorites.

Bonnie
Bonnie
June 20, 2020 7:11 pm

What a fascinating series! Great excerpts and covers. Thanks for sharing.

Maria Malaveci
Maria Malaveci
June 20, 2020 3:24 pm

I love the covers so much!

Janie McGaugh
Janie McGaugh
June 20, 2020 11:48 am

This sounds like a fun read!

Mary Dellenbusch
Mary Dellenbusch
June 20, 2020 9:18 am

Thank you very much for the chance.

Anne
Anne
June 20, 2020 8:38 am

I love the covers, I think they’re really unique and dark.

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