Lane has no idea what happened when he opens his eyes after dying. Finding out he’s in the underworld is unexpected and unwelcome, but meeting the Egyptian god of the underworld, Osiris, soothes some of those feelings. Lane doesn’t know where his place is, but he wouldn’t mind if it were by Osiris’s side.
Osiris and the entire Egyptian pantheon are in trouble, so it’s not the best moment for Osiris to start a relationship with one of his dead souls—or maybe it is. Osiris will fight Apophis if he manages to break out of the darkness, and Lane gives him one more reason to stand strong.
The darkness is breaking, and Apophis is growing stronger. Will the gods be enough to stop him from leaving his prison? What will happen if they’re not?
When Lane opened his eyes, it took him a moment to realize he was dead.
He stared at the white ceiling, trying to get his thoughts into order. The last thing he remembered was getting stabbed in the side before falling to the ground. He lowered a hand to touch the wound, anticipating blood and gore.
The pain was gone. The street where he’d been lying was gone, too, and the only thing he could see was the white ceiling.
He sat up. He could tell he wasn’t in a hospital, even though from where he was, he could see rows of simple beds with people lying on them. There were no medical instruments or doctors. The only people Lane could see who weren’t in the same situation were guards at the open door. Their skin was dark, and they wore white gowns. Lane blinked at the sight of swords and spears.
What the fuck had happened?
“How did you die?” a male voice asked.
Lane looked around. The bed to his left was empty, but a man was stretched out on the bed to his right. He looked at ease, as if he knew what was happening, and Lane wanted to know, too.
“Who are you?” he asked.
The man grinned and sat up. “My name is Barnaby.”
Lane nodded. Barnaby was cute, with green eyes sparkling behind his glasses and floppy brown hair hiding most of his forehead. He looked like he knew what was going on, so Lane swung his legs over the side of the bed and turned in Barnaby’s direction.
Barnaby did the same, putting his elbows on his knees.
“I’m Lane,” Lane said. “You know where we are?”
Barnaby shrugged a shoulder. “Underworld. I’m not entirely sure which one, but from the guards, I’m pretty sure it’s Egyptian.”
Lane blinked. He hadn’t expected to end up in the Egyptian underworld when he died, but it was as good an underworld as any other. Unless people had a specific faith that was important to them, they were sorted into the various underworlds. Where they ended up didn’t make any difference. They were dead, and that was that.
Lane touched his side again. He’d been stabbed, but that was the only thing he was sure of right now. Well, that and the fact that he was dead. He wouldn’t be in the underworld if he weren’t.
“How did you die, then?” Barnaby asked, leaning closer as if he expected to see a wound.
Lane dropped his hand. “I was mugged and stabbed, or at least, I think that’s what happened. What about you?”
Barnaby shook his head, clearly not intending to tell Lane what had happened to him. It made Lane want to push, but it was none of his business. He and Barnaby had just met. They weren’t friends, and it was okay for Barnaby to have secrets. Still, Lane didn’t miss the way Barnaby reached for his throat for a moment. It made him wonder if maybe he’d been strangled. It wasn’t something he wanted to think about, and if that was what had happened, he understood why Barnaby didn’t want to explain himself.
“Do you know anything at all?” Lane asked.
“Not much. I woke up before you and was in time to see a group of people taken away by the guards, but that’s about it.”
“Yeah. Sometimes, someone appears on one of the beds. It takes them a while to open their eyes, and after that, the guards take them away. I’m pretty sure it’s going to be our turn soon.”
“What happened to those people?”
“You’re asking the wrong person. I don’t know anything except what I just told you.”
It would make sense. Barnaby didn’t look Egyptian, so maybe he truly knew nothing more. Lane tried to remember what he knew about the ancient Egyptian underworld, but unfortunately, it wasn’t much. He’d tried not to pay too much attention to the gods because most of them were assholes. He kind of wished he had now, though, because he needed to know what was going on.
He got to his feet, careful of how he moved. He expected his body to be different, but he felt good. Actually, he felt better than he had in a long time. None of the aches that came with being alive were there anymore. His inner thighs didn’t hurt from all the squats he’d been doing lately. His back was fine, too, and when he checked a cut on his finger, he saw it wasn’t there anymore. He was as good as new.
Except he was dead.
A woman appeared between the guards. She was holding a tablet and started reading a list of names. Lane heard his and Barnaby’s was right after him. More people stood from their beds, all of them looking confused. They glanced around as if they expected something to happen, but the only thing the woman said as she gestured at them to follow her was, “Come with me, please.”
Her black hair was long, and she wore a white dress. The tablet was odd in her hand because of how modern it was, and Lane briefly wondered how they got any signal down here. He was dead, yet people in the underworld were able to use tablets. How did any of this make sense?
“Where are you taking us?” a man asked.
The woman paused and turned to look at him. “To the weighing ceremony.”
Lane raked his brain, trying to remember what that was, but it didn’t ring a bell. The man seemed to know what it was, because he stepped back and shook his head.
“I’m not going through that.”
The woman arched a brow. “Aren’t you? Well, you can’t stay here forever, and going through the ceremony is the only way for you to make it to the next chapter of your life.”