Kassidy Simmons Book 1
by Dennis K. Crosby
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Twenty years ago, Reaper of Souls Kassidy Simmons battled Azra-El, the Angel of Death and won—or so she thought. Now, a number of strange and unexplained deaths are afflicting Kassidy’s quiet New York town.
She wishes she didn’t care. But she does. Her empathic abilities are expanding beyond her control, and the intense emotions are tearing apart her relationships. They’re also degrading the magical wards put in place to protect her from other Reapers and the even deadlier Wraiths—onyx-eyed henchmen of Azra-El.
Allied with her longtime mentor and a college professor with ties to her past, Kassidy learns that the untimely deaths are regenerating Azra-El, and that the only way to stop him is with the Scythe of Cronus, the legendary weapon of the God of Death.
To save her loved ones and reset the natural order, Kassidy must journey home and confront a past she’s been running from for two decades. She’ll face-off with enemies, old and new, and through a haze of fear and addiction, Kassidy will learn the secrets of her heritage, and challenge head on the one being she fears most—herself.
“You shouldn’t be able to do that here, Reaper,” he said, pointing to the sickle at his throat with his eyes.
“What?” Kassidy asked absently.
Kassidy gasped at the weapon pressed to his throat. He was right. She shouldn’t be able to do that. No Reaper, not even a Wraith could manifest weapons in the Nexus. The only beings with that power were the Primus—and he never did it because he simply didn’t need to wield that type of power there—and Death himself.
She backed away, staring at the sickle, then willed it to transform back into a hand.
“Perhaps now you see why I found you so interesting,” Azra-El said.
“Okay, found and still find. Happy?”
There was that fucking smile again.
“What do you want?”
“Come on. Can’t we catch up? How’ve you been, love?”
“Fuck you! That’s how I’ve been. Now what do you want?”
“Okay, fine. I want to kill you, of course. That goes without saying.” He shrugged his shoulders. Nonchalant. Playfulness intertwined with menace.
Kassidy inched back from him, each step slow and deliberate. She tried to drift out of the Nexus but couldn’t. He’s fucking blocking me! Shit!
“We didn’t finish our last conversation, my dear. It was like we were talking, and then all of a sudden, you stabbed me with those blades. I don’t even know where you found those fucking things. But I never got a chance to argue my point.”
“That you and I need to work together to establish some new rules to the natural order.”
“Oh, that line of horseshit,” Kassidy said.
“You wound me.” Azra-El, held his hand to his chest, feigning offense.
“Yeah, I did wound you. Sadly, not enough.”
Azra-El’s hands dropped to his side.
His eyes radiated a dim red. She did her best to remain calm, but every Reaper knew that when his eyes glowed that way, he was angry.
“You’re after my power, aren’t you? You wanted to fatten me up, make me stronger, then kill me and absorb my abilities. That was your plan.”
“I mean, can you blame me?” he asked with a sly grin. “Look, in any corporation, the idea is to get promoted, right? Not to stay in the same position doing the same thing millennia after millennia.”
Kassidy’s fists clenched tighter. She shifted from side to side, doing her best to keep her rage in check. “So that night you found me, that was a set up?”
“In exchange for power and immortality, you instructed a boy to terrorize me? To beat me? To . . . rape me?”
Azra-El held up a hand.
“Whoa. I told him I needed you to be down and out. I needed you in a state near death.”
“But you didn’t care how he did it?”
“And all so you could have power? You ruined my life for power?” Kassidy asked.
“Ruined your life? Ruined your life! I saved you, you ungrateful little bitch! I gave you a chance to take vengeance. Vengeance on him, on all the Jeremy Reins of the world. On everyone who’d ever treated you wrong. I gave you a chance to be powerful for once in your miserable fucking life! And for that gift, you spat in my face and tried to kill me.”
“You orchestrated all of it. You took away any chance for me to be normal, to find my own way. You turned me into a monster, a killer, all in an effort to make you more powerful. You didn’t save me. It was all for you. I was happy to die. I was happy to fade away.”
Kassidy advanced toward Azra-El again. Her power building. Fists clenched.
“Then why did you say yes?”
Those six words stopped her in her tracks. She relaxed her fists.
“Cat got your tongue? Or are you afraid of the truth?”
“That deep within there’s a darkness, a hunger, a thirst for power, for reckoning. You needed what I gave you, and when it was offered, you willingly accepted.”
“You tricked me. With what I went through, what human being wouldn’t want that?”
Azra-El laughed again. His eyes dimmed, transitioning from red to their natural state. “Sweetheart, you’re not human. Do you think most humans walk around feeling the emotions of others? Sensing when death is near? Do you think they see Reapers and Wraiths as easily as they see stop signs and clouds in the sky? Even now you have abilities beyond the norm. You bested two Wraiths in the last few days. You bested me twenty years ago. No, my dear, whatever you are, it isn’t human. Far from it. Why do you think I chose you?”
Kassidy Simmons Book 2
Kassidy Simmons dispatched the Angel of Death, secured the Scythe of Cronus, and claimed her birthright. As she navigates her new role and tracks down rogue Wraiths still loyal to Azra-El, an unknown force is plotting to make an ancient prophecy foretelling the end of the world a reality.
Seven hundred years ago, Jaxon Burke awoke in a field outside of Rome, with no memory of his former life. Now a present-day killer for hire, the immortal assassin has taken countless lives, and, because of the recent shake-up in the natural order, the memories of those deaths are fueling his nightmares—nightmares that feel real. He longs for relief. He longs for peace.
He longs for death.
A recent brush with the hereafter brings him to the attention of Solomon Steele, a Wraith angered by Kassidy’s recent ascension. With the promise of death as his reward, Jaxon agrees to help Steele destroy Kassidy—but he is ill-prepared for the repercussions of this strange world he is now in.
As the truth of Jaxon’s life comes to light, Kassidy must find a way to pay for the sins of the past and stop this deadly duo from destroying her, taking the Scythe of Cronus, and ushering in the apocalypse.
“Who are you?” asked Kassidy.
The figure turned around and stared directly at Kassidy. Or, at least, seemed to. Kassidy couldn’t tell as the hood covered her entire face. It was not unlike the look of a fully cloaked Wraith. But whoever this was, she was no Wraith. Kassidy could sense at least that much.
“Answer me!” demanded Kassidy.
The answer she received was unexpected.
The figure crouched down then launched herself at Kassidy. They both went to the ground and rolled for several feet before coming to a stop. Kassidy rose immediately, turned, and set herself in a defensive posture anticipating another attack. Her attacker dematerialized into vapor then reappeared, standing in front of Kassidy. As she solidified, her right hand turned into a sickle.
“That’s not fucking possible,” said Kassidy.
In the Nexus, no Reaper or Wraith was capable of manifesting their sickle. Even Azra-El couldn’t do it. Kassidy, somehow, had managed to do it once as a Reaper after Azra-El had returned. In hindsight, she assumed it was because of her bloodline. Only gods could create and wield weapons there.
Is this…a god?
The dark figure lunged at Kassidy again and attacked with her right hand. Kassidy threw up both arms to block the downward blow and pushed her opponent back.
“I don’t know who you are, or what your beef is with me, but I’m probably not the one you want to be messing with,” said Kassidy.
The attacker moved forward with a combination of kicks and punches that Kassidy easily blocked and side stepped. Kassidy countered with her own and was able to connect with a quick double kick. The first kick to the gut was blocked, but the second to the head was too fast. It caught her assailant off guard, and Kassidy took advantage of the opportunity. With a roundhouse, she sent her assailant to the ground and pounced. The sudden shock caused the assailant’s hand to reform. Kassidy sent one punch to the face, then grabbed the woman, pulling her up and throwing off the hood. The attacker’s face shocked Kassidy—and her shock left an opening. One punch to the face sent her flying back, and she landed hard on the ground.
The punch hurt, and probably would have hurt more if not for the shock.
Kassidy looked up to find her attacker standing over her. The woman’s hair was long and black. Her face was gaunt, and her eyes a bright purple. Aside from those eyes, the woman was, in every way, a mirror image of Kassidy.
“Who…who are you?” asked Kassidy again.
“I think it’s pretty obvious,” said the woman.
“No. No the fuck it is not!”
The sarcastic grin was exactly the look Kassidy had given to thousands over the years. It spoke volumes, provided answers, and annoyed people—all at the same time.
“Like you, I was born here,” said the woman, gesturing to the area around them.
Kassidy looked around and only then noticed that they were in Potter’s Field. This was where she had first met Azra-El. The place she thought she’d died and become a Reaper. The place where she’d ended his existence with the Scythe of Cronus.
The place she’d become a god.
“Unlike you, though, I know who I am. I am at peace with who I am. I’m not some imposter flaunting a power I don’t understand with my daddy’s big knife in hand,” said the doppelgänger.
“I don’t…I don’t understand,” said Kassidy.
“And that is why you’ll never be as powerful as Thanatos.”
With that, Kassidy propelled herself from the ground to tackle her twin. She was met with empty air and ended up back on the ground. She quickly got to her hands and knees and searched for the woman.
“You’re not ready,” echoed the doppelgänger’s voice. “You’re not ready to face me. Until then, you will only fail.”
Confused, defeated, and spent, Kassidy sat on her haunches and stared into the Nexus, stuck on that word uttered seconds ago. It haunted her in every plane of existence. It had loomed in the back of her mind ever since she took Azra-El’s head. Now, it felt like a weapon against her.
Kassidy wanted to scream. A part of her wanted to cry. Normally, she felt safe in the Nexus. It was a source of comfort for her. Today, though, it was as comforting as the schoolyard bully she’d faced as a child. There was no peace today. No respite. Just a reminder of who she was. Not Krazy Kassie. Now, something worse.
**Catch the author live!**
Dennis will be at the San Diego Writers Festival on 10/8/22 in Coronado and will be selling and signing copies of both books. The event is free, you can get more information at San Diego Writer’s Festival | Words. Stories. Community. | October 8th (sandiegowritersfestival.com).
Dennis also has a virtual panel with the San Diego Central Library. You can register here: https://sandiego.librarymarket.com/event/virtual-event-meet-your-friendly-neighborhood-horror-author
Follow the tour HERE for special content and a giveaway!
Dennis K. Crosby grew up in Oak Park, IL and completed his undergraduate work at the University of Illinois-Chicago. With a degree in Criminal Justice, he spent six years working as a Private Investigator. His love of learning about, and better understanding people, led him to pursue a master’s degree in Forensic Psychology. During his studies, Dennis transitioned to social service, and since 2008, has worked primarily with men and women experiencing challenges with mental health and addiction. He continues to be a staunch advocate of mental health reform, social justice, and efforts to combat homelessness.
Dennis always had a passion for writing but did not pursue the finer points of the craft until later in life. After leaving Illinois and moving to San Diego, Dennis connected with the local writing community where he strengthened his talents and understanding of the art of writing and the business of publishing. To further supplement his writing skills, in 2018, Dennis completed an MFA program at National University.
Now, he is the award-winning author of the Amazon bestselling urban fantasy novel, Death’s Legacy, released November 2020, and its follow up Death’s Debt, released November 2021. The bourbon loving Chicago Cubs fan and deep-dish pizza connoisseur is continuing his work on his Kassidy Simmons series and writing weird and creepy short stories in his spare time. A self-proclaimed geek and lover of pop culture, Dennis still lives and writes in San Diego, CA.