For Love of the Dead
Click on image to enlarge.
by Hal Bodner
Category: Erotica/Gay-Lesbian Erotica/Horror
Description: Leave all your preconceptions about zombies on page one! Hal Bodner's For Love of the Dead brings an entirely new twist to the Risen Dead in a sultry, steaming hot novel of paranormal erotic romance that will rock your very soul in a story of lost hope, missed opportunities and sensual ecstasy. Hunky mortician Jake Marshall is seeking true love - and a funeral home is definitely the wrong place to look. Or is it..." Emotionally paralyzed by the untimely death of his first lover, Jake finally meets young Mario - the answer to Jake's prayers and the key to his finding love once again. But a specter of indescribable beauty and horrifying evil rises inexplicably from a mortuary table. Mark Hartner has the face of an angel, the body of a young god... and the soul of a demon from Hell. And Mark would like nothing more than to drag Jake back down to Hell with him. The fiend wastes no time in squandering his chance to redeem himself in an orgy of violence, sex and blood. And the only one who can stop him is Jake. How far will Jake go to thwart Mark's terrifying attacks on innocent young men? What sacrifices is the handsome mortician willing to make? Will Mario, the man with whom Jake can finally find happiness, be one of them? From an island paradise hiding terrible secrets to the hushed and sterile halls of a small mortuary, For Love of the Dead will take you on a darkly erotic journey like you've never known, bringing a shiver to your spine and a tingle to your body. Bodner combines heart-breaking emotional impact with the forbidden allure of dark sex in a truly riveting tale of lust and revenge. Fighting against almost insurmountable obstacles from beyond the grave, his characters struggle against the odds to reach their ultimate reward - a pure and perfect love. Find out how far one man will go, what risks he will take and what dangers he will face... For Love of the Dead.
eBook Publisher: Ravenous Romance/Ravenous Romance, 2009
eBookwise Release Date: December 2009
7 Reader Ratings:
Available eBook Formats: OEBFF Format (IMP) [308 KB]
Reading time: 198-278 min.
Author's Note For Love of the Dead
All books change as they're being written--characters lead the author into new places, events conspire to derail and re-rail the plot, themes morph as one explores them. For Love of the Dead is the one book I've written that changed the most from inception to finish.
Originally, it was supposed to be a story about second chances. What would happen, I wondered, if a truly despicable person were brought back from the dead with no memory of what he had done while alive and had to live with the consequences of his former actions? That, as you will see once you've delved into this book, was not at all how things turned out! Instead, in an odd way, it became a spiritual sequel to my earlier book, In Flesh and Stone.
In Flesh and Stone dealt with the various aspects of grief and the process of losing a loved one. For Love of the Dead deals with the aftermath. How does one get past a loss which feels like it has taken half of your heart and three-quarters of your soul along with it, and move on? That is the deeper theme of this book.
Closer to the surface, I was excited to begin exploring the zombie folklore. Yes, dear reader, For Love of the Dead very well may be the first erotic zombie romance novel. It is certainly the first male/male one.
When my horror buddies found out I was writing this book, they scoffed. There was no possible way, they assured me, of making decomposing corpses with body parts falling off into anything that remotely resembled erotica--unless the target audience was truly disturbed and got their jollies in some rather sick ways. I sat with several big names in Zombie-ology in Las Vegas not too long ago to debate the point. The nature of my advantage became immediately clear to me.
Most zombie "literature" is actually in cinema. Night of the Living Dead, Dawn of the Dead and other such films have never held any attraction for me and, thus, I never saw them. To me, the word "zombie" conjures up an entirely different connotation--one which is not only highly erotic but also has thematic ramifications that intrigue me as an author. In my mind's eye, I don't picture a zombie as a shambling, decrepit corpse mindlessly seeking out living human brains to devour. No, I see zombies quite differently...
I see Caribbean islands on hot, sultry nights where the spice from native cooking mingles with the scent of exotic tropical flowering trees. I hear the distant twangy jangle of sticks on tin drums and wild piping on handmade flutes, frenetic and joyous while at the same time alien and vaguely disturbing to the Western ear, backed by the rushing hum of the surf breaking on a vast moonlit beach of virgin sand. I smell the sweat of young, nubile bodies dancing to exhaustion in some primitive ritualistic dance to appease earthy and terrible gods. Through the fronds of palm trees, I catch glimpses of brightly colored skirts of the women and the glint of firelight off the bodies of the young men, dripping with perspiration.
Yes, it's a stereotype and very probably not too politically correct. But what a stereotype! Especially when I allow my fantasy to take me further...
There's a man--a zombie--not the decomposing corpse we're all to accustomed to, but rather a tall, beautiful young man with creamy cafe au lait skin, lithe and hard muscled from days of harvesting banana trees and hauling the heavy stalks to market slung over shoulders rippling with muscle. He's dead, of course, but he's been summoned from the grave at the height of his youth and virility. And--now, pay attention--though he may retain some of his living personality depending on what folklore I chose to access, he has...no soul!
Doesn't that raise some interesting prospects, hmm?
On the one hand, without a soul, is he truly human any more? Do the morals and mores which help us to get through our daily "civilized" life apply to him? I could ask a dozen more philosophical and ethical questions but they all end up at the same place. My zombie would be a ravishingly beautiful man and in the absence of his having a soul, I would get to do whatever I wanted with him!
No convenient headaches to cover the fact that he's "not in the mood." No worries about his having to find me attractive. No hesitancy if I decide I want to add a little unusual "spice" to our dalliances. We're talking sexual nirvana here! (Even better, in the "off" times, I could always instruct him to clean the bathroom or mow the lawn and he would have no choice but to obey without complaint.)
Of course, then the issue that troubles me rears its ugly head. What does having such a sex slave do to my morality? What dark things would emerge from my psyche were I given absolute power over such a beautiful man? How far would my indulgences take me?
The flip side is equally fascinating to me. Imagine yourself as the zombie and imagine the same lack of a soul but with a complete retention of your personality. Suddenly, accountability vanishes and you can do...anything you want! I suppose what one chooses to do would depend on one's strength of character, but in the reflection of such temptation, how far would some of us go when the possibility of suffering consequences for our actions had been removed?
These are the questions which stirred my interest and I hope I've managed to explore some of them in For Love of the Dead, alongside of the less fantastical issues of how one recovers from a great loss.
Besides the above, this book gave me the opportunity to expand my skills into writing a darker side of sex. Unless we are extraordinarily catholic in our sexual tastes, there are few of us who haven't dabbled, even if just by way of fantasy, in some aspect of S&M or kink. We may find it exciting, invigorating, delightfully forbidden or ego-bolstering. In the course of writing this book, I've also spoken to some members of the local alternative sex communities and find they use words like trust and power exchange and aftercare and, I realize, it's not all just whips and chains--there's an emotional component as well.
So, no, For Love of the Dead did not allow me to explore the darker sides of sex as much as I wanted to. I did, however, discover some things about what I call Dark Seduction, as you'll soon find out. But as I wrote, I began wondering about other things, things which I will undoubtedly delve into in later books. Why, for example, does a hot guy look even hotter when he's stretched out shirtless on a bondage rack than he does merely lying in the exact same position, more or less, on a bed unbound? (You don't believe me? Well, then, if you have even a scintilla of kink in your sexual mentality, I urge you to try it. You'll discover I'm right!) But these are themes for exploration in later novels. For now, I have this adorable young gymnast bound and gagged naked in my cellar and I really must get back to him!
October 2009 * * * * * * * *
Death is rarely completely silent.
Even in a mortuary, the dressing room of Death's mansion, sounds penetrate the thick paneled walls: muffled reminders of the activity of the living going about their business on nearby streets and sidewalks, unconsciously avoiding all thoughts of the polished steel tables with wide drains, the huge freezer, and the jars of acrid-smelling preservatives. Within the room itself, where the messiness of death is cleaned up and prettified, sounds abound.
The soft hum of computers, the clicks and pops of metal cooling, the whir of Freon coils as they stave off the rank stench of decomposition from decaying bodies so recently vibrant, the mild gurgle from the depths of the drains where water and other less wholesome fluids drained away, a steady slow drip from a sink where the handle had not been twisted quite hard enough--all of this contributes to a quiet background noise which is repressed by the living, ignored and called the Silence of Death.
At the Gentle Rest Funeral Home, the chamber of the dead contained more subtle sounds as well. Slumped at her desk with her mouth hanging open slightly, Lucille Graymare, the last surviving scion of almost a century of the family business, snored softly, providing a dull counterpoint to the occasional beep from her computer terminal. Her sleep was deep, and not entirely natural; a thin strand of saliva dangled from the corner of her mouth and puddled on the keyboard. A few strands of gunmetal hair had worked their way loose from the rubber band binding it into a tight bun and had fallen across her face, fluttering lazily with her heavy breath.
Splayed out in a nearby chair, arms flopping to his sides and with legs akimbo, Jake Marshall's mouth was closed, his head fallen backwards to expose the sinews of his throat and neck, his open shirt revealing a smattering of silky black hair covering the swell of his muscled chest. Beefy but slim-waisted, Jake looked more like a college athlete than he did a junior funeral director. Most people, when they got over their instinctive discomfort at discovering
what the boyishly handsome young man did for a living, still found the disparity between his looks and his employment at least mildly disconcerting.
As good-looking as Jake was, the other young man in the room could only be called breathtaking. An even six feet tall, his body was as if sculpted from marble. Pale and creamy skin accentuated every slash of toned muscle, every sharp ridge of his stomach, every striation of his chest and thighs, the bulges of his biceps. Hairless but for a curly thatch of caramel-colored blond hair at the groin framing a thick veined penis which, even though flaccid, was of impressive length. The glans at the end was round and mushroom-shaped, darker than the shaft and the balls were heavy and as big as golf balls, covered lightly with a dusting of the same caramel hair. His chest was virtually smooth, with only a thin circle of short blond strands of hair ringing the circumference of his plump nipples, the aureoles dark beige against the whiter skin.
When the man moved, it was with leonine confidence which surpassed the boundaries of blatant arrogance and, with every breath, he emitted a raw sensuality. His dark gray eyes gleamed with mischievous yet cruel carnality. This was a man who knew anyone who saw him would desire him; would crave to touch and taste his body which seemed crafted for one purpose alone; would long to drink his juices, to explore every crevice of muscle and plane of sleek flesh. His uncaring and superior-than-thou expression identified him as a man who used his attractiveness to his own selfish advantage, who leveraged other people's lust to achieve his own ends. Though his face could have modeled for a Renaissance artist's painting of an angel, there was something in the shape of his lips, the line of his jaw that bespoke a narcissism which bordered on psychopathic. Nature had designed him to be worshiped by ardent lovers and, it was clear, this man would demand nothing less than complete and total slavish devotion from his admirers.
But he was not moving now.
Mark Hartner lay on his back atop the stainless steel dissection table, entirely and gloriously nude. The sterile overhead lighting of the preparation room brought the details of his magnificent physique into stark relief but was as cold as the air caressing his skin, tickling it with chilly invisible fingers and raising not a single goose bump. His chest, which so many other beautiful young men had licked and stroked, nibbled, and often even bitten, did not move with breath. No shivers from the chill of the air conditioning shimmered across the columns of his thighs or the hard mounds of his upper arms. He did not shift his weight to make himself more comfortable and grant relief from the unforgiving metal of the table pressing against the flesh of his rippled shoulders and back and flattening the rock solid globes of his butt.
For Mark was quite, quite dead.
Life had been ripped from this godlike specimen of perfect manhood only a few weeks shy of his thirtieth birthday. Esthetically, his death was a great loss; Mark was a peacock to be admired and lusted after, his physical perfection a work of art reflecting the paragon of manhood. As for Mark himself and the kind of person he had been, no one--except for those beautiful youths whom he had not yet fucked and discarded, and some misguided few whom he already had fucked but who foolishly wanted to repeat the experience--no one would mourn.
His family had long ago abandoned him in disgust; if they ever learned he had died, they would not have cared. Co-workers barely gave his loss a thought, unless it was from relief they would not have to see him again, nor have to guard their words and watch their backs against his ruthless machinations and jockeying for advantage. As for his supposed friends, in truth they could more aptly be called cronies. While some might regret no longer being able to be seen publicly in his company, to be the envy of less fortunate men for being the groupies of a youth of Mark's spectacular beauty, they would merely shrug off his absence and, shallowly, would move on to attach themselves to a new gym-toned icon.
Artistically, it was a shame Mark's beauty had been marred by the autopsy. His body, once so pristine, his skin so pampered it was like a fine silk sheath over rippled muscles and taut sinew, had been violated by keenly edged scalpels and the whirring blades of serrated saws. Undoubtedly though, there were many men who, had they been given the opportunity, would have gladly wielded the cutting tools on Mark's living body. Loathing was too gentle a word to describe the emotions Mark had universally inspired in others.
A jagged rent bisected him from sternum to belly, the tattered pinkish edges of skin sloppily sewn together with coarse, tarry thread. Another wound ran across his chest in a line just below the nipples, looking equally vicious and as haphazardly repaired. The slash at his hairline was almost hidden by his tousled hair--almost, but not quite. Bits of fluid still seeped from it, trickling down the side of his face and neck to pool on the steel table.
His heart, so stony in affection, had been removed, carefully weighed and thrust back into his chest. Pieces of his lungs, once providing him with breath to laugh at the misfortunes of others and to support his derisive words and scornful and sarcastic comments, had been sectioned, stained, and placed on glass slides to be examined later. Some of his blood, which had pumped through veins where never the proverbial milk of human kindness flowed, now filled several test tubes in the medical examiner's lab at Wrightwood County Hospital two miles away; the rest congealed in his cold body. Mark's physical secrets were slowly being revealed to the doctors who had so casually sliced him open, but the secrets of his soul would remain a mystery to the examiners--not that they were interested in them anyway.
The mutter and murmur of the preparation room continued for long moments, punctuated by the occasional snuffle or snort from Lucy Graymare and, once or twice, when Jake coughed lightly through his stupor. There was a soft whoosh from the entrance when the baffled door was pushed open, sucking free of the frame. Someone new entered.
He was tall, terribly tall, several inches above six feet with broad shoulders that would have been considered bony if not sheathed with the muscled evidence of a man no stranger to physical labor. His torso was long and lean, his stomach sculpted like armor, his chest flat and muscled like an athlete's--a runner or decathlete perhaps. The arms were sinewed and corded with whippet strands of muscle, and the tendons of his thighs rippling like adolescent pythons with every step.
His skin was tightly drawn against his frame, a deep rich mahogany with overcasts of a golden hue, not a pure African black but rather a mixture from island stock or South American ancestors. Each movement was a study in feral grace, reminiscent of some jungle cat or forest predator, his steps light on the balls of his feet and silent--more silent than any the funeral home had ever known from a living man. Not a strand of hair could be seen to interrupt the rich hues of his flesh; even his armpits were smooth and clean and his skull had been shaved smooth.
It was as if he had been painstakingly carved from a solid block of exotic dark wood, every detail lovingly rendered. When he ceased movement, his coloring was such that the skin tones smoothed out completely, without any mottling or variance to indicate he was a living being rather than a mere statue. Even his nipples, tiny and plump like currants, could barely be distinguished as they emerged from his chest only infinitesimally darker than the rest of his flesh.
He was nude like some primitive warrior, except for a tiny breech cloth wound tightly about his waist, and the paint on his face. Only a fluttering twitch of the large muscle in one of his tautly corded thighs betrayed the fact that he was not a wooden effigy as he stood staring down at the nude young man on the table and ignoring the two other people lost in slumber. His eyes, the pupils so dark brown they appeared black under the fluorescent lights, were huge and filled with an ineffable sorrow, moist with unshed tears. But they contained something else as well; hatred burned there, bubbling and seething like a vile brew in a witch's cauldron.
The newcomer's face looked like it might be handsome, but it was hard to tell. His brow bore two slashes of white paint, one atop the other, and his eye sockets were ringed with scarlet redder than Mark's blood in the test tubes nearby. An imperfectly drawn forest green triangle graced each cheek and his full, lush lips were outlined by smears of cobalt blue. There was a clownish quality to the makeup to be sure, but one look at the man's expression, at the fury which emanated from his eyes in palpable waves, and any thoughts of laughter would be quelled.
His name was Tyler Deauxfines. And he had come to take his revenge.
Tyler's hands reached out as if to caress Mark's dead body, but stopped short, hovering in the air a mere inch above the cold flesh of the ravaged chest. A groan echoed from the walls, a sound of indescribable pain and loss, deep and mournful, welling from the very pit of the tall man's soul. Slowly he began to move his palms, first circling the corpse's chest as if massaging it and moving on to vast sweeping motions encompassing the entire torso. As his movements continued, he began to chant, muttering under his breath. It would have seemed absentminded or similar to the quiet ravings of an insane street person, the words jumbled and garbled into incomprehensibility, had the sound not been replete with such a dire and intense purpose.
One by one, the overhead lights flickered and died; even the glow from the computer screens and instrument panels seemed muted. A shadowy dimness filled the room as if a dark cloud had descended, hungry for light, and had slurped it up. The darker the preparation room became, the louder grew the chanting, taking on a singsong quality of prayer and supplication to some terrifying god of shadows and dark forbidden places. Now, actual words were distinguishable, but they were in some language lost in time, untranslatable and holding a strange and terrifying meaning. Had Lucy and Jake been awake to hear them, they would have clapped their hands over their ears and shrieked in agony.
The sound rose in crescendo until Tyler spat forth the last word and held it in a long wavering cry, a desperate plea like the sound a small animal makes with its last breath as a predator crushes the life from it. On and on in a single harsh note, the word dragged out until, finally, with a gasp as the final molecules of air left his lungs, the painted man fell silent.
He unhitched a small leather pouch from where it hung from the loincloth and removed a bottle, not a large one but nonetheless looking too big to have fit into such a tiny bag. An oily fluid sloshed within the brown glass and, when the priest uncapped it and poured some into his palms, rubbing them together to spread it, the liquid glowed an unhealthy and bilious green.
Now he placed his hands directly upon the magnificent dead flesh, massaging the oil into the swell of the chest, covering the plates of armored stomach, pouring it directly from the bottle and rubbing it onto the striated thighs. Soon Mark's body was covered with an oily sheen, glowing with an inner light and giving him some semblance of life but for the vicious marks of the knives still to be seen on his torso.
When only the young man's groin remained un-anointed, the first bottle was set aside and a second one, even larger than the first, miraculously emerged from the tiny pouch. The fluid trapped by the clear glass seethed and roiled a fiery red, with little bits of darker matter swirling within it.
Tyler untied the breechcloth and allowed it to drop to the floor. His dick sprang from concealment--a gloriously noble shaft of noble purpose, the skin of his groin around it shaved as smooth as the top of his head, the absence of hair giving the illusion of even greater size. Thick as a can of soda it was, much too wide to be in pleasing proportion to the rest of his athletically lithe frame. And its length was far too long to have been easily hidden without substantial discomfort within the small bit of cloth that had been wrapped around the dark man's waist. The head was huge, so big as to border on deformity, the glans so much darker than the rest of the man's skin that one's eye would be immediately drawn to it. It sprang forth, fully erect and throbbing. Though there was no other sign of his arousal other than the hardness of his penis, no expression on his face of sexual anticipation, no sign by heightened breath or clenched muscle of any eroticism, a thick droplet of milky sperm nevertheless welled from the end to break free and dangle from a strand of milky pre-come for an instant before it dripped to the floor.
With a grimace, teeth clenched to prepare himself, Tyler tilted the bottle to pour a stream of scarlet directly upon his stiffened organ. He hissed with pain; his eyes bulged and his chest muscles stood out with the effort of biting back a scream of agony as the fluid made contact with the tender skin of his dick. Staunchly, he gripped his staff with one hand, tears leaking from his eyes as he coated his proudly straining manhood with a thick film of oil. When finished, he staggered forward and dumped a liberal portion of the scalding fluid onto Mark's flaccid cock, spreading it to cover the shaft and massaging it down onto the young man's heavy balls.
When satisfied with the results, he stepped back, jaw still set against the agony in his own groin and, without further preamble, he seized the corpse by the shoulders and flipped its unresisting bulk over so that it lay face down. He paused to look at the youth's magnificent physique from the rear. Though stark hatred coursed through his body in companion to the waves of pain, Tyler could not help being taken aback by the unbelievable beauty of Mark Hartner's body. Hartner had indeed been blessed; his ass was nothing less than breathtaking. Hard and firm, a perfect bubble butt even in death, it had evidently been designed by the gods for one purpose: to be plowed by an ardent lover.
But Tyler wanted nothing more than to take a hot poker and plunge it between those creamy and enticing cheeks, to watch the handsome arrogant face twist with agony as his innermost parts were fried by the scalding iron. Sadly, Tyler's timing had been off and he had missed his chance to enact revenge. If he was lucky, if he'd made no errors in the ceremony or in concocting the potions, if the gods had heard his prayers and deemed his faith strong enough, perhaps there was still time to remedy the omission.
He admired the rippling muscles across his adversary's shoulders, the tight columns framing either side of the backbone, the splay of the trapezoids flaring from broad shoulders down to the slim waist. Tyler knew, had such painfully stunning beauty been granted to another man--to a different man, he would be unable to resist doing what he was about to do. But since the magnificent physique belonged to Mark Hartner, Tyler would take no joy in his actions, no satisfaction in his task.
No, his triumphs would have to wait for later.
Tyler climbed upon the table, positioning himself so his throbbing organ was poised at the crack of Mark's ass. He poured the last vestiges of the vile fluid onto the dead man's asshole and quickly massaged it in. Uttering another prayer to the gods, this one silent, that he would be able to perform what was prescribed without fear or hesitation, he thrust his dick between the cold cheeks. Deeper and deeper he plunged, feeling nothing but undying hatred as he went through the motions of making love, swallowing convulsively to keep himself from vomiting, hoping he could finish quickly. With a grunt, he came, purely from the physical action of friction rather than from any true arousal.
The reaction from Mark, though not unexpected, startled him nonetheless.
There was a sharp intake of breath, a gasp as if Hartner had just been saved from drowning and sought to gulp down life-sustaining air. His perfectly formed limbs twitched and thrashed spasmodically in a weird parody of passion. Tyler felt the corpse's flesh grow warm as he pulled out. No, not warm--positively hot, as if Mark had been suddenly stricken with a high fever.
The darkness in the room seemed to condense upon itself and take on a semblance of physical form. Mark gasped for breath a second time; the congealed light gathered into a long spear of plasma and, when his mouth gaped, streamed inside, filling his throat and working its way down into his chest. Mark screamed, the howl of a damned soul in torment and, at the sound and for the first time since he'd entered the funeral home, Tyler smiled.
Mark's entire body shuddered, as if plagued by the sharpened pitchforks of a thousand devils. He flipped over onto his back, his eyes wide and terrified, his muscles tightening as unknown currents of suffering ripped through him. His palms slapped at the metal table, his heels drummed against it. As the cloud of darkness permeated every muscle and bone and tissue, his back arched and his face screwed into a rictus of pain.
The torn skin of his chest and belly knitted together, and the seam cut into his scalp by the doctor's saw closed and smoothed over. One by one, the sutures worked their way to the surface of Mark's flesh and popped out, tumbling from his writhing torso onto the table or to the floor. In a very short time, all indications of the autopsy were gone but for a thin pink line, almost invisible against the newly ruddy flesh. A few more moments, and even those scant traces had vanished.
Mark Hartner had been restored to his previous physical perfection. Yet his pain continued and his body still writhed in agony. Sweat broke out on his skin, beaded at first, then pouring from him in rivulets and eventually streams. His muscles contracted and released with bone-breaking force; every nerve in his body had to be aflame.
As much as he longed to continue enjoying his enemy's torment, Tyler knew his job was finished and the results were everything he had hoped they would be. He should leave. Now. He had given himself plenty of time for revenge.
Quickly, he snatched up the empty bottles and crammed them into the sack. He retrieved the loincloth and used it to hastily wipe the paint from his face. Still nude, he moved towards the door, reluctant to leave and abandon his delight in watching the other man suffer but unwilling to remain and risk doing something to reverse the miracle of revival he had wrought.
A pair of blue jeans, a simple white T-shirt, and a pair of tattered sandals awaited him on a chair just outside in the hallway. Once he donned them, he would recite the simple incantation that would begin to cancel the stupor he'd cast over the elderly mortician and her hunky assistant. A disposable lighter in his pocket would efficiently destroy the strands of hair he'd managed to steal from the two of them and finish dispersing the spell.
Obtaining the hair had been rough doing, and had taken more stealth and planning than he'd known he'd possessed. But in comparison to the trials he'd had to endure to accurately identify Jake Marshall as the proper tool for his revenge, getting the hair had been child's play. Tyler's gods could be both demanding and cruel, and they often seemed to have no understanding--and even less sympathy--for the human limitations of their acolytes. They had no compunction about requiring sacrifices of Tyler along the way, even though he was proceeding along a path designed to accrue to their benefit in the end. Their help almost always came with a price. Tyler bore the scars and not all of them were physical ones.
He shuddered at the memory of some of the challenges he'd overcome during the past several weeks and banished the lingering discomfort by imagining Jake and the older woman's reaction to what they were about to face. Of course, they would be baffled by the resurrection, but undoubtedly they would either find some rationalization for the miraculous recovery or, more probably, would simply be unable to process it and end up by convincing themselves they'd narrowly avoided making a horrible mistake.
As for Tyler, well, once Mark was up and around, he would bide his time. Spells such as he had cast were never to be undertaken lightly. His gods would require a heavy penalty for screwing with Nature, but Tyler would pay it gladly. He had plans for Mark Hartner--terrible plans.
And now those plans could be carried out at Tyler's leisure.