By Matt Barone

After a good ten minutes of preparation, Emily was ready. Rose petals adorned her bedroom's sky-blue carpet, forming a long path that led from the door to her mattress, which was covered in an all-black bedspread. Just how Greg liked it.

Three long weeks of waiting had brought her to this moment. With past boyfriends, she'd held off on sex for upwards of two months, but things with Greg were different. Since the moment she first met him while visiting her mother's grave plot at the Fair Lawn Cemetery, their connection was entirely foreign to her, and endlessly exciting. Perhaps it was how Greg, who went by the name Grim at the time, sweet-talked her with the revelation that he'd initially appeared inside Fair Lawn's gates to follow her into her Toyota Camry, quietly cause the vehicle to malfunction, and send her crashing into a guardrail, but then followed that startling story up with how much more beautiful she is in person than from the photo of her that's front-and-center in the Reaper's Guide to Mankind.

Normally, Emily would have reacted like any other sane woman and fled in horror, but Grim quickly calmed her nerves when he'd said, softly, "Please, Ms. Duncan, call me Greg. I've always hated the name Grim." That completely set her at ease.

She hoped to exude an equally soothing demeanor once she invited Greg into her bedroom. She wore a flowing silk negligee. Hopefully she'd finally discover what was beneath that dark cloak.

"Come on in, baby," she said. "I'm ready."

The area directly in front of the door clouded up in smoke. Greg, his face once again hidden by darkness and his body draped in the long black garment, slowly formed in the mist. Emily loved how he did that. Any man can walk through a door, but using smoke? That's something special. 

"Ms. Duncan," Greg said, "I would like to join you in bed, but, for the last time, I'm simply unable to consummate this union."

Emily rolled her eyes. "You keep saying that, but I don't get it. We've spent every night together for the last two weeks, talking but never any touching. There's no reason to be self-conscious with me. I know you're Death personified, right? And I know that going around and killing people hasn't given you much time to, well, date. Or have sex. But I'd like to be your first. Because, well, there's something I haven't told you yet."

Greg put the scythe on the ground and floated closer to the bed, without actually making contact. "That you're a virgin, Ms. Duncan? I already know this. I'm Death, remember? I know everything about you."

"Damn. I keep forgetting that. Then you should know how badly I want you to be my first, right? Maybe this will help." Slowly pulling the comforter down with his left hand, Emily used her right one to move the lace strap on her right shoulder toward her elbow. "Like what you see?"

"More than you'll ever know, Ms. Duncan." The sides of Greg's cloak lifted in the air, as if underneath each of his hands were clenched. "That is it. I must show you what I mean. Please call your pet feline into this room." 

Emily, hoping her obedience would breed positive results, yelled for Boomer. As always, Boomer strolled in. A bony, skeletal hand reached out from the cloak's left appendage. The longest finger, the middle finger, gently touched Boomer's head, causing the cat to keel over, its tongue sticking out of its mouth. "You see, Ms. Duncan, anything I touch dies."

Emily's face froze, her jaw stuck gaping. The look of horror wasn't lost on Greg. "But, Ms. Duncan, I assure you that I do find you to be the most beautiful female I have ever seen."

As Greg spoke, Emily noticed the bulging region near the lower section of his cloak. Wiping away tears shed for poor Boomer, she said, "Well, look at that."

To which Greg replied, "What? I'm Death, not dead."