All his life, Reyes Alexander Farrow has suffered the torments of the damned. Only one thing has given him hope: the woman who radiates a light that no mortals can see; a light that only the departed can see...
Told from his point of view, BRIGHTER THAN THE SUN chronicles the first time Reyes ever encountered Charley, and how their relationship has been the one thing that can either save him or doom him.
About the Author
Winner of the 2009 Golden Heart® for Best Paranormal Romance for her manuscript FIRST GRAVE ON THE RIGHT, Darynda can't remember a time when she wasn't putting pen to paper. DARYNDA JONES lives in the Land of Enchantment, also known as New Mexico, with her husband of more than 25 years and two beautiful sons, aka the Mighty, Mighty Jones Boys.
Read an Excerpt
Brighter than the Sun
By Darynda Jones
St. Martin's PressCopyright © 2015 Darynda Jones
All rights reserved.
I'm curled in a corner of the basement, shivering like a little bitch and licking my wounds from the latest encounter, when I hear my sister crying at the door. I try to assure her I'm okay, but the edges of my vision darken and a beckoning light appears in the distance. I collapse and drift toward it. Weightless. Ethereal.
I always drift toward it.
Not literally. I've been locked in the basement by a psychopath. I don't get out much. But mentally.
You should probably know that even though I'm twelve, the circumstances of my existence are not normal. The things that happen to me are not normal. The things in my head are not normal. And the light that I'm drifting toward, the warmth I feel from it, the ... forgiveness for all my abnormalities, is as abnormal as I am.
I'm three the first time I see it, and in a very similar state. I follow it. I close my eyes, take a deep breath, and drift toward the white-hot pinprick of light burning the back of my eyes. The closer I get, the brighter it becomes until, just when I think I'll never see again ...
... she appears.
This tiny being peeking out from between a lady's legs. I don't know what to think at first, besides I shouldn't be looking between a lady's legs. But she is dying, the lady, so I figure it's okay. I wouldn't look at her bad anyway. My head doesn't always work right, but even at three, it knows not to look at a lady bad.
Anyway, she's shaking. The lady. Not shivers like if she's cold, but deep shakes like if something's wrong. Her head is thrown back and her body is stiff. The nurses hold her down as a doctor pulls at the light. At the thing. The tiny being that was in the lady's belly, and suddenly it all makes sense.
Not the light, but that whole "Where do babies come from?" thing.
It's disturbing, but not so disturbing as the lady. One of the reasons my head doesn't work right is because I feel what others feel. Could ever since I was a kid. A littler kid. I can feel other people when they're mad or pissed or in pain. That's how I know when to stay away from Earl. When to run and hide. It doesn't always work, but it's damned sure worth a shot.
But right now, I feel the lady's pain and it hurts and I almost leave if not for the light. I try to catch my breath once more. To be near it. Near her. Just a little longer.
She comes out in a whoosh of baby and liquid and a light so bright, I can hardly see — and I'm mesmerized. Then the pain stops and I can breathe normally again. The lady is still. A solid, constant note sounds in the room, and people gather around her and the baby. Everyone except the man holding the lady's hand. He is doubled over. His shoulders shake, and I realize the people around the baby — most of them, anyway — are dead. They're people from the past come to see the light. Ghosts. Dead.
Their faces are full of wonder, but they are blocking my view, so I push them aside and drift closer. She is wailing like babies do. Then she sees the lady. Her mother. The woman standing beside the doctor, looking down at her. I'd never seen anything like the emotion in the mom's expression, and I think how it must be love, because it's soft and caring and tender.
I'm glad for the baby and sad at the same time. The mother touches her face. The baby's. Tells her to be strong. Stronger than she was. Then she kisses the man's bowed head, and I think about how I didn't know ghosts could cry. Then she does the impossible: She steps into the baby's light and is gone.
I watch as the baby goes still and then gasps and then starts wailing again, and I wonder if she's crying for her mother. The doctor cuts a cord that goes to her belly button, but it doesn't hurt her. I'd have felt it.
Another doctor is trying to bring the mother back to life. He works on the lady with a bunch of nurses. They don't know she is already gone. Already on the other side. There is no coming back from that.
This is the second time I see somebody die. The first was a man. It happened before I was tall enough to piss in a toilet. The man got in a fight with Sir. Earl used to make me call him Sir. He still tries. He fails.
I don't know what the fight was about, but when he went to heaven, a light opened up around him and he disappeared. The baby is like that light, and I wonder if she swallowed it. I'm three at the time, remember. I wonder about a lot of strange shit. Either way, she's special. I know that beyond a shadow of a doubt.
She stops crying and looks at me — right at me — her eyes wide and curious. They sparkle like a diamond ring and I can see things in them. Stars and ribbons of light. Shimmering gold rivers and purple trees. And I realize she is from there. That place I'm seeing. She was sent here, and she's showing me her galaxy. Her universe. And I don't know how, but I know what she is. The seeker. The one who searches for lost souls.
A name pops into my head. It's in another language. Aramaic, maybe. It's supposed to be something like D'AaeAsh. No, that's not quite right. D'MaAeSH? No. There's more to it. Either way, I can hear it in my head. I just can't pronounce it, so when I tell her what she is, it comes out "Dutch." I know a lot of words I can't pronounce at that age in a lot of languages. Earl gets mad when I talk about it. He calls me a liar, but I'm not.
Doesn't matter anyway. Dutch will work for now.
She seems to like it, but I feel like she's scared when she looks at me. Just a little, so I hide. At first, I imagine a cape like Superman's but decide against it. Too bright. Too flashy. Instead, I imagine a cloak like the knight in my comic book wears. It's thick and black with a hood. As I think, it appears around me like a big, black sea and settles around my shoulders. That's the great thing about daydreams.
The doctor "calls it" and checks the clock. The nurses clean the girl — Dutch — and take her to a room with other babies, and she stays there for three days. The man comes and goes. He doesn't stay long. But that's okay. We keep vigil. Me and the ghosts.
She likes them. I can feel it. Even the one with a big hole on the side of his head. But when I get close, she winces, so I call forth the cloak and watch her from a corner of the ceiling. I watch until the man comes to take her home.
His sadness hurts my chest and makes it hard to breathe. He whispers into her ear. Something about just the three of them now, and I remember that the man has another daughter. He was telling a nurse as he looked down at Dutch. As he held her for the first time. As he balanced a bottle in his big hands. As he cried and cried and cried.
I remember wondering why nobody ever told him it's not okay for boys to cry.
Then she is gone, taken to be with her family. What's left of it. And I wake up from the dream. The dream about a girl made of pure light. You'd think that since it was a daydream and not a night one, I could've controlled what happened. I should have tried harder. If I'd thought about it, I would've made the lady live and be with her little girl. If I'd thought about it.CHAPTER 2
When I wake up, I'm not in the basement anymore. Groggy and disoriented, I don't recognize my surroundings. It takes me a minute to realize I'm in a hospital. A hospital. I stay still when a nurse comes in. Checks my IV. Tells me I had a seizure.
Okay. That's all fine and dandy, but I always have seizures. I've had them since I was three. Since I first saw Dutch's light. Why am I in a hospital? I've never been to a hospital. I've never even been to a doctor. I'm in a blue gown and my arms are taped up. One has an IV in it. The other has a bandage that runs from elbow to wrist.
Earl is sitting beside me. His cheap cologne hovers in the air around me like teargas. Inside, he is furious. I can feel it like red-hot needles on my skin. Outside, he's all smiles. A smile on his face is a scary thing. He flirts with the nurse. She laughs and ducks her head. He pats my arm with his sandpaper hands and calls me Alexander. Then he gives my arm a tight squeeze as if I don't know what the fuck "Alexander" means.
Eyes down. Mouth shut.
My first thought is for my sister, Kim. She's not my real sister but definitely the next best thing. She's all I have, and Earl knows it.
"You took quite a spill," the nurse says.
I don't say anything. I just nod.
"I'm Gillian." She checks my bandages. "Goodness." She pulls back in surprise. "Almost healed. How on earth is that —?" She stops and fixes her expression. "That's amazing. I bet you'll be able to go home soon."
I nod again and wince at the longing she feels for me. She wants a kid. A boy just like me. Sweet. Polite. Respectful. She has no idea what I am. How filthy I am. How bad. I feel sorry for her.
"You ready to go home, sport?" Earl asks me.
He ruffles my hair. My fucking hair like I'm a two-year-old. Heat wells inside me. Burns my skin. I bite down and nod like the good little bitch I am. His words. Little bitch. I just happen to agree with them.
Gillian laughs. Her eyes sparkle when she looks at me. I turn away. She needs to save that for someone a little more deserving.
"It could be a few more days, unfortunately," she says. "We still don't know what's causing those seizures. But I bet you'll be out of here in no time."
Earl's anger peaks to a new high.
"You have some interesting markings on you," she says. She wants to look. To see them again. To examine them more closely.
I don't encourage her. Earl doesn't like it when people notice them. My birthmarks. The curves and lines that cover much of my shoulders and back. They were really light when I was a kid. Barely noticeable. They're getting darker, though, and the shapes have started showing up in my dreams. Like they mean something. Like they lead somewhere. Probably into darkness.
Earl nods. "Been there since he was born," he says, like he would know.
"Well, I'll let the doctor know he's awake." Her smile is innocent like sunlight on a flower.
A man comes in, a custodian, as she writes on the chart. He glances at her, grabs the trash, wipes down the counters in the bathroom, and glances again. I look at him hard. Then I look back at Gillian. Then back at him.
His name is Donald. He has oily brown hair and thick glasses, and he is going to stab her to death in a few weeks. He wants her to go out with him. She's nice. Nobody is nice to him. But when she tells him she only wants to be friends, he's furious. Calls her a tease. Calls her a slut. He's waited so long for her. Hoped for so long. If he can't have her, no one will.
I close my eyes. Try unsuccessfully to block out the scene that unfolds inside my head. A scene I can envision only because he is going to hell as a result of it, and I can see the thing that brands people for hell. That first horrible act they commit that sets their fate. I know the names of everyone going to hell, and I know if a person is going there the minute we meet, whether the person has committed the sin yet or not.
Hell is not a good place. I've seen that in my dreams, too. In my nightmares. Most of them are about Earl. About his hands and his nails and his teeth. But sometimes I dream about hell. About the fire and the agony and the soldiers. The devil's army. I see them from on high as they march. As they battle. I command them as though I've done it for centuries, and that just can't be good. There's only one way I can see such things. I'm bad. I'm evil, because only an evil person would know things about hell.
I want to tell Gillian about Donald, but I can't. Not with Earl right there. She wouldn't believe me anyway.
Earl's anger rises when the nurse tells him it will be a few more days, and I know I'm in even more trouble. But that's okay. I can still feel the light. It permeates the crust. The outer shell. Sinks deep inside me. He can't take that away. I want to dream about her some more, but the minute the nurse leaves, Earl rips out the IV, throws my clothes at me, and tells me to get dressed. Quietly. Or I know what will happen.
Damn straight, I do.CHAPTER 3
I don't see the light for a while after that. I'm in the basement for days and everything is blurry. Kim stands guard. I can hear her moving around behind the door.
My throat hurts because Earl choked me. He doesn't normally do that. Goes to show how pissed he was. Not even at me. He's mad because the girl he was seeing found me in the basement. That's how I ended up in the hospital in the first place. Earl had gone out for beer and she went to the basement, looking for a washer to do his laundry. She was going to surprise him. Kim must have been in the shower. She would've explained that I was okay. But since I was unconscious, she thought I fell, so she called 911 before Earl got home. He had to go along with it, I guess, but he got angrier than I've ever seen him.
Sometimes I wonder why he has girlfriends. He doesn't like them. He pretends to. Tells them what they want to hear. They never last long, though. He gets tired of them pretty quick. This last one made a huge mistake. I'll never see her again, and I liked her. She didn't smoke and she smelled like peppermint and made me spaghetti.
I lie back against the concrete and think of Dutch. Of the girl made of light. Of the people in her life who didn't work out quite as one would expect.
When she is about a year old, her dad brings home a girlfriend. I don't like her. She is too much like Earl. She's fond of the dad well enough, and Dutch's sister, but there is something strange about the way she looks at Dutch. She oohs and ahhs when the dad is around, but when she is alone with Dutch, something isn't right. I feel contempt come off her. Jealousy. Why would a lady be jealous of a baby?
I don't understand people. They smile when they are mad. They hug people they hate. They steal from people they genuinely love. And they are jealous of babies.
Dutch's eyes sparkle and her light is brighter than ever. A dead lady is pretending to eat her toes and Dutch laughs and laughs. Her dad laughs, too, but it makes the lady angry. That's when I know for sure what the woman is. A problem.CHAPTER 4
I've died a hundred deaths, but I'm alive. Because of her. Because of her light. Because of her smile. Every time I die, I float toward her, and I am saved. I am healed. Her light soaks into me. Oozes inside me. Fixes all the broken parts, accomplishing something all the king's horses and all the king's men could never have done.
Sometimes I'm grateful. Sometimes I'm not, because I know it will happen again and again, and I figure there comes a time when it needs to end. When I just need to die and stay dead. But she saves me whether I want to be saved or not.
And now she's doing it again. I am at her house, drifting toward her light. She brushes past me in the hall and turns around real fast, like I've startled her. She's wearing a summer dress and sandals, and her hair has been pulled up into a ponytail.
I stay back. I always cover myself in the hooded cloak and try to stay back, but she stands there with her gold eyes wide and her pretty mouth open. She's nine going on thirty. Full of sass and spark and secrets. She shimmers with life. She is the exact opposite of me and I've grown to understand the "opposites attract" thing.
Her lips are pink and full and her cheeks warm. If she weren't so scared of me, I'd try to steal a kiss. But she's terrified, and that just seems wrong. Like something Earl would do. I shudder at the thought.
Then the problem lady, aka her stepmom, stomps into the hall and grabs her arm. They are going to be late and she is in a lot of trouble, little lady. Why is she wearing that dress? She told her not to wear that dress. It's too chilly. She'll just have to freeze. Maybe she'll learn a lesson.
Anger bubbles up inside me, and Dutch's eyes grow wider and wider. The lady looks at me, too, but she all she can see is the wall at my back. Nobody but Dutch can see me in these dreams.
Excerpted from Brighter than the Sun by Darynda Jones. Copyright © 2015 Darynda Jones. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
One thing to keep in mind is this is a book from Reyes point of view. No catchy chapter starters, no funny lines, and no crazy death defiling antics. Well he does defy death often but regardless this book has a much deeper, darker undertone than the series does. If you’ve read the past Charley Davidson books you’ll understand that Reyes past is horrific and he’s not the rainbows and sunshine half of their relationship. So prepare yourselves, this is the mind of Reyes, from the beginning, it’s not all happy thoughts. My opinion? I loved it. Reyes has always been one of those characters that I want more of. More info, more time, more anything. Plus we have only had glimpses into his mind before so having a whole novella from just his POV was great. I also enjoyed the fact that Darynda didn’t try to make it light or funny, Reyes is a dark character with a dark past, his book shouldn’t be light. The story itself was great, if you follow the series a lot if it is information you already have, but seeing it through his eyes makes it that much more impactful. Reyes is still the sexy, broken, stubborn character he’s always been, this just makes me love him more. Read it! But if you are not familiar with the series start with First Grave on the Right, it will make you understand him even better.
Reviewed by Angela and posted at Under the Covers Book Blog Brighter than the Sun is in Reyes’ POV from the very beginning focusing on certain highlights of his life. His narrative story goes right along with the first few books of this series. I’ll have to warn you now, this is not a typical Charley Davidson book that is full of sarcasm, LOL moments, and mystery. BTTS is quite the opposite. It’s very dark and heartbreaking. utc-top-pick This novella tells us Reyes’ Story. It’s been known that Reyes is a tortured hero. Here we see it all down to the ugliest, saddest and tortured detail. It was all so heartbreaking; his experience with Earl Walker and how he broke Reyes physically and emotionally. The story touches on his love for his sister, his only friend and how they all survived the hardships together. Most importantly, he tells his story on how his relationship with Charley Davidson came to be and how her bright light saved him time and time again. Included is a very intimate sexy scene sure to make Reyes’ fans want more. BTTS is my top pick novella for the year. Despite its short length, it had everything I expected and more. Reyes’ tortured past floored me. I cried for him and relieved he had Charley’s light to help him survive it all. Darynda gave her fans the pleasure of getting to know Reyes on a deeper level. She has outdone herself with this novella. If you haven’t read this series, then you’re missing out. =)
Reyes story was a sad one, but if you read all the books to this fabulous series you already knew this. I like how a lot of the gaps in his life were filled in this book. I'm glad not everything was described of his abuse he endured daily. I can't wait for the ninth nook to come out. Have to wait until next year. Sigh! I'm sure Darynda will make it worth our wait. Thanks again Darynda I know this one was a tough one to write. Another great read!
Explains so much about Reyes and brings it all together.
I have read all twelve books in the Charley Davidson series. They were AWESOME!!! I don't know if there is a thirteenth book in the works but we can only hope so!!
Really like this author. This however, wasn't worth reading.
Funny and sexy
Wonderful opportunity to learn Reyes' back story. Kept true to the series and filled in some crucial gaps. Thank you, Darynda!
Love the Charley Davidson series, Darynda Jones is up there with my favorite authors. Like Janet Evanovitch, she brings to life her characters with sassy wit making you yearn for more.
After being so far into the series finally getting to unstand Reyes, it's amazing to see things from before the series started.
Great to see Reyes' side of things.
I love this series, and was really excited to see this world from Reyes POV. I wish it had gone a little deeper, no real revelations here, but a good way to spend an evening nonetheless.
3.75 stars--BRIGHTER THAN THE SUN is a novella in Darynda Jones’s adult CHARLEY DAVIDSON urban fantasy series told from Reyes Alexander Farrow’s point of view. Darynda Jones takes the reader back to a time just prior to Charley’s birth that finds Reyes following what he believes is a dream-a bright light that calls to him-of a young child than woman who is, from birth, the Grim Reaper. BRIGHTER THAN THE SUN runs parallel to several of the events in Darynda Jones’s Charley Davidson series. We get up close and personal with Reyes as he suffers a myriad of abuses at the hands of Earl Walker; and the introduction of his ‘sister’ Kim whom Reyes protects even though he knows he will be the recipient of the torture and abuse. Most of the abuse is ‘behind the scenes’ or implied; there is no graphic text to abhor the reader. BRIGHTER THAN THE SUN is a quick and simple read that is completely different in tone and emotion than any of the previous installments. The storyline is a darker read without the usual humor, one-liners, witty banter or t-shirt logos that Darynda and her Charley Davidson series are known for. It is a short story that doesn’t add any new or specific information to the series but expands upon what the reader already knows with more details and some background history. We do learn why it is Reyes calls Charley Dutch ;) Darynda Jones focuses on Reyes-his early years; his need to protect Charley; and the knowledge that Satan’s son has suffered because of who he is, and what he will become. BRIGHTER THAN THE SUN is a wonderful read to fill in the details that were missing about Reyes’s younger years and his love for the woman who could one day destroy the world.
I've been reading this series since it first came out. It is one of the best I've ever read. She makes me laugh out loud..alot. Some tears as well. Every book is as good if not better than the last. I loved reading about Reyes and his side of the story. He's such a major player that it's nice to know more about him. I love both these characters and all their friends. Can't wait for book 9. I'll be patient because it's well worth the wait. Thank you Darynda for taking us on their journey.
NUMBER OF HEARTS: 5 I have to start the review by telling you that this is not your typically Charley Davidson book. This is not the light hearted fun full of Charley antics story. When I received this book to review I was given a warning that this book was dark. Very dark!!! If you read the excerpt below you will get a glimpse of how dark, sad and heartbreaking this story is. Fans of Charley’s series already know some of what happened to Reyes as a kid but in Brighter Than the Sun we unfortunately get an upclose and personal view of his world as a kid. After reading Brighter Than the Sun, I can safely say that I love Reyes even more than I did before. Reyes lived through hell in his childhood. It was beyond heartbreaking to read/listen to his back story. It was heartbreaking to read/listen to him when he first meets Charley. It is heartbreaking to read/listen to the things that happen to Charley. It was great to see just how much Reyes loves Charley. How much from the first moment of Charley’s life that Reyes was there. This story was beyond heartbreaking to suffer with Reyes, but seeing Charley though his eyes and to learn just how important she is to him was wonderful. Ms. King does an amazing job of reading this story to us as always. I am looking forward to the next installment of this series. Charley & Reyes fans will enjoy this story even if they need to make sure to have a good supply of tissues close by. Disclaimer: I received a complimentary copy of this book from MacMillan Audio in exchange for an honest review. This review is my own opinion and not a paid review.
One of the best books I've read this year. Love her writing and characters. This is a must read series. You will laugh and cry.
It was great seeing everything from Reyes' POV!
Did not disappoint