Practical Hexes - Ebook
Practical Hexes - Ebook
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Surprisingly, things get off to a good start. Who am I kidding? The job doesn’t pan out to be what I first thought. It’s worse. Way worse. And before I know it, I’m in hot water with no easy way out.
If that isn’t bad enough, the soul collector is hiding something from me that could make or break the deal I made with him. Something, if found out, that could change everything…
It’s time to yank up my big girl panties, chuck down some wine, and do things my way. If it doesn’t kill me first.
If you like fast-paced urban fantasy adventure with a kick-butt heroine and plenty of action, suspense, and humor, you’ll love Practical Hexes.
Look Inside Chapter 1
Look Inside Chapter 1
Tonight, I was the Soul Collector’s slave.
If you haven’t been following my story, well, let me bring you up to speed.
A grieving father in Hollow Cove summoned the soul collector (a Greater demon from the Netherworld) to save his little girl’s life in exchange for a whopping crapload of souls. It’s no surprise the demon agreed.
That was where I came in.
To save all those souls—including my gran’s—as well as the little girl’s life, I offered the soul collector my services for a month.
In my haste, I’d agreed before I understood fully what it meant to be in the service of a demon. According to Marcus, I was the demon’s slave.
Well, imagine the tsunami of theories that popped into my head about what being a demon’s slave entailed. And none of them were good.
Sex slave was the first thing that appeared in the forefront of my mind, and the idea of the soul collector’s creepy, skeletal fingers touching my skin made me want to hurl. I had no idea what I was in for when I accepted.
Guess I was about to find out.
“Are you okay?”
I lifted my gaze at the worry in Marcus’s voice. The chief had been by my side since the soul collector had practically jumped us from the shadows five minutes ago, just as we were about to climb up the steps to Davenport House’s front porch. At the time, I was in Marcus’s arms, hoping to get the release of the century.
Yeah, that didn’t happen.
A frown creased those fine, gray eyes framed with dark eyelashes. It was still snowing, and big fat snowflakes peppered his tussled black hair. It took some serious self-control to not roll my face in it. His high cheekbones were colored with anger, which only made him sexier. Cauldron help me, he was beautiful.
He stood on the front porch next to me, all confident and predatory with his arms crossed over his ample chest, making his broad shoulders stand out and his pecs bulge. He was a virile beast, a muscle machine who was just as strong as he was a tender lover.
I cursed on the inside.
I only regretted that I wasn’t going to get my Fifty Shades of Marcus tonight. And that, ladies, put me in a foul mood.
Especially since everything had been cleared up with Allison—a.k.a. Marcus’s gorgeous ex. I deserved a little release!
“I feel like my innards went to a barn dance,” I answered finally.
The chief made a sound in his throat that seemed very close to a growl. Marcus shifted his weight, his gaze flicking from me to the soul collector who waited just beyond the stone path. The chief seemed to be contemplating whether or not to take down the demon.
Marcus was strong and fierce. In his beast form, he could tear apart the greatest of adversaries, but the soul collector was a Greater demon. I seriously doubted the wereape’s strength would make the slightest difference against him. If my aunts couldn’t defeat him, neither could Marcus.
But none of that mattered. I’d made a deal with the demon, and I had to make good on it if I didn’t want my gran’s soul and all the other souls to return to the in-between only to be traded to other demons to be ingested or tortured.
My gaze settled on the soul collector. His white eyes and hairless face were partially covered by his black fedora. With his thin, gangly limbs, he looked like a scarecrow in a dark suit, his movements stiff and disjointed like he was a stop-motion character.
His briefcase hanging from his right hand, the soul collector rocked back and forth on the balls of his feet, just a few paces away from the stone path (which was covered in snow at the moment) directly off the property line. I’d noticed he was very careful to stand on the outskirts of the Davenport House’s property.
Once I realized the soul collector wasn’t a figment of my imagination and wasn’t going to go away, I’d excused myself. My bladder was about to explode as I made my way to the small powder room to the right of the entryway to relieve myself. When I came back, I found the soul collector waiting for me in the exact same spot.
For some reason, the demon wouldn’t or couldn’t enter the property. I was betting on the couldn’t. Perhaps Davenport House’s magic prohibited him from entering.
That was interesting indeed. I was going to save that valuable piece of information for later and do some digging.
The demon pulled out an old-fashioned pocket watch from his jacket. He glanced at it and said, “Time to go, Tessa Davenport,” in a voice just as banal and pedestrian as his suit before he slipped the watch back into the folds of his jacket. If he’d had a harsh, guttural kind of voice, well, at least it would have been a bit more interesting.
My heart slammed in my chest. “Where are we going?” I shot a nervous glance at Marcus before climbing down the porch’s steps and joining the soul collector with the chief following closely behind me.
“You’ll find out soon enough,” answered the demon. His hairless brows rose and disappeared under his hat. “I almost forgot.” He dropped his briefcase on the ground, opened it, and pulled out a pile of folded clothes. “Here,” he said and shoved the clothes at me. “Your uniform.”
I choked on my spit. “My what?”
“Your uniform,” the demon added brightly. “Go on. Take it.”
My curiosity getting the better of me, I took the pile of clothes and went through them. A white shirt, a pair of dark slacks, and matching a jacket. And… wait for it—a tie.
“It’s a suit. A man’s suit.” I wrinkled my brow. “Is this your suit?” Gross. The idea of wearing one of the soul collector’s suits made me gag. The night was getting weirder by the minute.
The soul collector reached down and grabbed his briefcase, shutting it with a loud snap. “It’s not mine. It’s yours. It was made especially for you. Now, put it on and make haste. We have lots of work to do tonight.”
I don’t know what possessed me, but I drew the pile of clothes to my face and sniffed. “It smells like it came from a thrift shop from the 1980s.” Making a face, I held the clothes out to the demon. “Forget it. I’m not wearing that.” Okay, so I might be his slave, but I wasn’t going to make it easy for him.
“It has been washed,” noted the demon, irritation thick in his voice.
“With what? Mothballs and crud?” I brought the clothes closer to my face again. “Look. See that? I just saw a flea jump off. I don’t do fleas.”
The skin of the demon’s face stretched tightly over muscle and bone, his expression stiff with frustration. “You are being ridiculous.”
“It’s called hygiene.”
The demon’s white eyes pinched with anger. “You are in my service, and those in my service wear a uniform. Put on the damn uniform!”
Netherworld be damned. “Fine.” I let out a breath and gestured with my free hand. “Turn around.”
The demon looked surprised. “Excuse me?”
I pressed a hand on my hip. “You heard me. Turn around so I can change.” I did realize it was winter, but I was boiling with so much anger and adrenaline, I doubted I’d feel the cold.
Doing as instructed, the soul collector turned his back to me. It was all I could do not to kick him in the ass right now. That might even make wearing the mothball stinking suit worth the while. Maybe not.
“I can’t believe I’m doing this,” I huffed in frustration as I stripped out of my clothes down to my black bra and underwear.
I wasn’t even embarrassed at being half-naked outside in the middle of winter. My new lady balls were making me brash.
My eyes found Marcus, and my throat tightened at the pain and frustration written all over his face. His gray eyes held a mixture of anguish and worry as he lifted them to me.
“Not exactly how you’d envisioned seeing me in my underwear for the second time, huh?” I said, trying to lighten the mood. It didn’t work.
A whisper of cool air rolled off my skin, but I barely noticed. All my attention was on the mothball-stinking suit I had to pull over my clean skin.
“I should get paid for this crap.” Making a face, I grabbed the pants, slipped my feet through the legs, and hauled them up. Next, holding my breath, I pulled on the white shirt and slid the jacket over it. Though they still had that nasty, years-in-your-great-aunt’s-closet smell, they fit. Like perfectly. As though the suit was tailored to me.
“What is this?” I ran my hands over the fabric, trying to determine what it was. It felt and looked like rayon, but it was more durable and subtle, unlike any fabric I’d ever seen or touched before. My fingers tingled with cold energy.
Magic. Demon magic.
“Is something wrong?” asked Marcus, leaning next to me with his hands to his sides. He looked like he was ready to rip off my new outfit, which at another time and place would have been totally acceptable—more than acceptable.
I shook my head. “They fit,” I told him, seeing the soul collector spin back around. “How did you know my size?” I demanded, remembering that he’d mentioned the clothes were made especially for me.
A satisfied smile blossomed over the demon’s face. “It’s on your ticket.”
I rolled my eyes. “I’m going to make you eat that ticket.”
“You’re missing the tie,” said the demon, as though I hadn’t spoken. “You must look the part. It doesn’t work without it. We mustn’t forget the tie.”
I picked the tie up from the snow. “If there’s a hat involved… I might have to kill you.”
The soul collector frowned. “Put on the tie.”
I screwed up my face. “I have no idea how to do this,” I said, holding out the plain black tie. “I’m a female, remember? But… if you want a flawless cat-eye while driving—I’m your woman.”
“Here. Let me do it.” Marcus took the tie from me and draped it over my head, tugging me closer. He leaned forward, his chest rubbing against my breasts. His fingertips brushed against my jaw and neck. Fire erupted in my core, and my heart pounded. I took in the smell of man, soap, and something musky. I wanted to make love to that smell.
Marcus adjusted my tie and stepped back. I immediately felt the loss of his heat.
I stared down at my uniform. “I feel like one of the characters in the movie Men in Black.” I felt like an idiot. Still, my annoyance about the clothes was keeping me from a major freak-out concerning what I was about to do. About to become.
“Come along now, Tessa Davenport,” urged the demon. “Souls are waiting to be… collected.”
I didn’t like the sound of that, but it was a hell of a lot better than being a demon sex slave.
I blew out a nervous breath, scooped up my clothes off the ground, and handed them to Marcus. The fear on his beautiful face nearly did me in. “Don’t tell my aunts or my mum,” I said, my voice hoarse like it was lodged somewhere in my throat and didn’t want to come out. “I’ll tell them when I get back.” I forced a laugh. “They’re probably still drunk, anyway. Right?” I recalled their binge drinking in sorrow fest because they thought I’d died earlier tonight.
A muscle pulled on Marcus’s jaw. “Be safe,” he said, crushing my clothes against his chest. “I’ll see you when you get back.”
I tried to answer, but my jaw wouldn’t unhinge, so I just nodded.
Emotions flickered through his eyes. I recognized fear, loss, and protectiveness in the mix. I knew he could sense my fear, and all he wanted to do was protect me and make me feel safe. Now he was helpless to do so, and it was tearing him apart.
But I’d gotten myself into this mess, and it was up to me to figure it out.
Then Marcus did something that surprised me.
He pressed his hands on my shoulders, leaned in, dipped his head, and kissed me.
My heart nearly exploded with emotions at the softness of his kiss as our mouths parted. It was fast but enough for me to feel the intent behind it—the breathless fear of not knowing what was going to happen.
“For luck,” said Marcus as he pulled away. “You’re going to need it.” A brief look of pain passed over his features.
“I know.” Regrettably, I forced myself to move away from Marcus, though every muscle in my body begged me to stay.
But I had no choice. I was about to embark on one of the stupidest things I’d ever done. And I’d done my share of stupid. This scared the crap out of me.
Holding my breath, I stepped next to the soul collector and then everything around me vanished.