Authors: sam cheever
The Devil You Want
Book five in the Dancin’ With the Devil series.
Astra Q. Phelps gave her boyfriend a magic hickey. Usually not a world-changing issue. But her boyfriend is king of the Royal Devils. And Royals have always thought that only males could mark their mates. So how did she do it? Even Astra doesn’t know. That’s the first of her problems.
Now somebody’s trying to kill the naturally curious Astra, which is
Thirdly, there’s Slayer. He’s shown up on Astra’s turf and wants her to hire him. Given their undeniable sexual chemistry, that’s probably not going to go over well with her boyfriend. Not to mention Slayer’s got some baggage that’s gonna come back to bite Astra big time.
Add in the nearly constant sexual need caused by her Settling and you have a whole lot of stuff for Astra Q. Phelps to handle. But, as you probably know by now, she’s definitely up to the challenge.
Ellora’s Cave Publishing
The Devil You Want
ALL RIGHTS RESERVED
The Devil You Want Copyright © 2012 Sam Cheever
Edited by Shannon Combs
Cover design by Fiona Jayde
Photos: Mark Stout, Artix Studio/Shutterstock.com
Electronic book publication April 2012
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The Devil You Want
The Devil You Know
The Devil you know may break your heart, be cold and without soul.
But acquaintance makes the Devil you know, more friend than deadly foe.
The Devil you know might stain your soul, its motives ne’r do well.
But comfort lies with the Devil you know, tho’ it damn your soul to Hell.
The Devil You Want
The Devil you want is sometimes slow, to recognize your heart.
But the Devil you want is sure to know, that he can tear your world apart.
The Devil you want can warm your bed, and promise he will stay.
But the Devil you want may turn your head, then push your love away.
The Devil you want may stoke your fire, and set your loins ablaze.
The Devil you want could love inspire, or lives and continents raze.
My name is Astra Q. Phelps. Don’t ask me what the Q stands for because that little piece of info will go with me to the crematorium. I’ve had all printed documentation of the name destroyed and, though a lot of my enemies have tried to dig it out, no one will ever know what it stands for. A girl has to have some secrets. Especially when the truth would cause her some serious embarrassment.
I run a business called the Angel Network, which is the only devil- and demon-locating and -destroying business in the universe. In other words, I kick serious evil butt for a living. I am a Tweener. What exactly is a Tweener you ask? A Tweener is a non-human. We have neither wings nor horns, but generally have both angel and devil in our family forests. Which is probably why we enjoy a higher sensitivity to spectral influence than regular human people.
Recently, the Celestial Army has been keeping me pretty busy saving the world. Over and over and over and…well, you get what I’m saying. The human world just has trouble staying saved.
It’s been a busy and confusing time. But it’s about to get much worse.
My twenty-fifth birthday is just a few months away.
The thing about that twenty-fifth birthday is…well…for Tweeners it’s kind of make-or-break time. It’s called our Settling and it’s the culmination of our growth period. The time when we become what we will be in life. It’s also the time when the dark side of our nature has the greatest pull.
It is on our twenty-fifth birthday that we decide which way we’re gonna go. Good or bad. Black or white. Gray usually isn’t an option. And outside influences have a lot to do with the outcome. In my case, my influence pool is decidedly murky, given the fact that I hang out
Lately, my life has taken a turn toward the complex. Dialle, King of the Royal Devils on Earth and my steady boyfriend, is really mad at me because I marked him with a Daemon hickey.
I guess females aren’t supposed to be able to mark males.
How would I know that? Nobody told me that little piece of devil trivia, thank you very much. And apparently it isn’t true anyway…since I did manage to put that cute little power mark on his sexy throat.
But now he’s all embarrassed and mad and threatened in a male way, and I’m dancing the romance two-step trying to win back his love.
To make things even more complex, somebody’s trying really hard to kill me. And they’re doing a bang up job of it too. Staying alive is becoming increasingly difficult.
And my longtime friend and partner Emo is in celestial anger management, dealing with his own Settling.
Forget doing my job slaying demons.
The one place I can go for help isn’t really a good option at all, since the helpful and sexy Slayer represents mucho temptation to me and my stupid Settling.
Any minute now my slut-monkey side might just take him up on one of those offers he likes to present during a moment of weakness.
My weakness…not his.
So anyway, those are the high points of my life at the moment.
What? Oh, you wanted the dirty details? Well, all right, it’s your brain cells that are at risk. Not mine.
Here we go…
Flick the Dick
Our heroine has gone too far, and done the dirty deed.
The devil got a pretty mark, and now he’s very teed.
I was having trouble concentrating on work. All I could think about was how pissed Dialle was. Just because I gave him that one little hickey. Come on…it was a moment of passion. He should feel flattered that I got that carried away, right?
All right, I could admit it had made him kind of a laughingstock in the Royal Court. But it had been even worse for me. I’d noticed the lower devils were giving me a wider berth, their beady eyes filled with terror when they looked at me.
That was okay.
But the Royals…well…let’s just say they didn’t like me before I did the impossible and marked Dialle.
Now they really hated me.
I could feel the hate vibrating through the court halls and throbbing against my brain. The Royals couldn’t go after me directly because of Dialle, but the number of “accidents” and “near accidents” had escalated to the point where I walked around with a power bubble wrapped around me whenever I visited the court.
Apparently, I’d really rocked their world. For good or bad depended on your perspective. The females in the Devil Court, seeing that a female could mark a male, were energized by Dialle’s little hickey. Even if nobody knew how I did it, including me. And they wanted some of that power for themselves.
The males were understandably displeased about the turn of events. The power base had definitely shifted out from under them.
What can I say? It sucketh to be them.
But there was nothing I could do about all that at the moment. So I shook my head, pushing the problem out of my mind, and forced myself to focus on the job at hand. Saving my sagging business. With my best friend and partner Emo in celestial counseling for the foreseeable future, I was short a demon slayer and my business was starting to suffer.
There were just too many demons running around terrorizing people and not enough time in the day for me to handle them all. Especially given the fact that dealing with my Settling was becoming an almost full-time task.
I’d been toying with the idea of hiring my neighbors the werewolves to help me on a contract basis.
Bob Gleason and Ralph Peters owned a business called Werever…Whatever, which specialized in shapeshifter justice. In other words, they were thugs for hire for the magical world, a perfect resume for what I needed.
The televisual on my desk bleeped and a fat face with a bald head blinked onto my screen. “Mx. Phelps?”
“My name is Arch Magnus. I need your help with a dragon.”
I swallowed hard. My track record with dragons wasn’t great. I tended to make friends and allies with them rather than defeat them.
Or else they ate my car.
“What type of dragon is it?”
“A green. I’ve never seen a green dragon around here before. But I have one living in my garage. Actually more than one.”
I frowned, thinking about the green dragons I’d seen recently. “Must be a frunkin’ big garage.”
“It is. I repair air vehicles and will have several of them in there at any given time.” The man frowned. “There were five vehicles up on blocks when the dragons moved in. I don’t know what’s left of them. I’ve heard a lot of crunching and smashing in there.”
I sighed. I’d need to get help with this particular assignment. “Give me your location and I’ll come out.”
“Oh thank Him! I was afraid you’d refuse to help.”
That little statement should have been all the warning I needed. But in my defense, I was distracted that morning.
On my best days my life is complex.
I punched his coordinates into the televisual and followed up with some personal information and as much as he could tell me about his dragon problem. Then I headed toward the Red Knight, my sleek and sexy air vehicle.
I’d get the lay of the land and then decide whom I needed to call in to help.
An hour later I was hovering over the building in question. The windows were all broken out and scorch marks painted the walls around them. The area around the building was thick with debris and all of the vegetation within a half mile of the place was cooked.
A cloud of gray smoke hovered over a roof that looked like somebody’d stuck a large pole into it from inside.
As the Red Knight slid silently overhead, fire sprayed from three of the windows at once, on three different walls.
Alrighty then. We had the potential for lots of dragons inside.
I opened my mouth to have the televisual call Emo and then closed it, remembering. “Shit!”
I thought about it for a moment and then said, “Werever…Whatever.”
A series of bleeps ended with Bob Gleason’s pleasant face appearing on the screen. “Hey, Astra.”
“Bob. Can you and Ralph help me with an extraction and extermination?”
“Sure. We have an opening next week. Will Thursday at two work?”
I just sat there blinking.
A column of fire rose up in front of my view port and the Knight surged upward, out of range. I looked down and saw a massive green head with beady red eyes and several rows of deadly teeth. Smoke streamed from the dragon’s nostrils in thick ribbons.