Authors: Patricia Eimer
This book is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual events, locales, or persons, living or dead, is coincidental.
Copyright © 2013 by Patricia Eimer. All rights reserved, including the right to reproduce, distribute, or transmit in any form or by any means. For information regarding subsidiary rights, please contact the Publisher.
Entangled Publishing, LLC
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Edited by Libby Murphy
Cover design by Libby Murphy
Ebook ISBN 978-1-62061-088-6
Print ISBN 978-1-62061-087-9
Manufactured in the United States of America
First Edition February 2013
The author acknowledges the copyrighted or trademarked status and trademark owners of the following wordmarks mentioned in this work of fiction: ATF, Barbie, Bugs Bunny, Carnegie Library System, Chatty Cathy, Cheerios, Chloe, the Church Brewworks, Civic, Dairy Queen, Donna Karan, Doris Day, Dumpsters, Dunkin Donuts, Ghost Busters, the Girl Scouts of America, Guiness, ‘I’m Too Sexy’, Jehovah’s Witness, John Deere, Kojak, Kona Select Coffee, La Pomponee Spa, Lamborghini, Loyola University Chicago, LUSH, Mario Cart, McDonalds, Milky Way Dark, Modern Warfare, Mountain Dew, Olympics, Pennsylvania State University (Penn State), Pious Monk Beer, Pollyanna, Post-It Notes, Porsche, Prada, the Prince of Wales, RAID, Ronald McDonald House, Rolos, Sophia Loren, Soloman Brothers Restaurant, Stella McCartney, SyFy, TiVo, Touched by an Angel, Twister, Tylenol, Wii, Yale University
For being my soul mate
Every moment of every day
Is better because you’re in it
“I can’t believe I’m getting married in two weeks.” My best friend Lisa dropped her head into her hands, her caramel colored ponytail fanning out over the table. “Two weeks and nothing is ready. Tolliver hasn’t even helped me move the last of my stuff from your apartment to the one we got together.”
“It’ll be fine. Besides there’s no rush on moving your stuff out. You’re only moving downstairs and it’s not like you can’t just come over to get things as you need them.” I tried to make my voice soothing as I reached across the table at the mall’s food court and patted her hand. “As far as the wedding goes, I promise we’ll make it work. What do you need me to help with?”
She looked up at me with big brown eyes fringed with sooty black lashes. “Can you put your foot up your brother’s ass for me? In the past month he has done nothing. Not one thing. After he proposed it was like he threw his hands up and walked away from the whole deal. Now I’m molting from the stress.”
“You’re molting? How bad?” I tugged at one of my blond curls, which had escaped its clip, and gave her a sympathetic smile.
She lifted her head and gave me a frustrated look. “I have patches of naked, leathery wings. It’s so gross.
wouldn’t sleep with me with wings like this. Not even out of pity. It’s so bad I don’t want to even talk about it. It’s like my wings have had a botched Brazilian.”
I shook my head. Poor Lisa. All she’d wanted the night she met my brother was an Amaretto Sour. She hadn’t asked to become a succubus.
Then again, I probably should have told her I was the daughter of the Devil before I let her move in three years ago. That would have solved a lot of problems in the long run, but at the time all I wanted was a roommate who wouldn’t let her boyfriend rummage through our fridge in his birthday suit. Stupid me. Now the naked guy complaining about the lack of orange juice in the fridge was my half-brother Tolliver, otherwise known as the Archdemon of Gluttony.
“After the past month I’d be surprised if you weren’t molting. Besides, it’s nothing to be embarrassed about. We all molt when we’re stressed. When it happened to me at thirteen, Hope told me that it was natural and then convinced me to pluck out all my feathers. Six months of naked wings. Even now I wish Dad would have let me kick her ass.” I squeezed her hand and tried to send comforting vibes between us.
“So it’s not just me?”
It would be easy to lie and tell her I was molting so we could commiserate. After all, it had been a stressful couple of weeks—between my older sister Hope and her soon-to-be-ex-husband’s arrival, my parents’ decision to move to Pittsburgh, and the stalker I’d faced last month, I
be molting. Because, after all that other stuff, some guy blowing up your boyfriend’s car would’ve been the feather that broke the archangel’s back. But I wasn’t. The thing is, nothing surprises me where my family is concerned. When they’re around I just expect chaos to kick off and panic to reign.
I shook my head at her and tried to give her my most sympathetic smile. “No, but I’m not the one marrying Tolliver in two weeks. That’s enough to make any girl molt.”
“He’s not that bad,” Harold, my ghostly former-boss-turned-personal-poltergeist, said. I turned to where his self-important voice had faded in like a stereo coming into tune—only his disembodied head was hanging out right over my shoulder. He hovered for a bit and gave us both a naughty grin. “He’s just trying to get ahead. Get it? A.
“Yeah, we got it.” I gave him my best bitchy-but-amused face. “That doesn’t mean we particularly wanted it. You’re supposed to be out messing with Dr. Cupertino and Dr. Thompson’s golf game. Remember? Bought your tee time off the golf pro? You wanted revenge?”
“Eh, they’re both so lousy that nothing I could do would have made them worse. I can’t believe they let them out of medical school with their sub-par golf games. The Ivy League is losing sight of their priorities. Going soft, I tell you.”
“Harold.” Lisa shook her head and I could tell she was trying not to laugh. “How can you be so mean?”
“I’m just telling the truth. But let’s not talk about those two. Let’s talk about you and my boy Tolliver. Getting excited?”
“Nervous.” She picked at her teriyaki chicken.
“Why?” Harold fully materialized and snagged one of my fries. I narrowed my eyes at the ghost and snagged it back before anyone noticed a fry floating in mid air with nothing attached to it. One of these days I was going to get Harold to understand that he was no longer visible to non-Celestial beings—which meant no more playing with physical objects and freaking out the humans. Unless he wanted someone to go all Ghostbusters on his ass.
“Because.” Lisa speared a piece of her chicken and pointed it at Harold. “We’re getting married in two weeks. If he doesn’t start helping soon we’ll be forced to hold the wedding in the Notre Dame replica your mother is using for her wedding next Saturday. Or even worse, if I don’t have a church to take my mother to soon she’s going to insist on using our family’s church and that would be
bad. Once your groom has exploded in a giant ball of hellfire and brimstone you can’t really come back from that. It’s memorable, but not in a good way.”
I munched on another fry and shook my head. “You seem to forget you’re a demon, too. Step in an active church and boom. Bride flambé. With a side accompaniment of barbequed wedding party.”
“I know.” Lisa turned to look at the squalling two-year-old seated in a high chair at the table next to ours and raised her eyebrows. The little girl stared back, eyes wide, and immediately fell silent. Smart kid. “At least the Alpha has been flexible. I’ve been able to hold my mother off but I know that’s not going to last. So I’m hoping Tolliver will decide to pitch in this week and help while I get everything finalized, but I’m not holding my breath.”
“You’re upset about that? Tolliver not pitching in, I mean.” Harold tugged at the collar of his ugly ass green golf shirt and then wiped his palms against the legs of his khaki pants.
“Of course I’m upset.” Lights flickered as Lisa’s eyes flashed red, and the whistle of static emitted from the overhead stereo speakers. “It’s our wedding and he doesn’t even care.”
“Uh.” Harold looked over at me and pretended to cough. “Actually…”
“What did you do?” My bitchy-but-amused face dropped the
part and went straight to
“I well, you see…” Harold ran his fingers through what was left of his gray fringe.
The lights above me flickered again and the low rumble of thunder sounded outside as the stereo speakers gave a loud
and then died completely. “What. Did. You. Do?”
“I was only trying to help,” Harold muttered. Ghostly sweat beaded on his forehead. “I am a bit of an expert when it comes to weddings. I’ve been through four of them.”
“Harold.” Lisa set her fork down. Her aura turned black, power crackled around her, and the lights around the food court hummed ominously, like they were about to explode. “What did you do?”
“I told him to stay out of your way,” the ghost mumbled. “I didn’t tell him to avoid you, though. I told him, ‘You are one step down from her purse on her wedding day and don’t get it in your head that it’s not
wedding day.’ That’s all. I didn’t say
Lisa slammed her hands on the table and leaned over so they were nose to nose. “You told him not to give me his opinion? To just shut up and say yes no matter what I did?”
“That’s exactly what I told him.” Harold nodded. “Matt didn’t think it was a good idea but I told them both to trust me because I’ve been through this wedding stuff before.
“Matt didn’t go along with your idea?” I asked.
“Angel Boy said he needed to be honest with you and meet you halfway. Told Tolliver that it was his wedding, too, and he needed to do at least half the work. I always thought the boy was a bit loco, but personally, I think that right there proved the Angale are even more insane than we thought.”
Lisa tapped her long, ballerina pink fingernails on the table and the brimstone rolled off of her in waves. “In the name of all that is evil and wicked, you should be ashamed of yourself. You’re a doctor and my fiancé is a centuries-old archdemon. Between the two of you, you didn’t have the few measly IQ points necessary to figure out I needed help?”
“No?” Harold’s voice squeaked and his image wavered. “I’m sorry? I’m just a dumb guy? I don’t know any better?”
“I want to trade boyfriends.” Lisa leaned back in her seat. “I want Matt, crazy Angale family and all. I don’t even care that they’re a bunch of nutty bigamists who want to rule all the earthbound realms. Apparently they’ve raised the only intelligent supernatural male in existence.”
I laughed and shook my head before stealing her eggroll. I understood her frustration with my brother, but the whole kissing cousins fetish was an angel thing. Demons preferred to go with the old standby—leather and bondage—instead. It worked so much better with our image.
“Tolliver isn’t that bad,” Harold said. “He just got some bad advice. You should have expected that, though. He was listening to me.”
“He should have listened to Matt.” Lisa snagged the other half of her eggroll out of my hand before I could finish it. “And people wonder why I’m molting so much.”
“We’ll go by LUSH after lunch and pick up a few bath bombs and some bubble bath. They might help fluff things up a bit.” I hoped it might help calm her down. The last thing she needed to do was get more stressed out.
Lisa sighed before wiggling her fingers at the nearby toddler to tickle her toes and put a happy grin on the little monster’s face. “My credit cards cry every time I open my wallet. Our honeymoon to Fiji is entirely on plastic right now. Tolliver swore to me he was going to handle it, but we had to pay the travel agent and he wasn’t there to pick up the bill. Now every time I mention it he’s got somewhere he has to be.”
“I’ll take care of it.” I bit the inside of my cheek and tried not to growl in frustration at the thought of my brother skimping on his wedding. He had an unlimited bank account thanks to Dad, and she was busting her ass working as a post-surgery nurse at a pediatric hospital to pay for things? That was going to change as soon as my brother and I sat down and had ourselves a little heart to heart. Or baseball bat to knee caps if he got too stubborn about it. “Harold will go tell Tolliver he’s made a mistake and light a fire under my brother’s ass. You and I are going over to LUSH and I’m buying you an early wedding gift. When we get home you’ll give me your credit card and I’ll talk to Dad. He’ll take care of it.”
“I don’t want your dad paying my bills,” Lisa said. “I’m a grown woman with a college degree and a job.”
“Who said anything about paying them?” I laughed and decided to handle things until I could force my brother to come clean to his future bride about his financial affairs. Tolliver probably hadn’t even told her that Dad gave him an allowance. “Devil, remember? He’ll simply make them go away. You charge on the card and they approve it but no bills ever come your way. No muss no fuss.”
“But won’t the credit card company notice? They’re losing money.”
“Never noticed before.” I put my chin in my upturned palm and smiled at her. “Besides, I don’t particularly think those bastards are hurting in the checkbook, do you?”
“Probably not.” She smirked. “But what does Matt say about that? He’s usually on the straight and narrow, what with the whole nephilim thing.”
“Yeah, the children of angels are a bit stubborn,” I muttered.
Harold nudged my shoulder. “The Devil’s children aren’t exactly the most flexible people around, either.”
“Tell me about it.” Lisa chuckled then rolled her eyes, her mood obviously starting to pick up a bit. “I must be out of my mind. I’m roommates with the Devil’s youngest daughter and marrying his only son. I need my head examined.”
“Not my specialty, sweetheart.” Harold floated over to give her a quick hug-like pass through her body that made her shiver. “Brains always bored me.”
“Yeah, well, they aren’t your defining attribute, either,” I said. “Get out of here and go tell my brother what a moron you are.”
“Is that an order, Demon Girl?”
“Consider it a very strong request. Otherwise I might have to try my hand at banishing roaming souls to the Grey Lands.”
Harold blanched at the mention of Purgatory and his spectral appearance wavered. I reached for my soda and shook it, hoping some of the ice had melted into watery soda-like goodness. Before I could be too disappointed to find my cup empty he’d dissolved, leaving the place in front of me empty, but ten degrees colder than the rest of the room.
“You are so lucky to have Matt.” Lisa pointed at me with the last bit of her eggroll half. “When you two get married you won’t have any of these problems.”
“Whoa.” My eyes widened and my chest tightened. Thankfully I had a bag to breathe in if need be. “Who said anything about me and Matt getting married?”
What in the combined names of the Alpha and the Omega was she smoking? Just because everyone else was suffering from wedding fever didn’t mean I was in the market for a big white dress any time soon. Or ever, for that matter. I had almost done that once and it hadn’t turned out well. There was no way I’d ever put myself in that position again if I could help it.
planning on marrying Matt one day, aren’t you?” Lisa asked, her jaw hanging open, food forgotten. “You’re perfect together. You’re soul mates. Everyone knows it.”
I swallowed, panic coursing through me at the very thought of getting married. My stomach rolled and every light in the food court dimmed. “That doesn’t mean I’ve got to handcuff myself to him for all eternity.”
“Faith, you don’t mean that! You and Matt are perfect together. You’re going to risk screwing that up?”