Hotter Than A Demon In Panties
Evie Douglass doesn’t know what’s worse—the demons secretly infesting her small Alabama hometown…or human belle-from-hell Meredith Starr Peterson, who’s made her life miserable since high school. But when the “Death Starr” is brutally murdered and Evie is the number-one suspect, she’s suddenly besieged by the evil-not-dead-enough and Meredith’s furious specter. The only way she can clear her name is to get out from under demon hunter Ansgar’s grim protection. He’s blond, breathtaking, and the most lethal of all his kin, but after years of teasing, Evie is wary of anyone who swears her plus-size self is beautiful. However, having Ansgar all over her is sparking outrageous powers Evie didn’t know she had. And she’ll face any ultimate evil to keep this sexy slayer in this dimension and in her bed for all eternity…
Read an Excerpt
Blood. There was so much blood, especially on the dead woman sprawled across her desk.
Evie stared in shock at the corpse from the doorway of her office. Death did not become Meredith Starr Peterson. She lay on her back like a broken doll, her blue eyes open and staring, her carefully painted mouth twisted in a frozen scream. The pink sheath dress she wore was hitched around her white thighs. One designer stiletto pump was missing, and her matching pink ruffle-pleat cardigan was ripped and torn. The blade sticking out of her chest didn’t do anything for her, either.
Evie’s heart jerked in a crazy rhythm. Oh, God, what was happening?
Pulling her stunned gaze from Meredith’s body, she looked around. Outside, things at the lumber mill seemed normal. A forklift rumbled past her window on its way to the holding yard, and in the distance she heard the muted whine of the saw and the barker. But inside things were a nightmare. Her once neat office looked like a slaughterhouse. Spatters of blood stained the beige carpet and khaki walls, ran in thin rivulets down her filing cabinets, and dripped off the framed print hanging over the bookcase. There were red streaks of it on the window and splashes on her brand-new ergonomic desk chair. Crimson polka dots decorated the paperwork strewn around the room.
The room smelled of death and something else. Scents, Evie knew. Soap-making was her hobby and her passion. The rich, fruity scent of frankincense overlaid the nauseating odor of something rotten.
She swayed and grabbed the door frame, her stomach rebelling. She needed to get out of here, but she couldn’t seem to move. She kept staring at Meredith’s poor, tortured body. Whoever killed her had taken his time. The victim was covered in blood from dozens of shallow cuts and stab wounds. The murderer must have chased poor Meredith around Evie’s office, whittling at her as she ran. Playing with her and taking his time. Enjoying her pain.
When he tired of the game, he stabbed Meredith in the chest, pinning her to the desk like a bug.
Evie shuddered. Meredith looked so small …so pathetic. Hard to believe this shattered thing was her nemesis since the seventh grade—the cool, popular kid who called her Fatso and the Whale.
On Wednesday, Meredith had publicly accused Evie of having an affair with her husband, Trey Peterson, the heir apparent to the Peterson timber fortune. Evie’s boss.
And now it was Friday and Meredith was dead in her office.
The handle of the knife in Meredith’s chest glittered in the early-morning sunshine. It was mesmerizing, hypnotizing. Evie took a step inside the room. No, not a knife, she realized in dawning terror as she got a better look. Meredith had been murdered with a letter opener. Her letter opener, the silver one engraved with her initials, a recent gift from Trey. The man she was supposed to be having an affair with.
Oh, this was not good. This was definitely not good.
She drew closer. Funny thing about that letter opener. The handle was clean. Spotless and obscene in its shininess. Not a drop of blood on it.
She wanted to look away, to run screaming from the room, but she couldn’t. Some invisible force dragged her reluctant feet to the desk, like iron to a lodestone. Inside her head, she heard a chilling, relentless litany.
Touch it. Touch the knife. The evil whisper filled her mind.
Shaking with the effort to resist the compulsion, she reached for the letter opener, tears of fright and frustration dampening her cheeks.
The deep, compelling voice rang out, shattering the spell. A pair of strong arms wrapped around her and jerked her away from the desk. She caught a brief whiff of an intoxicating scent, a subtle, dizzying combination of cedar with notes of lavender and bergamot. Whoever her secret savior was, he smelled divine.
The spicy scent stirred a whisper of memory deep within her. It fractured and flew apart as she was lifted and sent spinning into nothingness. There was a brief, falling sensation, and then she was sitting on her front porch steps.
Dazed, Evie looked around, trying to focus on her new surroundings. What happened? How’d she get here? Her office at Peterson’s Lumber Mill was five miles outside of town. She must be in shock. Yeah, that was it. She drove herself home but didn’t remember doing so because of the trauma. There was no other explanation.
She looked around. No car. It was like she’d fallen out of the sky and onto her front porch. Oh, God, this was nuts. Shivering, she rubbed her arms and encountered a leather strap. She still had her purse on her shoulder. With shaking hands, she reached inside, retrieved her cell phone, and dialed 911.
As she hung up the phone, a Pepto-Bismol-pink van pulled into the driveway and stopped. It was her friend, Addy, in the delivery van from her flower shop.
Addy got out and strode up the sidewalk. Her white-blond hair was pulled back in a sleek ponytail that bounced with every step. She was dressed for work in a clingy silk top and a knee- length skirt that showcased her long, sleekly muscled legs. Some of Evie’s panic receded when she saw her best friend. Addy would stand by her, no matter what. Together, they’d figure this thing out. They were as close as sisters despite their obvious differences. Addy was beautiful, funny, and a smartass to her DNA, not shy like Evie.
“I came to see about you.” Addy’s brown eyes were wide with concern. “You all right, chicka?”
“How did you know something was wrong?” Evie felt a brief flare of hope. “Did the fairies tell you?”
“Nope. Ansgar did.”
Something thrummed deep inside Evie, a tiny thrill of recognition. It happened every time she heard Addy or Brand mention Ansgar’s name, which was weird since she’d never met the guy.
“Brand’s brother?” She shook her head in confusion. Brand Dalvahni was Addy’s darkly handsome, intimidating, demon slayer boyfriend. The guy who saved Addy from certain death at the hands of a rogue demon and put her through the Change, as Evie and Addy referred to the infusion of demon slayer essence that transformed Addy from a human being to Something Else. An immortal super chick with lightning reflexes, stealth speed, and a buttload of Dalvahni sex appeal. “How did he know about Meredith?”
Oh, God. Meredith. Evie saw again the crumpled, bleeding figure across her desk.
“Meredith?” Addy’s eyes narrowed. Addy hated Meredith. “What’s she got to do with this?”
“You mean you don’t know? He didn’t tell you?”
“No, he didn’t tell me anything. Just showed up at the shop and started ordering me around in that arrogant way of his. You know what a hemorrhoid he is.”
“No, I don’t. We’ve never met, remember?”
Addy looked oddly flustered. “Oh, yeah. I keep forgetting. Trust me when I say he’s irritating as all get-out. Anyway, he says you need me, and then he disappears. So, what’s going on?”
“Oh, Addy.” Evie buried her face in her hands. “Meredith is dead.”
“Dead?” Addy gave her a blank stare. “What do you mean ‘dead’?”
“Somebody killed her. In my office. I found her this morning when I went in to work.”
Addy sat down on the steps and put her arm around Evie’s shoulders. “Are you sure, babe?”
“I’m sure. I saw it.” Raising her head, Evie shivered. “It was awful. There was blood everywhere. And she had my letter opener buried in her chest.” She clasped her shaking hands together in her lap. “My office, my letter opener. Remember Meredith’s little scene in the flower shop two days ago, the one where she accused me in front of God and everybody of sleeping with Trey? People will think I did it.”
“The Death Starr’s dead? I can’t believe it.”
Evie winced. Since middle school, she and Addy had called Meredith the Death Starr because of her ability to zero in on people like a super laser and annihilate them in one fell swoop. But now that she was dead, it didn’t seem respectful to call her that.
“Did you touch anything?” Addy asked. “Please tell me you didn’t touch anything.”
“No,” Evie said. “But it was close. Something was in that office with me, Addy. Something evil. It wanted me to grab the letter opener.” She shivered. “I heard it talking inside my head. I was reaching for the letter opener when someone said my name.”
“Who said your name, the creepy whatzit?”
“No, this was somebody else. He called me Evangeline, not Evie, which is weird. Nobody’s called me that since Mama died.” Evie rubbed her temples. Her head was beginning to throb. Probably another migraine; she’d had them a lot lately. “The next thing I know, I’m sitting here. Oh, Addy, I don’t understand any of this. I feel like I’m losing my mind.”
“Relax, Eves, Ansgar must have brought you home. I take back everything I said about him. Okay, maybe not everything, but the hemorrhoid part anyway.”
“But why would he do that? He doesn’t know me. And how did he get me home? I don’t remember being in a car.”
Addy snorted. “Who said anything about a car? We’re talking about the Dalvahni here. Ten to one, Ansgar teleported you here.”
“Teleported me?” Evie blinked in surprise. “Oh, my goodness.”
“Dalvahni woo woo, chicka. Demon hunters are loaded with it.” Her lips curved in a cat-in-the-cream-pot smile. “In more ways than one.”
Evie felt a pang of envy. The sexual attraction between Addy and Brand was so smoking hot you’d have to be dead not to notice. You could almost see the pheromones in the air when those two were together, which was most of the time. Brand Dalvahni loved him some Addy Corwin; that was for sure.
“I wouldn’t know,” Evie said. “Well . . . be sure and thank him for me. It was nice of him to get me out of there.” She shivered. “It was horrible, Addy. Just horrible.”
“Thank him yourself. Hannah’s a small town, you know. I got a feeling you’ll be seeing more of him.”
Addy got to her feet.
Evie grabbed her arm. “Where are you going? Don’t leave me! I need you.”
“Relax,” Addy said. “You’re going with me. We’ll go get your car and bring it back here. You can call in sick. No one will ever know you were there.”
“I’ve already called nine-one-one. The police are on their way.”
“Oh, man.” Addy sank back onto the step. “You are such a rule-follower, Evie Douglass.”
“I know.” Evie sighed. “But you love me anyway, right?”
“Shit, I reckon,” Addy said.
“Addy.” Evie looked around. “Your mama hears you cussing and there’ll be h-e-l-l to pay.”
Addy’s mama, Bitsy Corwin, was a force to be reckoned with. Evie loved her to pieces, but the woman scared the bejesus out of her.
“You don’t have to spell it, Eves. The Bitser’s not here. She can’t hear me.”
“Huh. That woman has ears like an elephant when it comes to your potty mouth.”
“Don’t I know it?” Addy was silent. After a moment, she said, “You realize that voice inside your head wasn’t human.”
A chill ran down Evie’s spine. “Yeah, I thought about that.”
“And that there’s probably a demon involved? Maybe even that a demon killed Meredith?”
“Thought about that, too.”
It wouldn’t be the first time a demon caused trouble in Hannah. There was something very strange about their little town.
“The demon might come after you next. You’d better stay with me for a while until it’s safe.”
Evie snorted. “Me underfoot all the time? Won’t Brand love that?”
“Brand will have to deal. You’re my best friend.”
“Thanks,” she said, “but I’ll stay here. The fairies will warn me.”
Addy gave her a curious, almost hopeful look. “I thought you said you couldn’t see them anymore?”
A wave of grief washed over Evie. She’d been able to see fairies as long as she could remember, although she’d only recently shared her gift with Addy. Seeing fairies wasn’t something you went around talking about, not even to your best friend. Not if you didn’t want people to think you were a loon.
She inherited her ability from her mother. It was a special bond they shared, a connection she treasured, especially since her mother’s death. And then, inexplicably, one day not long ago, she couldn’t see fairies anymore.
She swallowed the ball of sadness in her throat. “I can’t see or hear them, but they rattle the wind chimes to let me know they’re there. They’ll warn me if something bad comes, and they’ll protect me.”
Addy grunted, but she sounded unconvinced. “Fairies and demons and demon slayers, oh my! Who would’ve thunk boring, little Hannah, Alabama, would turn out to be the supernatural Vegas truck stop of the universe.”
“Hannah’s never been boring, Addy. You just couldn’t see it.”
“Huh. Well, I see it now.” Addy straightened as two cars pulled up to the curb. “Here come Chief Davis and the sheriff. What are you going to tell them?”
“The truth. What else?”
Addy groaned. “I was afraid you were going to say that.”