Home

Blog

Books

Events

Bio

Freebies

Media

Site Map

 

To save the lives of her friends, Rachel did the unthinkable: she willingly trafficked in forbidden demon magic. And now her sins are coming home to haunt her.

As Rachel searches for the truth behind a terrifying murder, an even greater menace threatens, for the demon Algaliarept will stop at nothing to claim her, and the discovery of a shocking family secret throws Rachel's entire life into question. If she is ever to live free, Rachel must first walk willingly into the demonic ever-after in search of long-lost ancient knowledge.

But when you dance with demons, you lay your soul on the line . . . and there are some lines that should never be crossed.

 

The Outlaw Demon Wails was originally published February 2008 through Eos.

Outlaw Tour Photos

 

Available just about everywhere, and a few places I'd never expect, but if you're having trouble:

                                 




ISBN: 978-0060788704

 

For a signed copy, order from Nicola's. International is okay, but email them for a shipping quote first at nicolasbooks@tds.net

The Outlaw Demon Wails foreign edition covers.

When I find them, I'll drop them here. Have one to show me? I'd love to see it. Post a link to it on FB.

E

X

C

E

R

P

T

The Outlaw Demon Wails

by

Kim Harrison

 

ONE

           I leaned over the glass counter, squinting at the price of the high-grade redwood rods, safe in their airtight glass coffins like Snow White.  The ends of my scarf slipped to block my view, and I tucked them behind my short leather jacket.  I had no call to be looking at wands.  It wasn’t a matter of the skill needed to stir the charm, but the money.  Besides, I wasn’t shopping for business today—I was shopping for pleasure.
          “Rachel?” my mom said from halfway across the store, smiling as she fingered a display of packaged organic herbs.  “How about Dorothy?  Make Jenks hairy, and he could be Toto.”
          “No friggen way!” Jenks exclaimed, and I started when the pixy took off from my shoulder where he’d been nestled in my scarf’s warmth.  Gold dust sifted from him to make a temporary sunbeam on the counter and brighten the drab evening.  “I’m not going to spend Halloween handing out candy as a dog!  And no Wendy and Tinkerbell either.  I’m going as a pirate!”  His wings slowed as he settled atop the counter next to the stand of low-grade redwood dowels suitable for amulets.  “Coordinating costumes is stupid.”
          Normally I’d agree, but silent, I drew back from the counter.  I’d never have enough disposable income for a wand.  Besides, versatility was key in my profession, and wands were one-spell wonders.  “I’m going as the female lead in the latest flick,” I said to my mom.  “The one where the vampire hunter falls in love with the vamp?”
          “You’re going as a vampire hunter?” my mother asked.
          Warming, I plucked an uninvoked amulet from a vanity rack to size my chest up.  I was hippy enough to pass for the actress I was trying to mimic, but my excuse of a chest wouldn’t match her spell-enhanced bust.  And it had to be spell-enhanced.  Naturally big-chested women don’t run like that.  “No, the vampire,” I said, embarrassed.  Ivy, my housemate, was going as the hunter, and despite my agreement that coordinating costumes was stupid, I knew Ivy and I would stop conversation when we walked into the party.  And that was the point, wasn’t it?  Halloween was the only time doppelganger charms were legal—and Inderland and the braver slice of humanity made the most of it.
          My mother’s face went serious, then cleared.  “Oh!  The black-haired one, right?  In the slut outfit?  Good God, I don’t know if my sewing machine can go through leather.”
          “Mom!” I protested, used to her language and lack of tact.  If it came into her head, it came out of her mouth.  I glanced at the clerk with her, but she clearly knew my mother and wasn’t fazed.  Seeing a woman in tasteful slacks and an angora sweater swearing like a sailor tended to throw people off.  Besides, I had the outfit in my closet already.
          Frowning, my mother fingered the charms to change hair color.  “Come over here, honey.  Let’s see if they have anything that will touch your curls.  Honestly, Rachel.  You pick the hardest costumes.  Why can’t you ever be anything easy, like a troll or fairy princess?”
          Jenks snickered.  “’Cause that’s not slutty enough,” he said loud enough for me to hear, but not my mother.
          I gave him a look, and he simpered as he hovered backward to a rack of seeds.  Though only four inches tall, he cut an attractive figure with his soft soled boots and the red scarf Matalina, his wife, had knitted him wrapped about his neck.  Last spring, I’d used a demon curse to make him human-sized, and the memory of his eighteen-year-old, athletic figure with his trim waist and broad, muscular shoulders made strong from his dragonfly-like wings was still very much in my memory.  He was a very married pixy, but I couldn’t help but look.  Perfection deserved attention.
          Jenks made a darting path over my basket, and a package of fern seed for Matalina’s wing aches thumped in.  Catching sight of the bust enhancer, his expression turned positively devilish.  “Speaking of slutty,” he started.
          “Well-endowed doesn’t equal slutty, Jenks,” I said.  “Grow up.  It’s for the costume.”
          “Like that’ll do anything?”  His grin was infuriating, and his hands were on his hips in his best Peter Pan poise.  “You need two or three to even make an impression.  Fried eggs.”
          “Shut up!”
          From across the store came my mother’s oblivious, “Solid black, right?”  I turned to see her hair color shifting as she touched the invoked sample amulets.  Her hair was exactly like mine.  Sort of.  I kept mine long, the wild frizzy red just past my shoulders instead of the close cut she had to tame hers.  But our eyes were the same green, and I had her same skill in earth magic, fleshed out and given a professional stamp at one of the local colleges.  She had more education than I did, actually, but had little chance to use it.  Halloween had always been a chance for her to show off her considerable earth magic skills to the neighboring moms with a modest vengeance, and I think she appreciated me asking for her help this year.  She was doing great these last few months, and I couldn’t help but wonder if she was doing better because I was spending more time with her, or she simply appeared more stable because I wasn’t seeing her just when she was having problems.
          Guilt slithered through me, and giving Jenks a glare at his song about big busted ladies tying their shoes, I wove through the stands of herbs and racks sporting premade charms, each having a distinctive sticker as to who had made them.  Charm crafting was still a cottage industry despite the high level of technology to smooth out the rough spots, tightly regulated and vigorously licensed.  The owner of the store probably only crafted a few of the spells she sold.
          At my mother’s direction, I held each sample amulet in turn so she could evaluate my appearance.  The clerk ooohed and ahhed trying to push us into making a decision, but my mom hadn’t helped me with my costume in years, and we were going to make an evening out of it, ending with coffee and dessert at some overpriced coffeehouse.  It wasn’t that I ignored my mom, but my life tended to interfere.  A lot.  I’d been making an effort the last three months to spend more time with her, hoping that she wouldn’t be so . . . fragile.  She hadn’t looked this good in a while.  Which convinced me I was a crappy daughter.
          Finding the right hair color was easy, and I nodded when my red curls turned a black so deep they were almost gun-blue.  Satisfied, I dropped a packaged, uninvoked amulet into the basket to hide the bust enhancer.
          “I’ve a charm at home to straighten your hair,” my mother said brightly, and turned wonderingly to her.  I’d found out in fourth grade that over-the-counter charms wouldn’t touch my curls.  Why on earth did she still have the difficult-to-make charms?  I hadn’t straightened my hair in ages.
          The shop’s phone rang, and when the clerk excused herself, my mom sidled close, smiling as she touched the braid Jenks’s kids had put my hair in this morning.  “That charm took me your entire high school career to perfect,” she said.  “You think I’m not going to practice it?”
          Worried now, I glanced at the woman on the phone—the one who obviously knew my mother.  “Mom!” I whispered.  “You can’t sell those!  You don’t have a license!”
          Lips pressed tight, she strode to the counter in a huff with my basket to check out.
          Exhaling, my gaze went to Jenks sitting on the rack, and he shrugged.  I slowly followed in my mother’s steps, wondering if I’d neglected her more than I thought.  She did the damnedest things sometimes.  I’d talk to her about it over coffee.  Honestly, she should know better.
          Streetlights had come on while we had shopped to make the pavement glow with the gold and purple holiday lights in the evening rain.  It looked cold, and as I went to the register, I adjusted my scarf for Jenks.  “Thanks,” he muttered as he landed on my shoulder.  His wings were shivering, and they ticked my neck as he settled in.  October was too cold for him to be out, but with the garden dormant, risking a trip in the rain to a charm shop had been his only recourse.  He’d brave anything for his wife, I thought, as I rubbed my tickling nose.
          “How about the coffeehouse down two blocks?” my mom suggested as the dull beep, beep of barcodes being read clashed with the earthy smells of the shop.
          “Grab some air, Jenks.  I’m going to sneeze,” I warned him, and muttering things I was just as glad to not hear, he flew to my mom’s shoulder.
          It was a marvelous sneeze, clearing out my lungs and earning a “bless you” from the clerk.  But it was followed by another, and I hardly had time to straighten when a third hit me.  Breathing shallowly to forestall the next, I looked at Jenks in dismay.  There was only one reason why I would sneeze like this—and I wasn’t allergic to cats.
          “Damn” I whispered, glancing out the huge front window—it was after sundown.  “Double damn.”  I spun to the clerk now shoving things into a bag.  I didn’t have my calling circle.  I had cracked the first one, and the new one was under my kitchen counter sandwiched between spell books.  Damn, damn, damn! I should have made one the size of a compact mirror.
          “Ma’am?” I warbled, then accepted the tissue my mom handed me from her purse.  “Do you sell calling circles?”
          The woman stared, clearly affronted.  “Absolutely not.  Alice, you told me she didn’t deal in demons.  Get her out of my store!”
          My mother let out a huff of annoyance, then her face turned coaxing.  “Patricia,” she cajoled.  “Rachel does not summon demons.  The papers print what sells papers, that’s all.”
          I sneezed again, this time so hard it hurt.  Crap.  We had to get out of here.
          “Heads up, Rachel,” Jenks called out, and I looked up to catch the cellophane-wrapped stick of magnetic chalk as he dropped it.  Fumbling with the wrapper, I tried to remember the complex pentagram Ceri had taught me.  Minias was the only one who knew I had a direct line to the ever-after, and if I didn’t answer him, he might cross the lines to find me.
          Searing pain came from nowhere.  Doubled over, I gasped at the assault and fell back from the counter.  What in hell?  It isn’t supposed to hurt!
          Jenks hit the ceiling, leaving behind a cloud of silver dust like an octopus inking.  My mother turned from her friend.  “Rachel?” she questioned, her green eyes wide as I bent and clutched my wrist.
          The chalk slipped from me as my grip went numb.  It was on fire.  It felt like my wrist was on fire.  “Get out!” I yelled, and the two women stared at me as if I had gone insane.
          We all jumped when the air pressure violently shifted.  Ears ringing, I looked up, my heart pounding and my breath held.  He was here.  I didn’t see the demon, but he was here.  Somewhere.  I could smell the burnt amber.
          Spotting the chalk, I scooped it up and picked at the cellophane, but my nails couldn’t find the seam.  I was torn between fear and anger.  Minias had no business bothering me.  I didn’t owe him, and he didn’t owe me.  And why couldn’t I get the damned wrapper off the chalk!
          “Rachel Mariana Morgan?” came an elegant British accent I’d expect from the BBC channel, and my face went cold.  “Where a-a-a-a-are you?” it drawled.
          “Shit,” I whispered.  It wasn’t Minias.  It was Al.
          Panicked, I looked across at store to my mother.  She stood with her friend, neat and tidy in her autumn-colored outfit, her hair perfectly arranged, and her eyes just starting to show a few faint lines.  She hadn’t a clue.  “Mom,” I whispered, gesturing frantically as I put space between us.  “Get into a circle.  Both of you!”  But they just stared.  I didn’t have time to explain.  Hell, I didn’t understand it myself.  This had to be a joke.  Some perverted, twisted joke.
          My eyes went to the darting clatter of Jenks as he came to hover beside me.  “It’s Al!” the pixy gushed in a whisper.  “Rache, you said he was in demon prison!”
          “Rachel Mariana Mo-o-o-o-orga-a-a-a-an,” the demon sang, and I stiffened at the tap-thunk tap-thunk of his booted feet coming from behind a tall display of spelling books.
          “Damn fool moss wipe of a pixy,” Jenks was berating himself.  “It’s too cold to take my sword,” he said in a mocking falsetto.  “It’ll freeze to my ass.  It’s a shopping trip, not a run.”  His voice shifted, becoming angry.  “Tink save you, Rachel.  Can’t you even go shopping with your mom without calling up demons?”
          “I didn’t call him!” I protested, feeling my palms start to sweat.
          “Yeah, well, he’s here,” the pixy said, and I swallowed when the demon peeked mockingly from behind the display.  He had known exactly where I was.
          Al was smiling in a deep, mocking anger, his goat-slitted, red eyes peering over a pair of round smoked glasses.  Dressed in his usual frock coat of crushed green velvet, he was a picture of old European grace, the image of a young lord on the verge of greatness.  Lace showed at the cuffs and collar.  Aristocratically chiseled features with a strong nose and chin were tight in a bad humor, and his thick teeth showed in a smile that anticipated dealing out pain.
          I kept backing up, and he came out from behind the display.  “Oh, I say.  This is splendid!” he said in delight.  “Two Morgans for the price of one.”
           Oh God.  My mother.  Terror snapped me out of my shock.  “You can’t touch me or my family,” I said while I tried to get the cellophane off the magnetic chalk.  If I could make a circle, I might be able to trap him.  “You promised!”
          The tapping of his boots stopped as he posed to show off his elegant grace.  My eyes measured the distance between us.  Eight feet.  Not good.  But if he was looking at me, he was ignoring my mom.
          “I did, didn’t I?” he said, and when he sent his gaze to the ceiling, my shoulders eased.
          “Rache!” Jenks shrilled.
          Al lunged.  Panicking, I backpedaled.  Fear hit hard when he found my throat.  I dug at his fingers, my nails gouging him as he picked me up to dangle from his grip.  His sculptured face grimaced at the obvious pain, but he only tightened his fingers.  My pulse pounded in my head and I went limp, praying he wanted to gloat a little before he dragged me back to the ever-after to hopefully kill me.
          “You can’t hurt me,” I squeaked out, not sure if the sparkles at the edge of my vision were from lack of oxygen or Jenks.  I was dead.  I was so dead.
          A soft sound of satisfaction emanated from Al, a long, low rumble of contentment.  He effortlessly pulled me close until our breath mingled.  His eyes were red behind his glasses, and the scent of burnt amber coursed through me.  “I asked nicely for your testimony.  You refused.  I’ve no incentive to play by the rules anymore.  You can thank your own shortsightedness for that.  Me sitting in a tiny little cell.”  He gave me a shake to rattle my teeth.  “Stripped of my curses and naked but for what I can say or spell.  But someone summoned me out,” he said maliciously.  “And we have a deal that’s going to leave you dead and me a free demon.”
          “It wasn’t my fault you went to jail,” I squeaked.  Adrenaline pulsed to hurt my head.  He couldn’t pop out of here with me unless I let him; he’d have to drag me to a ley line.
          Somewhere in my frazzled brain, something clicked.  He couldn’t hold me and go misty at the same time.  Grunting, I pulled my knee up, connecting right between his legs.
          Al grunted.  Agony smacked into me as he flung me away and my back hit a display.  I gasped for air, holding my bruised throat as packets of freeze-dried herbs sifted over me with light thumps.  Sucking in the scent of amber as I coughed, I held up a hand to fend them off, angling my legs under me to stand.  Where was the chalk?
          “You sorry bitch of a succubus whore!” Al groaned, holding himself as he hunched over, and I smiled.  Minias had told me that as part of Al’s punishment for letting his old familiar go while knowing how to spindle line energy, he’d been purged of the accumulated charms, spells, and curses he had built up over the millenniums.  It left him, while not helpless, at least reduced to a limited spell vocabulary.  Obviously he’d been in the kitchen recently since his upper-crust Englishman persona was a disguise.  What he really looked like, I didn’t want to know.
          “What’s the matter, Al?” I foolishly mocked, wiping my mouth to find I’d bitten my lip.  “Not use to anyone fighting back?”  This was freaking great.  Here I was in a charm shop, and nothing was invoked but vanity charms and bust enhancers.
          “Here, Rachel!” my mom cried out, and Al’s head swung around.
          “Mom!” I shouted when she threw something at me.  “Get out!”
          Al’s eyes tracked it.  I stiffened as a shimmer of black ever-after coursed over him, healing whatever I had damaged.  But the magnetic chalk thumped safely into my hand.  I took a breath to yell at her to get out again, and the shimmer of blue-tinted ever-after circle rose up around her and the clerk behind the counter.  They were safe.
          An odd, unexpected sensation of ice pulled through me, and I stiffened.  It felt like the chime of a bell ringing through my bones.  Oblivious to it, Al let out a roar and lunged.
          Yelping, I dropped to the floor and out of his reach.  From behind me came a crash as Al sailed over me and fell into the rack I’d knocked over.  I had seconds.  Arm extended, I sat on the floor and scribbled a circle, rolling back and away as a premonition honed by years of martial arts practice told me he was reaching for me.
          “Not this time, witch,” he snarled.
          Eyes wide, I spun on my butt.  My foot came up to smack him, but he moved with an inhuman quickness and my boot struck the palm of his hand.  I froze, laying on my back with my ankle in his grip and my scarf in my face.  One good twist, and he’d break it.  Ah, shit.
          Al had lost his glasses.  His eyes glinted maliciously as he smiled, but before he could move, an explosion rocked through the store and blew out the windows.  My hands jerked to my ears and I yanked my foot out of Al’s grip.  The demon’s goat-slitted eyes were wide as he stumbled back, but his shock quickly became anger.
          Frightened, I scrabbled to knock over another display.  Packaged amulets rained down.  The shush of tires against wet pavement became obvious as my hearing returned, the sound coming in through the broken window along with the calls of people.  What had my mom done?
          “Jenks!” I shouted, feeling the icy cool of a damp night.  It was too cold.  It might throw him into hibernation!
           “I’m fine!” he exclaimed as he hovered in a red haze of dust.  “Let’s get the bastard.”
          I gathered myself to stand, then hesitated in a crouch when Jenks’s gaze fixed over my shoulder and the pixy went white.
          “Uh, bastards,” he amended shakily , and a new fear settled in when I realized Al wasn’t moving anymore, either, but watching whatever Jenks was.  In the hush of ambient street noise, a wave of burnt amber tainted ozone flowed over me.
          “There’s another demon behind me, isn’t there,” I whispered.
          Jenks’s eyes flicked to mine and away.  “Two.”
           Terrific.  Jenks darted away, and I moved.  I tripped on my scarf, then kicked backward when someone grabbed my leg.  Their grip faltered and still on the floor, I spun.  A yellow-clad arm reached for me.  Griping someone’s shoulder, I swung my foot up as a fulcrum and flung him over me.
          There was no crash; whoever it was had gone misty.  Three demons?  What in hell was going on!
          Ticked, I got to my feet only to stumble when a blur of red darted in front of me.  My eyes went to my mother.  She was okay, fighting to get the clerk’s arms off her as the woman panicked, safe in the circle as the store was ripped apart.
          “You sent a rent-a-cop after me?” Al bellowed.  “Nice try!”
          I covered my ears when a pressure shift pulsed against me and he vanished.  The demon in red that had been headed for him skidded to a stop.  Cursing violently, he flung his scythe out in an undeniable anger.  It sliced through a metallic rack like it was cotton candy, and the display slowly toppled as the clerk began sobbing.
          Blinking, I slowly backed away.  Packets of amulets crunched under my feet.  Holy crap, the monster looked like death having a temper tantrum, and I jumped when Jenks landed on my shoulder.  The pixy had a straightened plastic-coated paperclip, and I found strength in that.  So what if there were still two demons here?  I could do anything with Jenks watching my back.
           “Well, follow him!” the last demon shouted, and I spun, fearing the worst.  Please, not Newt.  Anyone but Newt.
          “You!” I exclaimed, my breath exploding out of me in the one word.  It was Minias.
          “Yes, me,” Minias snarled, and I jumped when the red demon with the scythe vanished.  “Why, the bloody new moon, didn’t you answer me?”
          “Because I don’t deal with demons!” I shouted, pointing to the shattered window as if I had any authority over him.  “Get the hell out of here!”
          Minias’s smooth, ageless face creased in anger.
           “Look out!” Jenks cried as he took off from my shoulder, but I was way ahead of him.  The demon in his yellow robe and funny hat was striding across the store, kicking charms and herbs out of the way.  I backed up, the cries from the sidewalk telling me how close I was to the circle I’d scribed earlier.  My pulse pounded and I felt myself sweat.  This would be close.
           Murderously silent, he came on, his goat-slitted eyes a red so dark as to be almost brown.  His robes furled as he moved, looking like a cross between a desert sheik’s cloak and a kimono.  His pace stilted, he reached for me, the light glinting on his rings.
          “Now!” Jenks shouted, and I dropped out from under the demon’s reach and rolled past the chalk line.
          I was outside the circle; Minias was in it.  “Rhombus!” I exclaimed, slapping my hand down on the chalk.  My awareness reached out to touch the nearest ley line.  Power surged through me, and I held my breath, eyes watering as it flowed in unchecked, my desire for a quick circle letting the ley line energy fill me with an unusual force.
          It hurt, but I gritted my teeth and held on while the forces equalized in the time it takes for an electron to spin.  Pulled by the trigger word, my will tapped the memory of hours of practice, consolidating a five-minute prep and invocation into an eyeblink.  I wasn’t that good with most ley line magic, but this?  This I could do.
          “Bloody hell and damn your dame!” Minias swore, and I couldn’t help but smile when the hem of his yellow robe swung to a stop.  It was blurry from the molecule-thin sheet of ever-after that rose to trap him in my circle.
          My breath slipped from me, and I sat back on my butt, my palms behind me on the hardwood floor and my knees bent as I looked at the demon.  I had him, and the fading adrenaline was starting to turn into the shakes.
          “Rachel!” my mother called, and I looked past Minias.  She was frowning at the clerk.  The woman refused to take down her protective circle, sobbing and crying.  Finally my mother had enough, and with her lips pursed in the temper she had handed down to me, shoved the woman into her own bubble, causing her to break it.
          The frazzled woman hit the floor out of sight behind the counter to wail all the louder.  I sat upright when the phone was dragged from the counter to thunk on the floor.  Beaming, my mother stepped delicately around the scattered charms and spells, hands extended and pride flowing from her like a wave.
          “Are you okay?” I asked as I took her hands and she pulled me up.
          “Fantabulous!” she exclaimed, eyes bright.  “Hot damn, I love to watch you work!”
          I had crushed herbs all over my jeans, and I slapped at them to get the flakes off.  There was a crowd at the broken window, and traffic had stopped.  Jenks dropped to hover behind my mom, making the “crazy” motion with his finger, and I frowned.  My mom had been more than a little off since my dad had died, but I had to admit this nonchalance at a three-demon attack was much easier to take than the noisy hysterics the clerk was having behind the counter.
          “Get out!” the woman yelled when she pulled herself up.  Her eyes were red and her face was swollen.  “Alice, get out and don’t you ever come back!  You hear me?  Your daughter is a menace!  She ought to be locked up and shunned!”
          My mother’s jaw clenched.  “Shut your mouth,” she said hotly.  “My daughter just saved your butt.  She drove two off demons and bound a third while you hid like a prissy girly-girl who wouldn’t know the right end of an amulet if it came out her ass.”  Color high, she turned with a huff and looped her arm in mine.  The plastic bag of charms was in her hand, and it thumped into me lightly.  “Rachel, we’re leaving.  This is the last time I shop in this pee-stained hole.”
          Jenks was grinning as he hovered before us.  “Have I told you lately how much I like you, Mrs. Morgan?”
          “Mom . . . people can hear you,” I said, embarrassed.  God!  Her mouth was worse than Jenks’s.  And we couldn’t leave.  Minias was still standing in my circle.
          Heels crunching on the merchandise, my mom dragged me to the door, her head high and her red curls bobbing in the breeze from the busted window.  A tired sigh lifted through me at the wail of sirens.  Great.  Just freaking great.  They’d want to haul me down to the I.S. tower to fill out a report.  Demon summoning wasn’t illegal, just really stupid, but they’d think of something, and it would probably be a bald-faced lie.
          The I.S., or Inderland Security, didn’t like me.  Since having quit their lame-ass worldwide police force last year, Ivy, Jenks and I had been showing up the Cincinnati division with a pleasant regularity.  They weren’t idiots, but I attracted trouble that just begged me to beat it into submission.  It didn’t help that the media loved printing stuff about me, either, if only to feed the animosity and sell papers.
          Minias cleared his throat as we approached, and my mother halted in surprise.  Clasping his hands innocently before him, the demon smiled.  From outside came an increase in conversation at the approaching cruisers.  The jitters started, and Jenks slipped between me and my scarf with that paperclip still in his grip.  He was shivering, too, but I knew it was from the cold, not fear.
          “Banish your demon, Rachel, so we can get our coffee,” my mother said as if he was a nuisance, like fairies in her garden.  “It’s almost six.  There will be a line if we don’t hurry.”
          The clerk steadied herself against a counter.  “I called the I.S!  You can’t go.  Don’t you let them go!” she screamed at the watching people, but thankfully none came in.  “You belong in jail!  All of you!  Look at my shop.  Look at my shop!”
          “Put a cork in it, Patricia!” my mother said.  “You have insurance.”  Coyly touching her hair, she turned to Minias.  “You’re nice looking—for a demon.”
          Minias blinked, and I sighed as a contriving smile curved over his face and his bow made my mom titter like a schoolgirl.  The conversations at the broken window shifted, and when I looked at the street and the sound of approaching cruisers, someone’s camera phone flashed.  Oooooh, better and better.
          Licking my lips, I turned to Minias.  “Demon, I demand that you depart—” I started.
          Minias stepped to the edge of the barrier, so close smoke curled up where his robe touched it.  “Rachel Mariana Morgan, you’re in danger.”
          “Tell us something we don’t know, moss wipe,” Jenks muttered from my shoulder.
          “I’m in danger?” I said snidely, feeling better now that he was behind a circle.  “Gee, you think?  Why is Al out of jail?  You told me he was in custody!  He attacked me!” I shouted, pointing to the destroyed shop.  “He broke our agreement!  What are you going to do about it!”
           Minias’s eye twitched and the barest rasp gave away his slippers scuffing the floor.  “Someone is summoning him out of confinement.  It’s in your best interest to help us.”
          “Rache,” Jenks complained.  “It’s cold and the I.S. is almost here.  Get rid of him before they make us fill out paperwork until the sun goes nova.”
          I rocked back on my heels.  Yeah.  Like I was going to help a demon?  My reputation was bad enough.
          Seeing me ready to banish him, Minias shook his head.  “We can’t contain him without your help.  He will kill you, and with no one alive to file a complaint, he’ll get away with it.”
          A chill ran through me at the certainty in his voice.  Worried, I glanced at the people at the window, then looked over the store.  Not much was standing.  Outside, traffic began to move as the amber and blue lights of an I.S. car started playing over the buildings.  My gaze fell on my mom and I cringed.  I could usually keep the more lethal aspects of my job from her, but this time . . .
          “Better listen,” she said, shocking the hell out of me, then clacked her heels smartly as she went to intercept the clerk’s dash to the street.

[. . .]

 To Top

 

Revised:   07/01/2015     Copyright 2007 by Kim Harrison.  All rights reserved.