Authors: Kimberly Raye
Tags: #Fiction, #Romance, #General, #Paranormal
The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is coincidental and not intended by the author.
Text copyright © 2013 Kimberly Raye Groff
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, or stored in a retrieval system, or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise, without express written permission of the publisher.
Published by Montlake Romance
PO Box 400818
Las Vegas, NV 89140
Library of Congress Control Number: 2013933899
For all of my loyal fans who have been waiting patiently for a new series, you guys are the best.
Is there a daughter out there who hasn’t suspected her mother of being possessed by the Devil at one time or another? Seriously. The impossible expectations. The nagging. The guilt. The dancing—at my cousin’s graduation party to Madonna’s “Like a Virgin.” The. Worst. Moment. Of. My. Life.
Talk about pure evil.
The thing is, in my case, I didn’t just suspect. I
Lillith Damon to the National Association of Interior Decorators and her snooty River Oaks neighbors, good ole Mom to yours truly, Satan to the rest of the world. She’d just walked into the lobby of Houston’s Crowne Plaza Hotel, about to drop a bomb in the middle of my biggest matrimonial extravaganza to date.
I know, I know. Satan? A
But just think about it. Women have the market cornered when it comes to trickery, manipulation, and power. They just wield it a little more tactfully than men. Who seduced Adam into eating that apple? Eve. Who caused a full-fledged Trojan War? Helen. Who snagged
hottest guy in the world and sucked him into Daddydom? Believe you me, I was still holding a grudge against Angelina for that one. Throughout history women have been wielding their feminine wiles to manipulate men and get their way (plus the occasional piece of jewelry).
The mastermind behind it all?
My very own mother.
For millennia, Mom has been the head honcho Down Under along with her three sisters—Levita, aka Leviathan; Lucy, aka Lucifer; and Bella, aka Belial. Together, they represent the four crown princesses of Hell. Google, of course, would argue this, because every reputable website refers to them as
entities. The frightening, formidable, ferocious crown
of Hell (shudder).
Manipulation, remember? Men are typically viewed as more intimidating than women, so my mom and aunties perpetuate the myth, making it that much easier to keep a low profile in the real world. No reputable demon hunter would ever suspect a middle-aged interior decorator with a weakness for mocha lattes and cucumber facials of being the horned god herself.
But back to the matter at hand.
“I want the whole shebang,” Lillith demanded, not even slowing to let her assistant catch up (or say hello) before launching in. “From rehearsal dinner to reception.” Mom was tall with tastefully styled midlength brown hair. A tailored black skirt and jacket hugged her curves, and a pair of sleek, black Manolo pumps completed the ensemble. Not that she was a slave to designer footwear. That vice fell to Aunt Lucy. Mom just liked to look good, and if that meant swiping a pair of my auntie’s prized pumps, so be it.
Sure, she could buy her own (evil was definitely profitable these days), but pissing off her sis was so much more fun.
“Oh, and I’ll need to have an official bridesmaids’ luncheon too.” She waved a perfectly manicured hand. “Maybe even a breakfast the day of.” When I arched an eyebrow, she added, “I downloaded
Weddings From A–Z
. I want everything done by the book so there’s no doubt that I have finally taken a prince.”
While Mom is the oldest sibling, and therefore numero uno in the Big H, she still has to share control with my aunties. And if there’s one thing Mom hates (besides my best friend, Blythe, polyester blends, and anything early American), it’s sharing.
“When Samael and I unite, our powers will merge,” she went on. “My sisters won’t be able to challenge me again. No more family meetings. No more democracy.” Her ice-queen facade cracked for a split second and she actually smiled. “Hell will finally be a dictatorship, as your grandfather always meant it to be.”
I sighed. Here we go again.
Gramps had been an archangel once upon a time. Then he’d had it out with the Big Guy Upstairs and bam, he’d been out on his ass. He’d gone into business for himself after that. But finding good help, particularly when you’re the Devil, is hard. All the liars and cheaters out there seemed to gravitate toward Gramps. He’d finally decided to stop trying to recruit a trustworthy right hand and sire his own. A son who wouldn’t try to overthrow him. Or milk him for all he was worth. Or change the channel when the Dallas Cowboys were in the play-offs.
A great plan, right? Except that Gramps hadn’t had a son. He’d had a daughter. And then another daughter. And then another. And then
Sheesh, you’d think the Einstein of all evil could orchestrate the birth of one measly male. But only the Big Man Up High controls life and death, and my mom and her sisters are proof that he has a certifiable sense of humor.
The jokes hadn’t stopped there, either. My ma had tried to make Gramps proud and squeeze out a boy. Instead, she’d ended up with me and my three older sisters. My aunts? Same story. I have thirty-six cousins. All female. Which explains why I’d started making up excuses to miss as many birthdays and family get-togethers as possible.
Gramps had been tempted to try for kid number five, but four nagging women proved more than he could handle. So he’d cut his losses and taken up golf, a hobby that had quickly turned to a passion. Just last year he’d hit the PGA tour to make a name for himself.
He’d left specific instructions that his daughters continue to share duties and rule Hell together, but Gramps still had the final say. Unless, of course, one of them joined with one of his demon chiefs in an official union. What can I say? Gramps is a total chauvinist. Anyhow, complete control would then fall to his trusted son-in-law (attaboy) and whichever daughter took the plunge first.
“I should have done this day one,” my mother declared. “Putting up with one egotistical male, even one as bossy and obnoxious as Samael, is much better than three know-it-all females.”
“Samael? Isn’t he the chief demon of war?” While every demon had a specialty—sex, war, slavery, IRS audits—only first-tier demons served as chiefs. They answered only to the ancients, like Gramps. Gramps and his ancient buddies had all been archangels at one time, but he’d been the only one with big enough cojones to revolt. He’d jumped ship first and taken charge Down Under, with the other ancients as his henchmen. Since Gramps was king bee, his daughters were considered royalty and destined to rule. Meanwhile, the offspring of the other ancients had assumed chief demon positions.
“Samael is the chief of war
strife,” she said almost proudly. Except my mother didn’t do
, which was my first clue that she didn’t find Samael half as bossy and obnoxious as she wanted everyone to think. “So?” Her ice-blue gaze met mine. “What do you think? Can you pull it off?”
“Pull off what?” I was still in shock from her showing up at the hotel where I was neck-deep in a wedding that was about to commence in exactly twenty-two minutes.
Provided the bride didn’t change her mind about her hairstyle again. The stylist had canceled at the last minute and I’d jumped in to avert disaster. I’d already braided and pinned until my fingers were ready to bleed.
I glanced around at the busy lobby. Guests were still filing into the chapel area and the bride would be coming downstairs any minute. It was almost go time.
“The union, of course,” Mother announced. “That’s why I’m here. To secure your services.”
I blinked. And here I’d thought she’d come to break the news because (a) she was my mom and this was the biggest thing she’d done, next to that hurricane that had leveled Galveston way back when, and (b) she didn’t want to risk hurting my feelings if I heard the news secondhand from one of my sisters.
Then again, she was Satan. Rule out the touchy-feely mommy/daughter crap. She was a mother in the sense that she’d given birth to me and seen that I was well taken care of while growing up (think remote Italian villa and a nanny named Sophia), but that was it. I didn’t pour out my hopes and dreams to her, and I certainly didn’t expect the occasional “Awesome” when I did something superspectacular. Unless said something involved war, famine, or pestilence.
Pestilence wasn’t my specialty. The cousins had that one cornered, specifically my cousin Hester. She could wipe out an entire city with the plague or bring a soccer team to its knees with some serious jock itch. As for me, I was better with the one-on-one. My evil birthright? An overabundance of raw sexuality and the ability to seduce any man who caught my fancy.
Yep, you guessed it. My name is Jezebel. Jezebel Damon. But my friends call me Jess. I’m a succubus. I’m also over one thousand years old—that’s twenty-four in demon years. What can I say? Time flies when you’re having fun.
Preying on men is my pièce de résistance.
Or rather, it was. Then two years ago I met Mark, a bartender/part-time infomercial host. We’d been having hot, wild sex on the bar where he worked nights—until his fiancée walked in.