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Authors: Jenna Black

The Devil's Playground

BOOK: The Devil's Playground
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Praise for
THE DEVIL INSIDE

Nominated for the 2007
Romantic Times
Reviewers’ Choice Awards for Best Urban Fantasy
Finalist for LR Café’s Best of 2007 Awards
for Best Book All Around

“Kick-ass exorcist Morgan Kingsley is sure to win Black a legion of fans.”

—K
ELLEY
A
RMSTRONG

“A sassy heroine who’s not afraid to do what it takes to get the job done or to save a loved one’s life. Add to that a sexy hero, great secondary characters and a story line that keeps you reading, and this one is definitely a keeper.”

—K
ERI
A
RTHUR

“[Black’s] got a winning heroine, a well-crafted contemporary world where demonic possession is just a part of life, and a nice balance of mystery, action and sex, making this light but engaging novel an urban fantasy series kickoff full of promise.”


Publishers Weekly

“Talk about your odd couples! The delicious irony of trapping a sexy demon and a cranky exorcist in the same body gives rising star Black lots of room for conflict and action. It’s inventive in the extreme! 4½ stars. Top pick!”


Romantic Times

“The plot is nonstop from the first page and the romance sprinkled throughout…. A wonderful new addition to the genre,
The Devil Inside
is an intriguing story and Morgan Kingsley an engaging heroine. I can’t wait to see what the next book,
The Devil You Know
, has to offer.”

—Romance Reviews Today

“Another great paranormal book by Jenna Black [who] weaves a new world and new concepts into every story she writes … Morgan is a strong heroine who will have you cheering her along.”

—Night Owl Romance Book Reviews

“With characters you can’t help but love, and those you love to hate, Ms. Black begins her new series with a story line that’s full of action and surprises. It’s sometimes dark, often loving and completely sexy.”

—Darque Reviews

“Buckle up your seat belt and be prepared for a wild ride … The characters in this book are incredible! … Fast paced with a dark edgy feel,
The Devil Inside
is one urban fantasy not to be missed and Ms. Black is proving herself an author to watch out for.”

—Love Romances & More

“5 Ribbons.
The Devil Inside
is nail-biting, powerful and passionate all in one … a fast-paced, nonstop adventure that I’m sure everyone will love as much as I do.”

—Romance Junkies

“A dark, edgy, and erotic paranormal. [Black’s] writing is intense and she really makes her world come to life. I was hooked from the beginning…. A truly sinister tale that reaches out and grabs your attention. Ms. Black has created a spine-chilling new series.”

—Fresh Fiction

“An outstanding beginning to a new supernatural series! The book starts out with action and only gets faster. I never noticed the story to slow down at all. The plot slowly unfolds to reveal that more is going on than anyone can possibly guess. I sincerely believe the author to have a major winner on her hands with Morgan Kingsley. Five stars.”

—Huntress’ Book Reviews

Praise for
THE DEVIL YOU KNOW

“A gritty and gutsy tale … Wonderfully written with complex characters, an intricate plot, and intense demon encounters, this book will keep readers enthralled. For an intense thrill ride, pick up a copy of
The Devil You Know.”

—Romance Reviews Today

Praise for
THE DEVIL’S DUE

“If you enjoy action, mystery and sex, this urban fantasy is replete with them all.”

—SFRevu

“Black and urban fantasy are a match made in heaven.”


Romantic Times
, 4½ stars

“Flawless … outstanding … exceptional … I adored every word in this action-packed urban fantasy book and I know you will too.”


NightOwlRomance.com
, Reviewers Top Pick

“Black fills the pages with more deliciously dark and dangerous action than ever…. an intensely wild ride. Fans won’t want to miss this newest release.”

—Darque Reviews

“The Devil’s Due
takes the action and suspense of this series to the next level. Twisted plots, evil demons, sex, control, and love are woven into this well-written and intricate fantasy … A very highly recommended thriller that fans of urban fantasy won’t want to miss.”

—Romance Reviews Today

Praise for
SPEAK OF THE DEVIL

“Ms. Black has the fabulous talent of combining just the right elements to make her stories fascinating and impossible to set down.
Speak of the Devil
will have readers glued to every page as the story unfolds with a suspense-filled mystery a large dose of the paranormal, and the steamy passion that fans of the series so heartily enjoy.”

—Darque Reviews

ALSO BY JENNA BLACK

THE MORGAN KINGSLEY SERIES

The Devil Inside
The Devil You Know
The Devil’s Due
Speak of the Devil
&
Watchers in the Night
Secrets in the Shadow
Shadows on the Soul
Hungers of the Heart

To the Heart of Carolina Romance Writers,
for all their support and encouragement

acknowledgments

T
hanks as always to my fantastic editor, Anne Groell, and to my fabulous agent, Miriam Kriss. Thanks to my critique partner, Kelly Gay, for being a sounding board and helping me develop this story. Special thanks go to Rinda Elliott for helping me find my way out of the corner I wrote myself into near the end. And finally, thanks to the Deadline Dames (yes, Rinda, this means I’m technically thanking you twice), who are always there for me through the peaks and valleys of this crazy, wonderful business of writing.

one

N
O ONE WOULD HAVE CALLED MY LIFE NORMAL EVEN
before I became the human host of Lugh, the demon king, who was embroiled in a mostly covert war for the throne. So the fact that I was beginning to think of my life as “normal” now could have been a cause for alarm. But hey, it had been more than two months since anyone had tried to kill me, torture me, or frame me for murder. These days, that was about as normal as it got.

The truth is, my life had settled into something that resembled a routine, and I was beginning to get pretty comfortable with it. Since I was no longer under suspension by the U.S. Exorcism Board, I spent time at my office almost every day. I performed an exorcism maybe once or twice a month, and there was enough paperwork and general office management to keep me busy for a couple hours a day. Not exactly a nine-to-five, but routine enough to lull me into something like complacency. Before I’d become Lugh’s host, I’d routinely done one or two exorcisms a week, but that required me to travel all around the country—something I couldn’t afford to do anymore. Lugh and all the members of his royal council on the Mortal Plain agreed—possibly a
first—that it would be “unwise” for me to venture too far from home when a crisis could pop up at the drop of a hat.

After the disastrous exorcism of Jordan Maguire Jr., which had almost cost me my career and my freedom, I’d been on a lucky streak, with more hosts than usual coming out of the exorcisms with their minds intact. My lucky streak had just ended, however. I’d had an early morning exorcism—a teenaged boy with a face only a mother could love. When I’d cast out the demon who’d possessed him, he’d been catatonic. There was no way of knowing if he would ever snap out of it. I could still hear the mother’s heartbroken sobs when the authorities gave her the news.

Naturally, I was a bit depressed afterward. I went to my office and tried to bury myself in paperwork, but I wasn’t exactly being productive. So when someone knocked on my office door, I was glad for the interruption. Until said interruption opened the door at my invitation.

I hadn’t seen Shae, owner of The Seven Deadlies—a demon sex club that made my stomach curdle just thinking about it—in over two months, and that was just fine by me. I’d have been happy never to see her again in my entire life. She was a mercenary and a predator. She was also an illegal demon—one who’d taken an unwilling human host—and a snitch for Special Forces, the Philly police department’s demon-crime unit. I’d have loved nothing more than to exorcize her ass, but her status as a police snitch protected her.

I’m not what you’d call a conservative dresser—I love low-rise jeans and low-cut tops—but I could never compete with Shae for sheer flamboyance. If her tight white pants dipped any lower, she’d need a bikini wax to wear them, and her sheer red lace top made no attempt to hide the black bra she wore beneath. On most people, that outfit would have looked silly at best, and slutty at worst. On Shae, it reminded me of the plumage on a tropical bird, showy and exotic.

My first impulse was to tell her to get the hell out of my office, but I was getting better at this whole impulse-control thing. There was no way Shae was here on a social call, and I probably needed to hear what she had to say, whether I wanted to or not. I flashed her my best imitation of a welcoming smile.

“Well, this ought to be interesting,” I said. “Have a seat.” I gestured toward one of the chairs in front of my desk, then frowned theatrically. “If you’re capable of sitting down in those pants, that is. I wouldn’t want you mooning passersby.” Never mind that Shae and I were alone in my office with the door closed.

Shae’s smile always reminded me of a shark. Or the Big Bad Wolf. I don’t think her teeth are really any sharper than a normal person’s, but they always looked it. Plus, they were movie-star white against her Heart of Africa skin. She made a big production out of sitting gingerly on the edge of the chair and craning her neck for any signs of visible butt cheek.

I rolled my eyes and refrained from comment. “So, what brings you to my neck of the woods?”

Shae’s smile turned sly and calculating. “I have some information you might be interested in hearing.”

“Okay, lay it on me.” But I knew it wouldn’t be that simple. Shae did
nothing
out of the goodness of her heart. If she was offering information, then it would be for a price.

“What’s it worth to you?” she asked, right on cue.

I laughed. “How should I know? You haven’t told me what ‘it’ is yet.”

She pursed her lips, and a hint of annoyance flared in her eyes. “I’m doing you a favor by coming to you. I can just as easily walk right back out that door.”

If she thought I’d find that option unappealing, she was very much mistaken. “You don’t get to call it a favor when you’re offering it for a price.”

“Fine.” She stood up and made to leave. I let her get as far as the door before I caved.

“All right, I’ll quit being a smart-ass,” I said. “Come and sit down.”

She didn’t leave, but she didn’t come sit down, either. Instead, she just stared at me, her head cocked to one side. It was hard not to squirm under that intense regard. I’m not at my best when I’m uncomfortable, so I did what I usually do at such times—I lashed out.

BOOK: The Devil's Playground
11.2Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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