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Authors: Rick Hautala

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The Demon’s

Wife

 

 

A
Novel of the Supernatural and Attempted Redemption

 

 

By

Rick Hautala

 

 

 

 

JournalStone

San Francisco

 

 

 

Copyright
© 2013 by Rick Hautala

 

All
rights reserved. No part of this book may be used or reproduced by any means,
graphic, electronic, or mechanical, including photocopying, recording, taping
or by any information storage retrieval system without the written permission
of the publisher except in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical
articles and reviews.

 

This
is a work of fiction. All of the characters, names, incidents, organizations,
and dialogue in this novel are either the products of the author’s imagination
or are used fictitiously.

 

JournalStone
books may be ordered through booksellers or by contacting:

 

JournalStone

www.journalstone.com

www.journal-store.com

 

The
views expressed in this work are solely those of the authors and do not
necessarily reflect the views of the publisher, and the publisher hereby
disclaims any responsibility for them.

 

ISBN:
                    978-1-936564-95-8            (sc)

ISBN:                     978-1-936564-98-9
           (ebook)

JournalStone
rev. date:  September 13, 2013

 

ISBN:
                    978-1-936564-97-2            (hc)

JournalStone
rev. date:  August 16, 2013

 

Library
of Congress Control Number:              2013941615

 

Printed
in the United States of America

 

Cover
Design:       Denise Daniel

Cover
Art:             M. Wayne Miller

 

Edited
by:              Norman Rubenstein

 

 

 

Dedication

 

This
book has got to be dedicated to Holly, who edited this book—and lives with
me—with love, patience, and understanding.

I
don’t know how you do it.

 

 

Also,
a special shout out to Hank Schwaeble who helped me out of a legal jam …

Thank
God it was a fictional one

 

 

 

Endorsements

 

 

"The Demon’s Wife asks the
question
What do you
expect when you marry a demon
? Rick Hautala answers that question
with harrowing suspense, dark mystery, and masterful plotting. Not many
women can say they're in love--or lust--with a man who has a tail, but
Claire McMullen can. This DEMON has style, sensuality and
soul."  

Robert McCammon

 

"
The Demon’s Wife
is wonderfully entertaining and
entirely compelling, a horrifying and heartfelt urban fantasy sure to appeal to
fans of Charlaine Harris and Kelley Armstrong.  Cloaked inside this dark,
frightening tale is horror legend Rick Hautala's surprising treatise on the
purifying, redemptive power of love." 

Christopher
Golden
, New York Times best-selling co-author of
Joe Golem and the Drowning City
and
Father
Gaetano's Puppet Catechism

 

"Rich
in detail, and with a unique and devilishly good premise, 
Rick Hautala
’s 
The Demon’s Wife
is a
completely compelling journey into a most-unusual marriage of the supernatural
and earthly. A master of horror, Hautala conjures up twists and turns that will
keep readers guessing what will happen next to the demon’s wife, Claire, and
her very different husband, as the pages go flying by."
          

Matthew
Costello
, Author of 
Vacation
 and
Home

 

“The Demon’s Wife
is a sly
examination of the strangest marriage you will ever see. It’s a fast-paced,
mordant examination of contemporary relationships, full of clever twists and
irreverent reversals that turn the ideas of love and standard theology
inside-out. Echoes of Wodehouse and Sheckley resonate through the pages. A
fitting capstone to a magical career.”

Thomas F. Monteleone,
 
4-time Bram Stoker Award winner

 

“THE DEMON’S WIFE is a brilliant,
chilling, mind-blowing and heart-stopping novel of horror and magic. A superb
novel, first page to last.” –
Jonathan Maberry
, New York Times
best-selling author of EXTINCTION MACHINE and FIRE & ASH.

 

"Quirky,
funny, frightening, and romantic, THE DEMON'S WIFE would have been right at
home in that paragon of pulp magazines, John Campbell's UNKNOWN (and there is
no higher praise for fantasy). Reminiscent of John Collier, Thorne Smith, and
Roald Dahl at their most wicked, the tale turns on a dime from charming to
chilling as it asks the eternal question, 'How far are we willing to go for
love?'"

Chet Williamson

 

 

 

 

 

Chapter

 

1

 

 

 

 

Enter Samael

 

Now, Claire McMullen says she
might never have married Samael if she had known that he was a demon. Then
again, his demonic nature might be what attracted her to him in the first
place. He certainly had “devilishly” good looks—impeccably dressed with long,
dark hair, even darker eyes, a terrific build, and a smile that captivated both
women and men, in various ways.  She didn’t find out about the tail until
later.

Of course,
it’s easy for her to say that now but at the beginning, back when neither she
nor anyone else knew how things would eventually turn out, it was quite another
story.

Picture this,
because it’s all too easy:

Claire was in
her early thirties. She was tall and lanky—not skinny—with pale, freckled skin
and round blue eyes. The only thing she liked about herself was her hair—a
long, thick mass of curly tangles so bright red people often thought it wasn’t
her natural color. Her hair was the first thing about her that Samael noticed.

She also had a
job she hated, a roommate she…tolerated. She also had a mountain of debt—mostly
from college loans—that she had concluded was never going to be paid off. She
also had, of course, the usual expenses for room and board, electricity, heat,
cell phone, Internet, and weekend nights bar-hopping around Portland, always on
the prowl for Mr. Right…or at least Mr. Right Now.

Let’s consider
her job for a moment.

For the past
seven years, she had worked as a purchasing agent for Montressor, a chemical
company in South Portland, Maine. What this had to do with her degree in
Communications from Ithaca College, in upstate New York, she had no idea. Then
again, most of the friends she was still in touch with from college had jobs
that had absolutely nothing to do with their majors. The best writer in her
class—Ally Dixon—was working as a nanny for a doctor in Austin, Texas. At least
Claire hadn’t studied the bottom of beer and booze bottles, like many of her
college friends. With the background she’d had growing up in Aroostook County,
Maine, and wanting so desperately to escape, she studied harder than most
students. To offset the need for student loans, she had worked part-time in a
donut shop—Tony’s Donuts—in downtown Ithaca for three years, summers included.
To this day, the smell of fresh-baked donuts never failed to nauseate her.

So five days a
week, from seven o’clock in the morning until four o’clock in the afternoon,
she sat in an office not much bigger than a broom closet. There were no
windows, and her only lifelines to the “real world” were cruising Facebook and
listening to WXPN, a radio station from Philly that she streamed over the
computer, no matter how many times Marty, her boss, told her not to because she
was taking up too much of the company’s bandwidth.

After another
seemingly endless day in a seemingly endless parade of days in what amounted to
little more than an experiment in sensory deprivation, she would come home to
the small apartment on Congress Street that she shared with Sally Lewis.

Sally was, as
they say, “a piece of work.” She had grown up in a rich family in Cape
Elizabeth, and never seemed to lack money even though her current job as a
bookstore manager didn’t pay all that well, considering how hard she worked.

Claire hadn’t
always felt this distance with Sally. In fact, they had been close friends for
several years, back when Claire had first moved to Portland to be closer to
Billy Carroll, her boyfriend at the time. That hadn’t turned out as well as she
had hoped. Most relationships don’t, right? But once she was back in
Maine—something she had vowed to avoid—a kind of inertia set in, and she…well,
she simply stayed here now that she was familiar with the city. At least she
hadn’t moved back home to the “County.”

Claire met
Sally when she had worked part-time over Christmas at the local Borders
bookstore. Sally was a manager there, although year after year, her job looked
increasingly shaky, what with the economy and people not buying books like they
used to. She kept threatening to pack up and move—maybe to Florida or some
Caribbean island. More and more, Claire wished Sally would do exactly that,
even though she had no idea how she’d make the rent without a roommate. She
didn’t have many friends locally, and she didn’t like the idea of searching for
a new roomie on Craigslist or whatever—

 And she
hadn’t forgotten about the “Craigslist Killer either.”

In spite of
her bluster and job insecurity, Sally stayed where she was—in the apartment and
at Borders—and Claire stayed where she was.

On weekends,
like I said, they went out. Sometimes they went with friends of Sally’s from
the bookstore. Sometimes it was just the two of them. On the night she met
Samael, it was just the two of them.

It was Sally,
in fact, who first noticed him that night at Margarita’s Grille. They had
tickets to see “The Economy,” a local band that had made it nationally and was
playing a “coming home” gig at the Civic Center. Before the show, they decided
to grab a quick bite to eat and have something to drink.

That’s when
they wandered into the bar.

At the time
they met him, neither one of them knew that he spelled his name “Samael.” That
might have given her a hint of his demonic nature, too, but how could she have
known? They could have Googled the name, perhaps, but no one expects to meet an
actual demon, face to face…not in a city like Portland, Maine. New York City?
Sure. No problem. Both of them assumed he spelled his name the usual way:
“Samuel,” even though he pronounced it without the “U.”

Sam-a-el.

On the night
they met, Sally tried calling him “Sam” a few times. It irked Claire, but as
the drinks flowed, Sally even tried “Sammy” once or twice. To Claire, it didn’t
“sound” at all right. He was definitely not a Sam much less a Sammy. He
appeared not to appreciate being called that, either. After Sally used the
nickname a few more times, Samael politely—but firmly—corrected her—once—and
asked that she please use his full name, “Samael,” and to pronounce it
correctly. He even wrote it down on a bar napkin…along with his telephone
number, which he slid over to Claire.

Claire
experienced a thrill when he scooted his chair closer to her.

“So what do
you do?” he asked. His dark eyes were focused on her…a little too intently,
maybe?

“Not much.”

“I manage the
Borders,” Sally chimed in. “Believe me. I could tell you stories.”

“Go on,
Claire,” Samael said, still staring at her like she was the only woman in the
bar.

Claire sighed.
“I work as a purchasing agent for a local chemical company. I order the stuff
they put into your drinking water and the salt they spread on the roads in
winter. It’s a soul-sucking job.”

Samael
chuckled, and Claire was concerned she had said something wrong.

“Interesting
choice of words,” he said as if to allay her embarrassment. “’Soul-sucking.’
Nice turn of phrase. I like it.”

“Talk about
‘soul-sucking, ’’’ Sally went on, all but wedging herself between Claire and
Samael. “I should tell you about this one guy last week.” As she launched into
a detailed rendition of one of the barely literate idiots who worked for her,
much less patronized the store, Claire noticed that Samael barely listened to
her. His dark eyes—which, in this lighting, now appeared to be flecked with
gold—never left hers. She should have felt uncomfortable, but she didn’t.

While they
were both trying their best to ignore Sally, Claire felt a subtle tug on her
hair and glanced over at her shoulder to see that Samael had curled a lock of
her red hair around his forefinger and was twirling it like spaghetti on a
fork. She shot him a ‘What the fuck?’ look, but he simply smiled at her.

And the truth
was, she didn’t mind in the least.

Claire wasn’t
the kind of girl who took a man home on the first date, no matter what…and this
wasn’t even a date. She and Sally had first noticed Samael sitting in the bar
with either a friend or business colleague, and they had made a point of
sitting where he couldn’t help but notice them.

And it worked.

His business
partner or friend left, and Samael came over to their table and introduced
himself. He took a seat at their table as if he owned the place, and his lines
were the smoothest Claire had ever heard…and she had heard plenty. It was
obvious from the get-go that he had money and wasn’t simply pretending to have
it. Having grown up poorer than poor, Claire could always tell the real money
from the fake.

Claire caught
the signals from Sally that she wanted to sink her hooks into this guy. She was
the kind of girl who would take a man home on the first night, date or no date.
But Samael made it clear that he was much more interested in Claire. After he
excused himself and left, saying he had to go home but hoped to see them
again—both women watching him go and admiring his broad shoulders and slim
hips, Sally turned to Claire.

“I dunno…I
mean, he looks good…tasty, but…I’d say he’s kind of a dickhead.”

Claire was
still staring at the door he had used to exit the bar. She had the weirdest
sensation that he hadn’t walked out into the night, but that he had
vanished…like a magician in a puff of smoke. His face—that smile…
and those
eyes
!—were seared into her memory. She barely paid attention to what her
friend was saying.

“Claire? … Are
you listening to me?”

Claire shook
her head, feeling like she was just waking up, and everything was hazy. She
looked at Sally.

“Huh?”

“I said…”
Sally leaned close and looked around as if suspicious that Samael was lingering
nearby and would overhear her. “I think he’s kind of a dickhead.”

“I don’t think
so,” Claire said. She took a slow sip of her mojito and looked longingly at the
door as if expecting—wishing he would reappear in the doorway, walk over to her
table, and sweep her off into the night. The napkin with his name and phone
number on it was a wrinkled wad in her sweaty palm.

“I don’t
know,” was all she said as she looked down and flattened out the napkin,
relieved to see that the name and number were still legible. She suspected
Sally was reading a lot more into what she said and did, but she didn’t care.

“I mean,”
Sally went on, “come on. The clothes, the haircut, the tan…in the middle of
March? In Maine?” She snorted. “All too perfect. Who’s he think he’s kidding?”

Claire felt an
urge to rise to Samael’s defense, but she let Sally’s snarky comments lie where
they fell.

Go ahead and
talk yourself right out of any interest in him. That leaves the field wide-open
for me.

 Sally took
out her cell phone and glanced at the time.

“Think we
should get going?”

Claire
considered, took another sip of her drink, emptying her glass, and then nodded.
She could sit here all night, and that wasn’t going to bring Samael back into
the bar…Not tonight. But she had his phone number, and she damned well intended
to call him. Not tonight. Maybe not even tomorrow. There was no point in
looking desperate. That’d scare him away. Definitely, she’d call him soon. She
was smiling as she slipped the napkin into her coat pocket. Then she slung her
purse over her shoulder.

Both women
kicked back their chairs and stood up. Claire started walking toward the door,
thinking how foolish it was to get excited, thinking that she’d soon be
touching the same door latch Samael had just touched. No one else had left the
bar since he had left, so she’d have direct contact with something he had
touched.

What are you,
crazy, thinking like this?

“I gotta use the
little girls’ room,” Sally said.

“I’ll meet you
outside,” Claire said, not wanting anyone else to touch the door before she
did. She looked straight ahead as she walked to the door and, feeling a curious
tingling thrill inside, put her hand on the latch and pressed it down. The lock
clicked, the door opened, and a cool, damp breeze blew into her face, raising goosebumps
on her arms as she stepped outside.

The parking
lot was empty except for three cars. Not a rocking night tonight. The
surrounding streetlights cast a cold, eerie blue glow onto the pavement and the
remnants of the last snowfall.
Hopefully, that had been the last storm of
the winter
, Claire thought,
but knowing Maine, there could be a blizzard
in May
. At the far end of the parking lot, she noticed a black Mercedes,
and the foolish hope—conviction?—that this was Samael’s car and that he was
waiting for her to come outside filled her. It certainly looked as though
someone was sitting in the driver’s seat, but at this distance and in the darkness,
it was impossible to be sure.

Claire felt
suddenly isolated and vulnerable as she looked around, certain, now, that if
not Samael, then someone was watching her from the shadows. The street was
unusually quiet, but on a cold night like this, what would you expect? The
distant sound of traffic passing by on I-295 sounded like tearing paper. Claire
sidled over to the side of the restaurant and looked around, avoiding the
bright lights because it made her feel like she stood out all the more. If she
smoked, this is when she would have lit up. A peculiar emptiness…a sense of
disappointment or of something irretrievably lost filled her, making her feel
hollow inside.

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