Authors: Eve Langlais
opyright © November 2015
, Eve Langlais
Cover Art by Amanda Kelsey RazzDazz Design © September 2015
Edited by Devin Govaere
Copy Edited by Mandy Pederick
Line Edited by Brieanna Roberston
Produced in Canada
by Eve Langlais
1606 Main Street, PO Box 151
Stittsville, Ontario, Canada, K2S1A3
: 978 1927 459 87 -4
a work of fiction and the characters, events and dialogue found within the story are of the author's imagination and are not to be construed as real. Any resemblance to actual events or persons, either living or deceased, is completely coincidental.
No part of this book may be reproduced or shared in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including but not limited to digital copying, file sharing, audio recording, email and printing without permission in writing from the author.
Some people collect seashells at the beach. Muriel picks up another man. A merman…
uggling a happily ever
after is harder than it looks, especially when it involves a fallen angel who is my soul mate, a hunky cat shifter who stole my heart, and a darkly delicious vampire who is like that piece of forbidden chocolate you just can’t resist.
Add in a precocious little girl, who is totally spoiled rotten—not surprising given Nana and Poppa were Mother Nature and the Devil—and my life was a never-ending series of dramas, foot stomping, yelling, and tears. By me.
I never knew being a grownup could be so much damned work, which is why I decided we needed a vacation. But of course, as Lucifer’s daughter, that didn’t turn out as expected. Now I’ve got to figure out if my bathtub is big enough for a hunky merman—and is there room in my heart for one more?
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linking didn’t erase
the horror. The permanent marker squiggle went from the front door, along the hallway wall in a determined straight line, rounded over the console table that held the bowl for our keys, down a doorjamb, across the white tile floor then back up the wall. This impressively long piece of art ran the whole length of the corridor on the main floor and right into the living room, where I found the culprit lying on the once pristine white shag rug, once being the key word. Now, my beautiful fluffy treat, which I’d paid an exorbitant sum for, sported hand-drawn zebra stripes. Sob.
In an age-old posture adopted by many a parent, I planted my hands on my hips and, in my sternest voice, said, “What did you do?” In the pit, imps would have trembled, the damned would have thrown themselves prostrate on the floor. Not my daughter, though.
The biggest eyes, graced with thick lashes, set in a face highlighted by chubby cheeks and framed by golden hair pinned in pigtails peeked at me. “Hi, Mommy. Do you like my drawing?”
Must. Resist. The cuteness.
I held firm. No wavering. “Baby girl, you cannot write on the walls.”
A word I truly had begun to hate. “Because I just had them painted.”
“But they’re boring. I made them pretty.” She blinked her ridiculously thick and natural eyelashes at me to no avail. I had been raised in the pit. Her guileless expression did not fool me.
“The walls are supposed to be boring, and marker free.” After the chaos of Hell, and even everyday life, I enjoyed a home with a simple color palette. Lots of whites and grays, as well as soft blues. No reds or browns or that weird in-between umber here.
“Can I draw on the ceiling then? Poppa’s palace has pictures on his.”
Poppa’s palace had many things etched into his ceiling, some of them quite inappropriate for little girls’ eyes—and even adult ones, too.
“No.” I didn’t ask or leave any wiggle room. As boss in this relationship, I called the shots.
Argh, there was that damned word again. Time to foil her with logic. “Because you’re supposed to write on paper.”
“But Poppa says only fools and goody-two-shoes do what they’re supposed to. The”—she wrinkled her snub nose adorably—“intrepid forge their own rules.” She beamed, and I saw the slyness in her expression.
I blinked. How could I argue when I’d been raised on the same rule? That was what happened when you had the devil for your daughter’s grandfather. He filled her head with the same nonsense as he’d filled mine. And I turned out great, but still, even as a child, I learned that parents must be obeyed—or I lost special privileges like chocolate pudding for dessert and I got medical journals for my birthday instead of pretty shiny things.
Lucinda, the ruby-red apple of my eye, had not yet grasped the knowledge that I was in charge. Never mind the fact I still didn’t listen to my father. I would do better than him. I would set rules and boundaries and expect them to be obeyed.
“I will not have you turn our home into a graffiti studio. No more drawing on anything but paper. Is that understood?” I threw in a proper mommy glare for good measure.
Her lips turned down. Trembled. “Don’t be mad, Mommy. I love you.” She then unleashed her weapon of parental destruction. The dimple. It was deep, adorable, and matched with twinkling eyes.
But the thing with being related to the devil was you recognized manipulation when it happened. Unlike Lucinda’s fathers, I didn’t fall for it. “Go to your room.” Head tilted imperially, I pointed to the door.
Lip jutting in a powerful sulk, Lucinda rose to her feet. My baby girl was growing so fast. Only a few months old, and yet already she looked like a child much older, four or five at least, with a vocabulary to put even most adults to shame. Then again, she hadn’t had a classic entrance to the world or upbringing.
She’d also decided to test my last nerve by dragging her uncapped marker across the white leather armrest of the couch as she walked by.
Oh hell no. “Get to your room!” I yelled. “Right now, missy. No television. No video games. And no ice cream for dessert either.”
“You suck!” she hollered back.
I did, but only my special harem of men. But that wasn’t the point right now. “You’re also grounded,” I added to her retreating back. “And don’t you come out of that room until you’re ready to scrub the mess you made and apologize.”
She growled, but caused no further destruction on her path. Phew. And dammit! She was right. I did suck at this whole parenting thing.
According to the book I got on raising kids, tip one of being a good parent was ‘Never yell’. I failed that within the first week of living with my daughter. In my defense, this whole motherhood thing was kind of a shock.
For those not familiar with my past, it wasn’t that long ago I found out I was pregnant by two men. Yes, I am that kind of girl, and yes, I am still with both of them, with an added third, but he wasn’t present at the time of my world-changing conception.
Not long after the discovery of my shocking pregnancy, I was kidnapped and taken to an alternate dimension, drugged, and kept prisoner, for what seemed like weeks and months but was, in actuality, only days in the real world. But there was a reason for this accelerated time pocket.
As soon as my baby proved viable, Lilith and her goons literally ripped Lucinda from my body and left me for dead. I would have died that day except my mother, much as I hated to give her any credit, came to my rescue and saved me. Healed me, too.
Dear old mom then kidnapped my newborn daughter, and that was when I kind of lost my shit. In her defense, my mother thought she was protecting the world from a horrible fate. AKA my daughter. Apparently, my baby girl had the power to possibly destroy the world.
I didn’t care.
My daughter might be the equivalent of a nuclear bomb in a pink romper with pigtails and the cutest little sandals—so cute I bought them in four colors—but she was mine. All mine. And, boy, was she proving to be a handful.
My father called it payback for the hell I’d put him through. Disliking his chuckling reply to my woes, I threw cement in his favorite horned duckie boots. Revenge was a specialty of mine.
Real life, family life, was a lot harder than they portrayed on television. Juggling a happily-ever-after with a fallen angel who was my soulmate took compromises on my part. The good habits Auric had accrued over the years took some work to corrupt.
As if one consort with altruistic goals wasn’t enough, along slinked a hunky cat shifter who stole my heart and did wicked things with that rough tongue of his. David took pussy licking to a whole new level.
Two lovers should have been enough, but I was cursed with a nympho-type of magic that needed, make that craved, sex and arousal. My greedy power attracted yet a third man to my ménage, a dark and sexy vampire.
Some might say I should have resisted. Yeah. Okay. They’d obviously not met Teivel. Imagine if you would that last piece of forbidden chocolate, the creamy, melt-in-your-mouth decadence that you should deny. But couldn’t. It didn’t help that, at the time, I needed him in a sexual menagerie to unlock a new aspect of my magic so I could save my daughter.
The fact that the sex was out of this world didn’t play a part in me keeping him. Much.
Despite a part of me screaming that having three lovers was wrong, I couldn’t just dump Teivel—and not just because he’d share his blood with me. A connection beyond the physical existed between me and all of my men, and I’d found a precariously balanced happiness, one that took careful attention.
Add in a precocious little girl, who was spoiled rotten and thought the world revolved around her—which it did on more than one occasion because of my blasted mother who enjoyed playing the part of doting nana—and my life was a never-ending series of dramas, foot stomping, yelling, and tears. By me.
No one had ever explained that being a grownup meant so much damned work—and paint and Lysol wipes and Tide-to-Go sticks—which was why I decided we needed a vacation. More accurately, I needed one, but apparently, I couldn’t just pack a bag, hoist it over a shoulder, and jump on the first flight to the Caribbean. Or so Auric informed me with his arms crossed over his chest as he glared at me from the doorway I’d planned to sneak out of.
“And just where do you think you’re going?” he asked in that deep growl of his that never failed to get my nerves tingling.
“Hey, stud muffin. You’re looking awfully sexy today. Wanna go for a quickie?” One for the road, so to speak.
“Yes, but only after you explain the bag from which I see dangling a bikini string.”
Quick, I needed a believable lie. As Lucifer’s daughter, it was expected of me. “I’m going tanning.” If this were the
, I would have totally scored big points on that answer, but just in case, for good measure, I batted my lashes innocently. It usually worked on David.
Auric wasn’t David and he didn’t fall for it. Jerk.
He asked again. “What harebrained scheme are you planning now?” He leaned against the doorjamb, blocking my path, his arms crossed over his wide chest.
Time for lie number two. “The gym?” That sounded plausible, right?
Giant X with a great big buzzer sound.
A snort escaped him. “The gym? You hate regimented exercise. You’re always complaining to your dad about the evilness of the trainers who want to put your body through rigorous training.”
I’d said that? Probably. Funny how weapons training and a jog—sometimes chasing wannabe muggers—was filed under fun in my books, but physical fitness with the pure intent of toning muscle drove me up the wall. “Well, maybe I changed my mind.”
“Says the liar wearing shades, a floppy straw hat, and a sarong cover-up over yet another skimpy bikini. I know you’re still trying to impress your dad with your lying abilities—”
“Am not,” I protested.
“But as my life partner and mother of our child, you cannot just slip away without letting people know where you’re going.”
“Why not?” I pouted.
“Because there are people who care for you and might get worried.”
“I have a cell phone.” Packed somewhere. I thought. I’d kind of rushed in an attempt to avoid my significant other with all his questions.
“Are you sure?”
David’s purred words right next to my ear made me squeak and jump. Damned cat was always sneaking up on me. I really needed to put a bell on him.
“I’m pretty sure I grabbed it.” Yet another lie shot down as a smartphone, encased in a pink cover with glittery diamonds, was waved in front of my face. “Are you sure it’s mine?” I said weakly.
“I am pretty sure it’s not mine,” David replied.
Auric just shook his head and sighed.
“Oops. Did I forget it again?” A feigned giggle that didn’t do a thing to wipe Auric’s expression.
“Muriel, baby, I realize you’re feeling a little stressed right now with all the responsibilities—”
“No, I’m not.” A whopper of a fib that probably earned me a gold star in Dad’s books.
A snicker from behind me as David murmured. “Keep digging. I don’t think that hole is big enough.”
And apparently neither was that shoe because every time I opened my mouth, I made it worse. “I’m fine. Really. I was just, um, ugh.” Even I couldn’t keep the stream of untruths coming. “Fine. I’m feeling a little stressed and super overwhelmed. I suck at the mommy thing.” I dumped my hastily packed bag on the floor and kicked it.
“You do not, and it’s normal to feel that way,” Auric replied. His tone was meant to be soothing, yet I didn’t feel it.
“No, it’s not normal. I mean people become mothers every day. And I didn’t even have to go through the whole diaper part. I have no reason to be stressed. She’s bright and beautiful and…”
“Willful,” Auric added.
“Precocious,” was David’s addition.
She was also much too smart for her age. The experiences she’d had when running from Lilith, and, yes, I meant the original Lilith cast from the garden and bent on revenge, meant Lucinda was different from other children.
“So my kid is just like me. Great. I am so screwed.” I flopped onto my bag and stuck my head between my knees.
A broad hand rubbed my back as Auric knelt beside me. “Yes, she is a lot like you—perfect, but at the same time, tiring.”
“Hey, are you calling me a PITA?” For the uninformed, that was the polite way of saying pain in the ass.
“I love how you are, who you are, but at times, I’ll admit, I’m glad I’ve got backup.” Backup being David and Teivel and… No one. Hello, there was no other.
The threat just kind of floated in my mind.
I shivered. Was it me or did a breeze just coast through the hall, bringing with it the briny scent of the ocean? I’d been having lots of incidences like that recently. Urges to submerse myself in water. Odd whiffs of ocean matter like seawater and seaweed and even that ugh smell from something dead washed upon the shore.
Either we had a weird problem in our house or something strange was afoot—or should I say afloat?
Fingers snapped in front of my face, forcing me to focus on the here and now, which included an irritated-looking Auric. “You aren’t listening.”
This time I didn’t bother to lie. “Nope. I need to go to the ocean.” The words left my mouth without warning. But once said, I could feel the truth of them. Something called me. Something wanted me to go to the beach.
Connected to me on an emotionally deep level, Auric caught some of what I felt. Or, at least, focused in on a certain choice of words. “Need?”
David frowned while Auric bore a thoughtful expression. “I thought you hated the beach because the sand gets in your unmentionables and you scream like a little girl when slimy things like fish or seaweed touch you.”
“I do hate those things.” Especially the sand-in-the-crotch. I swear I rinsed the stuff off me for weeks after the few times Daddy dragged me on a vacation in Hell. Literally. We used to take our summer holidays by the Darkling Sea in a villa he owned set high on the bluffs.