by Marcella Burnard
Rejected by heaven, twisted by hell, what’s a damned dead man to do when he stumbles upon a life and love worth fighting for?
Though damned for his earthly sins, Darsorin Incarri likes being an incubus. Prowling women’s dreams to siphon off their sexual energy for Satan's consumption has its perks: an array of infernal power and a modicum of freedom. Sure, Ole Scratch holds Dar’s soul in thrall, and Dar has to spend a few hours recharging in Hell every day, but it could be much worse. All he has to do is hold up his end of his damnation contract – five women seduced, satisfied and siphoned per night for eternity. So when he encounters gorgeous, bright, and funny Fiona Renee, it’s business as usual. Deploy the infernal charm and rack up another score. Except it doesn’t work. She’s immune. He has to find out what’s gone wrong or face Lucifer's wrath.
Fiona Renee has the life she’d always wanted: a career, a home, a cat with a bad attitude, and peace. Fiona’s dated. Had boyfriends. And hated every minute of it. She’s reconciled to being lonely. So when a man shows up in her bedroom in the middle of the night demanding to know why her dreams turn to nightmares every time he tries to seduce her from within them, Fiona winds up negotiating a contract with a demon that allows him access to her life. She never anticipated that it would also give him access to her heart. If she's going to fall in love at all, something she never thought would happen, shouldn’t it be with someone who’s alive? If Fiona wants to hang on to Darsorin, she has to find his true name—the one he’d been given at his birth over a thousand years ago. But Satan, himself, stands in her way. Even if Fiona can dodge Lucifer, she and Darsorin have to face the question neither of them can answer: What happens to a dead man if you manage to wrest his soul from the Devil?
Genre: Paranormal RomancePurchase link(s): Amazon iTunes Kobo B&N
Content/Theme(s): Demons, Incubi
Release Date: July 19, 2016
Excerpt & More
Darsorin took the pad into the living room where Archimedes lounged in one of the cushioned chairs. Clouds obscured the sun and some instinct—whether infernal or simply long experience with Seattle—whispered ‘days of rain.’
He prowled the tiny room.
Archimedes cracked an eye at him on his second pass. On his third, the cat lifted his head to watch, annoyance in the slight flattening of his ears.
“Sorry.” He parked on the bench he’d collapsed on that first day, the one facing the fresco of St. Peter. He set the sketchpad and pencils on the bench beside him. He had no intention of sketching anything. Not yet. Certainly not while that bastard in Fiona’s reproduction glared at him. Art was hard enough without someone sitting in actual judgment. Or beating him for it.
That seemed very far away while he sat in Fiona’s living room surrounded by sweet smelling wood and indelicate feline snores.
He glanced at the cat and smiled. Archimedes had abandoned himself to slumber. He’d turned his head upside down. His forepaws curled into his exposed chest, putting a twist in his spine that couldn’t possibly be comfortable. His tail overflowed the chair. The cat had to be 80% liquid, 15% fur and 5% sheer spite. So much motion in something so at rest.
His fingers brushed the rough cardboard cover of the sketchpad. No way would his muscles remember how to draw. Pain stabbed him, crawling across his back in cruel stripes, jabbing through his heart. Darsorin doubled over, gasping. He slapped a hand to his chest, expecting to see blood smearing his palm when he looked.
Just Fiona, giving him the one present that wounded him as surely as a jealous husband had a millennium ago. Why had it never occurred to him to take up the one thing that had mattered in his life? What else had he surrendered to an angry man’s blade?
The slicing, burning pain eased.
Darsorin straightened slowly. He shouldn’t succumb to the lure of materials he’d never used in life. It would give Ole Scratch more ammunition against him. Not to mention that he’d learned his craft with parchment and ink. Once upon a time, he’d imagined that his early mistakes had been recorded permanently.
Ego. Not a single piece of parchment or vellum had survived the centuries. He snorted. Probably the only clean slate he’d ever be offered.
Curiosity drew his gaze back to the sketchpad. How would the nubby paper take a mark? He glanced at the pencils. If, when he drew something, the graphite screamed the way it did for Ole Scratch, he’d burn the pencils and sketchbook in Fiona’s fireplace and give up any nascent artistic dreams that might be swelling inside of him, crowding his breath.
He opened the pad and brushed the first page, learning the texture. Like nothing he’d ever set an image to before. The surface tugged at his skin. He opened the pencils. The scent of new wood combined with the dusty, mineral bite of graphite rose to greet him. When had he last held a writing implement of any kind? That’s right. The contract with Satan. Which he’d signed in his own blood.
He shuddered and rubbed the heel of one hand against the ache in his ribcage.
When he picked up a pencil in the spirit of experimentation, his hand curled around the smooth, green-painted wood as if it had memory of its own and had rediscovered the curves of a lost lover’s body.
Holding his breath, he stroked the blank page with the pencil. The graphite put down a silvery line in a shushed whisper that sent a tingle of delight up his spine. He closed his eyes and leaned against the wall while the long-forgotten light of pleasant memory scorched him from the inside. He’d forgotten he’d ever been anything other than a lecher.
He opened his eyes.
Archimedes, still lounging in his chair, had lifted his head and stared at Darsorin, tail lifting and dropping in lazy flips.
“You’re daring me again, aren’t you?” he asked the cat. His voice sounded rough to him. He cleared his throat and nodded. “Challenge accepted.”
He sketched the cat, reaching for the sense of fluidity on the page that he perceived in the feline draped in the chair.
And lost himself to the tactile experience of sculpting a likeness out of a flat surface, to the song of the various pencils on the page. The harder graphite left lighter marks and warbled high notes. The softest one hummed bass notes and awarded him with thick, dark, crumbly lines reminiscent of drawings he’d done as a child with sticks of charcoal against the stone walls of his father’s house.
Before his father had tithed him to the abbey.
His lead broke.
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