Authors: Linda Wisdom
Tags: #demons, #linda wisdom, #novella, #paranormal, #sexy
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Linda Wisdom on Smashwords
Copyright © 2010 by Linda Wisdom
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Favors made up Brady Hayes’ life. Calling them in.
Owing them. Personally, he preferred the former since it made his
job easier when someone could provide whatever he needed. That same
job was miserable when an owed favor had to do with Shar, one of
the lords of the Underworld. That kind of deal was pure hell,
pardon the pun. But it wasn’t a good idea to just didn't blow off
Shar. Not if you wanted to remain intact. The last guy who blew
Shar off was shipped home in a million tiny boxes tied in neat
little bows using the guy's guts. Nope, not a pleasant prospect at
This was why Brady was down here in the intense heat
and darkness in response to Shar’s command. He tried not to make
eye contact with the woman seated behind the reception desk. She
had to be as tall as him and he was a hefty six foot four. He bet
she could take down a tank on a good day, her skin was pale as
chalk instead of the tan he'd picked up while working in the Middle
East, her black hair showed no gleam of health and her lips and
nails were the same ebony as her hair. He was amazed she wasn't
sweating buckets in the black leather dress that fit her like a
condom. She kept looking at him as if he was dinner. He didn't
think she was thinking of a few sexy little nibbles either. More
like she wanted him in every damn course including dessert! He kept
his eyes trained on the coffee table in front of him and ignored
the severed fingers that wiggled inside the cursed wood.
"There you are, Brady." The tall portly man in a
charcoal wool suit straight from Amani’s latest collection appeared
at the inner office door looking more like a successful financier
than your typical everyday dark lord. Brady knew better than to
underestimate him. The guy had balls of sulfuric acid. Literally.
"Come in, come in. Hold my calls, Morticia," he instructed.
"Morticia? You're kidding, right?" Brady followed him
into a large rock-walled office that seemed a good fifty degrees
hotter than the reception area.
"Better than her real name, which is Annabelle.
Besides, I always had a hard-on for Morticia Addams." Shar gestured
for him to be seated and took his place behind a mile-long desk
hand-carved from lava. "Thank you for coming so swiftly."
"You said I owed you one." Brady preferred to remind
the man exactly why he came so quickly. He wondered if anyone had
the guts to tell Shar he resembled the actor who played Elwood in
The Blues Brothers except the dark lord was a better dresser. And
if they did were they still intact.
"Still, I appreciate it.” Shar beamed which was also
downright scary. The man didn't seem to understand that smiles were
meant to be happy, not horrific. "I have a job for you."
"A job," he repeated, getting that sinking feeling in
the pit of his stomach. Shar’s jobs never ended well for
"I used the term you owing me a favor because I knew
you would respond to my summons faster, but I am more than willing
to pay you for your time. What I need here is the best and we all
know you're the best in your business." Shar grimaced. He fisted
his hand and struck his chest. "I apologize. Lunch is just not
settling right today.” He released a belch that rocked the room
along with a smell of something rotting. "There, that's better.
Now, what I need is your services as a bodyguard."
"But you have something like a thousand bodyguards
down here already," Brady pointed out. No way would he stay down
here on a daily basis. He'd melt to nothing in no time.
"I need someone to watch over a family member." He
grimaced and belched again. "While I love Renalda's bloodworm pie
it doesn’t love me," he muttered. "I chose you because I require
someone discreet for this job. And while you are rough around the
edges, you are excellent at what you do plus you know how to keep
your mouth shut when it is necessary."
Brady shifted in the chair that seemed to shift with
every move his body made. If he wasn’t mistaken something was
slithering up toward his crotch. "Sure, I do private security
sometimes, but your people," he paused wondering if it was PC to
call them people since by no stretch of the imagination had they
ever been even remotely human, "they might be better suited for
whatever you want."
"They wouldn’t be at all appropriate for this kind of
work." Shar leaned back and pressed his fingers together, the
razor-sharp tips resting just under his rounded chin. "I’ll be
honest with you, Brady. While my private security guards are
excellent at what they do, they are used to coping with situations
Below, not up above. They aren't equipped to handle a situation
like this one even if it's nothing major. I feel a human would
blend in better. And since you have the skills, I immediately
thought of you."
Danger, Will Robinson! Danger! clanged inside Brady's
head. The only reason he thought of me was because I owe him that
damn favor and he knew I’d have no choice but to do whatever he
needed. Shar doesn’t like it when someone says no.
"What do you need me to do?” He had visions of his
having to ride herd over the Hounds of Hell or worse.
Shar smiled. "It has to do with my baby sister,
"You have a sister?" Okay, not too tactful a way to
put it. Even dark lords could have family.
"Actually, she’s my stepsister.” Shar glared at a
pile of paperwork that magically appeared on a corner of his desk.
The papers immediately burst into flames. "The politics down here
have become unbearable." He rested his arms on the desk, hands
laced together. "You could even consider this a vacation. My
stepsister is visiting an island resort in the Pacific and in a
sense, I would like you to look after her."
Brady stiffened. "That sounds more like a babysitting
"Not babysit, I just want you to keep an eye on her
and keep her out of trouble. Make sure no one bothers her." Shar
made a face, which for him meant his face shifted in multiple
directions as if it was fashioned from warm wax. "Raven has a mind
of her own. She doesn't realize that the mortal world isn't like it
is down here. I’m willing to allow her this time away, but I still
want to know that she will be all right up there. I know you will
keep an eye on her, but of course, she can never know I hired you.
The consequences, well, she does have a temper." He tapped his
fingers on the surface of his desk. A slip of paper silently
floated upward. Shar handed it to Brady.
The number of zeroes he looked at was enough to quiet
any misgivings he had about the assignment that literally was from
hell. His smile was a lot more affable.
"When do I start?"
"Hello baby," Brady ignored the nasty tingle on his
butt. It was bad enough Shar insisted on marking him, but did he
have to mark him there? Brady's argument that Raven would recognize
the mark on his wrist for what it was was met with a "that can
easily be taken care of" and next he knew the mark was burned onto
his ass. Shar's argument that it was purely for Brady's protection
was bullshit, but no way you could argue with a dark lord and
survive being torn limb from limb after losing said argument. Plus
since there were no photographs of Raven, he was assured the mark
would alert him when she was close by. He was also promised the
mark would be removed once his assignment was over. Yeah, like
Shar’s promises were ever kept if they weren’t to his
He had to admit if he was supposed to protect a woman
there was no better place to do it than at this exclusive resort
set on a remote Pacific island. After a little judicious bribery
alerted him to his charge’s presence on the beach he sauntered out
to the thatch-covered beach side bar that bisected the pool and
beach and settled on a stool. From there, he had a good view of
both areas along with an even better observation of the bikini-clad
beauties lying out by the pool and stretched out on chaise lounges
arranged along the white sandy beach. A few interested looks sent
his way indicated they wouldn't mind getting to know him better.
Too bad he was on the clock.
Brady learned there wasn’t a problem asking for
someone named Raven. He should have known better since Cher and
Madonna had no problem just using one name.
"Who do we have here?" Behind the protection of his
dark glasses he was able to study the beach. So far, every brunette
he noticed didn’t create even a tingle in his ass. Even a
dark-haired woman with pale skin that looked as if a dose of sun
would set her on fire produced nada. He began to wonder if the mark
was put there just because Shar wanted to hear him yelp when he’d
been branded. "So what the hell is the dark lord’s baby sister
doing out here in the sun and sand?” he muttered. “You’d think
she’d prefer some dark ugly dungeon with all sorts of torture
instruments.” He grinned at a shapely redhead in an emerald green
thong bikini who twitched her hips when she walked past. “Still,
who am I to complain?”
As his gaze again swept the length of the beach, he
noticed a feminine figure making her way out of the water. He moved
on since he was convinced she wasn’t the one. Then the burning
tingle on his ass intensified to an all out burn. He swung back to
the woman he'd first dismissed until the stinging wound warned him
he was looking in the right direction. The longer he looked at the
woman, the stronger the fiery sensation.
"No way," he muttered, staring at the woman walking
up to the registration desk. "Holly shit! I’m expected to babysit
Malibu Hellion Barbie?”His mental computer noted that the object of
his scrutiny was probably five-foot-six or seven equipped with long
legs that was all too easy to imagine wrapped around his hips. She
boasted the lean body of a disciplined swimmer and bronze tan of
someone who didn’t believe there was such a thing as skin cancer.
Did dark lords’ sisters have to worry about skin cancer? To further
confuse him was a wealth of sunny blonde hair tied up in a perky
ponytail worthy of Gidget. The curvy body that inspired more than a
few fantasies rolling around in his head wore a turquoise and white
bikini and he could see the glint of a blue stone nestled in her
navel. She looked fucking good for someone who had to be a few
thousand years old. But what surprised him the most was the
surfboard she carried up the sand.
Brady picked up his Jack Daniels on the rocks and
downed it like medicine. Considering the way his heart seemed to
stop when he saw her and his ass feeling like he was sitting on a
volcano, he felt he needed the sharp bite of alcohol. She was not
at all what he expected.
No doubt about it. That bastard Shar was enjoying
some insane joke at his expense.
She was free!
Raven couldn't remember the last time she'd felt this
liberated. She did it. She finally stood up to her brother and took
back her life. No more Shar looking over her shoulder, telling her
what she could and couldn't do, and explaining she had to remember
he was a highly-placed politician and she had to act accordingly.
And once that lecture was finished he rolled into his long and
boring speech about fulfilling their family destiny.
For one glorious month she didn’t have to attend
tedious business functions with her brother and endure polite
sneers and side glances because she didn’t fit the preconceived
notion of what a dark lord’s relative should look and act like. It
was bad enough her stepbrother planned to use her to further his
own objectives no matter how she felt about it
Yeah, like she was going to wear black and look
pasty-faced the rest of her existence.
It took a lot of bargaining on her part, but demons
are good with negotiating. Between threats that involved turning
Shar inside out, tears in hopes he’d feel guilty – he didn’t – and
flat out pleading, she finally managed to talk her protective older
brother into allowing her to leave Below and venture into the
mortal world. Before, she’d only seen it on viewers and experienced
it in fantasy rooms. Once here, she quickly learned she saw in her
realmwas nothing compared to the real thing. And now that she was
here, she was determined to never go back. As far as she was
concerned, someone else could take up the family duties.