Read California Demon Online

Authors: Julie Kenner

Tags: #Mothers, #Horror, #Contemporary, #Fiction, #Fantasy, #Suburban Life, #Occult Fiction, #General, #Demonology, #Adventure Fiction

California Demon

Table of Contents
“Ninety-nine percent of the wives and moms in the country will identify with this heroine. I mean, like who
had to battle demons between car pools and play dates?”*
RAVES FOR Carpe Demon
! . . . It was great fun, wonderfully clever.” —
Jayne Ann Krentz,
New York Times
bestselling author of
White Lies
“I welcome the novels that decide to be utterly over-the-top and imagine paranormal and superhero lives for their chick-lit heroines. Take
Carpe Demon
. . . ”
—Detroit Free Press
“This book, as crammed with events as any suburban mom’s calendar, shows you what would happen if Buffy got married and kept her past a secret. It’s a hoot.”
—Charlaine Harris,
New York Times
bestselling author of
Definitely Dead
“Sprightly, fast-paced . . . readers will find spunky Kate hard not to root for in spheres both domestic and demonic.”
—Publishers Weekly
“Smart, fast-paced, unique . . . a blend of sophistication and wit that has you laughing out loud.”
—Christine Feehan,
New York Times
bestselling author of
Dark Celebration
“Tongue-in-cheek . . . fast pacing and in-your-face action. Give it a try. Kate’s a fun character and keeps you on the edge of your seat.” —
“Ms. Kenner has a style and delivery all her own . . . fun and innovative . . . [
Carpe Demon
] shouldn’t be missed.”

Fallen Angel Reviews
“You’re gonna love this book! A terrific summer read with lots of humor and crazy situations and action.”

Fresh Fiction
“This book was so much fun to read. I highly recommend this exceedingly entertaining read!”
—Midwest Book Review
“A fun netherworld thriller that readers will treasure.”
—The Best Reviews
“A+ . . . I am very ready for the next installment in Kate Connor’s life.”
—The Romance Reader’s Connection
“Kenner scores a direct hit with this offbeat and humorous adventure, which has an engaging cast of characters. Car pools and holy water make an unforgettable mix.”

Romantic Times
Titles by Julie Kenner
(with Kathleen O’Reilly and Dee Davis)
(with Kathleen O’Reilly and Dee Davis)
Published by the Penguin Group
Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014, USA
Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto, Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada
(a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)
Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
Penguin Group Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.)
Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia
(a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.)
Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi—110 017, India
Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, North Shore 0745, Auckland, New Zealand
(a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)
Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196,
South Africa
Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author of third-party websites or their content.
A Jove Book / published by arrangement with the author
Berkley trade paperback edition / June 2006
Jove mass-market edition / July 2007
Copyright © 2006 by Julie Kenner.
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions.
For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
ISBN: 978-1-4406-1919-9
Jove Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group,
a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
JOVE is a registered trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
The “J” design is a trademark belonging to Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
If you purchased this book without a cover, you should be aware that this book is stolen property. It was reported as “unsold and destroyed” to the publisher, and neither the author nor the publisher has received any payment for this “stripped book.”

My name IS Kate Connor, and I’m a Demon Hunter.
It feels a little odd saying that. For the last fifteen-plus years, I’ve been a
Demon Hunter, my hunting responsibilities traded for the equally dangerous, if not as dramatically compelling, duties of a stay-at-home mom to my teenager and toddler. And no, I’m not exaggerating the danger factor of mommy-dom. Infiltrating a nest of vampires at dusk might be a tad on the treacherous side, but it’s nothing compared to telling a fourteen-year-old that she’s not allowed to wear eyeshadow. Trust me. I know of what I speak.
I’d been drawn back into active duty after a demon attacked me in my kitchen, setting off a whole chain of events which (as you can probably guess) pitted the forces of good against the forces of evil in one final, cataclysmic battle. Sounds like a movie ad doesn’t it? But it’s true. And after the battle was over, I had to admit that I missed being involved in something big. Something important.
Not that cheerleader tryouts and potty training aren’t important. But, well, you know what I mean.
At any rate, I agreed to pick up where I left off, and suddenly I found myself with not one, but two full-time jobs: Level Four Demon Hunter and Stay-at-Home Mom.
And I’m here to tell you that those two jobs don’t exactly go together like oh, say, peanut butter and jelly. Why? Because the demon-hunting thing is a great big secret. I work for a supersecret arm of the Vatican known as
Forza Scura,
and one of the first rules is utter secrecy. Nobody knows. (Well, nobody except my best friend Laura, but every rule deserves an exception, don’t you think?)
Unlike most working moms, I’m cut zero slack by society. If Carla Corporate serves frozen dinners three nights in a row, no one bats an eye. After all, Mommy’s got a big presentation coming up.
But me? I’m expected to at least make an effort at cooking. (And I do try, really I do, but I think I lack the haute-cuisine gene. Or even the short-order gene, for that matter.) I don’t even get to enjoy any of the perks that might otherwise go along with my demon-hunting career. Like, “Sorry, Officer, I didn’t realize I was speeding. But sometimes we Demon Hunters are in a hurry. Safety of mankind. Fate of the world. Good prevailing over the forces of darkness. You understand.”
Nope. Doesn’t work that way. And in order to make my two lives jibe, I end up telling a lot of little white lies. And sometimes, they backfire on me.
Which goes a long way toward explaining why I was spending a Friday morning in December precariously balanced on an ancient wooden ladder in the media room at Coastal Mists Nursing Home, a few feet of silver garland draped over my shoulders, a staple gun holstered in my back pocket, and my two-year-old playing snooker with the Christmas tree ornaments on the rug below me.
A few months ago, this place was crawling with demons. (Okay, maybe that’s a slight exaggeration, but there were at least a half dozen walking around in their geriatric disguises, acting like they owned the place.) Since such a situation was beyond unacceptable, I’d gone in to clean the place up. Not unlike Marshal Dillon, really. Except I didn’t have a cool white hat or little silver star.
What I did have was a lovely arsenal of lies (along with the more practical tools like holy water, wooden stakes, and a kick-ass stiletto knife). And I have to say that I did a hell of a job. After only a few short months, Coastal Mists was demon-free. For that matter, many of the administrators and doctors had vanished into the night. Not demons, but human facilitators who’d been seduced by the promise of power, wealth, whatever. A too-common tale, and one that had transformed a run-of-the-mill nursing home into a demon factory.
I, however, had shut that down.
Now the place that had once been a depressing breeding ground for the undead was a pretty cheerful establishment, complete with HBO, Cinemax, and a state-of-the-art plasma television with a sound system that made my husband drool.
But did I get to cross Coastal Mists off my to-do list? Free up a little time for grocery shopping, carpooling, and other miscellaneous family chores? No, I did not. Because in order to infiltrate Coastal Mists in the first place, I’d had to concoct a cover story. And mine was volunteering.
The demons might have been eradicated, but the responsibilities weren’t. So in addition to cooking meals for my family, I was now delivering meals to the bedridden. In addition to reading Dr. Seuss to my toddler, I was now reading Zane Grey to men who probably remembered the Wild West. In addition to potty training my kid, I was now—well, you get the idea.
Also—and this was a big “also”—as much of a time drain as my Coastal Mists activities were, the truth was that I needed to keep a presence there. The nursing home had a high mortality rate (that’s just the nature of nursing homes), which made it the perfect breeding spot for any demonic leader looking to get a toehold in San Diablo.
It had happened once. I didn’t intend to let it happen again.
On that particular day, my best friend Laura and I were helping decorate the place for Christmas. We’d brought Timmy with us for three reasons, the first being totally selfish: mommy guilt. Although I’d enrolled Timmy in day care—and although he actually seemed to enjoy it—my guilt level was high enough that I only took him in when absolutely necessary. Like when the Legions of Hell descend on the neighborhood. Or when I need to buy new clothes. Trust me. I’d rather slay fifteen demons with a toddler at my side than take the munchkin shopping for the perfect outfit to wear to one of my husband’s politically motivated, deathly dull cocktail parties.

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