Read The Devil You Know Online

Authors: Marie Castle

The Devil You Know

BOOK: The Devil You Know
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Synopsis

Cate Delacy isn’t thrilled to be volunteered as a finder of lost bodies, but she’s not immune to Gemini Roskov’s grief and righteous desire to claim her father’s remains. It means a confrontation with the hostile Council of Supernatural Beings that controls far too much of New Orleans’ darker mysteries and…personalities.

Face time with the Council isn’t a good idea for Cate, what with their dislike of her entire family, as well as their mistrust of her untested powers, distaste for her unladylike attitude, and disdain for her need to know the truth. A less direct way must be found.

Then there is the matter of Cate’s feelings for the too sexy and too immortal Jacqueline Slone, whose loyalties are as clear as black glass at midnight. Something is rising inside both of them, and it may well be a lover’s touch that reveals a truth no one is expecting.

Marie Castle - A stunning new voice in the supernatural!

Table of Contents

Cover

Synopsis

Title Page

Copyright Page

Other Books by Marie Castle

Disclaimer

Extras

Author's Note

Prologue

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Preview of
Demons of a Feather

About the Author

Acknowledgments

Dramatis Personae

Glossary

Bella Books

Copyright © 2014 by Marie Castle

 

Bella Books, Inc.

P.O. Box 10543

Tallahassee, FL 32302

 

All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced or transmitted in any form or by any means, electronic or mechanical, including photocopying, without permission in writing from the publisher.

 

First Bella Books Edition 2014

 

Editor: Katherine V. Forrest

Cover Designer: Judith Fellows

 

ISBN: 978-1-59493-401-8

 

PUBLISHER’S NOTE

The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

Other Bella Books by Marie Castle

Hell’s Belle

Disclaimer

The events and characters in this novel are all fictional. Any similarity to persons still living, dead, or otherwise engaged are purely coincidental. The same holds true for the history related herein, with one possible exception. While the local university
may
have dead bodies stored in a few of their freezers (and please note the author does not state this as a certainty but only a potentiality), these (should they exist or have ever existed) are not kept under the Rose Garden. Corpses do not make the flowers smell sweeter. That part of the story is simply a poetic twist of the author’s pen.

Extra Material for Your Enchantment and Elucidation

Author’s Note
Advance look at Book Three:
Demons of a Feather
Dramatis Personae
Glossary

Author’s Note

In everyone’s life, there comes a moment when they look into the mirror, see their own face, and wonder at the creature they have become. For some, that is when they see both the devil they know and the devil they don’t. Is this the case, dear reader, for Cate and those whose lives cross her own? I could not say, but sometimes I wonder. Perhaps you can read and wonder with me, and maybe you’ll find as I that the questions are often more valuable than the answers. Bon appétit.

—M

Prologue

Denoir, the First of Hell’s Seven Realms—
Thirty Years, Ten Months, and a Lifetime Ago

Evie’s exhausted heart labored, chipping away at her fortitude with each stumbling beat. Slowly, steadily, she moved doggedly forward, favoring her wounded shoulder, pacing herself in the heat that persisted despite this world’s golden-red sun having set hours ago. Three moons hung low overhead, making it easy to see…and
be seen
. Her weary eyes searched the blue desert cliffs for shelter. The land was littered with strange rock formations, scraggly golden shrubs, and oddly-colored purple cacti. Some of the formations and larger plants would have hidden her from sight temporarily. But she needed something more substantial, something that could be warded.

It wasn’t a question
if
she would be found…but
when
.

They had been on this world two days. Unlike her, her pursuers were not trained for such harsh conditions. But they followed her with almost mindless diligence. They knew her blood was their only escape. Unlike Earth, there was no life here to fuel the opening of a portal. Unless they turned on each other, there was no sacrifice here but her.

And that was how Evie wished it. She would not be forced to watch another girl die. Here there was nothing and no one to protect, which was why she had switched the gate’s destination to a spot with the least magical activity—damning her to a place where it was impossible to hide her own magical signature. Damning her to run until she could run no more.

Seeing a thin shadow slash across a ledged cliff high above, she headed toward it, carefully stepping from rock to rock to leave no prints, avoiding prickly plants that would tear her clothes and leave telltale threads. Even as she climbed along a game trail, she used the barest edge of magic to watch the sorcerers.

There were thirteen, possibly more, slowly moving a mile behind. Too many to fight alone. Fortunately, her mama hadn’t raised a fool. Evie was intent on running, not fighting. She would not die today. The sorcerers were sorely mistaken if they thought the gate they had arrived through was the only one this world had to offer.

The ledge was a shallow cave that led downward to a slightly larger cave. She moved deeper into the cliff, using as little magic as possible to light her way, marveling as she went at the paintings lining the walls. Some showed men with wings fighting men covered in flames as they hovered in a dark night sky remarkably like the one she had just left. Three shadowed moons hung low against the horizon. One painting showed massive humpbacked demon creatures roaming over a land covered with tall golden grasses. Another showed rivers running with fire and black blood. The last image showed a barren world, its sun cold and black.

Evie shuddered and hurried on, pulled by the comforting call of a familiar song. At each turn, she left a ball of green magic pressed tightly into the roof. Each was powerful but well hidden. The last cave was nothing more than a narrow tunnel, the entrance to which she blocked with heavy wards.

By the time Evie reached the black stone gate at the back of the cave, she was stumbling. She lay down to rest, relying upon her magic to warn her of the sorcerers’ approach. They would need a half day or more to find their way into her temporary sanctuary. As she drifted away, Evie’s thoughts were of her family, especially her twin sister, Helena. The sisters had always been able to sense each other, but with Evie’s forced trip through the darkmirror to Denoir that bond had been severed. No doubt her family thought her dead. She might well be before this was finished.

Evie awoke hours later when the darkmirror at her back began to resonate to a new song, signaling its opening. Tired, sore, weak from the dagger she had taken to the shoulder two days ago, Evie rose as quickly as she could. Her sword had long since been lost, but she was far from defenseless. She stood ready, an orb of green magic blazing in her hand, when the black-haired demon, his body encased in fire, stepped through the liquid blackness. The bright light shining from the gold medallion at his neck was blinding in the dim cave. The gate was wide enough for two to enter side by side, but he seemed to fill its entirety. Evie knew it was an illusion created by the flames, but knowing made the sight no less impressive.

Evie knew enough about demons to know he was Royal. Only they were like the guardians and could travel at will through the gates. But she didn’t bow, didn’t kneel. She held her head high and defiant, ready to fight to the death. On this world, she owed allegiance to none but herself.

The gate stilled behind him and the gold medallion’s glow dimmed. Evie’s jade eyes met the demon’s light blue ones.

The man smiled, noting the guardian’s powerful protections. His power shot out, sensing the traps she had left for those following her. It was a wily plan: To bring the caves down upon their heads as she moved into the gate, entombing all but herself…if she was lucky.

It was the sort of action he could respect. Too bad he couldn’t let her do it. He had been watching her and her pursuers from afar for two days. She was strong, brave, resourceful. He had already decided to intervene when the threat her magic posed to the caves made his impulsive decision an obligation. This place was sacred to his people. It was his duty to preserve it.

“Guardian.” He tipped his head to her, his voice smoothly even. She was the first gate-keeper to cross into their lands in hundreds of years. Their entrance wasn’t forbidden, but there were rules to be observed—formalities to honor—and for good reason. She would have been dead ten times over if he had not used his magic to lure away the scavengers frequently attracted by the scent of her sweet blood.

“Demon.” She tipped her head in turn, keeping her eyes on him.

Sweeping a hand out, he created an image of the black-clad sorcerers making their way up the same path she had traveled hours before. While she slept, the sun had risen. She could see the men’s skin boiling red under the bright rays, the sweat beading on their heads, the blood now long dry on their hands. They would have been wise to do as she and travel by night. Even demons did not willingly venture into the desert during the day’s heat.

“You bring trouble to my world,” he said.

“Believe me, it wasn’t my intention.” Her voice was hoarse from disuse and dehydration.

The demon considered the woman before him. Her normally bright red hair was dull with dust and sweat. Her hands shook with tiredness. But her shoulders were back and proud, her stance fierce. It was the fight he saw in her eyes—the determination he had watched fuel her for these two days—that had made him wish to help her long before she had found his people’s ancient sanctuary.

“Your kind and mine have an agreement.” His eyes glowed bright with magic. Fire swirled in their depths. “Do you know what it is?”

She nodded once.

“Good.” He waved his hand. As they watched, the men pursuing her erupted in flames, their mouths open in silent screams. The image changed to the gate they had used miles away to enter this world. One man lay on the ground, snoozing in the dry riverbed’s shade. The other sat lazily guarding the black stone that had once lain under twenty feet of rushing water. Within a second, they too were in flames.

In the span of a few heartbeats, her enemies were dead. Her pursuers had become the prey. But she was no less trapped. While her sister had studied demonology, Evie kept the guardians’ lore. This Demon Lord had done her a favor. Unrequested or not, she was obligated to return it. She owed him four days for each sorcerer he had killed on her behalf. She counted the smoldering piles.
Sixty days.
Her magic, counsel, and service were his for that period.

He held out his hand. Evie looked at it. She was obligated to serve him but not touch him. As his medallion began to glow again, turning the black stone to liquid, Evie found herself placing her hand in his. Both flinched at the spark that arced between them but neither acknowledged it.

“Demon,” she asked, “what are your expectations?”

He looked at her, his eyes piercing in their clarity. “Call me Falcon.” Just before they stepped into the stone, he succumbed to a moment of unprecedented weakness. “I have no expectations,” he reassured her. “I would release you today if I could. But there are rules that must be upheld.”

BOOK: The Devil You Know
11.53Mb size Format: txt, pdf, ePub
ads

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