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Authors: MaryJanice Davidson

Undead and Unappreciated

BOOK: Undead and Unappreciated
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“This is one of the funniest, most satisfying series to come along lately. If you're fans of Sookie Stackhouse and Anita Blake, don't miss Betsy Taylor.”

—The Best Reviews

Undead and Unemployed

“I don't care what mood you are in, if you open this book you are practically guaranteed to laugh…top-notch humor and a fascinating perspective of the vampire world.”

—ParaNormal Romance Reviews

“[A] wickedly clever and amusing romp. Davidson's witty dialogue, fast pacing, smart plotting, laugh-out-loud humor, and sexy relationships make this a joy to read.”

—Booklist

“Irreverent and wickedly humorous…A kind of Anita Blake meets Stephanie Plum.”

—Romance Reviews Today

“A hilarious romp full of goofy twists and turns, great fun for fans of humorous vampire romance.”

—Locus

Undead and Unwed

“Delightful, wicked fun!”

—Christine Feehan

“Chick lit meets vampire action in this creative, sophisticated, sexy, and wonderfully witty book.”

—Catherine Spangler

“Hilarious.”

—The Best Reviews


Undead and Unwed
is an irreverently hilarious, superbly entertaining novel of love, lust, and designer shoes. Betsy Taylor is an unrepentant fiend—about shoes. She is shallow, vain, and immensely entertaining. Her journey from life to death, or the undead, is so amusing I found myself laughing out loud while reading. Between her human friends, vampire allies, and her undead enemies, her first week as the newly undead is never boring…A reading experience that will leave you laughing and ‘dying' for more from the talented pen of MaryJanice Davidson.”

—Romance Reviews Today

“A hilarious book.”

—ParaNormal Romance Reviews

“This book is fantastic. These vampires are different from any that I've read about…The lead characters are strong and independent, the action fast and furious…This is one of the most erotic books that I've read in years.”

—EscapeToRomance.com

Undead and Unappreciated
MaryJanice Davidson

BERKLEY SENSATION
NEW YORK

THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP
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), Cnr. Airborne and Rosedale Roads, Albany, Auckland 1310, 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 or third-party websites or their content.

UNDEAD AND UNAPPRECIATED

A Berkley Sensation Book / published by arrangement with the author

Copyright © 2005 by MaryJanice Davidson Alongi.
Cover art by Chris Long.
Cover design by Lesley Worrell.
Interior text design by Kristin del Rosario.

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: 1-101-15880-8

BERKLEY
®
SENSATION
Berkley Sensation Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group, a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,
375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.
BERKLEY SENSATION and the “B” design are trademarks belonging to Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

For my brother-in-law, Daniel,
who never complains.

No matter how often I try
to drag good gossip out of him, dammit.

Acknowledgments

This book would not have been possible without…me!

Also my husband, my PR person, my sister, my parents, my editor, my girlfriends, my agent, the copy editor, the cover artist, the sales reps, the marketing team, the booksellers, the makers of Godiva chocolates, and my readers.

But mostly me.

Author's Note

Of course, the devil's daughter doesn't really live in a suburb of Minneapolis. She lives in a suburb of Saint Paul. Duh.

Also, Betsy researched the Web for nondenominational wedding information and relied heavily on http://www.maggiedot.com/7Destiny/. Many thanks to the Reverend Marcia Ann George.

The Queene's sister shalt be Belov'd of the Morning Star, and shalt take the Worlde.

—THE BOOK OF THE DEAD

Make a searching and fearless moral inventory of yourself.

—ALCOHOLICS ANONYMOUS, STEP FOUR

Will you still need me, will you still please me, when I'm sixty-four?

—JOHN LENNON AND PAUL MCCARTNEY

Prologue 1: Secrets

O
nce upon a time, the devil was bored, and possessed a not-very-nice pregnant woman, and ran that woman's body for about a year.

The devil still drank and smoked, but only in moderation. The devil was good about taking prenatal pills but grumbled about the inevitable constipation.

And eventually, the devil gave birth to a baby girl.

After a month of diapers, night feedings, colic, laundry, spilled formula (the devil hated to breast-feed), and spitup, the devil said, “Enough of this,” and went back to Hell, which was infinitely preferable to living with a newborn.

The devil's daughter was adopted and grew up in a suburb of Minneapolis, Minnesota. Her name was Laura, and she liked strawberry ice cream, and she never, ever missed church. She was a very nice young lady.

But she had a terrible temper.

Prologue 2: Problems

Thunderbird Motel

Bloomington, Minnesota

8:57 p.m.

“O
kay, guys, let's set up here…Charley, you okay here? You got light?”

Her cameraman looked up. “It's shitty out here. Should be better inside.”

“We won't film out here…we'll go inside the conference room. So, you're sure this is okay?”

The representative, who was smooth and sweatless like an egg, clasped his hands together and nodded slowly. Even his suit seemed to be free of threads or seams. “People need to see that it's not a bunch of chain-smoking losers who are afraid to go outside. There's doctors. There's lawyers. There's”—he stared at her with pale blue eyes, pilot's eyes—“anchorwomen.”

Subtle, jerk.
“Right, right. And we'll put all that across.” She turned away from the AA rep, muttering under her breath. “Fuckin' slow news days…give me a war update anytime…okay! Let's get in there, Chuckles.”

Charley knew his stuff, and with the new equipment, setup was not only a breeze, it was relatively quick and quiet. The conference room looked and smelled like a thousand others; sparse and scented of coffee. Interestingly, none of the room's inhabitants looked at them directly. There was a lot of coffee drinking and low chatting, a lot of nibbling on cheese and crackers, a lot of quiet milling and sideways glances.

They looked, the newswoman thought to herself, exactly like the man said. Respectable, settled. Sober. She was amazed they'd agreed to the cameras. Wasn't the second A supposed to be for
Anonymous
?

“Okay, everyone,” the rep said, standing in the front of the room. “Let's get settled and get started. You all remember Channel 9 was coming tonight to help raise awareness…someone watching tonight might see we're not all villains in trench coats and maybe will come down.”

“I'll start, and then we've got a new person here tonight…”

Someone the reporter couldn't see protested in a low yet frantic voice, and was ignored—or wasn't heard—by the rep. “I'm James,” the rep continued, “and I've been sober for six years, eight months, and nine days.”

There was a pause as he stepped down, then a rustle, a muffled, “Oof! Stupid steps.” Then a young woman in her mid-twenties was standing behind the small podium. She squinted out at the audience for a moment, as if the fluorescent lighting hurt her eyes, and then said in a completely mesmerizing voice, “Well, hi there. I'm Betsy. I haven't had a drink in three days and four hours.”

“Get on her!” the reporter hissed.

“I'm tight,” Charley replied, dazzled.

The woman was tall—her head was just below the
NO SMOKING ON THESE PREMISES
sign—which put her at about six feet. She was dressed in a moss green suit with the kind of suit jacket that buttoned up to her chin and needed no underblouse. The richly colored clothing superbly set off the delicate paleness of her skin and made her green eyes seem huge and dark, like leaves in the middle of the forest. Her hair was golden blond, shoulder length and wavy, with lovely red and gold highlights that framed her face. Her cheekbones were sharp planes in an interesting, even arresting face.

Her teeth were very white and flashed while she spoke.

“Okay, um, like I said, I'm Betsy. And I thought I'd come here…I mean, I saw on the Web that…anyway, I thought maybe you guys would have some tricks or something I could use to stop drinking.”

Dead silence. The reporter noticed the audience was as rapt as Charley was. What presence! What clothes! What…Were those Bruno Maglis? The reporter edged closer. They were! What did this woman do for a living? She herself had paid almost three hundred bucks for the pair in her closet.

“It's just…always there. I wake up, and it's all I think about. I go to bed, I'm still thinking about it.”

Everyone was nodding. Even Charley was nodding, making the camera wobble.

“It just…takes over. Totally takes over your life. You start to plan events around how you can drink. Like, if I have breakfast
here
with my friend, I can hit an alley afterward
there,
while she's going uptown. Or, if I blow another friend off for supper, I can reschedule on
him
and get my fix instead.”

Everyone was nodding harder. A few of the men appeared to have tears in their eyes! Charley, thankfully, had stopped nodding, but was getting in on the woman as tightly as he could.

“Get the suit in the shot,” the reporter whispered.

“I'm not used to this,” the woman continued. “I mean, I'm used to wanting things, but not like
this
. I mean, gross.”

A ripple of laughter.

“I've tried to stop, but I just made myself sick. And I've talked to some of my friends about it, but they think I should just suck it up. Ha-ha. And my new friends don't see it as a problem at all. I guess they're, what do you call them, enablers.” More nods all around. “So here I am. Someone with a problem. A
big
problem. And…I thought maybe coming here and talking about it would help. That's all.” Silence, so she added, “That's really all.”

Spontaneous, almost savage, applause. The reporter had Charley pan back, getting the crowd's reaction. She wasn't sure the rep would let all their faces be shown on the ten o'clock news, but she wanted the film in the can, just in case.

She wanted Charley to get the woman walking to the back of the room, but when he panned back, she was gone.

The reporter and her cameraman looked for the gorgeous stranger for ten minutes, with zero luck. Neither of them could figure out how a woman could just disappear out of a small conference room.

Gone.

Shit.

BOOK: Undead and Unappreciated
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