Authors: MaryJanice Davidson
Undead and Unstable
Titles by MaryJanice Davidson
UNDEAD AND UNWED
UNDEAD AND UNEMPLOYED
UNDEAD AND UNAPPRECIATED
UNDEAD AND UNRETURNABLE
UNDEAD AND UNPOPULAR
UNDEAD AND UNEASY
UNDEAD AND UNWORTHY
UNDEAD AND UNWELCOME
UNDEAD AND UNFINISHED
UNDEAD AND UNDERMINED
UNDEAD AND UNSTABLE
WOLF AT THE DOOR
SLEEPING WITH THE FISHES
SWIMMING WITHOUT A NET
FISH OUT OF WATER
Titles by MaryJanice Davidson and Anthony Alongi
JENNIFER SCALES AND THE ANCIENT FURNACE
JENNIFER SCALES AND THE MESSENGER OF LIGHT
THE SILVER MOON ELM: A JENNIFER SCALES NOVEL
SERAPH OF SORROW: A JENNIFER SCALES NOVEL
RISE OF THE POISON MOON: A JENNIFER SCALES NOVEL
EVANGELINA: A JENNIFER SCALES NOVEL
(with Laurell K. Hamilton, Rebecca York, Eileen Wilks)
(with Laurell K. Hamilton, Charlaine Harris, Angela Knight, Vickie Taylor)
(with Maggie Shayne, Angela Knight, Jacey Ford)
MEN AT WORK
(with Janelle Denison, Nina Bangs)
DEAD AND LOVING IT
(with Janelle Denison, Nina Bangs)
(with P. C. Cast, Gena Showalter, Susan Grant)
OVER THE MOON
(with Angela Knight, Virginia Kantra, Sunny)
(with Emma Holly, Vickie Taylor, Catherine Spangler)
DEAD OVER HEELS
(with P. C. Cast, Gena Showalter, Susan Grant)
(includes Mysteria and Mysteria Lane, with P. C. Cast, Susan Grant, Gena Showalter)
(includes Sleeping with the Fishes, Swimming Without a Net, and Fish out of Water)
BERKLEY SENSATION, NEW YORK
THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP
Published by the Penguin Group
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Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England
This book is an original publication of The Berkley Publishing Group.
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.
Copyright © 2012 by MaryJanice Alongi.
Cover illustration by Don Sipley.
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.
BERKLEY SENSATION® is a registered trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
The “B” design is a trademark of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
FIRST EDITION: June 2012
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Undead and unstable / MaryJanice Davidson.—1st ed.
1. Vampires—Fiction. 2. Taylor, Betsy (Fictitious character)—Fiction.
3. Paranormal romance stories. I. Title.
PRINTED IN THE UNITED STATES OF AMERICA
10 9 8 7 6 5 4 3 2 1
For women in their ninth month of pregnancy:
Nothing against the miracle of life,
but being a fetal slumlord is no job for the cowardly.
The events of this book take place just before the events of
Wolf at the Door
(Fall 2011). You don’t have to read
, but it might be amusing. And not just for me.
Also, I’m a dog person. No, really (though after reading this, you may have your doubts). Betsy and I have many things in common: the vanity thing, the not-learning-from-mistakes thing, the bitchy thing, the self-absorption thing, the shrill when freaked thing, the—you know what? I don’t have all day here, people. My point: of our many commonalities, her loathing of canines is not one of them. Dogs rule. Everybody knows.
The Story So Far
Betsy (“Please don’t call me Elizabeth”) Taylor was run over by a Pontiac Aztek about three years ago. Because she’d been attacked by several feral vampires days before, she didn’t die from their attack, but later at the hands of the Pontiac corporation. This was unprecedented in all things vampire, and she woke up their foretold queen and, in dazzling succession (but no real order), bit her friend Detective Nick Berry, moved from a Minnesota suburb to a mansion in St. Paul, solved various murders, attended the funerals of her father and stepmother, became her half brother’s guardian, avoids the room housing the Book of the Dead (
Book of the Dead
, noun: the vampire bible written by an insane vampire on human flesh, which causes madness if read too long in one sitting), cured her best friend’s cancer, visited her alcoholic grandfather (twice), solved a number of kidnappings, realized her husband/king, Eric Sinclair, could read her thoughts (she could always read his), and found out the Fiends had been up to no good (
, noun: a vampire given only animal [dead] blood; a vampire who quickly goes feral).
Also, roommate Antonia, a werewolf from Cape Cod, took a bullet in the brain for Betsy, saving her life. The stories about bullets not hurting vampires are not true; plug enough lead into brain matter and that particular denizen of the undead will never get up again. Garrett, Antonia’s lover, killed himself the instant he realized she was dead forever.
As if this wasn’t enough of a buzzkill, Betsy soon found herself summoned to Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where Antonia’s Pack leaders lived. Though they were indifferent to the caustic werewolf in life, now that she was dead in service to a vampire, several thousand pissed-off werewolves had a few questions. (“What, now? You care,
While Betsy, Sinclair, BabyJon, and Jessica were on the Cape answering well-it’s-a-little-late-
questions, Tina, Marc, and Laura remained in Minnesota (Tina to help run things while her monarchs were away, Marc because he couldn’t get the vacation time, and Laura because she was quietly cracking up).
They hadn’t been gone long before Tina disappeared and Marc noticed that devil worshipers kept showing up in praise of Laura, the Antichrist.
In a muddled, misguided attempt to help (possibly brought on by the stress of his piss-poor love life… an ER doc, Marc worked hours that would make a unionless sweatshop manager cringe), he suggested to Laura that she put her “minions” to work helping in soup kitchens and such.
As sometimes happens, Laura embraced the suggestion with zeal. Then she took it even further, eventually deciding her deluded worshipers could help get rid of all sorts of bad elements: loan officers, bail jumpers, contractors who overcharge, and… vampires.
Meanwhile, on the Cape, Betsy spent time fencing with Michael Wyndham, the Pack leader responsible for 300,000 werewolves worldwide, and baby-sitting Lara Wyndham, future Pack leader and current first grader.
With Sinclair’s help (and Jessica’s cheerful-yet-grudging baby-sitting of BabyJon), Betsy eventually convinced the werewolves she’d meant Antonia no harm, that she, in fact, had liked and respected the woman, that she was sorry Antonia was dead and would try to help Michael in the future… not exactly a debt, more an acknowledgment that because she valued Antonia and mourned her loss, she stood ready to assist Antonia’s Pack.
Also, Betsy discovered that her half brother/ward was impervious to paranormal or magical interference. This was revealed when a juvenile werewolf Changed for the first time and attacked the baby, who found the entire experience amusing, after which he spit up milk and took a nap.
Though the infant could be hurt, he could
be hurt by a werewolf’s bite, a vampire’s sarcasm, a witch’s spell, a fairy’s curse, a leprechaun’s dandruff… like that. Betsy was amazed—she suspected there was something off about the baby, but had no idea what it could be.
Sinclair, who until now had merely tolerated the infant, instantly becomes besotted (“That’s
son, you know.”) and begins plotting—uh, thinking about the child’s education and other necessities.
Back at the ranch (technically the mansion on Summit Avenue in St. Paul), Laura has more or less cracked up. She’s fixed it so Marc can’t call for help (when he discovers their cells no longer work, he sneaks off to find another line, only to be relentlessly followed by devil worshipers who politely but firmly prevent this), and she and her followers are hunting vampires.