What good could come of a bargain with the devil?
Burdened by her responsibility to the Order of the Cadre, Lady Dawn Maybank never imagines that a thoughtlessly spoken spell could conjure up her worst nightmare--a demon of vengeance. Or that this demon, Galen McManus, will propose a trade that could finally earn Dawn the respect she's sought her entire life. Because in exchange for the Demon Stone, a long-lost diamond for which her father has been searching his whole life, Dawn will spend five nights in the sinfully handsome demon's bed.
Little does Dawn know that Galen's real objective is to weave his own brand of cosmic justice. But then the sinister net the arrogant demon has woven traps his most unsuspecting victim yet--himself. And for the most unlikely of reasons....
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October 01, 2007
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Excerpt from Night Mischief by Nina Bruhns
London, October, present day
Professor Dawn Maybank peered into the dense London fog and drew her trench coat tighter around her shoulders. Pressing the auto lock on her Jaguar, she shivered. She should not have parked on the street. She knew better. Anything could be out there, peering back at her. Vampires, demons, were-creatures: any of the paranormal beings that inhabited the dark shadows of the mortal realm. This was exactly the kind of cloaking fog that drew paras out to hunt. She knew that.
It would be her downfall someday, her impetuousness.
In the tomblike silence of the twilit morning, Dawn's high heels clicked loudly on the uneven cobblestones, echoing off the ancient walls that canted Old Trolly Road where the Department of Anachronistic Research, of which she was now the department head, was located. She should at least have worn flats. In case she had to run. Damn this job and damn the dress code, and damn her father for making her accept the position.
The thick mist crept slowly around her body like a moving shroud of unease. She could see sod all. Even her hearing was muffled, the cries of the gulls from the nearby Thames sounding more like whispers in the distance.
A drift of warm preternatural energy tingled over her skin. Damn. There was something out there. Instinctively she slid a hand into the pocket of her suit jacket, reaching for the emergency countermeasures she always kept close. Dead Sea salt for demons, a tiny but powerful UV flashlight for vampires, which also had a built-in high-frequency tone-emitter to ward off werewolves and other were-creatures. Gripping her briefcase tightly in her other hand, she quickened her pace. And murmured a spell of concealment, which she really should have said before she left the car. She never got to finish it.
Because suddenly he was there. A man. Looming over her. She halted, scant inches from his towering body.
Never show your fear.
Their eyes met. For a moment they just stared at each other, her heart beating so quickly Dawn thought it would burst from her chest. He was huge, his broad shoulders made menacing by the black, ankle-length macintosh that swirled about his legs. Otherworldly power emanated from him, humming over her arms like a comb covered in warm wax paper.
For a split second she weighed the possibilities. Vampire? Unlikely. It was after sunrise, and very few vampires were able to venture out in the light, thank God. Demon? Maybe. Sidhe? The heated energy radiating around him did not feel like faerie glamour. Glamour was cooler, more tingly. A were? Maybe. Or a human with magic? No, the energy didn't feel human, either.
All at once the man's fingers were wrapped around her arm. She hadn't seen him move; they were just there. At the contact a prickly wash of power surged over her, hotter than before. The fine hairs on her arms raised.
Definitely not human. "Let me go," she ordered, keeping her voice firm and steady. What had happened to her instincts? Three months away from her job as a demon tracker for the Cadre and already she was slacking off. Somehow she needed to get to the capture crystal in her briefcase, in case he was a demon. If he was some sort of were-creature, she was already toast. Still, a good bluff never hurt. "Let go now!"
"Lady Dawn?" the man asked. His deep voice was oddly hushed, like the fog surrounding them. Another clue.
Which immediately became lost in a more disturbing fact: He knew her name.
"Lady Dawn, I have something for you," he said softly, barely above a whisper. His voice trailed along her skin like the brush of fire-warmed velvet, sensual, erotic. "Something you've wanted for a long time."
A strange light flickered in his eyes as he spoke, as though he expected to tempt her with his low-spoken words.
She wasn't impressed. Or fooled.And he'd given himself away. Demon.
To be more precise, daemon sapiens. One of the two major genera of demon, this type was nearly indistinguishable from humans. On the outside.
But a demon's whisper was dangerous. Its power of suggestion could easily lure a mortal to her doom.
Dawn shielded her mind against it, and visualized a solid circle of protection around herself, both techniques the Cadre had taught her well. "What do you want?" she demanded.
One corner of the demon's mouth curved up, a wealth of meaning shining in those tempting black eyes. Promises. Wicked promises.
She jerked her arm, but his fingers were like a vise, her efforts useless. Demons were strong enough to bend steel with their bare hands, their preternatural energy even stronger. His hot, otherworldly power pulsed into her almost painfully, shattering her invisible circle of protection. Her heart pounded harder. She'd been caught in his net like a novice. She was going nowhere until he wished it.