There's no Heaven . like Hell.
Faced with losing Pandora Productions as well as her best friend Rebecca to the smarmy Paul, savvy film executive Debbie makes a pact with the demon Shaker, agreeing to bind herself to him as his human master in return for killing Paul and securing Pandora’s future. Yet even as Pandora gains accolades and renown, Debbie’s strong resolve begins to crumble under the weight of her actions. And the pleasure she finds in Shaker’s arms is becoming more than sex.
Is Debbie doomed to lose her heart as well as her soul to a demon who has only been waiting for the chance to claim both?
“What good is having a demon if you can’t do anything about a hangover?” Debbie said crossly, fixing her hair in the mirror. Shaker stood behind her leaning against the doorjamb, watching.
“Need I go over Hell’s position on suffering again?” Shaker replied drolly. “If you’d let me join the party, I’d have watched over you and made sure you paced yourself—”
“Okay, enough,” Debbie said, holding up her palm. She put the final touches on her hair, then turned to him. “What do we do now?”
“Take my hand,” Shaker said, offering his.
Debbie took it. A second later, they were in her office. “Awesome,” she said, turning to the demon. “Can you do this every morning and evening?”
“Yes,” Shaker said, annoyed. “But sooner or later someone will observe us. I’d recommend teleporting only for special occasions. Besides, it takes a good deal of energy—”
“You teleport yourself everywhere, and come to my house to spend the night every evening,” Debbie said pointedly. “I don’t think it would take that much energy to stop and pick me up first.”
Shaker rolled his eyes. “I’m feeling married. When am I going to get the perks as well as the responsibilities, Mistress?”
“When I forgive you for withholding info,” Debbie said smoothly. “If Hell is so big on punishments, it should enjoy my punishing you. Be here at six.”
Shaker growled in displeasure, then disappeared.
Sheila walked in. “Dante is here in the conference room. Giorgio is with him, unofficially representing you. Are you ready?”
They walked down the hall to the large room. Dante was there with a lawyer and what looked like a bodyguard.
“In fear for your life?” Sheila sneered.
“She already killed my father,” Dante said snidely. “I don’t know she wouldn’t try to kill me to stop me from revealing the truth.”
“What bullshit are you selling now?” Debbie said. “I didn’t kill Paul.”
“I have a video that shows you giving Rebecca and Paul a bottle of wine,” Dante said. “It shows my father drinking some, and then beginning to choke.” He paused, expectant. “Can you guess what it shows next?”
Nothing, Shaker said in Debbie’s mind. Because demons do not show up on media. We appear as a blurry figure, or blackish smoke. He has nothing.
“No,” Debbie said triumphantly. “Why don’t you tell me?”
The certainty in Dante’s eyes flickered. “It shows my father writhing in pain, and you keeping Rebecca from helping him. Rebecca hits her head on a table, and goes down. Then it shows him missing and you running out of the room.”
“Because that is exactly what happened,” Debbie said confidently. “I told the police all of that. Paul was acting crazy. He struck Rebecca a glancing blow and she fell. While I was seeing to her, he ran out of the room. When I determined that Rebecca wasn’t in danger, I went for help.”
“Why didn’t you call 911?” the lawyer asked. “There is a phone on your desk, Ms. Deal. Why leave the room at all?”
“Because I panicked,” Debbie replied. “I also knew that there was at least one person at the party that knew CPR. Part of Rebecca’s skull was crushed in. I wanted to get someone to help her. I was afraid she’d lose consciousness.”
“But that isn’t accepted First Aid procedure,” the lawyer said. “The procedure is to call 911, then begin CPR.”
Giorgio spoke up. “Listen, you two bit hack,” he said politely. “Either charge her with something officially through the police, or get out of here. Ms. Deal is neither a licensed First Aid responder, nor is she a volunteer EMT. We have no requirement at Pandora for employees not designated as such to know any CPR procedures. Ms. Deal acted perfectly normal in a terrible situation.”
“We have the tape,” Dante said confidently. “That’s evidence.”
“It is evidence that what Debbie says happened really did happen. You have nothing, Dante, or you wouldn’t be here talking to us, the police would.” Giorgio stood up. “Unless you want to make an apology to Debbie, this meeting is over.”
Dante glared at Debbie. “I’ll get you before this is all over, you bitch.” He stalked out, followed by his lawyer.
Giorgio turned to Debbie. “What I told him was all true. I don’t think you have to worry about Dante charging you. He’s got nothing. But I’m going to put you in touch with a friend of mine, Mr. Catarella. If Dante does actually file charges, he can represent you.”
“Thanks, Giorgio,” Debbie said gratefully. She and Sheila walked back to her office, closing the door after them.
“Well,” Debbie said, sitting down in her chair. “Give me the status report. How is Pandora?”
“Flush with cash, hopefully, at 10am today,” Sheila said happily. “Once we have that, we can resume filming on both Absolution and Smoke and Ashes. The furlough was good in one aspect: Jett Black is recovering very well, and is out of his cast. He should be able to do the rest of his own scenes with no needed stunt doubles.”
“Good. How about Hell’s Gate?”
“Ready to debut the last week of this month,” Sheila said happily. “The new rating is all signed and sealed.”
“Any new news?” Debbie prodded. “I know we don’t have any cash yet to acquire more scripts, but are there any you were looking at?”
“Not yet, though the writer for Smoke and Ashes is hard at work on a sequel. And I do have some good actor news. The priest I hired for Smoke and Ashes is just wonderful. He had a few months of pastoral schooling before he left that behind to become an actor. He’s a wealth of information.” Sheila’s tone became tentative. “I know that we have him dying at the end of Smoke and Ashes at the hands of one of the bad guys as another inspiration for the hero to keep fighting the good fight. But now I’m wondering if we shouldn’t leave him badly wounded and unconscious in a hospital or something, so he could come back for the sequel.”
Debbie considered various ideas, then snapped her fingers. “Or maybe as a ghost?”
Barnes and Noble: http://www.barnesandnoble.com/w/a-good-year-tara-fox-hall/1125532941?ean=2940153975535
Tara Fox Hall's writing credits include nonfiction, erotica, horror, suspense, action-adventure, children's stories, and contemporary and historical paranormal romance. She is the author of the paranormal fantasy Lash series and the paranormal romantic drama Promise Me series. Tara divides her free time unequally between writing novels and short stories, chainsawing firewood, caring for stray animals, sewing cat and dog beds for donation to animal shelters, and target practice. All of her published children's stories to date are free reads on www.childrens-stories.net.
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