It’s a long weekend here in the United States. For those of you celebrating, Happy Labor Day. I’m working, because writing is my happy place, and I’m watching US Open Tennis.
This month marks my 15th anniversary of being a published author, so I’m giving away free episodes of my stories. Did you start any of the posted episodes over the weekend? Fatal Fridays, Super Agent Saturdays, and Sweet Sundays have kicked off on Ream. (If you’re a follower and missed those emails, be sure to check your inbox or spam folder (and mark the email ‘not spam.’) Or you can read them on the Ream website or in the app. Easy, convenient, and at your fingertips 24/7.
The next episodes release THIS weekend, so make sure you’re caught up. Also, for my Charmed and higher tiers, the next Grim and Bare It episode releases next week. What is Chloe going to do when she realizes she’s a grim reaper? More importantly, how is she going to act when she suspects Killion isn’t human???
And for my Nyx fans, Wedding Bells & Psychic Spells, the next Confessions of a Closet Medium, begins releasing daily on the 11th for paid tiers, so mark your calendar.
If you want to subscribe to get exclusive stories and early access to even more, come join the Charmed tier – it’s only $5 and you can try it out.
Wishing you all a great week, and here’s a teaser from Revenge Is Sweet in the Kali Sweet Chronicles. Remember, everyone is getting FREE episodes all month, but if you can’t wait for the next one to find out what happens, read the book in its entirety. You can grab it from my online store today.
*** A paranormal romance bestseller ***
We save what we love. I love humans, even though I’m not one, and while I can’t save them from themselves, I can protect them from supernaturals like me. My name is Kali Sweet and I’m a vengeance demon. I run Sweet Investigations and work for the Bridge Council, the supernatural world’s version of the Justice Department.
A week before Halloween in the Windy City, the trees were leafless skeletons against a murky sky, bare branches dripping rain. One storm was done, another moving in, and the atmosphere was tight and leaden. In two hours, the Chaos Demons rock band would take center stage at The United Center, a.k.a. the Madhouse on Madison, and the place was already jumping. Fans clogged the parking lots, security was heavy. High-pressure shoebox lights laid a haze around the building. A breeze kicked up, scattering a confetti of wet leaves around my feet.
Head down and clinging to the shadows, I passed two tour buses, both emblazoned with the Chaos Demons graphic Greek god logo. Despite the cool night air and approaching storm, scantily clad female groupies surrounded the buses. Hanging around the women were assorted tattooed and pierced males trying to look badass. A few appraised me, eyes gleaming and heads tilted with interest, but not so much as a snicker or a whistle accosted me. While I looked like a male fantasy come to life in my short leather skirt, thigh-high boots, and Red Riding Hood cape, they knew a true badass when they saw one.
As I passed one of the ginormous plate glass windows in the front, the dull roar of drums, electric guitars, and keyboards thumped against it like a lion trying to roar its way out. The band was warming up, the lure of music tantalizing. I wanted nothing to do with the Chaos Demons, but my MP3 player was tucked in the pocket of my cape, along with my weapons, tempting me to listen to my latest playlist. Tonight, though, I had to keep my senses clear and my wits on high alert. Music would only distract me.
I kept walking.
One of the things I love about humans is their power to create. Music, literature, movies… their ability to invent and design new worlds fascinates me. I covet that ability, perhaps valuing it more than they do.
Finding the service door I was looking for at the rear of the building, I also found a six-foot-five, two-hundred-and-sixty-five-pound security guard blocking it. Beefy hands settled on his nonexistent waist when he saw me. “Kali Sweet. What’chu doin’ here, girl?”
“Hi, Hone.” A cross between a Hawaiian fire dancer and a sumo wrestler, Hone could intimidate an entire NFL team. Me? I saw a teddy bear under the immense brawn and glowering attitude.
Even though he knew who I worked for and my status among the supernatural crowd, I’m a stickler for doing things by the rules. I flashed him my badge, and gave him my most professional face. “Bridge Council business.”
Security guard, bodyguard, bouncer, you name it, Hone had been my muscle on a couple of jobs in the past, some for the Council, a few for Sweet Investigations. The outer package was just for show—he could read minds, and that’s what made him the better fighter, no matter who he was up against.
He scratched the top of his buzzed head. “Here? Tonight? Before the concert? It’s not one of the band members, is it? Boss ain’t gonna like that. Bad for profits if the lead loses his voice right before the show.”
If I ever got hold of him, the lead singer of the Chaos Demons would lose more than his voice. But that wasn’t Council business, that was personal, and I wasn’t allowed to exact personal revenge. Ever. Period.
Hone’s boss still wasn’t going to like me. “I’m delivering a warning tonight, and it isn’t to one of the band members.”
Hone studied me for two seconds before he guessed my mission. “Nudra? No. Way.”
I nodded, and Hone’s gaze swept the shadows behind me, looking for my backup. “You alone?”
Two little words, but his tone suggested it was a crazy idea to face the vampire king without some muscle. I fingered a short stake, sharpened to a nice point, inside my cape. “Nudra and I are just going to have a brief conversation. That’s all.”
I had the coming encounter planned out in my head down to the last detail. I’d deliver the Council’s message with my usual Italian flair mixed with a touch of American snarkiness, and Nudra would try to seduce me with his vampiric East Indian charm. When that didn’t work, he’d threaten me with his typical vampire king bluster. In the end, though, no blood would be shed. I’d wrap things up and be back on the South Side to celebrate my friend Neve’s birthday before she finished her first beer.
Moving aside, Hone opened the door for me. “Nudra doesn’t like the Council stepping on his toes.”
Vampire kings craved power as much as they craved human blood, and they always considered themselves above the laws of both human and supernatural worlds. “I’m the messenger this round, not the enforcer.”
“You know what they say about shooting the messenger?” Hone’s teeth flashed a bluish white in the dim glow from the overhead light. He waved me through the door with a dramatic flourish of his enormous arm, looking like Chicago’s most dangerous doorman.
“Things go bad…” He tapped the side of his head as I passed through the door. “You call me.”
Nice to know his loyalties lay with me even though he worked that night for Nudra. Human or supernatural, times were tough. Jobs were scarce. I’d drink a gallon of holy water before hanging a sign around my neck that said, “Will work for vamps”, but I didn’t blame Hone for taking any job he could get. “You still treating Renee well?”
He laid a hand over his heart. “Aphrodite set me up with the perfect woman. Renee’s amazing. We’re talking about getting married.”
Told you he was a teddy bear.
I squeezed his arm. “I’ll tell Di. She’ll be thrilled, and we’ll both be expecting a wedding invitation.”
“You got it.”
When the door shut behind me, my happiness over Hone’s good news fled, my confidence wavering as a sense of dread attached itself to my back like a horny teenage boy. I hadn’t confronted a vampire of Nudra’s level in fifty years. My last experience with one had ended in a lot of blood. Mine, his, and a couple of humans. The memory still made me sick to my stomach.
Evading inside security, I circumvented the elevators and took the stairs. My heeled boots sounded like gunshots on the concrete, echoing in the stairwell. I silenced them with a touch of my fingers, the magic coating the boot soles before I made my way to the management level where the offices were located. The tha-wump–wump-wump of drums and the whine of guitars vibrated over my skin. A hard-driving rock song was hard to resist, but this one, like all the songs the Chaos Demons had built their successful career on, made me want to gouge my eyes out while jumping up and down barefoot on hot coals. Thinking about Radison Beaumont in any capacity, his role as lead singer of the Chaos Demons no exception, always resulted in the same visceral response.
Big girl panties, Kali. After nearly three hundred years, I shouldn’t even remember il pistolino’s name, much less how much he’d hurt me, but hearing the music the half-human, half-chaos demon created, feeling it vibrate over my skin, was like the touch of his fingers on my body all over again. My pulse throbbed in tune with the drum and my heart squeezed with the same sharpness as when Rad had left me.