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HELL'S BELLES    •    THE ROAD TO HELL    •     HOTTER THAN HELL     •    HELL TO PAY   
A LITTLE BIT OF HELL
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The Road to Hell
Kensington/Zebra Books
November 2007 (trade paperback)
November 2009 (mass market reissue)

Hell on Earth, Book 2

Jesse may no longer be a succubus, but she’s got a Hell of a past. She wants to come clean about her infernal history with Paul Hamilton, her white-knight-in-training lover, except he’d never believe her. Just like some people are worth being (shudder) monogamous for, some secrets are worth keeping. So Jesse keeps mum—until three of her former associates strong-arm her into returning to the Pit. Now, unless Jesse faces off against the King of Hell, she’ll lose Paul’s immortal soul. If she’d known love was this tough, she never would have turned her back on Lust...

 

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Praise for The Road to Hell


"Kessler's sizzling sequel to paranormal debut Hell's Belles puts ex-succubus Jezebel--the now-mortal Jesse Harris, a dancer at a strip club--stage center again. For a month after waking up in a hospital, the former 4,000-year-old, fifth-level succubus who used to seduce humans to claim their souls has been living a happy mortal life in New York with a devoted boyfriend, New York vice cop Paul Hamilton. So when Alecto, a Fury from hell, arrives and demands she return to hell to help Alecto's sister, Megaera (Jesse's former best friend who betrayed her), Jesse balks. Much of the rest of the book is spent convincing her to change her mind, with each sexy escapade topping the last, until (among other things) the demons go after Paul, and Jesse has to "pull an Orpheus." Kessler's raunchy blend of heaven, hell and eros makes for a wild thrill ride, and hot, tough-talking Jesse has gumption and sass." Publishers Weekly


"Kessler's sassy heroine is back with the scorching-hot book two of the Hell on Earth series. A sharp-tongued succubus writes in first person, telling a deliciously wicked story that mixes romance and humor with dark urban fantasy. The combination of supernatural elements with the mundane realities of life in the big city keeps things real. This is one helluva read--put Kessler on your must-buy list."
Romantic Times (4.5 stars)


"
The Road to Hell hints at a vast talent that could alter the romance genre
the way Kessler's heroine has altered the landscape of the underworld."
Rose & Thorn


“In
The Road to Hell, the second book in the Hell on Earth series, author Jackie Kessler reintroduces us to the cutest, sexiest and most downright foul-mouthed perky ex-demon you're ever likely to run across. Once again, Kessler demolishes my preconceptions about romance novels, eschewing the bursting bustier and the bare-chested hero for a sly nod, a knowing wink and a bawdy smile, and giving the best romance authors a serious run for their places on the best-seller lists.”Novelspot

 

 

"THE ROAD TO HELL is a terrific romp through Heaven and Hell and life on Earth. From angels to demons, this is a must read for anyone looking for both humor and darker paranormal elements. This is definitely love with a bite."Romance Junkies (5 blue ribbons)

"Kessler's prose and pacing are engrossing. Readers aren't going to be able to pick her books up and read casually. They're going to be hooked by the cleverness, whipped into a frenzy by the blatant eroticism and honesty, and left in a lather when the last page of a book is turned."Mel Odom


"Fun, sexy and utterly original! Kessler will seduce you."

— Gena Showalter, author of The Nymph King


"This is writing of blistering splendor: Kessler's acid wit and wry style make for damn fine reading. Trust me, the seven deadly sins have never had it so good!"

— Cornelia Read, author of A Field of Darkness


"A demonic thrill ride with heart and soul. Kessler is one of a kind!"

— Jaci Burton, author of Surviving Demon Island


"Jezebel is a refreshingly angst-free character, cheerfully libidinous and very, very funny. This fun, fast-paced series works as urban fantasy or paranormal romance. There's some great world-building here and an intriguingly subversive mythology, served up with a breezy tone that fits the heroine perfectly."

— Elaine Cunningham, author of the Changeling Detective series


"THE ROAD TO HELL is a wicked, deliciously inventive treat. This book thoroughly seduced me. It'd be a sin to miss it!"

— Rachel Caine, author of Thin Air

 

 
Excerpt

PROLOGUE: ON THE PRECIPICE

Whoever said you see your life flash before you when you die was full of crap. You don’t see your entire life. Just the most important parts.

Or, in my case, just the most recent parts.

As I die now, feeling strong arms holding me tight, hearing a voice whisper that it’s okay, my mind plays back the events that set me on the road to Hell, good intentions and all. Faces flash behind my closed eyes, almost too fast to follow reptilian fury, the angel crying fat, salty tears. My love, my White Knight, a name on his lips that isn’t mine.

Nice to know there’s a “rewind” button that comes with life. If only there were an “erase” button for the really sucky parts…

Darkness pulls me down, my heart slows, stops...and once again, I’m in Spice.

CHAPTER 1: SPICE

“I’m from Death Valley.”

“Really?” I smiled as I poured champagne into two long-stemmed flutes. Death Valley. Heh. People had such a sense of humor when it came to naming things. Take Slaughterville, Oklahoma, or my personal favorite: Hell, Michigan. There’s also Paradise, Pennsylvania, but I don’t hold that against them; they also have the spiffy town of Intercourse.

Handing a glass to the dark-haired man seated across from me, I said, “I’ve never heard of anyone actually being from Death Valley before. Scorpions and vultures, sure. People, not so much.”

He grinned, and a blush crept up his cheeks until it stained his big ears. Bless me, he was so endearing money. What more could a girl ask for?

“Actually,” he said, “I just work there. I’m a park ranger.”

Ooh, a do-gooder. The last ranger I’d met had been of the bow-and-arrow variety, many years ago. Different beastie altogether. That ranger, a Royal Forester by trade, had been all too happy to bloody those he’d been sworn to protect in between bouts of raping women. Charming fellow. Sexy, in a pond scum sort of way. Remembering forest and frost and picking twigs out of his beard before our last romp in the crisp snow, I sank back onto the black leather sofa, feeling a smile stretch across my face.

Those had been good times.

“A ranger,” I said to my latest client, rolling the word on my tongue. I tucked my legs beneath my body as I inclined on my left elbow, making sure my boobs almost, but not quite, spilled out from my low-cut red gown. Why give something away when Ranger here would be all too happy to pay me? I flashed him my best Utterly Smitten smile. “I’d love to hear more about what you do.”

His blush deepened. “I guess that depends on what day it is. Sometimes I’m a tour guide. Sometimes I’m a naturalist. And then there’s times I have to be a cop.”

Ah. No wonder I’d taken a shine to him. Thinking of my own cop actually be home tonight the same time I was, huzzah! really that much trouble in the desert?”

“Well, not so much as like in the cities. But we get our share.” The redness faded from his ears and cheeks as he spoke, and something hard and proud flickered in his brown eyes. Watching Ranger transform from a blushing boy into a seasoned man sent a delicious tingle up my spine. Yum.

Stop that, Jesse. Don’t get all hot and bothered by the nice customer. A friendly chat, a little drink in the mega-expensive Champagne Room, a private dance or two, clothing optional. No more. “What kind of trouble?”

“We get our ravers, our smugglers, our scrappers. We even get our full-fledged homicidal maniacs.”

Ooh, really? How cool was that? “What sort of maniacs? Serial killers?”

Okay, nipples, that’s enough. Down, girls.

“Well, the Manson Family hid out in the Panamint Valley.”

“That part of Death Valley?”

“It’s part of the larger park, yeah.”

“Sounds like it can be dangerous,” I said, putting an extra purr in my voice.

He shrugged, but the flush returned to his cheeks. My Ranger was modest. “I patrol in a hummer, and I wear a bulletproof vest. That’s with the temperature soaring well past a hundred degrees. And my M-16, of course. I wouldn’t go anywhere without it.”

Broiling hot sun, combined with assault weapons. Sweet!

“Tell me more,” I said, taking a tiny sip of champagne. I hated the stuff was so light and airy that even angels would have bitched about it current Tall, Dark, and Handsome had ordered it as soon as we’d entered the Champagne Room. Maybe he thought it was obligatory. “Why’d you become a ranger?”

“I’m third generation. My parents both were rangers, and my grandpa before them. I love being part of the park service. And I love our mission.”

“Mission?”

He took a deep breath, then said in a practiced sing song: “To conserve the scenery, and the natural and historic objects, and the wild life therein, and to provide for the enjoyment of the same, in such manner and by such means as will leave them unimpaired for the enjoyment of future generations.” He grinned at me before taking a deep swig of champagne. “Congressional Organic Act, 1916.”

“Impressive.” Me, I preferred the Orgasmic Act of the here and now. “It’s good that you’re doing something you really believe in.”

“What about you, Jezebel? Why’d you become a stripper?”

“Oh, I needed a career change,” I said, toying with my drink. “I love dancing on stage, feeling the music moving through me. And I like taking off my clothes,” I added with a wink. “So I decided to become an exotic dancer.”

He said nothing for a moment as he stared at my face, a goofy smile on his lips. Based on how he was making with the soulful looks, Ranger seemed more turned on by my large green eyes than by my breasts doing their own rendition of “June is Busting Out All Over.” Crap, I’d guessed wrong been sure he was a boob man. There’d been a time when I automatically knew what Hook worked for each client you name it. Now all I had to go by was a gut call. Clearly, that dandy “hunch” factor wasn’t as fine-tuned as my sex drive.

Mental note: Work on the whole women’s intuition thing.

Finally Ranger said, “You’re about the most beautiful woman I’ve ever seen.”

Ooh. Flattery. Right up there with chocolate. “You’re a sweetie.”

“No, I mean it. Your eyes, your smileSGod, your titsS”

Hah, I’d been right. Smiling, I took another sip of champagne.

He broke away from my eyes to slowly look me over, eating me with his gaze. He ogled the swells of my breasts, the curve of my hip, the V of my crotch. As he feasted on the image of my flesh, I swallowed my drink, knowing that all I was to him was eye-candy, a snapshot of sexual gratification. Nothing more.

Über cool.

I grinned at him, my lipstick shining in the softly lit room advertising the things I could do to him with my mouth. That’s right. You want to taste the alcohol on my lips, want to pepper my flesh with your kissesS

As Chris Rock once said, there’s no sex in the Champagne Room. But that didn’t mean I couldn’t think about there being sex in the Champagne Room.

In the background, the music from the hidden speakers switched to Patti LaBelle’s “Lady Marmalade.” Excellent tune, sultry vocals. I let my shoulders move with the beat, felt my skin humming from the piano keys.

“Say,” Ranger said, his voice husky, “would you mind dancing for me now?”

“Love to.” I placed my glass on the side table, then rose to my feet. With my stiletto-clad foot, I nudged his legs apart. Stepping forward so that I stood between his knees, I leaned forward, shoulders back, until my rack was inches away from his sweating face. I ran my hands over my twin mounds until they nipped out, straining against the material of my gown.

He groaned, then parted his lips as if he were dying to give suck. “Oh, JezebelSyou’re killing meS”

Heh. Not even close, sweetie. I don’t do that anymore.

“I’m supposed to start in the middle of the song, charge you for a full. But I like you.” I raised my arms high and shimmied, getting all jiggly and wiggly. “I’ll just consider this a warm up. No extra charge.”

Ranger said something like “Argghluh” and proceeded to drool.

Winking, I teased him with a teeny nip slip. Peek-a-boob.

“Jezebel,” he breathed, “would you mind if ISumStouched myself while you dance?”

“Sweetie,” I said, lowering myself into his lap, “I’d be honored.”

# # #

One thing about a guy coming while you’re giving him a lap dance: it’s damn sticky.

I dashed to the Women’s Room as fast as my five-inch heels would allow me. It was one thing to give the nod to Ranger doing the hand-over-fist thing with his salami; getting his jizz on my gown was something else entirely. I’d assumed he’d have enough control to hold back until I’d stripped down to my G-string. But no Blech.

Not that I particularly minded being covered in bodily fluids. But I drew the line at cum dripping off my work clothes. A gal’s got to have some standards. And technically, it’s a no-no for customers to touch themselves, or us, even in the privacy of the Champagne Room. If any of the bouncers gah, the floor manager banned from the club. Forcibly. Premature ejaculation aside, Ranger was a decent guy; I didn’t want him to get roughed up.

Besides, the poor dear had been so embarrassed that he’d emptied his billfold to make up for it. A five-hundred-dollar tip goes a long way to forgiving such a faux pas.

I rounded the corner and saw the Women’s Room at the end of the hall. One of the other dancers kept a supply of oxi-something in one of the bathroom cabinets for just such a stainage emergency. If I had another gown in my locker, I simply would have shucked the dress off, poured another one over my body, and not looked back. Problem was, all my clean gowns were currently balled up in the hamper at Paul’s apartment, doing their dirty clothing impersonation. Mental note: Do laundry.

Mental note, part two: Learn how to do laundry.

Yanking open the door to the bathroom, I was greeted with a stink foul enough to curl my hair. Yow, someone recently visited the fudge factory. Waving a hand in front of my nose, I beelined it to the sink farthest from the rows of toilet stalls when I heard a soft groan.

Breathing through my nose, I saw Circe seated in the far corner of the room, at the end of the huge vanity table. The raven-haired beauty was staring intently at her reflection in the wall mirror, clutching something to her chest. I glimpsed her pale face and dark eyes in the mirror, but it was the hugely muscled man looming behind her that grabbed my attention.

Dressed in a sleeveless tank and biker shorts that left nothing to the imagination, he stood behind her, massaging her shoulders. Leonardo Da Vinci would have creamed his pants to have this guy model for him; his body was perfectly proportioned, perfectly sculpted, and he radiated confidence almost to the point of arrogance. Slurp! Score one for Circe. After her shift was over, I’d have to corner her and get all the juicy details about her latest love. Last I’d heard, she’d fallen hard for some skinny blond guy. Guess that was yesterday’s news.

Mister Gorgeous bent over and whispered something in Circe’s ear. She sucked in a hitching breath, then let out a soft moan, closed her eyes.

Humph. Maybe there was no sex in the Champagne Room, but it looked like the Ladies’ Room was up for grabs. I must have missed that memo.

I opened my mouth to ask Circe how she could even think about foreplay with the smell in the bathroom as overpowering as it was, when I realized three things. One, Circe was crying. Two, Mister Gorgeous cast no reflection. And three, there was a dull-red glow around Circe. This wasn’t a freshly fucked glow, either; it pulsed around her like a dying heart Shit.

I didn’t know which was worse perilously close to dying, or that there was a demon giving my pal a backrub. Of course, the latter explained the former.

Okay, Jesse. Play dumb. Most mortals can’t see the nefarious. Ignore the obscenely huge there was one place where he wasn’t so huge. Must be the infernal equivalent of steroids.

“Circe? Sweetie, you okay?”

“Ignore her,” Mister Gorgeous said, casting me a long look. “She couldn’t possibly understand the pain he’s caused you. He doesn’t love you.”

Circe said, “He doesn’t love me.” Her voice cracked, shattered into a thousand pieces.

“Who doesn’t?” Right, keep your voice steady. Don’t look at Mister Gorgeous. You don’t see him, la la laS

“Larry.” Circe said his name with a sob.

Pasting a smile on my face, I did something very brave, and completely stupid. I walked over to her, sat in the chair next to her, within spitting distance of the hulking demon. Pay no attention to the evil creature behind the curtain. The stench emanating from him was strong enough to make my eyes water. Now I recognized it for what it was: Brimstone.

I said, “Larry? You mean the skinny blond guy? Sweetie, you can do better than him.”

“You gave him your heart,” the demon said. “He chewed it up and spat it at your feet. Show him how much he hurt you, how you can’t live without his love.”

Circe’s breath was coming in hitches. I reached over to pat her hand, and that’s when I saw the bottle of prescription pills she was holding in a death grip by her chest. “Whatcha got there, sweetie?”

“He doesn’t love me,” she said again. “I gave him my heart, and he chewed it up and spat it at my feet.”

Uh oh. Cyrano de Bergerac, infernal style. Very bad news. “Sweetie, there are other guys out there.”

“I can’t live without his love.” Her voice faded as if someone had turned the volume way down, and something went dead in her eyes. She unscrewed the bottle cap. In a tiny voice, she said, “I’ll show him.”

I grabbed her arm, but she wrenched it away. Fuck, she was strong. Massaging my sore hand, I darted a glance over her shoulder. Yup, the demon still had his hands clamped onto her shoulders. Not quite possession, but definitely influencing her actions.

The cheating bastard.

“Show him you still have your pride,” Mister Gorgeous said. “Swallow the pills. All of them.”

“I still have my pride,” she said, her voice a monotone. She opened the bottle.

I touched her elbow. “Circe, listen to me. Unrequited love is a bitch, but it’s not worth dying over. Come on, girl, this is stupid.”

She spilled some blue pills into her palm.

Fuck. Okay, let’s try some shock therapy. I slapped her, hard. The crack echoed in the room.

Blinking, she turned away from the mirror to look at me. My handprint stained her cheek an angry red. “JesseS?”

“Forget about the skinny blond asshole,” I said. “He’s not worth it.”

“She doesn’t understand how he hurt you,” Mister Gorgeous said.

Circe echoed, “He hurt meS”

“Sweetie, he has no idea what he’s missing out on. You’re a sexy, funny, wonderful girl. And if he doesn’t want a part of that, he’s an imbecile.”

She looked down at the bottle, at the pills in her hand. “You think so?”

“Probably impotent too.”

That brought a faint smile to her lips. “Yeah?”

I said, “I read it somewhere, in one of those business magazines, that it’s been proven that the higher the level of imbecileness, the higher the likelihood of impotence.”

“ OImbecileness’?”

“What, it’s a word.”

Her smile slipped. “I really love him. Why doesn’t he want me?”

“Because he’s an imbecile. I thought we covered this. It’s not even his fault. Imbecileness runs rampant in the male sex. Comes with all the testosterone.”

“Think so?”

“Yup.” I held out my hand. “Care if I hold your pharmaceuticals for you?”

In her ear, the demon roared: “Swallow the pills!”

Circe frowned, turned her head. “You hear something?”

“Just the hum of the fluorescents. Know what you need?”

She shook her head.

“A glass of wine and a good vibrator.”

Circe barked out a surprised laugh. “Jesse!”

“I’m telling you, it’s a surefire cure-all to everything that ails you, from a broken heart to the common cold.”

“I thought that was chicken soup.”

“I have never heard of pleasuring yourself with chicken soup,” I said. “But I’m willing to give it a shot.” I made a gimme gesture. “Fork it over.”

With a sigh, she plopped the bottle into my hand, then the loose pills.

Behind her, Mister Gorgeous said nothing, radiated pure rage. Gleep.

“Come on, sweetie,” I said, doing my best not to eye the invisible demon. “Let’s cut out early. First round’s on me.”

Circe stood, looking vulnerable and beautiful, like a sculpture of flowers. “You sure?”

“Absolutely. Let’s tell Jerry to move us off the stage lineup, then we’ll tip out.” The D.J. was a real prick about dancers missing their rotation; I’d have to slip him an extra twenty to mollify him.

“Okay.” She smiled at me. “Thanks, Jesse. ISJesus, I don’t know what I was thinking. Suicide’s a sin.”

“I keep forgetting you’re so damn religious.”

“I’ll find Joey, tell him we’re cutting out. Meet you back here to change?”

No freaking way was I staying in a bathroom with an angry demon. I started to get up when I felt a crushing weight press down on my shoulder, my neck. The demon squeezed, and suddenly I couldn’t breathe.

I wanted to shriek at the top of my lungs. What I said in a hoarse whisper was, “You bet.”

Circe took a deep breath, straightened her spine, and sauntered out of the Women’s Room.

As soon as the door closed, something tangled in my hair and yanked my head back. I dropped the bottle, and the pills spilled from my hand, bounced on the tile floor. Over the nauseating odor of sulfur, the ripe stink of my fear clung to my nostrils. Blood roared in my ears, pounded in my head, and my heart jackhammered like it wanted to break free from my chest. My arms were leaden, dead things; my feet were rooted on the floor. I couldn’t run, even if the demon released me.

But as I stared up into his face, I had a sinking suspicion that the last thing Mister Gorgeous wanted to do was let me go.

“I know you,” he said, his face twisting into a leer. “You’re the slut from the Courtyard.”

Even through my overwhelming fear, I heard the capital C in CourtyardSand I placed him.

Tell us, is it true that all Seducers are pox-infested carriers of disease?

Oh boy. Oh boy, oh boy, oh boy. Mister Gorgeous was a demon of Pride had a personal grudge against me. Granted, most creatures of Arrogance had a chip on their shoulders when it came to one of my kindSformer kind. Pride and Lust rarely work well together, unless there’s seriously strong drink involved. But he had a reason to despise me: I’d embarrassed him in front of his buddies. To one of the Arrogant, there’s no worse crime.

Licking my lips, I tried for the Dumb Blonde approach, ignoring the fact that my hair was a curly brunette. “Never saw you before.” I even spoke with the right balance of Pants-Pissing Terror and Indignant New Yorker. Maybe he’d think I was just one of those rare mortals who were able to see the supernatural. “Let me go.”

“You’re lying. You smell of sex, slut.”

“Last customer got too happy, got his splooge on me.”

“That’s not a lie.” His grip on my scalp tightened, and I felt clumps of hair tearing at the roots. Between the shriek of agony atop my head and the flare of pain from me biting my lip to keep from screaming, I was one raw nerve. “But you do know me,” he said. “Oh yes, slut. And I know you.”

Fuck.

He grinned, and my breath strangled in my throat. Icy fingers tripped up my spine, reached out to grip my heart. The demon bent down until his mouth was inches away from mine. “Once a fifth-level succubus, now a flesh puppet with a soul. How appropriate. The only thing lower than your type of trash is humans.”

“My soul,” I said through clenched teeth. “It’s clean.”

“You entice humans with thoughts of Lust. Your work is in the name of Sin.”

Yeah, well, old habits die hard. After four thousand years as a Seducer, what was I going to do, be a telemarketer? “Not Sin. Entertainment.”

“A fine line.”

“Maybe. Still a line. You can’t claim me.”

He growled, deep and low in his chest. “You talk tough for a mortal slut. You don’t have your Fury friend with you keep you safe this time.”

My throat constricted as I remembered the softest brush of lips on my own. Just thinking of Meg brought angry tears to my eyes. “Don’t need her protection.”

“You think not?”

“You can’t claim me for Hell. My soul’s clean.” Benefit of being only thirty days old in mortal years: that’s not a lot of time to wreak havoc.

His eyes narrowed, and for a moment I glimpsed his true form swimming beneath his false human shell maw crammed with razor-blade teeth. Then he pulled my head up until I was sitting up straight in the chair. He spun me around to face him, his hand still tangled in my hair.

“Old rules are bending, breaking.”

“I got that,” I said, far calmer than I had any right to be. “Seems the nefarious are encouraging mortals to kill themselves. What, business is too slow?”

“Business is booming.” His dark gaze held me, explored me. “You mortals make excuses for your sins, think you can talk your way out of damnation. As if understanding why you commit certain actions, you forgive the action itself.”

A demonic therapy session. Spare me. “The ends doesn’t exactly justify the means. I know that.”

“The mortal coil is steeped in Evil. Murder because of disrespect. Genocide because of disgust.” He leered. “Lust because of entertainment.”

My heart, already careening at marathon speed, started rocketing at a pace just short of cardiac arrest. Bless me, I hated being afraid. I really preferred causing fear human. Maybe I should start carrying a big gun. “You know what they say. The world’s going to Hell in a handbasket.”

“The trip is taking too long. No more sitting back, waiting for humans to die before collecting their souls for the Pit. We’re encouraging them along.”

I pushed aside my fear to sniff my disdain. Even an ex-demon has Sin standards. “You assholes are cheating.”

“Times are changing, slut.” For a moment, his eyes closed in on themselves, faded to something old, worn. He released my hair. “We can’t let the world be more Evil than the Abyss.”

I heard the implication behind his words, and I shivered. People think that the King of Hell is the Devil. They’re wrong. The Devil antithesis of the Almighty celestials or the nefarious. The only thing keeping It from destroying all of humanity, and the world itself, is Hell. Torturing souls amuses the fuck out of the Devil.

At least, it used to.

Wrapping my arms around myself, I said, “So your King is changing the rules. Keeping things lively.”

“You have no idea just how much has changed.” He shook himself like a dog, regained his malefic ire as he smiled a shark’s grin, all teeth and appetite. “And that means, slut, we can influence your actions more so than ever before. To put it in language even you could understand, we can seduce you.”

Arrogant prick. “You really have to work on your pick-up lines.”

“What’s that pithy saying the mortals like to throw around? Oh, yes. The devil made me do it.’ Quaint.” His eyes gleamed. “And now, rather accurate.”

I swallowed thickly. If the infernal really were going to be actively influencing people, encouraging them to live fast and die young, life was about to get much more interesting. Mental note: Start thinking pure thoughts.

Oh, puke, who was I kidding?

“I say with supreme confidence that I’ll see you in Hell, slut. But you know,” he added, “the Pit is a better place without you and your Fury friend.”

I frowned, wondering what he meant by that. Of course Meg was in Hell. That’s where the Furies hung their hats, like most creatures who weren’t inherently Good. If not in Hell, where else could she be?

Stop. Don’t think about her. She betrayed you, left you to die.

Her voice, like a kiss, in my mind: We all do what we must.

“Until next time, slut.” Grinning like he’d eaten all the kids in a candy shop, the Arrogant disappeared in a puff of sulfur.

There’s nothing worse than a demon with a grudge. And a little dick.

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