A woman damned…
Priscilla Goodnight, a widow in the harsh Kansas frontier, has a cattle ranch to run. She can’t afford to reveal any cracks in her tough exterior or indulge in sexual liaisons with her ranch hands. But a hungry succubus can only exercise so much self-restraint, making discretion, disguise and memory-wiping her top managerial skills.
The mysterious stranger who knows her darkest secret…
Priscilla doesn't remember hiring the man with the wily smile and the flannel voice. At all. Men as physically appealing as Hugo Desmond rarely escape her bed, let alone her memory. And how is he able to move so fast, yet nobody notices but her?
Is she his target, his mission or his bait?
Hugo is a gargoyle—a specially-trained executioner—sent to purge the west of evil. With succubi falling squarely in demon territory, Priscilla has every reason to fear him … yet she can't stay away. Hugo says he needs her help and wants to save her soul. But is redemption possible for a woman as wicked as Priscilla, or will love thaw her heart just enough for Hugo to crush it?
A few of the men are laughing and eating breakfast, but as soon as I walk in, they grow silent … mostly.
“Morning, Miss Priscilla. Did you sleep well?” Fred asks, his last words ending with a snicker.
Most of the other men snicker too, all but Hugo, that is. He probably doesn’t know the rest well enough to be privy to their secrets.
Jesse slaps Gray on the back and Gray grins. Speaking through a mouth full of half-chewed biscuits, Gray says, “I slept like a titty baby myself.”
The others snort back their laughter. Hugo’s forehead furrows as he glances around the table.
I sigh. I don’t know why I expected better from Gray. But little boys must be taught their lessons, and the first one is don’t fuck with a succubus who holds your soul in hock.
After giving each man a smile in turn, I close my eyes and yank on Gray’s tether. He keels over and falls face first into the puddle of gravy on his plate.
“What the … Gray?” Jesse lifts Gray’s face from the plate and shoves him back against his chair, wide-eyed but unseeing. Mr. Yao’s savory sauce drips in long slimy strings from Gray’s nose. “Gray?” Jesse slaps Gray on the face a few times.
Gray isn’t home anymore. I slurp the last bits of his soul’s life-force in and breathe deeply as it spreads throughout every inch of my body. I am energized, immortal, powerful, and pissed off.
Hugo skewers me with his gaze, cold and hard. “Are you sure you want to do that? May raise more questions than it solves.”
What the hell is he talking about? Fuck him! Fuck all of them!
One by one, starting with Jesse, I lock gazes with each man around the table. As I ransack their recent memories, their expressions transform from mirth to horror to incoherent. The two newer hands I’ve never had to mind-wipe before—Winston and Jasper—fall asleep. The older hands will slowly regain their wits with what have been called devilishly hideous headaches. If any of them think they can take to their beds sick today, they’re dead wrong.
Hugo watches the entire proceedings, and when I get to him, my last target, he presses his lips into a thin line and resists my trespass into his mind. Those glacial blue eyes of his frost over and then seal shut, expelling me and slamming the door in my face.
How the hell is he able to do that?
With a snap of Hugo’s fingers, all motion, except his and mine, ceases. The clock stops ticking. A napkin casually tossed hovers an inch above the table’s surface. Mouths are frozen mid-word. Arms float rigidly in the air, and eyes stare blankly.
“Think, Pris,” Hugo repeats. His jaw is rigid, and his hands are curled into fists.
I stop trying to force my way inside Hugo’s mind. “Wh-what’s going on?” I wave a hand in front of Fred’s face, nearly threatening to put his eye out, but he doesn’t flinch, doesn’t even blink. I shove my chair away from the table and jump to my feet. “What kind of sorcery is this?”
Hugo slowly raises his eyes to mine. In measured words he says, “Give Gray back his soul.”
“I need it.”
“No.” He shakes his head. “You don’t.”
“He deserved what he got!”
“No. He didn’t. All you needed to do was mind-wipe him, just like the others. Sucking him dry is excessive. You don’t have to go that far. Besides that, we’re kinda short-handed. Do you really want to fall behind this time of year? Think about how hard it will be to find a replacement.”
The horror of this man’s cognizance of what I am grips me. “Who are you? What are you?” I take a few steps back, wondering if I should flee.
He lifts his eyes to mine. “I’m someone you should be very afraid of.”
“Afraid? Of you?” I throw my head back and laugh dramatically, just like those ladies on the stage. “Oh, little big man. I’m not afraid of any man.” But I am afraid of this one.
Lila Shaw is the pen name for a wee hours author of erotica and erotic romance. She adores writing about strong-willed women and the clever, charming (and well-endowed) men who love them. She believes if you can’t occasionally laugh at human foibles, and especially the physical aspects of love, you’re taking life far too seriously … unless the condom breaks, then you have every right to fret. Lila lives in the Portland, OR area with her family. www.lilashaw.com
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