Black Friday is here and we’re discussing the season with Devon Monk’s Shamus Flynn from Hell Bent.
Instead of the deadly force it once was, magic is now a useless novelty. But not for Shame Flynn and Terric Conley, “breakers” who have the gift for reverting magic back to its full-throttle power. In the magic-dense city of Portland, Oregon, keeping a low profile means keeping their gifts quiet. After three years of dealing with disgruntled magic users, Shame and Terric have had enough of politics, petty magic, and, frankly, each other. It’s time to call it quits.
When the government discovers the breakers’ secret—and its potential as a weapon—Shame and Terric suddenly become wanted men, the only ones who can stop the deadly gift from landing in the wrong hands. If only a pair of those wrong hands didn’t belong to a drop-dead-gorgeous assassin Shame is falling for as if it were the end of the world. And if he gets too close to her, it very well could be….
Make sure you stick around to the end. We’ll be giving away a copy of Hell Bent.
The Lost, The Found
My life sounded like the beginning of a lame joke. Which was why I couldn’t wait for this day to be over.
I’d promised the ghost, Eleanor, that I’d take her window shopping. And since I, Death magic user, Shamus Flynn, was the one who had killed her and accidentally tied her spirit to me, I figured I owed her.
“You had to pick Black Friday?” I said as I stared at the mall in front of us. “For the love of all that’s holy, darlin’, why?”
“Why not?” Eleanor said, or I think she said. I’m not great at reading lips.
“Maybe because Death magic is the sort of thing we might want to keep away from crowds. And maybe because there are about a million people out today.”
I shook my head. Still, I had killed her. What was one little trip to the store in exchange for her eternal soul?
“Fine,” I said.
Eleanor smiled like I’d just unwrapped Christmas at her feet.
I couldn’t help it, I smiled back.
Plus, I did want to buy Stone, Allie’s pet magic-fueled gargoyle, something for Christmas. Preferably something he could stack in her living room that would annoy both Allie, and my best friend Zayvion.
“All right, let’s do this.” I took a deep breath, braced myself for the overload of life inside that building and walked into the mall.
Eleanor practically danced through the crowd, peeking into bags people carried, slipping through windows and walls and into shops as far as the connection between us would allow, talking non-stop though she knew I couldn’t hear her.
For my part, I just walked straight down the aisle and ignored the world. Don’t kill the nice workers, don’t kill the nice shoppers, don’t kill the nice anyone. I held tight to the Death magic inside of me, working up a sweat while I kept it from devouring the people around me.
“Shame.” A voice broke through my pay-no-attention-to-the-world wall.
Reality snapped back into focus. Sharp edges, cinnamon smells, and a hundred-voice choir belting out Santa jazz over loud speakers.
Terric Conley stood in front of me, shoppers moving past us on either side. He was taller than me, better looking than me, light to my darkness, Life magic to my Death magic. He was also holding two coffees.
I nodded toward the coffees. “Who were you expecting?” I took one. Sweet, with too much cream. My fav.
“You.” He didn’t add anything to that. Didn’t have to. Since we’d screwed up and used magic together we both had a pretty good awareness of where the other was. An awareness that was growing stronger and would probably lead to our mutual insanity.
“What are you doing out here?” he asked.
“Hey, I shop.”
“You really don’t. Did your Mom talk you into it?”
Eleanor jumped up and down and clapped her hands. She loved when Terric asked about her, though he couldn’t see her unless he used magic, something both he and I were avoiding.
“Maybe.” Then, to change the subject, “What’s that on your arm?”
Terric froze as though I’d just pointed out a snake was crawling up his back. “Nothing.”
“Looks like a gift bag,” I said.
“What’s in it, Ter?”
“It’s for charity,” he lied.
“Charity. Then you won’t mind me seeing it. Hold this.” I shoved my coffee back into his hand and grabbed for the bag, plucking out a thin box before he could push me away.
“Shame,” he said. “Just. Don’t.”
I lifted the lid on the box. A black scarf nestled beneath the tissue paper. I ran my fingers over it. Very soft, with a woven pattern worked into it. “Cashmere for charity? I know you’re generous, but not that generous, mate. You got a new boyfriend?”
“It’s not like that.” He said in his calm-before-the-storm tone.
I ignored him and read the small card tucked under the edge of the scarf: To: Shame. Merry Christmas.
Oh. Hell. It was for me. He’d bought me a gift.
Terric sighed. “You might as well put it on. Idiot.”
“We don’t do gifts,” I said, a little startled. “You and I don’t celebrate anything together. All we do together is try not to destroy each other. And the world.”
“After the last few months…everyone we’ve lost, I just thought it would be nice….” He brushed his hand back through his hair, then let his bangs fall over his eyes. “It’s not like we have to start a tradition or anything. Give it back. I’ll return it. It was a dumb idea.”
“No,” I said, suddenly not wanting to let go of the scarf or the sentiment of friendship behind it. I couldn’t remember the last time I’d been surprised by a gift.
“This is cashmere, right? Think I’m stupid enough to turn down free cashmere?” I wrapped the scarf around my neck. Nice.
“Okay,” Terric said, a little surprised. “Good. Well, Merry Christmas, Shame.”
“Merry Christmas, mate.”
He patted my shoulder, then started off.
Eleanor pointed at him, like maybe I should be paying attention to something. Like maybe I should be paying attention to him.
And hell, if I had to slog through the holiday season amongst the normals, I might as well do it with the one guy in the world who was feeling as out of place as me right now. He was right, after all. We’d lost so much this year.
He turned and gazed over the heads of people sifting between us.
“You took my coffee,” I said. “Also? Since you seem to have this shopping thing down, got any ideas for an annoying gift I can give Stone?”
He was already walking my way. I was already walking his way too.
“How annoying?” he asked.
He handed me the coffee. “I have some ideas.”
“Good.” We started through the milling crowd again, Terric on one side of me, Eleanor on the other. “I don’t suppose you have any idea of what to give a Life magic user,” I asked. “Say about your height and general build?”
He smiled. “Subtle.”
“Not that I’d buy you anything.”
“Not that I’d want it,” he said.
Eleanor spotted the photos with Santa setup. She actually ran through people to get a closer look at all the crying babies and discount elves. It was ridiculous, but I liked seeing her so happy.
Death and a ghost walk into a mall to do a little Christmas shopping for a gargoyle. They run into Life and suddenly, it’s not a joke. It’s Christmas.
Meet Devon Monk!
Devon Monk has one husband, two sons, and a dog named Mojo. She lives in Oregon and is surrounded by numerous family members who mostly live within dinner-calling distance of each other. She writes the Allie Beckstrom urban fantasy series and the Age of Steam steampunk series. Her collection of short stories, A Cup of Normal is a finalist for the Mythopoeic and Endeavour Awards. When not writing, Devon drinks coffee and knits strange things.
Want to purchase Devon’s novels?
Age of Steam
- Magic to the Bone
- Magic In the Blood
- Magic in the Shadows
- Magic on the Storm
- Magic at the Gate
- Magic on the Hunt
- Magic on the Line
- Magic Without Mercy
- Magic for a Price
Please help spread the word: Tweet: #BlackFriday is here. Celebrate the chaos with #holiday #stories and #contests by 26 authors (Nov29-Dec24) http://wp.me/p3SIUp-atz
Thank you Devon for taking part in Literary Escapism’s Black Friday!
Here’s the a Rafflecopter widget for the $25 giftcard giveaway.
Devon is giving away a copy of Hell Bent. To enter, all you have to do is answer this one question: What kind of gift should Shame get Terric? Remember, you must answer the question in order to be entered.
Even though I’m not giving the additional entries any more, you can still help support the author by sharing their article, and this contest, on your blog, Twitter, Facebook, or anywhere you can. After all, the more people who are aware of this fabulous author ensures we get more fabulous stories.
The winner must post a review of the novel someplace. Whether it is on their own blog, Amazon, GoodReads, LibraryThing or wherever, it doesn’t matter. Just help get the word out.
All Black Friday contests will remain open until December 31st at which time I’ll determine the winner with help from the snazzy new plug-in I have. Have you checked out the other Black Friday contests yet? Check out the Master List to see all the Black Friday giveaways
I have not been contacting winners, so you will need to check back to see if you’ve won.