If demons aren’t supposed to be able to love, then why does Incubus Jerry Romani keep going all goo-goo eyed every time Riona Dade’s around? Is there something about the redhead that’s different from the other women he’s been dispatched by Hell to seduce? And why, oh why, does the Devil himself want this sexy yet prosaic mortal tagged and tailed?
Things between the embedded demon and the sultry statistician start to heat up just as the temperatures outside take a dive, and Jerry soon realizes Riona will be opening more than just his package come Christmas. She’s opening his heart, and with it, a world of possibility about what their futures might hold.
And I Thought Gladiators Were Bad
A Holiday Outtake from the holiday novella, Hung by the Fireplace, making it the most holidayest holiday story ever written by Killian McRae. Jerry Romani is an incubus sent to get a feel of/for/on seemingly mortal and mundane Riona Dade. Given that she totally had a thing for him despite the fact that he’d been caught red handed stalking her (on the Devil’s order, so totally not his fault, he’ll have you know), should it surprise him that Riona is a bit of a voyeur herself? Unlike him, though, she prefers crowds. And the local mall on midnight of Black Friday? A total candy cane to her sweet tooth.
When you’ve trod the Earth for two millennia, you see some stuff. I’d watch Rome rise and fall, both in world history and in Serie A football rankings. I’d stood at the sidelines as disease, famine, floods, and reality TV took their respective turns destroying civilizations. I had stories about clown colleges in the times of prohibition that could make an atheist fall to his knees and beg Big Boss for mercy.
But nothing, and I mean NOTHING, prepared me for the sight that lay before my eyes.
“They always told me I’d know when Armageddon had arrived. The innocent will commit the greatest evils, and even the best of men will turn on each other.”
“I don’t think the Hollister staff are aligned with the forces of Hell, Jerry. Maybe the people behind Abercrombie & Fitch are, though. Something about the ways those models’ eyes smolder…”
“You know I’m right here, right? I can hear you.”
She grinned at me. “Not so unlike your eyes, come to think of it.”
Did she notice my face flush as my blood pressure nearly had me committing hari-kari? Not that I could die. Well, again, any ways. I could be vanquished and forced to Hell by a hex, but my sweet, sexy human didn’t know anything about the world of magic, fallen angels, demons, and personal injury attorneys from which I came.
She turned back to the scene of writhing bodies and devious undertakings before us. I hadn’t seen this kind of action since that time I’d visited Caligula’s bathhouse. Funny how all the mittens, winter coats, and interior lighting did little to alter the impression.
“This is nothing, Jerry. Quite normal, and in fact, a little less hectic than I’ve seen in years past. I can’t believe you’ve never gone out for Black Friday shopping before.”
I considered telling her I’d gone out for Black Death shopping in the Middle Ages and picked up a French estate at a steal, but doubted that would keep my cover as an Italian-American underwear model under wraps.
“I’m more into guy stuff than shopping. You know, full contact stuff. Hitting, kicking.” Screwing.
She waived vaguely to the scores of people still trying to push their way past security to get ahold of something called “door buster savings.” Why someone would want to save on a busted door was beyond me, but this was the same species who snapped up Chia Pets and Fruit Cake like candy.
“This is a full contact sport.”
Riona’s deadpanned delivery left me wondering. I didn’t buy it. I felt as though we sat on the precipice of the pit leading to Hell Fire, destined to open up at the end times. From our table on the edge of the food court, we had a view of the entry to two departments stores, three boutiques, and something called a Yankee Candle. (I’d like to see them sell something called Redneck Candles and see how that bit of marketing went over.) Just beyond the doors of each, men cussed, women volleyed, and blood spilled over the floor.
Oh, wait, no. It was a cherry slushy. Someone had dropped a large next to the perfume counter at one of the department stores. At least it probably smelled better than the banshee urine some companies claimed to be “a spicy, yet floral scent.”
“You enjoy this?” I asked her as I witnessed a largish woman wearing a Justin Bieber sweatshirt yell at a shaking teenage cashier that “the sales said two for one, so why are you charging me twice as much for four?” As a demon – even undercover while integrating the sexy Miss Riona Dade – I considered dialing in and recommending this middle-aged midnight shopper with a fetish for preteen Canadian Pop Stars for a post on the banks of the Styx, but I wasn’t sure even the Devil was up for this level of debased crazy.
Riona leaned back in her molded plastic chair, hooking her elbows on the back. “This is the ultimate spectator sport. Oh, sure, if you watch TV, you’d think it was Nascar or the Super Bowl or something. But I have yet to see any little delicate teardrop quarterback who could stand up to the onslaught of midnight shoppers trying to get their hands on one of only three 60” big screens for just $25. I’ve seen heavyweights who can’t throw the kind of left hook I’ve seen old grandmas toss at these kind of shindigs.”
“I thought Devil’s Night was the night before Halloween, not the one after Thanksgiving. Wait, you’re actually getting off on this, aren’t you. Tell me the truth, are you a sadist?” I cleared my throat and put on some genuine sincerity. “Nothing wrong with that, if you are. I’m quite willing to be…”
Riona cut me off. “I’m not a sadist. The gore is part of the tradition. Like the running of the bulls.”
Just at that moment, a man whose shoulders were as broad as he was wide jogged it up the hallway as a another man as stout as he was thin trailed him, yelling obscenities. Both wore all red and at least a few jingle bells.
“So those are the red capes. Does that mean the bulls are coming now?” I asked.
She rolled her eyes. “No, Jerry. Clearly I see this isn’t your thing.”
I pushed my hands across the table to where hers rested as an afterthought and laced our fingers together. “Sorry, babe. It’s not. The good news is, though, you are. Come on.” I pulled her to her feet and led us toward the exit. “Only twenty-nine days until Christmas. That doesn’t leave us much time to get ourselves on Santa’s naughty list, but I’m positive we can do it with determination.”
Meet Killian McRae!
Killian McRae would tell you that she is a rather boring lass, an authoress whose characters’ lives are so much more exciting than her own. She would be right. Sadly, this sarcastic lexophile leads a rather mundane existence in the San Francisco Bay Area. She once dreamed of being the female Indiana Jones, and to that end she earned a degree in Middle Eastern History from the University of Michigan. However, when she learned that real archaeologists spend more time lovingly removing dust with toothbrushes from shards of pottery than outrunning intriguing villains with exotic accents, she decided to become a writer instead. She writes across many genres, including science fiction, fantasy, romance, and historical fiction.
Want to purchase Killian’s novels?
Hung by the Fireplace: A Pure Souls Holiday Novella
Pure & Sinful (Pure Souls Book 1)
A Love by Any Measure
In the Lord’s Embrace
The Altunai Annals
Tallis (Books of Andresium #1)
Have Gown, Will Wed
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