Yes, today is The Big Day. The third Megan Chase novel is released, in which demons are killed, mysteries are revealed, and at least one Very Big Question is answered.
Don’t you want to know what it is?! Of course you do. So go buy it!! It’s out there! On the shelf! Waiting for you!!
And here’s some excerpty goodness:
They all knew she’d been visited by the FBI the day before. Most of them knew of her friendship with Tera. Some of them knew about her friendship with Brian, and if they knew that they might very well also know that Brian’s girlfriend was a police officer.
She turned to look at Roc just as he appeared on her shoulder, and jumped slightly. Expecting to find empty air over your shoulder and instead finding a small dark green demon floating there would make just about anyone jump.
“There’s a human nearby,” he murmured. “Ariago and Hefferus tried to stop it but it would not be deterred, and they couldn’t get its Yezer to talk to them.”
“They didn’t say.”
“Shit.” She stood up, trying and failing to keep her chair from scraping the marble floor, and set her napkin on the table. “Sorry, everyone. We’re having a small issue in one of the hallways, I’m just going to go and have a look.”
“Shall I come with you?” Greyson touched her hand.
“No, no. Stay and eat. I’ll be right back.”
Her heels clicked on the floor, too loud in the ensuing silence. Everyone was watching her leave, with her dress swirling around her feet. The dress was a compromise; most Gretnegs wore their House’s colors, but her House’s colors, dark green and orangey gold, didn’t particularly flatter her.
Besides, Greyson liked her in black. And so did she.
She loved the dress, but couldn’t help wishing instead for a pair of tennis shoes and jeans, as she let the servants close the doors behind her and re-entered the ballroom in which they’d had cocktails. Her heels still made noise, and the last thing she wanted to do was announce her presence to anyone, so she slipped them off, cringing a little when her stocking-clad feet hit the cold floor.
Well, at least she wasn’t barefoot.
The empty ballroom kicked the faint rustling sound of her skirts and her feet on the floor back at her.
Unsettling. Almost as unsettling as her worries about what might be waiting for her.
A human, sure. No big deal; Megan was human. But how exactly was she supposed to deal with the situation? She hadn’t really tried hypnotizing people demon-style yet. It felt unethical, like a step down the road to inhumanity. And if she was going to take one step, what would stop her from taking another? And another? And suddenly there she’d be, eating pie like there was no tomorrow.
When she hit the doors leading back to the hallway she stopped, dropping her shields. Best to get an idea what she was in for.
Trickles of curious energy flowed from her, feeling their way through the doors and along the hall. Even the walls here contained echoes of emotions and events; most hotels did. How could they not, really, with so many lives, so many events, taking place in them? Hotels were microcosms of life, and intense emotions could leave imprints that lasted decades.
The human who’d gotten past her demons felt triumph. Excitement. She was—oh, shit. She was the FBI agent. Elizabeth Reid.
For a moment Megan froze. She couldn’t speak to the woman. Couldn’t even let the woman see her there, not after denying any knowledge of the meeting.
Then relief flooded through her. This was the Bellreive, and the private rooms had been rented for the week for an exorbitant price. She’d call the management and ask them to eject the intruder.
Yes, Elizabeth’s ID would probably make a difference there. But it would delay her at least long enough for Megan to inform the others what was happening.
It wasn’t a great plan, but it was a decent plan. Megan had just turned to head for the courtesy phone planted unobtrusively on the wall in an alcove when she felt the other presence.
Not human this time. Demon. Following Elizabeth Reid very closely. What the hell?
If something happened to Agent Reid, if she were attacked or even killed… They’d all be questioned. Their presence would be discovered. Agent Reid wasn’t the only one who suspected their little group was more than the gourmet club they’d told hotel management they were. It would be an unholy mess.
She headed for the courtesy phone, keeping her shields down, and reached into her black silk evening bag for her cell.
A bored receptionist answered the courtesy phone, her mind almost completely occupied by thoughts of the BDSM fun she’d get up to with her boyfriend later. Megan got a few very interesting images before she managed to shut the pictures down. Hey, wasn’t like she was anyone to judge, or had any interest in doing so. “I’m with the Gastrique party in the Moonlight Dining Room, and there’s a woman screaming outside the main doors. Could you please send security immediately?”
The receptionist—her attention fully diverted by Megan’s story—promised to do so. Megan hung up, scrolling through the numbers on her cell with her other hand until she found the one she wanted.
“’Ello, m’lady. Wot you need?” Malleus sounded, as always, alert and ready. She pictured him pacing the floor with the phone in his hand, just in case he was called.
In reality he was probably watching Dancing With the Stars or some such tripe with his brothers. It didn’t matter. He’d be at her side as soon as he could get himself down the stairs.
“Hey. I need someone down here. There’s a demon in the hall, and I don’t know what it is.”
“We’re coming.” The dial tone almost cut off the final syllable.
Okay. Security was on its way, and the brothers were too. She felt a little safer. Not much—she was acutely aware of the empty room behind her, of the demon getting closer—but a little.
She’d just turned to head back into the dining room and alert the others when the scream came through the double doors, loaded with terror so thick her own heart—both of them, actually—skipped a couple of beats. It was Agent Reid’s voice. Agent Reid, who was in the hallway with a demon of indeterminate appearance and intent.
Megan’s feet were moving before she thought of it. Whatever the consequences, they could be dealt with; if she couldn’t hypnotize the Agent she’d get one of the others to do it. Security wasn’t fast enough, the brothers weren’t fast enough—they had fourteen floors to get down, damn the damn luxury top-floor suites—and if she crossed the room to get the others the agent could be dead by the time they got there.
Of course, she could find herself dead, which was not a great thought. But she didn’t have much choice, not when another scream rent the air, worse than the first.
A heavy thud came through the doors a second before she flung them open. Could she still feel Agent Reid? Yes, she could, she focused on her and—wait. Reid was moving away from the doors; her thoughts were a bit jumbled but she didn’t seem particularly frightened. Had the demon, whatever kind of demon it was, altered her memories?
Too late to stop and think about that, to consider the implications. The doors were open, banging against the walls and bouncing back at her, the sound of them hitting the plaster loud in the heavy silence.
And it was silent. Dead silent. Empty, except a thin, horrible streak of red on the wall that she knew was blood. Could smell was blood; human blood.
A flicker of movement at the end; a figure disappearing around the corner. Agent Reid. What the hell had happened? Was she injured?
Injured or not she was beyond the point where Security would find her. Megan had two choices, neither of them right. To follow the agent and make sure she was okay would be the moral thing to do, but would get her busted. To ignore the agent’s possible injuries and head back to her dinner as if nothing was wrong wouldn’t be the moral thing to do. It would be the negligent thing to do. But probably the correct thing.
She hesitated for a moment, then took a step forward. She’d follow, but she’d hang back. That way she wouldn’t be spotted but if Reid collapsed or something she could—
Something slammed across the back of her legs, knocked her down before she even had time to feel the injury. Her shocked body moved of its own accord, scrambling to get away, already anticipating the next blow.
It didn’t come. Instead a heavy hand tangled in her hair, yanked her up. The scent of—what the hell? Roses?—filled her nose, so strong and sharp her eyes watered even more than they were already from the pain.
Through them she barely made out the delineation between ivory wall and dark hallway carpet before the hand moved, closing tight over her mouth and twisting her head further, up toward the ceiling. She tried to struggle, kicking back, jerking her torso, but an arm like iron closed around her waist, trapping her arms. Her feet, encumbered by heavy layers of taffeta, did no good at all.
Her ears rang. Dimly over the sound she heard something else, a low, thick voice like sandpaper. She couldn’t make out the words but felt them. They vibrated over her bare skin, through it into her soul.
Magic. She’d been around Tera enough to recognize that feeling. Had even been able to do some energy manipulation herself, back before she’d attached herself to the Yezer. That connection made it difficult for her to do such things; their energy tended to color her experiments and send them in bizarre directions, so she’d given up trying.
But she still knew what it felt like. Wasn’t likely to forget. And the person who held her—a man, she knew it was a man without thinking—was definitely doing magic.
She would have known that even if the wall behind them hadn’t suddenly opened and swallowed them up.