Undead and Unfinished, page 1
Table of Contents
Titles by MaryJanice Davidson
UNDEAD AND UNWED
UNDEAD AND UNEMPLOYED
UNDEAD AND UNAPPRECIATED
UNDEAD AND UNRETURNABLE
UNDEAD AND UNPOPULAR
UNDEAD AND UNEASY
UNDEAD AND UNWORTHY
UNDEAD AND UNWELCOME
UNDEAD AND UNFINISHED
SLEEPING WITH THE FISHES
SWIMMING WITHOUT A NET
FISH OUT OF WATER
Titles by MaryJanice Davidson and Anthony Alongi
JENNIFER SCALES AND THE ANCIENT FURNACE
JENNIFER SCALES AND THE MESSENGER OF LIGHT
THE SILVER MOON ELM: A JENNIFER SCALES NOVEL
SERAPH OF SORROW: A JENNIFER SCALES NOVEL
RISE OF THE POISON MOON: A JENNIFER SCALES NOVEL
(with Laurell K. Hamilton, Rebecca York, Eileen Wilks)
(with Laurell K. Hamilton, Charlaine Harris, Angela Knight, Vickie Taylor)
(with Maggie Shayne, Angela Knight, Jacey Ford)
MEN AT WORK
(with Janelle Denison, Nina Bangs)
DEAD AND LOVING IT
(with Janelle Denison, Nina Bangs)
(with P. C. Cast, Gena Showalter, Susan Grant)
OVER THE MOON
(with Angela Knight, Virginia Kantra, Sunny)
(with Emma Holly, Vickie Taylor, Catherine Spangler)
DEAD OVER HEELS
MYSTERIA LANE (with P. C. Cast, Gena Showalter, Susan Grant)
THE BERKLEY PUBLISHING GROUP
Published by the Penguin Group
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Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices: 80 Strand, London WC2R ORL, England
This book is an original publication of The Berkley Publishing Group.
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, andincidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental. The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party websites or their content.
Copyright © 2010 by MaryJanice Alongi.
All rights reserved.
No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the author’s rights. Purchase only authorized editions. BERKLEY® SENSATION and the “B” design are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
eISBN : 978-1-101-18854-5
1. Taylor, Betsy (Fictitious character)—Fiction. 2. Sinclair, Eric (Fictitious character)—Fiction. 3. Vampires—Fiction. 4. Hell—Fiction. 5. Thanksgiving Day—Fiction. I. Title. PS3604.A949U’.6—dc22
For Sarah and Sherrilyn and Jen and Lisa
and Vicky and Marissa,
who helped me bring my bad self
back to my bad self,
and never once asked me for anything.
Okay, so, at the end of the day, when it’s time to write a book, it’s just me and the computer ... me, glaring balefully at same; computer refusing to make eye contact in the childish way it has.
(I should probably rewrite that: it should be the computer and me, right? Cuz I’m tryin’ to write good n’ stuff. Enh. I’ve already lost interest.)
But! For me to have the time to sit my big white butt down in the seat and get the work done? Tons of people help with that. And since I willfully ignore them most of the time, when I’m not figuring out how to frame them for felony assault, I’ll go on ahead and drop a few names.
First, many thanks to my valiant yet self-effacing assistant, Tracy Fritze. The poor woman no doubt assumed, well over a year ago, that it’d be a typical office job. Working for a writer was probably like working for an accountant: it sounded important but was ultimately mind-numbingly dull.
Sure, her workplace was my very own home, but how much different would it be from driving to an office three days a week?
Tracy likely assumed her duties would fall along the lines of word processing, setting up meetings, arranging interviews, proofing ARCs, booking speaking engagements, working with copyeditors, and occasionally running tornado drills.
Instead, the poo
Not to mention being locked out of my house when I’ve crawled back into bed with a migraine (see above: greeted by pantsless son: “Hi, Tracy. Mom’s sick. Can I have some Malt O’Meal?”), and holding her ground when I ruthlessly set the dogs upon her (I found my dogs are especially fond of her if I rub bacon grease into her shoes while she’s hard at work in the office).
Tracy is an assistant as the dictionary defines it: she contributes to the fulfillment of a need; she assumes some of my responsibilities. She rescues me from the minutiae that nearly everyone has to endure if they want to be a functioning member of society. She’s smart, she’s quick, she never has to be told anything twice, she’s discreet (nobody knew about my pantsless son or Malt O’Mealgate until I stuck it right in my acknowledgments page). Also, she smells terrific.
Thanks are also due, as always, to the awesomest of awesome husbands, Anthony Alongi (he also cowrites the Jennifer Scales series with me). He tirelessly reads, suggests, edits, mocks, enrages, inspires, and annoys. Without him, there’s absolutely nothing for me.
My folks and sister, for being completely unwavering in their support, one hundred percent of the time. They wouldn’t abandon that stance if I stuck a gun in their ear. Do not ask me how I know that.
The Magic Widows, who have endured me for years and pretend that I’m worth the trouble.
The best of agents, Ethan Ellenberg, who paid me the ultimate compliment of calling me low maintenance. That was a wonderful lie for him to tell!
The always terrific Cindy Hwang, who reads my book suggestions and synopses, edits my manuscripts, exudes copious enthusiasm for same, and doesn’t smack herself on the forehead when I can see it, or hear it. (Though I do occasionally hear odd background sounds when I’m on the phone with her.)
And to Leis Pederson, kick-ass assistant editor, who is repeatedly forced to track me down and corner me like a rat to get edits out of me, but does it with such style I feel wanted, not stalked.
Thanks also to the Yahoos, my fans on Facebook, the readers kind enough to write to me, and the readers who don’t go near Facebook or the Web, who don’t have computers but who write to me, care of my publisher, with real pens on real paper. (I feel bad I received one such snail mail and instantly assumed, as comedian Jim Gaffigan suggested, that someone had been kidnapped.)
I write for myself—I always have. I think if you write for other people, the end result is something of a cheat, for you and for them.
But you guys make the writing that much more fun, for which I am continually humbled and slavishly grateful.
I’ve got nothing against Claes Oldenburg or his wife, Coosje van Bruggen. And I’ve got nothing against the Minneapolis Sculpture Garden.
But at the end of the day, it’s just a giant spoon.
The Story So Far
Betsy (“Please don’t call me Elizabeth”) Taylor was run over by a Pontiac Aztek almost three years ago. She woke up the queen of the vampires and in dazzling succession (but no real order), bit her friend Detective Nick Berry, moved from a Minnesota suburb to a mansion in St. Paul, solved various murders, attended the funerals of her father and stepmother, became her half brother’s guardian, still avoids the room housing the Book of the Dead (Book of the Dead, noun: the vampire bible written by an insane vampire, which causes madness if read too long in one sitting), cured her best friend’s cancer, visited her alcoholic grandfather (twice), solved a number of kidnappings, realized her husband/ king, Eric Sinclair, could read her thoughts (she could always read his), found out the Fiends had been up to no good (Fiend, noun: a vampire given only animal [dead] blood, a vampire who quickly goes feral).
Also, roommate Antonia, a werewolf from Cape Cod, took a bullet in the brain for Betsy, saving her life. The stories about bullets not hurting vampires are not true; plug enough lead into brain matter and that particular denizen of the undead will never get up again. Garrett, Antonia’s lover, killed himself the instant he realized she was dead.
As if this wasn’t enough of a buzzkill, Betsy soon found herself summoned to Cape Cod, Massachusetts, where Antonia’s Pack leaders lived. Though they were indifferent to the caustic werewolf in life, now that Antonia was dead in service to a vampire, several thousand pissed-off werewolves had just a few questions.
While Betsy, Sinclair, BabyJon, and Jessica were on the Cape answering these questions, Marc, Laura, and Tina remained in Minnesota (Tina to help run things while her monarchs were away, Marc because he couldn’t get the vacation time, and Laura because she was quietly cracking up).
They hadn’t been gone long before Tina disappeared and Marc noticed that devil worshippers kept showing up in praise of Laura, the Antichrist.
In a muddled, misguided attempt to help (possibly brought on by the stress of his piss-poor love life ... an ER doc, Marc worked hours that would make a union-less sweatshop manager cringe), he suggested to Laura that she put her “minions” to work helping in soup kitchens and such.
As sometimes happens, Laura embraced the suggestion with tremendous zeal. Then she took it even further, eventually deciding her deluded worshippers could help get rid of all sorts of bad elements ... loan officers, bail jumpers, contractors who overcharge, and ... vampires.
Meanwhile, on the Cape, Betsy spent time fencing with Michael Wyndham, the Pack leader responsible for three hundred thousand werewolves worldwide, and babysitting Lara Wyndham, future Pack leader and current first-grader.
With Sinclair’s help (and Jessica’s cheerful-yet-grudging babysitting of BabyJon), Betsy eventually convinced the werewolves she’d meant Antonia no harm, that she in fact had liked and respected the woman, that she was sorry Antonia was dead and would try to help Michael in the future ... not exactly a debt, more an acknowledgment that because she valued Antonia and mourned her loss, she stood ready to assist Antonia’s Pack.
Also, Betsy discovered that BabyJon, her half brother and ward, was impervious to paranormal or magical interference. This was revealed when a juvenile werewolf Changed for the first time and attacked the baby, who found the entire experience amusing, after which he casually spit up milk and took a nap.
Though the infant could be hurt, he could not be hurt by a werewolf’s bite, a vampire’s sarcasm, a witch’s spell, a fairy’s curse, a leprechaun’s dandruff ... like that. Betsy was amazed—she’d suspected there was something off about the baby, but had no idea what it could be.
Sinclair, who until now had merely tolerated the infant, instantly became proudly besotted (“That’s my son, you know”) and began plotting—uh, thinking about the child’s education and other requirements.
Back at the ranch (technically the mansion on Summit Avenue in St. Paul), Laura had more or less cracked up. She’d fixed it so Marc couldn’t call for help (when he discovered their cell phones no longer worked, he snuck off to find another line, only to be relentlessly followed by devil worshippers, who politely but firmly prevented this), and she and her followers were hunting vampires.
Betsy finally realized something was wrong (a badly garbled text secretly sent by a hysterical Marc), and they returned to the mansion in time to be in the middle of a vampires-versus-Satanists smackdown.
Betsy won, but o
People went their separate ways, for a while. And nobody felt like talking.
Three months later, there still has been no real discussion about the ominous events over the summer.
I’m here on the ground with my nose in it since the whole thing began. I’ve nurtured every sensation man’s been inspired to have. I cared about what he wanted and I never judged him. Why? Because I never rejected him. In spite of all his imperfections, I’m a fan of man.
—SATAN, THE DEVIL’S ADVOCATE
Can you imagine what it was like? Ten billion years
providing a place for dead mortals to torture them-
selves? And like all masochists, they called the shots.
“Burn me.” “Freeze men.” “Eat me.” “Hurt me.” And we
did. Why do they blame me for all their little failings?
They use my name as if I spent my entire day sitting
on their shoulders, forcing them to commit acts they
would otherwise find repulsive. “The Devil made me
do it.” I have never made any one of them do anything.
Never. They live their own tiny lives. I do not live their
lives for them.
—LUCIFER MORNINGSTAR, DEVIL IN THE GATEWAY
It’s not easy being the Barbra Streisand of evil, you know.
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