Magic and Mayhem: Fire, Brimstone and Chocolate Cake (Kindle Worlds Novella), page 1
Text copyright ©2017 by the Author.
This work was made possible by a special license through the Kindle Worlds publishing program and has not necessarily been reviewed by Robyn Peterman. All characters, scenes, events, plots and related elements appearing in the original Magic and Mayhem remain the exclusive copyrighted and/or trademarked property of Robyn Peterman, or their affiliates or licensors.
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Fire, Brimstone and chocolate cake
New York Times & USA Today Bestselling Author
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Also by Mina Carter
About the Author
My name’s Jynx.
In a former life I kicked puppies…
Or kittens. Or something. I must have. Otherwise I wouldn’t be staring down Satan himself on the subject of marriage.
No, I’m not in the midst of some drug or drink-fueled psychedelic dream. I wish I was. I’m stone cold sober, standing in the throne room of hell arguing with my uncle Lucifer (yes, that Lucifer) about the fact I am in no way, shape or form taking a trip up the aisle and getting myself leg-shackled to anyone.
“No, absolutely not.”
Yes, that was definitely my voice ringing out loud and clear, and I was speaking English, not some weird and wonderful language only spoken in some obscure pocket of hell way off the beaten track. Not that it would matter if I did. Uncle Lucy spoke them all since he created the place.
“And by absolutely not, I mean absolutely-no-fucking-way and not a cat in hell’s chance. Clear enough for you?” I demanded, glaring at my uncle and standing my ground.
He glared right back. There are few things more suicidal than arguing with the devil… no, wait, there is nothing more suicidal than arguing with Lucifer, the king of hell, himself. After millennia in charge, he doesn’t take kindly to anyone saying “no.”
But this was my ass on the line… literally. Especially as my proposed bridegroom apparently had a thing about back door action. One thing was for sure. Assgroom was so not getting any with me. Ev…er.
“I don’t think you heard me correctly.” Lucy smiled that damn devil’s smile, the one that said he was just going to keep pressing until he got what he wanted.
I smiled right back, keeping all the bristling rage and fire within me under control. The ends of my hair might have started to smoke and curl, a sure sign I was about to lose it, big time, but I ignored it in favor of keeping eye contact. Steely, give-a-rattlesnake-a-headache eye contact. There’s no one who does a stare down like a Morningstar… two of us? The sky might just fall in before one of us looked away. It’s a good job we’re in hell. This place is warded against shit like that.
“No. I got you loud and clear, bub. You want me to marry Gerald here.” I flicked a sideways glance to the guy standing next to me, whose name wasn’t Gerald, and suppressed a shudder. Not because he was hideous, far from it. Nabzon was, in a word, beautiful. Like supermodel, middle page of the glossies, total lady-boner burn out the BOBs beautiful.
I’ve lived in hell since I was born. The half-breed daughter of a mortal warlock and the devil’s sister, I’ve never set foot out of the place. Too dangerous apparently, and Uncle Lucy is big on looking after family after his first one screwed him over.
When I was born, the first princess of hell in millennia, he declared the mortal world off limits to me. So I’ve been brought up amongst demons and hell-creatures. Warts, tentacles and scales don’t faze me. Neither do horns or tails (when I get really pissed, I’ve got both. I’m told they’re cute) but good looks? No, make that freakishly handsome, smooth good looks… freak me the hell out. No pun intended. In my experience, those who look the most wholesome and normal hide the most depraved souls and perversions.
So, Nabzon, with his smooth skin and fuck-me handsome looks… left me completely and utterly cold.
“Huh?” Nabzon frowned, his lips pursing into a perfectly kissable pout. “My name isn’t Gerald.”
“Ignore blond-but-dim,” I snapped at my uncle, whose attention was starting to waver. “I am not getting married. Certainly not to Alfred. Even down here, you need a bride’s consent… and I don’t consent. So not consenting. Ever.”
“My name isn’t Alfred either.”
“But, pookie…” Uncle Lucy’s voice drew out into a whine. “You’d make the perfect couple—”
I lifted my hand, cutting him off mid-sentence. My hair was really beginning to smoke now, and I could feel my horns aching, trying to break through. Since I’d just had a wash and blow-dry this morning (Marius down on the second levels… that man is a genius with hair, let me tell you. Good hairdressers down here are so hard to come by that as soon as the guy landed, we totes bypassed processing and got him set up in a salon.) that pissed me off more than anything else.
“No, no pookie. No couple and definitely no wedding! Unless you want me to call the mom? Tell her about your plans to marry me off to Marvin here.”
“It’s not Marvin either…”
I folded my arms, eyebrow arched as I pulled the ultimate trump card. Mom. My mom, Lilith, to be precise… Lucifer’s twin sister and, pretty much everyone agreed, the more powerful of the two. It was only the fact that she had the attention span of a hyperactive squirrel and a tendency to blow things up that meant hell had a king, not a queen. But that didn’t mean she wasn’t up to taking Uncle Lucy to task in a variety of unpleasant and painful ways if he did something she didn’t like.
Such as marry off her only daughter.
“No… I don’t think that will be necessary,” he said carefully, transferring his attention to Nabzon. “Sorry, Vincent. Wedding’s off. Now that’s out of the way. Who’s for steak?” Lucifer clapped his hands together, looking smug and satisfied.
“But…but… my lord?” Nabby argued, his ingratiating voice grating on my last nerve. I looked at him in disgust. My fingers itched with the need to toast him with a healthy dose of hellfire. Uncle Luce looked at me sharply.
“Pookie…” he said warningly.
Nabzon was a demon and an arch-duke of hell, which meant he could call hellfire and cast it, but Morningstar’s didn’t just call hellfire… it ran through our very veins, hiding just beneath the surface. Which meant I could give tall, blond and demony next to me a bad rash in a very nasty place that no amount of soothing cream would ease.
I huffed and then smiled broadly, taking his proffered arm and ascending the dais to the throne. Turning, I sat down next to my uncle and looked down. Nabzon stood where we’d left him and I resisted the urge to stick my tongue out, instead offering him a small, only slightly triumphant smile.
For a moment he seemed frozen in place, utter rage in his suddenly black eyes. The malevolence there was so complete I started to suck in a breath. But then it was gone as though it had never been and he smiled, all oily and slick.
“Of course, my lord. It is, of course, a disappointment. To be married into such an illustrious family as the Morningstars…” He bowed almost in half, his forehead almost brushing the dusty
Nabzon was still talking, straightening up to rake his gaze down me. His stare was so oily I felt the instant need to take a month-long bath. In lava.
“And to have such a beautiful woman as your niece in my bed, writhing under me as I impale her on my c—”
I snapped my fingers, and a thin line of hellfire snapped out. Nabzon squeaked, his ass jerking forward, and his face going white and then red.
“What was that?” I asked sweetly, reeling in my fire and twining it around my fingers. Yes, I’m a total bitch. Sorrynotsorry. I’m a Morningstar. What did you expect?
“Nothing, my lady,” Nabzon muttered, making another low bow and waddling from the throne room quickly. I snorted as I realized, when he turned around at the last moment, that my assgroom had made his escape with his ass hanging out of his pants. Literally.
It was a good day to be a princess of hell.
Two days later my uncle hadn’t mentioned Operation Get Jynx up the Aisle, which could mean one of two things. He’d either forgotten all about it, or, equally likely, he was playing the long game and I wouldn’t see his next move until it was too late.
At least, that’s what he thought. Lucifer might be the king of hell and have eons more life (or death) experience, but I was from the same bloodline. And right about now, I was fucking paranoid. Nothing would get past me. At least, that was the plan.
“There’s really no need to have a taster for everything, Your Highness,” the nasally voice of the court majordomo, Baulor, sounded in my ear. “It’s not like a proper demon needs to resort to poison. That is what you fear, yes?”
No, I didn’t fear poison. Even as a half-mortal, my demon blood was strong enough to burn anything dangerous out of my system before it did too much damage. But it would put me out of commission for a while, and it was that downtime I worried about. There were things out there that meant Uncle Lucy could get me to agree to anything. I might find myself married off to something way worse than Nabby.
So, I was taking precautions. On everything.
Baulor sighed impatiently in my ear. “I do have other things to attend to, Your Highness, so if that’s all…”
“Sorry… I… ca-…er you. Ar…you…ere?”
I stuttered as I tapped the spell orb over my ear, grinning broadly as the demon on the other end of the line squeaked. Interference on a spell-line was a bitch, really fucked the hearing up, sometimes for days.
Did I care? Not a jot.
Baulor was an officious little rat of a demon who thought he was above everyone, even my uncle, and certainly above his half-mortal niece. We all knew he liked to torture souls in the lower levels, the ones who hadn’t managed to claw their way up enough to have any chance of defending themselves. He was also a pervert who liked watching through the floor grates to catch a glimpse up the skirts of the women at court.
That was the thing about hell… we’d been the victim of the worst PR job in the history of, well, forever. Anyone can make it here, all it takes is the drive and determination to claw your way up to the top. Some of the highest levels in hell are actually occupied by former mortals.
But I’m off the point. Baulor is an asshole, always on my case. If I could make things a little difficult for him, like say with hearing loss, I would do it. Pity I couldn’t put his voyeuristic piggy little eyes out, but knowing my luck, the little wanker would grow them back. Probably on stalks.
I shuddered at the thought as I turned the corner. I was on my way back to my suite on the upper levels, but I preferred to avoid the main walkways and stairwells. They were too well known and filled with corners and nooks where it was all too easy to be ambushed. I didn’t trust Nabzon not to try a shotgun wedding. Sure, it would be the quickest shotgun wedding in the history of the world before I went loco and pulled his spine out through his asshole, but it was still something I preferred to avoid. So I stuck to the back walkways and corridors, using little-known stairwells to move through the levels.
The section I was in was mostly unused, at least for the last thousand years, so the faintest of sounds up ahead froze me in my tracks. My blades leapt to my hands, unlit by the hellfire that surged through my veins. Deep within there was another power, one I’d never used and never intended to. That power was from the mortal world above, inherited from the father I’d never met. Wasn’t like I had a use for it down here. So generally, I ignored it, and thankfully, it ignored me.
Padding forward on silent feet, I crept to the next turn. The rough-hewn stone of the wall scraped against my back as I eased my way to the edge to peek around the corner. My nose twitched. The usual stink of hell—fire and the acrid bite of sulfur—was mixed with something else. Something new. Something I’d never smelled before. My curiosity piqued, I peered around the corner.
The corridor opened out onto a small hall. At the end of it stood none other than Nabzon, still in his court finery and standing out like a freaking peacock in the darkness of the hall, deep in conversation with… eyes narrowed, I studied the men around him. Tall and almost as good looking as Nabby himself, they moved with a fluid grace that pulled at something in the back of my mind. Then one of them turned and the light from the hellfire orb behind Nabzon fell across his face.
I sucked in a breath.
His skin was smooth and flawless, eyes with a glossy, healthy sheen. I’d never seen one in the flesh, but I recognized all the signs. Vampire…. And one that had recently fed. Roger me sideways with a paddle… Vampires in hell? My uncle would have fucking kittens, a whole freaking litter of them. He hated them with a passion. Vamps, not kittens. He liked cats. I think their “fuck you” attitude appealed to him.
Vamps, though, were a no-go. A perversion, they’d been created by some asshole playing “what if” and making a human drink demon blood. The result was unpredictable and way more intelligent than their idiot creator had anticipated. It was way before my time but apparently they’d found him in his lab with his throat ripped out and his bastard creations loose in the mortal world to cause mayhem and havoc. Talk about opening a fucking can of worms.
But, they were good for taking the heat off us down here in hell, so I suppose that’s one thing to be said for them. And, the humans seemed way more interested in them than us… but I suppose their good looks and stunning hair (seriously, have you seen these guys? It’s like they’re starring in their own personal shampoo ad or something, all swirling, shiny locks and shit. Makes a girl green with envy.) added to the romanticism that human books and films had built up around the assholes. It made them a way more attractive proposition than the average demon—if you avoided the part where they ripped your throat out and drank all your blood. At least demons only took your soul, and we had to actually ask first. We’re the nice guys in all this, really.
I shuffled a little closer to the edge, silent as a cat, and tried to make out what they were saying. I could only get snatches of their conversation, which wasn’t good. Frustration rolled through me as I watched their faces. I have eyesight like a damn hawk, a body built for sin and I can seriously rock a leather corset… but I can’t read lips worth a damn.
Nabzon seemed excited, though, body language effusive. The sense that this was important, that I really needed to know what the little shit was up to, filled me. Reaching into the part of me that was pure demon, I called the shadows to cover me and slipped from the corridor into the hall.
Sticking to the darker edges of the cavern where my shadows were less likely to be noticed, I crept toward the small group. As I moved, their voices became more distinct until I could make them out.
“Did you find them? Tell me you found them!” Nabby demanded, his face eager. If he’d been a dog, he’d have been drool
The vampires nodded, breaking out the smiles. Whatever it was, if it made them and Nabby happy, it couldn’t be good. But what?
“We tracked the bloodline down to Ass—”
I frowned as the speaker, a vampire, turned away and his voice went muffled. Shit, I needed to get closer. Whose bloodline were they on about? There were a few names people had searched for throughout history—Jesus, King Arthur—personally I was more interested in the guy who’d created chocolate cake that didn’t make you fat… never heard of that one, huh? Yeah, it was apparently down to a deal with one of us. As soon as news hit the grapevine, chocolate cake dude disappeared. Apparently his great-grandkid is out there somewhere with the recipe. One day…
Another couple of feet and I could hear again. I froze in place, wrapping my shadows carefully around myself.
“Assjacket?” Nabzon frowned. “What kind of place calls itself that?”
He had a point. Seemed a bit of a douche name to pick.
“That’s just what the residents call it,” the vamp said with a shrug. “We lost the trail there. But yeah, the antichrist was there.”
My world stopped, dead, as all the blood in my veins froze. If Nabzon had vamps looking for the antichrist, we were all in a lot more fucking trouble than I had thought.
Leaving Nabby still chatting with his little bloodsucking buddies, I slipped out of the hall and busted ass back the way I’d come. I needed to find my uncle, like yesterday, and tell him what Nabzon had planned. If he found the antichrist… Jeez Louise wasn’t the word.
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