Thursday, April 29, 2021



DEMONSPELL, or, Curse of the Everlasting Relatives 

Book 1                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                                   

DEMONHOLD or Blight of the Deadly Demons Book 2

DEMONPRICE or Demonprice, or, Doom of the Penultimate Husband   Book 3

DEMONFIRE, or, Charm of the Killing Cousin  bk4


DEMONBRED or Decay in the Family Tree Book 5;jsessionid=F8416A8C2FD530F9AED267C0CAC37869.prodny_store01-atgap13?ean=2940163592210


DEMON OUT, or, Gift from a Bodysnatcher  Book 6

Thursday, February 6, 2020

3 Demonprice Book 3, Chapter 1 and 2

 Doom of the Penultimate Husband
Sunspinners Series, Book 3
Phoebe Matthews
LostLoves Books
Chapters 1 and 2

Copyright © Phoebe Matthews
Cover Design Copyright © LostLoves Books

 Around us a red haze glowed. A couple of large males came over. One grabbed me by my arms. The other grabbed Charley. Their hands were burning hot, as though they had high fevers. Their faces matched, red and sweating. They dragged us across the burning floor and around a wall of flames to a room with actual walls, solid walls that looked like flame but can chains be bolted into flames? Hanging from the walls, their arms overhead, their wrists in cuffs, were four men, one young, the others old, all of them dressed in sweat drenched slacks and shirts. They looked like models for The Scream.
 Charley complained and I did a lot of whimpering. Ignoring us, our captors pushed us against the wall and snapped metal cuffs around our wrists. There is something about having my arms manacled above my head that I don’t like at all and for the life of me I cannot imagine why anyone ever considers handcuffs a fun part of sex play. But at least they left us standing. The four other prisoners were dangling from their cuffs, their feet not touching the floor.
 I turned my head and looked at Charley, who was a mess with a line of blood running down the side of his face, and I raised my eyebrows in question. He gave me back the same expression. I would have been more worried about his injuries if blood hadn’t been dripping slowly from one of my elbows and both of my knees.
 A blast echoed around us and the flames shot higher. I shrieked right along with Charley and the four men. Intense heat flashed. I felt like I was being barbecued. Fire roared up the walls, spitting sparks, turning the room into an inferno. When I opened my mouth to scream, smoke burned my throat.
 Charley croaked my name. I croaked back between coughs and sobs. About the best I could manage was to stare at him through a film of tears.

 My journey to hell began on a quiet morning in Sam’s kitchen.
 Sam Norris was giving me the kind of look I’d been waiting for, brown eyes going all soft as I reached up and wrapped my arms around him. So of course that’s when the phone rang. I would have ignored it, but Sam was expecting a call from a client and it was his phone and we were in his kitchen.
He unwound one arm from around me and leaned toward the counter to grab his kitchen extension, at the same time doing some serious nuzzling against the side of my neck. I’d had my short hair touched up a couple days earlier, with blond streaks through the light brown. With his face so close, I had a flash thought of gratitude for the pricey hairdresser who ups my personal appearance a couple notches. It’s a hang-up left from my long gone teen years when everyone worried about split ends and bad hair days.
 “Uh huh, Norris here,” he mumbled in the direction of the phone.
 “I know where Norris is,” I mumbled back. I was hooked against him, my face pressed into his chest and separated from his skin by a very thin cotton shirt. He’s a large, muscular man and in terrific shape. I could feel his body heat and hear his heartbeat and smell a tangy mix of guy and soap. In another couple seconds I’d have my fingers around a shirt button and start unbuttoning.
 He straightened, stepped away from me and said, “Yes, she is right here.”
 We raised eyebrows at each other. Sam did a I-don’t-know-who shrug as he handed me the phone. I made a face. There wasn’t anyone in the world I wanted to talk to at that exact moment other than Sam.
 “Miss Royal,” said the depressed but recognizable voice of Albert Mortviner. “You will be pleased to know the council controlling the mindwarps has ceded the territory. You may also be pleased to know that you have thoroughly disrupted my schedule.”
 “Hello, Al,” I said.
 Sam made a low ahh sound.
 “You may be less pleased to know that I do not give up. Goodbye, Miss Royal.”
 Typical bastard Al, couldn’t give me a break from himself and his demons, oh no, not even the usual two week vacation all employed people get, and I really needed a vacation. Okay, I didn’t work for Al, thank God for small blessings, but still. I needed a vacation from him and his plans to help a group of demons take over Seattle.
 The phone call put a slowdown on a bright morning which had started out as a good beginning to an expanding relationship with a nice man. The look was all too clear on Sam’s face. He moved from nuzzle mode to working man planning his day. If Al thought he’d get any forgiveness from me, oh yeah, don’t step off the curb in front of my car, fella.
 I said some of the above and probably lots more to Sam, although I left out the slowdown part because I didn’t really know how Sam defined relationship. My own definition required the modifier “brief.” That’s what all my relationships are.
 After he listened to me repeat Mortviner’s threat, Sam did a lot of shoulder patting and sympathizing. Being a guy who likes to maintain his tough image, he added, “It’s bluff, Elaine. He’s a bad loser. If he continues to bother you, let me deal with him.”
 My family plus friend Sam and myself had managed to upset a mafia-type organization of earthdemons imported to Seattle by Al Mortviner at, I presume, huge expense but honestly. If someone paid megabucks to start a flu epidemic, should I say, “Let the man enjoy a few sneezes?”
 A coffee and a half hour of complaints from me and nods from Sam later, I left.
 Sam didn’t say so but I do know when I’ve worn out my welcome. He walked me out to my car, insisted on circling it, then getting down on his hands and knees on the pavement and peering under it before taking my key from me and opening the door. Sam’s one of those tall, dark, definitely handsome types, plus he works solo investigating insurance fraud for several companies. That makes him a PI, sort of, and sometimes that’s what he acts like.
 “Been watching too much TV, have we?” I said, trying to sound cheerful when what I really wanted to do was kick the tires. Well, no. What I really wanted to kick was Albert Mortviner.
 Sam nodded. “That man is so past my understanding, nothing would surprise me. And he phoned you on my phone which means he knew you were here.”
 “You think he might plant a bomb in my car?”
 “I don’t know. He’s a blank, Elaine. I can’t get any leads on him at all.”
 After I settled behind the wheel and started the engine, Sam leaned in the open window, kissed me, said, “Be careful. If he contacts you again, call me right away.”
 Besides being macho eye candy, the man was being a dear. I watched him in the rear view mirror as I pulled out, watched him standing in the middle of the street watching my car, saw him wave frantically, his arms crossing over his head, heard him yell.
 Something grabbed my foot and pulled it off the gas pedal. Something else reached past my leg to hit the brake pedal. I flew forward against the seatbelt as my car screeched to a stop.
 I would have screamed except that with that lurch I stopped looking at the mirror and stared through the windshield at the intersection.
 The three children who were maybe eight or ten years old were headed for their school bus stop down the street, busy punching each other’s shoulders and laughing and paying no attention at all to traffic. Against a background of bright blue sky the sun slanted through the leaves of overhanging trees, dappling them in sun and shadow. They wore backpacks and baseball caps and were obviously adored by their parents. I could hear their laughter.
 Okay. Not their fault. They were children. This adult piece of traffic hazard should have been watching for them.
 While I waited for them to cross, I did one more quick glance in the mirror and saw Sam walk back toward his building. He thought I’d seen them on my own. Of course he did. My car stopped in time, right?
 I drove across the now empty intersection, down half a block to be sure I was out of Sam’s sight, pulled over to the curb, threw the gear into park and then had hysterics.
 Charley’s low voice said, “Sorry, sweetie.”
 Warm bare arms pulled me into a hug against a warm bare chest and then a warm hand stroked my hair and brushed away my tears while I hiccuped and sobbed and sniffed. I was torn between emotions.
 Most of me wanted to thank him for stopping the car and preventing what could have been a nightmare tragedy, but part of me wanted to bite and scratch and do serious damage to his naked hide.
 The best I could do was mutter, “How did you get in the car?”
 “You forgot to lock the hatchback.”
 I pulled away from Charley’s hug without bothering to look at him because there was nothing to see.
 “When I first got in the car, you could have said hello or something,” I complained.
 “No I couldn’t. You and Sam had your mouths glued together.”
 Some comments do not deserve notice. I shifted back into drive, kept my eyes straight ahead and drove very carefully. My driving was a model of self control. My thoughts were chaos.
 A half mile later, with my heart rate and breathing back to normal, I said, “Okay, Charley, why are you in my car?”
 “I phoned home last night to see if you could give me a ride and Edith said you’d gone out and she didn’t know where.”
 “I’m supposed to get permission to leave the house? Boy-o, I am a twice divorced employed head of a large household, I don’t need permission --”
 “Before you advance from irritation to rage, sweetie, I promise you that’s not what I meant. But in the last month how many critters have tried to control you, damage you or destroy you? I was worried. So I figured I’d check Sam first, ring his doorbell and get his help.”
 “You didn’t ring the doorbell.”
 His hand settled on my shoulder. “No, I caught a bus over to his place and saw your car out front, and so I knew you were okay.”
 “What time was this?”
 “About four, I guess.”
 Still dark at four in the morning and the interiors of late night buses aren’t that well lit. In shadow Charley looks real. In daylight he fades to invisible. Lucky me, I get to share my house with him and four more relatives who have Charley’s problem.
 I almost asked what he was doing out at that hour, but bit my tongue. If I wanted a private life I couldn’t question his. Besides, I kind of know what Charley does at night. I went bar hopping in the Denny Regrade with him once. Every female we passed seemed to know him by name.
 “So then what?”
 “Thought about heading home but, uh, kind of, uh, maybe had a beer too much, and the hatch wasn’t locked so I crawled in the back.”
 The rest didn’t need explaining. Like everyone else who suffers from constant TV reminders about preparedness, I keep a blanket and a water bottle and a first aid kit in my car plus flares and a few other never used emergency items. He had found the blanket and slept off his hangover. When he woke at sunrise he had stripped to make himself disappear completely. Charley disappears in daylight. His clothes don’t. Then he had wrapped himself in the blanket and gone back to sleep. The next time he woke he had moved to the front passenger seat to wait for me.
 At the next stop light I did a quick glance at the back seat. Yep, neatly folded jeans, shirt, jacket under a black Stetson plus a pair of cowboy boots on the floor. Knew the outfit well and how it looked on Charley.
 “Cruising clothes,” I said.
 Charley laughed. “Okay, mother, now who’s checking up on who?”
 “That’s another story.” No, I wasn’t going to explain why I had been at Sam’s apartment at four in the morning.
 “Think you could find a Starbucks?”
 Talk about easy requests to fill, we live in Seattle and there is a Starbucks on practically every other corner. Considering the size of this major city and the number of corners, plus the Seattle reputation for laid back, it is clear to many of us that caffeine is really a sedative.
 I explained my theory to Charley.
 “Yeah, yeah, whatever, find some before I pass out.”
 Fair enough, I hadn’t really thought I could sell my theory.
 Ten minutes and a cheerful barrista later, I handed two coffees in through the open window on the passenger side and watched them float through the air and settle into the dashboard cup holders. I walked around the car, slid behind the wheel and handed sideways a bag with two cinnamon rolls plus a handful of paper napkins. Crumbs all over my car, didn’t like the idea, but accepted it. Charley’s shirt floated over the seat back and settled in the approximate locale of his lap.
 “Moving car, hot coffee, okay, your leather jacket might be better,” I said.
 “I love that jacket. Never be able to find another one like it.”
 “Spill coffee and your replacement problems might be more serious than a jacket.”
 He swatted my knee. “Sassy. You said something about another story.”
 “Right. About checking up. Guess who is checking up on me enough to know I was at Sam’s place? Besides you, that is.”
 Around a mouthful of cinnamon roll, he mumbled, “I give up.”
 “Phoned me there. Did some weird vague threat about never quitting.”
 “Devon? Were you planning to quit?”
 I work for Devon Chevel, webpage design fraud, and I say fraud because Devon calls his business Chevel Creations and Chevel doesn’t create anything, I do, along with a few other computer whizzes.
 To Charley I said, “Albert Mortviner.”
 Charley choked and sprayed coffee and pastry crumbs all over me and the car. By the time we reached home, I would need to turn around and head back to the neighborhood car wash where they also clean and vacuum the interior. And I could follow the car through the wash on foot, because I also needed a complete cleaning.
 “Sorry! I thought we were done with Mortviner?” he sputtered.
 “We’re done with him. Apparently, he isn’t done with us. All he said was something about not giving up.”
 “Huh.” Charley concentrated on his breakfast, at least, I guessed that’s what he was doing. I heard a lot of paper rustling and gulping and I could smell disappearing cinnamon roll.
 “One of those is for me.”
 “Wish you’d told me sooner.” A small curl of pastry floated up in front of me.
 “That’s all that’s left?”
 “Didn’t Sam feed you?”
 Had he? “No, I was too upset after Mortviner phoned to think about anything but coffee and Sam was upset because I was upset.”
 “Right. Meant to ask. When you came out of his place, why did Sam get down on all fours and look under your car?”
 I turned into the driveway at our house and parked in front of the garage. “Mortviner told me the mindwarp demons have left Seattle and so have his own buddies. And he reminded me not to get too comfortable about it because he is not about to give up. Sam thought that sounded like a threat.”
 “He thought Mortviner put a bomb under your car?”
 “Maybe. Who know what Mortviner might do. A man who willingly works with bodysnatcher demons isn’t a man I’d want to bet my life on.”
 Charley did a loud gulp of the last of his coffee and crumpled the cup and dropped it in the trash bag behind the seat.
 In case any of the neighbors happened to glance my direction, I stepped out of the car, walked around to the passenger side, opened the door, stepped back with an armload of clothing, juggled it a minute as though trying to get a firm grip on the hat and boots, and when invisible fingers touched my shoulder I closed the door.
 Over the years I’ve learned caution in door closing. Hate washing blood off metal edges.
 The house door was easier. By the time I reached it, it was open and a neatly ironed sweatsuit stood in the front hall.
 Paul’s voice said,“Hi, Elaine. I saw you coming up the walk. Do you know where Charley is?”
 “Right behind me.”
 Invisible people are invisible to themselves and to everyone else. After I set Charley’s clothes on the hall table I turned quickly and went to my own room to switch into a clean shirt, wash my face and comb crumbs out of my hair. My next stop was my office which is right next to my bedroom and used to be Mother’s room.
 Seven years ago the woman walked, I mean, she’s my mother, for God sake, and okay, it isn’t like she abandoned a child, I was slipping over the thirty line at the time and had managed to destroy my two marriages, but still.
 She had always been a calm, sensible woman, an anchor in my chaotic life. Like the rest of the relatives, I depended on her and presumed she would always be around to help me. I’d been way wrong.
 As she went out the door and toward a waiting taxi, she had said, “Now it’s your turn, dear,” puzzling me until the postcards began arriving from around the world with no mention of how to contact her. That’s when I figured out homecoming was not in her travel plans.
 My office has a window wall facing the back garden, a stretch of lawn made private by a thick hedge of rhododendron bushes. My computer was on, as usual, with its screensaver of an Edward Gorey family around a candlelit dinner table contemplating a chocolate layer cake. Charley loves that picture, natch, because it looks like our family, all chocoholics and all candle addicts, all slightly unreal except for me.
 Charley would argue my description, insisting five people who have lived for more than three hundred years apiece are more real than me, who has been around only a fraction of that time. He may be right. There are certainly days when I feel unreal.

 As happens continually in my office and tosses me straight into reality, the desk phone did its loud ring. Sometimes when the phone rings, I am not sure it is a good invention. Who this time?
 Charley’s voice circled me. All I could see of him were his jeans walking around the room. He does that, paces, hangs around, waiting for me to do something to add interest to his life. After three centuries he gets bored with trying to amuse himself. “You could let the answering machine get the call.”
 Sounded like a good idea. We had both had a long night and this morning I needed time to catch my breath, try to think. I sat at my computer staring at the jeans. They stopped walking and perched on the edge of my desk. I hoped the caller was a normal interruption, like, say, a telemarketer. I flipped on my email.
 After the beep there was a row of coughs on the answering machine that must have hurt, separated by low moans. I was so startled, I deleted an email from SNorris and opened LLBean. Staring at a row of parkas in a rainbow of colors added to my confusion.
 “What the hell?” I said and felt Charley’s hand on my shoulder.
 A weak voice said, “Miss Royal? They lied. They said...they said...they said you were with Mortviner.” The voice stopped to cough again. “Said you of...demon possessed. Lied about everything. If you’re home...I need to talk to you...” A low guttural sound followed, something that meant nothing to me.
 Charley said, “Good lord!” and jumped from the desk, ran out of the office and down the hall. I heard the front door open.
 “Who is this?” I grabbed the phone and punched it on. “Who is this? Who is this?” I demanded into a dial tone. The answering machine had cut off, or else the caller had. The voice was familiar but who? I couldn’t place it.
 Which narrowed my options to following Charley. His jeans lay in a heap by the open door. When I looked out through the screen, I saw a white Caddy parked at the curb, large and expensive and fairly new, not a car I recognized.
 “Charley?” I didn’t shout because I didn’t know what was happening.
 The front passenger door opened by itself, then closed. So that’s where Charley was. Or had been. Automatically I looked up and down the street in case a neighbor was out front in a garden. Most of them use garden services that arrive in trucks. The yards were empty and there weren’t any trucks at the curbs.
 “Need help?” I couldn’t see anyone in the car. Why was Charley snooping in someone’s car?
 The screen door opened and I stepped back to let him walk by me, felt the little cloud of warmth that seemed to always surround him. “It’s that man, Zane. He’s in the car.”
 “Dead,” Charley said. “I’m surprised he lasted this long.”
 DEMONPRICE  book 3  $2.99

 SUNSPINNERS BOOKS  3 and 4   4.99

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