her psyche must have cracked open wide enough for her to suddenly hear a voice in her head.

“Everything’s going to be fine?” she repeated through clenched teeth. “I don’t think so. I need to go to the hospital. I need a psych evaluation. I’ve obviously gone cuckoo for Cocoa Puffs.”

“No, you haven’t. I’m sorry, but I can’t survive without a human host, otherwise I’ll dissipate into the air like smoke. I had no choice. There were two of you there, you and the cop, and it was a fifty-fifty chance that I ended up with you — although, I’ve got to say, you’re my first female host ever. This should be very interesting.”

She licked her dry lips. Her muscles were so tight she thought they might snap like overused hair elastics. “Did you say smoke? Like black smoke?”

Black smoke had left the dead killer’s body and flew through the air toward her. She’d since dismissed it as a figment of her traumatized imagination, but now…

“You’re a demon,” she said it so quietly even she had trouble hearing it.


“And you’ve possessed me.”

“If you put it that way it sounds a bit ominous, doesn’t it? I’d rather think of it as ‘sharing living space.’”

It was true. She’d seen it with her own eyes when the serial killer had been killed. The black smoke hadn’t just been smoke — it was the demon he’d claimed to be possessed with. The demon that was now inside of her.

For a moment she was positive she’d faint. The feeling passed, but the steadily growing fear that filled her remained.

“Get out of me,” she said softly.

“That does sound like an excellent plan, but you need to understand, this isn’t my choice. I haven’t been able to exist outside of my host since—”

“Get out right now!” Eden clutched the baseball bat so tightly she was sure she’d get splinters. She put every ounce of energy she could summon from the universe into those four words. She’d never felt so fierce or certain about anything in her entire twenty-nine years of life — and that included kicking her cheating jerk of a fiance out six months ago. Although, it was still a close second.

She felt rather than heard the demon gasp inside of her — inside her head, her chest, her entire body. As if she’d been punched in the stomach she let out a wheezing breath and doubled over as the black smoke exited through her mouth in one dark, tasteless, odorless stream. She scrambled back from it until she hit the wall behind her and held the bat up as if that would be enough to protect her from Hell itself.

The smoke hung there like a small black rain cloud, unmoving, five feet in front of her, for a few more moments. Then something changed. She watched, stunned, as it began to take on a recognizable shape. The entire process took less than thirty seconds, but it was as if time itself had stopped. She couldn’t move, couldn’t breathe, couldn’t think. All she could do was watch — waiting for a large, red, hulking, horned hell-beast to appear and devour her whole.


When he finished, he was tall, but not red or beastly — and he looked like a man, not the monster Eden was expecting.

He raised his wide-eyed gaze to hers and blinked. He looked as shocked as she felt. Then he looked down at his hands, holding them out in front of him, before reaching up to touch his face, mouth, cheeks, ears, and finally running his fingers through his black hair.

Full lips peeled back from straight white teeth and he began to laugh.

But it wasn’t a demonically evil laugh. It sounded more like one of sheer joy.

“I can’t believe this,” he said after a moment. He stretched his arms over his head as if he’d just woken up from a long sleep and his muscles were stiff and needed stretching.

“That makes two of us.” She was surprised she could even speak considering how beyond freaked-out she was. Her legs were too weak and rubbery to even consider running. She felt like the girl in Michael Jackson’s “Thriller” video. The one who just stood there, frozen in place, screaming like a helpless twit while her date slowly turned into a werewolf.

Eden didn’t think she had enough air to scream like a helpless twit.

He ran his hands down his sides and across his stomach and chest. He closed his eyes and sighed happily.

She eyed him with trepidation. “Do you want to be alone?”

His eyes snapped open and he looked directly at her. “More than you could ever possibly know.”

The demon had ice blue eyes framed with dark lashes. The blue was a sharp contrast to the darkness of his shaggy hair that was almost long enough to brush his shoulders. He was pale, as if it had been a very long time since he’d felt the sun on his skin. He wore generic black clothes on his tall frame — pants, T-shirt, boots — however, if she’d seen him on the street she might have checked him out. He was inarguably attractive, but that little observation did nothing to help her relax. If anything, it made her tense up even more. His handsome exterior had to be a facade, a trap of some kind — like a Venus flytrap luring its prey to be consumed slowly and painfully.

She tried to see evidence of horns growing from his temples or black, leathery wings stretching out behind him, but visually there was nothing that alarming.

He pushed the unruly hair back from his eyes and smiled at her. “I haven’t been able to take solid human form in over three hundred years. I can’t tell you how much this — hey, watch it—”

He ducked out of the way just before her bat swung through the air where he’d been standing. When she swung again, he caught the bat and easily pulled it out of her grip. She stepped backward, scanning her immediate surroundings for another potential weapon.

His dark brows drew together. “What part of ‘I mean you no harm’ didn’t you understand?”

“It’s not every day I’m possessed by a demon. Sorry if I’m not reacting in the calm, collected way I’m supposed to.” She grabbed a hardcover dictionary and whipped it at him. It made contact with his right shoulder and fell to the ground in front of him.

“Ouch,” he said. Then he grinned again. “Hey, I can feel pain. Not something I thought I’d miss at all, but what do you know?” The grin vanished when she yanked the cord from the wall and threw a phone at him, but he was able to block it with his forearm. “That’s enough pain for today, I think.”

As she was desperately reaching for something else to hurl across the room, he was suddenly beside her.

He grabbed her wrists. “Don’t do that.”

“Let go of me.” She struggled against him, but his strong grip was impossible to break free from.

“Will you stop throwing things at me?”

“Can’t promise that.”

He pulled her closer to him. “Then I’m afraid I can’t let you go yet.”

The demon was very warm and felt so human that if she hadn’t seen with her own two eyes that he’d previously been a cloud of black smoke, she never would have believed it.

He shifted both of her wrists to one hand so he could slowly pull her hair free from its low ponytail and then stroked the length of it against her throat and collarbone.

“What the hell do you think you’re doing?” she managed, shocked by his bizarre and unexpected behavior.

“Sorry.” His gaze flicked back to hers and his smile widened. “All I’ve been able to do is observe for so long I’d forgotten how wonderful some things can feel. You don’t mind, do you?”

“Yes, I do mind. I’m warning you, let go of me, or… or else.”

“Is that a demand or a request?”

“It’s a demanding request.”

“You’re a very beautiful woman.”

“Uh… thanks. But I’m still thinking you should let go of me. Like, now.”

It was unfortunate that she was no longer struggling against him. That kind of downplayed the force of her words a bit. But being so close to this strangely attractive demon was making her feel… well, strange.

The tingles she’d felt earlier had quickly gathered in one place now, low in her body. An intoxicating warmth

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