desk where there was a stack of business cards. He picked one up and looked at it. “I will assume you’re Eden Riley?”

The fact that he knew her name made her feel even more ill than she had before. She didn’t want him to know anything about her.

He put the card down and walked again to the door to look outside. “You know, it’s been a very long time since I’ve seen a sunset with my own eyes.”

Eden felt overwhelmed and on the verge of hysterical tears. She closed her eyes and prayed for the first time in forever for some divine intervention.

A few moments later, Darrak let out a harsh gasp and her eyes snapped back open. He held a hand to his abdomen, his expression darkening with obvious pain.

Divine intervention? She blinked with surprise. Did it work?

He braced his other hand against the wall. “The sun is gone.”

She glanced outside. The sun had slipped completely beneath the horizon and darkness now spread across the sky.

“What are you talking about?” She grabbed her stapler as a potential weapon and held it tightly to her chest.

He braced his shoulder against the wall. “My form. I can’t hold it much longer. It has to do with the… the darkness. In the human world, light sustains energy, darkness takes away. Even for me.” He clenched his teeth. “I can’t fight this.”

Eden didn’t care how normal this guy looked, how attractive, or how his kiss hadn’t been completely disgusting — she wanted him gone and she didn’t particularly care how that happened.

He clutched his stomach and gasped in pain before sliding a few inches down the wall.

She drew closer and reached out to touch him, but her shaking hand slipped right through his body as if he wasn’t even there anymore.

His eyes raised to Eden’s a moment before his solid form faded away completely and she was looking at the shadowy black smoke from earlier. That immediately reminded her that Darrak wasn’t just a guy in pain that she might be able to help. He was a freaking demon.

She scrambled backward as the darkness began to swirl in front of her. She felt as if it was studying her movements — an evil rain cloud with a personality.

“Stay back,” she warned it. “Or else.”

Or else what? she thought. Or else she’d go get the vacuum cleaner? Or else she’d wave her hands really, really fast and hopefully stop it in its tracks?

It grew closer and closer until it had her cornered. “Look”—she held her hands up in front of her as if that would be enough to ward it off—“there has to be another way. You don’t need to do this.”

If it heard her, it didn’t pay any attention because the very next moment the darkness launched itself at her.

“Stop!” she yelled.

It didn’t listen. The moment it made contact with her it disappeared. She’d expected to feel pain or cold fingers of death or something equally horrible, but there was only a warm sensation that slid through her body in a jarring and surprisingly sensual manner that made her gasp out loud. She pressed her hand against her stomach, breathing hard and fast as her heart rate slowly came back to normal.

It took a while.

“Darrak?” she whispered.

There was no answer.

She waited in breathless silence until he said something.

He didn’t.

But she could feel him. The man she’d spoken to, the man who’d kissed her, the man who’d told her that he wouldn’t be able to leave her unless she died…

He was deep inside of her.

She frowned. That sounded way sexier than it should have. She was possessed by a demon — like that little girl in the movie with the pea soup puke and spinning head. But Eden was possessed by a self-proclaimed “good” demon who looked like a Calvin Klein underwear model.

What was she supposed to do now?

She yanked open the bottom drawer of her desk and pulled out the heavy Yellow Pages, thumbing through it so quickly she got a paper cut. Sucking on her injured finger, she continued to flip to the E section to see if reasonably priced exorcists were available in the local area.


“Did he tell you his name?”

“Yes,” Eden whispered into the receiver as if that would be enough to shield what she was doing in case “anyone” was listening. “It’s… it’s Darrak.”

“That’s strange.”

“This is all strange to me. Can you be more specific?”

“Demons rarely reveal their true name to a human. It allows one to have great control over them. I will assume he was lying, but I will still mark this information down.” There was a pause, and the sound of Rosa, the exorcist from Specter-Stoppers, scribbling something about Eden’s case. “Have you noticed any boils or other wounds appearing on your flesh?”

She quickly inspected her arms and felt down her jean-covered legs. “I don’t think so.”

“Has there been a noticeable increase of flies in your general area?”

“No. Everything actually seems quite normal. Other than the fact that I’m… I’m possessed by a demon!” She cleared her throat. “Sorry, uh… I’m having a hard time dealing with this.”

“That is perfectly understandable, of course. The malevolent presence is allowing you to make this phone call? Has it tried to stop you in any way? Perhaps moving furniture about the room? Any levitating pens or pencils? Are the walls bleeding, by chance?”

“Bleeding walls? No, no… none of that.” Eden concentrated, feeling around for the demon’s presence. “I don’t know why he’s not talking right now. Maybe he’s hurt.”

Why did that thought bother her? Hurting a demon to get him to leave was the point of hiring an exorcist, wasn’t it? But Darrak had seemed rather distressed when the sun set and he’d lost his solid form.

Rosa cleared her throat. “It will be a fee of fifteen hundred dollars to expel the evil from your body. Five hundred up front. The remainder once it has been permanently removed.”

Eden’s eyes bugged out at that. “Fifteen hundred dollars? That’s a lot of money.”

“Do you want this done properly, or not?”

She hissed out a breath. “How soon can you be here?”

“First I’ll need your credit card number.”

She grudgingly pulled her MasterCard out of her wallet and read the numbers off to Rosa.

“My assistant and I will be there as soon as we can,” Rosa said. “I suggest not leaving the premises in case the demon influences you to wreak havoc upon all who cross your path.”

“Wouldn’t want that.” She swallowed hard. “And what should I do in the meantime to… to…”

“Ward off the demon’s evil power over you?’

She touched her stomach. The tingles that indicated Darrak’s presence were barely noticeable now. “Yeah. That.”

“I suggest, if you have one available, that you read aloud from the Bible. Perhaps wear a crucifix, although that might backfire and burn your own flesh, so make sure you have a glass of water—not holy water! — nearby to douse any potential flames. I would suggest the liberal use of salt, but since you’re the one who’s possessed that could also be detrimental to you. The Bible reading may be enough to keep the demon in a weakened state.”

Eden glanced at the bookshelf next to Andy’s desk. “Okay, I see one I can use.”

“Very good. Bless you, dear. We will see you very soon.”

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