“I think you know what you did.”

There was silence for so long she thought he’d vanished to the same place he’d been before when she couldn’t hear him. But then, “You’re right. I’m sorry for intruding. I guess I’m feeling a bit powerless at the moment.”

“That makes two of us.”

Another pause. “Like I said before, I’ve never been able to talk to a previous host so easily before. Maybe this is an opportunity to work together to find the witch so I, pardon the expression, get the hell out of your life.”

She tensed at that. “How do you know she’s close right now?”

“When she cursed me, the black magic she used left a residual trace that still remains after all this time. Think of it like a very weak, magical GPS. And right now it’s signaling to me that she’s not that far away.”

Sure. That was as clear as scary, demonic mud.

Eden stared out of the window as Ben’s black Chrysler LeBaron turned the corner and sped off into the distance. “I can’t believe he asked me out and I insulted him.”

“You like him.”

“What’s not to like? He’s absolutely perfect.” She pressed her lips together, frustration over this situation spreading over her again. “I want you to go away, Darrak. Please. I can’t live like this.”

“If you help me find the witch then I will go away. Gladly.”

“What’s her name?”

“I don’t know.”

“You don’t know the name of the witch that cursed you? There are five million people in this city and the surrounding area.”

“I’ll find her. And as soon as I do, I promise that this will all be over.”

“Not good enough.”

Remembering what the exorcist said earlier, she clenched her jaw and cracked open the Bible.

“Be strong and of a good courage,” she read aloud, “fear not, nor be afraid… for the Lord thy God—”

“What exactly do you think you’re doing?” Darrak interrupted.

“I’m reading from the Bible.”

“Do you do this a lot?”

“I like to read from my trusty Bible all day, every day. Do you have a problem with that? Does it sting a little?” She raised an eyebrow. “Does it make you want to leave and never come back?”

“I’m afraid it’s not quite that easy. However, if you take requests, I always find Revelations quite soothing.”

Damn. How could a demon not be affected by holy scripture? She hadn’t gone to church since she was ten years old, but it should still work. What kind of a demon was he, anyhow?

A good demon, he’d told her.


“I don’t know what I can tell you to set your mind at ease.” He sounded weary. “I want this over with as much as you do. More, if that’s possible. I’ve had to exist this way for so long I barely remember what it was like before. Please, Eden. I can’t end this without you.”

She put the Bible down. “I know how to end this.”

“So, you’ll help me?” he asked.

“In a way.” She swallowed nervously. “Can you hear what I’m thinking?”

“No. You’ll need to speak aloud for us to communicate.”

That was a relief, because if he could read her mind then he’d know that the two people rapidly approaching the front door of Triple-A Investigations weren’t potential clients — they were the exorcists she’d hired to take care of her little demonic problem.

Eden braced herself for whatever was going to happen next.

The walls weren’t bleeding yet, but the night was still young.


The bell on the door jingled as the two people entered the office. One was a small but round woman with short red hair and a — the only word for it was a jolly smile. She wore a loose, paisley- printed dress and carried a big, blue canvas tote bag. She also had a walking cane with a crystal set into the top of it.

The man with her was young — looked like a college kid — and he wore black pants and a white shirt. He wasn’t smiling. His dark blond hair was a bit lank, but his face was very pleasant — almost angelic, actually — with heavy-lidded blue eyes, high cheekbones, and full lips. In school, he probably was called a pretty boy.

“Greetings to you, Eden Riley!” the woman said brightly.

“Uh… greetings,” Eden replied awkwardly.

“I’m Rosa Devine,” she said. “We already met on the phone, didn’t we? And this is my son Malcolm. He’ll be assisting me today.”

Malcolm nodded curtly in Eden’s direction, then took a moment to scan the office. “Are we alone?”

“Yes,” she said.

“You were expecting these people?” Darrak asked from inside her.

“Yes,” she said again.

“Friends of yours?”


Darrak was silent for a moment. “Do your friends normally make your heart gallop like an overcaffeinated racehorse?”

Eden didn’t reply.

Rosa approached her, staring up into her face. Then she pressed her hands to Eden’s cheeks and drew her closer until their eyeballs were only a couple inches away from each other. “We must begin immediately. Please sit down.”

Malcolm moved toward the glass door and turned the lock. “Where do you need me, Mother?”

“By my side, dear.”

“What’s going on, Eden?” Darrak asked.

She sat down in her comfortable but ratty desk chair and tightly squeezed the armrests as if bracing herself for a root canal. “I’m helping you.”

“Helping me?”

“Is the demonic presence speaking to you right now?” Rosa asked.

She nodded. “He is.”

Rosa grabbed her chin and squeezed hard enough to make Eden’s lips purse out unattractively. “Listen to me, demon. This is your last chance. Leave this woman of your own volition while you still can. If you refuse, then we will force you from her body.”

Darrak sighed. “Exorcists? You’ve got to be kidding me.”

“Speak, dark demon!” Rosa hissed, squeezing Eden’s face even tighter. Eden tried her best not to bat the woman’s hands away. “What is your reply?”

Another internal sigh. “Eden, let’s talk about this.”

“I’m rewwy shorry.” Her words were distorted due to her current pursed-lip situation. “But you habben gibben me any udder choice here.”

“So, you what? Called 411 to find the nearest Exorcists ‘R’ Us?”

Eden cleared her throat. “Akshlee, I just rooked in the phone book.”

“I already told you I can’t leave, but it’s not because I don’t want to. Believe me, I want to, but I can’t.”

“He says he can’t leeb me,” Eden said

“Liar!” Rosa snapped.

“You can tell this lady to bite me, though,” Darrak added. “And she can take that holier-than-thou attitude of hers and shove it right under her granny panties.”

“Does the demon show fear for my abilities?” Rosa asked.

“Not rewwy,” Eden admitted, though she was finding it increasingly hard to talk while in the forcibly pursed

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