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To save the lives of her friends, Rachel did the unthinkable: she willingly trafficked in forbidden demon magic. And now her sins are coming home to haunt her.
As Rachel searches for the truth behind a terrifying murder, an even greater menace threatens, for the demon Algaliarept will stop at nothing to claim her, and the discovery of a shocking family secret throws Rachel's entire life into question. If she is ever to live free, Rachel must first walk willingly into the demonic ever-after in search of long-lost ancient knowledge.
But when you dance with demons, you lay your soul on the line ... and there are some lines that should never be crossed.
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I leaned over the glass counter, squinting at the price of the high-grade redwood rods, safe in their airtight glass coffins like Snow White. The ends of my scarf slipped to block my view, and I tucked them behind my short leather jacket. I had no call to be looking at wands. I didn't have the money, but more important, I wasn't shopping for business todayâI was shopping for pleasure.
"Rachel?" my mom said from halfway across the store, smiling as she fingered a display of packaged organic herbs. "How about Dorothy? Make Jenks hairy, and he could be Toto."
"No friggin' way!" Jenks exclaimed, and I started when the pixy took off from my shoulder where he'd been nestled in my scarf 's warmth. Gold dust sifted from him to make a temporary sunbeam on the counter and brighten the drab evening. "I'm not going to spend Halloween handing out candy as a dog! And no Wendy and Tinker Bell either. I'm going as a pirate!" His wings slowed as he settled atop the counter next to the stand of low-grade redwood dowels suitable for amulets. "Coordinating costumes is stupid."
Normally I'd agree, but, silent, I drew back from the counter. I'd never have enough disposable income for a wand. Besides, versatility was key in my profession, and wands were one-spell wonders. "I'm going as the female lead in the latest vampire flick," I said to my mom. "The one where the vampire hunter falls in love with the vamp?"
"You're going as a vampire hunter?" my mother asked.
Warming, I plucked an uninvoked amulet from a vanity rack to size my chest up. I was hippy enough to pass for the actress I was trying to mimic, but my excuse of a chest wouldn't match her spell-enhanced bust. And it had to be spell enhanced. Naturally big-chested women don't run like that. "No, the vampire," I said, embarrassed. Ivy, my housemate, was going as the hunter, and despite my agreement that coordinating costumes was stupid, I knew Ivy and I would stop conversation when we walked into the party. And that was the point, wasn't it? Halloween was the only time doppelgänger charms were legalâand Inderland and the braver slice of humanity made the most of it.
My mother's face went serious, then cleared. "Oh! The black-haired one, right? In the slut outfit? Good God, I don't know if my sewing machine can go through leather."
"Mom!" I protested, though used to her language and lack of tact. If it came into her head, it came out of her mouth. I glanced at the clerk with her, but she clearly knew my mother and wasn't fazed. Seeing a woman in tasteful slacks and an angora sweater swearing like a sailor tended to throw people off. Besides, I already had the outfit in my closet.
Frowning, my mother fingered the charms to change hair color. "Come over here, honey. Let's see if they have anything that will touch your curls. Honestly, Rachel. You pick the hardest costumes. Why can't you ever be anything easy, like a troll or fairy princess?"
Jenks snickered. " 'Cause that's not slutty enough," he said loud enough for me to hear, but not my mother.
I gave him a look, and he simpered as he hovered backward to a rack of seeds. Though only about four inches tall, he cut an attractive figure with his soft-soled boots and the red scarf Matalina, his wife, had knitted him wrapped about his neck. Last spring, I'd used a demon curse to make him human-size, and the memory of his eighteen-year-old, athletic figure, with its trim waist and broad, muscular shoulders made strong from his dragonfly-like wings, was still very much in my memory. He was a very married pixy, but perfection deserved attention.
Jenks made a darting path over my basket, and a package of fern seed for Matalina's wing aches thumped in...
The Outlaw Demon WailsBy: Kim Harrison