There's no Heaven . like Hell.
Faced with losing Pandora Productions as well as her best friend Rebecca to the smarmy Paul, savvy film executive Debbie makes a pact with the demon Shaker, agreeing to bind herself to him as his human master in return for killing Paul and securing Pandora’s future. Yet even as Pandora gains accolades and renown, Debbie’s strong resolve begins to crumble under the weight of her actions. And the pleasure she finds in Shaker’s arms is becoming more than sex.
Is Debbie doomed to lose her heart as well as her soul to a demon who has only been waiting for the chance to claim both?
“Mistress?” Shaker said, appearing beside her. “Do you want anything tonight, or would you prefer to be left alone?”
Debbie looked at him uneasily. Since his confession of murder, she had asked him most nights to leave her. At first, she’d been worried her commands would anger him, but Shaker just nodded each evening and disappeared.
There had been enough of intrigue. Debbie had too many unanswered questions. It was time she faced up to the truth. “I need answers to some questions, Shaker. And I need the truth.”
Shaker inclined his head amicably. “You have only to ask.”
“Did you do something to help with Dante?”
Shaker nodded. “He’s a slippery one, otherwise he’d have already met with a nasty accident like his dad. But I found it far easier to distract than destroy.” He leaned back against the doorway frame, making it creak in protest. “You’d be surprised how easy that is.”
“What did you do? Exact actions, Shaker.”
“Apologies, Mistress. I was not aware you wanted particulars. I appeared in front of his lover’s car on the road. She crashed it—predictably—and broke several bones. His father’s promotional company, Panko Promos, was in bankruptcy, as you know. That was not my doing, but I also arranged for the CEO to think he needed to flee to Mexico.” Shaker smiled. “Not hard to do, since it was his actions that had led to the financial woes. But I helped him decide to destroy all his files. With no backup, Paul is not going to be able to rally from that bankruptcy. Point of fact, that meeting you have tomorrow is not about promos for Pandora, but is an emissary from Dante asking for you to buy his company in an effort to save it—and his stock—from annihilation.”
Debbie stared at Shaker. “Panko isn’t coming to meet with me. The name is—”
“Paul tried renaming the company in an effort to avoid his creditors, but that failed,” Shaker interrupted. “I think you’ll find the company an asset, with the right person at the helm. And you can give it a new name. One with a bit more flair, perhaps?”
“That’s good,” Debbie said, feeling relieved at no mention of blood or dismemberment. “What else did you do? Pandora has had a run of good luck recently.”
“I’ve been busy of late,” Shaker intoned seriously, then laughed. “Mostly a few words in the right people’s ears. As you know I can appear and disappear anywhere practically at will. You have a good quality company, Mistress. Just a few notes left on a desk or whispered reminders during sleep are enough to get some good people interested in working with you, such as that actor Jett Black.”
“And the governmental red tape? I heard it’s no longer an issue.”
“The red tape I can’t take credit for. Giorgio did that on his own, with a few sexual favors. But as both parties enjoyed themselves from what I saw, I’m not sure it’s even immoral.”
“Did you instigate that?” Debbie asked.
“I don’t need to encourage lust in humans as a rule,” Shaker replied easily. “Your race manages that in spades on its own with no assistance from the demon world.”
“What about the new pictures Sheila procured? Or our new set artist Caroline, whose scenery is unbelievably real yet seems to cost us almost nothing? Or Saul—?”
“You know, you really surprise me, Mistress. Wanting to know the gory details is usually strictly a male request—”
“Tell me the Goddamn truth, Shaker!” Debbie shouted angrily. “Did you have a hand in this?”
Shaker strode toward Debbie, his red eyes glowing in the dimness of the room. An evil feeling snaked its way through the room, making Debbie shiver.
“You know I did. I made sure there were no offers on those pictures. All but one buyer was persuaded solely with the evil feeling of my presence whenever they acted to procure the film rights…that same evil that is making you tremble now. Then I drove the one buyer who wouldn’t back down insane with images of torture every time he went to sleep.
“Caroline is an acquaintance who was looking for work. All you need to know is she has magical ability, which is where all those cost savings come from. She knows how to keep her head down and produce, and that is all you need to know.”
Debbie opened her mouth to speak, but Shaker took another step closer, silencing her.
“Hiring Saul was Manny’s doing, not mine. I killed him tonight, framing Manny for the deed easily.” Shaker laughed. “Manny will likely kill himself with a little prodding. Smile, Mistress. Your flop of a picture just got a hell of a lot more exclusive with a dead lead.”
Debbie sat down hard in her easy chair, her mind reeling. “Actors die every day of overdose or accidents on the set, Shaker. It’s not a
“Not one who was stabbed twenty-seven times in their billiard room with the broken end of a pool cue,” Shaker stated with a grin. “Not one active in seven separate charities with a loving trophy wife who was captured on film holding the ragged remains of her husband by her astute stepchild. He’ll be selling those pictures before dawn comes for a pile of money.” Shaker laughed. “The wife herself will likely contact you about donating all Saul’s proceeds from the film. In any case, Pandora will benefit immensely.”
“I never asked you to kill anyone,” Debbie said defensively. “I never asked you to—”
“You asked me to save your company, and I’ve done it,” Shaker shouted, the boom of his voice shaking the room like a small earthquake. He loomed over her. “What did you think was going to happen? I’m a demon out of Hell! What did you think I would do when you unleashed me on your enemies?”
“These are human beings—”
“Who matter as much as insects splattered on a windshield,” Shaker snarled. “Humans are just another species who think that they are superior to all others…a prevalent notion in all evolved creatures. They are not.” He stared down at her. “You are not superior to me, Mistress.”
Debbie looked up at him with tear-filled eyes. “But I am human. How do I know you won’t hurt me, too, Shaker?”
“Honestly?” he said gruffly, his expression softening. “You don’t. But the same could be said of any human man you know, Mistress.” He leaned in closer, tilting his head. “And I kiss better than most.”
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Tara Fox Hall's writing credits include nonfiction, erotica, horror, suspense, action-adventure, children's stories, and contemporary and historical paranormal romance. She is the author of the paranormal fantasy Lash series and the paranormal romantic drama Promise Me series. Tara divides her free time unequally between writing novels and short stories, chainsawing firewood, caring for stray animals, sewing cat and dog beds for donation to animal shelters, and target practice. All of her published children's stories to date are free reads on www.childrens-stories.net.
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