31 Days of Halloween Featured Novel
A Blue Collar Proposition
by Kelly A. Harmon
Heat/Romance Level: 4 Kisses
Age Level: NA/College
Genre(s): Paranormal, Fantasy
Why can’t she catch a break?
When demon-marked Assumpta Mary-Margaret O’Conner killed the demon who owned her mark, she expected it to disappear and her soul be saved from eternal damnation. But the mark remained, assuring her she’s still on a collision-course for Hell.
Now, she must rid herself of the mark as soon as possible, and reclaim her soul—or spend eternity as some demon overlord’s plaything.
Fleeing from powerful demons all claiming the right to her soul—or looking to use her for their own gain—and learning she has only weeks to live, Assumpta will try anything—including going against the dictates of Saint Michael the Archangel—to unmark herself.
But life and death and eternity are never that simple. There are larger forces at work, higher stakes, and maybe some things are worth eternal damnation…
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A Blue Collar Proposition by Kelly A. Harmon (Excerpt)
The demon mark on Assumpta’s back itched, and she sat up straight in bed. The harsh glare of a streetlight shone right into her window, making her squint against the brightness. A tower of cardboard moving boxes generated deep shadows into which anything could hide. She felt it, but she didn’t see a thing.
“Goddammit!” she shouted, looking around the room. She’d just managed to find the place yesterday and move in, but she’d been so exhausted she hadn’t taken the time to ward the doors and windows.
The mark on her back, easily confused with a small tattoo between her shoulder blades, was her personal demon finder. But it also had bound her to the demon who’d owned it, and still if she died right now, she was going straight to Hell. For eternity.
She had killed the demon who’d marked her—The Big Guy, he’d called himself—which meant the mark should have disappeared. Unfortunately, her mark remained. She couldn’t figure out why. And while she was still bound for Hell if she died this very second, at least she wouldn’t become the personal slave to some vicious demon. Small comfort.
So who—or what—invaded her home tonight?
The mark on her back twitched again. Ten-thirty p.m. according to the clock. She’d fallen into bed a mere half hour ago. Crap, she was exhausted.
She reached for the holy water she put on the cardboard box serving as a night stand last night. Father Tony had tsked at her irreverence when he saw she used a mustard squirt bottle to hold the blessed liquid, but she refused to give it up until she found something better. She could hit a demon twelve feet away with a good squeeze and keep the water trained on it until its skin started peeling from its body. Sometimes, they exploded.
Demons kept their distance when she showed them she could do that.
“Show yourself!” she shouted, her heart thumping wildly in her chest. She’d been to Hell and returned, fought two major demons already, but it didn’t make her immune to the fear of them—especially when they showed up unannounced on her turf.
“It’s just me,” said a voice from the hallway. She heard footsteps, and then a head peeked around the doorframe and into the bedroom.
It was the demon, Kenny. He wore navy blue work pants and shirt, and steel-toed boots. His black hair was brushed off his forehead and back, and just curly enough to cause a slight pompadour. All he needed was one of those old-fashioned lunch boxes to look like he was heading to work down at Sparrows Point. Too bad they’d closed the Bethlehem Steel mill ages ago.
She breathed a sigh of relief, but didn’t put down the holy water. She knew this one, the blue-collar demon who’d been trapped in Hell—apparently due more to bad choices than evil ones—but she still didn’t trust him.
“What do you want?”
He stepped into the room, put its hands in his pockets, and shrugged. He certainly had the hang-dog look down pat. “I want you to help me get out Hell,” he said.
“Are you kidding me? This couldn’t wait until tomorrow?”
She rubbed her forehead, then reached to the night stand for a chopstick she’d used to keep her wavy auburn hair in a bun while she’d moved her few things in. She shoved it down the back of her shirt between her shoulder-blades and scratched the demon mark there. Ah, sweet relief. But only for a moment. It would continue to itch until the demon went away. It was torture—but the best asset she had in her arsenal right now.
“You might have the place warded up by tomorrow,” Kenny said. “I had to get in while the getting was good.”