May 10, 2010 - Day One
Today we start our first Special Edition Romance Previews of THE DEMON IN ME by Michelle Rowen. Each day this week you'll receive a sneak peek inside this fantastic new release. We hope you enjoy it!
THE DEMON IN ME
(Living in Eden – Book #1)
Hell hath no fury…
Fate has led Eden Riley to become a “psychic consultant” to the police, even though her abilities are unreliable at best. Those paranormal powers are about to get her into a jam she couldn’t have predicted. After her hunky police detective partner guns down a serial killer in front of her, Eden realizes that she’s quite literally no longer alone. A voice in her head introduces himself as Darrak. He’s a demon. But not in a bad way!
…like a woman possessed.
Darrak lost his original body 300 years ago thanks to a witch’s curse. This is the first time he’s ever been able to speak directly to a host, plus there’s a bonus. Eden’s psychic energy helps him to take form during daylight hours. He wants to use this chance to find a way to break his curse — finally. Otherwise, Eden’s going to have to learn to live with this sexy demon…like it or not.
And she thinks she might like it.
After participating in a strange police case as a psychic consultant that led Eden Riley to face off against a serial killer who claimed to be possessed by a demon before he was shot dead by police, she finds that she’s no longer alone...
“Who are you?” the voice spoke again.
Eden’s gaze darted around the room. What was going on? Her body immediately tensed and her heart began to pound hard. It would take a long time before she fully recovered from being grabbed by the serial killer earlier.
“Who are you?” she asked. “Where are you? Andy’s gone for the day.”
“You’re a woman.” Whoever this was sounded surprised by that.
“Good guess. Now you’re going to have to tell me who you are and where you’re hiding or we’re going to have a problem. I’m not a big fan of hide and seek.”
“You can hear everything I’m saying?” Again with the surprise.
She swallowed hard. “Of course I can.”
“It’s just that the others...well, most of them haven’t been able to hear me at all. And the ones who could didn’t hear everything clearly.”
She curled her hand around the baseball bat she kept under her desk. One could never be too careful. Triple-A wasn’t exactly in the city’s best neighborhood.
“What others?” she asked cautiously.
“My other...my other hosts. Look, I don’t want you to be afraid.”
“We’re getting a bit late for that, whoever you are.” She gripped the bat tightly and stood up from the desk. Nobody else was going to sneak up on her. One serial killer a day was her limit.
She nudged open the door to the small bathroom with her foot. Nobody was in there. The office was completely empty. She began to tremble. Even if they had been hiding, their voice wouldn’t be so loud in her ears. So loud that it sounded as if it was coming from...inside of her.
“You’re the woman with the long, reddish hair, aren’t you? He wanted to kill you. And then—” He paused. “Then I don’t remember much—it’s fuzzy right now. Was he killed? Of course, he had to be or this wouldn’t have happened.”
“How do you know about that?” she demanded, and began to shuffle backward into the far corner by Andy’s bookshelf. “I’m going to call the cops if you don’t leave me alone.”
“There was a cop there. A tall man with blond hair. He had a gun.”
“How do you know what happened?” She glanced under Andy’s desk, which would have made a good hiding spot. But other than three balled-up pieces of paper that obviously hadn’t hit the trash can, there was nothing there. “I just want to be left alone. Honestly, I’m not really as psychic as people seem to think. Checking the coat closet was a lucky guess. It’s called coincidence and it happens all the time. I just want to eat my donut dinner in peace. Go away.”
“You’re psychic?” he repeated. “Right, he mentioned that. He thought you might be able to help him get rid of me.”
She frowned so deeply it hurt. “Get rid of you?”
She remembered back to what the guy had told her—that he thought he was possessed by a demon. And he desperately wanted it out.
Her head spun just thinking about it. Demons didn’t exist. Of course they didn’t. That was crazy.
Besides, a demon wouldn’t sound like this, would it? Her newly discovered inner voice was deep, warm, and calm. She would have expected a demon to sound scary and, well, demonic. Her hands began to ache as she clutched the bat tighter.
“The important thing is not to panic,” the voice said cautiously.
“What the hell is going on here?”
“Really, demon is a bit of a derogatory word, isn’t it?” he continued conversationally. “I promise I mean you no harm at all. I did what I could to keep my former host from hurting you and luckily it all turned out okay. Well, sort of okay. Now if we can just talk about—”
“You...you’re a d-demon?” she stuttered while she dealt with the absolute absurdity of what she was saying out loud.
“Well...technically, yes I am. But just try to relax. I know this is a bit of a surprise, but everything’s going to be fine.”
No, it wasn’t possible. Not a chance. Demons didn’t exist. Obviously she’d had some kind of mental breakdown. Now, that was possible. It had been a very traumatic day. She’d come close to dying, after all. Those sorts of events had to take a toll, even if she was able to walk and talk normally afterward. Something deep in her psyche must have cracked wide open enough for her to suddenly hear a voice in her head.
“Everything’s going to be fine?” she repeated through clenched teeth. “I don’t think so. I need to go to the hospital. I need a psych evaluation. I’ve obviously gone coo-coo for Cocoa Puffs.”
“No, you haven’t. I’m sorry, but I can’t survive without a human host, otherwise I’ll dissipate into the air like smoke. I had no choice. There were two of you there, you and the cop, and it was a fifty-fifty chance that I ended up with you—although, I’ve got to say, you’re my first female host ever. This should be very interesting.”
She licked her dry lips, her muscles so tight she thought they might snap like overused hair elastics. “Did you say smoke? Like black smoke?”
She remembered the black smoke that left the dead killer’s body and flew through the air toward her. She’d since dismissed it as a figment of her traumatized imagination, but now...
“You’re a demon,” she said it so quietly even she had trouble hearing it.
“And you’ve possessed me.”
“If you put it that way it sounds a bit ominous, doesn’t it? I’d rather think of it as ‘sharing living space.’”
It was true. She’d seen it with her own eyes when the serial killer had bitten it. The black smoke hadn’t just been smoke—it was the demon he’d claimed to be possessed with. The demon that was now inside of her.
For a moment she was positive she’d pass out. The feeling passed, but a steadily growing fear remained that began to fill her completely.
“Get out of me,” she said softly.
“That does sound like an excellent plan, but you need to understand, this isn’t my choice. I haven’t been able to exist outside of my host since—”
“Get out right now!” Eden clutched the baseball bat so tightly she was sure she’d get splinters. Every ounce of energy she could summon from the universe she put into those four words. She’d never felt so fierce or certain about anything in her entire 29 years of life—and that included kicking her cheating jerk of a fiancé out of her life six months ago. Although, it was still a close second.
She felt rather than heard the demon gasp inside of her—inside her head, her chest, her entire body. And as if she’d been punched in the stomach she let out a wheezing breath and doubled over as the black smoke exited through her mouth in one dark, tasteless, odorless stream. She scrambled back from it until she hit the wall behind her and held the bat up as if that would be enough to protect her from Hell itself.
The smoke hung there like a small black rain cloud, unmoving, five feet in front of her for a few more moments. Then something changed. She watched, stunned, as it began to take on a recognizable shape. The entire process took less than thirty seconds, but it was as if time itself had stopped. She couldn’t move, she couldn’t breathe, she couldn’t think. All she could do is watch—waiting for a large, red, hulking, horned hell-beast to appear and devour her whole.
(excerpt continued on Tuesday)