THE HOT DAMNED SERIES
Fashionably Dead And Wed
“Explain to me again how this happened,” I hissed. I throat punched a viciously aggressive Demon gunning for my head—bloody mouth open and razor sharp claws extended. Killing things with teeth as long as my forearm was definitely not my idea of a good time, but when it was us or them it was simply a necessary evil.
“It was a shiny rock. How in the hell was I supposed to know it was a motherhumpin’ portal to Hell?” Martha wailed, as she slammed an impressive right hook into the jaw of one of the slimy bastards.
“I told her not to touch it,” Jane grunted. “But did she listen to me? No. She did not listen.”
We were three Vampyres against twenty Demons and it was only 10 am. This did not bode well for a good day. The odds were not what I would have chosen, but it was what it was. The evil shits entered uninvited and had quickly worn out their welcome. Today had started so perfectly with a marathon of closet sex with Ethan followed by a rousing game of Candy Land with our son Samuel and his pet baboon, Blobbityflonk.
Now this… a normally beautiful, peaceful field of wild flowers and trees filled with stinky evil Demons from Hell who were definitely not supposed to be in Mossy Creek, Kentucky. If I had to hazard a guess, the bastards were from the worst part of Hell—otherwise known as the Basement. The fragrant spring breeze was filled with an acrid odor of burnt flesh and bad breath. Occasionally the super duper gift of Vampyre smelling ability bit me on the ass—or gag reflex to be more accurate.
“Just blast ‘em,” Jane shouted, taking two of the Demons into a chokehold and squeezing so hard they popped.
They burst like blood filled balloons and I choked back a dry heave. Not that I could throw up or anything helpful like that. Vampyres didn’t have that particular talent.
“I can’t. Too many Demons,” I ground out, as I smacked down on one who’d taken a chunk out of my leg. Damn it, the gaping hole would take at least an hour to grow back and possibly leave a scar. “We’re three miles from an Elementary School filled with human children. The explosion would rock the entire town, you imbecile. This one is hand to hand.”
Time and time again I internally bitch slapped myself for having Martha and Jane turned. The two eighty-nine year old dumb asses had caused more trouble in the short time they’d been undead than our entire race had in hundreds of years. My compassion continually reared up and bitch slapped me where they were concerned.
“After we’re done here, remind me to decapitate both of you,” I said. I back-flipped and scissor kicked the noggin right off the Demon who’d made the grave mistake of thinking he could take me out.
“Will do,” Martha grunted, as she started tossing knives and throwing stars around like they were beads at a Mardi Gras parade.
Her aim was appalling and I ducked before she accidentally nailed me.
“Holy shit on a sharp stick in the left eyeball,” Jane screeched as she removed a misfired dagger Martha had implanted in her ass. “They’re running away.”
I shot back up from my crouched position and let out a furious curse. Sure enough the remaining Demons fled across the field too fast for a human eye to detect—flaming dots of red fire mixed with the pink and purple flowers that were now wilted due to the sulfur from Hell blanketing the field like an ominous fog.
We’d killed twelve. That meant eight had escaped and were now going to wreak havoc on Earth. Not good. Not good at all.
With a flick of my hand I sealed the portal shut and let my head fall back on my shoulders. What to do now? Did I go after the bloodthirsty denizens of Hell? Or should I tie Martha and Jane into an undead human pretzel and throw them into the portal I’d just closed?
“Um… Boobs McGee?” Martha asked quietly as she poked me in the arm. “Do you want us to go after the fuckers or go get some back up first?”
“I want you to have never opened the portal in the first place,” I snapped, ignoring the nickname. I’d long given up on reminding the two idiots that my name was Astrid.
I paced the open field in agitation and watched the Demons we’d killed turn to gooey dust before my eyes. These Demons were far worse than the last bunch that had gotten through the portals and their visits were becoming more frequent. My Uncle Satan had some explaining to do.
Glancing over at Martha and Jane, I had to laugh. They were a hot mess and not just because they were covered in blood and had been fighting bad dudes from the Underworld. Nope. They’d taking up jogging and they had the heinous outfits to prove it—teal booty shorts and yellow sequined jog bras coupled with black socks and expensive running shoes. The sparse tufts of grey hair on their heads were held back with headbands that would have made Richard Simmons proud. I was surprised they hadn’t scared the Demons back to Hell with their sportswear.
“Why the left eye?” I asked Jane, as I pressed the bridge of my nose and reminded myself it would be wrong to blast their sorry flat asses into tomorrow.
“What the hell are you babbling about, Hooters McHootieland?” she asked, completely confused.
“Why the crap on a sharp stick in the left eye instead of the right one?” I asked again.
“Hell if I know,” Jane grumbled and shrugged her boney shoulders. “It’s just the way it is, Melons O’Chesty. Sun comes up in the morning. Sun goes down at night. George W. is better lookin’ than Jeb. Sharp sticks covered in poo go in the left eye.”
It was difficult to render me mute, but these two gals did it repeatedly.
“You really gonna rip our heads off?” Martha asked.
My chin dropped forward to my chest. They knew as well as I did, I wasn’t going to remove their heads. As much they deserved it, I would never do it. They’d been instrumental in saving my son’s life and for that I would be eternally grateful—not that I really wanted to spend any quality time with them or any time at all. They didn’t need my help with losing an appendage. At the rate the dingbats were going they were going to get their heads torn off by someone else anyway.
“No, not today,” I told them as I approached them.
They held their ground warily and gave me pathetic smiles and waves. Holy Hell, it looked like Jane might have lost a few teeth in the melee. I stared hard at the ancient pains in my butt as they fidgeted like children and I tried to figure out what to do with them. Maybe if I just knocked their heads together really hard, I’d feel better. It wouldn’t kill them. As Vampyres they were very hard to eliminate. And these two numbnuts had proved without a doubt that being undead and stupid made them even harder to kill.
“We’d be more than happy to go after the creepy flesh eating turd waffles,” Martha told me as she picked up the weapons she’d flung around.
“Nope,” I said. “You’re under qualified and I can’t risk that you wouldn’t open more portals along the way. You’re going back to the Cressida House and you’re not allowed off the property until I say so.”
“That’s a little harsh,” Jane muttered as she helped her sister dig through the slimy ash to retrieve the weapons.
“No, it’s actually very nice,” I said so calmly they both blanched in terror. “The harsh part is that you will wear clothes that completely cover your bodies until further notice.”
“No booty shorts?” Martha asked as she paled considerably.
For a Vampyre that was difficult…
“No mini skirts?” Jane inquired almost inaudibly.
“I’m guessing thong bikinis are out as well,” Martha added sadly.
The thought of them in ass baring swimwear was therapy inducing. Their boobs hung to their belly buttons and their skin was all pickled and spotted. They were an anomaly in the blood-sucker world. Usually when someone was turned from human to Vampyre, their natural beauty was enhanced to the point of ridiculous. Martha and Jane—not so much.
“Thong bikinis are against the law for eternity. You two will wear clothing that covers every inch of your bodies except for your wrinkly faces.”
“Sweet Jesus on a tractor with a farmer’s tan,” Martha cried out. “Are you trying to kill us?”
“Trust me, if I was trying to kill you, you’d know,” I replied with an eye roll, still considering the possibility. “This rule goes into effect as soon as we get back to the compound. Am I clear?”
“As mud,” Jane bitched.
“I have a question, Knockers McMilkbomb,” Martha said, raising her hand politely as if that would negate the fact she’d basically just called me a cow.
“Spit it out, old lady.”
“How did you know to come and find us?”
That was a fine question and one I couldn’t quite explain. I’d just felt that something was off and I’d simply let my instincts guide me. I’d left ten shocked and snooty Vampyres mid-conversation in the formal parlor of our home. Apparently they took issue with the fact that Ethan and I were getting married when we were already mated. Ethan had seemed surprised at my abrupt departure, but he took my oddities in stride. He also knew I couldn’t stand Vampyre politics and tended to shove my foot in my mouth more often than not.
The old school Vamps couldn’t wrap their pea brains around my need for a human ceremony and had been very vocal with their displeasure. I’d explained as diplomatically as I could at a Formal Summit Council meeting for the Vampyre who’s who that they could shove it their up their non-breathing asses and skip our wedding. Needless to say, that went over like a lead balloon. I’d been writing apology notes to dead people all week.
“I’m not sure,” I told the gals truthfully. “I just knew something was wrong.”
“Well, um… thank you,” Martha mumbled.
“I’m sorry. What?” Had my super sonic hearing failed me? Had the nasty grizzled freak- show actually expressed gratitude? Had Hell frozen over?
“I’m not sayin’ it again,” Martha groused as she tried unsuccessfully to hide her grin.
“But since she did say it, maybe you could reconsider the ban on booty shorts,” Jane chimed in hopefully as she wiped Demon goop off of her dagger and onto her unfortunate choice of clothing.
“Nope. You will be garbed completely. Period.”
“We’re gonna look like fucking nuns,” Martha groused.
Now there was an idea.
“They can’t wear habits,” Ethan said as he scrubbed his hand over his gorgeous face and tried not to laugh.
“Why not?” I argued. “It’s a vast improvement over glittery boob tubes and hot pants.”
“While this is true, having them impersonate nuns is sacreligious,” he explained logically, pacing his office.
“Are you serious?” I asked, carefully moving an ugly three-headed statue from the coffee table to a new home underneath a chair. I was certain the heinous thing cost more than the national debt, but I couldn’t look at it anymore.
“Yes. Plus we have visitors from other parts of the territory due to the influx of Demons. I’d think profane followers of Christ might be a bit off putting,” Ethan said, retrieving the statue, examining it with a wince and placing it right back under the massive leather chair.
“It’s ugly,” I commented with a grin.
“It is,” he agreed. “However, it’s a gift from Satan. If he visits, put it back.”
“Will do. Are you sure about the habits?”
“Quite,” he replied. “We’re not Catholic.”
“I can see where you’re going with this, but I still think it’s an awesome idea. It’s a twofold win. It would piss Uncle Satan off if he thought I had nuns in the house and was siding with Uncle God. And more importantly, we wouldn’t have to look at half-naked insane Vampyre boobs for the foreseeable future,” I explained with an evil little grin.
“Astrid, your devious mind never ceases to amaze me or turn me on,” Ethan said as he wrapped his arms around me and rested his chin on my head. “But I still think it’s a bad idea.”
“Fine, but it’s on you if Martha and Jane show up at a meeting in midriff bearing shirts and assless chaps.”
“I need brain bleach after that visual,” Ethan muttered with a groan as he reluctantly let me go and went back behind his desk. “You say eight Demons got away?”
I nodded and perched on the edge of his desk. “Yep. Ran north. How pissed off are the Vamps?”
“Pissed is too mild a word,” he said as he sat back and ran his hands through his thick blond hair. “They’re blaming us because of our friendship with the Devil.”
“May I revise that statement?” I inquired.
“Be my guest.”
“I’m going out on a limb here and guessing they’re blaming me because the Devil is my Uncle,” I corrected my ever diplomatic mate in a voice laced with sarcasm.
“Me has become we, my love. We’re a team and we’re not in favor at the moment,” he replied easily.
I stared at the man I loved to the point of unhealthy and wished I could take the weight of the world from his broad shoulders. It wasn’t easy being mated to me. I was a True Immortal—one of ten—and I was related to everyone from Satan to Mother Nature.
“Okay,” I said as I walked around the desk and seated myself on his lap. “I understand being upset about the Demons—hell I’m furious about that. And I know they think our upcoming wedding is a farce. Is there anything else I should be aware of?”
“The division of wealth you instituted is raising a few problems.”
Leaning forward, I let my head drop to the cool wood of Ethan’s desk. I couldn’t win for losing in this new and deadly world.
“Look, I’m the first one to admit I’m somewhat materialistic,” I said and then realized I was bouncing up and down on my mate’s lap due to his laughter. “Swallow that,” I warned. “I’m not through here yet.”
“Will do,” he said as he tried valiantly to put a neutral expression on his face.
“Fine,” I huffed. “I’m a Prada whore with a shoe problem, but the amount of money the undead have amassed over the centuries is ridiculous. We don’t pay taxes because we don’t really exist on any kind of government roster and we live in this world just like everyone else—albeit a bit longer. We owe something to society. Period.”
“I agree with you,” Ethan said, smacking out the small fire my sparking fingers accidentally set on his desk during my passionate diatribe. “However, it’s going to take our people a little time to get comfortable with this new policy.”
“How much time?” I asked, as I curled myself into a ball on his lap.
“Time is somewhat irrelevant to us since our lifespan is so long. If I had to guess, I’d say fifty to a hundred years to get everyone on board.”
“I call bullshit on that. What if we just held a big party and let me beat the crap out of everybody? If I win, they pay.”
“And if you lose?” he asked with raised brows.
“I never lose,” I shot back with a cocky grin. “So, do I get to kick some uptight greedy Vampyre ass?”
“We’ll see,” Ethan said. “However, I can think of far better things for you to do with your time.”
“I bet you can,” I said as I pressed my lips to his and felt desire course through my blood.
He deepened the kiss until my toes curled with delight and then pulled back with effort.
“Gareth is due in a few minutes,” he said gruffly.
His golden eyes had turned green with desire as had mine.
“As much as I’d like to continue this session and take it to its natural conclusion, we’ll have to get back to it this evening. If Gareth catches a glimpse of your naked body, I’ll have to kill him. That would be unfortunate as he’s my brother. I say let’s deal with the Demons first and then tackle the rest later.”
“Maybe we should postpone the wedding.” Speaking the words aloud depressed me. I was looking forward to it with all of my undead heart. “It seems like a risk at this point.”
“Our sheer existence is a calculated risk, Astrid. Dealing with Demons is nothing new. Placating disgruntled Vampyres and dismembering violent ones is what I’ve done for several hundred years. I’ll be damned if I’ll let a few idiots halt out nuptials.”
“I love when you say that,” I giggled.
“Nuptials. It’s so formal.”
“I’m older,” he said as he picked me up like I weighed nothing and sat me on his desk.
“Than dirt,” I added with a laugh.
“Yes, well some might call me a cradle robber, but I call myself the luckiest man in the world.”
His grin made me horny and his words made me melt.
Our age difference was astronomical, but it rarely occurred to me unless someone brought it up. Ethan had been waiting for me for hundreds of years and fought hard to make me his. We were possessive, jealous, wildly attracted to each other and would have a very hard time surviving if something happened to the other—not to mention the sex was off the charts. It was all kinds of perfect and I loved him to the point of distraction.
“I suppose the best and most unfortunate route to go is to take a meeting with Satan.” I shook my head and shuddered. “I was hoping to avoid him for a while.”
“I’ll deal with the pissed of Vampyres and you deal with your Uncle,” Ethan said. “We get rid of the Demons. We make the tight fisted Vampyres pay their share. And we tie the knot. Win, win, win.”
“It’s not going to be that easy,” I said, tracing his lips with my finger.
“Nothing worth it is.”
His lopsided grin made me want to jump him, but I wasn’t in the mood to be responsible for Gareth’s death—I liked Ethan’s brother. Not to mention the deaths of whomever else was meeting with the Prince of the North American Dominion today. My mate was one of the most important and powerful Vampyres in the world.
And I wasn’t too shabby myself.
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I know I’m already mated…I wanna get married.
What do you get when you combine a three headed monster named Charles, a rotund, gay, dancing Demon named Doug, a culinary disaster baked by Mother Nature, a celibate premarital councilor named Jeff, an offer from Satan that’s impossible to refuse and Steve Perry?
You get the Royal Wedding from Hell—or to be more accurate—possibly in Hell.
All I want to do is marry the Vampyre of my dreams with my closest friends and family in attendance. Yep, I know nuptials in the undead world are unheard of, but I’m still hanging onto my humanity if only by a thread. Being mated is great, but getting married is important to me.
Tacky invitations and cake that causes food poisoning aside, I also need to deal with the stream of Demons entering my world from mysteriously opened portals. Not to mention Angel Jeff is going to fail us on the premarital test if we participate in any nookie before the wedding.
I’m trying really hard not to go bridezilla on everyone. With five days to plan the wedding, I have figure out who’s opening the portals and deal with our hostile allies who think our wedding is a farce. It’s been a very difficult week—especially the no nookie part.
All I know is this, I will say “I do” on Saturday even if it I have to go to Hell and back to accomplish it.