Dating is hell.
Having suffered through one swipe right disaster after another, Bexley is officially over waiting for Mr. Right. With her baby sister’s wedding looming, and her in need of a date, she’s willing to settle for Mr. Present-with-a-Pulse.
While bingeing her favorite show—featuring hunky hunters and devilishly fun occult themes—she’s struck with an epiphany. Maybe the key to finding a good man... is to summon one. If Hollywood can do it, so can Bexley.
Or so she thought.
Hades himself is called forth in a fiery blaze of sulfur and brimstone... and he’s looking to make a deal. Can Bexley survive the ultimate date from hell? Or will the devil steal more than just her soul?
Happily Ever Afterlife
Chapter 1 - Unedited
My slippers make a soft scratching sound against the weathered linoleum as I pace back and forth in front of the display of candles. I know I should just grab the cheapest white one and be done with it, but if I am going to summon a demon, I think it would be nice to welcome him to my home with a pleasant scent.
“Aha! I see you back there you sneaky bugger,” I cry, as I reach into the depths of the shelves. My hand closes around the lone vanilla cookie crunch candle, and I hold it in the air like the sacrificial offering it may just wind up being.
My small dance of victory is interrupted by a very disapproving elderly woman. Her eyes widen in surprise at the sight of me doing the cabbage patch with my new candle. Though, to be fair, the bunny slippers and robe may also have something to do with her shock.
“Excuse me,” she mutters. Her face is pinched in disapproval as she pushes her buggy past me and heads toward the greeting cards.
“Sorry,” I call after her, shrugging when she doesn’t acknowledge me. I am definitely not the weirdest thing she’ll see in Times Square tonight.
I shuffle down the aisle and head toward the photo department for the last item on my list. A photo of myself, because who the hell carries around actual photos of themself anymore?
I place my purse on the counter and dig through it, letting out a small whoop of victory when I find the charging cord tangled in the bottom. My fingers fumble with the knots until I work them free, and I plug my phone into the self service kiosk. My phone’s gallery pops up on the screen, and I flip through the pictures, laughing at some of the sillier ones I have saved, until I find an acceptable selfie.
I turn my back to the kiosk, leaning against it while I wait for my picture to print. My eyes roam the isles, lingering on the wine, and I think back to the nearly empty bottle sitting on my coffee table. So, maybe just one more thing on my shopping list then. The machine chimes, letting me know my photo is done printing. I stuff it into the envelope, not bothering to cast a second glance at the photo, and head off in the direction of the wine. After a quick browse, I grab my selection and make my way to the checkout counter, more than ready to get home before I chicken out.
The drive back to my apartment passes quickly. I slip my money from my wallet as my building comes into view and pay the cabbie before grabbing my bags and beginning the trek back up to my tiny apartment.
The sound of clanking glass echoes throughout the empty halls with each step I take. I shush my groceries as I sneak past my landlord’s door, not in the mood to deal with Mrs Musgrove’s endless questions or sordid tales tonight.
Besides, I’m not even allowed to have a dog, so I’m willing to bet summoning demons is definitely against the terms of my lease agreement.
I sit the bags on the floor, cursing softly when the glass crashes together like symbols, and frantically dig through my bag for my keys.
“Bexley? Is that you coming in so late?” Mrs Musgrove’s muffled voice calls from the door across the hall.
My pulse quickens at the thought of being caught with my demon summoning supplies. I don’t answer. Instead I hurry to my door and say a quick prayer that I can make it inside before she shuffles into the hall.
“Your date must have gone well if you’re just now coming home.” Her voice rings out louder as the doorknob to her apartment starts to turn. “Reminds me of my scandalous affair with Reggie. I was always sneaking in late after nights with him.”
Oh, hell no. I already know far too much about the well endowed saxist.
I push open my door, snatching my bags from the ground and slide the door closed as quietly as possible. The moment it clicks closed I sag back against the door breathing heavily for a moment before flipping around to peer out my peephole.
“Huh,” she mutters, frowning at my door before looking around the empty hallway. “Can’t blame the girl for staying out all hours. It would be a tragedy to waste a body like that,” she says before calling for her fat cat to follow her back inside. “C’mon, Harry Styles,” she purrs, and I watch as the fluffy, calico prances after her.
I breathe a sigh of relief when I hear the sound of her door clicking shut. As much as I love my crazy old landlady, I have neither the time nor the stomach to listen to another story about one of her many conquests.
Dating in this day and age is nothing like it was during her golden years. My current drunken plan is proof enough of that.
I carry my bags down the short hallway, my eyes flicking to my roommate’s darkened room. Zuri is shooting in Maui. Lucky bitch. I say a silent thank you to the universe that she’s not here to witness my madness. Zuri may be open to all forms of spirituality, having created her own unique brand of spirituality with equal parts witchcraft and Buddhism, but that doesn’t mean she’d agree with my brilliant plan.
Thinking of Zuri sends doubt bubbling to the surface, and I frown as I place the bags on the counter, my earlier conviction wavering. My eyes dart to the open living room where Supernatural is paused on the television.
“This is all your fault, Sam Winchester,” I whisper harshly. I turn my back on Sam and his beautiful, flowing hair, and my gaze lands on the invitation to my baby sister’s wedding that’s stuck to the fridge. I groan.
“All the Sams in my life are against me,” I cry out, shaking my fists at the sky.
I stalk my way across the kitchen, cursing Sam’s wedding to the pits of hell, and grab my electric wine opener from the counter. I make quick work of opening my new bottle, forgoing a glass, and bring the bottle to my lips. I drink heavily as I make my way back down the hallway to Zuri’s room, hoping to silence any lingering doubts.
I flick on her bedroom light and riffle through her things until I find what I’m looking for. I frown when I realize her ceremonial bowl is filled with items from her last manifestation spell. After a couple of moments thought, I shrug, figuring a little manifestation can’t hurt and carry the bowl and its contents into the living room.
I grab the items I bought from the store and place them on the table next to the borrowed supplies, empty wine bottle, and melted ice cream before sinking down onto our cozy couch. My nerves flare to life once again as my gaze rakes over the items littered on the table, and I chew my lip anxiously, debating the genius of this plan.
My cell phone rings, making me jump, and I look down to see the smiling faces of my sister Samantha and her fiance´ Cale. I frown at the reminder of why I’m doing this and swipe the call away.
With a final chug of wine, I shake out my nerves as a pleasant buzz settles into my limbs and begin the setup before I can change my mind again.
I cock my head to the side as I take in my chalk drawing, glancing back at the television to ensure my handiwork matches what I see on the screen. Close enough. With a shrug, I pull the candles from the table, making sure to place the delicious, vanilla candle at the top of the drawing. I light it first, smiling as the smell of fresh baked cookies envelops my tiny apartment, and finish the remaining steps of the spell.
I sit back on my heels and admire my work. There’s only one ingredient left. My blood. Before I can think about it too much, I grab the letter opener from the table and slice my palm, holding my hand over the bowl.
The sharp, sting of pain, followed by the metallic scent of my blood sends my head swimming.
“Shit,” I curse, cradling my hand to my chest. “Son of a bitch, that hurts!”
I wrap my hand in the bottom of my shirt to catch the blood and reach for the box of matches with my good hand, then I light the match and throw it into the bowl. The ingredients light with a whoosh and I hurry to mutter the incantation I practiced on my way home from the drug store.
“Et ad congregandom, Eros coram me,” I whisper.
I tense, and time crawls as I wait for some kind of magic to happen.
I sigh, standing. Okay, so maybe summoning demons isn’t as easy as it looks on television.
The shrill beeping of my smoke detector makes me jump and sends my heart jackhammering in my chest.
“Dammit,” I curse, rushing to the chair we keep stationed under it for just this reason. Okay, well, maybe not this exact reason, but Zuri’s cooking skills are disastrous enough that we’ve arranged our furniture to make removing the smoke detector’s battery easy.
I collide with the table, knocking the remote off, and the T.V. flares to life. I rub my shin and growl as Sam successfully summons a demon of his own.
“Liar,” I call over my shoulder as I climb onto the chair and reach for the smoke detector. With the seasoned hands of a pro, I pull out the battery, my eyes darting to the door.
When Mrs. Musgrove doesn’t immediately come knocking, I sag in relief, sinking down onto the chair.
I reach forward, grab the remote from the floor, and hit pause.
As silence envelops my apartment, my gaze narrows on the image of the demon.
What a load of crap.
“Thanks for nothing, guys,” I mutter. My gaze drops to my clothes, and I take in my ruined sleep set.
“Dagnabit,” I groan. “These are my favorites.”
I wiggle out of my shorts and wrap them around my hand, making sure to apply pressure to my still bleeding cut. My head swims with a mixture of alcohol and adrenaline as I make my way to the bathroom.
After a quick rinse in the sink, I pat my hand with toilet paper. The cut is deeper than I intended, but I don’t think it requires a trip to the emergency room. Instead, I pull the first aid kit from the cabinet and get to work patching myself up. I bite my lip against the sting as I clean the wound with rubbing alcohol, letting out a sigh of relief once I’m done and have added antibiotic cream. I top it with some gauze and wrap my hand with a bandage.
When I’m certain my wound is secure, I put away the first aid kit and supplies, discarding my blood stained pajamas into the hamper. Rather than hunt for new ones, I pull the tee I wore earlier today off the top of the pile and slip it on before topping it with my most comfortable robe.
“Shit, the fire,” I curse, remembering that I never put it out. I race back into the living room, my gaze darting around frantically as I look for something to smother the flames with.
I pull off my robe, tossing it onto the bowl and crouch down, patting the flames. My eyes snag on a bottle of water and I dive for it, pouring it’s contents onto the still smoldering flames.
The bowl sizzles, and I sit back, letting out a sigh of relief.
A throat clears behind me, and I jump, knocking over the contents of the bowl.
I spin around brandishing the nearly empty water bottle as a weapon.
“Please tell me you didn’t summon me here to do housework.”
A scream lodges in my throat and my jaw drops, the empty bottle falling from my hand, as I take in the handsome stranger leaning casually against the door frame. My gaze travels the length of his body leisurely, taking in everything from his tattered jeans that cling to his muscular thighs, to the way his broad shoulders fill out his leather jacket, before finally landing on his face.
A smirk curls his full lips, as he runs a tatted hand over his stubbled jaw.
“Do you always practice witchcraft half nude?” his deep, accented voice rumbles.
My brows furrow in confusion as my alcohol laden brain tries to understand what’s happening.
His raven hair is long on the top and cropped closer on the sides. I watch, mesmerized as he brushes it from his face. His ice blue eyes trail the length of me, leaving goosebumps in their wake, and a deep chuckle falls from his lips as he stares at my chest.
I shoot him my most lethal glare, knowing damn well that my tits are nothing to be laughed at, before trying to inconspicuously glance at my shirt. The words heaven sent are printed across my chest, but my lack of bra makes the words a little less wholesome–not to mention the lack of pants. My face flames as I scramble to the couch and pull off the throw blanket.
I wrap the blanket around me like a shawl and reach for the letter opener, doing my best to ignore the butterflies that are battering around in my stomach, as I give the man my best mean mug.
“If you so much as think about coming closer, I will not hesitate to remove your balls and shove them down your throat. Got it, buddy?”
He throws his head back, laughing at my threat, and I use his momentary distraction to pat around for my phone.
“You’re a terrible, hostess,” he says, before straightening and striding further into the room.
I scramble back, determined to keep space between us, and my hand curls tighter around the blade I’m holding on instinct.
My mouth falls open as I watch him plop down on the couch before propping his boot clad feet on my coffee table.
I dart forward, all common sense fleeing my mind and push his feet from the table.
“Excuse me?” I ask, certain I must have heard him wrong. “Are you insane? I don’t care if you are sexy as sin, get out of my house or I’m calling the police!”
He looks at me from under impossibly thick lashes and raises one brow. He smirks, and I notice my cell phone dangling from his fingertips.
“I believe I have your phone, love,” he says with a grin. “Besides, what exactly do you plan to tell them? That the demon you summoned won’t leave? Not likely.”
He turns away, unpausing the television and settling back as if he doesn’t have a care in the world.
My mouth falls open as his words finally register.
Holy, hell. I actually summoned a fucking demon!