By Charlene Teglia
St. Martin's Press Copyright © 2008 Charlene Teglia
All rights reserved.
"I wasn't sure you'd come." He stood in the moonlight with his hands in his pockets, looking almost bashful. Which struck me as laughable, considering our reason for being here.
"I'm here. Whether or not I'll come remains to be seen." I gave him a wide smile and let my trench coat fall open, showing off the black lace bra, panties, and nothing else underneath except my belly button ring winking in the moonlight.
Garrett, if that was really his name, seemed very interested in what wasn't under my coat. I let him get a good long look at ample cleavage and a sleek, bare midriff. Men are visually stimulated, and the more aroused he became, the better my night would be.
The dogging event hadn't drawn too much of a crowd, less than a dozen onlookers. I could easily pick out the ones who'd want to do more than watch.
Ah, dogging, how easy you've made my job, I thought. "Walking the dog" was the popular euphemism for a prearranged meet for one purpose: having sex in a public place. A big draw for voyeurs and exhibitionists alike, dogging events were frequently advertised, recorded, and broadcast on the Internet so the show could be witnessed by the broadest possible audience.
For me it was like shooting fish in a barrel.
I shrugged off my trench coat and let it drop to the grass. I'd agreed to meet Garrett at this park after sunset, and I noted with some pleasure that the lawn offered a lot more room to maneuver than the inside of a car in a public parking lot.
Those cramped encounters so tended to discourage audience participation. The choreography required for front-seat group action gives new meaning to the term cluster-fuck.
I settled my perfect ass on the fabric of my discarded London Fog and smiled all around. "Who's first?"
A tangible rush of lust filled the air, and just like that, I had them all.
Fish in a barrel.
Garrett was first, of course. I let him touch me because it was the best way to hook the ones who liked to watch. They watched his hands unfasten the black lace bra that pushed my cleavage up to heights no mortal woman could aspire to, and there was an almost audible sigh as the lace fell away and nothing but Garrett's hands covered my twin peaks.
Garrett was a little clumsy and had no idea what to do with a body like mine, but he was fully aroused and his sexual energy fed me until I was damn near orgasmic. But far from satiated. Never satiated. The more I fed, the more I hungered, and the circle of men watching us was only going to whet my appetite.
I feasted on their lust, expertly playing them, pulling them into my field and draining them and they never saw what was happening. Garrett's eyes grew glazed and a confused look came over his face as he approached the threshold.
"What —?" he asked. It was an incomplete question, but I answered him anyway.
"You're a pervert, Garrett," I informed him in a matter-of-fact, nonjudgmental voice. "And now you're a damned pervert. Thank you for your soul. Welcome to hell."
* * *
"You've been a naughty girl, Edana." Nick's voice was deep and approving when I joined him in his office later that night. "Ten men at once. Want a spanking?"
"I'm not that kind of girl." I gave him a wide-eyed innocent look and dropped into the seat across from his desk. I was still wearing the panties, and while I'd put the trench coat back on, I'd left it hanging open to provide a nice peep-show effect.
I wasn't wearing anything else. I'd left my bra in the grass at the park. I like to leave souvenirs, and they're not docked from my pay. Actually, since it counts as littering and could stir impure thoughts in the mind of whoever finds my discards, I get bonuses on top of the amusement factor the habit gives me.
"You're my kind of girl." He patted his lap. "Take off the trench coat and come sit."
"You're the boss." I shrugged out of the trench and strutted around to him, then gave him a little lap-dance action. I got a light spank on my ass for my trouble. I sat down then and heaved an aggrieved sigh. "Is this all the sexual harassment I get? You're not even trying."
"I want you to conserve your energies. I have a special job for you, Edana."
Nick kissed the side of my neck and toyed with my nipples as he spoke so I wouldn't feel ignored. I responded to the gesture, even though I knew I wasn't going to be favored with anything that might feed my need.
"Who?" I asked. I didn't expect an immediate answer. I knew he'd tell me the details when he was good and ready.
"What," he corrected, and I felt something other than my nipples stiffen.
I swiveled around to face him and hooked my legs over each side of the chair so I straddled his lap. "Tell me more."
He shook his head. "None of your tricks. You've fed well enough tonight." Since my thighs were spread wide, he gave me a light spank on my mound and I hissed at the mixture of arousal and denial. "I want you to seduce a Nephilim."
"A Watcher?" I quit trying to play-seduce Nick and sat up straight. The Nephilim had once been a widespread race, the half-breed results of intermarriage between human women and angels who'd abandoned both heavenly and hellish realms in favor of life on earth.
The Nephilim had been called many things. Watcher was one of the more innocuous terms. They'd also been known more accurately as the Terrors and the Weakeners. "I thought they were extinct. Either they killed each other off fighting or drowned in the Great Flood."
"They're strong. And persistent." Nick flicked my clit, overly hard on purpose, and I scowled at him.
"That wasn't necessary," I protested.
"I'm evil." He shrugged and let his finger travel up to toy with my belly button ring. "This particular Nephilim is a problem. He's giving me headaches. He conjures and binds. He banishes."
At the b word, I went ice-cold. "I thought you liked me," I said with a quaver in my voice. "You're sending me out to get banished?"
"I'm sending you because I have confidence in your skill and abilities, darling Edana." He leaned forward and kissed me, filling my mouth with a thrust of his forked tongue and a smoky flavor that was distinctly Nick. "Seduce him. Steal his soul. I want this troublesome Watcher in hell."
I wasn't comforted. I may have large breasts, but words like bind and banish do stick in my feather head, and while flattery is always nice, I really would have preferred some kind of weapon besides supernatural sex appeal. "You suck as a motivational speaker."
"Nevertheless," he breathed the word against my lips. "You'll do as I say. Because you're mine and I send you where I will."
Well, he had me there. But that didn't mean I'd just rush off to my doom. "Come on, Nick," I wheedled. "Wouldn't you like a presidential candidate instead? A televangelist? An engineer?"
"I want him," Nick said. He placed three fingertips on my belly, and when he drew them away, three little brands in the shape of his fingertips remained. The burns would heal almost instantaneously, but he'd made his point.
"Fine," I said, getting up. "I'm tired of this afterlife anyway. It's all sex energy and no actual sex."
"Fiendish, some would call that." Nick actually smiled at me when he said it, the smug, evil bastard.
"Whatever. It's like a cosmic joke that in my human life I died a virgin and after centuries as a succubus I can't ever get a human to punch my ticket because my demonic powers drain him before he can do the deed." I felt genuinely aggrieved over that, and let it show in my face. "And now, after all I've done for you, all the souls I've stolen, all the men I've led to their downfall, you're sending me out to be Watcher bait. I hate you."
"Everybody hates me. I'm the devil. It comes with the job description." Nick stood up and patted me on the head. I kicked him in the shins with the pointy toe of my strappy come-fuck-me shoes. He just laughed. "I like your style. I always have." He turned serious then. "You're capable of this, Edana. I am not setting you up to fail. I want him stopped and I want him stopped now, before I lose any more demons to him."
I blinked at that. How many had this bad-ass Nephilim tagged already? It had to be pretty bad for Nick to get personally involved. He might be the devil, but he didn't micromanage. If he wasn't leaving this matter to one of his lieutenants to handle, if he'd taken on the task of assigning me to deal with it himself, matters were serious.
It was like a bad joke. Hell had a serious problem, and I was the one getting sent to deal with it. Armed with my Frederick's of Hollywood wardrobe.
"Do silver bullets work on Nephilim?" I asked.
"No." He tweaked my cheek. "Arm yourself with feminine wiles. They're more powerful and much more lethal. Go shopping."
"That's what you are," Nick agreed in a cheerful voice. "Go damn him, too."
"Right," I said, my lack of enthusiasm palpable. I didn't even wiggle my ass at him as I left the room. I was too depressed. Instead, I peeled out of the panties, kicked off the spike heels and left the items scattered behind me as I headed for my computer terminal. Since the ambient temperature in the office was always measured on the Kelvin scale, clothes were the last thing I needed.
Hell's Internet crashed frequently and without warning, and if that didn't cause me enough aggravation the computer would blue-screen periodically. Shopping for this job could take a while. Which was fine with me. My afterlife as a succubus might not be perfect, but it beat nonexistence. I wasn't in a hurry to cease to be.
Although arguably nonexistence isn't really possible. I've heard enough theologians going on about this one to have heard all the points and counterpoints on that debate. Demons can assume physical form, but in our native state, we're energy. Energy can't be created or destroyed. So how can we cease to exist?
I don't know the answer, but I know nobody's been able to contact a banished demon to find out if they're still self-aware and if they've retained consciousness. My best guess is that energy can be used up, and the prospect of a blast from a powerful Nephilim aimed point-blank at me didn't fill me with positive thoughts.
My best hope was to strike first. Get him before he got me. Do unto others and all that.
Before I started browsing for battle armor in the form of my chosen undress uniform, I did some research to see what I could dig up on the Nephilim. What little I knew wasn't nearly enough to help me spot possible vulnerabilities I could exploit. Still, all men had their weaknesses, and I'd had a lot of experience in using those weaknesses to my advantage.
I learned they'd been known as giants among men, much taller and stronger than their purely human counterparts. Their race had also been credited with bringing the knowledge of magic to humans. The epic of Gilgamesh documented the heroic exploits of one member of this not-so-lost race. Those recorded deeds were enough to make me feel chilly despite my location. Gilgamesh had been one historic badass, and he'd gone after the first succubus, Lilitu. She'd survived and escaped, but he'd come out the clear winner in that contest.
Great. As far as I could tell, I was going up against a sorcerous warrior giant. A powerful being with supernatural abilities and human form with far greater than human strength.
And due to the mixed nature, a soul.
The soul and the human form might make him somewhat vulnerable to me, but I didn't like the odds.
"Seduce him," I said out loud. Right. Because he wouldn't see through a succubus and know it was a trap.
Done with my depressing search through the pages of history, I switched my attention to my current files. Nick would have sent me the information on my target, and I wanted to know my enemy.
His name was Eli Moss. His face ... well, his face would have made me take notice even if I wasn't a being who subsisted on sexual energy. I can't really say he was handsome in the classical sense of the term, but he was certainly compelling. He had animal magnetism, and it showed even through the computer's display.
The mixed heritage altered features in a way that would look exotic to human eyes but not abnormal. Just more rugged, harsher, more beautiful in purely a masculine way. More jaw and cheekbone than your average man, deep-set green eyes that seemed too aware, too knowing. He wore his black hair shoulder length with two small braids on each side and the rest flowing loose, an unusual style in modern times. The hairstyle emphasized his features.
Oh, and he really was big. All over. A giant among men, indeed. I couldn't help it, I felt my nipples tingle and a distinct flare of heat in my midsection as I considered the total package.
And that was just the effect of graphical rendering. What impact would he have in the flesh?
I licked my lips and considered my mission. He was either going to be a feast for my demonic senses like no other, or my downfall. If I allowed him to distract me, guess which was more likely?
"You seem a decent fellow," I said to his image. "I hate to kill you." The line from The Princess Bride earned me a reprimand in the form of Barry Manilow's hit "Mandy" pouring from a hidden speaker. I scowled in the general direction of the source of the music, if you could call it that. I knew better than to complain out loud, though. I'd only get something worse.
I wouldn't actually be killing him, I thought, as I studied Eli's face. He was half angel. The loss of his human soul would mean what, exactly? I couldn't find any precedent in the records. As far as I could tell, angels and demons alike had left the Nephilim alone. I hadn't even known they still existed, which meant at some point they'd passed into the collective realm of myth despite the fact that they demonstrably were still around. Why?
Whatever the reasons, the centuries-long agreement to ignore each other, to live and let live, had ended with this Eli. By binding and banishing demons, he'd forced Nick to take action.
And lucky me, I was the official response. Too bad I wasn't being sent as an ambassador for peace. I didn't think there was enough underwire in the world to distract this man from my nature. He'd see me coming and I'd be toast.
I started shopping for the perfect outfit to wear to my funeral. If I was going out, I planned to go out fighting and dressed to kill.
For reasons possibly known only to him, Eli lived as close to the middle of nowhere as it was possible to get in America, in a tiny Washington town of three thousand people surrounded by Olympic National Park. Oh, and it was also the wettest spot in the continental United States, with an average of 140 inches of rain a year.
I hated rain.
Fortunately, the black leather miniskirt and matching bustier I wore would shed water, and I had a black leather trench coat to help keep me dry. My thigh-high boots would sink up to the heels in mud if I had to do any walking. I made a mental note to avoid that.
I would stand out like a sore thumb among the loggers who made their home in Forks. I also wouldn't pass for a visiting hiker. Tourists might come from all over the world to visit the Olympic Peninsula, but they dressed for camping and fishing, not seduction.
I wasn't trying to blend in, though. I wanted to get Eli's attention. If I couldn't arouse his sex drive, I wanted to arouse his curiosity. He would be smarter than the average human with his mixed heritage, and while that probably meant better physical self-control, it also might mean he'd get overconfident in his ability to put mind over matter, so to speak.
None of the demons who'd fallen to this Watcher had been a succubus. It was actually a smart move on Nick's part. Send a seductress who might slip under his guard instead of a warrior whose presence could only mean a direct challenge.
Besides, he might hesitate to hit a girl. You never could tell.
That's right, think positive. I parked my jeep on the private road that led to Eli's sprawling log cabin retreat in the woods, popped the button that opened the hood, and counted to one hundred. Figuring I'd timed it about right, I shrugged off my trench coat, climbed out, and went around to bend over the hood.
With any luck, Eli would be along right about now. I planted my feet shoulder-width apart and dipped my lower back to emphasize the curve of my ass and make the short skirt ride up higher. I wasn't wearing any underwear. The odds were stacked against me as it was, so I didn't see the point in pulling my punches. (Continues...)
Excerpted from Wicked Hot by Charlene Teglia. Copyright © 2008 Charlene Teglia. Excerpted by permission of St. Martin's Press.
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