Emmy Duivel believes in true love: heart-stopping kisses, candlelight dinners, and a connection that lasts forever. But not the kind of kisses that land your date in the hospital. Emmy always knew she was different, but not in the supernatural sense. Not in the succubus sense.
Paul Andinn is a Watcher who had only one job: make sure Emmy doesn’t expose the supernatural world. It should have been easy, but when he looked away for one second, she kissed that guy, and everything changed.
He should be more upset. But he can’t. Not when he’s falling hard for her.
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|Publisher:||Entangled Publishing, LLC|
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Kiss Me, Kill You
By Larissa Hardesty, Jenn Mishler
Entangled Publishing, LLCCopyright © 2017 Larissa Hardesty
All rights reserved.
How my best friend Lily Huang could possibly consider the piece of red cloth she'd given me a dress, I'd never know. It covered less than my T-shirt.
"Do you have it on yet?" she called through the door. "Come on out. I wanna see it."
I gave the cotton hem one more tug, but it was as far down as it was going to get, which was less than five inches from my underwear and way too short for public viewing. Then I had to tug the top again, since every time I pulled on the bottom, the top came down, too. This dress was not made for someone with junk in the trunk and goods in the hood. I give up.
I stepped to the door, when what I wanted to do was take the stupid thing off and put my T-shirt and jeans back on. Sadly, I didn't have much of a choice. If I didn't come out, she would insist, loudly, and by the time she got her way, there'd be a crowd.
With a sigh, I opened the door and stepped into the dressing room hallway. My bare shoulders curled in as I tried to keep as much of my body inside the "dress" as possible.
"Oh, honestly, Emmy. Stop hunching. You look fabulous." She grabbed my shoulders and pulled them up and back so I stood straight, then she pushed me in front of the three-way mirror at the end of the hall. "See? You are totally hot."
I looked, but all I saw was way too much of my own skin. Especially standing next to Lily. Tall and willowy, with long, glossy black hair, she seemed like an exotic super model. Then there was me. Short with messy brown curls. Not fat, exactly, but ... definitely not skinny, either. I called it pudgy, but Lily always yelled at me for saying it.
"Now all you need is somewhere to wear it."
My eyes widened as I met Lily's gray ones in the mirror. "Uh, I am so not getting this thing."
Ignoring my objections, she turned me around and sent me back to my stall. "Now try on the skirt and tank."
I rolled my eyes but complied. I wanted to go home, but it wasn't worth the argument — I'd just end up doing what she wanted anyway. It was a lot easier to do it, and then either dump these "clothes" in the back of my closet and forget about them or give them to Mom and have her return them. And, if I was honest with myself, I liked — even needed — her bossiness. If it weren't for Lily, I'd spend my life curled up in bed with romance novels and never experience anything.
While I changed, she talked through the door. "So, I've been thinking you need to get out there."
I tripped putting my leg into the skirt and almost fell over. "What?"
"You know, go clubbing with me. Get out there. Meet guys. Act like you're almost sixteen, not twelve."
Wow. Thanks a lot. "Uh, why?"
"Because you're almost sixteen." She sighed. "And I want someone to go clubbing with, Em." Her voice took on a familiar whine. "Your mom goes with mine all the time and they have a blast. Just think of how much fun we could have — dancing, drinking, picking up hot guys ..."
Another stall door closed, and I hoped whoever was in the dressing room with us didn't go to our school. This conversation was embarrassing enough without an audience. The last thing I needed was people at school talking about me. I shuddered.
Lily tapped on the door. "Get that outfit on and get out here. I need to check on something really quick." The purr in her voice told me what she wanted to check on was a guy.
Shaking my head, I shimmied into the skirt then groaned. The skirt was shorter than the dress had been. It wouldn't even cover my rear if I sat down.
But Lily wouldn't care about that. She'd just tell me not to sit, or that looking hot was worth the sacrifice. Sometimes I wondered how we were best friends, but then I'd remember she was my only friend. Every other girl I'd tried to be friends with ended up distancing herself within a few weeks of hanging out, and boys just didn't notice me at all. Well, except for Paul Andinn.
Yeah, that's just because he sits next to you in U.S. History and he has to notice you.
I stepped out of the stall with a sigh, glancing around for Lily. She was over by the entrance to the dressing room area, kissing some tall blond guy. Of course. I watched her for a moment, trying to figure out what the appeal was. What I could see of him was cute enough — board shorts, surfer or swimmer-type body. I'd say he was her type, except she didn't have one. Any guy was fair game to her. She said she was openminded. I wasn't allowed to have an opinion because I'd never even been on a date. Either way, I didn't get her need to kiss any and every boy she ran into. I cleared my throat.
She broke the kiss and turned, smiling. "Hey, Em. Be right there." She turned back to the guy. "Thanks."
I shook my head. She sauntered over to me, and the guy followed, but froze when a girl came out of one of the other stalls. She glanced around, then glared at Lily. Without a word, she grabbed the guy's arm and hauled him out of the room, the guy stumbling as he tried to keep up.
"Lily, what were you thinking?" I gasped.
She waved my question away and eyed my outfit, beaming. "Perfect. Now you need someone to wear it for." She pursed her lips. "What about that Paul guy you're always pining after?"
I sucked in a breath. I could never wear something like this in front of Paul. Could I? Trying to be objective, I watched my reflection in the mirror. The black lace cami flowed to my hips, emphasizing my curves without being too tight. The skirt was snug in contrast, in addition to being short, but because the top was flowy, it wasn't as revealing as I'd thought. I expected to hate it. But I didn't look bad. Actually, it made me feel a little sexy. Maybe ... I shook my head.
"I don't think he's interested, Lily." That wasn't exactly true. He was always watching me. But that could be wishful thinking, too. He'd never actually said anything to make me think he'd want to go out with me. The thought of going on a date with Paul made my heart skip and my stomach churn at the same time.
Lily gave me a Look. "He's totally interested, and so are you. So, ask him out."
"What do you mean, he's totally interested? How do you know?" Then I realized what she'd suggested, and my pulse sped up. "No way. I can't do that."
"You can, and you will." She bumped my shoulder with hers. "You know you want to. I see the way you look at him. And if you don't, I'll have to do it for you." Giving me a knowing smile, she pushed me toward the dressing room again. "You can thank me later."
And that was the end of that. If I didn't ask Paul out, she really would do it for me, which would be utterly mortifying.
I guess I'm asking Paul out tomorrow.
Contrary to the feeling in the pit of my stomach, I watched my lips lift into a smile in the mirror.
* * *
The next day, I moved through school in a daze, able to focus on nothing but asking Paul out. I don't even think I slept. My mind flitted through multiple scenarios, increasing my nervousness. Would he say yes right away, or would he have to think about it? What if he said no?
By the time I got to U.S. History, my mind was throwing the no scenario at me more than the others, and I thought I might throw up. I slid into my seat, thankful for the weird scheduling conflict that caused this class to be held in a lab classroom instead of a standard one. Mr. Petersen liked to assign partner work, so it was a perfect situation for him. Paul had sat next to me on the first day of class, so it was a perfect situation for me, too.
Just then, Paul came into the classroom, smiling when he met my eyes. I tried to keep my hopes in check. I watched him walk toward me, his dark hair wavier than usual, giving him a just-rolled-out-of-bed look. He kept his eyes on mine as he made his way to our table. He wouldn't look at me like that if he just liked me as a friend, would he?
"Hey, Em," he said as he sat next to me and reached down to pull his books out of his backpack.
My mouth went dry. "Hey," I managed, giving him a little smile back. Should I ask him now, or wait until after class?
He leaned closer. "What's new?"
There was my opportunity. "Uh, well, I wanted to ask you something." My pulse raced and I tried to slow my breath to keep from hyperventilating.
"Go for it." He gave me another warm smile.
"Okay, well, I was wondering if maybe sometime you would, um, like to go out with me. On a date." Holy crap, I cannot believe I just said that.
As the words left my mouth, I stared at his face. At first, my heart leapt as his smile broadened. But then something passed through his eyes and he shook himself. When his eyes met mine again, I knew what the answer would be.
"I — I can't, Em. I wish —"
I turned away, embarrassment burning my cheeks. "It's no big deal." I pushed the words over the lump in my throat. Why the hell had I even listened to Lily? What guy would want to go out with me?
Even with my back to him, I felt him reach out to me, and jerked to avoid his touch. Whatever he had to say, I couldn't listen to it. The last thing I needed to hear was the "I like you as a friend" speech, or worse, the "I have a girlfriend at another school" speech. Either way I didn't want to know. I wanted to sink into a hole and disappear.
I felt him reach again, and turned back abruptly. He sat with his arm stretched out, concern on his face.
Deciding avoidance was the best defense, I opened my folder. "So, did you get the homework done?"
He frowned. "Yeah, but, Em —"
"That's good. I, uh, didn't finish the last question." I flipped my book open and leaned over my paper, blocking him out of my sight.
He can totally see that you're lying.
Yeah, well I could totally see that he didn't want to go out with me but did want to talk about it like I was some pathetic loser.
You are a pathetic loser.
Ignoring my inner voice, I focused on tracing over my answer to the last question on the homework. And pretending Paul wasn't sitting next to me, waiting for my attention. He wasn't going to get it.
Finally, the bell rang, and I sighed in relief. Mr. Petersen didn't tolerate any talking in class unless we were working on a project.
"Today, we will review the presidents, and your homework will be a report on your favorite. Two pages, due tomorrow. Then we will start a week-long partner project. You and your seat partner will be assigned a state and will present it to the class next Friday. I will give the assignments and more details tomorrow, and we will have class time to do some research. But I highly encourage you to spend some time at the library with your partner this weekend to get a head start."
Grabbing a piece of chalk, he turned to the board. "Now, can anyone name the first five presidents?"
I tuned Mr. Petersen out, my heart in my throat. There was no way he just assigned a giant partner project. Right after I'd asked Paul out and he turned me down. No. Freaking. Way.
My life sucks.CHAPTER 2
Watching Emmy's reaction to Mr. Petersen's assignment, I wasn't sure whether to be amused or offended. Her cheeks, which had just been bright red with embarrassment, drained of all color, and her mouth dropped open. The idea of working on a big project with me clearly horrified her.
I didn't blame her. I wouldn't want to be in forced proximity with someone who had just rejected me, either.
I tore my gaze from her lips, and for the fourth time that day, I questioned my ability to do this job. Not that I had a choice. It was this or give up everything I believed about myself and become a killer. Lying to someone I liked sort of paled in comparison.
I glanced back at Emmy and sighed. Her eyes were closed and her hands were clenched in her lap. Petersen was forging on with his lecture on the presidents, and I knew Emmy would be pissed at herself for missing some of the notes. Like grades mattered when you weren't human and would be taken care of for the rest of your life — but she didn't know that.
I scooted my chair closer and nudged her shoulder with mine. "Hey, you okay?" I whispered, leaning closer than I needed to. I had to stop doing that.
When our shoulders connected, she jumped, then shrugged. "Fine." She paused for a moment, then lifted her head to meet my gaze. "I just really do not want to do a partner project with you." Her eyes flashed gray for a millisecond, which meant one of two things: either she was getting ready to feed, or she was releasing pheromones.
She took a deep breath, and I had to force my gaze to stay on her face. Yep, she'd unwittingly released pheromones for the first time since I'd known her. And apparently, I wasn't the only one affected by them, because at least three of the guys nearby turned toward her. And they didn't bother to keep their eyes on her face.
Clearing my throat, I focused on her words. "I understand. I hope you don't mind if I feel the opposite."
Her brow furrowed, and I mentally kicked myself for giving mixed signals. It didn't help that I was giving myself mixed signals. I needed to focus on the task at hand. Emmy was my job, not my girl. I was here to make sure she transitioned safely and quietly, and that would certainly involve other guys being interested in her.
Love wasn't for creatures like us. I had already learned that lesson the hard way, and I had to make sure Emmy learned it before she made the same mistake. Whether she liked it or not.
As soon as class was over, I snuck out to my Jeep to call in. One of the worst parts of this job — besides purposely deceiving Emmy — was contacting demonic creatures. I snorted. "Demonic" was the only real way to describe them, but they were nothing like humans' idea of demons. They had nothing to do with any religion or anyone's "God." They just were. I wasn't sure I'd say they were pure evil — my perceptions of good and evil had died along with Caroline — but they were as close to evil as anything I'd seen or heard of. Whatever they were, wherever they came from, I had to report to The Powers at least once a week.
I pulled the bowl and incense from my bag and psyched myself up for handling The Powers' presence. It was always worse in the car because of the cramped space. Plus, my handler, Z, had been rough on me the last couple of reports, and, even though I was calling in with what they would consider good news, Z often lashed out before I had even finished my report.
After setting the bowl up in the passenger seat, I lit the incense and recited the incantation that would invoke Z. They filled the car with an invisible presence, their scrutiny making me feel like an ant under a magnifying glass on a sunny day. Uncomfortable was an understatement.
"Well?" The pressure of Z's voice rumbled through me, and I resisted the urge to squirm. They had once told me they liked that — not in a good way, but more like a cat playing with a mouse.
I cleared my throat. "She is showing signs of coming into her powers, Z — sir." I gulped. I had almost used my nickname for them. The last time I had slipped up like that, Z let me know — painfully — that they didn't like their servants calling them anything but sir or master. "It won't be long now — her mom must teach her soon."
Z made a sound that would have been a snort, if a snort sounded like threatening thunder. "That is why you are here. Melinda has failed before, and you are to make sure she doesn't fail again." They ran an invisible claw down my cheek, enough to sting, but not enough to leave a mark.
"Do not interfere, but make sure Emmy doesn't make the same mistake you made and expose us. We will expect a report of any developments from now until this assignment is complete."
"Yes, sir." Before the last sound left my lips, the weight of Z's presence lifted, and I was finally able to take a deep breath.
I only hoped Emmy's mom, Melinda, would help in that department. She had to tell Emmy what was going on soon. It was clear Emmy knew nothing about what she was, and if the gazes of the guys in class were any indication, her time sliding along under everyone's radar was coming to a halt.
Excerpted from Kiss Me, Kill You by Larissa Hardesty, Jenn Mishler. Copyright © 2017 Larissa Hardesty. Excerpted by permission of Entangled Publishing, LLC.
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