If you ask Killian O'Brien, Hell gets a bad rap. True, he's a demon, so he's bound to be a little biased. But he's got great job security, all the women he can handle, a body to die for--literally--and free reign to do as he likes. Or he did, until teenager Daisy Reed and her two friends got hold of a book of spells and summoned him to do their bidding. Their demand: find Daisy's older sister, Poppy, a boyfriend. Can't be that difficult, right? It's not like the woman is unattractive. Truth be told, Poppy is irresistible--and mind-blowingly sexy. Which is exactly why finishing this simple little assignment so he can be sent back where he came from is turning out to be the hardest thing Killian's ever done. . .
Praise for the novels of Kathy Love
". . .a compelling concoction of dread, desire, and delight."
--Erin McCarthy on What a Demon Wants
"Fangs for the Memories will make you laugh until milk comes out of your nose. No, really."
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Truth or Demon
By KATHY LOVE
BRAVA BOOKSCopyright © 2011 Kathy Love
All right reserved.
Chapter OneKillian knew his screams.
As a demon from the First Circle of Hell, he'd heard plenty of them. Screams of terror. Screams of agony. Even screams of ecstasy.
But he'd never heard screams like this. Really, it was more like squealing. High pitched, nearly deafening, like a sound that should only register in a dog's hearing range. But unfortunately, he could hear the piercing sounds, and he could hear they were tinged with something. Some emotion. Almost ... delighted horror.
He blinked again, disoriented. He had just walked into the darkness of his dwelling. Tired from a day of hard work. Escorting damned souls to their appropriate places in Hell wasn't easy. Just the pleading alone got to him, never mind the ones who thought they were going to make a break for it. Where did these pitiful souls think they were going anyway? There wasn't any escape. They were in Hell—that was tighter lockdown than Alcatraz times five.
Anyway, he'd been beat.
He'd just gotten home, had poured himself a drink and was heading to sit down and relax, when bang! There'd been a blinding flash and a dizzying whirl and now he was ...
He blinked again, his eyes finally coming into focus, and he realized he was in a living room. A living room that wasn't his, and he was surrounded by ... young girls.
He frowned. Was this some trick? Demons did have warped senses of humor.
"Who the hell are you?" he demanded.
His question was answered by more squeals and a hailstorm of flying popcorn and ... red candies shaped like fish?
"He's real," one of the girls cried.
Well, yeah, he was real.
"It worked," another said. She didn't look as frightened as the other two. In fact, her dark eyes flashed with excitement, and a bemused smile curved her lips, revealing a row of silver braces.
"This isn't good," the third girl said. She was armed with more popcorn, ready to attack if he made any abrupt moves.
"Who are you?" he asked, then winced as more popcorn hit him in the face. Apparently she considered talking as attack worthy as a sudden movement.
"Who are you?" It was the one with no fear in her eyes who asked. She actually stepped forward.
He noted, out the corner of his eye, the others had renewed their ammunition. Pretty brave, he had to admit. Or foolhardy.
"I'm Killian O'—"
But Killian didn't get to finish his sentence, or find out what the hell was going on. For the second time that day, a blinding flash blocked out his vision. But this time it was accompanied by a sharp pain to the back of his head. Then everything went black.
Poppy stared down at the crumpled body of the man now unconscious on her mother's Persian carpet. There was another thud, and she realized she'd dropped the silver candlestick holder she'd been gripping. Another heirloom from her parents.
"Are you—" She had to pause, struggling for air. Fear stole her breath. Oh, my God, who was this man and what had he intended to do to the girls? Awful thoughts raced through her head like a vivid horror-movie trailer.
"Are you okay?" she finally managed.
The girls all nodded in unison, their gazes on the prone body in front of them.
Poppy gathered herself further to step around the downed man and usher the girls away from him. She considered taking them to the kitchen, where she could call the police, but then changed her mind. Better to leave the apartment altogether.
"Hurry," she whispered, herding them ahead of her, glancing back at the man to make sure he was still down.
They'd reached the door when the girls seemed to snap out of their daze and start talking all at once.
"We can't just leave him," her sister, Daisy, said.
"He could be dead," Madison said, looking as distressed as Daisy.
"You can't kill a demon, can you?" Emma asked, cocking her head to the side as if considering her question. Then she shot the other two girls a pained look as if she realized she'd just said something stupid.
"Demon?" Poppy asked, shaking her head, positive the girls were in shock after all. "What are you talking about? Demon? He's just a man. A strange man who broke into our apartment. So let's get out of here."
She tugged on the doorknob. The door was locked. She went still. The dead bolt was locked too.
How did the guy get in here? They lived on the fourth floor, and the only other way inside was the fire escape, which was outside her bedroom window. He hadn't come in that way—she would have heard the warped old window scraping open. So how ...?
"Did you let him in?" she asked as she turned to face her little sister and her friends.
Daisy made a face not unlike Emma's just moments earlier.
"Kinda," Poppy repeated. "How do you kinda let someone into our apartment?"
"Well—" Daisy started slowly.
"I let him in," Madison said quickly.
"What? Why?" Poppy asked, but the girl's answer was interrupted by a groan from behind them.
All heads turned toward the sound.
The man shifted, then fell silent again.
"I've got to call the police," Poppy said. She wanted answers from these girls, but right now that was the best course of action.
"No," Daisy said, then to Poppy's surprise walked back to the man. "You can't do that."
Poppy watched in amazement as Madison joined Daisy. Only Emma lingered with Poppy.
"Okay, explain why a stranger is in my apartment," Poppy said. "Now."
All the girls answered at once.
"He's not a stranger."
"We all let him in."
"Don't call the cops."
"And what if he's really hurt?"
"Demon? I didn't say demon."
Poppy raised a hand, overwhelmed by the rush of remarks. She joined them and they stood in a circle, all staring at him.
"One at a time," she said slowly. "Who is he?"
There was a slight pause, then Daisy said, "He's Madison's cousin."
Madison's head snapped in Daisy's direction and something passed wordlessly between them.
Then Madison looked at Poppy and nodded, her gray-blue eyes wide. "Yeah, he's my cousin."
"Really?" Poppy knew something here didn't add up. But why would they let this guy in otherwise? Daisy and her friends had never been the type of kids to do dangerous or stupid things. Well Madison ... maybe. But overall, even she was a good, sensible kid.
Poppy glanced at Emma, who stared down at the man like he was in fact a ... what had she called him? A demon?
"He texted me," Madison said slowly, but then picked up speed as she talked, "to let me know he was here and to get the keys to my place. You know, because Mom's at work."
Madison's mother was divorced and a nurse. Poppy knew she was working night shifts this weekend, part of why Madison was spending the night with them. But it seemed strange Madison's mother hadn't mentioned a family member coming into town.
Poppy glanced from girl to girl. Daisy nodded in agreement with Madison's story. Madison nodded too. And Emma looked from the man to Poppy, then back to the floor. She toed a candy gummy fish with her fluffy, rainbow-colored slipper.
The man groaned again and this time flipped over onto his back. Emma squealed, and all the girls jumped back. Including Poppy.
But after the initial movement, he fell motionless again, his eyes closed, his arms flung back above his head.
Poppy stepped closer, for the first time really seeing the man. He was quite amazingly handsome, even lying unconscious amid popcorn and candy. His hair was shaggy, with a slight unruly curl to the tips. In the lamplight, it shone somewhere between dark blond and chestnut. His lashes were several shades darker against his pronounced cheekbones. And his mouth was perfectly sculpted, with the upper lip bowed slightly and the lower one just a little fuller.
She managed to tear her gaze away from his face to survey the rest of him.
For the police, she told herself. Although why she'd have to identify a man who was out cold on her floor didn't make sense. But that was her excuse, and she was sticking to it.
His tall body was covered in dark clothing. Strange-looking clothes. Almost old fashioned in their cut. Poppy was reminded of movies like Sense and Sensibility and Pride and Prejudice. And though he wasn't wearing a velvet waistcoat or pleated breeches, she just got the impression of that era. It was a costume of some sort.
Poppy found herself kneeling down to inspect him closer. "Where is he from?"
The girls were silent, and she turned to look up at them. Again Daisy and Madison exchanged looks. Emma continued to poke at the candy with her toe.
"Sweden. He's from Sweden," Emma suddenly said, beaming at her friends. Neither girl smiled back. In fact, Daisy looked confused, and Madison frowned, the gesture laced with something akin to disgust.
Emma's smile faded.
"Yeah," Madison said after a moment. "He's from Sweden."
Nothing in the girls' agreement made Poppy believe any of them. But again, why would they lie?
"Where—where am I?" a husky voice said from beside her.
Poppy started, whipping back from the man, nearly losing her balance in the process. And making eye contact with him didn't help her equilibrium. If she'd been aware of his good looks while he was out cold, she couldn't begin to fathom how handsome he was now that his eyes were open.
Amazing eyes. Heavy lidded. Liquid gold like firelight flickering through a glass of whiskey. Intelligent eyes, despite their languor. Despite the current confusion there.
"You're in my house," she finally managed to tell him.
"Who are you?"
"Poppy Reed. The sister of your cousin's friend."
Poppy pointed to Madison. "Your cousin, Madison Cobb."
Madison waved at him, offering an awkward smile.
Awkward, Poppy was sure because of the current situation he was in. Lying on a stranger's floor, wincing at the knot on his head.
As if to validate her thoughts, Madison's cousin gingerly touched a hand to the back of his head. He glanced at his fingers and, thank God, there was no blood.
"What happened?" He moaned slightly as he struggled to sit up.
Poppy looped an arm around his back to help him. He stiffened slightly as if he was surprised she was touching him. She was surprised too—he was still a stranger in her home.
She braced under his weight, and with the help of Daisy on the other side, they got the man on his feet and to the sofa.
"What happened?" he repeated, again touching his head.
"I'm sorry," Poppy said. "I—umm, I hit you on the head."
"With what? A battering ram?"
"No, a candlestick holder. And to be fair, I thought you were an intruder."
He nodded, seeming to ponder that.
"I don't think I'm an intruder," he finally decided. "I was—asked here."
"Yes. By Madison." Again she gestured to the girl.
Madison smiled at him, but Poppy noticed the gesture looked wan at best. God, the poor girl was probably terrified that her cousin was badly injured. And he might be. Suddenly, Poppy felt terrible that they'd just left him lying on the floor. Unconscious, no less.
Although she had been a little consumed with finding out why he was here in the first place.
"Maybe we should take you to the doctor," Poppy said.
"No!" both Daisy and Madison cried.
Poppy frowned. "Why not? I think it's better to be safe than sorry."
"My mom will look at him. She'll be home soon," Madison said. "And she'll be mad at me, because—because I was supposed to leave a key to our apartment in our mailbox. And I forgot. That's why he texted. You know, then came here."
"And we let him in," Emma added.
"I got that," Poppy said, frowning. Why were they all acting so strange?
"So I'll just bring him to my apartment now." Madison stepped forward.
"Maybe he should stay here until your mother's home." Poppy wasn't going to let him leave. Especially with the girls. She still didn't know for sure who he was, and now he was injured. The whole situation was pretty strange. Definitely a first for her.
Madison straightened and looked at Daisy.
"I think we should go see if your mother is home. And get him that key," Daisy said.
"Good idea," Madison instantly agreed. Emma nodded too.
Poppy watched them closely for a moment. Something wasn't right here. Then she noticed the man rubbing his wounded head again. But they were asking to go see Madison's mom. So he must really be their relative.
"Okay," Poppy agreed. "But leave ..." She realized she didn't even know this man's name. "Just come right back."
She watched the girls go. Normally, she wasn't too nervous about the girls running back and forth between their apartments, even this late at night. But, well, she was shaken tonight.
Once they disappeared, she turned her attention back to her strange houseguest. The cousin.
"Maybe we should put some ice on that bump."
He shook his head. "It's fine. Just sore."
Poppy nodded, clasping her hands in her lap, feeling uncomfortable about what had happened and unsure of what to do now.
"So, Madison didn't tell me your name," she finally said, when it became clear he wasn't going to say anything.
He frowned, as if thinking, then said, "Killian. Killian O'Brien."
"Poppy Reed. But I guess I told you that."
He nodded, then winced.
She sighed, shifting slightly on the other end of the couch. She hoped Ginger Cobb was home. She could look at this guy's head and take care of it. And he'd be out of Poppy's house. She hoped he wouldn't be too irritated at her.
"So Killian O'Brien," she finally said after several awkward moments. "That doesn't sound Swedish."
Chapter Two"Sweden?" Daisy said to Emma as soon as they were in the hallway with the door firmly closed. "Couldn't you have picked someplace like Worcester? Or someplace in Connecticut even? Why Sweden?"
"I'm sorry. I was just looking at all those Swedish fish on the floor, and it popped out."
"It doesn't matter where he's from," Madison said in her usual dry way. "It matters what the heck we're going to do with him."
Madison stopped outside her apartment. It had a cream painted door with ornate molding to make it look like the fancy front entrance of a colonial mansion rather than just a door in a six-story apartment building. She slipped off her key, which she kept on a black cord around her neck. When they stepped inside, the place was dark and silent.
"She's not home yet," Madison said, flipping on a light. They all herded into the little eat-in kitchen and slid onto the café-style stools around a small round table.
Daisy looked at each of her friends, for the first time really letting what had happened sink in.
"We have a freakin' demon in our control," she cried, setting all her giddiness free. She grinned. Craziness.
Madison smiled, but not with the same glee. Madison was too cool for that kind of emotional abandon. Well, except for when Connor Martin asked her to go to the movies, but he was a senior and by far the best looking guy at Cambridge High. Definitely worth a little giddiness.
Although, personally, Daisy thought this was even more amazing than Connor Martin.
"A demon," Daisy repeated.
"I don't know," Emma said. She winced, worry clouding her bright blue eyes. "Demons are bad, aren't they? How do we know we can really control him?"
"The book says so," Daisy reminded them.
"But the book is fiction," Emma said.
"Obviously not," Madison said. "The spell worked."
Both Daisy and Emma nodded.
"But we still do need to figure out what to do with him," Madison said. "My mom does work a lot, but I can't get away with him staying here."
"No," Daisy agreed.
Madison's mother was often at the hospital, taking extra shifts because she was the sole support of Madison. But the woman was too savvy for them to sneak a rather ... noticeable man into her apartment.
Heck, Madison hadn't even gotten away with the Connor Martin thing. Her mother figured that one out fast and vetoed the date. Because he was a senior and the cutest boy at Cambridge High.
"Well, Poppy won't let him stay with us," Daisy said. "As it is, we're lucky he isn't in a coma or on his way to prison as we speak."
Poppy was a great sister. And she'd been wonderful after the deaths of their parents, taking on the role of both mom and dad, but sometimes Daisy wished she wasn't quite so uptight. Couldn't she just go with a strange man/demon staying with them? Geesh.
"Well, I would have clocked him too," Madison said confidently.
Daisy seemed to recall that Madison had screamed right along with her and Emma. Sometimes she was all talk—most of the time, actually.
Excerpted from Truth or Demon by KATHY LOVE Copyright © 2011 by Kathy Love. Excerpted by permission of BRAVA BOOKS. All rights reserved. No part of this excerpt may be reproduced or reprinted without permission in writing from the publisher.
Excerpts are provided by Dial-A-Book Inc. solely for the personal use of visitors to this web site.
Most Helpful Customer Reviews
Arrogant First Circle demon of Hell Killian O'Brien is knocked out; when he regains consciousness he is surrounded by one pint sized woman Poppy Reed and three teenage girls (Poppy's sister Daisy and her best friends Emma and Madison). The teens tell Poppy he is Madison's cousin from Sweden. Poppy apologizes for hitting him over the head. The devilish trio explains to Killian they control him until he finds Poppy's soulmate. Killian thinks his dilemma is worse of a hell than that of his boss. The teens tell Poppy he is a paranormal investigator from Sweden seeking reputed spots in the Boston area. Poppy agrees to escort Killian around town. Poppy explains to Killian that her life changed when their parents died as she went from big sister graduating college to mother. Killian tries to use his mental charm on her but it fails; just like it did with the teens. He is attracted to his cute elfin escort. At the apartment he stays in, Veper the demon warns Killian that Satan is unhappy with him. Immediately afterward the teens warn Killian that Poppy is not to fall in love with him, but he wonders what about him falling in love with Poppy. The lead couple is a fascinating pairing of a demon and a woman who gave up her life to raise her sister. The three teens come across as real caring individuals whose antics add humor while enhancing the fun frolic. Although the anticipated confrontations never reach hellish levels, urban romantic fantasy fans will enjoy this pleasant lighthearted diversion. Harriet Klausner
I really enjoyed the beginning of the book when it looked as if the leading characters were going to have a rocky relationship, but it was smoothed over quickly. It was another one of those books where the characters go from not knowing each other to madly in love with very little buildup. There were some questions left unanswered, but overall the book wasn't too bad. Not as good as her earlier works, but still a decent read.
I found this book at the local bookstore not too long ago and was immediately smitten with the cover. Not too shabby, right? Truth or Demon is a light-hearted read about a sexy demon that falls in love with an average girl. Killian is beautiful, confident, and eager to get back to his lair. First, however, Killian must find Poppy a soul mate. This task seems like a piece of cake at first, but as Killian gets to know Poppy, he finds he doesn't want to let her go. Although I really enjoyed Killian's character, I did have some issues with Poppy. For one thing, I found her to be way too nice... Anything Killian wants, she pretty much does, no questions asked. I also did not like her agreeing to be Killian's "friend with benefits." Having casual sex with a guy your clearly head over heals for is a big "No-No." DUHH!! The first hundred pages of Truth or Demon is a bit slow.With that said, I found myself skipping ahead to the romance scenes, which, by the way, were HAWT! Kudos to Kathy Love for the Bedroom action! The second half of the book picks up in pace, although there are no big surprises, plot twists, etc, so the fairytale ending is pretty much predictable. My favorite scene involves a drunk Poppy getting indecent in an elevator. Yes, very embarrassing! Props to Killian though for waking up early to remedy Poppy's hangover blues. Very sweet! Anywho, Truth and Demon is a good read. Not great, but definitely enjoyable. I recommend this book to anyone looking for a light-hearted romance with a fairy tale ending. Overall Rating: 2.25 out of 5
Poppy's young sister Daisy, and her best friends, Emma and Madison, find a spell in a fiction book to summon and demand a wish from a demon. They wished a demon who could find a boyfriend for Poppy, who has dedicated her life to raise Daisy, and who deserves happiness. Well, their wish is granted, they got their demon, straight from The First Circle of Hell. Killian, who happens to be the nicest demon I ever read about. He is handsome, kind, understanding, charming and a true gentleman. What follows is a nice romance between Poppy and Killian. Who is forbidden to become the needed boyfriend, he has to find someone perfect for Poppy. Of course, during his matchmaking adventure he falls for Poppy. If you have been reading heavy emotional books and you need a laughter, this is the book which would come to the rescue. I enjoy it very much. During the first chapters I have to stop a few times to laugh. However, this is not a paranormal. I mean, the hero might be a demon and there are a few extrasensory elements in it, but don't expect your usual paranormal. Is a romantic comedy with young adult and woman's fiction elements. The sex scenes might be too erotic for young adults, but are not as explicit as in erotic romance. Anyway, I love the book, I wish it would have had a more complex plot line, but maybe wouldn't have been as funny. It's the kind of book I would give away to friends or even read twice. I don't re-read many books, but this one is a keeper.
I won't go over the story synopsis, as that has already been done, but I would definately recommend this book. However, if you are new to Kathy Love, I would recommend starting with 'Fangs for the Memories'. While this is not a sequel to any of her other books, I didn't think it was as good as her prior books. Lots of unanswered questions. I kept wondering through the book how Killian became a demon, and how can someone who works in hell have a conscience, let alone the ability to love? I think if she had woven that into the story line, it would have been better. That said, Killian is hot (of course!) and I would give it a scorcher rating!