Today’s holiday plays a significant role in the first book of my Hell on Earth series, Avarice. And since the revised edition will be releasing in the not-so-distant future, I thought it was fitting to share this excerpt from the Halloween night that starts it all…
(Mature audiences only • Strong Language)
Dancing with Zoe on the crowded floor was the next step in an important process—one small act of releasing the binds of harsh reality, survival instincts, and social conditioning.
Freedom didn’t happen spontaneously, so she used the liberating tools readily available. Alcohol and music. The hypnotic trance of bodies moving together in a primal dance that was just as sensual as sex, yet far more spiritual. It was comforting having her best friend there. The only person on earth who knew why this one night was crucial for Kami to let go of the façade and embrace her true nature.
It was the eve of her birthday, yet she shouldn’t be alive. There was no medical explanation for it. She’d been born in death; a tragic attempt at murder-suicide that she’d won and her mother had lost. Lucinda Terrell had bled out with no external injuries, hemorrhaging from every orifice.
The words Kill It had been written in blood on the brick wall of the filthy alley by her mother’s hand.
So, when you existed against the odds of meth-infected veins and had clawed your way out of the hateful snatch of a crack-whore that wanted you dead, there was only one way to celebrate your birthday: Recklessly free of all moral trappings. Kami could only hope that somewhere in the delirium, an epiphany might spark to finally explain why in the fuck she was even breathing.
“Whatever happened to being original? I swear, if I see one more Guy Fawkes mask, I’m going to smash it,” Zoe complained as they shoved their way into the Ladies’ Room an hour later.
“It’s a step up from the Z-Nation convention,” Kami replied, experiencing the lightheaded effects of sticky body heat and dancing rather than alcohol.
You knew you were best friends with someone when their face could appear under the wall between stalls, and it didn’t even strike you as odd.
“Alright, babe, listen up. Halftime’s over. It’s time for a motherfucking touchdown.”
“I love these locker room pep talks.” Kami chuckled.
“I’m serious,” Zoe stated after her face disappeared.
“Hey, I’m all in, Coach.” Kami sighed.
No lie, she was edgy. Her longing to feel the last ties of reality snap was nagging in her blood. She needed something catastrophic. More than anything, Kami longed to find that one asshole who’d finally step up to the plate and indulge her masochistic needs without niceties and hollow words.
“First, more drinks,” Zoe declared.
Darby was busy helping other customers when they returned to the bar, but that was probably for the best. Kami was too close to caving and promising to wait for him to clock off because her only other prospects were lame. Zombies versus the devil? No contest.
But then it would be all weird between them afterward, and she didn’t want that. Zapa’s was their favorite hangout, and Darby struck her as the type who’d expect more than just a one-night stand. Kami didn’t intend to give that to anyone. Not tonight, and definitely not tomorrow.
Downing another round of shots, she and Zoe hit the dance floor again. They were halfway through the next song when Zoe elbowed her in the ribs and pointed toward the back of the club.
“Now, that’s what I’m talking about.”
Following her friend’s gaze, Kami spotted a group of men gathering in the roped-off VIP section. They all wore ancient Roman costumes with gold or black masks, except one. His suit and tie were too expensive to be a costume, perfectly tailored to his broad shoulders and hard-packed body. He wore the mask of a blood-red bull, the kind that shrouded the entire head instead of just the face. One of the horns had a broken tip, and the eyes were egg-shaped, painted gold. It was disturbingly alluring.
“I don’t get it,” she confessed.
“They’re from the movie, The Conspiracy. Ever seen it?”
Kami shook her head.
“It’s a faux-documentary surrounding a conspiracy theory about a secret society that was like a cross between Eyes Wide Shut and the Blair Witch Project, only with less shaky camera action, thank God. The bull, though…”
“What?” Kami asked when her words trailed off.
Zoe looked at her. “That was the mask you didn’t want to get. He was to be hunted and sacrificed.”
Kami’s eyes narrowed on the man. He looked more likely to demand tributes than ever be one. “That doesn’t look like a frightened sacrifice to me, Zo.”
“No, it does not,” Zoe purred with female appreciation. “And they all get a gold star in my book for originality.”
“Since they’re already VIP, I don’t think they need it,” Kami pointed out. “Come on. I see a Sith Lord drooling over your alien dreads. Let’s give him a show.”
“I’m totally going to French your face off for knowing what a Sith Lord is,” Zoe beamed.
It only took fifteen seconds for the red-and-black zigzag-painted man to cut in and steal Zoe from her. Happy that at least one of them would be getting some Halloween action, Kami glanced toward the VIPs again. The bull-headed suit was sitting comfortably in an armchair, staring right at her.
Okay, technically it was impossible to know where he was looking, but she couldn’t shake the feeling of being watched. Undoubtedly, wishful thinking on her part. Regardless, Kami started a new dance just for him. She let herself believe that it was real, that she’d captured his attention because he’d certainly captured hers.
Then she got lost in the music, flowing with the bodies grinding all around her. A man’s hands started groping her clumsily, too sloppy and weak to break the spell. The vulgar promises and suggestions he hurled at her rolled right over her without effect. Let him touch. Let him talk. He wasn’t getting inside. There was only one kind of man allowed inside of her on All Hallows’ Eve, and it wasn’t the type to shout his stupidity at the top of his lungs.
“I’m gonna fuck you so hard,” he declared.
Tired of being ignored, he shoved his face into Kami’s while yelling. His hot putrid breath assaulted her. She stumbled when it knocked her off balance, but a pair of firm hands landed on her hips from behind to keep her steady.
Kami was turned around and pulled against a large, solid form donned in exquisite Armani. He crossed an arm over the back of her skirt and palmed her right ass cheek territoriality, the way a lover would. The red bull mask was staring beyond her to the man who’d been invading her personal space, vowing things that were never going to happen. Kami fixated on the place where the mask met his throat, giving her just a glimpse of his chiseled jawline.
“Hey, don’t look at me. She never said she was here with anyone,” Mr. Bad Breath stammered, fearful, angry, and drunk.
He must have left the area because the bull-man finally lowered his head to look at Kami. It was a wicked power, to stare right into someone through an inanimate object while remaining invulnerable to the same treatment.
“A demon in an angel costume? Not very subtle,” a deep, masculine voice remarked from within the mask, both muffled and amplified by it.
“Isn’t that the point?” She arched a brow.
Kami flirted shamelessly because the chemistry was charging between them, and it wasn’t just hopeful thinking this time.
“Wherein lies your irony, bull-man?”
She was curious after what Zoe had told her about the bull mask.
“I represent a conspiracy,” he answered.
He tucked his head beside her ear, and his tone never hinted at anything other than stone-cold fact.
“I am a conspiracy.”
Straightening, he tilted his head and regarded her for another moment. Then, he lightly fingered her halo.
“Were you looking for someone to remove that pesky Grace from your body, angel?”
A delicious shiver worked through her. “Absolutely.”
“Good. We’re heading to a more intimate party. Would you like to invite your friend?”
Searching the crowd, Kami saw that Zoe was still happily occupied with her alien counterpart. “No.”
“Even better,” he said.
It should’ve been a red flag, but the truth was, she agreed with him. Just because Zoe knew everything about her didn’t mean they shared the same thrills. And Zoe’s presence would keep Kami tied to reality, making it impossible to let herself go completely.
Just outside of the VIP entrance, a stretch limo sat idling. A chauffeur in a bright gold Greenman mask waited with the door open. The cold air felt exhilarating to Kami’s skin and lungs, despite the hint of car exhaust.
Before she could climb in behind the Roman entourage and their chosen dates, the bull-man grabbed Kami’s wings and yanked them off of her, handing them to the driver. Her halo went next. Then, he climbed into the car, seating himself close to the door, and held his hand out for her to take.
She could’ve walked away then. The bull-man didn’t seem the type to chase or persuade. Whether or not to join him was ultimately her decision.
What a pisser.
Kami ignored the disappointment over that and put her hand in his. She gasped when he pulled her right down to her knees at his feet. The door slammed shut, resonating like an omen. Her choice had been made, and there was no turning back.
The bull-man cupped her face and pulled it beside his to mercilessly correct her foolish assumption about choices, proving himself to be exactly the kind of ruthless bastard she’d been hoping for.
“I’m almost disappointed you decided to come willingly, angel,” he purred darkly. “Now, I’ll have to devise another way to get my point across.”
It wasn’t fear that shuddered through her body, but a heady rush of arousal that went straight to the apex of her thighs.
Thank fucking God.
“What point would that be?” she asked.
With a quiet laugh, he settled back in his seat and stared down at her. “After tonight, you will never ask that question again.”
©2022 A.C. Melody
Avarice is a Paranormal BDSM Romance that kicks off the Hell on Earth series, which follows the devils and demons associated with the 7 Deadly Sins. It’s currently available as a trilogy of novellas or a boxset in eBook and paperback.
Stay tuned for more details about the release for Avarice‘s newly revised edition!