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Sneak Peek: Not Quite A Devil

Sneak Peek: Not Quite A Devil

Devilishly Sexy Series, Book 1

CHAPTER ONE

Setting: A couple hundred years ago, give or take, in a land that could be construed as rural village in Europe, but maybe not. This is top secret shit, my friends, so identifying details may or may not have been changed. Enjoy. 

* * *

Public service announcement: If this rendition of completely true facts appears to have content, language, or references that are not historically accurate for the time period, then you should probably stop believing history books about what happened when. Just sayin’.

* * *

Iris Bennett stopped in the doorway of the gorgeous, velvet tent, eyeing the chiseled abs of the man standing over the crystal ball and muttering to it in a language she didn’t understand. He was tall, muscular, and wearing only a pair of gold, sparkly pants, gold wrist cuffs, and golden flip-flops. She wasn’t in the market for a man, but if she was, he’d totally be a swipe-righter. 

He looked rather prince-like, in a “hey, I need to show the world how much money I have that I never lifted a finger to earn myself” kind of way. 

He definitely did not look like the ancient, extremely powerful female witch that she’d expected to find in this tiny village she’d spent the last six months trekking through cold, heat, rocky mountains, and very charming valleys to find. Yes, she was well aware that a little bit of magic could switch a female into a male and she was all in for equality no matter what people started out as, but this guy was such pure testosterone that there was no chance he’d started off life as a female.

This towering inferno of muscle was all male. He was sinful temptation. He was a good-morning wake up call to the hormones that she’d packed away long ago. She hadn’t missed her hormones, but now that they were raging through her like a herd of runaway cattle, she was suddenly feeling as if she’d really missed out by crushing them away, because…wow.

He looked up suddenly, his dark gaze landing on her. The moment she felt his gaze, heat shot down her spine, the kind of heat that had no business shooting along the spine of a good girl.

Fortunately, she wasn’t a good girl. Well, back in the day, she hadn’t been, but now? She’d worked hard to crush her soul and leave that creative and fulfilling zest for life long behind. 

Yes, he was totally making the rebellious and daring parts of her want to roar back to life, but she didn’t have time to dabble in such pointless delights. So, instead of throwing herself across the small tent and into his sculpted arms, she stood where she was and cleared her throat. “I don’t mean to bother you, but I’m looking for a witch who I was told lives here. Her name is Lady Valencia.”

His smile stretched. “Your voice is most magnificent. Let’s have sex.”

She blinked as his deep, sensual voice rolled through her like a caress that went all the way to her soul. Holy cow. The man’s voice was a weapon in itself. 

He grinned. “Yes?”

She tried to clear her head. “I’m sorry. I wasn’t listening to your words.” They’d been obscured by her hormones screaming for his mouth on her body. “What did you say?” 

“Copulate? Mate?” His smile turned sultry. “I shall ruin you for all other men, yes? That is special offer, no?”

Sex? Well, maybe that was why her body had come to attention, because…sex with him? Wow. Heat flushed her cheeks, and she couldn’t help but scan his very scantily covered body. 

He was incredibly compelling, in a very lascivious and dangerous way, which was exactly how she liked her men. Well, the men she fantasized about. In real life, she was far too busy and organized to dally with men, even if they did look like him. She forced herself to focus. “Lady Valencia. About two hundred years old. She has trained many witches in her day.” Most specifically, Lady Valencia had trained a witch named Desdemona, whose spell Iris really needed to reverse. “Is she here?”

The man leaned against the table and folded his arms over his chest, revealing biceps that were extremely distracting. “I am here.”

Iris raised her brows at his arrogance. If he weren’t so delicious, she might be annoyed by it, but as it was, she found it kind of hilarious. “Are you?” she teased. “I had no idea. Clearly, I would not be able to take the fact I am seeing you and talking to you and translate that into an awareness that you’re actually here. Who would be able to make that connection?”

His eyebrows went up. “You have sass.”

“I have business.” She set her left hand on her hip, and gripped the strap of her shoulder bag tightly with the other one just as a jumble of rumpled satin caught her eye. She turned sharply, and saw a grayed and wrinkled woman in an emerald-green gown stretched out on her back on the floor. She was staring blankly at the ceiling with glassy eyes and a big smile on her face. “Lady Valencia!”

She rushed over to the witch and knelt down. “Hello?” She tapped her cheek, and then jerked her hand away. Her skin was cold and kind of hard, which didn’t really feel right. “Something’s wrong. We need a doctor.”

“Oh, no doctor. She is well dead. Many hours ago she gave up her soul. No need to worry.”

Chills ran down Iris’s spine, and she looked up at the man. “Did you kill her?” 

He stared at her for a long moment, then said, “Did you want me to?” 

“No!”

“Then no. I did not. Noooo.” He drew out the word slowly, as if testing it. “Yes, definitely. I did not. Lovely, yes?”

Slowly, Iris stood up, gripping her bag more tightly. She couldn’t decide whether to focus on the despair at finding Lady Valencia dead, or the alarm that the man standing in front of her had been very unconvincing in his denial of killing her. Both emotions were demanding large amounts of her focus right now, leaving her struggling to think coherently.

She did know enough, however, not to say something asinine like, “hey, I don’t believe you didn’t kill her, hot golden guy, so I’m going to leave here and tell everyone,” like they always did in the movies (which of course, hadn’t been invented yet, but someday, hot guys with Australian accents carrying a big hammer would be on big screens everywhere). Instead, she wisely said, “Well, I have nothing else to do here now that she’s died innocently of her extremely advanced age, so I’ll just be heading out—”

“No!” The man leapt across the tent, moving so fast he almost seemed to disappear for a split second before he wound up in front of her. “I must have your name.”

Iris didn’t hesitate. “Gertrude Hoyden.” Because there was no way she was dropping her real name to a super-hot guy that might or might not be a murderer. 

He narrowed his eyes, then beamed at her. “You lie! I love that you lie! Not enough people lie to my face. Have sex with me as a reward.”

Again, heat slithered down her spine, which was quite honestly, a little alarming. The man was celebrating the fact she lied, and he was aware enough to realize she’d lied in the first place, despite her skills in that area. Additionally, he might be a murderer, and he was obsessed with her girly parts. The fact that her girly parts actually found that appealing was extremely out of character for her, and, as previously mentioned, alarming. So, she folded her arms across her northernmost girly-parts and scowled at him. “I do not have sex with men. Or women. Or anyone.”

“Ah! A greater challenge indeed! Yes. I accept challenge. Let us commence love-making.” He held out his hand to her, as if he were going to escort her to some luxurious bed chamber. 

His hand was very sexy. His wrist, strong. His forearm? Corded muscle. Her girly parts? Much too interested. 

Fortunately, she had spent her life working hard on being diligent, responsible, and unwaveringly focused on her career, despite the fact that in this particular period in history, women were most certainly not supposed to have careers. The term “career woman” didn’t even exist yet, which made her all the more determined to be one. “I’m too busy.”

“No one is ever too busy. There is unlimited time to which all have access. There is only, ‘I choose not to.'”

She shrugged. “I choose not to.”

He stared at her, his dark eyes flashing. “You intrigue me, woman who claims to be Gertrude Hoyden.” 

He intrigued the heck out of her as well, for some bizarre and self-sabotaging reason. “I have to find another witch to help me, so step aside.”

He didn’t step aside, which honestly, didn’t surprise her. “What help is needed by glorious woman who lies?”

She sighed. “I need a spell broken.”

He clapped his hands with delight. “I am extremely talented at multiple kinds of mayhem and chaos. I may be able to assist. Ask.”

She raised her brows. “You’re magical.” She made sure to inject sufficient disdain, doubt, and disbelief into her voice, because everyone present knew that he was working hard to throw any line possible at her just to get access to her almost-ready-to-betray-her girly parts.

He pulled his shoulders back. “Yes!” 

“Prove it.”

“With great joy!” He flung his hand toward her, and she suddenly flew back, slammed into the side of the tent, and collapsed on the ground.

Ow.

“My precious liar!” he shouted, before she could even recover. “I did not intend that! I shall save you!” He leapt across the tent, landed beside her, scooped her up in his arms, and cradled her against his naked and chiseled chest. “I forget my power,” he said. “I like to crush others, and I forget other talents I have. Forgive me!”

Dear God, the man smelled like heaven. “Put me down.”

He immediately set her down and stepped back. “You wound my very soul by depriving me of contact.”

She had to admit she was kind of astounded that he’d set her down so fast. “Why did you put me down?”

“No mean no.” He held up his hands. “My father was evil bastard of hell and I do my best to live life in every opposite way possible. I have no job. Accomplish nothing. Let my inheritance waste away to nothing. And no is no when it comes to sex.”

Iris blinked. “Your dad sounds like a charming man.”

“He was not. Rape. Pillage. Murder. Steal souls. He had big goals for me to accomplish, and I spit on his hopes and dreams.” He shrugged. “Well, I lie, because some of that is actually fun, and I do it, but I do in ways that would very much disappoint him if he still lived, which he does not, so I am destroying myself for no reason, but that is the way of men, yes? Not that I am mere man, but I play the man game.”

A little part of Iris’s heart tightened for him. She knew what it was like to have a rough childhood. “He was powerful?”

“All the riches that have ever existed at his fingertips. Commanding the life and death of all souls. That kind of thing.”

She blinked. “A king?”

“Of sorts.” He looked at her. “You crave my body now, do you not? Nakedness is calling, no?” His hand went to his waistband. “I show you what I offer—”

“No!” She grabbed his wrist, her belly tightening at the feel of his skin beneath her fingers. “Keep your pants on.”

His eyes darkened, and he leaned forward. “Your fingers are luscious.”

“That’s kind of creepy.”

“Is that good?”

“No.”

“Then I recant. Yes?”

“Stop.” She released his wrist and stepped back. “Listen, I need to go—”

“You are not convinced of my magical feats?” He threw up his arms. “Behold my greatness!” The tent was suddenly filled with glowing golden light, and golden bubbles floated up from the ground, filling the air. 

Iris gasped and stepped back, holding out her hands as the bubbles drifted past, brushing over her skin. “Holy crap.”

“Yes, yes, yes! Heaven’s excrement indeed! And behold!” He pointed at Lady Valencia, who suddenly rose from the floor like she was a puppet.

Iris stepped back, because watching a dead woman float toward her was not nearly as delightful as she might have anticipated. “What are you doing—”

Lady Valencia suddenly turned gold. Not just gold-tinted, but actually pure, solid gold. Iris was pretty sure about the solid part because Lady Valencia suddenly fell to the floor with a loud clunk and bounced several feet before rolling to a solid-gold-statue-stop. 

She stared at the witch’s face, her features carved into the shiny metal. “You turned her to stone?”

“I turned her to gold. Marvelous, yes?” He looked delighted. “Now, I help you. What minuscule human problem may I solve for you so you decide I am so wonderful you must allow me to bring you great heights of multiple orgasm?”

She looked back at him, alarm creeping down her spine, alarm which she was now considering completely legit. “What are you?”

“I am—” He paused just long enough that she knew he was going to lie…and she realized that would probably be good.

He was too dangerous. She didn’t want to know who he really was.

And yet…

At the same time…

She really, really did.  Because he was that compelling. And hot. And did she mention dangerous? She was pretty sure she had.

Not that it mattered.

He already had a grip on her, and she could tell from the gleam in his eye that he knew it. 

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