Poor little rich girl and reluctant witch Haley has escaped the ruling Lord of Hell and brutal months of torture, living a quiet life in her family’s California mansion. Damian has renounced the throne of Hell and works with the US government to fight supernatural evil beings. Both move within the human world, shielding their difficult pasts. But when their paths cross, sparks literally fly, and while attracted to each other, a troublesome awareness is brought to the front. Is the key to their individual salvation through each other or will their secrets destroy their chances? Author Hill has constructed a traditional tale of redemption within a contemporary setting. The writing is crisp and clear and moves with resonate energy. Snappy dialogue brings realism to the characters, as well as swiftness to the narrative. Whatever the outcome of Haley’s and Damian’s fate, Hill promises a compelling and exciting read. Paramour for the Devil is the first in a planned series.
Haley Hawthorne rested her forehead on the steering wheel of her white Porsche SUV, suppressing a strong wave of nausea as she waited for the iron gate in front of her to slowly open. She was at the entrance to Hawthorne Hills, a sprawling mansion her family had built generations before. After living there by herself for almost five years, it was the first time she'd ever come home hungover, and she prayed it was the last, miserably sliding a hand into her tangled mess of thick red hair. Though it was barely past 9:00 AM, the blazing southern California sun was beaming through the windshield, and she closed her tired eyes behind heavy brown sunglasses.
"We made it," her cousin, Ginger, mumbled, still half-asleep in the back seat. Visiting from Seattle for the summer, along with their other best friend, Aimee, they had successfully convinced the reclusive Haley to go out with them the night before and ended up crashing on couches at Hawthorne Tower, the office building where Haley worked as an accountant. After a night of drinking at the bar next door, too intoxicated to drive home, they stumbled into the deserted offices at two in the morning, catching glares from the broodingly serious security guards, and slipped out just after 7:00 AM, practically still drunk, to avoid having to face the rush of employees that would soon be filtering in for work.
Ginger worked at sorting her knotted blond hair for a moment before giving up and collapsing against the leather seat. "I'm never drinking again."
Haley's mouth curved into a small smile at the familiar remark as she drove up the lengthy stretch of pavement leading toward the front of the house. Easing around the massive stone fountain in the driveway, she was surprised to find a shiny 1970's Chevelle Super Sport parked in her usual space.
"Somebody's here." Her voice came out scratchy, and she cleared her throat, pulling in next to the classic car. Its glossy paint gleamed in the sunlight, a deep midnight blue with a white racing stripe painted down the center.
Rousing from her slumber in the passenger seat, Aimee glanced at the Chevelle. "Oh that's just creepy Damian's car." She waved a hand dismissively. "I guess this means the monster hunters are here."
Feeling sluggish and achy, Haley opened her door, trying not to think about how many shots she'd downed the night before. After spending two hours inching along in bumper to bumper morning traffic, fighting the urge to vomit in her own lap, she was overwhelmingly grateful to be home, and slid warily out of the driver's seat to stand on shaky legs.
"You think Damian is creepy." Ginger laboriously pulled the strap of her oversized tote over her shoulder. "I think he's nice."
Haley admired the sleek Chevelle. She peered into the windows to find clean black leather seats and a chrome shifter.
"He's the son of Satan for God's sake, of course he gives me the jeebies." Aimee scrunched her face. "Plus he's got all those scars and tattoos…and way too quiet." She shook her head, exhaustedly pushing her jet-black bangs away from her enormous blue eyes.
"He's a good soldier, though." Ginger yawned as the three girls limped their way toward the entryway. "Fighting with the good guys now and all."
Haley recalled hearing that Damian, son to the reigning lord of Hell, Satan, had renounced his demonic family several years earlier and joined the Adversus Order, a private government agency dedicated to investigating and killing evil supernatural beings. He worked alongside her brothers, Adam and Stephen Hawthorne, who'd joined in junior high, just after their parents were killed randomly by a herd of bloodlings, vicious creatures with a ravenous hunger for human organs. The Order had been investigating the case when Victor Harris, the director of the Adversus organization, discovered the members of the Hawthorne family were each gifted with unique powers that could serve useful for hunting supernatural prey and decided to recruit the young boys for training.
When they reached the door, Ginger dropped her heavy bag to the ground. "I wonder if Noah's here." She pulled her fingers through tousled bangs.
Aimee slumped against the doorframe. "Isn't he your boyfriend? Aren't you supposed to know where he is."
Haley concentrated on getting her key into the lock and shoved through the door, happy to be inside her comfort zone again.
"We haven't put a label on things." Ginger waved away the questions. "I don't keep tabs on him."
"I am not mature enough to adopt that mindset. If he's in the shower? Safe to assume I'm going through his phone." Aimee meandered through the foyer. "I know it's super early, but I'm ordering pizza."
The thought of food was physically repulsive to Haley, her stomach still sorely sensitive, and she started toward her bedroom, lazily ascending the wide marble staircase.
Feeling as if the world was moving in slow motion, she tossed her clothes on the floor and walked into the bathroom, then turned on the shower. The soothing hot water enveloped her aching body, easing the soreness in her muscles, and she stepped out feeling slightly more refreshed, though still not operating at full capacity. Wrapped in a thick towel, she went into her sizable walk in closet.
After rummaging through a few drawers, she selected a pair of cutoff jean shorts and pulled them on, letting the towel drop to the floor. Catching a glimpse of her reflection in the full length mirror, she noticed her hips had gotten a bit wider and scolded herself for not using the treadmill more often. However, in surveying her breasts, she found they were fuller than usual, a perk of her recent overindulgence in cheeseburgers.
Out of habit, her gaze dropped to the spot her hand was instinctively covering, and she slid her palm away to reveal the scarred skin beneath. The letter R was displayed in five inches of scar tissue along the right side of her stomach, seared with an enchanted hot iron, ensuring that no spell or potion could ever erase it. She always felt a strange sickness whenever her fingertips touched the bumpy skin where she'd been branded.
It had been five years since she'd escaped from Raden, one of Satan's many brothers. He had held her captive in Hell for three months, using her as his personal slave, and she'd never quite been the same since the experience. Standing frozen in front of the mirror, thoughts of Raden drifted through her head, she could once again feel the cold steel of chains binding her wrists to his bedposts while he swung his slicing whip. Briskly setting dark thoughts aside, she grabbed a lacy white tank top and wrenched it over her head, then reached for a hairbrush.
Her focus shifted to her long, wavy locks. The sun had lightened the color of her hair since she'd spent most of her summer by the pool with Ginger and Aimee. It had always been a deep red, cinnamon color, but there were lighter, almost blond strands streaming through it.
Still nauseous and slightly shaky, she left her bedroom, listlessly walking barefoot through the monumental halls to the cozy living room, softly lit by morning sunlight peeking through closed blinds. Wandering in, she spotted her brother, Adam, sitting at a table with another Adversus soldier, Noah, intently studying heavy books from the library down the hall. Ginger was sprawled along one end of the cream U-shaped couch, and a man with a muscular build and shortly buzzed dark hair sat on the opposite end, hunched over a laptop at the coffee table.
"What do you know about mortem rats." Adam barely glanced up as she walked past. His shaggy brown hair hung loosely around his face as he flipped a crisp, yellowed page.
She stopped to look over his shoulder at a picture of a large rat-like creature with bared fangs and mangy fur. Packs of them lived in the cellars of Raden's mansion in Hell, and she had witnessed them firsthand, having been kept in the dungeons for days at a time after numerous attempts to escape.
"They eat each other." Lost in her memories for a moment, Haley shrugged off the slight chill that ran down her arms. "Mostly they're like rats, but a lot bigger, and their skin is special, used in a lot of mortality spells."
"Mm." Adam nodded without looking up, and she continued toward the curved couch, working to ignore the pain in her stomach. "Oh, and," he added with a mumble, "in case you haven't met… Damian, this is my little sister, Haley."
Dark facial hair shadowed his jaw, and he was wearing jeans and a collared shirt with the sleeves rolled to his elbows, revealing tattoos of black symbols on his forearms. The striking green color of his eyes surprised her, cloaked in thick, dark lashes and studying her with interest.
"Hi." He smiled, stretching his hand toward her.
Blinded by the dull, pounding ache in her head, Haley managed to politely return his smile and absently reached out to take his hand. At the contact, an instant rush of adrenaline struck her as a vision flooded her thoughts, flashing in her mind for a brief second.
Raden, sitting at a thick, round metal table with a few other men as a grotesque demon who held a jerking grip on the magical collar around her neck dragged her, stark naked, into Raden's chambers. When Raden was informed she'd tried to escape yet again, he proceeded to punish her by bending her over his table. Her bare breasts pressed against the cold metal while he whipped her with his belt, allowing his guests to watch her humiliation from their seats surrounding her. Newly familiar tattooed forearms rested near her face, and she glimpsed Damian, a guest at his uncle Raden's table, glancing down at her with darkened green eyes before quickly looking away.
Haley abruptly let go of his hand, lowering her gaze to the floor, clumsily turning toward the wall of DVDs behind her. Her nipples had hardened painfully at the memory of being cruelly bent across the shockingly frigid table, and her cheeks flushed hot, mortified by the realization that this man had witnessed her utter debasement, even caught eyes with her for a split second during her torture. Don't think about it. It was so long ago, there's no way he recognizes you.
She'd gotten exceptionally good at burying the memories of her months in captivity and resolved to ignore the vision, pushing it out of her mind completely, focusing instead on the movie titles in front of her.
"What movie did you pick?" Ginger buried her face in the couch.
"Kill Bill" Haley used what she hoped was a normal tone. Her breathing had calmed somewhat, but her pulse was still reeling.
"Let's do volume two." Haley clicked open a plastic case and slid the disc into the player.
"Yeah, but I like O-Ren Ishii." Ginger stretched out on the vast piece of furniture.
"We'll watch volume one after we finish two." Aimee squinted at the computer screen. "What kind of pizza do you want, Haley?"
Haley shook her head at the mention of food, carefully stepping around the sharp corner of the coffee table, and sank down to sit in the cushiony spot between Aimee and Ginger. She closed her heavy eyelids, relief running through her limbs at the chance to finally rest, and tried not to think about the demonic being lurking in silence a few feet away.