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Night Mischief

Night Mischief
Mouse over the cover to see
the hero, Galen McManus

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Night Mischief
Silhouette Nocturne #25
(Dark Enchantments mini-series, book 3)
ISBN-10: 0373617720
ISBN-13: 978-0373617722
October 2007

Rita Award & Daphne du Maurier Award Nominee


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Can a mortal fall in love with a demon…
Can a demon ever return that love…
Or are both damned to live out eternity…alone?

Daughter to the Earl of St. Yve, the beautiful Lady Dawn Maybank takes her responsibilities to the Cadre, the secret hermetic order of demon hunters her father heads, very seriously. But she is haunted by a fatal flaw she is desperate to hide from the world. One day a thoughtlessly spoken spell conjures Dawn’s worst nightmare…

Galen McManus is a demon of vengeance masquerading as an incubus. Handsome as the devil, he has a sinful body which he isn’t above using to weave his spell of cosmic justice. Those mortals he targets for ruin never suspect his purpose until it is far too late. Galen doesn’t believe in good or evil, in truth or lies, or in passions of any kind—other than for his job. He is all about balance.

But this demon is as cunning as he is wicked. To his newest victim Galen proposes a trade: the Demon Stone, a long-lost diamond for which her father has been searching his whole life, in exchange for Lady Dawn spending five nights in his bed. Of course, all this is just a ruse to hide his real objective: to teach Dawn the true meaning of vengeance in a lesson she’ll never forget.

But this time, Galen’s plans go awry and the sinister net the arrogant demon weaves traps his most unsuspecting victim yet…himself. And with the most unlikely of reasons – for love.


Read an Excerpt
From Chapter One


London
October, present day

Professor Dawn Maybank peered into the dense fog and drew her raincoat tighter around her shoulders. Pressing the button to lock her Jaguar, she shivered. She shouldn’t have parked on the street. She knew better. Anything could be out there, peering back at her. It would be her downfall someday, her impetuousness, her reckless disregard for her own safety.

In the tomblike silence of the twilit morning, Dawn’s high heels clicked unnaturally loudly on the uneven cobblestones, echoing off the ancient walls that canted Old Trolly Road where the Department of Anachronistic Research, of which she was department chair, was located half a block away.

The thick pea soup fog crept slowly around her body like a moving shroud of unease. She could see sod all. Even her hearing was muffled, the cries of the gulls from the Thames sounding more like whispers in the distance. Gripping her briefcase tightly in her fingers, she quickened her pace.

And suddenly he was there. A man. Looming in front of her.

Swallowing a scream, she clattered to a halt just inches from him. His body towered over her. Their eyes met and for a moment they just stared at each other, her heart beating so quickly she thought it would burst from her chest. He was hugely tall, his broad shoulders made even broader by a menacingly black, ankle-length mack that swirled about his long legs. His hair was black. His eyes were black. Was his heart, as well? She didn’t want to stay and find out.

Instinctively one hand slid into the pocket of her suit, reaching for the emergency countermeasures she always kept there. Dead Sea salt for demons, a tiny but powerful UV flashlight for vampires which had a built-in high-frequency tone emitter to ward off werewolves and other were-creatures. Before she could decide which to choose, his fingers were suddenly wrapped around her arm. She hadn’t seen him move. One moment she’d been free to run, the next, captured.

For a split second she weighed the possibilities. Vamp? No, it was after sunrise, and very few vampires were able to venture out in the light. Demon? Maybe. Faerie? She didn’t feel an aura of glamour or magic. Were? Maybe. Human serial Killer? Good lord, she hoped not.

Never show your fear.

“Let me go,” she ordered, keeping her voice firm and steady while her mind working frantically to figure out how she was going to get to the capture crystal in her briefcase, in case he was a demon. If he was a wolf or human, she was toast. “Now!”

“Lady Dawn?” he asked, his deep voice strangely hushed, like the fog surrounding them, giving her the first inkling of what he was.

Which became lost in the more disturbing fact. He knew her name.

“Lady Dawn, I have something for you,” he said softly, barely above a whisper. “Something you’ve wanted for a long time.”

A strange light flickered in his eyes as he spoke, as though he expected to tempt her with his whispered words. She wasn’t impressed. Or fooled. And he’d given himself away.

Demon.

To be more precise, daemon sapiens. One of the two major genera of demon, this type was nearly indistinguishable from humans. On the outside.

She shielded her mind against his obvious trick.

“What do you want?” she demanded.

One corner of his mouth curved up, a wealth of meaning shining in those black eyes.

She jerked her arm quickly, hoping to get free of him. But his fingers were like a steel vise, her efforts ineffectual. Her heart pounded even harder. She was going nowhere until he wished it.

“I’m here to make a bargain with you,” he said.

A devil’s bargain. “Not interested.”

“Trust me, you will be.”

He seemed so certain. Curiosity tugged at her. Besides, she appeared to have little choice but to listen. Fine. As long as he kept his voice above a whisper. If he’d intended to harm her, he would already have done so. Probably.

“All right. But no more tricks. What kind of bargain?”

“I’ll show you.” He glanced at his fingers on her arm, then met her gaze with brows raised.

She nodded. She wouldn’t run because it would be no use. With his dark powers he could easily catch her. And she would suffer his displeasure. She’d been a member of the Cadre long enough to know that much. A demon’s displeasure was not a pretty sight.

As though reading her thoughts, he smiled. And for a second she was blinded. Lord, such a handsome devil. Her heartbeat took off, but for a quite different reason than fear.

Then she came to her senses. What in God’s name did a demon want with her? He knew her name; he must know who she was. Why, the man must be as reckless as she.

The small irony bolstered her courage. She took a deep breath as his hand disappeared beneath his mack, and came out with-

“Oh, my God.” Her eyes widened and she instinctively reached out to the object he held between two fingers.

A diamond. A large black diamond. The diamond.

The Demon Stone!

Her gaze shot to his. If that’s what it was, it belonged to her family; it belonged at St. Yve Manor. The Demon Stone was an heirloom, missing for nearly two hundred years, stolen from the Saxon crown that had belonged to the daughter of the very first earl of St. Yve, her direct ancestor. Stolen by the infamous demon of destruction, Rofocale, all those years ago.

The hair raised on the back of her neck. Could this man be Rofocale? She tried to recall the image of him preserved in an old painting in her father, the earl’s, private library.

Before her imagination could take off at a sprint, she took a calming breath, dismissing the idea. No. A minister of Hell, one of the ruling Grigori, would hardly deign—or dare—to appear in the Mortal Realm.

“Where did you get the diamond?” she asked, concentrating on the stone in his fingers. Her fear abetted as excitement began to hum within her.

“You know where,” he said, watching her carefully as she set down her briefcase on the cobblestones.

“Was it you who took it?” Never hurt to ask.

“No,” he responded with a shake of his head. His thick black hair was long enough that it swayed back and forth with the movement. It reached his collar, glossy and rich, cut in a perfect style for his angular face. “It was Baal Rofocale,” he said, using the demonic term of respect. Lord Rofocale.

She swallowed and yanked her attention back to his eyes. So she was right. She’d heard the name many times in her work for the Cadre. Evil. As evil as it got. Some of the demons the Cadre had captured even claimed Rofocale was plotting to take over the Mortal Realm.

“I won it from him in a game of chance,” the man said.

Dawn knew all about most demons’ penchant for gambling. It was one of the few mental weapons a good demon retrieval specialist could use against them. But it was dangerous. Even the more evolved demons felt only two emotions—lust and anger. Both were legendary. The latter often fatal.

This man had to be out of his mind to risk gambling with a demon like Rofocale over something so…insignificant in the grand scheme of things. Again she wondered, what did this nameless, handsome demon want from her?

She shifted nervously as his gaze slid down the length of her body, what was visible under her fluttering raincoat, and back up again. “My name is Galen. Galen McManus.”

“I’m Professor Dawn Maybank,” she responded automatically, her cheeks warming at his frank appraisal. She must remember to shield her thoughts. Most demons couldn’t read minds unless they were somehow able to put their demon efflux into you, but this one seemed to have an uncanny ability. “But then, you already know who I am.”

“I do,” he confessed. “Though I prefer Lady Dawn. Professor sounds so…impersonal.”

He drew out the last word in a dark, drowning whisper that played inside her head, toying with her, almost like a physical touch. Her heartbeat stuttered, and to her mortification her nipples tightened and a tight-throated thrum of attraction seeped through her body.

The man was a demon. An entity she’d been fighting all her life! What was wrong with her?

A chill breeze swirled the fog around them, cooling her heated skin. But not enough. When she asked, “What do you want for the diamond?” her voice cracked.

He stepped in closer. He smelled…exotic. Like dark spices from the far east, or lush, verdant jungle foliage. He was so much taller than she that her nose was just at his throat, tucked under his square jaw, where the faint scent was strongest. His pulse beat, strong and steady, in a vein that disappeared beneath the collar of his mack.

For some insane reason she was not afraid. Not when he moved in closer still, so his buttons brushed her breasts; not even when he leaned down and whispered in her ear with a voice soft as black velvet.

“You.”

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