Please welcome Vicky Loebel!
The Road to Hell is Paved with Bad Intentions
Welcome to "Keys to the Coven," a humorous, tightly-plotted, sometimes dark urban-fantasy/romance set in an original universe where karma is power, sex is karma, and it's not who you know but whose soul you own that matters.
When I started “Keys,” I had an (I thought) scathingly brilliant idea for an erotic fantasy. My hero, Max, is a demon who has to have glorious life-affirming sex with women in order to maintain the emotional connection that keeps him in the living world. Lots of women. Lots of sex.
Because this is urban fantasy, I gave Max another job (destroying evil magic artifacts), and since it needed conflict I plopped him into a story with a reluctant witch, Felicity, who’s immune to Max’s supernatural charm.
That meant one woman and…oops…not so much sex.
Max and Felicity set about breaking a family curse that would make her the concubine of an evil arch-demon. Since she hasn’t automatically hopped into bed with him, Max has to learn to interact with Felicity as a person. And since he’s not going away without completing his job (demon!), Felicity has to “witch up” and accept her supernatural powers.
Along the way they manage to find compromise (and sex!) and form a partnership not even Hell can defeat.
Because in the end, it isn’t who you know but who you love that really matters.
Thanks for letting me visit!
To become a demon, you must die in complete and utter despair. Three hundred years ago, Max passed that test and joined the afterlife resolving never again to have innocent blood on his hands. Now a successful Demonic Intervention Agent, Max has been given the job of breaking a young woman's family curse. But what she doesn't know, what Max can't bring himself to tell her, is that completing his mission almost certainly means her death.
When Felicity Woodsen inherits her mother's coven, she learns each firstborn Woodsen daughter must become the consort of an evil-arch demon. Felicity's only hope is to ally with the mysteriously charming Max. But is saving her body from one demon worth the price of losing her soul to another?
Roxashael became a demon when his Roman captors sent his family, one by one to be devoured by lions. The lesson was clear: power is good; lots of power is better. Two-thousand years later, Rocky has power. He's purchased hundreds of souls, and he's created the Minsk Homunculus, a magic artifact that, by binding a human witch as his consort, turns him into an arch-demon and places him above the goody-two-shoes laws of karma.
Unfortunately, Rocky made a mistake. He fell in love with Felicity's mother and in a moment of weakness promised to give up his demon-consort charm. Now Felicity's mother is dead, the Minsk Homunculus is slated for destruction, and Rocky's power as an arch-demon is about to end.
No demon can break a promise. If Rocky refuses to give up the Minsk Homunculus, he'll become the lowest, most abject slave in Hell.
But then, why break promises when they're so easy to corrupt?
A cool breeze rippled down the street and rattled the trees. Max leaned forward and began nuzzling her ear. Somehow, that move didn’t surprise her.
“I’m safe now.” He nuzzled lower. “You saved me.”
Yowza. “Saved from what?” Kinky old-guy gay sex? “No wait!” She twisted to look at him. Max ceased nuzzling. “I do not want to know.”
She pushed Max back and sat up again, staring gloomily at the businesses across from their bench. Casper’s the Friendly Toast, and an all-night, science-fiction themed cafeteria called Meal Plan Nine from Outer Space.
Falstaff, rumor had it, had been the first town in Arizona to make extensive use of lead plumbing.
Max kissed Felicity’s forehead and then scooped her up—yikes—and planted her sideways across his lap. That was warm. He ran his fingers along her cheek and that was warmer still. Not gay. No question about it. Bi, maybe. Promiscuous, definitely. She’d known him, how long? One day? Felicity checked her watch; incredibly, she’d known Max less than three hours, yet somehow she felt closer to him than she’d ever felt to anyone in her life.
And here he was. His arms cradled her as his lips found the back of her neck. Um. Here he was, seducing her on a public bench. Attempting to seduce her. The man had the morals of a tom cat. Whereas she…she’d always been faithful to Greg.
Seven years, one guy. That was respectable.
“That was stupid.” Max slid a welcome hand under her bra.
Felicity sucked in air. OK, it had been stupid, in light of recent events, but it had seemed reasonable at the time. More reasonable than a new partner every three hours.
Max’s fingers rippled gently over her breast. Mmmm. He tipped her into the crook of his arm and held her, nibbling one ear.
Felicity sighed. It was nice, just plain nice, being seduced. And while she didn’t for a minute think she and Max were a couple…with a relationship. It wasn’t really like having a new guy every three hours. More like two new guys every seven years. An average of three-point-five years, apiece.
That was respectable.
Max shifted his hand to her back and her bra popped open. The rush of cold air, the flush of self-conscious freedom, the touch of fingers where her skin expected metal eyelets and lace. The firm pressure of his mouth and tongue as he kissed her at last. Kissed and supported her, like she was precious beyond measure. Like he’d do anything for her. Like she was his world.
Felicity cracked one eye open. People were walking past, parking cars, chatting, but no one paid them the slightest attention. No one glanced over or seemed to notice they were there. Just like no one had noticed her scuffle with Mr. Wu. Nobody had said a damned thing when that son of a bitch knocked her flat on her—
Fear stabbed Felicity’s gut.
He’d knocked her flat without touching her.
“Shhh.” Max’s tongue slid into her mouth and she forgot fear. Forgot everything except him. All sense of restraint, of self-control, evaporated as Max’s hand moved over her skin. He took his mouth away, making her moan. Kissing her forehead, then one eye, then the other, then her nose, and then the pounding pulse in her throat. Felicity moaned again as Max’s lips discovered new territory under her chin.
They weren’t tom cat and lady cat, sitting here. They were tom cat and toy.
She felt, more than heard, Max’s chuckle. His warm hand traveled from back to front, circling first one liberated breast and then the other, coming to a proprietary stop over her heart. He kissed her mouth again firmly. His fingers began a slow, steady slide. Searingly, torturously down. Down the length of her ribs, down past her belly, halting tantalizingly above the waistband of her jeans. Heat radiated from his palm as they rocked gently, in time to their kisses. Tiny prickles of joy began to chase themselves up and down Felicity’s spine. She kissed Max hungrily, greedily, possessing and being possessed by his tongue. The sensation was deeper than…sweeter than….
Felicity’s body dissolved into light. She drifted, floating through space in contentment, touching Max, tethered to Max by…love.
A tiny part of her wished that were real….
About the Author
Vicky Loebel is the author of award-winning amateur fiction and an avid reader of anything written with panache. She lives in the human world with two dogs and a rotating cadre of four men on the slopes of Mt. Lemmon, Arizona, and on the internet at www.vickyloebel.com. Vicky’s quasi-fitness blog 5x10x15.wordpress.com muses on health, dieting, and miscellaneous asides.