My Soul to Save
Logan, failed singer and recovering meth addict, is given the chance of a lifetime when a friend offers her the lead spot in his established rock band. But things get complicated when she starts hallucinating human-ish creatures with black eyes who disappear through walls. So when the gorgeous, mysterious Jaeryth falls into her life, claiming he can see the creatures too, she can’t help but feel a bond with him.
Jaeryth is a demon who’s long been obsessed with Logan—so much that he’s been ignoring his demonic duties. As punishment, he’s been made human and charged with corrupting Logan, who harbors a power she’s unaware of that could be used for great good…or evil. And if Jaeryth can’t corrupt her, he has to kill her.
If he doesn’t complete his mission, he’ll spend eternity being tortured. Unfortunately, he’s falling in love with the woman he’s supposed to destroy.
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Excerpts from MY SOUL TO SAVE:
Friday night wasn’t exactly a strategic time to check out of rehab. The bars were open and the dealers roamed in full force. Perfect conditions for a relapse.
Logan Frost lit a cigarette and glanced over at the clinic entrance. No sign of Tex yet. She sighed and leaned against the brick building, eyes closed, wondering for the hundredth time if she was truly ready for this. Meth addicts never recovered. Everybody knew that.
But she’d beaten it this time, and at the moment she’d rather cut her own fingers off than shoot up again. Cigarettes, on the other hand, weren’t going anywhere for a while. She wasn’t ready to quit them. Maybe she’d never be—but it was better than injecting potential death straight into her veins. At least lung cancer took its time.
She dragged and blew smoke into the halo of light from the security lamp above. “Come on, Tex,” she muttered. The jitters hadn’t set in yet, but the longer she stood here, the greater the temptation would grow. This place was too close to her former neighborhood. A few blocks from here lay a pocket slum where the faucets might as well have dispensed drugs instead of water. Everybody used, everyone was into somebody else for money or favors. Too many times, those favors were repaid in blood.
She could walk away, right now, and have herself a fix in twenty minutes. Flush six months of agonizing detox and reprogramming down the drain. That was why her caseworker—Miss Turner, if you please, never Mrs. or Miz—had set her up with an apartment in Pottstown. A quiet suburb, worlds away from Philly and its siren song of easy highs and shaking, sweat-drenched lows. She didn’t have a car, and her license was suspended anyway, so she couldn’t just drive into the city whenever the cravings struck.
The voice in her head, familiar as the sun, sent her stomach into a slow roll. Him again. She didn’t know why her worst thoughts chose to announce themselves in a male voice, but she’d heard it for as long as she could remember. She’d even named it—Fred, the troublemaker, the golem of her subconscious. Her own personal demon. During rehab she’d enjoyed six months of blessed silence in the space between her ears. She thought he was gone for good.
Stay. You belong here. All your friends miss you.
“Shut it, Fred,” she said through clenched teeth. No one at the clinic knew about the voice. They already thought she was crazy enough, so she hadn’t told them. “I’m gone, out of here, road dust. My body just hasn’t caught up with me yet.”
Just one more time, then. One last party. That won’t hurt, will it?
Jesus. How many times had she thought that exact thing inside this place, even without Fred’s provocation? Just one more when I get out. One more high, then I’m done. The last blast. But her first “only once” had led to seven years of hell.
Her hands were shaking.
Icy shivers trailed her spine. Fred had never said please before.
Her own name was a lover’s caress, warm and delicious, gilded in longing. God, what she wouldn’t give for another fix. Sobriety sucked. A clear head let her think too much and remember how she’d failed. How far she’d fallen.
“Fuck off.” A trembling whisper, but it fueled her resolve. Never again. “I’m through,” she said in stronger tones. “Leave me alone, Fred. You can’t have me.”
Something touched her arm, dry and feather-light. Like fingertips.
She gasped and bolted erect. There was no one in sight, much less standing next to her. Fred was a voice in her head, damn it. But she’d felt the touch. Real as the smoldering cigarette between her fingers.
Jaeryth could do nothing but watch as years of careful, patient preparation walked away, climbed in a car and rode out of his reach. Fury sizzled his blood—if anyone had been standing near enough, they probably would have caught a whiff of brimstone. Little Logan had made herself a friend and she had no idea what the so-called counselor really was.
Of course, she didn’t know what she really was either. But she would soon. The signs were there.
Tex. What a ridiculous name. Jaeryth bared his teeth at the retreating taillights and snarled under his breath. He’d almost had the woman completely turned before that bastard had interfered. She’d been away from his influence for six months, since he couldn’t get inside the damned clinic.
No demon could. The angels had fortified the place too well.
Logan looked good. Healthy. She had been physically decimated before she came here, not much more than skin stretched over bones, though even emaciation couldn’t erase her beauty. Now she was ethereal and the shadows of hard living only served to enhance her attraction. He hadn’t been able to resist touching her.
She’d felt his touch. Her awakening would not be far off now—and he had to bring her back before that happened. Or she would be lost to them forever.
He rode the night breeze away from the clinic, phasing through buildings and vehicles as he went. The unease his presence generated from nearby mortals failed to comfort him. He lingered a few moments near the center of the crown jewel of his turf. Ten square blocks of corruption and madness, reeking of desperation, forever stained in blood. Here, even humans could see the edges of Shade oozing into their narrow plane of perception. Its denizens called it Crystaltown. He called it progress.
It was here he’d found Logan Frost, who dreamed of singing and drowned her mortal pain in chemical happiness. He had seen her potential and nurtured her decline. But she’d left him for that thing who called himself Tex.
The sweet discordant music of decay in Crystaltown failed to improve his mood. He swept from the area, leaving a dazed crack whore and her grunting, clumsy customer trembling and impotent in his wake. Time to leave the mortal level for a while—with Logan gone, he just didn’t feel like spreading sin to the masses.
Jaeryth controlled the corruption in the northeast quarter of Philadelphia. His district’s performance far surpassed the other three, and he’d earned the respect of Hell itself. There had been mention of promotion, whispers of Samael’s interest in his work. The Prince of Hell was pleased with him. Huzzah. Not that he cared what Samael thought.
Losing Logan wouldn’t disrupt his advancement, since he hadn’t been able to convince any of his superiors that she was Nabi. The fools. But it mattered to him—and they’d change their tune when the prophet Logan manifested. He would be vindicated.
However, if she remained on the side of the angels at her awakening, he might be blamed. And likely punished. The twisted politics of Hell made no allowances for reason.
He stopped at the center of Old City, the epicenter of the demon population in Philadelphia. Sixty full demons, and five times that in lessers, patrolled the area—more than enough for full twenty-four-hour rotations of assaults on the city’s mortals. Of course, the demons all looked human enough here. There was always a slim chance that some perceptive mortal would catch a glimpse into Shade. If they walked about with wings and tails and talons, they would spread madness instead of sin. Lunatic humans were usually lost to both sides.
He had an office of sorts nearby where he would be afforded privacy. But he would have to shift fully into Shade to reach it. Oh, bliss.
With a bracing breath, he closed his eyes and let himself slip from the mortal plane. Heat consumed him, stifling and oppressive. The smell hit next—rancid decay, the stench of things burnt and dying. Shade, sweet Shade. A demon’s natural state of existence. How he loathed it. At the moment, though, he couldn’t concentrate enough to sustain himself further up.
He opened his eyes and watched the rippling, ghostly suggestions of a few oblivious humans pass in front of him. The nearly clean sidewalk he’d been standing on a moment before was now cracked and blasted, stained black with untold fluids. Dried blood smeared the wall of the crumbled structure beside him in a path to the savaged carcass of a rat crumpled on the ground. Ahead, an eternal flame pot blazed, casting a constant haze of heat shimmer and flickering light over the settled darkness.
This was a demon’s paradise. The rest of them reveled in the filth and stench of Shade. By rights, Jaeryth should have been comfortable, even happy, in this state. But he despised every foul corner, every breath of reeking air he was forced to draw.