Jeanne: Excerpt from My Work-in-Progress

Beautiful Woman With Black Short Hair. Haircut. Hairstyle. FringLast week I talked a little about my work-in-progress. This week, I thought I’d share a scene that I find really entertaining. I hope you do, too!

The characters are:

  • Megan Swensen, author of the Dak Whipsnake books, a bestselling series featuring a tough-as-nails private eye who never gives away her secrets. Seven years before the story opens, Megan sold her soul to Satan in exchange for making the New York Times Bestseller list.
  • James Magnusson, Megan’s old boyfriend from college who unwittingly helped her negotiate terms. When he found out what he’d done, he dumped her. He has gone on to become a lawyer.
  • Lilith, a she-demon tasked with collecting Megan’s soul when her deal with the devil expires in a few weeks.
  • Karriel, Megan’s guardian angel.
  • Samael, Lilith’s ex-husband.
  • Satan, Lord of the Underworld.

Lilith stepped off the elevator into the heat of Hell blessing under her breath. What bug did Satan have up his butt now?

She’d arranged to get a color refresh and a trim at her favorite little salon in Mayfair this afternoon. Rex had just finished painting on her custom raven tint when her cell buzzed. She’d been forced to ask him to wash it all out before it had time to process. Outraged, he’d called in his assistant to rinse her, and stalked away. She wasn’t sure who was a worse choice to piss off—Satan or her colorist.

She’d walked out of the shop with her hair still wet. From the salon it was only a one-block walk to the five-star Park Lane hotel that had an express elevator straight to the Ninth Ring in its kitchen.

Now, in the oppressive heat of the underworld, the short bob she’d worn for nearly a century dried against her scalp. Without Rex’s magic, it would lie there like the pelt of a dead rat. The thought made her grind her teeth.

“What do you need?” she asked when she found Satan, as usual, parked in his Lazy-Throne, staring at the bank of screens.

He glanced at her and tilted his head. “What’s wrong with your hair?”

“Bad hair day.” She gritted the words out.

He grunted. “Huh.” He turned his attention to the screens. “That angel just stole a page from our playbook.”

She scanned the screens, but didn’t see anything useful. “What are you talking about?”

“She brought down the computers at Magnusson’s office, so he took his kid to Como Park, where the Swensen woman just happened to be.”

Seriously? Couldn’t a demon even get her hair done without all Heaven breaking loose?

Could she convince Satan that James would just refuse Megan’s request for help again? One look at his face told her that wouldn’t fly.

“No big deal,” she said, though it was a very big deal indeed. James was as sharp as a diamond blade. If anyone could figure out a way for Megan to evade the contract, it was he.

Satan shook his head. “We need to bring Samael in on this.”

“Not at all,” Lilith said quickly, but before she could even get the words out, a familiar voice behind her said, “Hello, Lilith.”

Bless it. She turned to face him, her heart thudding in her chest, just as it had so many millennia ago, the first time she set eyes on him. Sam was six foot three, with hair like obsidian and eyes that matched. Where his skin showed beyond his snowy-white cuffs and above his collar, it gleamed in the lamplight. Now he watched her, his expression unreadable. Some day, she swore to herself, he would lose the power to make her heart race.

It was fortunate that she had eternity to make that happen.

She nodded at him, painfully aware of her hair glued to her forehead. “I was just telling Satan I don’t think your help is really needed on this. I’ve got it.”

“Fine.” He turned to Satan. “Can I get back to work, then?”

She pinched her lips together, unreasonably aggravated that he was no more excited about working with her than she with him.

A puff of smoke issued from Satan’s left horn. “Not so fast.”

It was so like him to get an idea in his tiny brain and just refuse to let go of it. She turned to Samael. “You were helpful with the original contract but I’m sure you have a lot better things to do with your time than collect a soul we already have sown up tight.”

His eyes flicked over her, coming to rest on her hair. The heat of a nearby flame plume scorched her ears, which meant they were sticking out through her hair. She clenched her fists. In a just universe, she would look flawless all the time, just as Sam did.

His glance dropped to her hands and his perfectly shaped lips twitched. Bless it! They’d lived together for thousands of years until Satan, sensing a threat, had ordered them to split up. Sam knew every one of her tells. She unclenched fists and smoothed her face into blandness.

“Of course, if you’re hankering for a winter vacation, maybe get in some ice fishing or snowmobiling, this would be a great opportunity for that. The temperature was twelve degrees Fahrenheit yesterday—six below zero with the wind chill.”

Sam’s face froze into a study in horror. Whenever they’d traveled Above on missions back in the day, he’d had to pack extra jackets and sweaters. Any temperature below eighty degrees found him bundled up like it was the dead of winter.

Knowledge of each other cut both ways.

Sam turned back to Satan. “Do you need me up there? Because if not, I’m trying to nail down the final details in a contract that will bring us a first-world leader. He imagines himself to be the ultimate deal-maker but he’s about to sign the most iron-clad contract I’ve ever written.”

Satan brightened. “That’s right. I forgot you were working to bring him down here.” He eyed Lilith. “Are you sure you’ve got this?”

It was unreasonable but it infuriated her that Sam was as reluctant to work with her as she with him. She set aside her emotions to be dealt with later.

“Absolutely,” she said. “You can count on me.”

10 thoughts on “Jeanne: Excerpt from My Work-in-Progress

  1. So much going on here. Lots of juicy fun! Thanks for sharing.
    It moves well. It has appropriate snark. It has interesting visuals and characters.
    Can I just say one thing? I kept waiting for her hair to speed dry once she got down to hell because of the heat and it causing extreme drying. I kept waiting for her to go from wet rat to cat chewing on a power cord with a static charge in no point 5 seconds. 😀

  2. Fun section. I enjoy all the humor of what could go wrong, going wrong, esp. her ears sticking out through the wet, when he’s always perfect. I do empathize with her, and like knowing why she had to break up in the first place. Good job.

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