She Who Fights Monsters – Chapter 2 Excerpt



As my show of thanks for the awesome free weekend results, here’s the first part of Chapter 2 from the upcoming sequel to The Black Parade, She Who Fights Monsters. You can read chapter one right here.





“I take it from this supposedly mandatory back rub that things didn’t go well with the talent agent?”

My husband sighed and the smooth skin on his shoulders shifted with each exhale. My fingertips worked small, slow circles in the middle of his spinal column where I could feel knots of tension. An archangel with back problems. Who knew?

“She said that we had the talent and the look, but we’re not ‘marketable enough’,” Michael said with no small amount of bitterness in his tone. It hurt to hear.

“That’s the third agent to tell me so. I’m beginning to think this profession isn’t as enjoyable as I once hoped.”

“C’mon, don’t say that. You love music. You’d better not even think about giving it up,” I scolded, but in my most supportive voice.

“Besides, getting a record deal is like getting published. All it takes is one yes, so you’re going to have to wade through a hundred no’s before you get there.”

He took a deep breath and let it out slow, folding his arms to prop up his head. “Yeah, I know. But it still sucks.”

I leaned down and kissed the top of his head, resting my hands on his shoulders.

“Welcome to showbiz, stud.”

A soft sound escaped him, one similar to a laugh. “How’d you get to be so savvy about this?”

“Life. Alright, let’s get to work.” I reached over and grabbed the manila folder lying next to us and handed it to him. Gabriel had left it for me on the kitchen counter and I hadn’t seen it yet since I’d headed straight to the concert. He pushed up on his elbows and opened it, reading the files out loud while I resumed my careful massage of his lower back.

“Victim Number One: Danny Bowen. Thirty-four. Mechanical engineer. Kentucky resident. Found murdered in his home five months ago. Deep puncture wound in the chest. Traces of steel found in the rib cage indicate a large blade. Entry and exit wounds suggests it’s shaped like a sickle.”

He flipped to the next page. “Victim Number Two: Todd Lovett. Twenty-one. Biochemistry major at Oxford. Found murdered in his car four months ago. Strangled to death in the front seat at roughly three o’clock in the morning. First to remember the killer chanting something in Latin as he died.”

Next page. “Victim Number Three: Imani Ibekwe. Thirty-one. Missionary. Found murdered in her home in Nigeria four months ago. Wounds consistent with the first victim. Confirms that if it is the same killer, he’s using the same weapon. Angle of the wounds suggests the killer is less than six feet tall.”

Page four. “Victim Number Four: Faye Cunningham. Forty-two. Nurse at a hospital in Poland. Found murdered in her home like Victims One and Three with the same wounds three months ago.”

Page five. “Victim Number Five: Yusef Nolan. Twenty-five. Television producer. Found murdered in his studio apartment in Brisbane two months ago. Defensive wounds on his forearms suggest the killer knows an extensive amount of martial arts as Yusef was a brown belt in judo and still ended up dead.”

Page six. “Victim Number Six: Erica Davalos. Forty-three. Kindergarten teacher. Found murdered in her home a month and a half ago. First victim not to immediately cross over. Like the other spirits, she remembers seeing a man chanting in Latin.”

I rested my chin on the top of his head, folding my arms across the back of his broad shoulders. “Aside from being Seers, what do we have on similarities?”

He flipped to the last page. “Based on the records I had some of the angels compile, Todd and Faye are of the same bloodline. They’re descendants of Matthew. Danny is a descendant of Luke, Imani is a descendant of John the Baptist, and Erica is a descendant of Thomas.”

I shook my head. “That doesn’t really have any relevance. So far, their Awakenings tie them together, not their bloodlines. What else?”

“Their homes and possessions were all burned to the ground. That suggests that the killer believes in some sort of purification ritual. However, he doesn’t leave markings on the ground afterward or any memorabilia. If it’s a cultural thing, it’s not one we’ve seen before.”

“Which means it’s newly formed by Captain Psychopath. Great. And you’re sure this isn’t a demon’s doing?”

“No. Demons can only sense the Awakening of a Seer sometime after the angels, not exactly when it happens. Only archangels and experienced Seers can sense when someone’s powers are developing. It gives us a bit of a head start. Besides, we’ve been tracking Belial’s movements for the past year and they aren’t consistent with the murders.”

A little shudder went down my spine at the mention of the demon’s name. I had been fortunate enough not to see him for over a year and that still wasn’t long enough. Every time I left the apartment, I felt a tiny shadow of fear rest between the back of my shoulders—fear that he was watching me, waiting for the opportunity to strike and get back at me for foiling his plans three times in a row.

“Good to know,” I said, though a little softer than I intended.

Michael noticed and pushed up on his hands, forcing me to slide off his back. He turned to me and cupped the side of my cheek in his large hand.

“Hey, don’t get so tense on me. He’s out of our lives. You know that.”

I tried to return the smile but it didn’t quite stick. “Yeah, but he’s always been a wild card. I can’t shake the feeling that he won’t try to come after us again.”

“Well, you’ve gotten pretty good at kicking his ass so I think we’re safe,” the archangel said, pressing a light kiss to my lips. I allowed myself to be lost in his touch and then a couple minutes later I was lying on my back and my shirt was on the floor and I knew exactly what would happen if I didn’t stop it.

It took a massive amount of will power to quit kissing him but I finally did, suppressing a wistful sigh. “It’s late. We probably shouldn’t, uh…you know.”

He grinned. “I’m so happy you’re the voice of reason in this relationship.”

I flicked him in the forehead. “Someone has to be, otherwise I’d be a paraplegic in the span of a month. Are you staying here tonight or heading home?”

The grin faded at the edges. “You know, it’d be a lot easier if I didn’t have to keep making the decision.”

I took a deep breath, raking fallen strands of hair out of my eyes. “Can we not have that discussion tonight?”

A frown bunched between his eyebrows, but he swallowed the argument and crawled off the bed, grabbing his t-shirt from where it dangled on the headboard. “I’d better head to my place. We have an early rehearsal and I have more talent agents to find and disappoint.”

I watched him pull the shirt on with a certain amount of regret. I had learned enough in my six-months of marriage to be able to tell when he was unhappy, and he was because he wouldn’t maintain eye contact. Michael’s eyes always gave him away. In some ways, they were his best feature and thus they were his deadliest.

“Would it help if I showed up in a cheerleading costume for your next performance?”

He chuckled. “I thought we tried that one already. Or was it the Naughty Nurse?”

He ducked when I threw my sock at his head, swooping in for a goodnight kiss. I cradled his face between my hands for a long moment before letting go. My bed was always colder—literally and figuratively—when he didn’t spend the night.

Buenas noches, amor,” I murmured.

He kissed my forehead. “Igualmente.”



Warm fingers mapped my spine, tracing the long curve of naked skin down to the small of my back, slowly, soothingly, purposefully. The sheets beneath me were clean and fresh like a summer morning—nothing a laundry detergent could pull off, either. This scent was as if someone had bottled the air at sunrise and sprayed it over cotton. I never felt more at peace, more relaxed. I’d found a small corner of heaven to lie upon.

The hands at my back had long fingers that hinted at strength and masculinity as they slid upward towards my scars. The rough fingertips followed the jagged lines zigzagging over my spinal column where my aunt’s switches and belts and extension cords had cut the skin too badly to heal. The scars had turned to brown worms and melted into the rest of me. A long time ago, I had been upset over them, afraid to wear certain shirts and dresses, but over time they became as much a part of me as my black hair or morena skin or knobby knees.

I sighed as his thumbs pressed against the blade of my shoulders, massaging in a circle, smoothing away the tension. Seconds later, soft lips touched the spot and silky hair brushed along my spine. My eyes opened and focused on his hand, palm flat, lying to my left. The skin was as pale as alabaster instead of the natural tan I was used to. Wait. Something was wrong.

My pulse sped up as I gathered the white sheets beneath me to cover my bare breasts and rolled over only to find the archdemon Belial on his knees above me.

I opened my mouth to scream, but he clapped one of his large hands over it, drowning my shout of alarm.

“Don’t. This may be a dream, but your screams are still quite irritating, my pet.”

I tore his hand away from my lips, glaring at him to hide my fear. He still looked the same—a narrow nose, perfect slender cheekbones, and wickedly sensual lips. He looked vaguely European to me, but he didn’t have an accent. His voice was deep, cold, and empty most of the time unless he was mocking me. He appeared somewhere in his late twenties to early-thirties, but I knew he was damn near as old as time itself. He wore an unbuttoned navy dress shirt that flapped loosely around his chest, granting me an eyeful of his perfectly carved abs.

“What the hell are you doing here?”

“I need to speak with you.”

“What? You don’t own a phone, jackass?”

He cocked his head to the left, one dark eyebrow rising. “Would you have listened if I called you? No. You’d hang up and we both know it. I was forced to find an alternate method of communication.”

“Yes, and the bed was entirely necessary as part of the communication,” I growled with the utmost sarcasm. He smirked.

“I would be remised if I didn’t try to make a pass at you. In the real world, I am no longer able to…” He paused, licking his bottom lip. “—taste you, but in the dream world, I am free to do as I please.”

I glared. “Do you have a point?”

“Ah, yes, that.” The humor and flirtatiousness abated, leaving his nearly white eyes to focus on me with a serious look in them. It never failed to creep me out that his pupils weren’t round but slits like a snake’s. It was the mark of all archdemons, a sign of royalty.

“You are no doubt aware of the murdered Seers, yes?”

“Of course. Don’t tell me you’re gonna confess to them?”

He snorted again, seeming offended. “Nonsense. I would have left a signature if it were my doing, but that is why I have chosen to contact you. I wish to report that these killings are not being committed by one of the Fallen.”

“Why the hell should I believe that, Belial? Lying is like air to you.”

“Because you know as well as I do that our side would not kill Seers indiscriminately. They are of as much use to us as they are to you and we are at a disadvantage when there is only one of them hanging around. One who just happens to be married to an archangel,” he added with another insufferable smirk.

I ignored the comment. “So let’s pretend you’re telling the truth. If it’s not a demon, then who is it?”

“I would advise you to reexamine your so-called saviors.”

“The angels?”

He nodded. I shook my head. “You think we haven’t considered that? Of course we have. But there’s also the fact that not a single angel has ever gone rogue since the Fall. Why would one start now?”

Belial shrugged. “Perhaps he knows something we do not? The roster in Heaven is infinite. It is possible one of these angels slipped through the cracks. Ask Michael if there have been any unusual absences in Heaven, perhaps someone who left for Earth without a specific order.”

“Why are you so eager to find this killer?”

“As I said before, my pet. Seers are just as valuable to my side as they are to yours. It is necessary to find him and stop him if we ever want to get anywhere.”

I shifted underneath him, becoming even more nervous now that our little chat was coming to an end. “Great. Thanks for the tip. Now get out of my damn head.”

“So soon?” the demon purred, leaning down enough to make my heart rate spike again.

“Is there nothing about this situation that interests you, Seer?”

“Nothing at all,” I said through gritted teeth.

A rather smug grin crossed his lips. “Mentirosa.”

I tried to punch him but faster than I could see, he grabbed both my wrists and pinned them to the mattress. Squirming, I tried to knee him in the groin. He crawled upward and straddled my waist, rendering my legs useless under his weight. An arrogant laugh trickled out of his throat as he watched me struggle in vain.

“I adore that you still resist me even in a place where no one can see us. A less stubborn woman would at least be honest with herself.”

“Honest about what?” I spat. “How much I despise you? How much you disgust me?”

“And how much I turn you on?” he offered. Despite my anger, a creeping heat found its way on my cheeks and I hated it.

“You don’t-”

“I’m inside your head, Jordan. I can feel everything.” He lowered his face to my neck, not touching me but just barely letting his hot breath flow over my skin and his jet-black hair glide across my collarbone. 

“I can feel it like the blood rushing through your veins. Your angel may be handsome and valiant, but he does not excite you the way that I do. You crave danger like a creature of the night. Like a demon. Like me. Sooner or later, you will accept that about yourself.”

“You’ve been out of my life for a year and a half. I don’t miss anything. Can you feel that?” I shot back.

“No, I cannot. Perhaps if I try a little harder…” He pursed his lips and blew at the sheets just barely clinging to my chest. They slipped downward a couple of inches, revealing the scar over my heart, and Belial’s hot tongue laved the length of it, making me gasp. I squeezed my eyes shut, ashamed and angry as my body started to tremble with a horrible combination of fear and excitement.

A buzzing sound woke me. I jolted upward in bed, my hands flying to my chest as I felt the ghost of Belial’s touch fading away with the nightmare. Light touched the edges of the bedroom through the blinds of my window. I glanced about to detect the odd noise only to discover my phone had received a text message. I sighed, swiping sweaty tendrils of hair off my forehead, and grabbed my cell phone.

I’ll be over for lunch around 1:00. Te amo.


“Saved by the bell,” I muttered, dropping the phone in my lap. A shudder went down my spine at the thought of what might have happened if he hadn’t woken me up. With Michael beside me, my dreams were protected because he emitted a subconscious protective aura. Without him, I was vulnerable. Open. Prey.

A knot began to twist in my stomach, sagging there like a boulder. I knew that ache. Michael and Gabriel had taken turns rehabilitating me from my alcohol dependence, but I still got cravings during high stress situations. This sure as hell was one of them.

So I did what any person would do.

I cooked.

To be continued in She Who Fights Monsters, available on Amazon July 22, 2014. Like the Facebook page for updates and announcements for the upcoming paperback giveaway.

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  1. […] you enjoy that? Here’s Chapter 2 for your reading pleasure. Keep your eyes glued to the Facebook page for more. She Who Fights Monsters is slated for release […]

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