A Deadly Angels Book #8
Avon Books
December 2016 (11-29-16)
ISBN-10: 0062356569
ISBN-13: 978-0062356567

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The devil was in the details…

Zeb had no interest in sex at the moment (hardly ever, for that matter), especially with a barbed wire penis (Don’t ask!). Not a one-on-one with the admittedly alluring vangel witch who resembled the red-haired, cream-skinned Satan, and certainly not a five-way that included the Crazy Coven, demon vampire witches who were clearly a dozen straws short of a full broom.

In fact, Zeb had every intention of ditching all four witches once he was out of the dungeons of Horror, the Lucipire castle, assuming they got him that far. Alone, he might have a chance to regroup and escape to a safe place. With all that extra baggage, none of them would succeed.

His loner intentions weren’t worth piss on a snowbank, he soon discovered, once they unlocked him and he tried to stand on his feet. Apparently skin on the soles was essential for that mere task, as he’d suspected. The pain was so excruciating that Zeb’s knees buckled and he almost passed out. Beau caught him just in time.

“Ah’ll carry him,” Beau said to Regina in his deep Southern accent.

“What? No, no, no! My ribs are broken! No carrying!” Zeb tried to say. “A hospital gurney, that’s what we need. Or a padded robe. Anything to protect my ribs.”

No one paid him any attention.

“Y’all better secure Craven ta that La-Z-boy, jist in case he wakes before we kin get outta Dodge,” Beau advised Regina.

“Grimelda said the potion would last for three hours. That gives us another hour, at least.”

“My PawPaw always said, ‘Never trust a sleepin’ gator.’”

“Oookay.” Through the haze of his pain, with Beau holding him upright with both hands under his armpits, he saw Regina scurrying around looking for rope. The only thing she could find in short order was duct tape, which Jasper had used in the early days of Zeb’s captivity to manscape his pubic hairs.

“That’ll do. Duct tape is a guy’s best friend. Ah even tied up a gator with duct tape one time,” Beau said.

“Why?” Zeb asked, without thinking.

“’Cause Ah could,” Beau answered, as if that made perfect sense. “And mah cousin Rufus dared me to.”

“I suspect more than a little home brew was involved,” Regina said as she attempted to peel off a long strip of the duct tape and it kept getting attached to itself. After bunching up and tossing aside three tries, she finally got a first clear strip.

“Fer sure, darlin’.” So, Horror’s Tortureologist soon found himself duct-taped to the chair with about fifty yards of the gray stuff. Luckily, Craven stayed unconscious from Grimelda’s potion during the whole clumsy process, including a wide swath across his snoring mouth. If anything would wake the mouth breather up, that would be it, but Zeb found himself unable to speak above a groan to point that out, especially when Beau hefted him not so gently up and over his shoulder in a fireman’s carry. His cracked ribs cracked some more.

If he’d had anything in his stomach, he would have thrown it up. Instead, he just passed out. Which was a blessing, really.

Next time he awakened, the four crazies were standing at a crossroads of underground corridors arguing. Zeb could barely make out their faces in the dim, motion sensor lights, especially from his upside down position over Beau’s shoulder, craning his head up and around. If he wasn’t already bruised, battered and, well, dead, he would be soon from the pounding pain behind his eyeballs.

“Why aren’t we going out the way we came in?” Regina wanted to know.

“There’s been a change in plan,” Grimelda said with a cackle of glee, presumably because she was the master of this change in plan. “We’ll go down that corridor over there. It comes out about a mile or so outside of Horror.”

What plan? They have a plan? I thought they were going to wing it.

“A mile!” Beau exclaimed, shifting Zeb on his shoulder.

Zeb saw stars at that move, and not the celestial kind.

“I’ll carry him for awhile,” Regina offered.

That I’d like to see. Not!

“Not ta worry, darlin’. Ah kin handle it.”

Darlin’? I’m in excruciating pain, and he has time for darlin’s?

“Why don’t we just teletransport from here?” Regina asked.

Yeah. Good idea! Let’s do it. But wait. Teletransport where? Oh, damn, but my head hurts, and my ribs, and my cock in its barbed wire condom where it keeps bouncing against Beau’s back. I want to kill somebody. I really do. Maybe myself.

“No, no, no! No teletransport inside the castle,” Grimelda said. “I just found out, that new Lucipire…Gordon the Geek…set up a radar system for detecting every single teletransport into and out of Horror.”

That’s something new. Like a speed trap for escapees. Good, if you’re a demon, to have such security, but not so good for those wanting to skip the joint. Like us. Uh-oh! We’re going to get caught. Oh, hell! Oh, damn! Oh, shit! We’re definitely going to…

They were on the move again. This time down another corridor. Bounce, bounce, bounce. Pain, pain, pain. Yak, yak, yak.

“Where’s Patience, by the way?” Regina asked.

“Outside,” Grimelda answered as she huffed along trying to keep up with Beau and Regina. “Blowin’ up the balloon.”

“Cool!” Beau said.

“What balloon?” Regina asked.

“Hot air balloon,” Grimelda answered. “We got to get out of the radar, dearie.”

“In a balloon?” Regina almost shrieked.

“What? You thinkin’ we could all fly out on brooms?” Grimelda snarked. “We could have tried snow mobiles, but they make so much noise.”

“Oh, Ah always want to go on a ski mobile,” Beau said, clearly disappointed.

“Well, we ain’t got no ski mobiles. We got a big balloon from the North Pole where Santa was savin’ it for an emergency. Ha, ha, ha.”

Regina rolled her eyes. “Are you people nuts?”

Zeb decided that he concurred with her sentiment and let his head drop to rest his cheek against Beau’s lower back.

“Wait! Don’t fall asleep now. You need to direct us to your island,” Regina shouted into his ear. Which gave him an ear ache, on top of his head ache, on top of his rib ache, on top of heart ache, on top of…

Zeb happily succumbed to delicious oblivion. Hopefully, when he awakened next time, this would all have been a dream.


Up, up, and away!...

Regina was high above the Norselands, drifting away from Horror castle. Joy, Joy! Yes, she was accompanied by three wacko witch demon vampires, and one high haakai demon (that would be Zeb), but at least they were beyond the range of the geek Lucipire’s teletransport radar. Hopefully.

Of course, Jasper might very well launch a rocket or something at any moment, popping the balloon. But Regina chose to remain optimistic. No popping of her personal Pollyanna balloon.

The good thing in this latest step of what could only be called Regina’s Great Adventure was that the hot air balloon had already been inflated. Apparently, a mission to capture some dire sinners in Denmark the day before had involved hot air balloon enthusiasts, and the Lucipire captors had yet to deflate the balloon.

The bad thing was that Regina and her gang didn’t know diddly squat about steering an airborne wicker basket.

But wait. Regina was determined to remain positive.

Okay, another good thing was that Zeb remained unconscious.

On the other hand, that damned negative side of her brain disagreed, reminding her that they needed to wake him soon so he could direct them to his Caribbean island, via teletransport.

Assuming they could teletransport that distance. Five at a time!

After landing the balloon first so their launch was from firm ground.

Piece of cake!

Oh, boy!

Luckily, Zeb’s body was covered with a warm white fur cloak. It was colder up here in the sky than…(No, she was not going to say “a witch’s tit.”)…than a Viking whaler’s butt in the North Sea. It was the Arctic, after all. In fact, Patience had had the foresight to toss in heavy outer apparel for all of them. Regina was wearing a red, heavyweight wool cloak, making her look like a big red Popsicle. No matter! It covered her from neck to ankle, with an attached hood. Even so, it was still cold, but not as bad as it could be.

Unluckily, the cloak covering Zeb was precious white ermine, and one of Jasper’s favorites. “How was Ah ta know that?” Beau had asked after being clouted with a broom by Grimelda.

(Yes, Grimelda had managed to snag a few brooms from the closet before leaving. Talk about priorities! No gun, but a floor broom, a hearth broom, and a whisk broom. Their enemies would face death by sweeping!)

Beau had continued talking while Regina’s brain had been wandering with hysterical irrelevance, a sure sign of approaching insanity. Or terror. “Ahm from the bayou. That fur could be skunk fer all Ah know.”

Help me, Lord, Regina prayed at that point. I had no idea it was so hard being an optimist.

There was an ominous silence in her head. Not that God had ever talked to her personally. Or St. Michael, for that matter. But she could hope, couldn’t she? Nope, Regina was on her own. Like always.

“While Zeb is unconscious, we should probably try to remove that barbed wire,” Regina mused.

Zeb’s one eye shot open at that. He tried to speak, but whatever he’d wanted to say came out as a squeak before he mutter a long sltring of words. It sounded like he was saying, “Lord spare me from Satan’s Red Riding Hood!”

“Ah doubt anyone has wire cutters heah,” Beau said.

“Good,” Zeb commented.

“I have cuticle scissors in my purse,” Patience offered.

Zeb made a choking sound again.

“You brought a purse?” Regina asked, as if that were important.

“Of course. A woman always carries her purse with her.”

Regina glanced toward Grimelda who held up a tattered cloth bag to show she agreed with Patience.

Beau put up both hands. “Not me.”

“Well, give me the scissors, and I’ll give it a try,” Regina told Patience.

“The worst thing that could happen is Zebulan becomes a eunuch,” Beau offered with a chuckle.

Before Patience had a chance to move, Zeb managed to grasp Regina’s wrist in a vice-like grip. “Don’t. You. Dare,” he told Regina. “Later.” On those difficult words, he dropped her hand and fell unconscious once again.

“Well, I guess we can wait,” Regina said, rubbing her wrist.

For a few brief moments, she allowed herself to enjoy the peacefulness of floating with the mild wind currents as dawn began to rise on the horizon. At this time of the year, deep autumn, almost winter, there wouldn’t be much sun. In fact, there would be a short window of opportunity before darkness fell again.

They were about a quarter-mile above the ground, but all they could see below, aside from the icy tundra, were the occasional wolves or caribou. Dark color against all that white. The magnificent polar bears blended in with the desert-like ice. In fact, after peering closely, Regina could see a huge, lumbering mama bear with three of her cubs gamboling toward a pool of water, a sight she would have appreciated if she weren’t so distracted.

There was little or no turbulence, but the silence was deafening.

“I’m going to start to deflate,” Patience said, then murmured under her breath, “if I can figure out how.” She was the one steering the contraption. “You better wake Zebulan, for good this time,” she advised Regina. “Oh, and be prepared. I think these things land on their sides. So, make sure Zebulan is on top, or the weight of our bodies will drive those barb wires in like porcupine quills. We’ll kill him for sure.”

“He’s already dead,” Beau pointed out.

“So are you,” Grimelda said with a cackle. “We all are.”

“What’s yer point?” Beau grumbled.

“Five dead people in a flyin’ gondola tryin’ not ta get killed…again. It’s rather laughsome, methinks.” Grimelda cackled some more. “We should take a picture ta have fer later. Does anyone have one of them eye phones?”

“Ya’ll are weird, Grimey,” Beau commented.

“No more’n you, boy,” Grimelda countered.

“Anyways, porcupines doan have quills on their tooters, they have ‘em on their tails,” Beau added.

“How do you know?” Regina had to ask. “Did you ever check?”

“Ah ain’t that dumb.” Beau winked at her.

“Tooters?” Grimelda cackled. “That’s a new one. I met a Viking once what called his Rooster. Just as bad, I suppose. His cock did do a lot of doodling. You know, cock-a-doodle.” More cackling. “Do Cajun manparts make noise, like horns tooting?”

“Only when they’re tooting their own horns,” Beau joked.

Not for the first time, Regina questioned the combined I.Q. of her comrades in insanity.

“Would all of you be quiet so I can concentrate?” Patience said. “I wonder what this thing is down here.” She pulled a lever and air began to whoosh quickly out of the balloon, causing the basket to lurch and sway from side to side.

“Holy Thor!” Grimelda exclaimed, clutching the side rail with boney, white-knuckled fists.

“I think mah tonsils jist shook hands with mah family jewels,” Beau commented, also clutching the rail with tight fingers.

Regina was kneeling on the floor, trying to keep Zeb from rolling over.

Patience quickly pushed the lever back up. “Oops. Guess I know how to deflate now. Just a little more slowly.”

“Zeb? Zeb, can you hear me? You’ve got to wake up. We’re out of Horror and about to land soon. You need to guide us to your island.”

He groaned and licked his dry, split lips. His one good eye blinked and then opened. He tried to sit up but only managed to raise his head. “What? Where am I? Am Ah in hell?”

“We’re in a hot air balloon. Floating away from Horror. Over northernmost Norway at the moment, I would guess.”

“Yep, must be hell.” He closed his eye, about to fall back asleep.

Regina leaned forward and forced the eye to remain open.

“Ouch! Are you trying to pluck out my eyeball? Satan’s latest torture technique? I was right the first time, wasn’t I? You’re Satan’s sister, not a vangel. Red Riding Hell Hood.”

“We’re not in hell, numbskull. Not yet. But we will be if you don’t stay awake and help us.” She grabbed his forearm and tried to pull him up.

He swatted her hand away and sat up himself, a testament to self-will or adrenaline energy or some such thing. It didn’t matter why. The man was sitting up and gazing about him. At her kneeling at his side. At Grimelda holding one of her brooms like a baby and crooning some witchy chant. At Beau leering at Patience’s backside as she manned the tiller, at the same time bending over to press the lever which was slowly deflating the balloon.

“Oh, fuck! We’re screwed,” Zeb said.

“We saved your ass, big boy,” Regina commented. “A little gratitude would be appreciated.”

“Thank you,” he said, and appeared to be sincere. “Help me up, Doucet,” he ordered Beau then. “Let’s see what we can salvage from this SNAFU.”

“What’s a Sniff-You?” Grimelda wanted to know.

“Not Sniff-You. SNAFU, as in Situation Normal, All Fucked Up. It’s a military term.”

“Were you in the military?” Beau asked.

Zeb rolled his one eye, which was kind of comical, though it must be painful. “Not for a long, long time.”

“Army? Navy? Mah cousin Leroy was in the Navy.”

“Roman,” Zeb said. “But I’ve been working with some Navy SEALs lately. It’s a long story, and not important. Help me up.”

Regina and Beau both helped him to stand with his back braced against one of the side rails and rope supports. The fur cloak fell off his body, puddling at his feet. “Please tell me that’s not Jasper’s hundred thousand dollar Hermes ermine cloak.”

“I told you,” Grimelda told Beau.

“Ermine, shermine! Enough with the fur crap, Grimey,” Beau shot back.

“With everything else we’ve done…like escape from Horror with a prized prisoner…I doubt that Jasper is going to fixate on a mangy fur,” Regina said with disgust, helping to cover his nude body once again. Otherwise, the jerk wouldn’t have to be worrying about barbed wire. His you-know-what would freeze and drop off. Actually, that might not be a bad idea.

“Hah! You don’t know Jasper.” Zeb was still talking about the fur cloak.

The balloon was getting closer and closer to the ground, probably only a hundred feet up now, and decisions needed to be made. Zeb seemed to realize that, too. Shivering, he wrapped the cloak tight around himself, then surveyed the land they were crossing.

“Aim for that flattened area over there,” he directed Patience.

“How do I aim?” Patience asked.

With a sound of disgust, Zeb took over and they made a relatively smooth landing where the basket did, in fact, tip over on its side, and he was, in fact, on top, facing upward so that he barbed parts weren’t pressed against anyone. When they all alighted, they didn’t think to grab onto the landing ropes and the balloon began to rise out of reach.

Oh, well!

Zeb lowered his cloak so that he could stand in his bare feet on the fur and not the icy ground. The temperature was cold for all of them, who shivered uncontrollably but more so for the nude Zeb. In fact, he was turning a pretty shade of blue.

“Do you still think you’re unable to teletransport,” Regina asked Zeb.

He seemed to be attempting a silent transport, then shook his head. “No go!”

“Let’s all gather around Zeb, team huddle style, and try to teletransport out of here. Zeb, you concentrate on where you want us to go. No, don’t even think of sending us there. You’d be with us, anyhow.”

Thus it was that four witches joined arms, surrounding a high demon Lucipire and after what seemed like an hour, but was only a minute, began to swirl up into the sky. Already, the air felt warmer in the currents of teletransporting.

Zeb said one thing before they finally landed. “The first thing I’m going to do is find me a pair of wire cutters.”

“At this point, I could do it with my teeth,” Regina joked.

But Zeb turned inch by inch to look at her. “Really?”

Honestly! Men and their manparts! Regina made one last suggestion, “Maybe we should pray first, for the success of our mission.”

“We’re demons,” Beau pointed out. “We don’t know how to pray.” Patience and Grimelda agreed with Beau.

But, to Regina’s surprise, Zeb arched his brows at her and said, “Good idea.”

“But how?” Beau persisted.

“The words don’t matter,” Regina said. “Just the intent.”

Thus it was, as the five of them swirled up, up, and away (without the aid of the loose balloon) into nothingness, one communal prayer could be heard. “HELP!”


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