Welcome to October! This post continues the series of excerpts and interviews with authors of A Darker Shade of Evil: A Demon and Devil Anthology available now!
Many thanks to Muffy Wilson for creating and compiling the interviews and excerpts.
Tagline: Can a desperate escape from Hell lead to a match made in heaven?
Working as a veterinarian for an animal rescue shelter has given Harper a heart for abused strays. So when a mysterious, sexy man shows up at the clinic looking for someone to tend to his wounds, Harper is there to assist. The man calls himself Bishop, and he says he’s on the run from a demon named Barbas who has made him its slave. It’s a hard story to swallow, yet Harper can’t deny that Bishop is surrounded by magic, and that his supernatural allure is impossible to resist.
She’s all set for a steamy one-night stand, but then Barbas makes Harper his target and things get personal. Now, she’s willing to help Bishop take revenge on the demon who’s destroyed their lives. And if she falls in love in the process, that’s even better. After all, what can go wrong when you give away your heart to someone who’s been living in hell for the past twenty years?
Harper stood in line at the roadside market with a Diet Coke, two apples, and four boxes of dog cookies. Today was her day to visit the Ravenstock animal shelter, and she wasn’t going to arrive without treats for her patients. Only three people stood ahead of her, but the line crawled along. The clerk, an older man with a white, bushy beard, chatted to every customer while ringing them up. Harper forced herself to keep from tapping her foot. Now that she’d moved to the country, she had to accept things moved slower than they had in the city.
The bell over the door rang and a man in a long, black coat swept in on a gust of wind and rain. His dark hair had been cropped brutally short, and he had several piercings in his left ear. Harper lowered her gaze, not wanting to catch his eye. He wasn’t a large man, but an aura of danger enveloped him. His shoulders were tense, and his lower jaw was clenched. Harper had occasionally seen his type in Detroit, but he looked out of place here in northern Michigan.
As the line inched forward, Harper sensed the man in the long coat prowling around the store. She tensed, certain he was about to rob the place. However, no one else seemed concerned. The clerk laughed at something one of the customers said, and the woman in front of Harper kept her eyes on her phone.
The man in the coat stepped in line behind Harper. He carried one of the red, plastic shopping baskets over one arm. In it was a loaf of bread and a half-gallon of milk along with a package of sandwich meat. Certainly nothing dangerous. Harper let out a sigh of relief.
The problem wasn’t the man, she realized. It was Greg, her ex. Greg had been stalking her ever since she’d left him three months before. At first, he’d sent her texts demanding to know why she’d gone. Then he’d started forwarding candid pictures of her at work and the gym to let her know that he was always watching. His latest messages had been downright threatening. You better stop ignoring me, or you’ll be sorry. When he left a dead cat on her doorstep, it was time for her to leave town. Now, even though she was three-hundred miles from Detroit, she still looked over her shoulder.
“That’s a lot of dog biscuits,” the man behind her said.
To prove to herself she wasn’t afraid, Harper looked directly at him and smiled. “I have a lot of dogs.”
“Animal hoarder?” he said.
“Veterinarian.” She nodded toward the door. “I volunteer at the Ravenstock animal shelter.”
He broke into a smile, softening the hard angles of his face. “You like helping strays. Good for you.”
Harper was about to reply when the clerk cleared his throat. “I guess I’m next,” Harper said and placed her purchases on the counter.
As she left the store, the wind whipped at her hair and blew rain into her face. Although it was the beginning of May, spring hadn’t yet arrived this far north. Harper loved the quiet of the country, but this cold weather had to go! She hurried toward her car.
“Harper.” A long-haired, heavy-set man in a bulky coat leaned against her car. Greg.
Harper gasped and almost dropped her groceries. “How did you find me?” she demanded. Because Greg was a private investigator, she’d been very careful when she’d moved, not even telling friends and family where she was going. She’d cut up her old credit cards so they couldn’t be traced back to her, and had changed her phone number. She’d done everything right, yet here he stood.
“You can’t get away from me.” He stood straighter and came toward her, forcing her back a step. “You should know that by now.” He smiled when he said this, but the threat was all too clear.
“Leave me alone!” If she was loud enough, maybe she could attract attention from someone inside the store. She fumbled for the can of mace hidden deep within her purse. “Go away, or I’ll….”
She cut herself off, but Greg picked up on her threat. “You’ll what?” he jeered. “Call the cops?” His smile was cruel and cunning. “I’m sure they’d be interested in hearing my side of the story, too.”
Harper knew she was trapped. If the police did come, she’d be in as much trouble as Greg. “Leave me alone,” she said, this time begging. Her hand went to the scar above her left eyebrow. Greg had hurt her before; he would surely do it again.
Greg shook his head. “No can do. You, however, will get into my car if you know what’s good for you.”
She retreated another step. Suddenly, the safety of the market seemed leagues away. “Greg, please… .”
“Greg, please… .” he said, parodying her.
Harper felt a presence behind her. “Leave her alone.”
Greg’s sneer became a snarl. “Who are you?”
The man from the store stepped in-between Harper and Greg. “I’m someone who wants to talk sense into you.”
The man sounded calm and assured, almost friendly, but Harper wasn’t fooled. Tension thrummed throughout his body. She had the feeling he was sizing up Greg and looking for weaknesses.
Greg stuck out his chin. “Get lost. This is between Harper and me.”
The man held up both hands to show he wasn’t a threat. “Let’s be reasonable and talk this out.”
“Real men don’t talk,” Greg said and reached under his jacket.
“He’s got a gun!” Harper shouted, but her warning came too late. The gun went off, and Harper shrieked.
“You stupid son-of-a-bitch,” the man growled the words. In the yellow light of the parking lot lamp, the man’s coat darkened at the shoulder as blood flowed from the wound.
Harper dropped her groceries and ran to her rescuer’s side. “Oh my God! Greg, you idiot!”
“He made me do it,” Greg said. “It wasn’t my fault!”
The man leaned against Harper’s Jeep, his hand clamped over the wound. Even in the dim light, Harper noticed the pale look of shock.
The gunshot had drawn attention from those inside the store. Shouts rang out and someone peered around the doorway. No doubt, at least one person had called 911 which meant the sheriff would arrive any minute.
The scrabble of tennis shoes against gravel let Harper know Greg was fleeing the scene. He leapt into his car and sped off so fast his car fishtailed on the road, making his tires squeal against the asphalt.
Harper had been terrified moments before, but now she was furious. How dare Greg come after her like this! And how dare he shoot her rescuer! Hopefully, someone would call the police. Even if it meant she got into trouble as well, she couldn’t let Greg get away with it.
She hurried back to where her rescuer leaned against her Jeep. “We need to get you to a hospital.”
He shrugged off his coat and examined his arm. “It’s nothing more than a scratch.”
“Doesn’t matter. It’s a gunshot wound, and it needs to be looked at.”
“You’re a doctor,” he said. “Can’t you do something?”
“I’m a vet,” she corrected, “and I could lose my license if I practice medicine on people. But don’t worry. I’ll call an ambulance.”
He shook his head. “I can’t have the authorities involved.”
“This isn’t a debate,” she said.
“You said you were heading to Ravenstock, right? Take me there and clean the wound. Once I know you’re safe, I’ll be on my way. Then, you can speak with the police.”
Harper’s stomach was in knots. She owed him a debt of gratitude, but the man threw off warning signals like police flashers at a four-car collision. He had a desperate, dangerous feeling about him. As if someone hunted him. And the last thing she needed in her life was another loose cannon.
Seeing her hesitation, the man shrugged. “Look, it’s okay. I know this looks sketchy as hell.”
He was right; it did look sketchy as hell. “Are you running from the cops?” she asked. “Are you wanted? Is the mob after you?”
He laughed. “I’m wanted, but not by the mob.” He picked up the bag of groceries she’d dropped and handed them over. “Don’t worry about it. I don’t want to get you into trouble.” He turned to go.
Ah, Hell. She couldn’t turn her back on someone who had just rescued her from Greg, the maniac. “Get in the Jeep. “Ravenstock is only a mile up the road.” She never could resist helping a stray.
INTERVIEW WITH MICHELLE SCOTT
What is your most treasured possession?
I have to admit that it’s my phone. I grew up pre-computer, yet I’m still a techie! I love that I can read books, store and take pictures, and listen to music all on one device. I really marvel at technology and am always eager to see what they come up with next.
Who or what has been the greatest love of your life?
Definitely my husband. We’ve been married for over thirty years, and I knew from the beginning that he was the one I was meant to be with. He’s my cheerleader, my life coach, and my best friend.
Dogs or Cats?
I would have to say both! I love how dogs can be so enthusiastic. They’re active and rough-and-tumble not to mention loyal. Cats, on the other hand, (or at least my cat) can be a little finnicky, but I love to sit in a chair, reading a book, with a cat curled up in my lap.
What quality do you most admire in a woman and/or a man?
Generosity. I admire people who donate their time, as well as their money, to worthy causes. I also love it when people tip well.
What are your writing quirks?
I am a thirsty writer! I always have a glass of iced tea or a cup of coffee when I write. I try not to snack, but I figure drinking is okay.
What do you do as a hobby?
I love to knit and crochet. If I don’t have a book in my hands, then I will have a pair of needles or a hook. I also love exploring new music. I’m a big fan of indie bands.
Which are your three favorite books?
The Stand by Stephen King; Jane Eyre; and Interview with the Vampire by Anne Rice
What is your Writing Routine?
I always write first thing in the morning and last thing before I stop working for the day. My ideas are always freshest in the morning, and writing actually relaxes me at night.
Does writing energize or exhaust you?
Both! It can be draining, especially if I am really into a scene, but it can also perk me up.
What are you working on now?
Right now, I’m working on the third book in my Restless Spirits series. Restless Spirits is about a young man who can see ghosts, but has always hated his ability. Throughout the series, he comes to terms with his special gift while helping put ghosts to rest.
More Favorites from the Restless Spirits series: I am in love with my characters! Ethan, the main character, struggles with his visions because, all his life, he was told that he was mentally ill and not clairvoyant. His boyfriend, David, struggles with his identity as a gay man. Ethan’s friend and business partner, Christian, is more easy going. He recently lost someone he cared deeply about, but that loss has encouraged him to move take more risks in life. He and Ethan have started a paranormal investigation business, and have gone on many adventures.
Tell us about your other books?
I write a lot of different kinds of books. I’ve written cozies in my Straight to Hell series and straight-up romance in Just the Two of Us. Mostly, I enjoy books with an otherworldly element. Straight to Hell is urban fantasy whereas Restless Spirits is more supernatural thriller.
What are your Top Writing Tips?
Write every day. Don’t be afraid to write a terrible first draft, lol. Read, read, and read some more. Always appreciate your readers. Connect with other writers. Never give up!
Finally, what are we likely to find in YOUR nightstand?
Right now, I’m in the middle of three books. The first is for my book club, and it’s called There There by Tommy Orange. The next is a thriller called Cut and Run by Mary Burton. The final one is a favorite classic of mine – The Wasteland by T.S. Elliot.
Michelle Scott has lived in Michigan all her life, and loves to explore its coastlines and camp in its forests. Although she’s written romance, she mostly pens urban fantasies and supernatural suspense novels. When she’s not writing or reading, Michelle loves to knit, discover new indie bands on Spotify, and explore antique shops. She’s been married to Mr. Right for over thirty years, and has three children.
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A Darker Shade of Evil
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Khardine Gray – USA Today Bestselling Author
Alone In The Dark
Dariel Raye – USA Today Bestselling Author
The Devil Upstairs
Lori Titus – USA Today Bestselling Author
Muffy Wilson – USA Today Bestselling Author
Keta Diablo – Bestselling Author
I Spy A Demon
Marilyn Harlow – Bestselling Author
Demons Are A Girl’s Best Friend
Gracen Miller – Bestselling Author
Michelle Scott – Bestselling Author
The Demon’s Prisoner
Katherine Eddinger Smits – Bestselling Author
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Katherine Eddinger Smits grew up wanting to be a mermaid but discovered to her dismay this was not a viable career choice. Instead, she became a clinical social worker and helped veterans and their families.
Now she brings social work training and experience to her stories of mermaids, mages and magical creatures. Within the context of fantasy and romance, her novels explore real-life issues of self-acceptance, body image, relationship dynamics, and fears and phobias. Mystery, suspense, and a little sex add spice to her books.
She is the author of four paranormal romances.
Katherine and her husband divide their time between Florida and West Virginia. Their children and granddaughters live in Virginia.
Besides writing, Katherine is a blogger, mom, Mimi, dressage rider, and clog dancer.
Sign up for her quarterly newsletter and receive a free short story! Newsletters always include contests, freebies and fun. http://katherineeddingersmits.weebly.com/