She’s the girl of every man’s dreams. A reluctant succubus discovers a world teeming with uninhibited desire, but all she wants is control she’s not sure she can have.
Nova Mendez has always been popular with boys, but things are starting to get out of control. And when her priest tells her it’s her own fault then blames her for his own attraction, she doesn’t understand what’s happening to her.
Then a black-winged man swoops in to rescue her from the priest and from herself, only to inform her that no matter how hard she has tried to be good, she’s a succubus becoming her true self, and there’s nothing she can do but hang on for the ride.
As an incubus, Jules is uniquely qualified to handle her emerging power and teach her how to use it. She tries not to kill who she feeds upon, but accidents are bound to happen with a beginner, and Jules makes no effort to help her hold back.
The trouble with dead bodies, especially when they accumulate, is that they tend to attract the attention of the wrong element—namely, the kind who troll the mystical city of Meridian to hunt down her kind. And now Eli Fray, the rugged and relentless demon hunter, is on her trail.
All Nova has ever tried to do is the right thing, but if she’s a demon no matter what she does, how can she know what that is anymore?
Reader advisory: This book contains scenes of death, public sex, slut-shaming, attempted drugging, and date rape. There is a scene of f/f interaction and magical sexual coercion.
General Release Date: 18th April 2023
She’d only taken her sweater off because she was too warm.
Now she wrapped it around her like a cross between a cloak and a shield as she stood in front of the receptionist, waiting for the young work-study student to acknowledge her from whatever she was scrolling through.
“Yeah? What?” the student said, still not looking up.
Nova shifted on her wedge heels. “Father Marcus told me to wait in his office.”
The assistant rolled her eyes and shrugged toward the line of offices for interdenominational staff. “The door’s open. You don’t need my permission.”
Nova nodded, even though the girl couldn’t see her, then hurried to the office labeled with Father Marcus Cane’s name. The hall was modern in design, but the office had been paneled in dark wood and decorated in the vein of an old-school study. The scents of woven hardcover books and leather from the chairs entombed her.
She lowered herself into the chair nearest the door, right under the air vent. Although she tucked her sweater even more tightly around her, it wasn’t thick enough to block the cold.
Anything to keep her sweater on.
The room where they did their Saturday evening worship services was sometimes too cold during the summer months, but once the weather started to cool down, there was that awkward set of weeks in autumn and spring when it wasn’t chilly enough to turn on the heater but too cool for the air conditioner to kick in.
When a modest college crowd crammed into a too-small room with no air circulation, it was bound to get too warm before someone decided to manually turn on the air.
While the worship band had played the seventh praise song in their set, everyone had stood, those freer with their bodies waving their hands in the air like Pentecostals while the frozen chosen of the Methodist and white Southern Baptist set had awkwardly swayed. The Saturday evening service served primarily a Catholic crowd, with a Catholic Communion—the Protestants took theirs during Wednesday and Sunday services—but they remained casual enough to welcome anyone who wanted to come in evenings instead of having to wake up early on Sunday morning. They used the same praise band for both Wednesday and Saturday services and borrowed music majors for the more traditional choir on Sunday.
All that body heat, all that closeness with the chairs crammed together… It had been a perfectly natural thing for Nova to remove her thin sweater. It wasn’t like she’d had a spaghetti-strap shirt underneath. The tank-top straps were at least three fingers wide. She’d checked before she’d bought it. The neckline was modest enough, although she always had some cleavage. Short of a turtleneck, there was nothing she could do about that, and it wasn’t cold enough for turtleneck sweaters. Her skirt passed a high school dress code’s muster by a whole foot of fabric, but there wasn’t much of a dress code in college, where as long as you weren’t naked, they wouldn’t kick you out. Still, she was practically nun-like in comparison to what some of the other girls in the makeshift sanctuary wore.
It wasn’t that nobody had noticed the boy trying to slip his hand over her ass during the praise songs or the way he’d kept acting like she took up too much space and his elbow just couldn’t help but brush the side of her breast. Everyone beside and behind them had probably witnessed that. But when she’d slapped his hand, that’s when the situation had become a problem—and only because the slap had been so loud in the otherwise-silent crowd during the homily.
One of the counselors—volunteers from the University of Texas-Meridian campus staff—had made the boy move, but Father Marcus had stood and actually interrupted Father William’s message to tell Nova to see him after the service.
Her chest had ached as she’d lowered her head and nodded, crossing her arms over her breasts—not that that helped at all. She’d just wanted them all to stop looking at her.
Always the eyes… Nova couldn’t walk down the street alone in a bulky coat that covered her whole body without feeling the eyes. She’d consider herself paranoid, but it wasn’t always just eyes. Ever since she’d turned twelve years old, she’d been inundated with wolf whistles and catcalls. The years before puberty had hit were a distant dreamlike memory—a time when strangers had called her ‘pretty girl’ and given her little extra treats and attention but had never ogled her as though their gazes were fingertips.
A girl got tired of it after a while. Free drinks or desserts now and then were nice, but people seemed to expect that they paid for something else.
When she’d been twelve, her parents had yelled at the people who’d scammed on her. Around the time she’d turned fourteen, something had changed. Her mother and father had sat her down and told her she was growing up and needed to start taking responsibility as she became a woman. Her father wouldn’t let her out of the house unless she’d been suitably covered. Modesty, they’d called it—no jeans that showed the shapes of her legs, no tight-fitting or low-cut tops, no tank tops. They’d have put her in a Catholic school with ill-fitting uniforms if they could have afforded it.
Perhaps she would have been less resentful of their totalitarian rule over her closet if it had done anything to dissuade the gazes, the hands, the taunts that had made her afraid to leave the house alone. Perhaps that was why, once she’d enrolled in UTM, she’d started buying clothes to wear that didn’t wear her, although she still stayed relatively modest. If people were going to bother her anyway, she might as well let her skin breathe, and if people—if men—were going to tell her how good she looked, she might as well look good to herself. Right?
All those justifications she’d made in her head for her shopping spree once she’d settled into the dormitory, away from her parents’ control, suddenly seemed weak and small…like her.
She sat in the office with the door open, her legs pressed together instead of crossed. Her father had once told her that when women crossed their legs, it made them look like those kinds of secretaries. Her skirt hem rested well below her knees, even while sitting, although it was thinner and flowier than her old skirts had been.
Shivering under the air vent, she hugged her stomach, which was playing cat’s cradle with itself. She hadn’t done anything wrong, so why did it feel like she’d been sent to the principal’s office?
She’d been sent home from high school twenty-one times for skirts that were too tight in the rear, according to her teachers, and the dress code had specified no super-tight clothing—although it had failed to clarify what constituted ‘tight’. She’d tried to explain that if she didn’t tie them tight enough, they’d fall right off, but she’d been sent home anyway for being a disruptive influence. Other times, she’d been told her shirts were too low cut, even though there’d been girls around her with lower-cut tops, as though her real crime was having bigger boobs.
She’d never been rebellious, had always tried so very hard to please, but since her first major adolescent growth spurt, she’d still developed a reputation as a troublemaker. She’d eaten her lunches alone and made straight As, but she didn’t think any one of her teachers remembered her report cards—just the number of times they’d ignored her raised hands in class, the times they’d told her to go home to change or go to the office for one of the oversized T-shirts they kept to shame dress code violators.
All her friends, girls as well as boys, had dried up in middle school. She’d had a few boyfriends, the kind she couldn’t bring home because her father always said she was too young to date and needed to focus on school, but a pair of people found a way, anyway.
However, the boys never stayed long. Either they got what they wanted from her and were done or she didn’t give them what they wanted, hoping they’d stay under the assumption that she’d give it to them eventually.
Girls seemed to think she was competition, particularly when it came to boys, including all the ones she didn’t want. Nova was always a threat, even though she tried to be as unthreatening and fairy-princess nice as she could. It never got her anywhere, and middle school had been a special brand of hell, so she’d stopped trying to make friends by high school.
She and her roommate didn’t even talk, despite having majors and church services in common. Nova might as well live alone in the minuscule dorm.
This was her life. This had always been her life. It was as normal for her as brushing her hair and putting on lip balm in the morning.
Other girls had long-term boyfriends who, even in their horny teenage years, didn’t paw at them all hours of the day. Girls could be friends with other girls, even whole groups of them, without claws coming out. Boys could hang out with other girls without incessantly asking if they wanted to make out behind the gym or drive home with them.
There was something wrong with her, something wrong that she was doing. She just hadn’t figured out what it was yet. She was afraid to talk about it with anyone, even during confession, where she detailed how she got in trouble but never asked the priests why, afraid they’d have no other answer for her than ‘Eve’s sin’, which was no help to her.
She couldn’t help having been born a woman. She just wanted to know how to survive it.
Maybe Father Marcus could explain it to her when he arrived. And if he knew that she wanted to be good, wanted to be pure, wanted to be everything short of a nun for the rest of her life, maybe he wouldn’t punish her for being the reason why he’d interrupted the homily.
As the clock hand inched toward thirty minutes after the hour when the service should have concluded, Nova closed her eyes and prayed an Our Father. She didn’t feel comfortable with Hail Marys anymore—prayers to a maiden when she wasn’t technically a maiden. She’d say them when she was told to, but in secret, and whenever she thought of Mary, her soul seemed to shrink in fear.
Although why she thought she could go straight to God when she couldn’t even go through a saint was beyond her—all those women celebrated for going to such great lengths to preserve their virginity unto death. And she’d just given hers up in a fruitless attempt to get a guy to finally like her for more than her body, get it out of his system so that maybe he’d see her for what she really was.
It never worked. Maybe it did for some girls, but not her. Once the boys tasted what they wanted from her, she was chewed-up gum, mucky and unsticky tape, if you believed the sex education videos their health teacher had made them watch when they’d reached the reproductive unit. The boys were completely sated, and she was left wanting more, wanting deeper. Was it such a terrible thing to want to be held, to be touched, to be loved, to feel like she was important? But they used her as though she wasn’t even there at all.
If she’d been lonely in her preschool and elementary days, Nova thought she wouldn’t be quite so lonely now. As it was, she’d never gotten used to having people around her who were only after one thing.
“What are you doing here so late, Ms. Harvey?” Father Marcus asked out in the hall.
“Just waiting for you to come back, sir, to see if you needed anything else from me,” the receptionist said.
“Go on home. I’m sure you have other things to do tonight.”
“Thanks. Oh, you have someone in your office. She said you told her to be here. Should I stay?”
“No. This shouldn’t take long. Thank you, Ms. Harvey. Have a good night.”