UNHOLY PROPOSAL


“I honestly can’t talk this book up enough. I would tip this for my read of the year.” ~Goodreads reviewer

BOOK ONE IN THE UNHOLY INC SERIES
AMAZON | BARNES & NOBLEKOBO | iBOOKS

Bumping into the Devil was something bartender/law student Jessie Blaze never expected. And go figure…he’s wickedly charming. Jessie just wants to finish school and take care of grandma and grandpa. But sexy night club owner Nate Temple tempts her with his heated touch, unholy proposal, and racy alliances—screwing everything up.

Nate Temple isn’t actually the Devil, but a supernatural demon hunter tasked with guarding humanity and a holy relic as punishment for being a first class bastard while human. When Lucifer’s son, Asmodeus, arrives from Hell to steal the relic, Nate faces the greatest challenge of his Guardianship…especially when the Demon Prince realizes just how much Jessie means to Nate.

Jessie can’t resist Nate’s dark secrets, wild spirit, and outrageous confidence in her. So when her man is threatened and called to save the world, there’s only one thing a modern woman can do…Dance with the Devil.

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Long Excerpt

ONE

Jessie Blaze whapped her wooden spoon on the kitchen counter and grimaced at the apartment wall where her neighbor’s headboard had been banging off and on for damn near three hours. A sexual boot camp that made it nearly impossible to study for tomorrow’s Constitutional Law test, which she was going to flunk if she didn’t get some food and serenity around here stat.

“Whoever he brought home’s not gonna be able to walk for a week. Grrr.” She leaned down to bare her teeth at Scourge, her ten-year-old Chihuahua who was sitting in his chair at the table. Scourge growled right back before giving her a sloppy doggy kiss.

The wall abuse continued, only now her neighbor’s bed buddy added vocals in an impressive soprano. Jessie rolled her eyes, but couldn’t suppress a shiver. It had been six months since she’d scratched that kind of itch, and she wouldn’t be breaking the dry spell any time soon. Being a female bartender provided loads of opportunities for sexual escapades, but watching people get liquored up and making all the same mistakes night after night had a way of dampening her enthusiasm for accepting any of the inevitable offers. And between work, school, worrying about her insecure uncle, and taking care of Gramma and Grampa, there simply wasn’t time to get to know anyone.

So here she was, twenty-six-going-on-sixty, trying to be responsible and study, but instead only managing to visualize herself as the one pressed up against her mysterious and well-mannered neighbor’s tall, hard body. Those sculpted shoulders rising above her, his come here I wanna bite you lips descending, her skin burning for his touch…

Burning?

Smoke from the pan.

Water sizzling as it overflowed the pot of spaghetti.

Jessie lunged for the stove, swearing. She pulled both the pan of charred hamburger and the pot of noodles off the burners, cussing again as boiling water sloshed across the stovetop.

Stupid Nate. Why’d he have to flaunt his hookup like this? She could’ve sworn she’d seen attraction in his twinkling blue eyes whenever they passed in the hall. She’d even noticed him inhaling deeply like he was appreciating a wine’s rich bouquet whenever he held the door open for her. Which was a little creepy, but his sexy smile mitigated the weird factor. She hadn’t seen him with anyone before, so she’d hoped he might be single and…

You are so lame, Jessie.

And unfair. She didn’t know much about him other than he had a sexed-up British accent, a smile that made her knees weak, a body that made her forget her own name, and eyes that made her slumbering right brain wake up and spout poetry. Just because he knew his way around a woman’s body—some other woman’s body, gah—didn’t mean she should take her sexual frustrations out on him.

If only she could really be JBlaze—her alter ego when she tied on her bar apron.

An ass-kicking, name-taking, booty poppin’ diva.

Jessie looked down where Scourge licked a pile of noodles off the floor. She turned off both burners and picked up her dog as a new round of moaning and headboard slamming began next door. Her dreams—and worries—were bigger than a momentary heartbreak by a guy who could charm a chastity belt off a nun.

“Looks like we’re gonna have to swing by McDonalds before hitting the library, Scourgie. You’ll have to hide in my purse again.” With only two hours before the law library closed, she didn’t want to fuss with getting gussied up. Besides, Mr. Charisma was already occupied next door, and she seriously doubted any hunky law students would be prowling the library this late on a Friday night. She shoved her papers and books into her bag, slipped on her fuzzy boots, grabbed her coat, purse, keys, and Scourge. She hustled out the door and…

Bumped into a fantasy.

“Whoa! Easy there, angel.” A deep voice rolled over her skin.

A British voice.

Hell in a handbasket.

Nate.

Jessie ducked her head and pushed out of his grasp because she wasn’t wearing a stitch of makeup. Or a bra. Balls. Not a good call when you’re a double D. She pulled her book bag and Scourge in front of her like a Kevlar vest. Then noticed she’d knocked a bunch of grocery bags out of his hands when she’d barreled out of her apartment at Mach whatever.

She and Nate bent down to the grocery bags at the same time and knocked heads at the precise moment the woman in Nate’s apartment reached her throat-ripping climax. Nate made a low sound like he was in pain, causing all the skin on Jessie’s upper body to prickle. Her gaze shot up to find his saturated blue eyes burning with intensity and his lips—oh wow—those beautiful lips just inches from her own. “Y-you aren’t home?”

His ultra serious expression slid away as a slight dimple peeked beside his lips. Had she really spoken out loud? OMG, Jessie. Her face had to be drowning in an ocean of red. “What I mean is…” I’m so deliriously happy you’re not the one banging that chick into next week.

There was nothing she could say that would make this less awkward, so she handed him a red pepper, wondering what he planned to do with it. Guys like him didn’t cook with fresh produce. Honestly. “Glad the eggs are okay, and sorry to plow you over,” she managed without stuttering again.

He ignored the jug of pomegranate juice, Gruyere cheese, and various types of produce splayed across the floor, choosing to pet Scourge, the little traitor, who’d bailed from her bag and now had his front paws on Nate’s chest. “They’ve been a mite loud, eh? Good for them. I thought they’d be finished by now. How long have they been at it?”

Her mouth gaped for a spit second before she recovered. “I am so not having this conversation with you.” The heat in his eyes made her suddenly aware of her pointy, unprotected nipples. She rearranged her scarf over her breasts the best she could. Then she reached for Scourge and stuffed him in back in her bag. “See you around, Nate.”

She started to rise when he grabbed her elbow and helped her to feet. “Hey, where are you going so late anyway?”

As casually as possible, she pulled a few more strands of hair out of her messy bun to flitter around her face. All the better to hide behind because these awful fluorescent hallway lights managed to point out every imperfection on your mug. “It’s not late for night owls like me. I’m heading out for a bite to eat.”

Moans started anew next door. Nate stepped closer, raising Jessie’s heart rate tenfold.

“Well, what do you know, I quite like the night, too. I have a deal for you, Jessica.”

Of course he did.

But she’d never tried a foursome, and tonight was damn well not going to be her first. Her glance raked him over, from his scuffed leather boots, up his jean-clad, muscle-bound thighs, to the snap-front olive shirt rolled to expose his sexy forearms—doesn’t he feel the cold? It’s like forty degrees outside—to those lips, those all-seeing eyes, and that carelessly artful mahogany hair. Talk about a total contrast to her oversized University of Minnesota sweatshirt, UGG boots, and spaghetti sauce-splattered yoga pants. Back away from the pretty man, Jessie. “I…I’m sorry. I have to get to the library to study. Big test tomorrow.”

He tilted his head to one side with a lazy smile that made her anything but relaxed. “Let me be of assistance. In fact, we can aid one another. You’ve got to admit, I can’t possibly go in and interrupt that.” He gave her a perfectly-executed wink that he had to have practiced in a mirror. “Like I said, I thought they’d be sated by now. But since they’re not, and I have these,” he lifted his grocery bags, “let me cook us a quiche while you study. I promise not to be a bother.”

“What?” He couldn’t be serious.

“I’ll even quiz you after a while.”

“Quiz?” she squeaked.

“Indeed. I’ll ask questions from the chapter you’re studying, and you can answer.” How did he get his eyes to twinkle like that? “Then I’ll feed you quiche,” he said.

“Quiche?”

“You know, eggs, cream—”

She squeezed Scourge so hard he yelped. Come on, Jess, full sentences. “I know what quiche is.”

“If you don’t like it, I can make something else. Trust me, I’m an experienced cook.”

This was just…bizarre. “I like quiche,” she mumbled.

“Great!”

When he reached for her doorknob, she finally shook out of her stupor. “No, wait!” Why would he make her quiche? She pointed to his door. “Go in there and tell them to take their party elsewhere. Good grief, they’ve been at it for two and half hours already.”

“Look, here’s what happened. My mate Dorian got to town and didn’t take the time to find a hotel room before he hooked up. When he asked to use my place, I didn’t realize he was so depleted. My apologies.”

Depleted? What an odd way to describe horny, but whatever. Scourge squirmed in her bag. “Well, by now I’m sure he’s dulled the edge enough to wait fifteen minutes to find a hotel for the rest of the night. I’d kick them out if I were you,” she said.

Nate shrugged. “I don’t want to pester them when they’re having such a grand time. Come on, Jessica. Let me prepare a meal for you.” His eyes mapped the contours of her body from top to bottom. He smiled when his gaze made it back to hers. “I promise it’ll be good.”

Oh, wow. This guy was a walking innuendo. TWTA: Trouble With a Tight Ass. Good looks do not preclude homicidal intentions, Jess. Ted Bundy had been a reasonably handsome guy with loads of charm, too.

So they said.

Did serial killers cook quiche, though?

A tiny voice inside her head told her to open her door and hold on the for the ride. Jessie peered into Nate’s eyes looking for the tell-tale vacancy she’d read about in her undergrad abnormal psych classes. She shivered when she found the opposite of vacancy. So much depth there, she could fall right into his eyes. Her fingers tightened on her bag strap. “Okay, you can come in, but only for a little while.” Heart thumping overtime, she turned to unlock her door, then cringed when she saw the ungodly mess she’d left in the kitchen. “Crap. I forgot how I left the place. Guess this isn’t going to work after all.”

When she turned around, he was in her space. Like right there. She tilted her head back to look at him and swallowed hard. Oh man, he smelled gooood. Layered notes of orange and lime and a vague memory of the ocean from her childhood.

“Any cook worth his or her salt gets used to rip-roaring messes. You’ve got a doozy. Guess it’s your lucky day I’m here.” He tapped her on the nose and walked in.

Twenty minutes later, the stove sparkled, the quiche was baking, and Scourge was fast asleep on Jessie’s lap as she shuffled her Constitutional Law notes on the table. Not that she’d been able to concentrate with Nate’s fine ass moving around her kitchen like he owned the place. Of course, she could always hope that osmosis worked because Lord knew she’d practically burned a hole in the pages looking at them.

At least things had finally quieted down next door, so she’d begun to relax.

Nate sat down across from her and handed her a glass of Gewurztraminer. “Sorry, it’s all I have at the moment.” One side of his lips lifted. “Cheers.”

Her glass clinked against his before she sipped the wine. “It’s nice. I don’t drink much, so this is a treat.” She gestured to the oven. “Hey, if you want to go home now, I can bring the quiche over when it’s ready.”

“Tossing me out already?”

“I thought it’d be more like a get out of jail free card for you.”

He tugged on a coil of hair by her ear. “On the contrary. I’ve been trying to think of a way to ask you out since the mailbox incident a few of weeks ago.”

When her pen fumbled to the floor, she was thankful Scourge was on her lap to give her hands something to do. “That was not my fault.” Her overheating face said otherwise, however. It took a special kind of stupid to get your hair stuck in a metal mail box. “I’m telling you, poltergeists live in those little black holes.” She took back-to-back gulps of wine. Seriously, why was he here? What would a girl like her have to offer a guy like him? She’d bet a whole week’s bartending tips that she was frumpville compared to the other girls who crossed his path on a daily basis.

He stood up from the table, and just like that, her fairy tale was about to end. He would leave now, but that was A-okay because prince charmings didn’t compute in her world. She had bills to pay, grades to maintain, an uncle to avenge, grandparents to care for, new employers to impress—

“Bring your glass and come here, Jessica.” He held his hand out to her.

“Where are we going?”

His slow smile mocked her. “Do you always need to know all the answers before you leap?”

“Yes. Yes, I do. Prosecutors always press for the truth,” she said in case he hadn’t noticed any of the law books on her table.

He winked, sat down on her couch, and patted the cushion next to him. “So, no defense law in store for you.” It wasn’t a question. “Gonna save the day as a prosecutor then. That’s brilliant.”

That slight English accent was terribly alluring. As was the invitation to sit next to him. She chose her favorite threadbare chair instead, then stripped off her socks. Scourge soon claimed her lap. “Are you from around here?” she asked. He’d moved into the building exactly forty-five days ago. She remembered it well because it was the same day Uncle Mason had called to tell her he’d been blackmailed into selling his nightclub.

“More or less.” He swirled the sweet, woodsy liquid in his glass.

It was the first time he’d spoken that he hadn’t looked her in the eye. Her curiosity was piqued. “Meaning you’re from Minnesota in general? Or you were born elsewhere, but you’ve been here a while?” The latter seemed more likely because of his accent.

“I bloom where I’m planted. Now tell me, why law?”

She opened her mouth to call him on his evasive answer, then closed it. This wasn’t Moot Court, and acting like a pitbull tended to get exhausting after a spell. Not to mention, it wasn’t the best way to get to know a guy. She drank the rest of her wine and settled back into the chair. A pleasant tingling began to wind about her legs. “I want to be a voice for vulnerable populations—battered women, children, the elderly, disabled veterans.”

“Ah, my initial impression was correct then. You’re an angel in a world of demons.” His eyes seemed to pulse with warmth, sincerity, and…something else.

Jessie smiled, feeling warm in an entirely nice way. She pushed her sweatshirt sleeves up and pet Scourge slowly, a delicious contentment seeping through her. “I hesitate to correct your assumption, but the only angels in my family are my grandparents, Tillie and Walt. They share a love like you’ve never seen.”

His eyes narrowed the slightest bit. “You must take after them, though. You mentioned earlier that they all but raised you.”

“Yes, fortunately for me, otherwise my mother—” Her gaze dropped to where Scourge snored on her lap. The wine was making her tongue loose. Most people ended up finding out about her notorious mother eventually, but right now Jessie wasn’t ready for over-sharing.

“Your mum?” Nate’s question came out soft, his eyes clear and focused. It would be so easy to spill her family’s dirty laundry.

He wasn’t the only one who could be evasive, however. “Have you ever wondered how a child could turn out so differently from his or her family?” she asked.

“As a matter of fact—”

She would have loved to hear what he’d been about to say, but the wall banging re-commenced next door. Nate threw back his head and belly laughed so deeply she couldn’t help but giggle, too.

“No wonder you got so distracted, Angel,” he said.

No one had ever called her an angel. Not even as a child. It was nice. Especially the way he spoke the endearment, slowly, meaningfully, like he was savoring each letter on his tongue.

Moments later, his insinuation dawned on her. She glanced around the kitchen, remembering her ‘mess-interrupted’ and cringed. “They didn’t distract me with their…uh, their…”

“Fucking?”

The illicit word from his lips made her whole body tingle. “No!”

“Oh, but I think they did. And they are.” His gaze was filled with heat. And he was smirking, the beast.

“That’s not what I…You…I wasn’t leaving because I had to get away from that.”

He shook his head. “You are a horrible liar. Apropos for an angel.”

“Well, give me a break, that sexual marathon isn’t normal.” Scourge yipped and growled on her lap, irritated by her agitation.

“On the contrary. It appears no one has ever showed you how much of a journey lovemaking can be.” He paused, his eyes once again tracking slowly from her lips to her breasts, lower, down to her bare toes. Her breath caught and held, frozen while her heart pumped hard in her chest. His eyes smoldered when his gaze returned to hers. “I’d be delighted to initiate you.”

Outrageous!

But…she liked it.

Almost as much as she liked the way his lips slid past his teeth on that infernally slow smile. “You are curiously depraved,” she whispered.

He stood, lifted Scourge out of her lap, placing him on the couch. “Quite. Put it on a t-shirt for me?”

“No t-shirt big enough to fit your vainglorious ego.”

“Be careful, big words turn me on. But tell me, since when does having an ego equate with depravity?” He leaned down to place his hands on the chair arm rests, boxing her in.

She cleared her throat. “Since when does a metrosexual know how to cook?” Or have a brain? This guy was more trouble than a wired eighteen-year-old in a strip club.

“I didn’t figure you for the judgmental type. Stereotypes can be dangerous.”

“More like early warning systems for modern women.”

“What are you worried about?”

She blew out a breath, but it didn’t help one damn bit. “You.”

He raised his eyebrows. “I’m here because I rather like you.”

But why? Why do you like me? “I know nothing about you other than you drive a beat-to-hell pickup, you’re exceedingly permissive with your friends, and by the smell of it, you know how to make a mouthwatering quiche. That’s it.”

Next door, the man’s groans merged with the woman’s growing crescendo of staccato cries. Jessie shifted in her seat, her body achy and warm. The sounds were getting to Nate, too. She could see it in his eyes. The way his gaze kept drifting to her breasts. He straightened, his hands sliding down his pants like his palms were sweaty.

“What else would you like to know?” His voice was gravelly.

The woman next door had to be dying by now from the cadence of those moans. “How can anyone go on for so long?”

“That sounds like a challenge I can’t refuse.” He pulled her up into his arms, and her skin ignited.

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