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“The Devil’s Midway” Teaser

October 5, 2012

K. and I have a short story coming out next Friday in the anthology Devil’s Night. The story, called The Devil’s Midway, takes place in the same world as the short story Blood and Absinthe, found in the Love & Agony anthology. This one doesn’t center on Roderick as the first one did, but Thaddeus, the manager of Le Carnaval du Diable. 😀

***

“Now, you sent word that we needed to speak?” Belial smiled down at him. “Does this mean you’re finally ready to go to your hands and knees for me?”

Thaddeus laughed, though it came out more like a croak. “I’ve told you, I bargained away my soul, not my body.”

“Yes, yes.” Belial sat on the only chair in the sparse room. “And I keep telling you, it’s only a matter of time.”

Thaddeus looked up and instantly wished he hadn’t just yet. On the floor, his view of Belial was more than a bit suggestive, and he tore his eyes away from the way Belial sat with his knees casually parted. Damn Belial, he probably sat that way on purpose, just to get a rise out of him. Well, he wasn’t going to get it. Thaddeus looked back down to the ground as if he needed to in order to catch his footing and straighten again. Being on his feet put him taller than a seated Belial, and he much preferred the illusion of dominance. “Time is not without end. Not when it comes to me and you.”

Belial raised an eyebrow at him in one of those amused expressions Thaddeus had grown to despise over the long years. “You’ve barely served a fraction of your time. I assure you, I have all the time I need.”

There was no winning this argument. He’d had it more times with Belial than he cared to count. He waved off the statement, affecting an air of nonchalance despite being nude. “I sent word because of the incident I brought to your attention the last time we spoke.”

The wicked grin that curved Belial’s lips made Thaddeus want to groan and rephrase his sentence as he made his way to the tin tub, grateful that it was already full of cool water. “We spoke of a good many things. Do you refer to your complaint about the new sword-eater getting fresh with you?” Thaddeus opened his mouth to protest, but didn’t get a word out before Belial continued, “Because I thought you would rather appreciate a skill such as hers. Take a lesson, perhaps.”

Thaddeus glared at Belial as he hunched down into the tub. The cool water did nothing to soothe his anger, even if it felt amazing on his overworked feet. The truth was, he hadn’t complained. He hadn’t breathed a damn word about Maram to Belial, not directly at least. Belial’s power had simply drawn out the memories in his moment of weakness. Only a moment during their last little talk; that’s all Belial had needed in order to pry into his dealings with the more recent additions to the carnaval. He inwardly reminded himself to keep up his guard, to maintain that inward barrier as he answered flatly, “No. Leander is following us. The man is obsessed with Roderick.”

“Yes, I know.”

“You do.” So calm, so collected. Belial’s tone made Thaddeus suspicious. His eyes narrowed, never leaving Belial’s form as he used a sponge to wet his body. “And you plan to do what about it, exactly?”

“Roderick and Lee are of little concern. You will not interrupt their involvement with one another.” Something sparked in Belial’s eyes, something dark and twisted, and it sent a wave of heat down Thaddeus’ spine before he could control the response.

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