Up In SmokeKatie MacAlister
Table of Contents
Praise for Katie MacAlister’s Aisling Grey, Guardian, Novels
“[A] comedic, hot paranormal caper.”—Booklist
“A wonderfully amusing relationship drama . . . a laugh-out-loud tale.”—Midwest Book Review
“Hysterical. . . . MacAlister hits the humor button dead-on. . . . This cast of wacky—if somewhat dangerous—characters makes for giggles galore, while also producing some hair-raising adventures. MacAlister has written a cure for the common blues!”
Light My Fire
“Crazy paranormal high jinks, delightful characters, and simmering romance.”—Booklist
“Once again Katie MacAlister knocks one out of the box with the third book in the Aisling Grey series. Light My Fire . . . takes you on a nonstop thrill ride full of sarcastic wit, verve, and action right to the end. Clear your day, because you will not put this book down until it is finished.”
—A Romance Review
“There is lots of enjoyment to be had. . . . This is a staying-up-late-to-see-what-happens-next story.”
—The Romance Reader
“Once again Aisling Grey will fire up readers. . . . Katie MacAlister provides a humorous fantasy.”
—Midwest Book Review
Fire Me Up
“[A] wickedly witty, wildly inventive, and fiendishly fun adventure in the paranormal world.”—Booklist
“Who knows where she will take us next! . . . [A] fascinating and fun writer.”—The Best Reviews
“Fresh, funny, and fabulous . . . Fire Me Up will crack you up. With so many intriguing, intelligently drawn, distinctive characters, it is no wonder [Katie MacAlister] is soaring to the top.”—A Romance Review
“MacAlister’s ability to combine adventure, thrills, passion, and outlandish humor is fast making her a superstar. Unstoppable fun!”
—Romantic Times BOOKclub
You Slay Me
“Smart, sexy, and laugh-out-loud funny!”
“Amusing romantic fantasy. . . . Fans will appreciate this warm, humorous tale that slays readers with laughter.”—The Best Reviews
“Katie MacAlister creates an entertaining world of demons, dragons and the people who control them. . . . Intriguing and funny.”
—A Romance Review
“Graced with MacAlister’s signature sharp wit and fabulously fun characters, this paranormal romance is wickedly sensual and irresistibly amusing.”
“In the first of what I hope are many Aisling Grey novels, MacAlister shoots straight for the paranormal funny bone. Her outlandish sense of humor is the perfect complement to her sexy stories.”
—Romantic Times (Top Pick, 41⁄2 stars)
“Humor, suspense, and intriguing characters . . . a real winner.”—Romance Reviews Today
And praise for The Last of the Red-Hot Vampires
“MacAlister’s fast-paced romp is a delight with all its quirky twists and turns, which even include a murder mystery.”—Booklist
“A wild, zany romantic fantasy. . . . Paranormal romance readers will enjoy this madcap tale of the logical physicist who finds love.”—The Best Reviews
“A fascinating paranormal read that will captivate you.”—Romance Reviews Today
“A pleasurable afternoon of reading.”
—The Romance Reader
“The sexy humor, wild secondary characters, and outlandish events make her novels pure escapist pleasure!”—Romantic Times
Also by Katie MacAlister
PLAYING WITH FIRE, A Novel of the Silver Dragons
HOLY SMOKES, An Aisling Grey, Guardian, Novel
LIGHT MY FIRE, An Aisling Grey, Guardian, Novel
FIRE ME UP, An Aisling Grey, Guardian, Novel
YOU SLAY ME, An Aisling Grey, Guardian, Novel
THE LAST OF THE RED-HOT VAMPIRES
EVEN VAMPIRES GET THE BLUES
BLOW ME DOWN
HARD DAY’S KNIGHT
THE CORSET DIARIES
MEN IN KILTS
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First published by Signet, an imprint of New American Library,
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First Printing, October 2008
Copyright © Katie MacAlister, 2008
eISBN : 978-0-451-22528-3
REGISTERED TRADEMARK—MARCA REGISTRADA
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To Dave Morace and Aimee Schmelter,
with many thanks for making me giggl
inappropriate moments, and for letting me
refer to them as Lintyblobs and Iddykins.
“Beautiful in is beautiful out; that’s what they taught us at Carrie Fay, and I absolutely believe it’s true. I mean, think about it—the sort of person you are doesn’t just stay inside you, now, does it?”
Before I could sort through that odd bit of logic, a cold, wet blob smelling of earth and minerals was slathered across my mouth. “Mmm-hmm,” I contented myself with answering.
“I’ll wipe off your lips, but no talking, sugar. We can’t have you moving your mouth as the mask dries. Anyway, it’s absolutely true. Just look at you, for instance!”
The petite, blond, perky woman in front of me who had been applying an olive green clay mask to my face stepped back to consider me; she held a small bowl in one hand, and her other hand was sheathed in a latex glove covered in the same gloop. She waved at me with the bowl. “You don’t look evil in the least, and yet here you are, about to wed a demon lord!”
“Sally, I’m not marrying Magoth—” I started to say, but she cut me off with a frown.
“No talking, sugar! I just told you that! Where were we? Oh, yes, how appearances can be deceiving.” Her frown deepened somewhat as she eye-balled me. I squirmed in the chair, never comfortable being the center of anyone’s attention . . . with one notable exception.
My heart gave a little quiver as a familiar ache started within me at the vision that rose in my mind’s eye—a man laughing with utter delight, dimples set in his beautiful latte-colored skin, his eyes flashing like quicksilver. Just the thought of him had my heart speeding up even as I mourned the fact that I hadn’t seen Gabriel in more than a month.
“You look like a normal woman—although I have to say that the 1920s flapper hairstyle you seem to enjoy is a bit less than mainstream. But other than that, you look perfectly normal, kind almost, not at all like you were to become Mrs. Demon Lord.”
“I’m not marrying Magoth,” I said, trying not to move my lips.
“Oh, well, consort, marrying . . . it’s all the same thing, isn’t it? Just a smidgen more on your forehead, sugar. You need a lot of exfoliating there. Whatever have you been using on your face? No, don’t answer; let the mask dry. Here, do you want to see yourself?” Sally put down her things and peeled off the glove, admiring her handiwork for a moment before offering me a mirror.
I kept my jaw clamped shut as I said slowly, moving my mouth as little as possible, “No, thanks. I’m a doppelganger. We don’t have reflections.”
“You don’t? I never noticed that.”
“It’s not something that most people know.”
“Must make plucking your eyebrows difficult.” She admired her own image in the mirror for a moment, fluffing up a strand of extremely styled blond hair before setting down the mirror and giving me a big, sharky smile. “Even if you can’t use the mirror, you have to admit that all this is awfully romantic.”
“Romantic?” I asked, my thoughts immediately turning to the dragon in human form who made my knees weak.
“Yes! Terribly so!” She must have seen the look of confusion in my eyes because she continued as she packed away into a small pink duffel bag a good fifty pounds of cosmetics and accompanying items. “Magoth making you his consort and giving you access to all that goes with such a position, I mean. It’s so incredibly romantic that he wants you so much he’s willing to overlook the fact that you’re not at all suited for the position. It just goes to show that even a demon lord has his soft side.”
I rolled my eyes. “Magoth has no soft side, and he doesn’t want me. Nor have I said I’d become his consort. I’m a wyvern’s mate, and that is where my heart lies, not here in Abaddon with Magoth.”
Sally’s jaw sagged a little. “You’re a wyvern’s mate? The dragon kind of wyvern? The leader of, what do they call them, a dragon sept?”
“That’s it,” I answered, still trying not to move my mouth at all. The mask was drying, pulling my flesh taut, which didn’t make it easy.
“A wyvern’s mate!” She looked thoughtful for a moment. “Then what are you doing here?”
I sighed. “It’s a long story, too long to tell you now, but the abridged version is that when my twin created me, I was bound to Magoth as his servant. Because I’m a doppelganger, he used me to steal items he wanted. One day I ran across Gabriel—he’s the wyvern for the silver dragons—and we discovered I was his mate. Magoth found out about it and demanded I steal a priceless dragon artifact for him, the Lindorm Phylactery. I refused and gave it to Gabriel, instead.”
Her eyes, kind of a muddy green, almost popped out of her head. “You refused? You went dybbuk?”
“Sins of Bael! But . . . you’re still alive. And whole. Not to mention the fact that Magoth told me you agreed to be his consort. Why would he say that, let alone allow you to live without being in perpetual torment, if you went dybbuk?”
“Magoth is a bit . . . different,” I said, only barely stifling the wry smile that hovered on my lips. “I guess he knows that being his consort is more of a perpetual torment than anything he could do to me physically.”
“You find him unattractive?” she asked, shaking her head in disbelief. “He’s gorgeous!”
“Physically, I think he’s very attractive. What woman could resist those smoldering dark looks? Certainly the women of the last century couldn’t. And didn’t. You know he was a silent film star, yes?”
“Well, I know he looks kind of familiar.” She thought for a moment, then mentioned a name.
“That’s him. The resemblance to his film self is more noticeable when he wears his hair slicked back. But regardless of his handsome exterior, it’s the interior that gives me nightmares.” I grabbed at her sleeve as she wandered past, continuing to gather up her things. “Sally, I know you’re spending time in Abaddon as part of your application for the empty demon lord position, but I don’t think you really understand what things here are really like, what the demon lords are. They may appear to be human, but they lost all shreds of humanity long, long ago, and Magoth is no different from any of the others . . . well, except he may be slightly more airheaded than the rest.”
“Not the biggest garbanzo in the three-bean salad?” she asked with a smile.
I gave her a wary look. “Not even close to it, no.”
“That’s all right.” She patted my hand for a moment, then turned to preen in front of the black-draped mirror that sat in the room Magoth had (unwillingly) assigned to me. “I like my men a bit dim. Makes them easier to handle.”
It was my turn to stare in disbelief, and stare I did. “It’s true I don’t know anything about your background other than you felt it important, for some reason that is completely beyond my comprehension, to try and obtain the currently vacant position of prince of Abaddon, but that aside, I think you are grossly underestimating just what exactly is Magoth’s true nature. He’s manipulative, greedy, self-centered, ruthless to the extreme, and he brings new meaning to the word ‘diabolical.’ In short, he is everything evil you can possibly imagine . . . and so much more.”
“Sweet, sweet May . . . singing my praises to the delicious Sally, are you? How thoughtful.”
The voice that spoke held a note of amusement that didn’t lull me into a sense of comfort. Magoth in a normal (read: evil) mood I could handle, but a playful, amused Magoth was especially dangerous.
“I’m simply telling her the truth about you,” I said cautiously, turning to eye him. As a mortal, Magoth had been an incredibly handsome man, with sinfully black hair and eyes and a seductive manner that had left women over the centuries sighing . . . those who survived his attentions, that is. Although demon lords could change their appearances to suit their whims, Magoth had never altered his, finding that his true form suited his purposes just fine.
He leaned with languid grace against the door frame to my room, a wicked light danci
ng in his black eyes, his hair once again slicked back, making obvious the resemblance to his movie-star self of some ninety years before. “May I enter?” he asked now with a slightly raised eyebrow at my slowness.
“Sins of the saints, you make him ask to come into your room?” Sally’s little gasp of surprise drew Magoth’s attention to her as he oiled his way into the room.
“It is a little game we play, my sweet May and I—she insists that I not enter her so charming chamber without her express consent, and I pretend to go along with it. And speaking of games, shall we indulge in a threesome?” Magoth flung himself down on my bed and patted the mattress with a seductive look pointed at me. “I’ll have to let May go first, since she will be my consort, but you may feel free to indulge in your wildest fantasies with me, Sally. I’m sure May won’t protest if you ride me like a rented mule.”
“Oh!” Sally said, shooting me a quick glance, but I was unsure if she was startled by the thought of indulging in a threesome, or by the fact that I would apparently not be bothered by my so-called lover’s infidelities. “I don’t . . . um . . .”
“She’s not interested any more than I am,” I said, coming to Sally’s rescue. I would have added a frown at Magoth for lounging around on my bed, but the mask was now so tight, it prohibited movement . . . not to mention the fact that Magoth wasn’t in the least concerned whether or not I frowned at his actions. “Did you want something in particular?”
“If I said ‘you’, would you hold it against me?” he asked with a waggle of his eyebrows. “And by it, I mean your delectable self. Naked? And dabbed with just a light touch of that edible jasmine oil I had made for you?”