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Katie MacAlister

  Table of Contents

  Title Page

  Copyright Page


  A Plague on Sisters

  Sing Hallelujah, C’mon Get Happy

  Ssssssssteam Heat

  Buck Rogers, I Ain’t

  Women Are Complicated Creatures

  MacGyver Makes It Look Way Too Easy

  To Boldly Go


  Teaser chapter

  Praise for Katie MacAlister’s Silver Dragons Novels

  Up in Smoke

  “Filled with action . . . yet there is also plenty of humor and affection.”

  —Midwest Book Review

  “This zany paranormal, with its madcap plot and screwball characters, will work its magic with MacAlister’s many fans and make some new ones along the way.”


  “An action-packed, never-a-dull-moment thrill ride.”

  —Romance Novel TV

  “Ms. MacAlister works her humor- filled magic to entertain readers with the action and scorching romance that keeps them glued to the pages.”

  —Darque Reviews

  “An upbeat, funny paranormal. . . . You won’t be disappointed!”

  —Romance Reader at Heart

  “Ms. MacAlister has done it again and provided me with an enjoyable and very entertaining series to read!”

  —The Romance Studio

  “Up in Smoke . . . may not be as laugh-out-loud hilarious as the Aisling Grey series but is no less fun, entertaining, or addictive.”

  —A Romance Review

  Playing with Fire

  “Fast-paced. . . . Katie MacAlister proves her skill as a magician when Playing with Fire, she places Aisling in a secondary role yet enchants her audience.”

  —Midwest Book Review

  “Ms. MacAlister works her creative magic and adds a fabulous new layer to her world of sexy dragons. The dialog is as witty as ever. . . . Playing with Fire has all of the danger-filled action, steamy romance, and wonderful humor that fans know and love.”

  —Darque Reviews

  “It’s packed with all her signature hilarity and adventure, as well as many familiar faces. The cliff-hanger ending will leave you breathless.”

  —Romantic Times

  Praise for Katie MacAlister’s

  Aisling Grey, Guardian, Novels

  Holy Smokes

  “[A] comedic, hot, paranormal caper.”


  “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!”

  —Romantic Times

  Light My Fire

  “Crazy paranormal high jinks, delightful characters, and simmering romance.”


  “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. . . . Once again Katie MacAlister provides a humorous fantasy.”

  —Midwest Book Review

  Praise for Katie MacAlister’s

  Dark Ones Novels

  Zen and the Art of Vampires

  “A jocular, action-packed tale . . . [a] wonderful zany series.”

  —Midwest Book Review

  “Has all of the paranormal action, romance, and humor that fans of the author look for in her books. This is a fast-moving read with sizzling chemistry and a touch of suspense.”

  —Darque Reviews

  “Pia Thomason just might be my favorite heroine ever . . . an entrancing story, and a very good escape.”

  —The Romance Reader

  “I completely loved Zen and the Art of Vampires! . . . The chemistry between Pia and Kristoff sizzles all the way through the novel. . . . I don’t think I can wait for the next Dark Ones installment! Please hurry, Katie!”

  —Romance Junkies



  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.”


  “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


  Paranormal Romances

  ME AND MY SHADOW, A Novel of the Silver Dragons



  UP IN SMOKE, A Novel of the Silver Dragons

  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



  Contemporary Romances






  Published by New American Library, a division of

  Penguin Group (USA) Inc., 375 Hudson Street,

  New York, New York 10014, USA

  Penguin Group (Canada), 90 Eglinton Avenue East, Suite 700, Toronto,

  Ontario M4P 2Y3, Canada (a division of Pearson Penguin Canada Inc.)

  Penguin Books Ltd., 80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

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  Penguin Books Ltd., Registered Offices:

  80 Strand, London WC2R 0RL, England

  First published by Signet, an imprint of New American Library,

  a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

  First Printing, February 2010

  Copyright © Katie MacAlister, 2010 All rights reserved

  eISBN : 978-1-101-18480-6

  registered trademark—marca registrada

  Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduced into a retrieval system, or transmitte
d, in any form, or by any means (electronic, mechanical, photocopying, recording, or otherwise), without the prior written permission of both the copyright owner and the above publisher of this book.

  publisher’s note

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously, and any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, business establishments, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.

  The publisher does not have any control over and does not assume any responsibility for author or third-party Web sites or their content.

  The scanning, uploading, and distribution of this book via the Internet or via any other means without the permission of the publisher is illegal and punishable by law. Please purchase only authorized electronic editions, and do not participate in or encourage electronic piracy of copyrighted materials. Your support of the author’s rights is appreciated.

  My heartfelt thanks and appreciation go to Aleta

  Pardalis, Zita Hildebrandt, and Kat Robb for all their

  support, no matter how wacky things get. I hope you all

  enjoy this taste of something new and different.

  A Plague on Sisters

  “Good morning, Jack. Is that a molecular detector in your pocket, or are you just happy to see me?”

  The voice that called out as I passed was female, soft, and sultry as hell. I paused to toss a grin at one of the two women who were occupying the big kidney-shaped desk that graced the front lobby of the Nordic Tech building. “Morning, Karin. Would it be against human resources policy if I was to tell you how much I liked that top?”

  The red-haired receptionist giggled and leaned forward, giving me a better-than-normal view of her cleavage in the skimpy tank top that she liked to wear on casual-dress Fridays. “Probably, but I’m not going to tell anyone. You know my rule, Jack.”

  “What happens in reception stays in reception?” I asked, winking.

  She giggled again. “You’re so naughty. You look really yummy yourself in khaki. Is that the new Airship Pirates shirt?”

  “It is. Saw them last night at the Foundry,” I answered, naming a local hot spot favored by bands that were a bit out of the mainstream. I turned around so she could admire the design on the back of the T-shirt.

  “Oh, and I was hoping you would ask me to go see them,” she said, pouting just a little, and leaning over a bit farther. She traced a finger down my arm as I turned back to face her. “We had such fun the last time we went out. Well, until I got sick and had to go home, but I just know we would have fun again.”

  She paused, clearly waiting for me to do my duty and ask her out again, but the memory of her lying in a drunken stupor in the back of my car—not to mention the money I had to pay to have the vomit cleaned up and the car deodorized—was enough to warn me against any such thing.

  That wasn’t the Jack Fletcher she wanted, however. It was the fake Jack she was appealing to, the fictional Jack who had somehow garnered a reputation as a wild ladies’ man. I did what was expected and slapped a quasi leer onto my face as I leaned in close. “You know I would snap you up in a minute if it wasn’t for your boyfriend.”

  “Oh, him,” she simpered, brushing my hand with her fingers. “Jerry’s jealous of everyone.”

  “He threatened to rip my head off and spit down my throat the last time he saw me,” I said, dropping my voice. “I think he meant it, too.”

  “I don’t for one minute think you’re scared of Jerry,” she said, looking both pleased and coy. “Not you. Not the famous Jack Fletcher. Oh, Jack, this is Minerva. She’s going to take over for me while I’m in Cancún for two weeks.”

  A girlish face hove into view, her eyes wide and somewhat vacant. “Hi, Dr. Fletcher. I’ve heard so much about you from Karin.”

  “Don’t believe a word of it,” I cautioned, giving her a wink, as well. I had a reputation to maintain, after all. “I doubt if any of it is true.”

  “Of course it’s true,” Karin said, squeezing my arm as she heaved herself a little farther over the counter so her breast could press against my arm. “Everyone knows you’re a hero! You’re just too modest to admit it.”

  Or perhaps resigned to people’s determination to ignore the truth in favor of more attractive and entertaining fiction that had started several years back.

  “Karin said you tracked down a notorious ring of industrial spies in Cairo,” Minerva said, breathless with excitement. She started to lean toward me over the counter, but a gimlet-eyed glance from her friend warned her off.

  “He didn’t just track them down—he beat the crap out of them, and got secret plans back for the government.”

  Minerva ooohed appreciably, her eyes filling with hero worship. Honesty prompted me to correct that particular fallacy. “I didn’t actually track anyone down so much as accidentally ran into a meeting of some folks selling proprietary information. They thought I was following them, but I was really just lost and trying to find my way back to my hotel so I could rejoin my tour. In fact, I wasn’t even in danger from them, since Interpol had them under surveillance, and the Cairo police were hidden around the bazaar, but it was exciting for a few minutes until everything was straightened out.”

  “And then there’s Alaska,” Karin said, ignoring the boring truth just as everyone did when I tried to explain what really happened in Cairo.

  “Alaska?” Minerva asked her. “What about Alaska?”

  Karin turned to her friend. “It was so amazing! It’s all over the Greenpeace Web site.”

  I groaned to myself and prepared to explain that incident, as well.

  “What happened?” Minerva repeated, a rapt expression on her face.

  “I was on vacation, doing some fishing, and my rented boat had engine trouble. I got picked up by some animal-activist people, and they—”

  “He hijacked a whaling ship!” Karin interrupted, a triumphant note in her voice as she beamed at me.

  “Ooooh!” Minerva breathed.

  “I wasn’t even part of the group,” I said quickly, wondering why no one was ever willing to believe that I had been the victim of odd circumstances. “My engine had died and the Greenpeacers picked me up on the way to attacking a whaling ship. It was just the purest of coincidences that I was even on the ship at the time, and that picture of me holding a gun on the captain was totally misleading. He’d dropped it and I was going to hand it back to him when a photographer took a picture of us—”

  “You went to jail for that, didn’t you?” Karin asked, squeezing my arm a little more insistently now, her face filled with sympathy.

  “Three months,” I said, resigned. “It took that long for my lawyer to convince the judge I had nothing to do with the whole whaler fiasco.”

  “But the really amazing thing was in Mexico,” Karin told Minerva.

  “I love amazing things,” she said, grasping my other arm. “What happened? I’m dying to know!”

  Oh, Lord, not Mexico. “It’s really not worth talking about—”

  “Jack was in Mexico City with Mr. Sawyer on some business matters, and Mr. Sawyer was kidnapped by radical Mexican antitechnology fanatics!” Karin said, her gaze earnest and fervent as she told the story to her friend. “Jack rescued Mr. Sawyer right as the fanatics were about to sacrifice him on a Mayan altar! He saved his life!”

  “Saved Mr. Sawyer’s life!” Minerva gasped.

  The addition of the Mayan altar to the whole crock of bullshit was too much for me. “There was no altar, Mayan or otherwise,” I said firmly.

  “Mr. Sawyer totally swore his undying gratitude,” Karin answered her, nodding vehemently.

  “And it really wasn’t so much a group of radical fanatics as it was a couple of people who had been unemployed and took Mr. Sawyer’s limo for that of the labor secretary.”

  “He told Jack that he would have a job at his company for the rest of his li
fe,” Karin added in a confusion of pronouns.

  “They drove us straight back to the hotel after they realized their mistake,” I said, a hint of desperation entering my voice. Why the hell did no one ever listen to me?

  “Well, I would promise that, too,” Minerva told her. “Being sacrificed on a Mayan altar would scare the bejeepers out of me! That was so brave of Dr. Fletcher!”

  “The whole thing got blown out of proportion when the police had a report of a kidnapping, and brought in some military troops to try to find us, which was ridiculous because by then we were back at the hotel, safe and sound, having margaritas next to the pool. It wasn’t until the next day that we realized they were looking for us,” I finished, but I knew my breath was wasted. People, I have frequently noticed, hear what they want to hear.

  “Well, you know, Jack was in the military,” Karin said, her voice dropping to a confidential level, apparently forgetting I was standing right there. “Secret military research.”

  “Wow,” Minerva said, her eyes huge. “What sort of research?”

  “I don’t know, but it has to be something pretty juicy because Jack never talks about it.”

  I sighed, gathered up my leather satchel and the morning’s paper, and headed for the stairs.

  “He’s just like Indiana Jones, isn’t he?” I heard Minerva say as I started up the stairs to the fourth floor, where my office was located. “Right down to the hat. I wonder if he has one of those long whips he could wrap around his waist.”

  “He should totally get one. . . .”