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Me and My Shadow

Katie MacAlister

  Table of Contents

  Title Page

  Copyright Page


  Chapter One

  Chapter Two

  Chapter Three

  Chapter Four

  Chapter Five

  Chapter Six

  Chapter Seven

  Chapter Eight

  Chapter Nine

  Chapter Ten

  Chapter Eleven

  Chapter Twelve

  Chapter Thirteen

  Chapter Fourteen

  Chapter Fifteen

  Chapter Sixteen

  Chapter Seventeen

  Chapter Eighteen

  Chapter Nineteen

  Chapter Twenty

  Chapter Twenty-one

  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 screw-ball 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

  “I’m waiting with bated breath for the next Silver Dragon novel. Ms. McAlister proves again and again that she is one of the best paranormal authors out there.”

  —A Romance 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.”—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!”—Romantic Times

  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. . . . 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.”—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

  Paranormal Romances


  A Dark Ones Novel


  A Dark Ones Novel

  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

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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, November 2009

  Copyright © Katie MacAlister, 2009

  eISBN : 978-1-101-15131-0

  All rights reserved


  Without limiting the rights under copyright reserved above, no part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in or introduc
ed into a retrieval system, or transmitted, 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.


  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.

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  To my friend Brian Murphy, for making me laugh,

  teasing me mercilessly, and letting me rant

  without once telling me to suck it up, buttercup.

  Chapter One

  “Off with her head!”

  I looked over my laptop screen at the man who stood in the center of the sitting room, pointing with a fine dramatic flair at a woman in the doorway.

  “I demand that you punish that . . . that . . . dragon for insubordination!”

  “Oh, yeah, like that’s gonna happen,” a voice muttered from the floor.

  Magoth narrowed his eyes on the dog lying in a patch of sunlight, reading through a stack of near-pornographic graphic novels. “I have not given you permission to speak in my presence, demon.”

  “Here’s a news flash for you—you’re not a prince anymore, so I can say what I like. Right, May?”

  I was about to nod, but thought better of giving the demon in doggy form carte blanche to do as it willed. My experience with Jim might not have been great, but it had been sufficient to give me pause. “No, you can say what Aisling told you was allowable to say when she sent you to stay with us. And if I recall, the words ‘Don’t lip off to anyone, for any reason, anytime, ever’ were included in her instructions.”

  Jim, whose full demon name of Effrijim was deemed too girlie by its owner to be used in anything but formal ceremonies, grinned, not an easy task considering it bore the form of a large, shaggy black Newfoundland dog. “Actually, I think she said if I pissed you off, she’d banish me to the Akasha until the baby was old enough to vote, but everyone knows doppelgangers don’t get pissy easily, so it’s all copacetic.”

  “Were we in Abaddon at this moment,” Magoth told the demon, the words coming out as a growl, “you would be on your belly begging for my mercy. It would be a useless gesture—nonetheless, I would allow you to continue begging, while writhing in torment so great you would plead for destruction, until such time as I grew tired of your screams of absolute, utter, endless agony.”

  “Yeah, yeah,” Jim said, turning back to its graphic novel. “Been there, done that, have the ‘My demon lord torments me for fun’ T-shirt.”

  Magoth puffed himself up until I thought he was going to explode. I considered whether the cleaning bill would be worth the entertainment value to be found therein, but decided against it. “What’s the problem, Maata?” I asked instead, shifting my gaze to the woman who stood at the door, watching us with noticeable amusement in her silver eyes.

  She held on to a placid expression. “Magoth—”

  “Prince of Abaddon Magoth, to you, dragon,” the man in question said. “Or Lord Magoth. Or even, His Unholy Highness Magoth.”

  “Magoth,” Maata repeated, “tried to get into the basement. Again.”

  I raised one eyebrow at the exiled demon lord, former silent-film star, and bearer of a (literally) cursed penis as he stormed around the room in impotent rage. Being born an incredibly handsome man in possession of sultry looks that had women throwing away their better judgments (and sometimes souls) over the centuries, Magoth had no reason to adopt a form other than his natural one. Not, I noted silently to myself, that he could now if he wanted.

  “You see how I am treated? This is intolerable, wife! I insist that you lesson this minion! I will not be told by a mere slave what I may or may not do! She threatened me with violence! Me! She deserves a lengthy and inventive punishment for daring to treat me in such an insupportable manner!”

  “It was my fault. He used my bathroom break to get past me to the entrance of the lair,” Maata said, apology rich in her voice. “He won’t do so again.”

  “It was the merest of coincidences that I was in the basement at the exact moment the slave was out of the room,” Magoth sniffed, adopting a self-righteous expression that I didn’t for one moment buy.

  “You sneaked past me when I was in the bathroom,” Maata accused.

  “I am a demon lord! I do not sneak!” he said, outraged.

  “One,” I said, ticking it off on a finger, “you’re no longer a demon lord. At least not technically. Two, Maata is one of Gabriel’s elite guards, not a slave, and you will treat her with the respect due her. And three, I’m not your wife, so stop calling me that.”

  “You’re my consort,” he insisted, his eyes narrowing on me.

  “You de-consorted me when you found out you’d been kicked out of Abaddon, remember?”

  “I spoke in the heat of the moment. You know full well that I have not conducted divorce proceedings. Until it pleases me to remove you from that position”—he smiled, and I thanked my stars that we weren’t in Abaddon, or I might have lost a few bits of my soul to that smile—“or until you die, you will remain my consort.”

  “Thank you for that reiteration of demon lord protocol.” Inside me, deep inside my chest, the shard of the dragon heart that I bore stirred, triggered as always by any threat or strong emotion. I clamped down hard on it, practicing the control I’d been working so hard to wield. I smiled at Gabriel’s bodyguard. “Thanks, Maata. I’ll take care of this.”

  “Better you than me,” she answered with a wry smile as she left.

  “You want me to rough him up a little?” Jim asked, rising and walking slowly toward Magoth.“I’d go straight for his noogies, but that curse gives me the willies. Ha! Willies! Get it?”

  “Go ahead and try,” Magoth said, his eyes glittering with an unholy light.

  Jim paused, shooting me a worried look. “You said he doesn’t have any powers here, right?”

  “He’s without about ninety-five percent of his power, yes,” I answered.

  Jim froze. “Oh, man! I thought you said all of his power was gone!”

  “It is. Well, all but about five percent, as best as we can figure.”

  “Five percent? Geez, May! We’ve got to have a little talk about the difference between a demon lord without any power, and one with enough to squash flat a sixth-class demon!”

  Magoth smiled again. A little black tendril of power snapped at Jim.

  The demon yelped and backed toward the door. “Fires of Abaddon, can’t you take a joke? I was just fun ning, Your Imperial Dark and Twisted Majesty. Er . . . I think Hart to Hart is on that retro-TV-show channel. You know how I love me some Stefanie Powers. Catch ya later, Your Eminence of Unholy Darkness.”

  I gave Magoth my full consideration as the door shut behind Jim. It was true that over the last six weeks while Magoth had lived with us, Gabriel and I had determined that the demon lord had retained only a tiny fraction of his powers, but you don’t become a prince of Abaddon without picking up a few tricks.

  “You know the basement and areas below are off-limits until the workmen are done, Magoth. We explained that to you when they started building the lair.”

  His expression shifted from outrage to sullen discontent. “As the mortals say, you are not the boss of me.”

  “Perhaps not, but you are here on suffe
rance, a fact I am obliged to point out yet again. Irritating Gabriel by attempting to force your way into his lair is going to do nothing but give him due cause to boot your butt out into the street.”

  He oiled his way around the desk at which I sat, and trailed a finger up my arm as he moved behind me. I fought the urge to shiver, his touch so cold it leeched the heat from the air around me. “Ah, but you wouldn’t allow your scaly boyfriend to do that, would you, my sweet, sweet May?” He brushed a quick, frigid kiss on the back of my neck. Beneath the desk, my hands tightened into fists, pain pricking my palms. I knew without looking that my fingers had changed into long, scarlet talons. The dragon shard urged me to shift, enticing me with mental visions of Magoth lying dead on the floor at my feet.

  I was sorely tempted to give in to the shard, but I reminded myself that once I gave myself up to it, there would be no going back. Much as I loved Gabriel, as happy as I was being the mate to a powerful—not to mention witty, urbane, and incredibly sexy—wyvern, I did not want to spend the rest of eternity as a dragon.