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Rise of the Poison Moon

MaryJanice Davidson

  Table of Contents

  Title Page

  Copyright Page



  CHAPTER 1 - Andi

  CHAPTER 2 - Susan

  CHAPTER 3 - Jennifer

  CHAPTER 4 - Jennifer

  CHAPTER 5 - Jennifer

  CHAPTER 6 - Susan

  CHAPTER 7 - Susan

  CHAPTER 8 - Andi

  CHAPTER 9 - Jennifer

  CHAPTER 10 - Jennifer

  CHAPTER 11 - Jennifer

  CHAPTER 12 - Andi

  CHAPTER 13 - Susan

  CHAPTER 14 - Susan

  CHAPTER 15 - Jennifer

  CHAPTER 16 - Jennifer

  CHAPTER 17 - Susan

  CHAPTER 18 - Jennifer

  CHAPTER 19 - Jennifer

  CHAPTER 20 - Andi

  CHAPTER 21 - Jennifer

  CHAPTER 22 - Andi

  CHAPTER 23 - Jennifer

  CHAPTER 24 - Andi

  CHAPTER 25 - Andi

  CHAPTER 26 - Jennifer

  CHAPTER 27 - Susan

  CHAPTER 28 - Susan

  CHAPTER 29 - Jennifer

  CHAPTER 30 - Jennifer

  CHAPTER 31 - Andi

  CHAPTER 32 - Andi

  CHAPTER 33 - Andi

  CHAPTER 34 - Jennifer

  CHAPTER 35 - Andi

  CHAPTER 36 - Andi

  CHAPTER 37 - Susan

  CHAPTER 38 - Susan

  CHAPTER 39 - Susan

  CHAPTER 40 - Susan

  CHAPTER 41 - Susan

  CHAPTER 42 - Jennifer

  CHAPTER 43 - Susan

  CHAPTER 44 - Susan

  CHAPTER 45 - Jennifer

  CHAPTER 46 - Jennifer

  CHAPTER 47 - Susan

  CHAPTER 48 - Jennifer

  CHAPTER 49 - Jennifer

  CHAPTER 50 - Susan

  CHAPTER 51 - Jennifer


  Teaser chapter

  Praise for the novels of MaryJanice Davidson

  “A hilarious romp full of goofy twists and turns, great fun for fans of humorous vampire romance.”


  “Delightful, wicked fun!”—Christine Feehan,

  #1 New York Times bestselling author of Water Bound

  “Move over, Buffy. Betsy’s in town and she rocks! . . . I don’t care what mood you are in; if you open this book, you are practically guaranteed to laugh . . . top-notch humor and a fascinating perspective of the vampire world.”


  “One of the funniest, most satisfying series to come along lately. If you’re [a fan] of Sookie Stackhouse and Anita Blake, don’t miss Betsy Taylor. She rocks.”

  —The Best Reviews

  “Undead and Unwed is an irreverently hilarious, superbly entertaining novel of love, lust, and designer shoes. Betsy Taylor is an unrepentant fiend—about shoes. She is shallow, vain, and immensely entertaining. Her journey from life to death, or the undead, is so amusing I found myself laughing out loud while reading. Between her human friends, vampire allies, and her undead enemies, her first week as the newly undead is never boring . . . a reading experience that will leave you laughing and ‘dying’ for more from the talented pen of MaryJanice Davidson.”

  —Romance Reviews Today

  “A hilarious book.”


  “Creative, sophisticated, sexy, and wonderfully witty.”

  —Catherine Spangler, national bestselling author of Touched by Light

  Titles by MaryJanice Davidson and Anthony Alongi

  Jennifer Scales and the Ancient Furnace

  Jennifer Scales and the Messenger of Light

  The Silver Moon Elm: A Jennifer Scales Novel

  Seraph of Sorrow: A Jennifer Scales Novel

  Rise of the Poison Moon: A Jennifer Scales Novel

  Titles by MaryJanice Davidson

  Undead and Unwed

  Undead and Unemployed

  Undead and Unappreciated

  Undead and Unreturnable

  Undead and Unpopular

  Undead and Uneasy

  Undead and Unworthy

  Undead and Unwelcome

  Undead and Unfinished

  Derik’s Bane

  Sleeping with the Fishes

  Swimming Without a Net

  Fish out of Water



  (with Laurell K. Hamilton, Rebecca York, Eileen Wilks)


  (with Laurell K. Hamilton, Charlaine Harris, Angela Knight, Vickie Taylor)

  Kick Ass

  (with Maggie Shayne, Angela Knight, Jacey Ford)

  Men at Work

  (with Janelle Denison, Nina Bangs)

  Dead and Loving It

  Surf’s Up

  (with Janelle Denison, Nina Bangs)


  (with P. C. Cast, Gena Showalter, Susan Grant)

  Over the Moon

  (with Angela Knight, Virginia Kantra, Sunny)

  Demon’s Delight

  (with Emma Holly, Vickie Taylor, Catherine Spangler)

  Dead Over Heels

  Mysteria Lane

  (with P. C. Cast, Gena Showalter, Susan Grant)


  Published by the Penguin Group

  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

  Penguin Group Ireland, 25 St. Stephen’s Green, Dublin 2, Ireland (a division of Penguin Books Ltd.)

  Penguin Group (Australia), 250 Camberwell Road, Camberwell, Victoria 3124, Australia

  (a division of Pearson Australia Group Pty. Ltd.)

  Penguin Books India Pvt. Ltd., 11 Community Centre, Panchsheel Park, New Delhi—110 017, India

  Penguin Group (NZ), 67 Apollo Drive, Rosedale, North Shore 0632, New Zealand

  (a division of Pearson New Zealand Ltd.)

  Penguin Books (South Africa) (Pty.) Ltd., 24 Sturdee Avenue, Rosebank, Johannesburg 2196,

  South Africa

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

  This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the authors’ imaginations 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 websites or their content.


  An Ace Book / published by arrangement with the authors


  Ace mass-market edition / August 2010

  Copyright © 2010 by MaryJanice Davidson Alongi and Anthony Alongi.

  Excerpt provided courtesy of MaryJanice Davidson Alongi and Anthony Alongi.

  All rights reserved.

  No part of this book may be reproduced, scanned, or distributed in any printed or electronic form without permission. Please do not participate in or encourage piracy of copyrighted materials in violation of the authors’ rights. Purchase only authorized editions.

  For information, address: The Berkley Publishing Group,

  a division of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.,

  375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

  eISBN : 978-1-101-18883-5


  Ace Books are published by The Berkley Publishing Group,

  a division of Pe
nguin Group (USA) Inc.,

  375 Hudson Street, New York, New York 10014.

  ACE and the “A” design are trademarks of Penguin Group (USA) Inc.

  For Christina, who has not had a book

  from us all to herself in fifteen years.

  How did THAT happen?

  Huh. Sorry, kid. Here you go. Love you.

  In taking revenge, a man is but even with his enemy; but in passing it over, he is superior.



  The Elder’s Diary

  August 5, 8 P.M.

  No. I’m not doing this.

  August 6, 8 P.M.

  Seriously. Not gonna.

  August 7, 8 P.M.

  Mom, Dad: you can shove this blank book and a pen in my face every evening for the next fifty years, and I’ll never write more than twenty words. Okay, thirty.

  Also, we’re out of milk. Also also, I hate how powdered milk tastes. I know we’ve got to make sacrifices. But I dislike milk in powder form. Just sayin’.

  August 8, 8:30 P.M.


  August 9, 1 P.M.

  Honey—this isn’t entirely about you. As your father has told you, it’s important to tell your story. People are counting on you. Not just now, but in the future. They need to see what you’ve seen, learn the lessons you’ve learned. It may not seem fair, but you owe them that.

  August 9, 8 P.M.


  August 10, noon

  Hey, ace. Don’t be mad at your mother. She knows this is important to me—to all of us, really—and she volunteered to sneak a peek at what you’ve done so far. Can’t say either of us are totally impressed; but we’re still hoping you’ll come around. You know, almost better than any of us, how deep the abyss is that we’re all staring down. (This isn’t Seventeen magazine, ace, and your privacy isn’t more important than our survival.) I don’t believe this town can last through another winter. What may be left of us is on these pages. So what say you crank it up a notch and write a note or two for posterity?

  August 10, 12:30 P.M.

  Ugh, I knew I should have moved this thing to another hiding place after Mom invaded my privacy. (’Scuze me, the privacy that isn’t as important as our survival, vomit vomit vomit.) No point now—both parental slugs have left their eternal slime in this journal, and now there’s nothing to be done.

  I’d burn this thing tonight if I didn’t think we’d need to save every bit of paper to make it through another winter.

  August 11, noon

  Jennifer, I guess you’re going to be totally annoyed that I’m writing in here; but your parents begged me so I’m writing this while Gautierre and I came to visit you today. You just stepped out of your room to take a pee break. Did you know you take forever? (How long can it take, Jenn? I mean, geez.) Gautierre thought it was weird, but I said it was a girl thing, so he dropped the whole thing. They have a point. Your folks, I mean. You gotta do this. Gautierre agrees. Okay, you flushed so I gotta go; good-bye!

  August 11, 12:03 P.M.

  Having thrown Susan, the artist formerly known as my best friend, and her boyfriend out of my room for conspiracy to commit phenomenal embarrassment, I would like to state for the record that I, the Ancient Furnace, do NOT pee or flush. I am more powerful than that. I can simply will my urine away.

  Away, urine! See? (I’m no longer pretending this is any sort of a private document.)

  Okay, everyone, I’ll make you a deal. If you can all go twenty-four hours without molesting my journal, I will start serious entries tomorrow. Deal?

  August 12, 12:04 P.M.

  All right. Thanks, everyone, for refraining from sharing further tales of my bathroom habits. Guess I should keep my end of the deal.

  My name is Jennifer Caroline Scales. I live in a town called Winoka with three major problems.

  First, those of us who turn into dragons don’t call it Winoka. We call it Pinegrove, because that was the name it had before a woman named Glorianna Seabright led an army of beaststalkers here, wiped out the inhabitants, and renamed it. That was about forty years ago.

  Second, last November Mayor Seabright died, and on that night a barrier rose that blocks off this town from everything else around it. It’s enormous and translucent and blue and round, like my ass when I’m in dragon form.

  The only thing that makes it through is weather—snow, rain, sun, wind, okay you probably know what weather is! For a while, electricity made it through fine, too—but then a bad January storm knocked out more of the grid than we could repair with what we had. The town began rationing fuel. Since then, it’s gotten harder.

  Third, everyone outside this barrier appears content to wait for us to die. More on that tomorrow.



  Winoka—or Pinegrove, as Andeana Corona Marsabio knew some called it—sat in a river valley. The Mississippi cut a wide boundary to the north and east, and the only crossing for miles was Winoka Bridge. Its aging gray steel arch connected the eastern higher ground to the western lowlands, where the town’s city hall and oldest neighborhoods lay.

  “It’s beautiful,” she murmured as she took it all in from her perch atop the riverside cliffs. The shimmering blue dome that covered it all only made it look more magical. There had been nothing like this in the dark places where Andi had once lived. Here, she found beauty. Here, she found light.

  Here, she found Skip Wilson.

  “It’ll look even better after they’re all dead,” she heard him say.

  She turned to where he was sitting, a few feet behind her and to the left. The rising sun made her squint. She wondered if he placed himself like that on purpose. He was drawing now, letting a sketch pencil fly across a large pad. Maybe he was drawing her. Sometimes he liked to do that, when he wasn’t drawing creatures.

  “They don’t need to die,” she reminded him.

  “I disagree.” The pencil didn’t stop.

  Is this turning me on? she wondered. Or scaring me? Or boring? Boring would be bad. Her arms crossed, and she massaged the insides of her forearms with her thumbs. “They have as much right as you and me to live.”

  “I disagree.”

  “It’s inhumane.”

  “I dis—”

  “Yeah, well, you disagreeing doesn’t mean piss to me.” Andi turned back to the trapped city. (Asked and answered: this was not turning her on.) Rainbows bled through the eastern half of the dome; a wisp of mist from a recent shower had slipped through the barrier that let almost nothing else through. “I should let them out.”

  Finally, she heard the skritch-skritch-skritch of his pencil pause. “We’ve gone over this. We don’t know enough about the sorcery to bring it down even if we wanted to. Which we don’t.”

  She liked him, yes indeed, but he could be somewhat—what was the phrase? High-handed. Yes. Certainly he seemed to have no trouble speaking to her . . . not to mention for her. “It doesn’t seem difficult. Why not try?”

  “Wrong question. Why try at all?”

  “High-handed,” she muttered.

  He didn’t notice . . . or didn’t care. “We can pass through that barrier. You did twice on the night it went up, didn’t you?”

  She swallowed. “That’s a cheap—”

  “Once to leap in and kill your mother, the rotten mayor of that stinking town, and once to make your getaway.”

  She couldn’t believe—she couldn’t believe he was using her shame and fear to make his point. “I was under the influence of my father’s sorcery! I had no choice!”

  “Hey, I’m not complaining.” Skip smiled and seemed puzzled by her outburst. “Mayor Seabright was a murderous bitch. If your dad were still alive, I’d shake his hand.”

  “If my father were sti
ll alive, he’d have killed you by now.”

  He chuckled. “Yeah, from what I’ve heard of him, he was a real piece of work. Who calls themselves The Crown, anyway? Sounds like he might have had some fantasies about sixteenth-century Portugal.”

  It was a remark designed to piss her off, and they both knew it. Her tan features crinkled, and her blood roiled. “He wasn’t European.”

  “No, that was your mother’s side, wasn’t it? The beaststalker side.” He snapped his fingers, as if remembering for the first time. “Your father’s side was from south of here. Not Texas-south. Way south. Rain forest-south.”

  She uncrossed her arms, grabbed two fistfuls of grass, and held on.

  “I don’t remember much about all those countries down there. My mother and I visited a few years ago, but I was really young. Mostly, I recall lots of vines, strange animals, and simple people who smelled bad.”

  This is sick, she told herself as she tore herself from the ground and launched herself at him. He’s sick. I’m sick.

  By the time she reached him, he had flung the pencil and pad away and was ready to catch her. They rolled over a few times, her fists pummeling away at him. She started with two, but soon she was pretty sure she had sprouted more. He didn’t even try to stop the blows—he didn’t have enough arms to do so. She supposed he could turn into something with eight legs, but that wasn’t the point.

  He laughed at her, an unkind sound meant to provoke more violence. He got it.

  A few minutes later, they were sitting across from each other, sullenly examining their wounds. Andi was reasonably certain (more so than usual, even) that this was not in any way a healthy relationship. It was even more aggravating because she wasn’t quite sure who needed fixing. Him? Her? Both?