Rule of Three, my debut novella, will be released on November 18th by Less Than Three Press. As part of the Intertwined collection, Rule of Three explores a polyamorous relationship between a male magician, a genderqueer magician, and a demon. It’s an erotic, urban fantasy romance with a dash of humor added for good measure.
Since the release date for Rule of Three is only one month away now, here’s a sneak peek at the story:
Suddenly, the flame died. As it was snuffed by an unseen force, I was suddenly aware that I was drenched in sweat. I backed towards the wall, groping for the light switch. I knew I’d done everything perfectly, so there was no reason this should have gone wrong. Don’t be terrified; the demon will be safely kept inside the salt circle, I reminded myself.
“If you’re going to summon me, the least you could do is give me a proper welcome,” a baritone voice purred through the darkness.
I froze. Well, something had clearly worked. Carefully, I flipped the light switch.
My offerings and candle had vanished, replaced by what I could only assume was my demon. Clad only in tight pants, he was sprawled on the floor and stretching like some kind of infernal cat. He looked almost like a man at first glance, though the small goat-like pair of horns on his forehead made it clear I hadn’t accidentally summoned an astoundingly attractive mortal. His hair was a rich shade, not dark enough for me to call it black, but glossier than any brown I’d seen before. In contrast, his skin was ghostly pale and eerily free of any freckles, marks, or imperfections. A number of heavy gold-and-jewel rings sparkled on his both hands. I’d expected my first-ever demon sighting to stir up a healthy fear, maybe even terror, but instead I found myself checking him out. It was like he’d known my type, given how surprisingly lithe and slender he looked, with the faintest definition of muscle under his skin. I’d expected the hulking, red-skinned monstrosity from most spellbook illustrations, not something… hot.
“Well?” the demon asked, rolling back onto his side, one leg stretched and the other bent in a position clearly meant to show himself off. I tried not to gulp, getting nervous in a way that was much more appropriate for a first date than an encounter with a dangerous otherworldly being. “You can’t summon me into your home—I presume this is your home?—without some kind of pleasantries. Not if you want to start off on my good side.” He winked, sparkling lashes closing for the quickest moment over one bright blue eye.
“Greetings, creature of Hell,” I said, barely able to keep from stammering. “I’ve summoned you here to serve me for a small task.”
“Greetings to you, creature of Earth,” he replied. To my discomfort, he made no move to get up. “I’m delighted to hear that you’ve brought me to you with a purpose, rather than to merely dick around. Oh, but wait, that’s certainly why you’ve summoned me, isn’t it?” He grinned widely at his own joke, but all I managed was a nervous titter. “Though I do make it a policy to introduce myself prior to any intimate contact. Call me old-fashioned. More accurately, call me Alistair.”
“Oh, right—hi, Alistair—I’m Ian Thornewright.”
“Charmed.” Alistair looked me over hungrily, his eyes lingering on each part of me. It was unnerving, especially when he began to pull himself to his feet without breaking eye contact. “So, Ian, what fantasies are you harboring that are so deviant you needed to summon to satiate them?” He drew himself up to full height and dusted his pants off. I was relieved to find he wasn’t much taller than me. Seriously, he was not fitting my idea of what demons looked like, though I wasn’t going to complain.
“I didn’t mean to summon an incubus. A demon, yes, but not specifically a sex demon, err, one like you.” Was calling him a “sex demon” rude? Crap.
Alistair drew one thin eyebrow up in carefully calculated disbelief, a gesture that was both clearly practiced and unfairly effective in quickening my heart rate. His brief, incredulous frown flipped upside-down into a shark-toothed smile. My reaction to his expression was about as naked to him as his chest was bare.
“Regardless of your intentions, you’d best deal with what you called.” Alistair took a couple of steps forward before he bounced back, wincing. “Oww!”
“Yeah, there’s a circle to keep you in. Sorry, I was expecting someone more powerful—no, shit, no offense.” It was all I could do not to bury my face in my hands. “Powerful in a different way. Scary? No, you’re scary too. Unless you don’t want to be? Um, am I that funny?” I asked self-consciously as Alistair began to chuckle again.
“In the most endearing way. Now, be a darling and smudge this silly salt circle of yours,” Alistair purred.