Just typical. No love life to speak of for months, then all at once, every horny creature in the Otherworld wants to get in your pants…
Eugenie Markham is a powerful shaman who does a brisk trade banishing spirits and fey who cross into the mortal world. Mercenary, yes, but a girl’s got to eat. Her most recent case, however, is enough to ruin her appetite. Hired to find a teenager who has been taken to the Otherworld, Eugenie comes face to face with a startling prophecy—one that uncovers dark secrets about her past and claims that Eugenie’s first-born will threaten the future of the world as she knows it.
Now Eugenie is a hot target for every ambitious demon and Otherworldy ne’er-do-well, and the ones who don’t want to knock her up want her dead. Eugenie handles a Glock as smoothly as she wields a wand, but she needs some formidable allies for a job like this. She finds them in Dorian, a seductive fairy king with a taste for bondage, and Kiyo, a gorgeous shape-shifter who redefines animal attraction. But with enemies growing bolder and time running out, Eugenie realizes that the greatest danger is yet to come, and it lies in the dark powers that are stirring to life within her…
Praise for Richelle Mead and Succubus Blues…
“This is one of those series I’m going to keep following.”
--Jim Butcher, New York Times
“The mix of supernatural mystery, romance, and reluctant succubus is great fun.”
“Exciting, witty, sexy, intriguing and had me captivated from the first page.”
“Storm Born is my kind of book -- great characters, dark worlds, and just the right touch of humor. A great read.” --Patricia Briggs
I’d seen weirder things than a haunted shoe, but not
The Nike Pegasus sat on the office’s desk, inoffensive,
colored in shades of gray, white, and orange. Some of
the laces were loosened, and a bit of dirt clung around
the soles. It was the left shoe.
As for me, well . . . underneath my knee-length coat,
I had a Glock .22 loaded with bullets carrying a higherthan-
legal steel content. A cartridge of silver ones rested
in the coat’s pocket. Two athames lay sheathed on my
other hip, one silver-bladed and one iron. Stuck into my
belt near them was a wand, hand-carved oak and loaded
with enough charmed gems to probably blow up the
desk in the corner if I wanted to.
To say I felt overdressed was something of an understatement.
“So,” I said, keeping my voice as neutral as possible,
“what makes you think your shoe is . . . uh, possessed?”
Brian Montgomery, late thirties with a receding hairline
in serious denial, eyed the shoe nervously and moistened
his lips. “It always trips me up when I’m out running. Every
time. And it’s always moving around. I mean, I never actually
see it, but . . . like, I’ll take them off near the door, then
I come back and find this one under the bed or something.
And sometimes . . . sometimes I touch it, and it feels
cold . . . really cold . . . like . . .” He groped for similes and
finally picked the tritest one. “Like ice.”
I nodded and glanced back at the shoe, not saying
“Look, Miss . . . Odile . . . or whatever. I’m not crazy.
That shoe is haunted. It’s evil. You’ve gotta do something,
okay? I’ve got a marathon coming up, and until
this started happening, these were my lucky shoes. And
they’re not cheap, you know. They’re an investment.”
It sounded crazy to me—which was saying something—
but there was no harm in checking, seeing as I was already
out here. I reached into my coat pocket, the one without
ammunition, and pulled out my pendulum. It was a
simple one, a thin silver chain with a small quartz crystal
hanging from it.
I laced the chain’s end through my fingers and held
my flattened hand over the shoe, clearing my mind and
letting the crystal hang freely. A moment later, it began
to slowly rotate of its own accord.
“Well, I’ll be damned,” I muttered, stuffing the pendulum
back in my pocket. There was something there. I
turned to Montgomery, attempting some sort of badass
face, because that was what customers always expected.
“It might be best if you stepped out of the room, sir. For
your own safety.”
That was only half-true. Mostly I just found lingering
clients annoying. They asked stupid questions and could
do stupider things, which actually put me at more risk
He had no qualms about getting out of there. As soon
as the door closed, I found a jar of salt in my satchel and
poured a large ring on the office’s floor. I tossed the
shoe into the middle of it and invoked the four cardinal
directions with the silver athame. Ostensibly the
circle didn’t change, but I felt a slight flaring of power,
indicating it had sealed us in.
Trying not to yawn, I pulled out my wand and kept
holding the silver athame. It had taken four hours to
drive to Las Cruces, and doing that on so little sleep had
made the distance seem twice as long. Sending some of
my will into the wand, I tapped it against the shoe and
spoke in a sing-song voice.
“Come out, come out, whoever you are.”
There was a moment’s silence, then a high-pitched
male voice snapped, “Go away, bitch.”
Great. A shoe with attitude. “Why? You got something
better to do?”
“Better things to do than waste my time with a
I smiled. “Better things to do in a shoe? Come on. I
mean, I’ve heard of slumming it, but don’t you think
you’re kind of pushing the envelope here? This shoe
isn’t even new. You could have done so much better.”
The voice kept its annoyed tone, not threatening but
simply irritated at the interruption. “I’m slumming it? Do
you think I don’t know who you are, Eugenie Markham?
Dark-Swan-Called-Odile. A blood traitor. A mongrel. An
assassin. A murderer.” He practically spit out the last
word. “You are alone among your kind and mine. A
bloodthirsty shadow. You do anything for anyone who
can pay you enough for it. That makes you more than a
mercenary. That makes you a whore.”
I affected a bored stance. I’d been called most of
those names before. Well, except for my own name. That
was new—and a little disconcerting. Not that I’d let him
“Are you done whining? Because I don’t have time to
listen while you stall.”
“Aren’t you being paid by the hour?” he asked nastily.
“I charge a flat fee.”
I rolled my eyes and touched the wand to the shoe
again. This time, I thrust the full force of my will into it,
drawing upon my own body’s physical stamina as well as
some of the power of the world around me. “No more
games. If you leave on your own, I won’t have to hurt
you. Come out.”
He couldn’t stand against that command and the
power within it. The shoe trembled, and smoke poured
out of it. Oh, Jesus. I hoped the shoe didn’t get incinerated
during this. Montgomery wouldn’t be able to
The smoke bellowed out, coalescing into a large, dark
form about two feet taller than me. With all his wisecracks,
I’d sort of expected a saucy version of one of
Santa’s elves. Instead, the being before me had the
upper body of a well-muscled man, while his lower portion
resembled a small cyclone. The smoke solidified
into leathery gray-black skin, and I had only a moment
to act as I assessed this new development. I swapped the
wand for the gun, ejecting the clip as I pulled it out. By
then, he was lunging for me, and I had to roll out of his
way, confined by the circle’s boundaries.
A keres. A male keres—most unusual. I’d anticipated
something fey, which required silver bullets; or a spectre,
which required no bullets. Keres were ancient death
spirits originally confined to canopic jars. When the jars
wore down over time, keres tended to seek out new
homes. There weren’t too many of them left in this
world, and soon there’d be one less.
He bore down on me, and I took a nice chunk out of
him with the silver blade. I used my right hand, the one
I wore an onyx and obsidian bracelet on. Those stones
alone would take a toll on a death spirit like him without
the blade’s help. Sure enough, he hissed in pain and
hesitated a moment. I used that delay, scrambling to
load the silver cartridge.
I didn’t quite make it, because soon he was on me
again. He hit me with one of those massive arms, slamming
me against the walls of the circle. They might be
transparent, but they felt as solid as bricks. One of the
downsides of trapping a spirit in a circle was that I got
trapped too. My head and left shoulder took the brunt
of that impact, and pain shot through me in small star-
bursts. He seemed pretty pleased with himself over this,
as overconfident villains so often are.
“You’re as strong as they say, but you were a fool to
try to cast me out. You should have left me in peace.” His
voice was deeper now, almost gravelly.
I shook my head, both to disagree and to get rid of the
dizziness. “It isn’t your shoe.”
I still couldn’t swap that goddamned cartridge. Not
with him ready to attack again, not with both hands full.
Yet I couldn’t risk dropping either weapon.
He reached for me, and I cut him again. The wounds
were small, but the athame was like poison. It would
wear him down over time—if I could stay alive that long.
I moved to strike at him once more, but he anticipated
me and seized hold of my wrist. He squeezed it, bending
it in an unnatural position and forcing me to drop the
athame and cry out. I hoped he hadn’t broken any
bones. Smug, he grabbed me by the shoulders with both
hands and lifted me up so that I hung face to face with
him. His eyes were yellow with slits for pupils, much like
some sort of snake’s. His breath was hot and reeked of
decay as he spoke.
“You are small, Eugenie Markham, but you are lovely
and your flesh is warm. Perhaps I should beat the rush
and take you myself. I’d enjoy hearing you scream beneath