Some days, a girl just can’t catch a break…
First, Georgina Kincaid, a shape-shifting succubus who gets her energy from seducing men, can’t have sex with her gorgeous bestselling author boyfriend Seth Mortensen—in case she inadvertently kills him. Second, Georgina’s under demonic orders to mentor the new (and surprisingly inept) succubus on the block. Third, someone’s manipulating her dreams, draining her energy and supplying eerie visions of her future. Georgina seeks answers from Dante, a dream interpreter with ties to the underworld, but his flirtatious charm only leaves her more confused—especially as the situation with Seth reaches a crisis point. Georgina needs to rein in her out-of-control love life and go toe-to-toe with an enemy capable of wreaking serious havoc among mankind. Otherwise, Georgina, and the entire mortal world, may never sleep easy again…
Outstanding Praise for Richelle Mead!
“This is one of those series I’m going to keep following.” —Jim Butcher, New York Times
bestselling author on Succubus Blues
“My kind of book—great characters, dark worlds, and just the right touch of humor. A great read.” —Patricia Briggs, New York Times
bestselling author on Storm Born
I wished the guy on top of me would hurry up because
I was getting bored.
Unfortunately, it didn’t seem like he was going to finish
anytime soon. Brad or Brian or whatever his name
was thrust away, eyes squeezed shut with such concentration
that you would have thought having sex was on
par with brain surgery or lifting steel beams.
“Brett,” I panted. It was time to pull out the big guns.
He opened one eye. “Bryce.”
“Bryce.” I put on my most passionate, orgasmic face.
“Please . . . please . . . don’t stop.”
His other eye opened. Both went wide.
A minute later, it was all over.
“Sorry,” he gasped, rolling off me. He looked mortified. “I don’t know ...didn’t mean...”
“It’s okay, baby.” I felt only a little bad about using
the don’t stop trick on him. It didn’t always work, but for
some guys, planting that seed completely undid them.
“It was amazing.”
And really, that wasn’t entirely a lie. The sex itself
had been mediocre, but the rush afterward . . . the feel
of his life and his soul pouring into me . . . yeah. That
was pretty amazing. It was what a succubus like me literally
He gave me a weary smile. The energy he’d had now
flowed in my body. Its loss had exhausted him, burned
him out. He’d sleep soon and would probably continue
sleeping a great deal over the next few days. His soul
had been a good one, and I’d taken a lot of it—as well
as his life itself. He’d now live a few years less, thanks
I tried not to think about that as I hurriedly put on
my clothes. Instead, I focused on how I’d done what I
had to do for my own survival. Plus, my infernal masters
required me to seduce and corrupt good souls on a regular
basis. Bad men might make me feel less guilty, but
they didn’t fulfill Hell’s quota.
Bryce seemed surprised at my abrupt departure but
was too worn out to fight it. I promised to call him—
having no intention of doing so—and slipped out of
the room as he lapsed into unconsciousness.
I’d barely cleared his front door before shape-shifting.
I’d come to him as a tall, sable-haired woman but now
once again wore my preferred shape, petite with hazel-
green eyes and light brown hair that flirted with gold.
Like most of my life, my features danced between states,
never entirely settling on one.
I put Bryce out of my mind, just like I did with most
men I slept with, and drove across town to what was
rapidly becoming my second home. It was a tan, stucco
condo, set into a community of other condos that tried
desperately to be as hip as new construction in Seattle
could manage. I parked my Passat out front, fished my
key out of my purse, and let myself inside.
The condo was still and quiet, wrapped in darkness.
A nearby clock informed me it was three in the morning. Walking toward the bedroom, I shape-shifted again,
swapping my clothes for a red nightgown.
I froze in the bedroom’s doorway, surprised to feel
my breath catch in my throat. You’d think after all this
time, I would have gotten used to him, that he wouldn’t
affect me like this. But he did. Every time.
Seth lay sprawled on the bed, one arm tossed over
his head. His breathing came deep and fitful, and the
sheets lay in a tangle around his long, lean body. Moonlight
muted out the color of his hair, but in the sun, its
light brown would pick up a russet glow. Seeing him,
studying him, I felt my heart swell in my chest. I’d never
expected to feel this way about anyone again, not after
centuries of feeling so . . . empty. Bryce had meant
nothing to me, but this man before me meant everything.
I slid into bed beside him, and his arms instantly
went around me. I think it was instinctual. The connection
between us was so deep that even while unconscious,
we couldn’t stay away from each other.
I pressed my cheek to Seth’s chest, and his skin
warmed mine as I fell asleep. The guilt from Bryce
faded, and soon, there was only Seth and my love for
I slipped almost immediately into a dream. Except,
well, I wasn’t actually in it, at least not in the active
sense. I was watching myself, seeing the events unfold as
though at a movie. Only, unlike a movie, I could feel
every detail. The sights, the sounds . . . it was almost
more vivid than real life.
The other Georgina was in a kitchen, one I didn’t
recognize. It was bright and modern, far larger than
anything I could imagine a non-cook like me needing.
My dream-self stood at the sink, arms elbow-deep in
sudsy water that smelled like oranges. She was hand
washing dishes, which surprised my real-self—but was
doing a shoddy job, which did not surprise me. On the
floor, an actual dishwasher lay in pieces, thus explaining
the need for manual labor.
From another room, the sounds of “Sweet Home Alabama”
carried to my ears. My dream-self hummed
along as she washed, and in that surreal, dream sort of
way, I could feel her happiness. She was content, filled
with a joy so utterly perfect, I could barely comprehend
it. Even with Seth, I’d rarely ever felt so happy—and I
was pretty damned happy with him. I couldn’t imagine
what could make my dream-self feel this way, particularly
while doing something as mundane as washing
I woke up.
To my surprise, it was full morning, bright and
sunny. I’d had no sense of time passing. The dream had
seemed to last only a minute, yet the nearby alarm clock
claimed six hours had passed. The loss of the happiness
my dream-self had experienced made me ache.
Weirder than that, I felt . . . not right. It took me a
moment to peg the problem: I was drained. The life
energy I needed to survive, the energy I’d stolen from
Bryce, was almost gone. In fact, I had less now than I’d
had before going to bed with him. It made no sense. A
burst of life like that should have lasted a couple weeks
at least, yet I was nearly as wiped out as he’d been. I wasn’t
low enough to start losing my shape-shifting ability, but
I’d need a new fix within a couple of days.
Seth’s sleepy voice came from beside me. I rolled
over and found him propped on one elbow, watching
me with a small, sweet smile.
I didn’t want to explain what had happened. Doing
so would mean elaborating on what I’d done with
Bryce, and while Seth theoretically knew what I did to
survive, ignorance really was bliss.
“Nothing,” I lied. I was a good liar.
He touched my cheek. “I missed you last night.”
“No, you didn’t. You were busy with Cady and O’Neill.”
His smile turned wry, but even as it did, I could see
his eyes start to take on the dreamy, inward look he got
when he thought about the characters in his novels. I’d
made kings and generals beg for my love in my long
life, yet some days, even my charms couldn’t compete
with the people who lived in Seth’s head.
Fortunately, today wasn’t one of those days, and his
attention focused back on me.
“Nah. They don’t look as good in a nightgown.
That’s very Anne Sexton, by the way. Like ‘candy store
Only Seth would use a bipolar poet as a compliment.
I glanced down and ran an absentminded hand over
the red silk. “This does look pretty good,” I admitted. “I
might look better in this than I do naked.”
He scoffed. “No, Thetis. You do not.”
I smiled, as I always did, when he used the pet name
he coined for me. In Greek mythology, Thetis had been
Achilles’ mother, a shape-shifting goddess won by a determined
mortal. And then, in what was an astonishingly
aggressive move for him, Seth flipped me onto my
back and began kissing my neck.
“Hey,” I said, putting up a halfhearted struggle. “We
don’t have time for this. I have stuff to do. And I want
“Noted,” he mumbled, moving on to my mouth. I
stopped my complaining. Seth was a wonderful kisser.
He gave the kind of kisses that melted into your mouth
and filled you with sweetness. They were like cotton
But there was no real melting to be had, not for us.
With a well-practiced sense of timing that you could
probably set a watch to, he pulled away from the kiss
and sat up, removing his hands as well. Still smiling, he
looked down at me and my undignified sprawl.
I smiled back, squelching the small pang of regret
that always came at these moments of retreat.
But that was the way it was with us, and honestly, we
had a pretty good system going when one considered
all the complications in our relationship. My friend,
Hugh, once had joked that all women steal men’s souls
if they’re together long enough. In my case, it didn’t
take years of bickering. A too-long kiss would suffice.
Such was the life of a succubus. I didn’t make the rules,
and I had no way to stop the involuntary energy theft
that came from intimate physical contact. I could, however,
control whether that physical contact happened in
the first place, and I made sure it didn’t. I ached for
Seth, but I wouldn’t steal his life as I had Bryce’s.
I sat as well, ready to get up, but Seth must have been
feeling bold this morning. He wrapped his arms around
my waist and shifted me onto his lap, pressing himself
against my back so that his lightly stubbled face buried
itself in my neck and hair. I felt his body tremble with
the intake of a heavy, deep breath. He exhaled it just as
slowly, like he sought control of himself, and then
strengthened his grip on me.
“Georgina,” he breathed against my skin.
I closed my eyes, and the playfulness was gone. A
dark intensity wrapped around us, one that burned
with both desire and a fear of what might come.
“Georgina,” he repeated. His voice was low, husky. I
felt like melting again. “Do you know why they say succubi
visit men in their sleep?”
“Why?” My own voice was small.
“Because I dream about you every night.” In most
circumstances, that would have sounded trite, but from
him, it was powerful and hungry.
I squeezed my eyes tighter as a swirl of emotions
danced within me. I wanted to cry. I wanted to make
love to him. I wanted to scream. It was all too much
sometimes. Too much emotion. Too much danger. Too
much, too much.
Opening my eyes, I shifted so that I could see his
face. We held each other’s gazes, both of us wanting
more and unable to give or take it. Breaking the look
first, I slipped regretfully from his embrace. “Come on.
Let’s go eat.”
Seth lived in Seattle’s university district—the U-district
to locals—and was within easy walking distance to assorted
shops and restaurants that lay adjacent to the
University of Washington’s campus. We found breakfast
at a small café, and omelets and conversation soon banished
the earlier awkwardness. Afterward, we wandered
idly up University Way, holding hands. I had errands to
run, and he had writing to do, yet we were reluctant to
Seth suddenly stopped walking. “Georgina.”
His eyebrows rose as he stared off at something
across the street. “John Cusack is standing over there.”
I followed his incredulous gaze to where a man very
like Mr. Cusack did indeed stand, smoking a cigarette as
he leaned against a building. I sighed.
“That’s not John Cusack. That’s Jerome.”
“Yup. I told you he looked like John Cusack.”
“Keyword: looked. That guy doesn’t look like him.
That guy is him.”