by Erin Fulmer
Publication date: November 9th 2021
Genres: Adult, Urban Fantasy
Lawyer. Demon. Lily Knight is both—half-human, half-succubus, and utterly dangerous.
Lily protects her secret and the safety of those around her by abstaining from the skin-to-skin contact that would grant her superhuman powers. An ambitious criminal prosecutor, she’s all work and no play, determined to prove herself in the courtroom to atone for the ex-lovers she’s left for dead in her past.
But after a fellow succubus turns up murdered and the police arrest an innocent man, Lily discovers evidence of a supernatural killer stalking the foggy San Francisco streets. And when human justice falls short, she launches an unsanctioned investigation to find the real culprit. To stop the killer, she must embrace the full power of her heritage and risk the soul of the handsome suspect she can’t help but fall for. Can Lily face her true nature without losing her humanity—or will she become the monster she fears most of all?
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I stole a glance at the two humans waiting with me at the coffee kiosk and stifled a groan. If I had my way, I’d make PDAs before six a.m. a first-degree misdemeanor.
Quite a hill to die on, huh? Of course, I’d have to leave the D.A.’s office and run for Congress first, but the pithy single-platform campaign slogans wrote themselves: Elect Lillian Knight and Make Singles Jogging Safe Again. Stop Criminal Canoodling. Think of the children—and have mercy on the celibate-by-choice cambion lurking uncomfortably behind you in the coffee line.
Alas, even a half-demon like me didn’t have that kind of power. And my powers of glaring didn’t stop the middle-aged couple in the cafe’s outdoor waiting area from mooning over each other.
I wrapped my arms around myself and set my jaw. This early on a dreary weekday morning, I should have had the park to myself, free from lovestruck tourists and their sloppy, tantalizing energy. And yet, here stood these two grown adults in their puffy jackets, snuggling together like teenagers and harshing the living hell out of my happy place.
Maybe I didn’t need a caffeine fix before my run. Never mind the biting Pacific gusts blowing off the choppy gray waves of the strait, the thick fog blanketing the rust-orange span of the Golden Gate Bridge, or the gritty haze that clouded my brain after another sleepless night.
I could live with all of that. San Francisco’s fog couldn’t rival the Pennsylvania winters I’d grown up with, even after eight years of acclimation. Insomnia and I had an intimate, long-term relationship. And the cold didn’t get under my demon-tough skin like the two walking heart-eye emojis in front of me.
I licked my lips and slapped my change on the counter. Oblivious to my jonesing, the lovebirds entwined their hands and leaned into each other, a bulwark of two against the chill. I turned away, but their mutual desire thrummed in the air around me like a pair of plucked guitar strings tuned to one another. Its sweetness settled, thick and cloying, at the back of my throat.
Damn my succubus senses. They didn’t help anything, and they never knew when to quit.
The synesthetic song of the human couple’s desiderata—the energy of their deep-seated needs and desires—didn’t hold any secrets simple human perception would have missed. Still, their two-part harmony tugged at me. I’d have given a limb, maybe two, to turn it off at will, but no one was buying. Swallowing hard, I grasped at straws: stocks, sports, anything unsexy and boring. The Giants had done well this season, right?
No good. The desiderata behind me hummed all the louder, a tangible vibration running up my spine like a live wire. I risked another peek over my shoulder and winced. The man had bent toward the woman, the breeze ruffling his salt-and-pepper hair. She tilted her head up, lips parted, face aglow, ready for his kiss.
“Screw this,” I muttered, and broke into a run.
The barista’s call floated after me. “Quad cappuccino for Lily?”
I didn’t stop. Bye bye, six hard-earned dollars I paid for the abandoned drink. Too bad, so sad for my wallet, but it wasn’t worth the cost to my peace of mind and my succubus sobriety.
The rhythm of my sneakers on the hard-packed earth of the upper trail beat out a staccato counterpoint to the hiss of the surf and the blood pounding in my ears. About halfway into the grove of cypress and eucalyptus that lined the trail, I hit my stride. The trees blurred into a gray-green smear on either side of me, and the siren call of human desiderata faded away.
And then I tripped over something heavy and dense that lay across the trail and went sprawling face-first into the dirt.
The wind knocked out of me, I lay still for a few seconds, tonguing my split and swelling lip. It leaked a coppery tang tainted with bitter earth into my mouth. My palms stung where I’d flung them out to catch my fall.
I rolled over and the gray sky wheeled above me in a dizzy lurch. Damn it, had I hit my head? A concussion would make this a real banner week. I could heal faster than humans did, but to recover from a serious injury, I would need more than strong coffee. I would have to break a vow I’d made to myself and take kether—human life force, the fuel my powers depended on, transferred by touch and emotional connection from their bodies to mine.
Erin Fulmer is a life-long writer, real-life social justice warrior (i.e. legal services lawyer), politics junkie, and general bookworm. She lives in sunny California with her husband and two demanding cat daughters. She is currently at work on the sequel to her forthcoming debut urban fantasy, CAMBION’S LAW (11/9/2021, City Owl Press).
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