Daemon Persuasion Series
S. K. Gregory
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: Mockingbird Lane Press and SKGregory.
Date of Publication: Jan 2013
Number of pages: 222 pages
Word Count: 46k
Cover Artist: Jamie Johnson
When Mackenzie Murphy goes looking for her father she finds herself caught in the middle of a demon war between three rival families. Still trying to master her own demon abilities, who can she trust to help her? The mysterious Lucien? Or Taryn, the son of the enemy? With all three families hunting for a talisman that could shift the balance of power, Mackenzie must get to it first and finish what her father started, or die trying.
Ten Years Later
Mackenzie prowled the backstreets of downtown Los Angeles searching for her mark.
Johnny Beckman was the name her boss had given her, but he usually went by Ace, because he always seemed to be able to pull one out of his sleeve when the stakes were high. Unfortunately, his luck had taken a turn for the worse lately and he owed her boss over ten grand. Money that Mackenzie was going to collect.
She had spent most of the night talking to people, trying to track him down. Rumor had it that he liked to hang out in a bar called Pot Luck.
The club closed at two, so she loitered outside waiting for Johnny. She stood against a wall trying to look casual, staring at the reflection of the neon green Pot Luck sign in a nearby puddle.
“Hey there sweetness, why don’t we go back to my place?” A bald drunk leered at her as he left the club. He tried to cop a feel, but before he could touch her she grabbed his wrist and twisted it up his back. He cried out, trying to wrench his arm away.
“Keep your hands to yourself,” she said. She let go of his wrist and he hurried away, calling her a few choice names as he went. Nothing she hadn’t heard before. She had fended off more than a few unwanted admirers in her line of work. At five foot ten, she towered over a few them, and that intimidated them.
Although some of them looked past that to the curly black hair, green eyes and a body with curves in all the right places.
A half hour later, Johnny finally staggered out. He was shorter than her by three inches. Dressed in a sports jacket which he wore over a checked shirt, he bumped into one of the bouncers at the door. He was loaded.
“Watch it,” the bouncer growled.
“Drop dead,” Johnny muttered, not loud enough for the bouncer to hear, but she heard it. She kept her distance until he was away from the club. The stench of urine in the alleyway was overpowering. Breathing through her mouth, she crept along behind him. There was little light, so Johnny wouldn’t see her until she was right up on him.
She passed a pile of blankets tucked between two trash cans. Pausing, she checked to make sure they were empty. She didn’t need some homeless person as a witness.
Johnny stopped to light a cigarette and Mackenzie closed the distance between them.
“Hey, Johnny, how’s your luck been?” she said, in a friendly tone.
He turned around, the lit match still in his hand. Weariness lined his pudgy face. Running a hand through his greasy black hair, he eyed her through small, bleary dark eyes. He reminded her of a pig. And not the cute one from the film.
“Who’s asking?” His tone was guarded but his body was relaxed. He didn’t view her as a threat and she found that insulting.
“Mr. Clayton is wondering about his money,” she replied.
That got a reaction. She didn’t relax her stance. Things could turn ugly in a moment’s notice and as they said in her kickboxing class, ‘Never let your guard down.’
“You tell Clayton that if he doesn’t have the decency to send his heavies for the money, then he can wait for it. Seriously, how old are you, sweetheart?” He was right up in her face now and she could smell his stinking breath.
Ever since she’d been a kid, she hated when people invaded her personal space. It made her edgy and more than ready to do whatever she needed to get them to back off.
“Old enough to do this,” she said. She brought her knee up into his groin. He let out a muffled grunt of pain as he doubled over. Grabbing the back of his head, she slammed her knee into his forehead. He cried out again and fell to the ground, clutching his balls and head simultaneously.
“Mr. Clayton wants his money by midnight tomorrow or…” she left the sentence unfinished. Leaning over him, she checked his pockets and found over a grand tucked away. He was still earning his nickname.
“I’ll take this as a down payment.”
Eager to get out of the alleyway and away from the stench, she turned away.
“You fucking cunt,” Johnny yelled. He shoved her hard from behind and she fell to her knees. Something wet soaked through the left leg of her jeans. I really hope that’s rain water. From behind her she heard the distinct click of a blade.
“That was a big mistake,” he said, pointing it at her, “How about I send Clayton a message in the form of your dead body.”
“A little help here,” Mackenzie said. She whispered a few words in Latin.
The streetlight above them blinked out, as Mackenzie climbed to her feet.
A cold wind swirled around them. A trashcan tipped over, spilling its contents over the ground. The smell of rotting food filled the air.
“What the hell is going on?” Johnny said, his eyes wild with fear. He backed away from her, his eyes darting back and forth. The knife flicked out of his hand and bounced away.
Mackenzie saw the Shadow move in behind Johnny, flipping him off his feet. He hit the ground, smacking his chin on the concrete.
As the Shadow moved over him, she knew what was coming next.
“Subsitso,” Mackenzie barked. The Shadow halted, poised in anticipation, waiting for further instructions.
She looked at Johnny whimpering on the ground, “Excedo,” she commanded.
The Shadow sank slowly into the ground and disappeared.
“Get the money Johnny,” she said.
Breathing hard, she walked away, angry that Johnny had gotten the jump on her. She hated having to call the Shadow for help when she was perfectly capable of taking care of herself.
It had appeared a few times over the last ten years, especially as she had a knack for getting into trouble. At first, she had been terrified and convinced she was going crazy. When it appeared, it would whisper to her in Latin. Once she figured out it was Latin, she memorized a few simple commands, which it seemed to prefer to English.
Constantly moving as a child meant she never had anyone to confide in about the strange and sometimes scary phenomenon. She had tried telling Suzie in the children’s home about it, but that had been a mistake. Suzie had laughed in her face and shoved her down, calling her a nut job. Unwittingly, Mackenzie had summoned the Shadow and Suzie ended up in the hospital with stitches in her head. This Shadow thing craved violence and Mackenzie knew it would have loved to have killed Johnny, but it followed her orders without question. At least so far. Over the years, it had become a kind of guardian for her, but considering the outcome of its last visit, that night with Ramone, she had sworn she would never call for it again. Calling it was a mistake, but sometimes she did it without thinking.
Still, she had what she came for. As she left the alley, she felt a prickling sensation on the back of her neck as if she was being watched. She stopped, searching the area, but saw nothing. There were shouts in the distance, more drunks no doubt. Crossing the street, she glanced over her shoulder.
There was definitely someone watching her. She looked up and found him, standing on a fire escape on the building opposite. He was tall, wearing a long coat, which flapped around him in the wind, but that was about all she could see. She couldn’t see his face but she knew he was staring right at her. Something about the man sent chills down her spine. She turned and hurried away. She’d had enough surprises for one night.
Blue Moon was the club Mr. Clayton owned. Its usual cliental consisted of the dregs of society or out-of-towners who didn’t know about its reputation. They played mostly dance music, which personally Mackenzie hated, but she had learned to drown it out over the last couple of years. She let herself in the back door hoping to leave the money and go, but a few people were still up, including Clayton.
“Johnny sent you a little present, Mr. Clayton,” Mackenzie said, dropping the money on the table in front of a blonde woman in her late forties. Two bodyguards stood on either side of her.
Her ice blue eyes gave nothing away. She was dressed in a simple blue calf length dress, but Mackenzie was sure the woman could make sack cloth look classy.
“You gave him my message?” Mr. Clayton asked.
“Yes, he’ll pay,” Mackenzie, replied.
“He’d better,” the woman replied. Mr. Clayton was in fact Greta Clayton. She had taken over from her husband after he was shot two years ago. Even though he was dead, his name still meant something among the locals. Since he was rarely seen, Greta kept up the pretense that he was still alive. Mackenzie knew that if the locals knew a woman ran the show, there would be chaos.
Mackenzie worked odd jobs for her, usually bartending and deliveries but more recently ‘collections.’ Greta had seen her take down a couple of drunks a few weeks earlier and decided that she was worth promoting. She didn’t argue when her promotion came, especially since it tripled her salary.
“Any trouble?” Greta asked, counting the money.
“Nothing I couldn’t handle,” she replied.
Greta smiled, transforming her face, “Good girl. Your payment will be ready in the morning.”
Mackenzie never asked, but Greta had a presence about her. Mackenzie often wondered if she had been an actress back in the day. It seemed every young girl who came here wanted to be one. A few lucky ones got their big break. A lot more got swallowed by the city. The appeal of acting was lost on her. It was hard enough making ends meet.
Mackenzie left the way she came in. In the ally, she climbed onto her motorbike. Some people said that in a city this size you needed a car, but she preferred her Ducati. Back tire squealing, she headed home.
As she drove over the crest of a hill, someone stepped into the road. She slowed slightly, wondering what someone would be doing out this late, on such a deserted stretch of road.
Flames erupted in front of her. Mackenzie braked hard, jerking the bike to the left. A wave of heat hit her. The bike went out from under her, straight over the cliff edge. She skidded on her back a few feet and came to a stop inches from the flames. Heat tinged her face like a lover’s kiss.
Unable to catch her breath, she lay motionless. A man stepped through the flames, unaffected by the heat. He loomed over her, face hidden in shadow. Could this be the same guy from the roof? He was about the same size. Her heart jack-hammered in her chest, leaving her breathless. A medallion in the shape of an eagle hung around his neck.
“Consider this a warning,” he hissed, “Stop messing with things you don’t understand.”
Without another word, he turned and disappeared into the flames, leaving her speechless and suddenly very afraid.
Mackenzie struggled into a sitting position, the flames dying around her. Her back burned and she was sure her leather jacket was a write off, as was her motorbike. She wasn’t sure what had just happened, but somehow knew, this wasn’t the end.
The man was gone. He had vanished into the flames as though he’d never existed.
Son of a bitch.
Apparently, Johnny was better connected than she thought. Or someone was. Greta had a lot of enemies and since no one could get near her, it made sense they would go after her employees.
Checking herself over, she was relieved to find that she wasn’t badly hurt, just a few scrapes and bruises. She started the long walk home, already plotting her revenge.
Daemon Persuasion Series
S. K. Gregory
Publisher: Mockingbird Lane Press
Date of Publication: Oct 26th 2015
Number of pages: 206
Word Count: 46,000
Cover Artist: Jamie Johnson
Mackenzie Murphy thought her demon troubles were behind her, but with Taryn as her new roommate and his father still out to kill him, it seems there's no getting away from them.
When Taryn begins to act erratically, Mackenzie discovers that he has to face the consequences for saving her life. Deadly consequences.
So it's up to Mackenzie to save him, while avoiding the attention of a local cop and her homicidal boss.
Maybe demons are the least of her worries.
Walking as silently as he could through the St. Patrick’s church, Taryn watched for any movement. He had an iron-bladed knife in one hand and a small glass vial in the other.
He scanned the ceiling of the church. A fluttering noise in the rafters caught his attention. Illuminating the pews, light streamed through the stained-glass window, but the ceiling remained in shadow. He knew it was there though. He could feel it watching him.
As he turned, he saw it—a leg suspended between the wall and the ceiling. As he moved toward it, Taryn heard its ragged breathing and as he got closer, it growled softly. “You know how this ends, Bartlus. Let’s stop playing games.”
Taryn threw himself forward as the demon launched itself toward him. Taryn hit the floor and the demon overshot, landing hard on the wood floor and came instantly to its feet. Taryn spun to face it.
Mackenzie Murphy’s face stared back at him. Her full lips twisted into a sneer; her normally green eyes black. Ropey salvia oozed from her mouth onto the floor. She hunkered down, preparing to pounce, looking more like an animal than a person.
“One way or another you are going back in this bottle,” Taryn said.
“You won’t hurt this body,” Bartlus said in its guttural voice.
“Don’t be so sure,” he lied.
Bartlus grinned at him, the expression turning Taryn’s insides to water. He had to remain in control. If the demon realized he had one second’s doubt as to whether he could actually kill the demon that had possessed Mackenzie, it would all be over.
“I can see her thoughts.” It tapped the side of Mackenzie’s head. “Her memories. You killed your own kin to save her. She’s still in here, screaming to get out.”
“You’re not leaving this church.”
As it leapt at him, it knocked him sprawling. Taryn flipped over, pinning Mackenzie’s body underneath him.
“Is this what you want?” It asked, “Do you fantasize about this?” It wriggled suggestively.
Taryn held it down by the throat and chanting the old incantation in Latin put the vial under its nose. It screamed, bringing Mackenzie’s knee up and connecting with his groin. Taryn groaned and loosened his grip as pain ripped through him.
Bartlus took the opportunity to get free. He pushed Taryn over and made a run for it.
Taryn tossed the knife. It struck the altar, and Bartlus skidded to a halt. The knife had missed by inches. Bartlus spun in the opposite direction, and Taryn teleported in behind and flipped the demon onto the floor. This time he made sure to pin all of Mackenzie’s limbs.
As he finished the chant, black, oozing smoke poured out of her mouth and nose into the vial. When it was filled, Taryn sealed it.
Mackenzie choked and sputtered.
“You okay?” Taryn asked, sliding off her and onto the floor.
“What the hell was that?” she moaned.
“Possessor demon. I warned you not to touch anything.”
“Well, the bottle didn’t exactly come with a warning label, ‘May cause possession when opened,’” she snapped.
Taryn sighed. She was such a pain in the ass.
“Is it gone?” Father Jared asked as he crawled from under the pew where he had been hiding. He sweated profusely, his dark hair plastered to his head.
“It’s back in the bottle.” Taryn tossed it to him.
Father Jared fumbled it, his thin face losing even more color, leaving him looking like a ghost, but he got a grip and held on as though his life depended on it—which it did.
Taryn knew Father Jared had only just joined the church and was still learning about demons. He had a long way to go. What was the man thinking? Leaving the bottle unguarded!
“I’ll lock this away,” Father Jared said, holding it at arm’s length. “Father Thomas will be back this evening. You can come and talk to him then. Alone.”
“Good idea,” Taryn muttered.
Mackenzie glared at Taryn as she picked herself off the floor.
“I didn’t let the demon in on purpose,” she said.
“I know. Let’s just forget it, okay?”
He didn’t want to fight; he was in too much pain. They walked down the aisle to the door.
“So what do possessor demons do? Other than body-jack you?” Mackenzie asked.
“Not much. They’re demons who have had their forms taken from them.”
“Can they possess dead bodies?”
“Only the recently dead. They can keep bodily functions going temporarily but not for long. Once the body expires they return to their vessel. In this case, the bottle. They need living hosts.”
Mackenzie shivered and pulled a face, “Let’s go home. I need a bath after that.”
Taryn frowned. She said it so casually. Home. He had only been staying at her apartment for a few weeks, sleeping on the couch. Just because his father had a contract out on him didn’t mean it was permanent. He didn’t intend to stay much longer. It wasn’t like she got anything out of the arrangement anyway, other than picking up a few fighting techniques and learning about demon lore. Once he found a base somewhere he was leaving.
As they made their way down the front steps of the church, Taryn saw him. He froze. Across the street by a bus stop, he had caught a glimpse of Lucien. A car passed, blocking Taryn’s view, and by the time it car moved away, his brother, Lucien had vanished. Taryn scanned the street, but it was as though Lucian never been there.
“What’s wrong?” Mackenzie asked.
He shook his head, “Nothing.” He must have imagined seeing his brother. It had been weeks since Lucien died. If he hadn’t appeared by now, then he wasn’t going to, was he?
Daemon Battle Book 3 will be available to pre-order July 2
To Be Released in September 2016.
S. K. Gregory was born in Northern Ireland in 1985. She is the author of several series of books including the Daemon Persuasion series, which was published by Mockingbird Lane Press. Her latest novel is Hell Hath No Fury: Queen of Hell Book 1.
She loves horror movies, reading and archery. When she isn’t writing, she helps authors through her website by supplying reviews and promotion. All of her works are available to purchase through Amazon.
Facebook Event Giveaway:
Join the Inner Daemons Facebook Event July 2nd and 3rd
Daemon Persuasion will be free to download on Kindle during the event.
Any person who purchases the second book, Daemon Madness, either on Kindle or paperback and posts a selfie with the book or their kindle during the event will be entered into a draw to win a Kindle Fire 7” WiFi 8GB.
To enter please attend the event July 2 and 3 –https://www.facebook.com/events/275533266128060
Locate the Kindle Fire Giveaway post and comment with your selfie. For anyone who has purchased the paperback and is waiting on it arriving, you may post a screenshot of the sale instead.
Winner will be announced on July 4th 2016 and the item will be mailed to the winner. (Name and address will need to be supplied by the winner)