OKEY DOKEY ARTICHOKEYS!!!!! Here it is!!!! I promised you the first two chapters of FASHIONABLY DEAD DOWN UNDER (Book 2 of the Hot Damned Series) and I am making good on that promise!! Just so you know, this is unedited so any booboos (not boobies), misspelled words or poopy punctuation has not been fixed yet and is all my fault! It will go to my brilliant editor before it comes out, but I wanted you guys and gals to get a little sneak peek. PLUS, I’ve been getting threats on a daily basis because I left this puppy on a cliff hanger!!!! I know...I SUCK. FASHIONABLY DEAD DOWN UNDER will be coming out the end of March.
If you haven’t read FASHIONABLY DEAD (Book 1 of the Hot Damned Series) you should. It’s only $.99 and it’s full of snarky, sexy Vampyre shenanigans. It’s a must for those of you who love your undead on the funny side!! I’ll post the link at the bottom.
Pain—then ice—then intolerable heat. A second took years, yet time stood still. The claws of those that trapped me were razor sharp. They tore through my flesh as the ones who owned them grunted and screamed with delight. I struggled for balance, but realized I was standing on air. Violet and silver dust engulfed me as I choked on smells of burning flesh and anger. How was this happening? I was supposed to be planning my wedding to my hotter than Satan’s underpants Vampyre Prince…not taking a ride to Hell with smelly and disgusting Demons. Shitshitdamnitshit.
Journey? The soundtrack in Hell was Journey? I would have thought Nine Inch Nails or AC DC, but certainly not Journey…Don’t get me wrong, I loved Journey, but Don’t Stop Believing just didn’t seem like an appropriate anthem for the Underworld. Was I even in Hell? Maybe this was Purgatory or some other random plane of existence? Although I would expect Barry Manilow, John Tesh or Kenny G if I was stuck in Purgatory.
“Where in God’s name am I?” I muttered as I gingerly pried my dry eyes open.
One thing I was absolutely sure of—I definitely wasn’t on Earth. The ride to where ever the hell I was with the stinky Demons had sucked the big one. It was violent, smelly and it hurt like a son of a bitch.
Easing my body to a sitting position was difficult but doable. Now, to figure out where I was…
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” I moaned, both from the pain shooting through my limbs and the simple fact that Faithfully was blasting from invisible speakers hidden somewhere in my cell.
Wait. Was this a cell? A trap? A bedroom?
A bedroom? I was in a bedroom?
This couldn’t be Hell. It had to be some kind of holding area. The Underworld was supposed to smell like sulfur and look like post-Armageddon. This place looked more like some douchenoggle with big bucks and debatable taste had shopped at all the most expensive home stores on Fifth Avenue…while they were drunk.
My body ached like I’d been beaten and I checked myself for wounds. Surprisingly I was fine. Maybe all that flesh tearing had been an illusion. Being a Vampyre I healed quickly, but the trip to Hell, or where ever I was, had been rather turbulent. Turning my head took effort, but I needed to figure out my location and how to get out.
Interesting. I was on a large bed draped in cheesy and predictable slippery black silk. The walls of what I decided to assume was a massive bedroom were all done in burnished gold leafing. Thick and ornate crown molding framed the walls. The shades of the molding were more muted and depicted horrific scenes of mutilation and decapitations of some kind of animal looking thing. Okay, this was more like the Hell I expected. The artwork added to the ambience— frescos of orgies and graphic depictions of group sex and death graced what had to be twenty-foot high walls. The floor was so highly waxed it literally sparkled—the uninviting cold black marble stretched from one end of the huge room to the other.
Trying to block out Steven Perry singing Lovin, Touchin, Squeezin’ was almost impossible. I had a bizarre urge to sing along…
Wait a fucking minute…were the walls breathing?
Stop. Pull yourself together—walls didn’t breath. I needed to deal with the situation at hand. I would not let Steven Perry or walls with a heartbeat derail me from getting the hell out of Hell.
First things first, I needed to get up. I wasn’t chained to the bed. I was able to move as freely as my battered body would allow. I suppose the most unnerving part was that no one was around…or were they? I hadn’t seen anyone or anything since my forced arrival. Could Demons cloak themselves like I could?
“Astrid,” a disembodied voice hissed from out of nowhere.
“Holy Hell,” I screamed and dove under the bed, slamming the side of my head on the metal frame and bending back all the fingers on my left hand. “Who’s here?” I shouted, nursing my painfully throbbing fingers and head not to mention the rest of my body.
“Al Pachino lives in Hell? I didn’t even know he died.” Plus he seemed more like a Purgatory guy to me. “Bullshit,” I muttered, cautiously peeking out from under the bed. There was no one in the room but me. Maybe the walls were alive. “You are not Al Pachino. You don’t even sound like al Pachino. Who in the hell are you?”
“I’m part of you,” the wall whispered.
“I’m a fucking wall?”
The wall laughed heartily. So heartily it pissed me off. “So did you enjoy your trip, Astrid?”
“Are you kidding me? It sucked,” I snapped and scanned the room for a hidden Demon. There had to be someone in here. Walls did not talk.
“What on earth did you expect my dear? You’d just killed their leader who happened to be your Father,” the voice informed me. “Not to mention you offed your psychotic bitch of a somewhat human mother not even ten minutes before your father arrived.”
“My father was no prize either. He was a gross, stinky, disgusting and evil Demon and wasn’t even upset that I snuffed out my mother,” I shot back. Fine. I’d lost it I was talking to a wall…
“Darling girl, if you were able to kill both your parents why didn’t you stop the Demons from taking you to Hell?”
“Well, Wall, you seem to know quite a bit already. I’m sure you know exactly why I couldn’t stop the Demons.”
“Couldn’t or didn’t?” the wall inquired politely.
I’d had enough of the wall. “What does it matter? I was a bit tired from offing my parents and I had, um…other reasons.” Damnit, this was impossible. Was I really talking to a wall? Yes. Yes, I was.
“Ah yes,” the wall said lovingly. “Your unborn child. That child will also be part of me.”
“Look, no offense, but you’re a freakin’ talking wall. I don’t really see the connection between you, me and my baby.”
“If you’re not going to be pleasant, I’ll leave,” the wall huffed and the heartbeat disappeared. WTF?
Fucking. Awesome. The wall was gone because I pissed it off. Not only had I made myself an orphan earlier and earned a lovely unplanned trip to the Land of Damnation, but I’d made a talking wall in Hell angry with me. What did a girl have to do to catch a freakin’ break? I’d done everything that was expected of me and still I got the shaft…I’d fulfilled the crazy Vampyre Prophecy. I’d saved the Vampyre King and proved I was indeed their Chosen One. Although I might have reconsidered the job had I known ending up in Abyss of Darkness was part of the description.
“Are you screwing with me?” I shouted at the wall as Open Arms surrounded me on all sides. The incredible urge to sway and sing along was almost debilitating. There had to be something subliminal going on here…Was Journey part of some evil plan? Was it laced with hidden references to Hell and debauchery? Was Steven Perry a succubus? Either someone downunder was obsessed with 80’s pop music or I wasn’t in Hell at all.
“Oh my god,” I gasped as crawled out from under the bed. I very slowly stretched out my cramped legs and arms. “I clearly fucked someone over in a former life to have to deal with this.”
“Why would you think that?” the disembodied wall voice hissed.
“Mother fucker,” I screeched, grabbing a pillow off the bed and hurling it at the wall. “Do not scare me like that. I’ve had enough surprises today.”
The wall chuckled in reply.
The Demons had unceremoniously dragged my ass through the portal to Hell insisting I was their new queen—like that was ever going to happen. If they hadn’t arrived in such large numbers, I might not be sitting in Hell right now talking to a wall and trying to make my body work, but I was…and I was furious.
However, as unhappy as I was about my new address, I would hazard a guess that my beautiful mate, Ethan, had gone ballistic. He would have arrived at the caves by now where my deadly family reunion had taken place and would know that I’d been abducted. My gut clenched at the thought of what he would do. His father, the King of the Vampyres, would have clued him in to the somewhat unbelievable story of my pregnancy and Ethan would…Shit, I didn’t know what he’d do, but I needed to get out of here quickly before he attempted to come to Hell and rescue me.
I’d lost enough. I would not lose the man who was my world and I flat out refused lose my baby. Unease skittered up my spine like little mice and I shivered involuntarily as Steven Perry began to belt out Wheel in the Sky. OMG.
Could the talking wall keep me from leaving? Time to find out.
On the far left side of the room was a bay window. I wondered how high up I was and if I could jump. What was I thinking? I could fly for fuck’s sake. I grimaced and stood. I just needed to find a way out of the garish bedroom and make my way to a portal that would take me back to Earth.
Of course since I had no idea what that portal might look like or where to find one, that might prove to be a clusterfuck in the making. Awesome. I needed to figure out where I was.
Walking hurt so I decided to fly to the window and check out the landscape. After two pathetic attempts that resulted in my ass hitting the floor—hard, I realized my powers weren’t the same in Hell as they were on Earth. Not. Fucking. Good.
“Looks like you lost some power, my dear,” the wall said.
“Ya think?” I snapped. Why was I even talking to the wall. It was a wall. I would ignore it and if it got mad—so be it.
My eyesight, hearing and sense of smell were still bionic, but my ability to cloak myself was gone along with my ability to fly. I needed to get the hell out of the room. Staying low and away from the walls just incase they had hands too, I slipped out of the bedroom and made my way down a massive hall. Ironically—or maybe not—Steven Perry belted out Separate Ways. Who in the hell knew Journey had so many hits?
Something was off besides the fact that the walls talked. Why was I able to breath and why in the hell did Hell smell so good? Was I even a Vampyre anymore? If descending to I-have-a-shit-ton-of-money-and-no-taste-and-Journey-is-the-best-band-ever-land meant that I had turned into a full Demon someone was going to pay.
Not wanting to show fear, but filled with dread that made my heart beat like the drum section of a percussion happy high school band, I stood in the center of the dimly lit hallway. If the Demons had wanted me dead they would have already killed me. I was creeped out that I’d been talking to a wall and had seen no one. It felt like I’d plopped down in the middle of a game with no rules…
This world was filled with dark magic and Steven Perry…and strangely, I found that combination appealing. Very appealing. It was unlike the foul magic of my Mother or my Father and his minions. This was smarter and a whole hell of a lot more dangerous. Thankfully my body was becoming my own again. The pain was receding although I was still without my undead powers…
Voices. I heard voices…and they didn’t belong to Steven Perry or anyone from Journey as far as I could tell. A man and a girl.
Oh, I wanted to go home. Where were my ruby slippers or at the very least a Fairy Godmother? This was bad…very, very bad.
Moving quietly toward the sound with as much outward calm as I could muster my stomach roiled. Why, why, why did shit like this seem to happen to me on a daily basis? My karma couldn’t be that bad…Suck it up and deal with it. I’d just defeated massive evil. I killed my vicious Father and my bat-shit crazy Mother in the space of twenty minutes. Not something I was proud of or wanted to brag about, but it was me or them and clearly I had more to live for…I was a kick butt half-Vampyre half-Demon who was pregnant. I was a virtual impossibility. I could do this. I’d talk my way out and go home. Or I’d whack a bunch more Demons and go home. Done. No fucking problem.
However, when I reached the source of the voices my courage disappeared. The sheer amount of magic in the room was like nothing I’d ever felt. The darkness wound around me like a perfectly cut cashmere wrap and the magnetic pull was intoxicating. There was no turning back. It felt right to be where I was in this very moment. I was positive this was where I would get some answers. Luckily I slipped into the room unnoticed. In the spirit of self-preservation and utter terror, I quickly hid behind a massive black brocade curtain as Steven Perry appropriately busted into Who’s Crying Now.
“Dixie, this behavior is unacceptable!” the man bellowed.
He was magnificent and frightening. His magic was stronger than any I’d ever witnessed. I sipped farther into the shadows so I wouldn’t be seen. Fuckity fuck fuck. Every instinct in my body screamed at me to run away, but that was impossible…they would see me. This was a mistake—possibly a deadly one. But, I’d been drawn here by an unmistakable pull. As much as I wanted to disappear, I wanted to stay even more.
The beautiful man stood at least six feet six inches tall and had long raven black hair—identical to the girl named Dixie he was displeased with. She was stunning, yet her demeanor was meek. Their eyes were golden like mine, although his turned a ruby red as his anger mounted. Was the girl related to the man? Who in the hell were they?
Their skin color differed. His was more of a pale mocha and hers was a peaches and cream. They were both long and lanky and reeked of magic. The girl, Dixie, appeared to be about nineteen or twenty and the man? Who knew…
“I’m sorry,” she muttered staring at her fingernails. She picked nervously at the chipped black polish.
“Would you like to explain these grades?” The air crackled with his anger and energy. He threw the paper to the ground at her feet.
Grades? WTF? This was Hell…people got report cards in Hell?
“Um…I studied?” she whispered, ducking her head to avoid a blow.
“No child of mine receives straight A’s.” His voice was soft and menacing.
I was so fucking confused I almost stepped out from my hiding place, but sanity prevailed and I stayed put.
“I said I was sorry dad. I’ll try harder to fail next time.”
One question answered…
“Where did I go wrong?” he lamented. I watched him pace. His presence filled the room completely, leaving little space for anyone or anything else. His very expensive black leather pants and black silk shirt matched his hair perfectly. It was clear the girl loved him and was upset with his displeasure.
He threw his hands up in disgust, “I’ve given you everything, and this is how you repay me?”
“Didn’t realize there was a price,” she muttered quietly.
“Everything has a price,” he hissed.
Damn, he had really good hearing.
Dixie shrunk down low and waited. I held my breath wishing I hadn’t chosen this particular room to explore.
“You will drop the goody-goody act. You will be rude and promiscuous and scandalous. You will not be compassionate unless I am concerned and I expect you to flunk out of The Demon College just like all of your sisters did. Do you understand me?” he demanded.
“I’m really sorry Dad,” she sounded like a broken record—this was clearly a familiar conversation for them.
“I am Satan,” he bellowed and the room vibrated. “I have a reputation to uphold. You are a Demon Princess, you have a Porsche, your own bungalow in the most exclusive zip code in Hell and certainly more money than anyone your age should have access to and yet you throw all this in my face? Why Dixie, why?” He wearily dropped down on the couch next to the girl and she put her arms around him.
“I love you,” she whispered.
The ghost of a smile touch his lips. “And I you.” He wrapped his arms around her and looked into her eyes. “Is it true that you donated one million dollars of my money to feed hungry humans on Earth?”
“Yes,” she buried her face against his chest. “I did.”
He heaved an enormous sigh, “I have to punish you, you know.”
He put his finger under her chin, forcing her to meet his eyes. “If I don’t punish you, all hell will break loose down here. No pun intended,” he grinned.
“Daddy, that pun was totally intended,” she giggled.
“That it was.” He stood up and ran his big hands through his hair and turned and mesmerizing gaze on her. “You are so like your mother.”
“And that’s a bad thing?” she challenged.
“It’s an…interesting thing,” he conceded. His voice was melodic and hypnotizing.
“What’s my punishment?”
He gave her a terribly evil and intoxicating smile. “I’ll have to think about it.” He turned and walked toward my hiding spot. Shit. Why did I have to be so freakin’ tall? Please walk by me. Please. He stopped a foot from where I hid. I held my new found breath and prayed to everything and anything I could think of…including him.
“Come out, Astrid. I’ve been expecting you.
Sweet baby Satan, this day couldn’t get any worse. Actually it probably could…
Shitfire, hell and damnation. This was bad. Satan was expecting me? How was that even possible? And how did he know I was hiding behind curtain number two? Although he was Satan or Lucifer or Beelzebub or the Prince of Darkness or...
“I prefer Satan. Lucifer is fine on Tuesdays and the Prince of Darkness will do in a pinch,” he said smoothly in his dark, rich voice.
Son of a... I quickly slammed my brain doors shut and hoped I still had at least that ability. Test it, my filterless and quick to come up with horrific ideas brain told me. Fine…Satan is a douchebag who wears ladies underpants and picks his nose...Nothing. No reaction. Thank you Jesus and Buddah and Moses and Judas and whoever else was kind enough to be helping me out at the moment. Wait. I take back the Judas thing. Don’t want to pray to a dude who gets people crucified. Dumb, dumb, dumb. I idly wondered for a moment if Judas lived down here. Focus. Satan was on the other side of the curtain I was hiding behind and he’d requested the pleasure of my company. Fuck.
I was southern and I had manners. If I could teach art to genital obsessed seniors, I could converse with Satan. Right? Right. If he was expecting me, he was probably aware of my recent patricide and matricide…Would he be impressed or pissed? After all, my Father had been in charge of Hell. Wait. How was my stanky Father in charge down here if Satan existed? This made no sense. Were the Vampyres wrong? Was my Father a big fat hairy liar? Who in the hell did I kill an hour ago? Was he even my Father?
“I’m waiting,” Satan informed me in a tone that got my feet moving quickly.
“Hi,” I said as I burst from the curtains and shoved my hand out to shake his, acting like it was the most natural thing in the world to be eavesdropping on the King of Debauchery’s conversation from behind black brocade. “I’m Astrid and there was clearly some major fuc...mistake. I don’t live down here and I’m not dead. Well, actually I am dead, but not dead-dead. I’m undead and my undead, um…husband is going to be pissed. I’m a newlywed of sorts in a Vampyre undead way and I need to go home, your Honor of Darkness. Now.” I expelled a loud and long breath as I hadn’t inhaled through my insane diatribe.
“Interesting,” he purred and watched me. He hadn’t taken my hand and I let it drop limply to my side. “So you’re the Chosen One.”
“Apparently,” I snapped, annoyed that he didn’t have the decency to shake my hand. “And you’re the bad guy.”
“Occasionally,” Satan laughed and all the air left my lungs. God, he was beautiful…and scary.
“Cigarette?” he offered holding a pack of my favorite brand out to me.
I was soooo tempted. I could breathe for God’s sake. Would one measley cigarette hurt me? Um, yes. Yes, it would. In my struggle with temptation, I’d all but forgotten I was pregnant. Would I have taken it if I didn’t have my little miracle inside of me? I’d like to think no, but I wasn’t too sure. Hell was going to be hell.
“No, I quit,” I said looking away from my former vice.
“Such a shame,” he replied watching me intently.
It was if he could read me without diving into my mind. Shit. Time for a change of subject…“I thought my Dad was in charge down here.”
“You do realize down is a misnomer,” he informed me. He was in my space and I itched to take a step back, but knew in my gut if I moved away I would lose a few points in whatever fucked up game we were playing.
“I’m not following,” I said politely, very aware he avoided my statement.
“My dear beautiful creature,” Satan said moving even closer. “It’s a misconception is that Hell is below and Heaven is above. What does that even mean? Nothing is up or down, that’s just mundane human mythology. Most likely the poor mortal fools made the mistake because Hell is occasionally called the Underworld. So very literal, those humans…Hell and Heaven are simply on different planes, accessible through Portals. Earth was modeled after a combination of the seasons, climates and terrains of Heaven and Hell. We all share the same moon, sun and stars.”
“Interesting. So about my father…” I said ungracefully changing the subject. Again. Although what he said was fascinating and I did want to know more I was in a bit of a time crunch. The faster I could get out of here the better. I was certain Satan already knew if he was going to kill me, so I had very little to lose. I wanted answers not a history lesson.
“Yes,” he replied silkily. “Tragic ending.”
“Who was he?” God, the Devil was more cryptic than the Vamps. “I thought he was in charge down here.”
That stopped the Devil in his tracks. “Did he tell you that?” he demanded in a voice that made my stomach drop to my toes.
“Um, no…not exactly. I guess I just assumed or maybe my mom told me.” Under no circumstance would I tell him the Vampyres believed my dead pappy, Abaddon, was the leader of the Underworld.
“How rich,” he laughed, going from deadly back to blindingly beautiful in the matter of a moment. “Your father,” he spat derisively, “was definitely not in charge here. He was my minion and managed a certain—how shall I put it—area of Hell…but he was weak and stupid—unfit to rule.”
I stayed silent. The way he stared at me made my skin heat. He was breathtaking, but I wasn’t pulled to him in a sexual way. It was a power thing…I think.
“Daddy, you should tell her more,” Dixie said quietly from across the room. I’d forgotten she was still here. Her Father’s presence was so large and overwhelming everything around him disappeared.
“She’s on a need to know basis,” he informed his daughter. “Welcome to Hell, Astrid. Say hello to your cousin, Dixie.”
“My cousin?” WTF? If she was my cousin then he was my…
“Uncle,” Satan supplied as I quickly re-shut the faulty doors in my mind. Damnit to hell, I was one walking defect…nothing worked.
“That’s just awesome,” I gushed inching my way to the door, “but I have to go. It’s been kind of lovely meeting you and I seriously hope we don’t have too many get togethers and…”
“Halt,” my Uncle the Fucking Devil hissed.
“Don’t you think it only fair that you learn about your other part of your heritage?” he half asked-half insisted turning his back on me.
“Um, no that’s okay. I’ve seen enough in the last couple of hours to last a life time…a long one—like mine.”
“Unacceptable,” he replied so quietly I wasn’t sure I heard him, but the if look on Dixie’s face was anything to go by, things were about to get hinky. Shit. “You will stay here until I deem it reasonable for you to leave. You will immerse yourself in the Demon culture and you will get to know your family.”
“There’s more than just the two of you?” I asked hoping there wasn’t.
“Oh yes, my lovely niece. Many more.”
“There will be people looking for me,” I said racking my brain for any excuse to leave.
“That should be fun,” Satan grinned and I almost fainted. His charm was addictive.
“The longer I’m here the better the chance that there will be problems for you.”
“Trust me my dear, there are already problems…Plus time runs differently here than it does on your chosen plane,” he said and turned to leave.
“What the hell does that mean?” I demanded. I had no clue if he knew I was pregnant, but if time was screwed down here what did that mean for my baby?
“It means,” my uncle replied slowly while staring me down, “that I determine how much time you miss on Earth. A week here could equate with a minute in your world…or it could equate to a year or ten. That my dear will be up to you.”
“Yes, good behavior will be in you favor. Remember that.”
With that he disappeared in a blast of black glitter and smoke.
Son of a bitch, this day just kept getting worse…
“Come with me,” my cousin Dixie said. “You’ll stay at my place during your visit.”
I rolled my eyes at the use of the term visit, but didn’t correct her. There was something fragile and trusting about Dixie. Honestly, I kind of liked her, but more than that I was hoping I could use her to get the hell out of…well, Hell.
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