Hell Bound

Hell Bound

J. D. Blackrose

May 2022   $15.95
ISBN: 978-1-61026-178-4

The Summoner's Mark, Book 3

Our PriceUS$15.95
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My mother named me Rebecca Naomi Greenblatt. Folks who know me call me Becs. And those who know what I'm capable of call me Summoner.


The Kiss on my wrist—a mark I've had since birth—signals my rare ability to call on immortals and negotiate with them on behalf of my clients for information, favors, or other services. These powers got me entangled with the demon Valefar and his sidekick, a warlock… not to mention a bevy of fae, a medium who communed with the dead, and a conceited library cat.

It's complicated, dangerous, and exhausting.

Recently, I found out that my father, a summoner himself and the person who taught me what little I know about my summoning powers, was trapped in Faerie by Titania. I rescued my dad, at great cost, only for Valefar to steal him away to literal Hell — yes, with a capital H.

Now, I need to gather the correct magical doodads, wrangle the town's biggest mobster who has his own axe to grind in the underworld, and track down my guardian angel lover who's been MIA since I got back from Faerie.

Then I'm breaking into Hell to get my father back.

And God Himself help anyone who stands in my way.

Author Bio:

The Summoner's Mark is J D Blackrose's first series with BellBridge Books. Previously, she's published The Soul Wars, The Devil's Been Busy, and the Zombie Cosmetologist novellas through Falstaff Books. She's also published multiple short stories,enjoying the art of brevity now and then. She's always lived in her head and is often accused of not listening. To make up for it, she's mastered the art of looking interested. Follow her: www.slipperywords.com,https://www.facebook.com/JDBlackrose/ and https://twitter.com/JDBlackrose.

"[Demon Kissed] is GOOD! Blackrose proves that a creative writer can grab you with an original twist."
—Faith Hunter, NYT and USA Today bestselling author of the Jane Yellowrock series

"J. D. Blackrose's latest tale spins together demons, mobsters, fairies, and a kick-ass heroine under a curse that may end up being her salvation. *Chef's Kiss." -Darin Kennedy, Author of Fugue & Fable and The Pawn Stratagemon Demon Kissed

"Fun, romantic, action and sass." — May P. Netgalley reviewer

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Chapter 1

I BOBBLED MY phone as I whirled around, flinging out a desperate hand to catch it before it fell to the ground and shattered. Wary, I studied the room and then put the phone back to my ear. My sister, oblivious to the near tragedy, kept jabbering on the other end of the line.

I only half listened because something had just smacked me in the back of my head and I was supposed to be alone. No one else should have been in Madame Francesca’s magic store. Most people couldn’t see it, and it had been locked and closed until I got here.

My sister Mickey fake-gagged in my ear. "Get this, Becs. A truck drove by with a sign on the side that said, ‘We haul milk on weekends.’”

"Someone has to deliver milk.” I ducked low, behind the cash reg­ister and front glass case, for maximum defense. "So, what’s wrong with that?”

"It was a septic truck.”

"That’s disgusting.” I didn’t see anyone in the store, but I stayed alert, looking for my attacker.

Mickey snorted. "I know, but it’s hilarious!”

Who could be inside the store with me? No one. Did something fall from the ceiling? I looked up. The lights gleamed their normal fluor­escent white, strung to what looked like intact, perfectly normal ceiling tiles.

A sharp pain lanced my foot, right through the top of my shoe.


"Becs, what happened? Are you hurt?”

I was stabbed by an invisible knife? "I think I stepped on something.”

"Better sweep the store well. And mop.” Through the phone, I heard something fall to the ground. Mickey exhaled a raw, exasperated breath. "Aw, Ruthie, didja have to knock that over?”

"What did my perfect little niece do?” I put my sister on speaker and surveyed the shop with a gimlet eye.

Wham! Another poke in the back of my head. I swiped at whatever it was, caught nothing but air, but heard a tinkle of laughter.

Mickey sighed. "She pushed her bowl off the high chair. Now I have milk and cereal all over the floor.”

"Maybe you should feed her something she likes, not that dry oat and wheat stuff. Kids like sugar.”

"I added raisins.”

"Raisins don’t count. Tell her Auntie Becs will bring her something sweet, yummy, and totally bad for her.”

I reached behind me for the switch and dimmed the lights in the front of the store but kept the ones in the middle and back sections on full strength. A thin twig or stick or something that looked like wood zipped through the air, and, thanks to the backlighting, I finally saw it.

Mickey cleared her throat. "Becs, I’d like to have you over for dinner again, but....”

Still watching for my invisible attacker, I finished Mickey’s sen­tence. "But Jonah won’t like it.”

The store was new to me. It was formerly owned by the com­mun­ing-with-the-dead medium, Madame Francesca, newly deceased and currently an inappropriate resident of Hell, all thanks to a demon who sucked down her soul at the time of her death. Her store, now mine, was stuffed to the brim with magical items, potions, spell books, amulets, dried herbs, and crystals.

The twig hovered in the air in front of me, a tapering length of wood about a foot long.

And at least one magic wand.

I wagged my finger. "Don’t be like this,” I said to the stick.

"Be like what?” asked Mickey. My sister’s voice grew defensive. "You can’t blame Jonah. Every time you pop back into our lives, weird stuff happens. Last time, you’d been blinded from attempting to sum­mon a guardian angel.”

I hadn’t been talking to her, but I rolled with it. "Asher was more than my guardian angel.”

"Right. He was also your sorta boyfriend. I get it. But summoning him because he’d disappeared and hadn’t answered your texts was extreme.”

I leapt for the wand, but it shimmied in the air and vanished.


"Hey, no need for swearing.”

"Sorry, didn’t mean it.” I modulated my tone. "It’s just that it was more than that. Asher had been injured and despite knowing I’d worry, he left without saying goodbye. He quit his job, too and didn’t leave a forwarding address and wouldn’t answer his phone. I needed help, and he was the only one who could give it to me, so I tried using my powers to summon him. I’m not proud of it, but I was desperate.”

Her voice had the placating modulation of a mother talking to an overtired toddler. "I can see how you felt that way.”

It was a grudging acknowledgement, but I’d take it. Besides, I had to catch a wand on the loose.

Madame Francesca would have known what to do. She’d been the expert. Her store came with everything a magic user could want.

Including, apparently, a shifty magic wand.

"I don’t blame Jonah. He loves you and wants to protect you. I just wish he’d accept that I love you, too.”

Mickey grunted out a mommy swear word. It sounded like, "Dag­nabbit.”

"Uh? Micks?”

"Getting up from the floor isn’t as easy as it used to be,” she said. "But never mind that. Let’s talk about what you’re going to do next.”

Besides corral a magic wand?

I couldn’t say that, and I couldn’t tell her I was going out of town. Waaaaay out of town. In fact, I was going to Hell to retrieve our father. He’d been kidnapped by the same demon who’d sucked down Francesca’s soul. She hadn’t deserved it, but wrong place, wrong time, and all that.

I responded with a simple, "I’m thinking of taking a trip.”

"Really? Some place fun? With white beaches and blue water?” She sounded wistful. The one time we’d traveled outside of Smokey Point, Ohio, we’d visited a beach in Michigan. It was the same gray-blue Lake Erie cold water and a lot of rocks.

"Not so much. It’s sort of a work thing.” I carried the phone with me and walked the length of the store, scanning right and left. The store was narrow but deep, with a public restroom, storage areas, and a kit­chenette in the back on the left and a private office with a fold-out couch and full bath on the right. Francesca must have lived here, at least part of the time.

But all this space meant the wand could be hiding anywhere.

"Work thing, huh?” Mickey hissed a sudden intake of breath. "That means it’s dangerous, doesn’t it?”

"It could be. I’m not going to lie, but it’s related to the hunt for my trainer. Remember we talked about that?”

"Yes, I recall the discussion about your trainer,” she said, her voice thin and high-pitched, the way it got when she was stressed.

"I’d tell you all the details if I could.”

She let out a mirthless laugh. "I don’t think I want to know them. Ignorance may be bliss in this instance. Be careful and call me when you get back.”

"Love you, Mickey.”

"Love you too, sis.”

I hung up with a sense that I’d left important things unsaid... and that’s when the wand poked me in the ass.

"Ack! You goosed me!”

It flew to the ceiling where I couldn’t get it, pointed straight down, and released a stream of water at my head.

"That’s hot! You got my scalp.” My head burned something fierce. The wand swung itself in a circle and unleased another spout of boiling water followed by motes of flickering light that stung my skin. The water rained down on a stack of spell books and potions.

"That’s it. You’re going down.”

It stood up in what could only be a wand’s approximation of a mid­dle finger salute.

This wasn’t good. I understood little about wands, but I did know that they had personalities, and this one was clearly a trickster. It needed a strong hand to control it. Francesca wouldn’t have let it roam free if she hadn’t had a way to make it behave.

I searched and found a slim, rectangular wooden box. With the lid flipped up, I could see a narrow, wand-sized indentation. In any other store, I would have assumed it was a pen case. Luckily, an inscription stamped on the inside of the lid proved to be exactly what I was looking for.

Wand to me is the mystic key.

I’ve got you, now, I thought. I held the box aloft and said, "Wand to me!”

It struggled—I had to give it that—but in the end, it tumbled end over end and landed in the box. I snapped the case shut and twisted the locking mechanism closed. I placed it in a cabinet, locked it, and breathed a sigh of relief.

Francesca had placed a lime-green wingback chair in the waiting area. A complimentary blanket draped over the back in the same green mixed with browns and sea blue, making the chair quite comfy. The whole waiting area sat artfully arranged. My chair and another just like it angled around a coffee table with fancy coasters and a water bubbler in the corner. The other chair hosted a plump pillow in the same design as the blanket.

This made me think. Francesca had decorated in soothing, thought­ful greens, browns, and deep blues. She hung an amulet so people who didn’t need the store couldn’t see it. She had a dozen keys on her key ring to ensure dangerous items remained locked up.

Nothing had been left to accident.

She wouldn’t have let a dodgy wand go free. And then, there was the fact that I’d heard laughter.

Had the wand made that sound?

Or something else?

I sat still and listened.

There it was. That laughter. This time, it sounded less like a cheery tinkle and more like a self-satisfied snicker. I rotated to find the source of the sound and instead of looking straight up, I perused the tops of the shelving.

Still as a statue, a tiny red imp crouched on the top of the cabinet where I’d locked up the wand. It looked like artwork, not an actual imp. Approximately six inches tall and a deep red that was almost black, it sported spiraled horns, a pointed chin, two wings, and a long tail which it wrapped around itself like a Siamese cat.

"I see you up there, you know.”

It released its tail and rose on its hind legs. "And we’re watching you, Rebecca Naomi Greenblatt. Valefar sends his best.” I shuddered at its scratchy voice and the ominous message.

I gritted my teeth. "How did you get in here?”

"I live here. Francesca didn’t know what I was.”

"A spy for Valefar?”

"A loyal servant.”

"Go back to your demon master. You do not belong on Earth or in this store.”

It scratched its ear with a hind claw. "I can stay as long as I like.”

"What makes you think that?”

"The witch told me so.”

I should have guessed. A witch had supplied Francesca with an amulet to help her stay young, as well as some suspect rosebushes I’d chopped down. The bushes had produced a type of addictive pollen that acted like meth for little winged pixies called Humbees. I’d never met this witch, but I already didn’t like her, and I suspected a reckoning was coming soon.

"The witch was wrong.” I grabbed a piece of chalk, stalked down the shop’s long hallway, and exited out the back door into an alley. Kneeling, I drew a circle on the ground and closed it.

"Imp of Valefar, imp of a witch, imp in my store, I summon you.”

The imp materialized in my circle.

"You forgot, imp. I’m a summoner.”

It screeched. "You can’t send me back! The witch summoned Valefar, and he gave me to her. I’m her familiar!”

"Well, you’re about to become unfamiliar. I got you on a tech­nicality. If she’d summoned you, she would have to send you back. But she didn’t. She summoned a demon who handed you over.”

"I’m staying.”

"Sorry, dude.” I studied the circle to make sure it was perfect. "You’re banished back to Hell.”

It stomped its little feet, bared its sharp, pointed teeth, and whipped its tail back and forth in agitation.

"Valefar’s waiting for you, summoner. You’ll rue this day.”

"I’m sure I won’t.” I placed my hand on the circle and pushedpower into it. "I send you back to your master in Hell, imp.”

"Noooooo—” he shrieked, but off he went in a puff of smoke.

I smudged the chalk circle and went back inside, wondering what other nasty surprises the shop had in store. I made a cup of coffee in my little kitchen and sipped it, trying to ignore the anxiety threatening to overcome me.

Valefar knew I was going to Hell to get my father.

The urgency to leave in search of a hellmouth pressed against the insides of my brain, but with this new complication, I had to slow down and think.

This whole thing started with a summoning gone wrong. I’d summoned Valefar, a duke of Hell, for Nick Adamos, little brother to Smokey Point, Ohio’s own Greek mobster, Gregory Adamos. The sum­moning had gone south, and I’d had to fix it. I rescued Nick but ended up owing Valefar a favor.

What was that favor? I had to find information on Gregory’s deep­est desire so Valefar could use it to tempt Gregory into relinquishing his soul. But he ran into a snag. Gregory’s deepest desire was true love, and that wasn’t something a demon could give. We’d had a showdown of sorts. Valefar lost, and his earthly assistant, a warlock named Derrick, died. Derrick’s soul went to Hell for his evil misdeeds, but not before he’d slapped me with a death curse, a "blight.” This was particularly aggravating because I’d gone to high school with Derrick. It was igno­minious to be betrayed by someone who’d written "We’ll never forget the magic” in your yearbook.

But, funny enough, I hadn’t become sick. Still, even though I didn’t believe the curse would amount to anything, it had been unsettling.

Wanting to learn more about my summoning abilities, I’d done some digging and discovered that my father had been a summoner, too, and that he was imprisoned in Faerie because Queen Titania wanted to stop a prophecy from coming true. The prophecy, "the child of a changeling who isn’t a changeling will upset the balance,” referred to me. She believed it meant I’d give Hell what they wanted—a summoner to help them cross the DNA between the worlds so that they could travel from Hell to Faerie, conquer the fae, and use their powers to storm Heaven. It was a stupid plan, but they believed in it.

Because the powers that be kept secrets, I didn’t have the full pic­ture. But unwilling to leave my father a prisoner, I’d traveled to Faerie via a spindrift—a type of astral plane walking—to rescue him.

We’d escaped, but at a high cost. The queen had attacked us, and we’d been forced to fight our way out. I’d shot a death arrow at the queen, and an elf friend of mine named Evans had jumped in front it. He’d died as a result, and the guilt weighed heavy on my heart.

I’d brought Dad back to Earth, thinking we’d at least achieved his freedom, but that was not to be. Francesca had used my office to summon Valefar to get him to release any hold he’d had on her soul. She’d died when her summoning circle had weakened, Valefar had slipped out, and a startled Gregory Adamos had shot her. Asher had tried to help and had ended up severely injured.

As Francesca’s soul broke free of her physical body, Valefar had sucked up her essence and had snatched my dad, to boot.

My father had been back on Earth for barely five minutes when he was kidnapped by another powerful foe and taken to an even worse place than where he’d already spent a good chunk of both of our lives.

I needed to rescue him, to bring him back, and block Hell’s plan to use a summoner to invade Faerie.

But now I knew Valefar was expecting me.

I stared across the street to where Joey’s bar should have been. I still couldn’t see it, which meant the geas against me held. It was excruciating to lose my fae friends, particularly my half-gnome boss, but after Evans’s death, I couldn’t help but feel that I deserved such punishment.

There were a few other tiny problems needing attention.

First was Laurel, a full-sized pixie running amok and unrestrained from Faerie’s normal rules because I’d given her Free Rein. I’d done it to free her from indentured servitude to the queen, but my plan had backfired. Because of me, she was free of all magical boundaries, in­cluding the one that kept her from drinking too much blood from humans. She’d gone on a bender, and people were getting hurt.

Pinky, my six-foot-tall pink-winged fairy friend, seemed fine, but I worried Titania would eventually realize he’d helped me escape and she’d punish him.

I also worried about the poor stone troll, Slate, who’d guarded my father’s prison in Faerie. There was no way our successful escape had put him in good stead with the queen.

But if there was one worry that dominated my thoughts, it was that Asher had disappeared after being wounded. I didn’t know if angels could die, but if he hadn’t perished, where was he?

The whole situation was, as we said in Yiddish, fakakta.

And if you don’t speak Yiddish, say it out loud. It means what it sounds like.

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