Make Me

Make Me
Parker Blue

April 2012 $14.95
ISBN: 978-1-61194-120-3

The fourth book in the Demon Underground Series
Our PriceUS$14.95
Save wishlist

Synopsis | Reviews | Excerpt

" paced, exciting storylines...The ending took me by surprise; I can’t wait for the fourth book to come out!” —C.J. Harris, Vampire Librarian

"...big, shocking and intense.” —Lara Taylor, Fresh Fiction

Val Shapiro has a secret she’s desperate to keep—she’s lost her slayer powers.

As the new guardian of the Encyclopedia Magicka, Val expected the books to give her powers to replace those that disappeared after she lost her "V card” to Shade.But the encyclopediaexacts a price for every spell, making the job of guardian a tricky proposition.

When a rogue demon kidnaps Val’s roommate Gwen and Micah, leader of the San Antonio Demon Underground, Val is plunged into the middle of a Solomon’s Choice.The rogue wants the dangerously potent Encyclopedia Magicka in exchange for her friends’ lives; the succubus leader of the Demon Underground in Austin is demanding the books be destroyed rather than let them fall into the wrong hands and wants Shade for herself, swearing to do everything she can to prevent Val’s turning over the books.

The kidnapping isn’t the only crisis Val faces. She’s been betrayed by Fang. Demons and vampires are disappearing.The vamps of the New Blood Movement are forcing Val to keep the terms of her agreement to work for them to combat this new threat. The Demon Underground is challenging Micah's leadership, and everyone is depending on a now-powerless Val to set things right.

Val needs all the help she can get. Even if it means forgiving Fang and spending time with a dangerously sexy cowboy-vampire.


"…the series was an absolute joy to read!!" -- Rose Selcer, GoodReads

"Parker Blue is an awesome writer, and her style, which is strong, clear and lots of humor, always pulls me right in. [She] has won my heart for the Underground series. I recommend Make Me and the Demon Underground series as a fantastic read with a strong heroine that you will love." -- Debbie Wentlein, I heart YA books Blog

"The writing is like no other! Parker Blue makes me feel like I'M IN THE BOOK living things out… I would recommend this WHOLE series… I am now sad again that I have to wait for the next book to come out... I shall have to re-read this a few times!" -- Maghon Thomas, MagLuvsYa Blog

"…This is a MUST READ!" -- Debbie Morgan, NetGalley Review

"…totally worth every tear and scream…" -- Netgalley Review


Chapter One

I crouched in the darkness of an ancient live oak, armed with only my wits, listening for any sign of the vampire. Nothing but the rattling of branches and the soughing of the wind through the leaves here on the longest night of the year.


I wasn’t hiding out of fear. I just wanted to get a bead on him before he found me first. Now that I’d lost my strength, speed, and healing ability, and I hadn’t seen hide nor hair of any of my new powers as keeper of the Encyclopedia Magicka,I needed any advantage I could get. The live oak, with its leaves and gnarled branches as big around as my waist, shaded me from the revealing flood of moonlight.

"Val Shapiiiro,” he crooned, the eerie mocking sound seeming one with the breeze. "Come out, come out wherever you are...”

Too close! He’d found me.

Lust for the hunt sizzled through my blood and I whirled toward the sound. "Make me,” I growled.

He rushed me, inhumanly fast.

I leapt up to one of the low branches hugging the ground and lashed out with a savatekick, hoping to score a field goal with his head. He ducked.

Too slow, damn it. I stumbled for a nanosecond on the uneven surface, then regained my balance as he appeared on the bough beside me. His infuriating grin flashed in a sliver of moonlight. I struck out with my fist, hoping to smash the fangs off his face. Blocked.

I couldn’t let him take the offensive. And though I might have lost my speed and strength, I still had my martial arts training. I battered him with a series of blows, but he was so fast, none of them connected where I wanted. I tried a low blow—a kick to the ’nads, but he stopped that, too.

Frustrated, I leapt up to grab the branch above me, planning to swing up and over it and use the momentum to knock him off his perch. Instead, he tackled me. I lost my grip and we both hit the hard-packed earth, knocking the wind out of me.

Taking advantage of my momentary pause and gasp for air, he straddled my waist and hooked his legs over mine so I couldn’t move, then grabbed my wrists and pinned them above my head.

Crap. He was too strong—I couldn’t get free, no matter how hard I struggled.

He grinned, looking way too happy with the situation. "Yield, darlin’?”

Never. I still had one weapon left. I hated to use it, but I hated to lose even more. I called on the succubus inside me and she leapt to the fore, eager for action. The purple eye flash that came with the use of my demonic powers reflected in his eyes as my succubus Lola surged forth and slammed into his chakras, instantly making him my slave.

His lust for Lola made it impossible to disobey me. I paused for a moment, trying to catch my breath enough to tell him to shove off.

His smile turned wicked as he released my wrists and his hands started to wander where only one man’s hands had gone before.

This was sowrong. "Get off me,” I yelled, shoving against his shoulders.

He took his time rolling off, his lascivious gaze and knowing smile never leaving my face as he hooked his thumbs in the belt loops of his jeans.

I scrambled to my feet, releasing him from Lola’s clutches so fast it made us both stagger. "Seriously, Austin?”

He looked different without his Stetson... edgier, more dangerous. Alejandro’s cowboy lieutenant ran a hand over his face and chuckled softly. "Hey, you were the one who played your ace in the hole... darlin’.”

My face heated. Crap. He always made me feel young and foolish. No matter that at eighteen, I’d been slaying vampires for years. No matter that I could make any man alive do whatever I wanted. No matter that brave cops, vampires, and demons feared me as the Slayer. None of it mattered when Austin gave me his knowing look, reminding me he had at least a hundred years more experience than I did. It was as if he gazed deep into the insecurities of my soul and laid them bare.

I averted my gaze and pretended I was absorbed in brushing twigs and leaves from my shirt and jeans. "I had to,” I muttered. "It was the only way I could win.” He’d already beaten me once. I couldn’t let him win two out of three.

"I know,” he said softly. "Took you long enough.”

I shrugged. "I don’t like to use my powers unless it’s absolutely necessary.”

"And that’s why you lost the first time. If I’d really been out to get you...” He shrugged.

"I know, I know.” I’d be dead. Thank goodness this was only practice. I didn’t want the word to get out to the general vamp population that the Slayer had lost her powers, or I’d be challenged by every one of them not affiliated with the New Blood Movement. And maybe even some in the Movement.

"Best two out of three?” I asked. This time, I’d be faster on the draw with my secret weapon.

"I’ll pass,” he drawled. "Now that you’ve figured out when to play your trump card... well, let’s just say I don’t think either of us would be comfortable doing that again.”

Boy, make me squirm, willya?

Someone slammed into me from the side, taking me down again. Another vamp—Luis. I shoved Lola into him so fast, he didn’t get a chance to try anything.

"Stop. Don’t move.” I scrambled to my feet and, just in case Austin tried anything more, I hooked him with one of Lola’s energy tendrils as well. "You, too.”

I’d learned my lesson and wasn’t about to—

Wham. I was down on the ground again. A third vamp? You’re kidding me.

I shook my head. No problem. I could handle three without even breaking a sweat. I lunged out with Lola to take care of numero tres, and got nothing but a hard slap across the face.

Crap. It was Rosa. Lola wouldn’t work on her. "Stop her,” I gritted out, sending a surge of power along Lola’s energy strands.

My two marionettes obeyed instantly, grabbing Rosa and pulling her off me. They looked murderous, so I added, "Hold her—don’t hurt her.” Alejandro wouldn’t be pleased if he found out I’d let two of his lieutenants tear the third limb from limb.

Rosa—smart girl—didn’t fight them. She just smirked at me.

"Lucky hit,” I said, rising up on one elbow to feel my jaw. She packed quite a wallop.

"Not lucky,” she spat. "You, you call yourself the Slayer? If I used my knife, you’d be dead right now. Muerta.

I could have pointed out that she’d be one dead undead bloodsucker with a single word from me, but kept my trap shut. After all, they were helping me regain some skill and confidence by sparring with me in private. It was my own damned fault that I’d assumed they’d come at me one at a time. The least I could do was act grateful.

And I was, I really was. I hadn’t known until tonight that the Movement used the clearing in the center of the woods around the mansion as their private training grounds. But I’d ignored their suggestion to stick to the open space. Instead, I’d taken to the trees, hoping it would give me some advantage. Not so much.

I cast around with my senses but didn’t detect any more bloodsuckers. "Any others waiting in the wings to take a swing at the Slayer?” I asked before I got up again. I didn’t want to meet the ground up close and personal for a fourth time.

"No,” Austin and Luis answered in unison.

Good. I got slowly to my feet. The adrenaline was gone, so I was starting to experience the pain of tonight’s punishment. Dang, it sucked to feel human. It was times like these that I regretted giving up my powers. "Why do you care anyway?” I asked Rosa. She’d sounded so pissed.

Still held captive by the other two vamps, she rolled her eyes. "Because you need to protect Alejandro.”

"Why? I’m not his bodyguard. Doesn’t he have, like, a whole vein of bloodsuckers to do that for him?” I knew he thought of me as his personal talisman, but sheesh, that was taking it too far.

"For when he goes to Austin,” she clarified.

I glanced at the cowboy vamp, confused. "Goes to Austin for what?” And, realizing the two guys were both still in Lola’s thrall, I let them go, despite Lola’s protest.

Rosa rubbed her arms and sulked. "Stupid chica. Not him, the city. Maybe you’ve heard of it? The capital of Texas?”

Oh. But... "Since when are we going to Austin, where I’ll apparently have to watch his back?” I asked.

Luis folded his arms. "Alejandro hasn’t told her yet.”

He and the cowboy vamp exchanged an unreadable glance. "Better take her to him,” Austin said.

I heaved a sigh. Secrets. I hated secrets.

Luis nodded briefly, and the three of them headed back to the house. They didn’t even look back, just assumed I’d follow them like a good little girl. Hell with that. They could keep their secrets.

Fang finally trotted up from his place on the sidelines. Part scruffy terrier, part telepathic hellhound, part smart-aleck-bane-of-my-existence, he sat on his haunches and grinned up at me. Pout much?

We’d decided to have him sit this one out to see what I could do without him. I thought he’d be upset that he couldn’t mix it up with me, but with that snarky comment, I wondered... "Did you enjoy watching them beat the crap out of me?” I asked.

He snorted. Not so much. But it was necessary.

"Maybe,” I muttered. "But is this meeting necessary? Not so much.”

You did agree to work for him until the books were found and he comes out of the closet.

I know. I’d found the books, but he hadn’t done the second part yet.

So, this is part of your job. What’s the matter? You’ve always wanted to travel more.

Yeah, but not as a bodyguard. Okay, yes, I was pouting. So sue me.

Fang didn’t say a word, just looked at me with reproachful brown eyes framed in his adorably fuzzy face. Dang. He’d pulled out the big guns. I gave up. "Okay, okay. I’m coming.”

I hobbled toward the house, feeling every ache and pain the vamps had hammered into me. More like eighty than eighteen.

Next time, wear silver, my unfeeling hellhound advised me.

I’d thought of that, but it seemed like cheating when the vamps were supposed to be helping me. Then again, being a vampire was kind of cheating, too, wasn’t it?

Fang just snorted, which I took to mean he agreed with me.

Alejandro’s people had been careful not to create any paths into the woods that would reveal the location of their training ground, but it was easy to follow the lights to the house. I trudged up to their back door where Austin waited for me, holding open the door. He’d put his hat back on, too, so he looked more like himself.

"I’m coming,” I muttered.

"I know.” He grinned again, but didn’t move when I passed him.

Our energy fields intersected in the close confines of the doorway and Lola licked into him. I didn’t pull back—he deserved a good licking.

The tall, lean cowboy didn’t react, though. He just raised an eyebrow as if to say, "You really want to go there?”

Point to Austin, Fang said with a laugh.

Shut up. I shoved past Austin into the kitchen, disappointing Lola once more. "In his study?” I asked without looking back.

"Yes, ma’am.” Austin didn’t bother to hide the amusement in his voice.

I tried not to stomp out my frustration as we headed to find Alejandro. Luis gestured me into the room I’d visited far too often. Very masculine, very Mediterranean, very dark... except for the sun-drenched mural of a beach scene covering the wall across from Alejandro’s desk. Then again, if I’d been unable to see the sun as long as he had, I’d probably want a view like that, too.

I flopped into a chair across from Alejandro and his massive wooden desk and said, "So, boss, what’s this I hear about you going to Austin?”

Luis scowled. He hated it when I treated Alejandro so informally. That’s why I did it, of course, and Alejandro didn’t mind. Luis and Austin took up positions behind their boss and I wondered where Rosa was.

Maybe she was put in a corner for spilling the beans, Fang suggested.

"I am afraid our trip to Austin is necessary,” Alejandro said.


The vamp leader absently rubbed the bust of Cortes he kept on his desk. "The situation in the state capital has changed. The legislation we were counting on to protect us when we come out and keep the unaffiliated ones in their place is stalled.”

I grimaced. I hated politics as much as I hated secrets.

Maybe because they go hand in hand.

Probably. "What does that mean, stalled?”

Alejandro shook his head, a puzzled expression on his face. "I wish I knew. My calls are not being returned, and there has been no communication from my supporters. We shall have to go there to see what is happening.”

I was all for getting those laws in place so the Movement could come out and I could satisfy my contract with Alejandro, but... "Why do you need me?”

"Because you can go where I cannot,” Alejandro said with a smile.

Who was going to keep a vampire out of anywhere he wanted to go? "Like where?”

Austin’s mouth quirked up. "Like daylight.”


"Indeed,” Alejandro agreed. "You are the only one I can trust to protect my interests while I’m there, to live in my world and not reveal what you discover, to act for me during the daytime.”

Fang huffed with amusement. He wants you to be his Renfield.

I didn’t find that at all funny. It was a pretty tall order. But, unfortunately, I couldn’t argue with the vamp leader’s logic. "Rosa seemed to think you wanted me to be some kind of bodyguard.”

Alejandro waved away my objection. "Rosa is overly protective. We cannot invade another vampire’s territory without permission. Without it, we risk much. I have gained that permission, but have agreed to bring only four with me. I shall take Austin and Vincent, and leave Luis and Rosa in charge here.”

No wonder Rosa was peeved, with only two vamps to guard her boss’s back. "If I’m the third, who’s the fourth? Fang? Does Fang count?”

Fang always counts.

"No, Fang does not count as the fourth,” Alejandro said with a smile, "though I see no reason why he cannot come. The fourth will be Jack Grady.”

Grady? The former keeper of the Encyclopedia Magicka was an odd choice. "Why him?”

"The encyclopedia can be a powerful weapon in our favor. He knows how to wield it, and you do not. We need him to get you up to speed as fast as possible.”

Good luck with that. I’d tried with no luck. He was supposed to be training me on how to tap the magick potential in the books, but the only thing he’d done the past few days was pig out on Gwen’s food and hog Shade’s bed.

"I have already spoken with Mr. Blackburn and the Demon Underground has agreed to let me take both of you,” Alejandro said. "I have made arrangements for a place to stay so we can leave tomorrow night when the sun goes down.”

Why not? I’d only been to Austin a few times, and it would be something different than the same old, same old. "Do you have any idea how long we’ll be gone? Mom will kill me if I miss Christmas.” And since Mom and I had kind of a truce going on, I didn’t want to screw that up.

"It’s little more than an hour away,” Austin drawled. "I think you’ll be able to come home to Mommy when you need to.”

I clamped my lips on an unwise comeback and resolved not to let him get to me. "Okay. Should I pack?”

"Yes,” Alejandro said. "Pack for a couple of weeks. It’ll make it easier than returning here for a change of clothing or necessities. You may go now if you wish.”

I definitely wished, though I didn’t care for his master to servant phrasing. Glancing down at Fang, I asked, You ready?

In answer, he got up and trotted away, pausing in front of the study door to glance expectantly over his shoulder at Austin.

The cowboy rolled his eyes, but followed Fang’s unspoken bidding and opened the door for him.

How do you do that?

Charisma, babe, sheer charisma.

Shaking my head, I followed him down the hallway and out the front door. I straddled my Valkyrie motorcycle and waited for him to jump up into his own leather and sheepskin seat, then helped him on with his goggles.

I sped home on the dark, silent streets of San Antonio. There weren’t many people out in the early hours of the morning, so I was able to drive on autopilot and make plans for the unexpected free time. I could take a hot bath to soak out my aches and pains, maybe even get some extra sleep before I had to show up at Alejandro’s tomorrow. After all, who knew what awaited us in the state’s capital?

When we arrived home, I took off Fang’s goggles and he jumped down.

"Hungry?” I asked. Usually, he’d be pestering me for food right about now.

Sorry, babe.

"For what?”

A dark cloth fell over my head and someone grabbed me, trying to pin my arms. What the... ? I struck out with my foot, connecting with someone who let out an oof.

You’ll have to sedate her, Fang said, and I felt the sudden prick of a needle in my arm.

My mind grew fuzzy. Fang? What’s happening?

No response.

"Thanks, Fang,” a man said. "We owe you one.”

I had only one thought as I lost consciousness. Traitor.



Chapter Two

I woke feeling groggy, as if someone had stuffed cotton candy in my head. As I fought to clear strands of sticky pink cobwebs from my brain, I realized I was lying on my side on some yielding surface—a bed?—with something covering me. I didn’t seem to be bound at all, which surprised me. Without opening my eyes to alert my captors that I was awake, I tried to get some idea of where I was. It smelled dank and musty, with a strange hint of vanilla, but I couldn’t hear any sounds of life.

Tentatively, I opened my eyes a slit. No help. The room was dark, with only a small bit of flickering light—a candle somewhere nearby, which must be the source of the vanilla. I lay facing a wall, and there was nothing I could see to help me figure out where I was or who had done this to me.

The beginnings of panic threatened to consume me, followed by a gut-wrenching feeling of betrayal. Why had Fang helped them? He was the best friend I’d ever had, the one I could always count on. Or at least, he used to be. Loss and pain swamped me, made me unable to think for a moment.

But I gritted past that and wondered what to do. Heck, I knew what I shouldhave done. I hadn’t even thought to use Lola on my kidnappers. Austin was right. I’d let down my guard and look what had happened. I couldn’t continue to ignore what I was. That was going to get me killed.

Embracing Lola could help me find out if there were any men nearby I could coerce into helping me. I reached for her, but couldn’t find her. It was as if she were imprisoned behind that sticky web.

A male voice suddenly appeared from somewhere beyond me. "Fang says you’re awake.”

That pissed me off. I leapt up, or rather, tried to. The blanket covering me tangled my arms and legs and I ended up falling on the floor. I fought my way free, struggled to stand and discovered it didn’t do me any good. Silver bars had me penned in like an animal. I was in a prison cell, fergawdsake.

I swayed dizzily on my feet. The drug in my system, coupled with the dim candlelight, made it difficult to focus, but I could see there were two people standing on the other side of the bars and a smaller, fuzzy blob that had to be my ex-friend, Fang.

What the hell is going on? I asked Fang.

No answer. It was as if the web caught my thoughts and bounced them back at me. Nothing penetrated except a dull, throbbing headache.

I stumbled forward and grabbed the bars, trying desperately to clear my brain. Now I could see that one of my jailers was a guy, maybe in his midtwenties, with dark curly hair and a concerned expression. He looked a lot like Micah, except for the burn scars that puckered the left half of his face. The other person was a girl, maybe fourteen years old. She was petite, with long dark hair, half of which she’d piled sloppily on top of her head with hairsticks stuck in haphazardly. The other half fell partially over her face. The hair and the determined look on her face made me revise her age upward. Okay, maybe seventeen.

"Who are you?” I demanded. "Why did you do this to me?”

"I’m David and this is Pia,” he said, nodding at the girl. "It’s all right, we don’t want to hurt you. We just want to talk.”

"That’s why you drugged and imprisoned me?”

"Your reputation precedes you.” He glanced down at the hellhound. "Fang said it wasn’t necessary, but we couldn’t take the chance he was wrong.”

"Fang said?” For the first time since I’d opened my eyes, the weight crushing my heart lifted the tiniest bit. I looked at Fang. "He knew you wanted just to talk to me?”

"Yes, but Pia didn’t feel safe until your powers were tamed and you were kept at a distance.”

"And it’s all-important that Pia feels safe?” I asked incredulously.

"Yes, it is,” he said, gazing earnestly into my eyes. "Have a seat and I’ll explain.”

"Let me out first.”

He shook his head. "After we talk, I’ll let you out. I promise.”

Yeah, as soon as I was able to use Lola, he’d do anything I wanted. "At least turn the lights up,” I said. I wanted to see more of the area, figure out where I was, locate potential weapons.

David shook his head. "The low lighting is for your benefit. The drug makes you hypersensitive to light. If I turn them up, you’ll get a migraine.”

It pained me, but I looked at Fang for confirmation. He nodded to indicate David was telling the truth. The hellhound’s big brown eyes pleaded with me to understand, to forgive him. I closed my eyes, desperately wanting to believe my best friend really did have good reason, a reason I didn’t yet know, but I couldn’thear him to get that reason. And I couldn’t hear him because he’d let someone drug me. I hate this.

"Please,” David said. "Have a seat.”

Why not? I was still feeling wobbly. I glanced around and noticed that there was a soft-looking armchair sitting next to the bars, with a sink and toilet on the other side in the small cell. The chair looked really out of place, so I guessed they must have put it there to make me comfortable.

I sat in it, and the guy seemed to relax. He and the girl pulled wooden chairs from along the wall opposite my cage and set them on the other side of the bars. David stared at me solemnly for a moment, turning the ruined part of his face away from me. "This is what it used to be like, you know,” he said softly.


"During the Inquisition and the Salem witch trials. Humans didn’t understand us, were afraid of us, so they labeled us witch and imprisoned us, drowned us, burned us.”


"Part-demons,” he explained. "Like you and me. And Pia and Fang.”

Part-demons? I wondered what their powers were, why they felt it necessary to take mine away. Why Pia didn’t feel safe until I was behind bars. Or so David said. Shehadn’t said anything so far. I wasn’t willing to give them the benefit of the doubt yet. "Well, you’ve got the imprisonment part down pat. What’s next? Drowning or burning?”

He looked taken aback, offended even. "Neither. What kind of people do you think we are?”

I didn’t really believe it, but wanted to throw him off guard. "I think you’re the kind who would drug and kidnap someone just to talk to her. Are drowning and burning really that much of a stretch?”

He shook his head, and the soft light created shadows on his scars, making the side of his face look like a pockmarked, desolate moon. "We’re not monsters. And we did this partially to show you what it’s like to feel helpless, under someone else’s control. How... awful it is.”

I glanced at Pia whose eyes hardened as she gave me a challenging stare. No help from that quarter. And I revised her age upward again. "Okay, so why was it necessary?”

"Do you know why the Demon Underground was formed?”

I felt my brain start to clear. I wasn’t sure where he was going with this, but I played along. "Sure. To help us find our place in the human world, find us jobs, help us blend—that sort of thing.”

He shook his head. "That is what it has become, but that isn’t why it was originally formed. It was created to help people like us, to protect us, keep us safe from human witch hunts, and to ensure no one learned of our existence who could harm us.”

"Is that really necessary anymore? I haven’t heard of any modern-day Inquisitions.”

"Haven’t you?” David asked with a raised eyebrow. "And why is that?”

"Uh, because there aren’t any?”

"Oh, but there are. You just don’t hear about them.”

"Like what?” I poked at the limits of the sticky strands encasing Lola. They seemed to be giving way a little.

"Like a small town afraid of a family who were a little different. So afraid that they torched their house and burned them alive—a part-demon father and daughter, and a human mother lost their lives, killed horribly. Only the eleven-year-old son survived.”

Pia ran her fingers lightly over the ruined half of David’s face, looking sad.

Horror rippled through me. "You?”

He nodded. "And the father who was so afraid of his daughter’s voice that he made sure she could never, ever sing.”

He made some kind of strange gesture to Pia who pulled her hair aside so I could see the ragged scar where her larynx used to be. "Her father did that to her?” I asked, horrified. No wonder she hadn’t said anything. "Why?”

"Because she’s a siren.”

"Siren... like in The Odyssey?” If I remembered my reading, sirens were women who bewitched sailors with the sound of their voices.

He nodded. "That should have been enough, but he went even further.” He glanced at the girl. "Show her, Pia.”

Pia hesitated, then opened her mouth. I didn’t know what I was supposed to see, so I leaned forward to get a better look. Unfortunately, I did. Where her tongue should have been, there was nothing but a stump.

Nausea churned through me and I threw myself back in the chair, covering my eyes with my hands to shut out the sight. "I’m so, so sorry.” It made me want to find the people who had done these horrible things and rend them in two.

David added softly, "How about the parents who treat their daughter like a freak, encourage her to fight deadly vampires, then kick her out of the house when she turns eighteen?”


Pia nodded solemnly. And I finally heard Fang’s voice in my head. You, he confirmed.

Startled, I glanced at him. What’s this all about?

Please, just hear him out, Fang said. He’ll explain.

If I could hear Fang, maybe I could reach Lola. Yes, I could. Maybe I could reach David, force him to let me out. I’d still listen to him, but on my terms.

I wouldn’t do that if I were you, Fang warned.

Why should I listen to you? I sent a few tendrils toward David.

"What are you doing?” David asked suspiciously before I even reached him. Apparently, I couldn’t hide the purple eye flash.

Pia’s eyes narrowed as she whipped up her hand to yank out one of those hairsticks and threw it at me. It thumped into the chair arm and pinned my sleeve. Startled, I let Lola go.

Told ya, Fang said. But would you listen? Noooo, not the Slayer. She always thinks she knows best.

I glared at him, and David said, "That was just a warning. She’s very, very good with her knives.”

That was a knife? I pulled it out of the arm and checked it out. Sure enough, it was a small thin blade, the handle made to look like a hairstick. Very sharp, very deadly. "Who’s going to protect me from her?” I asked.

Pia’s fear turned to a smile and she laughed silently. Never to be able to talk, to sing, or even laugh... I couldn’t imagine. I put the small stiletto down on the floor and slid it back to her, hilt first, as a sort of peace offering.

Okay, I got it. She had reason to be frightened. I fingered the hole in my sleeve. And if she was still afraid of me, even with those lethal weapons of hers, then she must really need the reassurance of me behind bars and out of David’s chakras.

She does, Fang confirmed. Please, humor us in this? He’ll make everything clear.


As Pia retrieved her knife and inserted it very carefully back into her hair, David said, "So long as you don’t harm us, we won’t harm you.”

"All right.” I glanced at Pia. What were we talking about, again? I mentally rewound the conversation. Oh, yeah. "My parents didn’t abuse me,” I said.

David cocked his head. "There are other kinds of abuse than the physical.”

Pia nodded solemnly, and I imagine she had experienced both. Despite myself, I hurt for both of them.

David said, "Be honest. Did you grow up in a loving family? Did they care about you, nurture your gift, help you to find others like yourself, encourage you to be all you could be?” When I remained silent, he continued, "Or were they ashamed of you, did they hide you away from the world, did they try to turn you into something you were not... stunt your powers?”

"It was for my own good.” But I didn’t believe it, not really.

He was only voicing the thoughts I’d had for so long. Wonder where he’d learned that?

I glanced at Fang.

I didn’t tell him, Fang said defensively. I didn’t have to. They know what it’s like.

I sighed. "Okay, I get your point. It sucks being part demon in a human world. So?”

"So that’s why the Demon Underground was really formed,” David said, sounding intense. "Tonight is the winter solstice. In times past, all of the part-demons who turned eighteen during the year would be brought in on this night to participate in a ritual to make them full-fledged members of the Underground. They would be kidnapped and bound to experience the horror of the past, learn about the history of our persecution, then set free to make a choice. Join the Underground and be protected... or leave and have their memories of the Underground removed, as well as the memories of everyone they’ve ever told about us.”

"So that’s why you kidnapped me? To initiate me?”

"One reason,” David confirmed.

"So let’s do this ritual and get it over with.”

David grimaced. "I can’t. I don’t know what it is. Micah does, but he’s not sharing.”

"What do you mean?”

"Micah and the other Underground leaders throughout the US want to pretend we’re past the hatred. They won’t do what needs to be done.” David’s voice rose. "So what happens? My family is killed, Pia is maimed, and you’re left without training, bound to a family who doesn’t love you. And who eventually shunned you.”

I wasn’t sure I’d go that far, but he had a point. "I’m sure if Micah knew—”

"What makes you think he didn’t?” David spat. "His father knew we were in danger, but chose to leave us where we were. He knew what might happen, but decided to give the humans the benefit of the doubt.” He leaned forward. "See what happens when you do that? You get Pia, me, you. Damaged goods.”

Whoa, dude, Fang said. Intense much?

Just what I was thinking.

David relaxed a little. "It was preventable. If only he’d held to the old ways. The rituals and traditions were there for a purpose. They were put in place to keep us safe.”

Standing up for Micah was getting me nowhere. "Okay. Why am I here? What do you want me to do about it?”

"Think. You’re a victim of the new ways, just like us. We want you to stop helping the damned vampires. We want you to convince Micah to reinstate the old practices, convince him to be the leader he should be and help his people, not hurt them.”

Pissed off now, I said, "And how are the old ways any better? You can’t make people accept you. You can’t force them to change their ways. People will still get hurt.”

"Not demons. The only people who would get hurt are those who try to hurt part-demons who can’t help the way they were born. Do you want to see someone else maimed like Pia was?”

I stared at the poor siren, her abilities cruelly ripped out of her by her own father. I didn’t want that to happen to anyone. I shook my head mutely.

"Then, please, help us.”

"Why me? Why not ask Ludwig or Tessa or someone else?” They’d been in the Underground a lot longer than I had.

"Because you were one of those who should have been helped. And because, with the Encyclopedia Magicka, you’re a catalyst for change in both the vampire and demon communities.” He shrugged. "Or you can be, if you choose. So, will you cut all ties with the vampires and convince Micah to reinstate the old ways?”

I watched him for a moment. He obviously believed what he was saying, and was certainly passionate about it. But I couldn’t promise anything without hearing both sides of the story. "Okay, I’ll talk to Micah before I do anything else, I swear.”

David glanced at Fang, who told him, Val is telling the truth. She won’t harm you and won’t go back on her word.

How could I, when they’d been through so much pain already? "Okay, now let me out and I’ll talk to Micah.”

David smiled crookedly. "Not necessary. We’ll go get him for you.”

I rolled my eyes. "Kidnapping again? Seriously?”

"Again, not necessary. He’s just upstairs.” He nodded at Pia who opened a door at the far end of the room and let Fang out.


"Don’t you know where you are?” David asked.

"No. Where?”

"You’re in the basement of Micah’s club.”

I knew it was the Underground’s headquarters in this city, but... "Club Purgatory?” I asked incredulously. "I-I had no idea this was here.”

David snorted. "So ask yourself, what other secrets has he kept from you?”

A very good question—one I was suddenly determined to learn the answer to.


Please review these other products:

Bite Me

Parker Blue

$14.95 October 2008
ISBN: 978-0-9802453-8-7

An edgy book for teens that spans the gap between YA and adult fiction.

Life after high school is tough enough without having to go 15 rounds with your inner demon.

She's just your ordinary, part-demon, teenaged vampire hunter with a Texas drawl. And a pet hellhound named Fang.

Now available in audio book from or wherever fine audio is downloaded.


Our Price: US$14.95

click to see more

Try Me

Parker Blue

$14.95 March 2010
ISBN: 978-0-9843256-6-5

Book Two of The Demon Underground series.

Val and her faithful hellhound race to retrieve the Encyclopedia Magicka before its magic is turned against them.

Our Price: US$14.95

click to see more

Fang Me

Parker Blue

$14.95 March 2011
ISBN: 978-1-61194-012-1

Book 3 of the Demon Underground series

FINALIST in the 2012 Ariana Awards for Best Young Adult Cover!!

Our Price: US$14.95

click to see more