This is the prologue and first chapter from my book Good Will Ghost Hunting: Demon Seed, the first book in my Good Will Ghost Hunting series. Books 1 and 2 are currently available, and yes, there will be at least four more books in the series.
[Siren Classic: Erotic Paranormal Romance, demons, HEA]
Can you find Heaven on Earth in the arms of an archdemon? Bet your soul on it.
Kalyani Martin is a virginal preacher’s daughter. Waiting for Mr. Right is Kal’s plan, which doesn’t include the hunky, standoffish Will Hellenboek.
Will cohosts the Otherworlds ghost hunting show with cousin Aidan Faust. All Will wants to do is end his life following his wife’s murder twenty-five years earlier. Falling for Kal would jeopardize everything.
Ryan Ausar’s job as head of the Firm is to protect the Earth. Unfortunately, archdemon Will refuses to return to work. Desperate times call for desperate measures. Ryan holds a secret that, if revealed, would devastate Will and Aidan, men he once called brothers.
With lives on the line, Kal, Will, and Ryan must choose to give up what they most hold dear. Can Kal turn her back on everything she knows and help heal a hellishly hunky archdemon’s heart?
NOTE: This book was previously published with another publisher.
A Siren Erotic Romance
Ryan Ausar also appears in Out of Smoke and Ashes (Triple Trouble 5) , A Wolf in the Fold (Triple Trouble 6), and Triple Cross (Triple Trouble 7). Purson Gibraltar also appears in A Clean Sweep (Suncoast Society 8).
Perpetually shaded by stands of massive live oaks, the old cemetery offered cool refuge, even from the scorching April Florida sun. Early on a Wednesday morning, he was the only one there.
His feet knew the way without his brain interfering. Which was a good thing, because his mind had firmly settled in the past, in his memories…
In his prayers for the not too distant future.
Not long now, Abby. Not much longer, sweetheart.
Her grave was nestled by itself in a quiet corner under a towering oak, large azalea bushes granting him more privacy. An extra charge he’d gratefully paid. He knelt beside the marker and carefully tucked the small bundle of white roses he carried into the vase by the stone.
Carved from smooth, pale peach granite, it sat unremarkable except for the inscription.
AnnaBelinda Hellenboek—Beloved soul mate.
No date of birth listed, only her date of death nearly twenty-six years earlier.
As always, he lost track of time. He talked to her out loud, reminiscing, remembering, planning. It wouldn’t be long before he could join her. No, not long at all.
After two hours, he kissed his fingers and touched the cool stone. “I’ll try to be here next week, but I don’t know if I’ll be back in time or not. I’ll get here as soon as I can, sweetheart. I love you. Always, Abby. Always.”
He wiped his eyes with the back of his hand and slowly returned to his car. Over twenty-five years later and his soul still hurt as bad as it had the day he lost her.
The day she was murdered.
“Will, is that you?” Aidan yelled from the back room when the front office door opened.
“Yeah.” Will dropped the mail on his desk and heavily sat, scrubbing his face with his hands.
How did I let Aidan rope me into this? It was something Will wondered every day. He still had no answer.
Aidan stuck his head through the doorway. “Where you been, dude?” When Will glared at him, Aidan’s face fell. “Sorry, man. I forgot it’s Wednesday.” He immediately brightened. “Hey, I got a call from our liaison at the network. They’re sending us a new producer. Some guy named Kal Martin.”
Will groaned. “We don’t need a producer. Why won’t they leave us alone? We’ve got it covered.” He sorted the mail, separating bills from fan mail into two neat piles.
Aidan walked over and perched on the corner of Will’s desk. “Listen. If they’re giving us the budget to pay for a producer, accept the gift horse. That means they’re pumping money into us. They want us around for a while.”
“I don’t want to be around for a while. You know that.”
“Dude, listen to yourself. Mr. Doom and Gloom. We could kick Syfy channel’s ass to home and back with one hand tied behind our backs.” Aidan was convinced he could change Will’s mind if given enough time.
Will picked up one of the bills and ripped open the envelope. “We can’t do that and you know it.”
“Well, we can damn well give them a better show. So what if we can’t get as deep as we could with our inside knowledge?” He ran a hand through his scruffy blond hair. He was overdue for a haircut, and it brushed his shoulders, giving him a vaguely surfer-bum look.
“Look, I only agreed to this harebrained scheme because you’re my cousin and my friend.”
“You love this and you know it.” Aidan fingered the tiger’s-eye amulet hanging from a black satin cord around his neck. “It’s in your blood. It’s all you know.”
Will wouldn’t meet Aidan’s honey-hazel gaze. “I want out. I’m tired, and I’m ready to go.”
“I wish you’d come to your senses.” Aidan knew time grew short and was desperate to convince Will to change his plans.
“I should have come to my senses years ago. If there was any other way out I’d take it in a heartbeat and you know it.” Will dropped several fan letters into the basket beside his desk for their production assistant to take care of. “I hate this. I hate living.” He leaned back in his chair and clasped his hands behind his head. “So when do we meet this new producer?”
“They’re sending him straight over to the shoot tonight after his plane arrives.”
“Great. Just in time to screw us up and throw off our whole routine.”
They looked up as Gery opened the front door. Aidan went to help as the large man juggled a laptop case and a drink carrier holding four cups of coffee.
“Thanks, man,” Gery said. Geryon Arnold was huge, well over six feet tall and broad as a bull. His dark brown eyes and closely cropped black hair endowed him with a military look. Not many people talked back to Gery when he stared them down, but he was, under normal circumstances, a friendly if not quiet man. Will had known him for centuries and counted on his strength more times than he cared to remember. Will still counted on Gery, even though Gery still officially worked for The Firm.
Aidan handed Will a cup of coffee, took one for himself, and sat the carrier on Gery’s desk. “Where’s Purs?” Aidan asked.
Gery shook his head. “He’ll be here. He had a hot date last night.”
“I wish he could keep it in his pants for once,” Will grumbled.
Aidan laughed. “Dude, you could have all the girls you want.” He pointed to Gery’s desk, where a plastic crate on the floor next to it overflowed with fan mail. “You probably have twenty marriage proposals and fifteen requests to father children in there. Pick one.”
Will glared at him. Aidan dropped it. When his cousin’s slate gray eyes turned midnight blue it was time to change the subject, and Aidan damn well knew it
* * * *
Will grabbed his clipboard and started checking equipment. Their three assistants and four volunteer investigators working on the shoot tonight had day jobs. They’d arrive at the Otherworlds office in north downtown Tampa, which also housed Will’s production company, around four. That left plenty of time to caravan everyone over to the University of Tampa and set up the equipment for the shoot.
Aidan had sweet-talked someone in authority into letting them investigate Plant Hall and the Henry B. Plant Museum. Will didn’t want to know how Aidan finagled that one. Some mysteries were best left unsolved.
The door to the back room opened. Purson Gibraltar stuck his head in. “Hey, boss. Need help?”
“Nice of you to finally join us.”
Smiling, Purson slipped inside and closed the door behind him. “You know what it’s like, Will.”
“No, I don’t.”
“Come on. One of these days you’ll meet someone and she’ll change your mind.” At least, he hoped Will would. The other three men didn’t want to contemplate losing Will Hellenboek. Not when he’d been their friend and leader for countless years.
Will’s knuckles turned white around the FLIR camera case in his hand as he struggled not to throw it at his friend. “I don’t want to talk about this, Purs.”
Purson shrugged his broad shoulders and fixed his friend with his piercing blue eyes. “Whatever. Aidan said we’ve got a new producer joining us?”
“Unfortunately.” Will handed Purson the clipboard and started sorting through a carton of power cords. “Freaking network wonk. Probably some kid right out of college and wet behind the ears who wants to change the world.”
“We should be so lucky.”
“I’m not in the mood for your shit today, Purs.”
Purson started to playfully bust Will’s balls when he remembered it was Wednesday. Will was always in a foul mood on Wednesdays. “Sorry.”
* * * *
The others gave Will a wide berth for the rest of the day. The Otherworlds show was in its third season and going gangbusters. The network film crew would show up around three to start filming B-roll and setup shots. Kal Martin’s flight was scheduled to arrive at Tampa International at five thirty. He would join them at the University of Tampa campus after arriving.
The ghost-hunting show wasn’t Will’s idea. He’d been happy running a small, local production company making commercials, filming Florida-based documentaries, shooting stock footage and syndicated pieces, and other low-budget jobs. It was a way to kill time and stay busy more than anything. He still wasn’t sure how Aidan had managed to take his hobby and get them involved in…this.
Three-ring circus didn’t begin to describe what it’d turned into. Syfy channel had their own popular show, and Otherworlds was the low-budget version on the gO! Network. “With little gee, and a big OH!” declared the network’s slightly stupefying slogan. The network had built its rep ripping off reality shows from the big cable networks like the Discovery and History Channels. Their show investigated and debunked not just reports of ghosts, but other myths, including the Swamp Ape and Bermuda Triangle, among others.
While Aidan’s idea, Will had been roped into the cohost spot because of his quiet, brooding, serious temperament. Aidan was the playful, funny one, and most likely to claim ghost even when he damn well knew there wasn’t anything supernatural going on at a site. Will played the Professor to Aidan’s Gilligan. The public loved it.
No, Will understood exactly why he got involved, because he tried to keep The Firm off Aidan’s ass. If Will kept Aidan in line, at least until he could finally leave this freaking earthly plane for good, they’d be less likely to come down on Aidan. Especially when Aidan used insider knowledge to spice up their show.
Not hard to do when you’re an archdemon.
* * * *
Aidan observed Will all afternoon. Typical Wednesday, and Aidan normally wouldn’t have scheduled a job, but it was the only day he could get the UT officials to agree on. He desperately wished Will would meet someone, but his cousin stubbornly refused all attempts at matchmaking.
Will’s slate gray eyes used to be filled with joy. He had a handsome smile that hadn’t seen the light of day since…
Aidan clamped down on the thought, unsure if Will could still read him or not. The longer Will’s powers atrophied, the closer he got to the day he could leave.
One of the network film crews showed up a little early. Their sound man worked with Aidan, setting up and getting the information for the night’s shoot. It kept Aidan busy and distracted. At some point Will slipped out for some peace and quiet before their investigation got underway.
The sound man, Bob, shook his head. “Man, my little sister keeps begging me to bring her to one of the shoots. She’s in love with Will.”
“So’s half of the straight women who watch the network, Bob.”
“Why isn’t he married? Or at least dating? I never hear of him going out with anyone.”
One of Will’s long-standing ultimatums was that his personal life couldn’t be discussed with anyone. Will made it clear from the beginning that if he even heard a thought of one of the men talking about him to anyone, he’d refuse to work on the show anymore. Aidan had to go to The Firm for extra support in that area, warding paparazzi away from Will and keeping his private life private. Unfortunately, that mystique made him even more popular. Will Hellenboek fan sites were cropping up all over the web.
“He’s a private man,” Aidan told him. “That’s all I can or will say.”