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HELL'S BELLES    •    THE ROAD TO HELL    •     HOTTER THAN HELL     •    HELL TO PAY   
A LITTLE BIT OF HELL
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Hotter Than Hell
Kensington/Zebra Books
August 2008 (trade paperback)
September 2010 (mass market reissue)

Hell on Earth, Book 3

The incubus Daunuan loves his job: seduce a lot of mortals, bring their souls to Hell, party at the best interdimensional pub this side of the Astral Plane. But when the King of Lust makes him an offer he can't refuse, Daun has to give up all the tricks of his trade to properly befriend—and bed—Virginia Reed, a woman who's meant for Heaven.

If he can get her to love him for the incubus he really is, and if he can avoid the rogue demons that are hell-bent on destroying him for reasons unknown, Daun will become the First Principal of Lust, second in line to the King. But Daun learns that love is more than a four-letter word, and that maybe, just maybe, demons really do have feelings after all...

 

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Note: The third book in the Hell on Earth series should not be confused with Kim Harrison's anthology. Both books are, indeed, HOTTER THAN HELL. And both are worth the price of admission.

Note, part deux: HOTTER THAN HELL does not have a traditional HEA.

         
   

 
HOTTER THAN HELL, video-style!


 
Foreign Editions

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Praise for Hotter Than Hell


"Jackie Kessler is firmly on my list of favorite authors. Hotter Than Hell is edgy and filled with hot temptation--in the form of an incubus so sexy, daring, and delicious that you'll be offering him your own soul. Fast paced and clever, Kessler's writing shines." — Cheyenne McCray, New York Times bestselling author of Shadow Magic

"Sexy and bold" -- Publishers Weekly

"Hotter Than Hell blew me away....Jackie Kessler writes the kind of stories that grab you by the throat and don't let you go until the last page is read."Night Owl Romance (reviewer top pick)

"Ms. Kessler really has outdone herself this time around and has given readers a real treat with a book that is not only heartfelt and engaging but one that is also a sensuous and adventurous tale. Kessler clearly is staking her claim in the urban fantasy genre as an author that is here to stay--and we're only too glad to have her."
ParaNormalRomance

"This is a sinfully terrific read." Bitten By Books

"Make sure you get your hands on this book." Literary Escapism

"Kessler has outdone herself by giving readers a glorious book three of her deliciously sinful series, Hell on Earth. Daunuan's sexy supernatural antics make sparks fly, and if you're not careful you'll singe your fingers as the pages speed by. It's packed with quirky characters, a spicy, fast-paced plot and witty dialogue. Be prepared for a demonic treat that's hotter than hell."
— Romantic Times, 4.5 stars Top Pick

"Jackie Kessler's new book, HOTTER THAN HELL is a definite scorcher....Ms. Kessler is truly the goddess of paranormal romance and I recommend her to everyone."Dark Angel Reviews (recommended read)

 

 
Excerpt

CHAPTER 1

COITUS INTERRUPTUS

Anyone in my position would’ve thought the buzzing in my head was anticipation. Five minutes to go, then the client would be eating from my hand. Literally. I had the grapes ready and waiting in the ice bucket, chilling. She liked it when I let the cluster dangle over her lips—she’d poke her tongue out, sinewy and slick against the ripe fruit, darting pink flesh over purple. Sweetness on sweetness, both begging to be sucked. Plucked. My blood pounded through me, boom boom, boom boom, sending happy signals to my brain and my balls, getting my body primed. T-minus five minutes, and counting. Small talk until then—light touches here, knowing smiles there, lying about her job and mine. Thinking about sex. Killing time.

So it sort of wasn’t my fault that I didn’t sense the demon approaching.

The client had moved some things around in the bedroom since my last visit. Now her wedding photo was missing (“Getting it reframed”) and the threadbare pink comforter had been replaced with one that was red and advertised sin. We sprawled on the bed, clothing still on, intentions thick in the air. She was decked out in a white silk sheath and pearls and lacy thigh-highs. I was a study of blacks. A bit cliché, but Tall, Dark and Handsome was all the rage. She liked it, and I aimed to please.

“I got a new perfume,” my client said. “Envy Me.”

“I’d prefer to ravish you.”

Her smile pulled into a grin—white teeth flashing in a lipstick sea of red. “The perfume, I mean. It’s Gucci.” She leaned forward, offering me her neck as she pressed her breasts against my chest, rubbed. Looking for a quick feel through the silk. My kind of woman. She purred, “Like it, baby?”

Inhaling deeply, I took in the peony and jasmine and other scents blending together with her eager sweat, her underlying smell of female in heat. “Nice,” I lied. Me, I preferred the musk of her sex alone, without the cloying flowery scent over it. “You smell good enough to eat.” No lie there.

“Yeah?” She was playful, almost kittenish. “You going to…eat me?”

Heh. Sex kittenish. “Oh yeah, doll. Eat you alive.” Among other things.

“My big bad wolf.”

That made me chuckle. Brushing her hair away from her face, I said, “You my little red riding hood?”

“Depends, baby. You want me to ride you?”

I smiled, wistful. “Like you would not believe.”

My head buzzed, hummed as she oozed sex, her body practically begging me to climb on top of her. Soon, doll. Soon. She jiggled against me once more, reached her hand out toward my thigh—stroked once, lushly, then pulled back. She knew the dance by now: only teasing at first, quick-fingered taunts. Nothing overt. Not yet.

Seduction, after all, had its rules. Date Number One had been all about getting her to kiss me. Number Two had been pleasing her like no other man or woman ever had before. Three had been making her want me more than anything else. (One thing about us Seducers: we always put our clients’ desires ahead of our own. If not for the rules, I would’ve fucked her silly after I introduced myself.)

Here we were at Date Number Four: D-Day, the Big One. My Turn. Otherwise known as The Payoff. It set my blood to boil just thinking about it.

But first things first: I had to get her revving, ready steady go on the first real touch. Thus a five-minute warm-up of sexual tension. Seduction 101. Child’s play. And never mind how that single stroke of hers on my leg had rippled up my back, settled into my stomach. I shifted; the front of my pants was too damn tight.

Sometimes the rules really sucked.

“Don,” she said, her voice a low purr that went straight to my crotch. That’s all she said: my name, or her version of my name. That’s all she needed to say. Her hand again, now on my stomach. I wagged a no-no-no with my finger as I grinned, thinking about how she’d taste like candy. Thinking about how she’d call my name.

Mmm. Shivers.

“I’ve been waiting for this all week,” she whispered.

“Me too.”

“I couldn’t stop thinking about you.” She dropped her gaze to my fly, where she saw just how much I was thinking about her. Her desire filled the air, thick and pungent, as she begged me to come on, baby, let’s get started already.

But damn, how I wanted to. Oh, the things I wanted to do. Would do. Four minutes—no, less now. Three and counting. I said her name, put just the right amount of foreplay into my voice.

She looked up at me through her makeup-crusted lashes, slowly ran her tongue over her fuck-me lips. Bedroom eyes; blowjob mouth. Intoxicating. Boom boom, boom boom.

“Now, baby,” she said, her voice a throaty growl. The woman was giving way to the animal, to the instinct that tingled deep inside her. Giving way to lust. And all with no nudging from me. Sweet. She said again: “Now.” Insistent. Demanding.

A hum again, this time strong enough to make me sit up. Frowning, I felt the buzz resonate through me, pitched high in warning. No, this wasn’t just anticipation. This was—

—her mouth on mine, her tongue jabbing through my lips and running against my teeth. My momentary caution faded into bemused surprise. She usually wasn’t so direct, but who gave a damn? Screw the countdown to bliss. She was ready. Steady.

Go.

Heat rolled over me, bathed me in fire from head to toe. I opened my mouth to hers, pushed that heat into her. She said “Mmmmmm,” melted into the kiss like chocolate over flame. I washed my hands over the silk of her body, and the buzzing in my head sputtered, died.

Oh, doll, how I’m going to make you scream…

She groaned against me, and my tongue lapped up the sound. I left her mouth to kiss up her jaw, now playing by the lobe of her ear. She squirmed against me, all soft and delicious, delectable, making contented sounds that told me I hit one of her sweet spots. Her hand clenched on my shoulder, then pushed. With a hungry “Rrrrr” she rolled me onto my back, straddled my hips. The hem of her dress rode up, exposing the fullness of her upper thighs, the flash of white satin panties.

Boom boom.

“This is different,” I murmured, my hands on her waist.

“You’re always so good to me, baby.” Her voice was thick with need, her eyes dark and brimming. Leaning down, she poured herself over me to whisper in my ear, “I want to ride you. Now.”

Maybe I ditched the countdown, but other rules had to stay in place. Clients first, even on D-day. That was ever the rule. So I ignored the ache in my groin and said, “Ladies first, doll.”

“Don…”

“Maybe I’ll take the grapes, run them over your naked body. Nibble them off your skin.”

“I don’t want grapes. I want you.”

“You got me.”

“No I don’t. You never let me do you, bring you there.” She gyrated over my crotch, a slow dry hump that did maddening things to me. “It’s always been about me.”

“I’m a giving sort of guy,” I said, my voice husky.

“Your turn, baby,” she said, punctuating her promise with wet kisses down my neck. Her fingers played by my crotch, and over the buzzing in my head and the pounding of my heart, I heard her unzip my fly. “I’m going to love you so fine,” she said, “you’re going to sing my name. I’m going to make you explode.”

Down she kissed, down my chest, my stomach, my—

Wa-hoo.

Okay, maybe the customer was always right…

In the midst of mind-blowing pleasure, a deafening crash, followed by a man’s shout: “What the fuck are you doing with my wife?”

Uh oh.

Louder than the man’s words, the buzzing screamed its warning in my head.

Shit.

Getting interrupted in the middle of sex is bad enough. Worse is when the cause of coitus interruptus is a demon.

 

#          #          #

 

A glance told me all I needed to know: he was obscenely muscled, and his eyes glowed with malefic presence. Definitely not a Seducer; I would’ve felt the psychic connection. Sloth was out of the question. Pride, maybe, or Envy…

Between my legs, the client was still going to town. Side effect of entrancing the clientele over the course of four Dates: they wound up being a bit one-track minded. Usually it was anything but a problem; at the moment, though, the pleasure was a tad…distracting. Not that I was complaining.

Because my client didn’t seem to be one to talk with her mouth full, I put on my charming face and said to her husband, “Your wife’s told me so much about you.”

He roared, a wordless cry of pure rage. Terrific—one of the Berserkers was riding his body. They weren’t exactly known for their reasoning skills. How was I supposed to convince a demon of Wrath that the client was mine? Hell knew I had all the paperwork to prove it…

The husband cocked back a fist. The flesh burned red, and energy sizzled off his skin.

Whoops. I grabbed my client by her shoulders and pulled her off of me, then rolled with her to the floor. She landed on top of me, her mouth working like a landed fish. Sandwiched between the wall and the bed, we were trapped. Last Stand at the Sealy Coral.

From the other side of the bed: “I’ll kill the both of you!”

The haze of passion began to clear from my client’s eyes. Before the fear took hold, I ran a finger over her brow, pushing a command into her mind. She crumpled on my chest, dead asleep. I nudged her to the ground. Back in a second, doll.

Far over my head, a bolt of magic slammed into the wall. Smoking plaster fluttered down, singeing my face with tiny kisses. Maybe the man was possessed, but he was also a lousy shot.

He bellowed, “Think you can sleep with my wife?”

“Actually,” I called back, “sleeping wasn’t what I had in mind.”

He screamed his fury, then the wall behind me exploded. I threw myself over the unconscious woman, shielding her from the smoking debris. I’d be blessed if I let another demon claim her. I’d been on her case for a month; she didn’t die until I said so.

Sometimes, I was as possessive as a Coveter.

Pieces of the ruined wall crashed on me and around me, covered me in filth and soot. Dust made me sneeze, and sneezing during a fight was both dangerous and rather lame, so I stopped breathing. The stench of smoke lingered in my nostrils. Nice. Reminded me of home. Not including the part about getting buried by a falling wall. The wreckage hadn’t killed me—when I was on a collection, the only thing human about me was my appearance—but getting slammed with it hurt like a bastard. My own fault; I should have known better than to taunt a Berserker.

Over the sound of the settling rubble, he shouted, “You dead yet, asshole?”

“Hate to break it to you, chuckles, but you missed.”

Couldn’t help it. For demons, Berserkers were just so fucking stupid.

“Seducer!” The man’s voice deepened to that of a constipated buffalo’s bellow. “I’m going to rip you apart!”

“Some nefarious just talk, talk, talk.” I shot my arm out and leveled a blast overhead.  The light fixture overhead shattered, crashed down to the ground. I heard the man jump clear and land heavily in the far end of the room. Recharging my power as the man regained his footing, I reviewed the possibilities. It came down to three options.

One: I could kill the possessed human.

No, the paperwork involved in the accidental slaying of a mortal would kill my sex drive for the better part of a decade.

Two: I could run.

Hah, as if.

Three: I could banish the demon, leave the human alive.

Ding ding ding, we have a winner. Banishing, sans killing. That meant attacking him directly with my magic was right out. And that meant I had to figure out what its weakness was and kick-start the exorcism.

It occurred to me that priests had other uses besides between-meal snacks. Live and learn.

The sound of clumping footfalls, along with labored breathing. Some mortals just couldn’t take a hint. I scrambled to the foot of the bed and yanked on the baseboard until I pried the wood free. Shouting to do the Banshees proud, I leapt up and hurled the makeshift weapon at the human.

And…bullseye! The wood splintered against his torso with a satisfying crack. He staggered back three steps, blinked stupidly at the slivers embedded in his flesh. Then he snarled something about my parentage and aimed another blast my way. I hit the carpet two seconds before it rained plaster again.

Wood was a big no. What else? I didn’t have any iron on hand…

He shouted, “Come out and fight like a man!”

“I’m not a man.” I reached out blindly, found the ice bucket, heavy with grapes and melted ice. The rim and handle on the black lacquered wood gleamed with a silver sheen. Yes, maybe silver would do the trick. Come a little closer, chuckles. Give me a hug.

“Fight me!” Two voices spoke the same command—the mortal’s ire blending with the demon’s innate Wrath.

I gripped the bucket, getting ready for the windup. “Don’t you think two on one is a bit unfair?”

“Fight me!”

“Come here and make me.”

He shrieked his unholy rage, and then I heard him stomp toward me. Charge of the Dark Brigade. I popped up and pitched the ice bucket at the ballistic human, catching him full in the face. The silver handle bonked him about a second before the melted ice and chilled fruit splattered on his skin…skin that immediately bubbled and smoked. He roared in either fury or agony, and then he swatted madly at his face.

Gotcha.

I took a moment to zip up my fly. Then I stepped around the wreckage strewn almost artfully through the ruins of the bedroom to approach the wounded demon. Under my feet, a collage of shattered glass sparkled amidst the chunks of smoking plaster and plywood. Love really was a battlefield.

The man had fallen to the floor, clutching at his steaming face and gibbering in pain. Interesting. The silver handle was nowhere near him, yet he was still reacting so strongly…Ah. Smiling, I scooped up a handful of stray ice cubes. Allergic to water, my my. If I had any feelings, I would have felt sorry for the creature; having such an Elemental sensitivity would crimp any demon’s style. But I’ve never been accused of being compassionate.

Water pooling in my hand, I squatted over the squirming form. “Need a towel?”

Beneath his clawed fingers, the flesh of the man’s face looked rather spongy. Hmm. Hope that’s not permanent. I didn’t think the human would be long on the mortal coil with his face slipping off his skull. The thought of all the red tape associated with accidental slaughter made my stomach roil. Damned bureaucracy would be the death of me.

He snarled, “Bless yourself, asshole!”

“Don’t suppose it’ll help to tell you there’s been a mix up,” I said, juggling the ice from hand to hand.

Lowering his fingers, the Berserker glared up at me through the human’s red-rimmed eyes. “No mix up, whoremaster.”

“That’s ‘Mister Whoremaster’ to you.”

He spat at me, but the thick glob sizzled and vanished before it touched my skin. Company perk: adjustable heat aura.

“Bastard!”

“Now, now,” I said, dangling a sweating cube over his face. “Play nice, kitty, or you get a bath. What do you mean, no mix up?”

For a long moment, he stared his hatred at me, charged the air with fury so brutally raw that my flesh should have been flayed from my bones. Finally he said, “I was sent on purpose.”

“A snafu, then. I’ve got all the paperwork. She’s mine, chuckles.”

“No snafu.”

Oh really? “Explain yourself.”

“Killers, the man and woman both.”

I’d known about the woman; there was a reason she was a client, after all. The man, though, was a surprise. Then again, I hadn’t bothered to research him. He wasn’t the one I was supposed to fuck to death. “What, they get off on the murder?”

“Thrill of the bloodshed.” His eyes gleamed, and a smile unfurled on his softening face. “The gospel of butchery. The ecstasy of violence.”

“Uh huh.” I’d heard the Wrath party line before. “That’s lovely. But she’s still mine.”

“No, whoremonger.” He bared his teeth in a parody of a grin. “The flesh puppets, they were to kill you.”

Jaw clenched, I said, “Kill me?” Humans, attacking a demon? Outside of some wildly popular television shows, that was unheard of. There had to have been a mistake.

“They were to bathe in your blood,” he said with a sigh of pleasure. “Then I was to slit their throats, claim them both for Wrath.”

Blinking, I repeated, “For Wrath?”

“Want I should speak in smaller words, rake?”

I didn’t know which was more insulting: that the humans had wanted to kill me, or that a Berserker was insinuating that I was stupid. A snarl on my lips, I crushed the ice in one of my hands and wiped it over the remains of his forehead. His squeal of pain was almost worth the mess of melted flesh on my fingers.

After his screeching faded, I said, “Why me?”

Arms wrapped over his head, I almost didn’t hear his muffled reply. “Would be telling.”

I still couldn’t grasp that the mortals had wanted to slice and dice me. Me. That wasn’t in the Demon Playbook. Not that we had a playbook, but still… “She was my target,” I insisted.

“Murder is murder. The more, the better.” Panting, he peered out from his barricade of arms. “Kill two humans, kill one Seducer. All the same to Wrath. But destroying you, that would have given me pleasure.” He chuckled wetly. “You understand pleasure, no?”

I sat heavily on my haunches. Well, this just sucked angel feathers. Where did humans get off, thinking they could actually take down a demon? Next thing you knew, they’d be shooting me with silver bullets and flinging Holy Water on me. Idiots.

No, my client couldn’t have known I was a demon. To her and her husband—before he’d been possessed—I’d been just another flesh puppet, one whom they could play with and prey on. No more.

The man’s breathing took on a burbling sound. I said, “You dying on me, chuckles?”

“You Seducers…all the same,” the demon whispered. “Clap-carrying…sluts…suck the fight…out of a body.”

Could I help it if I was a lover, not a fighter?

“Paperwork…keep you bound…for eons.”

“Ah, go to Hell.” I dropped the rest of the melting ice on him.

 

#          #          #

 

“Open your eyes, doll.”

My client’s eyelids fluttered, then opened. The confusion I saw staring back at me was like a shot of whisky burning the back of my throat. Mmm. Straddling her hips, I rubbed against her, just once, just enough to send her body signals her brain was still too fuzzy to interpret. Beneath us, the ruined bed protested but still held. I was planning on breaking it within ten minutes. Anticipation…

She blinked, tried to open her mouth. Then she tried to move her body. No dice; she was frozen on her back, her arms by her sides, her virginal white silk dress covering her from knockers to knees. Confusion sparked into fear. I inhaled deeply, took in the scent of her growing terror.

Boom boom.

“You’re wondering why you can’t move.” I smiled, picturing all the things I was about to do to her. “You’re wondering what happened. I’ll recap.”

I stretched over her, ran my hand from her cheek down to her chin, her neck, her breast, her belly. “You were going down on me when your loving husband came tearing into the room.” I reached behind me until my hand found her crotch. Sliding between her legs, I ran two fingers over the whisper softness of her satin panties, felt the lips of her vulva quiver. “He was going to kill me, with help from you.”

She stiffened beneath me.

Grinning, I said, “That’s him on the floor. Had the audacity to die and not remove himself after. I’m afraid he’s going to stink up the place in another day or so.”

Her eyes slipped closed, and tears leaked through her lids. How touching. I pushed her underwear to the side and stroked my fingers over her clitoral hood, then pressed gently. Stroke, press.

“No worries, doll,” I said. “You won’t miss him for long.”

Stroke. I heard her breath catch in her throat, and I grinned as I pressed, lingering. Now her inner muscles tensed with my touch, seemed to reach for my fingers as I moved them away. Passion in the depths of despair. Sin at its sweetest. The smell of her fear was now spiced with desire. Demonic aromatherapy.

“I have a question for you. It’ll go easier on you if you tell me the truth. And believe me, I can smell the truth on you.” I rubbed her sex hander. “You do believe me, don’t you? Go ahead, doll. Speak.”

“Yes,” she said thickly.

“Good. Now then, tell me why you and Loving Husband didn’t try to kill me on our first Date.”

Shuddering from my touch, she said, “You were a surprise. We always pick our takes together. But you, you came on to me. He was out of town, and you picked me up…” Her voice turned into a moan as I reached inside her, nudging her toward bliss.

“So your man was away, and you decided to play?”

“You kissed me,” she breathed, “and nothing else mattered…”

Have to love the demon gigolo mojo. Gigolojo at its best.

“Actually, doll, you kissed me.” I slid my fingers out of her, then moved my hand up and down her inner thigh, tickling her flesh with her own wetness. She reeked of passion and panic. Mmm. Soon, soon, soon. “That’s how it works. You kiss me willingly, and then boom. Magic. But the fun starts when you call my name.”

She opened her eyes, looked at me as those fat tears kept winding down her cheeks. “Please,” she said. “I wasn’t going to hurt you, not you…”

“Uh uh uh. That’s a lie. Shame. Here you were doing so well until now.” I pressed the nails of my fingers harder against her plump thigh. “You and hubby, you were going to kill me good and dead, then do whatever it is serial killers do to celebrate. Champagne, maybe? A blood bath? Tell me true.”

 “Sex,” she whispered. “We have sex. We’re already sticky with your blood, and we kiss, tasting you on us…”

“Why, doll, that’s positively perverted. How impressive!” With my other hand, I cupped her full breast, feeling the hardness of her nipple poking through the silk of her dress. “How many have you killed? I’m just curious.”

“Seven…”

“A powerful number. So they say.” Now I had her other breast in hand, rolling the mound in my fingers, teasing her until the nipple was fully erect, begging me to have a taste.

“Please…why can’t I move?”

I leaned down to whisper in her ear. “That would be because I commanded you not to move. Boom. Magic.”

She bit her lip—a nervous tic that reminded me of someone else. “You a magician?”

A quick suck on her earlobe, then a sharp nip. “I eat magicians for breakfast.”

She squeaked: a tiny, terrified sound. I nearly exploded in my pants.

“I’m an incubus,” I said, stretching the last S. “And do you know what an incubus does to fragile human dolls like you?”

Stinking of terror, she whispered, “No…”

I leaned over her until my mouth was bare inches away from hers. “An incubus sucks the life from you. An incubus fucks you and kills you, then takes your soul to Hell.”

No…”

A quick kiss on her dry lips, wetting her mouth with mine. “So here’s where we are, doll. Your man is dead. Your life was already forfeit. Now it’s going to happen a bit sooner than I’d planned.”

“Please…”

I loved it when they begged. “Tell you what, my little murderess. I’ll give you a chance. All you have to do is not call my full name when I make you climax. If you can do that, I won’t fuck you to death.” I’d break her neck. But what was the point of telling her that? “What do you think? Tell me true.”

“I…” She swallowed, said, “I don’t know your full name.”

“But you do.” I licked the hollow of her throat, kissed the sensitive flesh. “In their souls, all humans know the nefarious. What do you say, doll? I’ll screw you so hard you’ll see stars.” Between her legs, my fingers danced over her slit. She groaned, tried to move, groaned harder when I pressed down. “Think you can keep from calling my name when you come?”

Gasping, she said, “Yes.”

“Wonderful.” I kissed her neck, worked my way down to her breast. Debating whether I should let her move beneath me, I gave her fifty-fifty on being able not to call my name. She was evil down to the core. I had to admire that in a human.

 

#          #          #

 

She was mine three minutes and forty-nine seconds later.

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