Do you know how hard it is to write with a cat in your lap? Especially one who digs her little claws into your leg if you stop petting her for too long? I am busy finishing up Mistress of Malice and Mercy as well as Sometimes it is Rocket Science inbetween work headaches and actual headaches (who knew a toothache could be so bad??)
Now for what you really came here for: a MMM preview
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Six of Bert’s bullets bounced off the demon’s scaled chest. One ricocheting bullet narrowly missed Viola’s thigh. The streetlamp and telephone pole weren’t as lucky. Struggling to resist the temptation of Viola’s black energy, Duke covered the older man while Bert reloaded. He aimed his gun between the Aspisia’s eyes, but the demon’s yellow gaze was locked on Viola’s scarred arm. He took advantage of its distraction and slipped inside its mind.
“It wants to rip you apart because you killed its mate,” he said once he translated the demon’s thoughts. He slowly inched towards Viola careful not to make too much noise or move too swiftly.
Viola tilted her head. She recalled setting ablaze several Folists. “I’m familiar with the feeling.”
“It’s torn between tearing off your head and taking you to Elrachaim. Right now its fear of Elrachaim is trumping its need for vengeance.” Duke eased out of the Aspisia’s mind. He glanced down at Viola’s discarded knife. The mustard-yellow blood dried onto the blade would be nearly impossible to clean off. “How’d you kill the male, Vi?”
“Slit its throat from ear to little ear.”
Duke grimaced. There was no way he was letting her get that close to the female. He struggled to remember the best way to kill a fully-grown female Aspisia. There was a weak spot, but since they rarely ventured out into heavily populated areas he couldn’t…
“Under the chin!” Bert called out from the other side of Viola.
Duke fired first. Three bullets pierced the thin, pale blue skin beneath the demon’s chin. Two of the bullets exited through the top of the demon’s skull. The third took out the Aspisia’s left eye. Brain matter and bone fragments splattered across sedan parked behind the demon. Duke ducked to avoid the stream of thick, yellow blood. It smelled worse than the venom and would make him break out into a rash if it touched his skin.
Drenched in Aspisia blood and skin, Viola jogged to the downed demon’s side with her gun in hand. She checked for signs of life, but the Aspisia was dead. With a sigh, she holstered her gun. She shook her head the same way Finn did after a bath. Yellow liquid splashed Duke’s shirt.
She opened her mouth to apologize, but snapped her jaw shut when she got a good look at her grinning, almost completely dry husband. “How is it I’m soaked and you don’t have a drop on you?”
Her left eye twitched at the jab. There was no way his reflexes could be better than hers. She eyed him coolly before breaking out in a beaming smile. Arms flung open, she stalked towards him. “Aw honey, you killed the big, bad demon for me. Let me show my… appreciation.”
He didn’t trust her sugary tone of voice or the mischievous glint in her hazel eyes. As soon as he picked the word ‘hug’ out of her jumbled thoughts, he hastily backed towards Bert. The other man’s dry chuckle implied Duke would get no help from that corner.
“Lady Viola!” Pip’s high, clear voice cut through Viola’s laughter and Bert’s chuckles.
“Saved by the munchkins,” Viola said, stopping an arms’ length from Duke. “This time.”
“Phew,” Pip moaned, waving a hand under his nose. He and his brothers had returned to their normal size but regretted the action. In their natural state, their senses were more sensitive than when they were transformed. “That’s nasty, Lady Viola! It’s worse than Finn farts!”
Duke scooped the three Wfsals off the ground and settled them on his shoulders. He fished his cell phone out of his pocket. Even with his truck and Bert’s, there was no way they could haul two Aspisia corpses and two blood-drenched Trackers. Calling in a team to pick up the second corpse took less than a minute.
“Nicholls and Spitzer are on their way. Spitzer’ll take the female to the work shed. Spitzer will drive Bert’s truck with the male to the house, too.” He braced himself for the explosion his next statement was sure to cause. “I’ll drive you two to the nearest car wash for a quick rinse before we head home. I’ve got a few towels and a bottle of shampoo left over from the last time I had to give Finn a bath.”
Rather than jumping all over him like he’d expected, Viola shrugged and scrubbed at the thin layer of blood dried on her cheeks. “Is it that rosemary flea stuff or the mint shampoo Granny made?”
“Mint, I think.”
She shrugged again. “Works for me. The flea shampoo makes me itch.” She narrowed her eyes at Duke as she remembered the last time he’d taken her to the car wash to clean up after a demon attack. “I’m controlling the hose this time, Tobias.”
“You nearly peeled my skin off last time!”
“Oh? Now who’s exaggerating, sugar?”
Viola stomped towards Duke, lifted the hem of her wet shirt, and pointed to thin, pink line parallel to her navel. “That’s where I hit the muffler of your damn truck when I fell because you hit me so damn hard with the water.”
“Oh no, sweetness. I’m not taking the blame for that one. You slipped because you refused to take off those ridiculous boots and then you insisted on prancing around like an idiot. You’re lucky you didn’t break your neck.”
“Some days I’d like to break yours.”
“And I’d like to see you try.”
“Children!” Bert grasped the squabbling couple by the elbows and dragged them towards the cars. Abelardo owed him at least a case of beer for forcing him to take on the Dukes by himself. A rotation with a coughing, phlegmy partner would have been a less irritating experience.
“Sorry, Bert.” Viola craned her neck to stick her tongue at Duke behind Bert’s back. “We get a little carried away sometimes.”
Bert grunted in agreement. He supposed it could have been worse. They could have been an overly affectionate couple. He’d rather listen to a quarrel than watch the mating habits of adrenaline-hyped Trackers.
“Karma will get you both,” he said. “Good Lord willing, y’all will have a passel of kids to drive you up the wall like you’ve done to the rest of us.”