It's finally Friday! I know that probably doesn't seem like a lot with everyone in lockdown, but it means you made it through another week AND we're one week closer to the end of the tunnel. To help get you through the weekend, I have an excerpt of A Good Demon is Hard to Find by Kate Moseman. The book is out now!
Erin hurled another armful of clothes out the front door. “Take your stupid shirts”—she paused to reload, scooping up another pile beside the doorway—“and your stupid pants, and get lost.”
The pants followed the shirts out the door, collapsing on the lawn like a flock of fainting birds under the rapidly dimming sky.
It was lucky he’d left a few things behind after the divorce—they made great ammunition.
“Be reasonable, Erin,” said Mark, her ex-husband. “Can’t we discuss this like adults? I only came over because you continue to refuse to answer your phone, and having this conversation at church is not exactly a good idea.”
Erin turned back into the house, found a shoe, and hurled it over her shoulder without looking. It narrowly missed Mark and instead nailed the driver’s side door of his cherry red convertible. She found the matching shoe, turned around, aimed, and flung it end over end to join its mate.
“Oh, did I ding your midlife crisis-mobile? I’m sorry,” said Erin, without a shred of sincerity. She tucked her hair behind her ears and crossed her arms.
“I wish you wouldn’t make a scene,” said Mark.
“Really? I’d prefer you weren’t a cheating dog, but you get what you get, right?”
Mark rolled his eyes and leaned back against the car in the driveway. “Look, Erin, all I’m asking you to do is find someplace else to worship, okay? I know you’re only going to church to keep your mom off your back.”
He might have been right, but that didn’t mean he deserved reasonability in return. Erin glanced around, looking for more things to throw. She spied a stack of Mark’s exercise DVDs.
She picked them up and flung them one at a time, like frisbees, into the yard. “I. Said. Get. Lost.”
An ancient Pomeranian shuffled to the doorway and peered out into the soft light of the setting sun.
Erin picked up the dog.
“How’s Nancy Drew?” said Mark, in a transparent attempt to defuse the situation.
“She’s great. She never liked you, anyway,” said Erin, scratching her behind the ears.
Mark looked upwards as if asking for strength. “Erin, I’m asking you. Can you please stop going to our church? Wouldn’t that make things easier for you?”
“Are you kidding?” said Erin, carefully setting Nancy Drew down on the tile floor of the entryway. “You don’t want to make things easier for me. You want to make it easier for you and Genevieve.”
“Genevieve has just as much right to be there as you do,” said Mark.
“Does she? Kind of uncomfortable to be reminded of your sin every single Sunday, isn’t it.”
“Now you’re just being difficult.” Mark threw his hands up.
“Maybe I like going to church with my ex-husband and the woman he cheated on me with. If it bothers you so much, why don’t you find a different church?” She stepped onto the covered porch and carefully shut the door behind her, to keep Nancy Drew from making an escape.
“Come on, Erin.”
“It’s ‘Come on, Erin,’ this and ‘Be reasonable, Erin,’ that when you want something, isn’t it?” Erin took a barefooted step forward.
Mark took a step back.
“You don’t have any claim on me. Not that you ever had any real say over what I do in the first place—but whatever I owed your sorry ass evaporated when you cheated on me and made a mockery of our wedding vows. I’ll go to church, or not, if I want to, for any reason or no reason at all. So you can take your stupid shirts and your ugly khaki pants and drive your ridiculous compensation car all the way to hell.” Erin pointed her finger at Mark. “May the Lord forsake you and the Devil take you!”
As she spoke, the last sliver of the sun disappeared behind the western horizon.
She whirled and went inside the house, slamming the door behind her and stomping away before remembering to turn back and lock it.
The bolt slammed home loudly, echoing in the sparsely furnished house.
Erin leaned against the door and slid down to the floor.
Nancy Drew shuffled over and stared at her with rheumy eyes.
“Oh, Nancy,” said Erin, running her fingers down the dog’s back. A terrible pressure welled up in her chest as she tried to hold back the tears. They escaped anyway, like water from a glass filled to the brim, dripping down her cheeks.
Mark had seemed like a good idea at the time. His self-assuredness, relentlessly on display at the local steakhouse where they went for most of their dates, provided a sense of solidity in a world that felt like it was shifting under her feet. After six months of dating, he’d asked for her hand over the steaks he’d ordered well-done, and she’d answered “Yes” without hesitation.
After the wedding, when they settled into a well-done routine of perfectly correct married life, she put aside the feelings that didn’t quite fit into her new life with Mark.
It shouldn’t matter that steaks were starting to make her queasy—or that church services inevitably brought on a sense of anxiety. She had chosen him, and he had chosen her.
It should have been enough.
Erin wiped away the tears with the back of her hand and stood up. She peeked out of the dusty window blinds and was relieved to find that Mark had gathered his things and left. She headed for the kitchen, Nancy Drew trailing her hopefully.
“Here, girl,” said Erin, offering Nancy a dog biscuit from the glass container on the Formica countertop.
Nancy, blind as a bat, nosed around until her snout bumped the biscuit, at which point she snapped it up with doggy enthusiasm.
“How is it? Good?” Erin retrieved a second biscuit from the jar and eyed it. She tentatively nibbled a corner. “Not bad,” she mused. “I can’t get any lower than this, Nancy. My husband left me for another woman and I’m eating dog biscuits while talking to a mostly deaf dog.”
Nancy tried to focus in Erin’s general direction.
Erin handed Nancy the nibbled biscuit. “Only slightly used. But you won’t mind, will you, girl?” She kneeled and patted the dog. “Is it too early for bed?”
Nancy sat down heavily on her hindquarters, as if she was too tired to keep holding them up.
“I feel the same way,” said Erin. She rose and crossed to the pantry, where she considered a dusty bottle of red wine half-hidden behind a stash of paper towel rolls. They never drank wine, so the bottle—a gift from a wedding guest—had sat untouched for years. Erin retrieved it and rummaged in a drawer for something to open it with. A multi-purpose kitchen tool revealed a fold-out corkscrew that served the purpose.
Lacking a wine glass, Erin poured the wine into an insulated plastic tumbler and retreated into her bedroom with the tumbler and the bottle.
She drank a big swallow of wine and coughed. Perhaps this wasn’t the best idea.
Then again, she didn’t have any better ideas. She took another sip, set the tumbler and bottle on the nightstand, changed into her pajamas, and crawled under the covers.
Two tumblers of wine later, her head buzzed like a beehive. She should have eaten something to soak up the wine, something more than a nibble of dog biscuit, but it was too late.
Erin rolled onto her side and closed her eyes. The room spun. She searched her mind for comforting thoughts to chase away the impending nightmares and found nothing.
Instead, she recalled her last words to Mark. The Lord forsake you and the Devil take you.
Erin shuddered with embarrassment. Could she be any more childish? She cringed into her pillow and pulled the covers tighter, willing herself to go to sleep.
With her eyes still closed, and her mind drifting in a state between wakefulness and unconsciousness, a frisson crawled over her skin from the top of her head all the way to her toes, wiping away the tension in her body as it rippled through her. If this was a dream, she didn’t want to wake up. It was far more pleasant than her current reality.
A sound like an unfurled bolt of silk brought her to the edge of awareness. She dreamily observed a pair of gray feathered wings unfolding over her. Instead of feeling frightened, she felt sheltered—safe—as she tumbled the rest of the way into the darkness of sleep.
Sometimes, a date from hell is just what you need...
When Erin thoughtlessly lays a curse on Mark, her cheating ex-husband, she doesn’t expect a well-dressed Great Earl of Hell to show up in her kitchen to fulfill the curse (and make damn good coffee while he’s at it).
Andromalius specializes in wickedness and revenge. He’s ready, willing, and able to rain down hell on Erin’s ex—but when Mark announces a hasty new marriage, Erin needs more than just revenge.
She needs a date to the wedding.
Available on Amazon Worldwide: mybook.to/agooddemon
Kate Moseman is a writer, photographer, and recipe developer who lives in Florida and enjoys going to theme parks as much as possible.