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Must Love Demons

A MM Forced Proximity Fantasy Romance

by Meghan Maslow

Must Love Demons - Meghan Maslow - Magic Emporium
Editions:ePub: $ 3.99
ISBN: B08RY91LSH
Pages: 320

You’d think being magically tethered to the hottest warden in all Verona wouldn’t be a hardship.

You’d be wrong.

Incubus Nico Azertiran has his dream job as a cherub-in-training. It’s the perfect position for a lust demon who’s more interested in happily-ever-afters than one-night stands. Or it would be, if he didn’t keep screwing it up. When a new cherub gadget misfires, Nico is left trussed to Verona’s most eligible warden, the incredibly grumpy, Sir Flame.

Flambeau Illume has a job to do. Someone’s murdering Verona’s rich and famous, and Sir Flame’s hot on the killer’s trail . . . until he has the misfortune to get magically lassoed to the most infuriating incubus he’s ever had the displeasure to meet. Except, maybe Nico isn’t so terribly awful. But how can he solve his case and keep Nico safe at the same time? Especially when the sweet demon seems to have a bullseye on his back.

Together they need to solve the crime, stay alive, and—if their luck changes—maybe even fall in love. Easy, right?

Must Love Demons is part of the Magic Emporium series. Each book stands alone, but each one features an appearance by Marden’s Magic Emporium, a shop that can appear anywhere, but only once and only when someone’s in dire need. This book contains explicit scenes, a lariat of love, a demon tail with a mind of its own, and a guaranteed HEA.

Excerpt:

“What are we doing here, Bart?” Nico asked for the sixth time. He pushed himself to his knees, stretching his cramped muscles and adjusting his toga. How did cherubs keep the blasted things from riding up? A well-kept cherub secret.

They’d been perched on the flat roof of a two-story hattery for the last forty-five minutes, and his hips and stomach hurt from lying unmoving on the hot tar roof. He hoped pitch easily came out of clothing. He might not like his toga, but he didn’t have the coin to replace it so soon. And that wasn’t even the worst of it. That honor went to the enormous painted plaster hats that let everyone in a three-block radius know this was indeed a hattery.

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A checkered top hat with unblinking yellow eyes housed a street organ that blasted a repeating tune to attract customers. Nico’s sensitive ears rang from the music, and his horns tingled. He’d likely end the day with a headache. A wizard’s pointy cap that looked like it had been splashed in blood and a straw hat that appeared to be made from the disassembled body parts of a scarecrow—including the head—took up the remaining roof space. Not a problem for Bart, but Nico had had to shimmy between the dead scarecrow and the bloody wizard’s hat until he found a space large enough to comfortably fit a creature his size.

“Get down here, newbie! You’re going to give us away!” Bart whispered, his voice still conveying his irritability, as he lay flat on the roof. He sprawled on a cooling blanket so that the hot tar wouldn’t burn his delicate cherub skin and he’d donned a pink visor to keep the summer suns from his eyes. Nico had neither, but being a demon made him heat impervious, so, like many of his kind, lounging on sun warmed places ranked high on his list of pleasures—at least when he had freedom of movement and didn’t have to worry about ruining his clothing.

And the creepy hats. He could definitely do without those.

“To whom?” Nico scooted forward to peer over the edge of the building. A few creatures walked the streets, but foot traffic remained anemic. He rubbed at his nose when a fox shifter wearing a pungent licorice-root cologne passed by. Whew, the poor guy was trying too hard. No wonder the others on the street gave him a wide berth. Maybe he was their target? “Him?”

“Hardly.” Bart grunted, his wings fluttering. “Don’t know why I get stuck training you. You’re hopeless.”

Nico shot him the finger but slid back down so he was on his belly. “At least you don’t have a sucky trainer.”

Bart barked a laugh. “You’re too much, kid.”

“Better than not enough.” He’d learned early on that Bart didn’t respond well to nice. Why they’d given him the most foul-mouthed, disrespectful cherub on the staff, he couldn’t imagine. Well, he could, but he decided to ignore that. After he’d stopped taking Bart’s abuse, they’d found a rhythm that mostly worked for them.

But Bart wasn’t wrong. Nico was hopeless. At least with the tiny bow and arrows cherubs used to find their targets. Like using an infant-sized toy. The bow didn’t even fill his palm.

Last attempt, he not only spectacularly missed his shot, but ricocheted the arrow back where it struck one of the other trainers. Unfortunately, the love-struck cherub tackled Bart in his fervor to declare his undying love. Didn’t help that Nico made the mistake of laughing. Hence, desk duty.

“So, did you ask Cupid Requisitions when I could get a bow and arrows in my size?”

Bart swiped his ringlets back from his round face before pulling out a tiny arrow from his quiver. Next he uncorked a vial of love juice. Like the front office, the love juice smelled of fairy floss. After being at Cupid Inc. for more than a month now, he’d never be able to eat the stuff again.

Bart dipped the arrow in the sweet-smelling liquid before shrugging. “They said once you’re off probation, they’ll invest in it.”

Nico growled. “If I don’t have equipment I can use, I’ll never get off probation.”

This was stupid, anyway. They refused to let him use his innate abilities to help creatures find their love matches. Unlike other incubi, his magic ran to love, not lust. This didn’t make him popular among demon-kind—even got him thrown out of his legion—so he’d worked hard to become a cherub-in-training. He’d jumped at the opportunity to work at Cupid Inc. He’d cut his flowing black hair into shoulder-length waves and even wore the infernal toga.

Grudgingly.

Nico’s innate magic overpowered any love juice that cherubs employed. Their magic forced a creature to fall in love with the closest single target. The enchantment, while powerful, didn’t last forever. Many couples stayed together, but not all. Nico’s magic lasted because it drew soulmates together. Yet, the cherubs insisted he use their inferior potion and infant-sized equipment.

Infuriating.

If he had two coins to rub together, he’d go out on his own, just to show them.

Bart handed him the bow and love juice-tipped arrow. He held them easily between his thumb and first two fingers. Bart then placed a plain wooden box between them. From somewhere in the folds of his toga he produced a key. Since togas had no pockets, this proved an impressive feat. Bart unlocked and then eased open the lid.

Caution wasn’t like Bart.

Nico leaned over to peek into the box, but Bart slammed the cover down before he could get a look. “Don’t be nosey.”

Someone liked a little drama. He didn’t roll his eyes, but nearly.

Bart reopened the lid and spun the box in Nico’s direction. A glowing golden rope lay on a velvet inlay.

“What’s it do?” He reached out to grasp it, but Bart slapped his hand.

“Don’t touch, newbie.” Bart then caught it by one end and snatched the arrow out of Nico’s grip with his free hand. Using some sort of elaborate knot, he fastened the rope on the end of the arrow. Holding up his prize, he nodded, triumphant. “It’s ready.”

Nico stayed quiet. If he asked again, Bart would just deflect.

Bart waited.

So did Nico.

Bart wasn’t known for his patience. At. All. He glowered. “Well, aren’t you curious?”

Nico was. Instead, he shrugged.

Bart snorted. “It’s a Lariat of Love.”

“A Lariat of Love?” Okay, he’d bite. “Is that a real thing?”

“Don’t you have eyes? Of course it’s a real thing! Do I look like the kind of cherub who’d tie a stupid piece of rope to an arrow for no reason?” Bart’s thick brows drew together, making him look like a constipated toddler. Not that Nico would voice that aloud.

“Depends how much you had to drink.” He’d seen Bart’s after-work habits up close. The little guy liked his hooch, smelly cigars, and easy sex. Not necessarily in that order.

Bart guffawed. “True.”

“So, what’s it do?”

“It’s a doozy. R&D outdid themselves this time. Assuming it works. This is the prototype.”

“Wait.” Nico’s stomach sunk. “Prototype? Like untested?”

“Looks like it’s your lucky day. You get to try it out.”

Lucky? “And if it doesn’t work? It’s on me, right?”

“Details, kid. Think positive. Besides, R&D are good. It’ll work. Probably.”

“You still haven’t told me what it does.”

“Anyone tell you, you’re pushy?” Bart glared before grinning. “It attaches itself to a love-struck target, and when they pass by a compatible match, it ties them together. It dissolves once they’re in love. A huge step forward for cherub-kind, if you ask me.”

“It ties them together? Like bondage?” Nico’s heart thudded.

“No, perv. Only an incubus would jump to such crass conclusions. It lassoes them. Lariat of Love. Get it now?”

He squinted at Bart. “No.”

“You don’t need to. You just need to hit your next target.”

“You realize I’m a terrible shot, right? I’ve never hit a single creature. Not one.”

“You hit Quabriel.”

“By accident. And he wasn’t on the list. I never thought I’d be let off desk duty after that one.”

“You are a miserable shot.” Bart nodded. “But Tab wants you to learn. And you’re too big to practice at the cherub archery range. So, here we are. Think of it as on-the-job training.”

“What happens if I miss?”

“Don’t think that way, newbie.” Bart shrugged like Nico’s job wasn’t on the line. “Make sure your arrow strikes true, and we won’t have any problems.”

 

COLLAPSE

About the Author

Her initials say it all. . .

Meghan Maslow is truly a rare breed. No, not a unicorn (although that would be sooo cool). She’s a. . . gasp!. . . extroverted writer. It may seem counterintuitive that as someone who is energized by people, she spends most of her time alone. Yet, that’s the case. And she doesn’t mind.

Mostly.

If she gets writers block or starts to go a little stir crazy, she heads to a coffee shop, a restaurant, a friend’s place—anywhere to fill up her need for human contact. It also helps that she spends a lot of time with the voices in her head. Some of them are really quite opinionated.

She loves writing gay romance because she’s a sap for a happy ending, and she believes everyone—regardless of orientation—should be able to find books that have them.

She believes life is for living, kindness is contagious, and a good book makes the world a better place. She loves travel, reading, world music, Moscow Mules, awkward dancing, dreadlocks, her family, and um. . . writing.