Fashionably Dead Down Under (Book 2 of the Hot Damned Series)
Fashionably Dead Down Under
Book 2 of the Hot Damned Series
Pain—then ice—then intolerable heat. A second took years, yet time stood still. The claws of those that trapped me were razor sharp. They tore through my flesh as the ones who owned them grunted and screamed with delight. I struggled for balance, but realized I was standing on air. Violet and silver dust engulfed me as I choked on smells of burning flesh and anger. How was this happening? I was supposed to be planning my wedding to my hotter than Satan’s underpants Vampyre Prince . . . not taking a ride to Hell with smelly and disgusting Demons. Shitshitdamnitshit.
Journey? The soundtrack in Hell was Journey? I would have thought Nine Inch Nails or AC/DC, but certainly not Journey . . . Don’t get me wrong, I loved Journey, but Don’t Stop Believing just didn’t seem like an appropriate anthem for the Underworld. Was I even in Hell? Maybe this was Purgatory or some other random plane of existence? Although I would expect Barry Manilow, John Tesh or Kenny G if I was stuck in Purgatory.
“Where in God’s name am I?” I muttered as I gingerly pried my dry eyes open.
One thing I was absolutely sure of—I definitely wasn’t on Earth. The ride to wherever the hell I was with the stinky Demons had sucked the big one. It was violent, smelly and it hurt like a son of a bitch.
Easing my body to a sitting position was difficult but doable. Now, to figure out where I was . . .
“You’ve got to be kidding me,” I moaned, both from the pain shooting through my limbs and the simple fact that Faithfully was blasting from invisible speakers hidden somewhere in my cell.
Wait. Was this a cell? A trap? A bedroom?
A bedroom? I was in a bedroom?
This couldn’t be Hell. It had to be some kind of holding area. The Underworld was supposed to smell like sulfur and look like post-Armageddon. This place looked more like some douchenoggle with big bucks and debatable taste had shopped at all the most expensive home stores on Fifth Avenue . . .while they were drunk.
My body ached like I’d been beaten and I checked myself for wounds. Surprisingly I was fine. Maybe all that flesh tearing had been an illusion. Being a Vampyre I healed quickly, but the trip to Hell, or wherever I was, had been rather turbulent. Turning my head took effort, but I needed to figure out my location and how to get out.
Interesting. I was on a large bed draped in cheesy and predictable slippery black silk. The walls of what I decided to assume was a massive bedroom were all done in burnished gold leafing. Thick and ornate crown molding framed the walls. The shades of the molding were more muted and depicted horrific scenes of mutilation and decapitations of some kind of animal-looking thing. Okay, this was more like the Hell I expected. The artwork added to the ambience—frescos of orgies and graphic depictions of group sex and death graced what had to be twenty foot high walls. The floor was so highly waxed it literally sparkled—the uninviting cold black marble stretched from one end of the huge room to the other.
Trying to block out Steven Perry singing Lovin, Touchin, Squeezin’ was almost impossible. I had a bizarre urge to sing along . . .
Wait a fucking minute . . . were the walls breathing?
Stop. Pull yourself together—walls didn’t breathe. I needed to deal with the situation at hand. I would not let Steven Perry or walls with a heartbeat derail me from getting the hell out of Hell.
First things first—I needed to get up. I wasn’t chained to the bed. I was able to move as freely as my battered body would allow. I suppose the most unnerving part was that no one was around . . . or were they? I hadn’t seen anyone or anything since my forced arrival. Could Demons cloak themselves like I could?
“Astrid,” a disembodied voice hissed from out of nowhere.
“Holy Hell,” I screamed and dove under the bed, slamming the side of my head on the metal frame and bending back all the fingers on my left hand. “Who’s here?” I shouted, nursing my painfully throbbing fingers and head, not to mention the rest of my body.
“Al Pacino lives in Hell? I didn’t even know he died.” Plus, he seemed more like a Purgatory guy to me. “Bullshit,” I muttered, cautiously peeking out from under the bed. There was no one in the room but me. Maybe the walls were alive. “You are not Al Pacino. You don’t even sound like Al Pacino. Who in the hell are you?”
“I’m part of you,” the wall whispered.
“I’m a fucking wall?”
The wall laughed heartily. So heartily it pissed me off. “So, did you enjoy your trip, Astrid?”
“Are you kidding me? It sucked,” I snapped and scanned the room for a hidden Demon. There had to be someone in here. Walls did not talk.
“What on earth did you expect, my dear? You’d just killed their leader who happened to be your father,” the voice informed me. “Not to mention you offed your psychotic bitch of a somewhat human mother not even ten minutes before your father arrived.”
“My father was no prize either. He was a gross, stinky, disgusting and evil Demon and wasn’t even upset that I snuffed out my mother,” I shot back. Fine. I’d lost it. I was talking to a wall . . .
“Darling girl, if you were able to kill both your parents, why didn’t you stop the Demons from taking you to Hell?”
“Well, Wall, you seem to know quite a bit already. I’m sure you know exactly why I couldn’t stop the Demons.”
“Couldn’t or didn’t?” the wall inquired politely.
I’d had enough of the wall. “What does it matter? I was a bit tired from offing my parents and I had, um . . . other reasons.” Damnit, this was impossible. Was I really talking to a wall? Yes. Yes, I was.
“Ah yes,” the wall said lovingly. “Your unborn child. That child will also be part of me.”
“Look, no offense, but you’re a freakin’ talking wall. I don’t really see the connection between you, me and my baby.”
“If you’re not going to be pleasant, I’ll leave,” the wall huffed and the heartbeat disappeared. WTF?
Fucking. Awesome. The wall was gone because I pissed it off. Not only had I made myself an orphan earlier and earned a lovely unplanned trip to the Land of Damnation, but I’d made a talking wall in Hell angry with me. What did a girl have to do to catch a freakin’ break? I’d done everything that was expected of me and still I got the shaft . . . I’d fulfilled the crazy Vampyre Prophecy. I’d saved the Vampyre King and proved I was indeed their Chosen One. Although I might have reconsidered the job had I known ending up in the Abyss of Darkness was part of the description.
“Are you screwing with me?” I shouted at the wall as Open Arms surrounded me on all sides. The incredible urge to sway and sing along was almost debilitating. There had to be something subliminal going on here . . . Was Journey part of some evil plan? Was it laced with hidden references to Hell and debauchery? Was Steven Perry a succubus? Either someone down under was obsessed with 80s pop music or I wasn’t in Hell at all.
“Oh my God,” I gasped as crawled out from under the bed. I very slowly stretched out my cramped legs and arms. “I clearly fucked someone over in a former life to have to deal with this.”
“Why would you think that?” the disembodied wall voice hissed.
“Motherfucker,” I screeched, grabbing a pillow off the bed and hurling it at the wall. “Do not scare me like that. I’ve had enough surprises today.”
The wall chuckled in reply.
The Demons had unceremoniously dragged my ass through the portal to Hell insisting I was their new queen—like that was ever going to happen. If they hadn’t arrived in such large numbers, I might not be sitting in Hell right now talking to a wall and trying to make my body work, but I was . . . and I was furious.
However, as unhappy as I was about my new address, I would hazard a guess that my beautiful mate Ethan had gone ballistic. He would have arrived at the caves by now where my deadly family reunion had taken place and would know that I’d been abducted. My gut clenched at the thought of what he would do. His father, the King of the Vampyres, would have clued him in to the somewhat unbelievable story of my pregnancy and Ethan would . . . Shit, I didn’t know what he’d do, but I needed to get out of here quickly before he attempted to come to Hell and rescue me.
I’d lost enough. I would not lose the man who was my world and I flat out refused lose my baby. Unease skittered up my spine like little mice and I shivered involuntarily as Steven Perry began to belt out Wheel in the Sky. OMG.
Could the talking wall keep me from leaving? Time to find out.
On the far left side of the room was a bay window. I wondered how high up I was and if I could jump. What was I thinking? I could fly, for fuck’s sake. I grimaced and stood. I just needed to find a way out of the garish bedroom and make my way to a portal that would take me back to Earth.
Of course since I had no idea what that portal might look like or where to find one, that might prove to be a clusterfuck in the making. Awesome. I needed to figure out where I was.
Walking hurt so I decided to fly to the window and check out the landscape. After two pathetic attempts that resulted in my ass hitting the floor—hard, I realized my powers weren’t the same in Hell as they were on Earth. Not. Fucking. Good.