“Goddammit, Luce, get your arse up here now. This is so not right.” Araminta
Tempest—Mina to her friends—gritted her teeth until her jaw ached. Ignoring the
crinkle of paper, she curled her hands into fists and planted them on her hips. Even
the prick of her long nails on her palms couldn’t distract her from the anger whipping
through her blood. “You can’t do this to me.”
“Don’t you swear at me, girl. And I can do whatever I please and you can like it or
The voice boomed throughout the small apartment that was Mina’s home. The cut
crystal hanging from the chandelier in the hallway tinkled violently. The crockery in
the kitchen cupboard rattled and a glass standing on the bench tilted and crashed
into the sink.
“Oh, for God’s sake,” Mina muttered, looking at the smashed glass.
A loud screech followed by what sounded like a sonic boom had Mina covering her
ears. Smoke filled the little kitchen, making her cough as a flash of bright light
delivered her aunt.
“How dare you use the G word. I’ve warned you before about swearing in my
presence. Now, if you want to say damn-it-to-Hell, then I’m fine with that.”
Mina rolled her eyes. Her aunt was such a drama queen. Anything for an entrance.
Aunt Luce looked like everyone’s idea of the quintessential grandmother. Slightly
short, slightly dumpy—er, cuddly, as her aunt would say—with snow-white hair set in
rigid waves about her kindly face. Her fingers glittered with myriad rings and her
hands were a gentle caress when needed. She belonged to the twin-set-and-pearls
brigade, her makeup always perfectly applied, right down to the slash of red lipstick
outlining her mouth. Ergo, the perfect grandmother, but then she ruined the image
with her shoes.
Luce had a penchant for sexy high heels. The higher the better. Today’s offering was
a deep red pair with multiple straps that encased her tiny feet and circled her ankles.
Mina didn’t have to search far to work out where she’d gotten her love for sexy
Struggling to hang onto her temper, Mina smoothed out the crumpled piece of paper
and waved it at Luce. “Want to tell me what the hell this memo is about?”
Aunt Luce shrugged. “I thought it was quite clear. It’s your job assignment for the
“You have got to be kidding me.” She looked at the note, although she didn’t really
need to. She’d memorized every word since it had arrived in her inbox that morning.
Araminta Tempest, your assignment for the next month is to shadow one Jedd
Madison. You will assess his performance, critique his methods, scrutinize his social
skills and generally act as his dating coach.
She crumpled the sheet of paper up again and tossed it into the sink with the broken
glass. “A dating coach? Are you crazy?”
A ball of brilliant light exploded. Smoke suddenly wafted through the room again,
followed by the pungent odor of brimstone. Heat burned through Mina’s body. The
skin on her arms tightened and nerve endings clamored with sensation, making Mina
feel as if she were standing in the middle of a fire.
“All right already! Turn it off. If I didn’t know better, I’d swear I was standing in the
fires of Hell.”