Damned When I Didn't by Cherie Colyer Genre: YA Paranormal Romance
Death isn't the end for eighteen-year-old Avery Williams, and her final resting place isn't beyond the Golden Gates. No, the Queen of the Damned has plans for her and, unbeknownst to Avery, fought hard to gain possession of her soul.
As Hell's newest succubus, Avery is expected to siphon life from the living. It only takes a long, meaningful kiss, but for a virgin like Avery, kissing guys she barely knows isn't something she's comfortable doing. Avery focuses on the upside of her fate—she'll be returning home, or so she thinks. When the Queen of the Damned cuts her off from her old life, Avery is determined to find a way back to her family and friends, even if it means facing Hell's fury if she's caught.
We got to Brookfield Zoo around ten, and even though I had forty dollars in my purse, Cole insisted on paying for the both of us. We entered through an underground tunnel that led to the main entrance. Images of ostriches and lions watched us pass as we followed the crowd to the turnstiles.
Cole handed a heavyset guy in a blue uniform our tickets and then held his hand in front of him. “Ladies first.”
“Thanks.” I tucked my hair behind my ear and asked, “Are you sure your friends won’t mind me tagging along?”
During the drive over, I envisioned Cole’s friends as a group of unruly demons. I couldn’t believe I hadn’t asked him what to expect when he first mentioned getting out of the apartment. When I voiced my concerns to Cole, he let out a loud guffaw. A minute later, he assured me there wouldn’t be a demon in the bunch, except for us. He also told me that Luz was psyched to meet me. She was tired of being the only girl in the group.
Cole and I headed toward a large water fountain at the center of the zoo. A boy wearing a lion sun visor held his little hands up as if they were paws and roared. His sister—who was about half his size—screamed. I couldn’t help but laugh. Then I remembered Cole’s comment back at the apartment.
“Are you really a fan of leopards?” I asked.
“Snow leopards,” he corrected. “They’re smaller than other wild cats, but they’re graceful, cunning, and exceptional survivors.”
I got the feeling he related to them on a personal level. Cole had said incubi were low on Hell’s totem pole of bad asses.
“What’s your favorite animal?” he asked.
I tapped a finger to my lips. “Hmm—”
He jumped in front of me, walking backward with a bounce in his step. “Don’t tell me. I’ll guess.”
I giggled. Cole’s behavior was so human it was hard to believe he was a demon. But then again, so was I.
“You’ll never guess.”
He tipped his head to the side. “Is that a challenge?”
“Maybe,” I replied with a smile.
He slowed, avoiding bumping into a stroller even though his back was to it.
“How’d you know they were there?” I whispered, fully expecting to be told that demons had the radar-like senses of a shark.
“Reflection in your sunglasses.” He wiggled the ones he wore.
Darn on the supernatural radar, or lack thereof.
“Where were we?” he asked.
“You were about to admit there is no way you’ll guess my favorite animal.”
“You think so.” Cole smirked. “Let’s make it interesting…winner sleeps in the bed tonight, his choice if he wants to share.”
“Or hers, and just so you know, I’m not sleeping in the same bed as you.”
“You did last night.”
“I was passed out due to being drugged. It doesn’t count.”
I hadn’t given much thought to the fact that Cole and I shared everything in a one-bedroom apartment. “Does the couch pull out into a sofa bed?”
“Nope. I usually don’t have company sleep over. I discovered last night you’re a cover hog.”
Since most mornings I woke tangled in the sheet, I knew better than to argue with the latter statement. “Don’t you have girls over?”
“Definitely not. Except Luz, but she’s a friend and doesn’t stay the night.” His expression became serious. “No bringing work home. House rule.”
I didn’t plan on hooking up with anyone, so that rule was fine by me. “Deal.”
His lips curved upward into a devilish smirk. “Which one: you won’t bring strange guys home, or you’re willing to risk losing dibs on the comfy mattress?”
I began to think Lilith had purposely paired me with Cole as a way to add to my own personal Hell. He was seriously charming and—had we been human—the type of guy I went for. But he’s not human, and the only reason you find him charming is because he’s the only person you’re still allowed to talk to.
Even Gregory Davis—the geeky brain from school with thick black glasses and a never-ending supply of sweater vests—would look appealing when you’re staring down eternity and he’s the only person you know.
I shook my head to clear my runaway thoughts and replied with confidence, “Both.”
“Be prepared to lose.” He turned and fell in stride with me. In a low voice, he said, “Luz, Nick, and Dylan are human. Hunter’s something else.”
I stopped. “What’s Hunter?”
Cherie Colyer is best known for her young adult, paranormal romance thrillers, including the Embrace series (featuring witchcraft) and Challenging Destiny (a story about outsmarting heaven and hell.) She usually has several book projects in the works. She enjoys helping budding writers improve their craft and learn more about the publishing industry. Cherie lives in Illinois with her family. She happily visits schools and libraries and is a member of SCBWI (Society of Children Book Writers and Illustrators).
What inspired you to write this book?
Hi! I’m thrilled to be here with you today celebrating the launch of my newest book, Damned When I Didn’t. This was such a fun story to write, and it is home to some of my favorite characters. The premise for this book blossomed from my desire to write something that hasn’t been done before, which isn’t easy when there are so many authors writing amazing paranormal and supernatural stories. Well, you don’t find many YA succubus books. And then I thought, wouldn’t it be ironic if the succubus in my book is a virgin? How would that work? And how did she end up a succubus? Could she survive? Would she want to? I sure hoped so! So I put pen to paper (or more accurately, fingers to keyboard) and Avery Williams was born. She’s thrown into a life she didn’t ask for and she’s determined not to lose her morals or her human side.
What is something unique/quirky about you?
I’m a bit dyslexic. I’ve never been diagnosed as such, but I often switch letters and words around. With auto-correct, it makes for fun editing. It’s not uncommon for me to find a strange word I’m sure I didn’t type in the middle of a chapter.
What are some of your pet peeves?
I really, really hate it when people fold the corners of a book to mark their place, and I don’t quite understand why people have to drive in the middle of the road. There are two lanes, stay in yours!
If you knew you'd die tomorrow, how would you spend your last day?
I’d spend it at Universal Studios in Florida, riding roller coasters, sipping butterbeer, and casting spells with the people I love.
What do you do to unwind and relax?
When it’s nice out, I’ll go for walks or do yard work. There’s something therapeutic about being outside and it’s easy to get lost in thought. Otherwise, I like to curl up with a good book or binge-watch shows on Netflix and Prime. I recommend His Dark Materials and Queen’s Gambit, and I’m looking forward to season 4 of Stranger Things.
What can we expect from you in the future?
I’m working on a sequel for Damned When I Didn’t. It’s going a bit slow because I’ve taken a break to write an adult novella for a series my publisher is putting together. Fingers crossed, I finish both of these books in 2021, and that they are picked up by my publisher.
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