HC ISBN: 978-0061567322

 

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There's no witch in Cincinnati tougher, sexier, or more screwed up than bounty hunter Rachel Morgan, who's already put her love life and soul in dire jeopardy through her efforts to bring criminal night creatures to justice.

Between "runs," she has her hands full fending off the attentions of her blood-drinking partner, keeping a deadly secret from her backup, and resisting a new vamp suitor.

Rachel must also take a stand in the war that's raging in the city's underworld, since she helped put away its former vampire kingpin—and made a deal with a powerful demon to do so that could cost her an eternity of pain, torment, and degradation.

And now her dark "master" is coming to collect his due.


Every Which Way But Dead tour photos

Every Which Way but Dead was originally published as a mass market in July, 2005

Nominated for P.E.A.R.L.s (Paranormal Excellence Award for Romantic Literature) Best Science Fiction for 2005, and was awarded the honorable mention, right behind its older sibling, The Good, The Bad, and The Undead.

Every Which Way but Dead foreign edition covers.

When I find them, I'll drop them here. Have one to show me? I'd love to see it. Post a link on FB.

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Every Which Way but Dead
by
Kim Harrison

ONE

            I took a deep breath to settle myself, jerking the cuff of my gloves up to cover the bare patch of skin at my wrist.  My fingers were numb through the fleece as I moved my next-to-largest spell pot to sit beside a small chipped tombstone, being careful to not let the transfer media spill.  It was cold, and my breath steamed in the light of the cheap white candle I had bought on sale last week.
          Spilling a bit of wax, I stuck the taper to the top of the grave marker.  My stomach knotted as I fixed my attention on the growing haze at the horizon, scarcely discernable from the surrounding city lights.  The moon would be up soon, being just past the last quarter and waning.  Not a good time to be summoning demons, but it would be coming anyway if I didn’t call it.  I’d rather meet Algaliarept on my own terms—before midnight.
          I grimaced, glancing at the brightly lit church behind me where Ivy and I lived.  Ivy was running errands, not even aware I had made a deal with a demon, much less that it was time to pay for its services.  I suppose I could be doing this inside where it was warm, in my beautiful kitchen with my spelling supplies and all the modern comforts, but calling demons in the middle of a graveyard had a perverse rightness to it, even with the snow and cold.And I wanted to meet it here so Ivy wouldn’t have to spend tomorrow cleaning blood off the ceiling.
          Whether it would be demon blood or my own was a question I hoped I wouldn’t have to answer.  I wouldn’t allow myself to be pulled into the ever-after to be Algaliarept’s familiar.  I couldn’t.  I had cut it once and made it bleed.  If it could bleed, it could die.  God, help me survive this.  Help me find a way to make something good here.
          The fabric of my coat rasped as I clutched my arms about myself and used my boot to awkwardly scrape a circle of six inches of crusty snow off the clay-red cement slab where I had seen a large circle etched out.  The room-sized rectangular block of stone was a substantial marker as to where God’s grace stopped and chaos took over.  The previous clergy had laid it down over the adulterated spot of once hallowed ground, either to be sure no one else was put to rest there accidentally or to fix the elaborate, half-kneeling, battle-weary angel it encompassed into the ground.  The name on the massive tombstone had been chiseled off, leaving only the dates.  Whomever it was had died in 1852 at the age of twenty-four.  I hoped it wasn’t an omen.
          Cementing someone into the ground to keep him or her from rising again sometimes worked—and sometimes it didn’t—but in any case, the area wasn’t sanctified anymore.  And since it was surrounded by ground that was still consecrated, it made a good spot to summon a demon.  If worse came to worst, I could always duck onto sanctified ground and be safe until the sun rose and Algaliarept was pulled back into the ever-after.
          My fingers were shaking as I took from my coat pocket a white silk pouch of salt that I had scraped out of my twenty-five-pound bag.  The amount was excessive, but I wanted a solid circle, and some of the salt would be diluted as it melted the snow.  I glanced at the sky to estimate where north was, finding a mark on the etched circle right where I thought it should be.  That someone had used this circle to summon demons before didn’t instill me with any confidence.  It wasn’t illegal or immoral to summon demons, just really, really stupid.
          I made a slow clockwise path from north, my footprints paralleling the outside track of the salt as I laid it down, enclosing the angel monolith along with most of the blasphemed ground.  The circle would be a good fifteen feet across, a rather large enclosure which generally took at least three witches to make and hold, but I was good enough to channel that much ley line force alone.  Which, now that I thought about it, might be why the demon was so interested in snagging me as its newest familiar.
          Tonight I’d find out if my carefully worded verbal contract made three months ago would keep me alive and on the right side of the ley lines.  I had agreed to be Algaliarept’s familiar voluntarily if it testified against Piscary, the catch being that I got to keep my soul.
          The trial had officially ended two hours after sunset tonight, sealing the demon’s end of the bargain and making my end enforceable.  That the undead vampire who controlled most of Cincinnati’s underworld had been sentenced to five centuries for the murders of the city’s best ley line witches hardly seemed important now.  Especially when I was betting his lawyers would get him out in a measly one.
          Right now the question on everyone’s mind on both sides of the law was whether Kisten, his former scion, would be able to hold everything together until the undead vampire got out, because Ivy wasn’t going to do it, scion or no.  If I managed to get through this night alive and with my soul intact, I’d start worrying about me a little less and my roommate a little more, but first I had to settle up with the demon.
          Shoulders so tight they hurt, I took the milky green tapers from my coat pocket and placed them on the circle to represent the points of a pentagram I wouldn’t be drawing.  I lit them from the white candle I used to make the transfer media.  The tiny flames flickered, and I watched for a moment to be sure they weren’t going to go out before I stuck the white candle back on the broken grave marker outside the circle.
          The hushed sound of a car pulled my attention to the high walls dividing the graveyard from our neighbors.  Steadying myself to tap the nearby ley line, I tugged my knit cap down, stomped the snow from the hem of my jeans, and made one last check that I had everything.  But there was nothing left to procrastinate with.
          Another slow breath, and I touched my will to the tiny ley line running through the church’s graveyard.  My breath hissed in through my nose and I stiffened, almost falling as my equilibrium shifted.  The ley line seemed to have picked up the winter chill, slicing through me with an unusual coldness.  Putting out a gloved hand, I steadied myself against the candlelit tombstone while the incoming energy continued to build.
          Once the strengths equilibrated, the extra incoming force would flow back to the line.  Until then I had to grit my teeth and bear it as tingling sensations backwashed at the theoretical extremities in my mind that mirrored my real fingers and toes.  Each time it was worse.  Each time it was faster.  Each time it was more of an assault.
          Though it seemed like forever, the force balanced in a heartbeat.  My hands started to sweat and an uncomfortable sensation of being both hot and cold took me, like being in a fever.  I took off my gloves and jammed them into a deep pocket.  The charms on my bracelet jingled, clear in the winter-silenced air.  They wouldn’t help me.  Not even the cross.
          I wanted to set my circle quickly.  Somehow Algaliarept knew when I tapped a line, and I had to summon it before it showed up on its own and robbed me of the thread of power I might claim as its summoner.  The copper spell pot with the transfer media was cold when I picked it up and did something no witch ever did and lived to tell of it; I stepped forward, putting myself into the same circle I was going to call Algaliarept into. 
          Standing across from the person-sized monument cemented to the ground, I exhaled.  The monolith was covered in a black smut from bacteria and city pollution, making it look like a fallen angel.  That the figure was bowed weeping over a sword held horizontally in his hands as an offering only added to the creepy feeling.  There was a bird’s nest wedged into the fold of the wings as they curved around the body, and the face didn’t look right.  The arms, too, were too long to be human or Inderlander.  Even Jenks didn’t let his kids play around this one.
           “Please let me be right,” I whispered to the statue as I mentally moved the white rill of salt from this reality to that of the ever-after.  I staggered as most of the energy pooling in my center was yanked out to force the shift.  The media in the pot sloshed, and still not having found my balance, I set it down in the snow before it spilled.  My eyes went to the green candles.  They had turned eerily transparent, having been moved to the ever-after with the salt.  The flames, though, existed in both worlds, adding their glow to the night.
           The power from the line began to build again, the slow increase as uncomfortable as the first quick influx of tapping a line, but the ribbon of salt had been replaced with an equal amount of ever-after reality arching high to close over my head.  Nothing more substantial than air could pass the shifting bands of reality, and because I set the circle, only I could break it—providing I had made it properly to begin with. 
           “Algaiarept, I summon you,” I whispered, my heart pounding.  Most people used all sorts of trappings to summon and contain a demon, but seeing as I already had an arrangement with it, simply saying its name and willing its presence would pull it across the lines.  Lucky me.
[ . . .]

 

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Revised: 07/01/2015       Copyright © 2004 by Kim Harrison.  All rights reserved.