Undead and Unwary - MaryJanice Davidson

CHAPTER

ONE

You know how you see someone you love stuck with a job they don’t know how to do? Or maybe they do know how, but they don’t like it, maybe even hate it? And you watch them struggle with a kind of dread because you know if they can’t pull it together you’ll end up offering to help them, even if the job’s over your head? Even if you know you’ll probably suck at it but you can’t just leave your loved one stuck with something awful? Even though you’re pretty sure it might devour your lives?

Yeah, that’s how I ended up working at Walmart the summer my friend Jess and I were eighteen, which was just so stupid. Among other things, neither of us needed the money, and also, Walmart is evil. I knew that long before I became a creature of the darkness. But that’s a whole other story and we come off pretty drunk in it.

Also, it’s why I’m cobitch in charge of Hell.

I’m just too nice, dammit. It’s one of my biggest character flaws.

Fortunately I’ve been able to avoid my cobitch responsibilities for a couple of months now, and I had my brother/son’s—the vampire king’s—new churchgoing activities (he’s on the Historical Preservation Committee and running the cookie exchange, which—I can’t even), my dead dad, the never-ending quest to housebreak Fur and Burr, and the entire household being a slave to Thing One and Thing Two to thank for it. (Off topic, lately I’ve realized we are dangerously close to being outnumbered by babies. Which just . . . yikes.)

All this to say it’s pretty chaotic around here. Our normal is other people’s chaos. Actually, it’s other people’s fever dreams. I was legitimately busy. Which I told myself as often as I could. It’s not like I just lolled around the mansion, talking my sexy husband into role-playing Scarlett and Rhett having passionate, pre-rape foreplay on our sweeping huge staircase. I loved scooping him into my arms and darting up those stairs only to ravish him in our bedroom and talk about how, frankly, my Sinclair, I don’t give a damn.

Lots to do, no time to hang around Hell. Except Hell had shown up in the form of my sister, Laura. Half sister, technically; we had the same dad, but Laura’s mom was Satan, making my little sister the Antichrist. Or the Anti-Antichrist, I guess, since she used to rebel against the devil by being good. Because how else would you do it? How can you outdevil the devil? It’d be like trying to outvapid any one of the Kardashians: no matter how determined and driven you are, no matter how much time you devote to what you suspect is the impossible, it cannot be done.

And I had to give my little sis props: Laura never once tried outdeviling the devil. Instead, she was (and is) a fixture at various local soup kitchens, food banks, church banquets, shelters, and the occasional Democratic fund-raiser.

Plus, there was no need for passive-aggressive maternal rebellion anymore, because I killed Satan (crazy week—don’t get me started). If nothing else, there was no point in rebelling against the devil when you were the devil.

Anyhoo, Laura was here, she wasn’t queer, and I’d better get used to it. Or however that was supposed to go.

“Share,” she said again, tapping her Payless-shod foot on the faded peach-colored carpet. Black flat, rounded toe, made of some horrific plastic/pleather hybrid; I reminded myself that it wasn’t nice to tackle the Antichrist for the purpose of confiscating her shoes and then blowing them up.

Mind you, this was a woman who could literally travel through space and time using only the force of her will, a woman who, it was foretold, would take over the world, and she can’t bring herself to wear footgear that isn’t wretched.

Also, round-toed shoes have creeped me out ever since I read Roald Dahl’s book The Witches. The way Mr. Dahl tells it, witches have to wear round-toed shoes because . . . they have no toes! Their feet just stop at the end of the . . . whatever the bones are just before the toe bones start, that’s where their feet stop. They just stop! Even thinking about it summons my vomit reflex. “We agreed. Sharing, remember?”

Eh? Oh, right. I shook off my case of the creeps and tried to focus. Running Hell. Sharing running Hell. Which was an unfortunate word choice, since I had been an only child for most of my