Pale Demon

(The ninth book in the Rachel Morgan series)

A novel by Kim Harrison

To the guy who knows how I take my tea…

One

Brown or green for the drapes, Rache?”

Jenks’s voice slid into my dozing state, and I opened an eyelid a crack to find him hovering inches from my nose. The sun was hot, and I didn’t want to move, even if his wings provided a cold draft. “Too close. I can’t see,” I said as I shifted in the webbed lounge chair, and he drifted back, his dragonflylike wings humming fast enough to spill a red-tinted pixy dust over my bare middle. June, sunbathing, and Cincinnati normally didn’t go together, but today was my last day to get a tan before I headed west for my brother’s wedding.

Two bundles of fabric were draped over Jenks’s arms, spider silk most likely dyed and woven by one of his daughters. His shoulder-length curly blond hair—uncut since his wife’s death—was tied back with a bit of twine to show his angular, pinched features. I thought it odd that a pixy able to fend off an entire team of assassins was worried about the color of his drapes.

“Well,” I hedged, not more confident in this than he was, “the green goes with the floor, but I’d go with the taupe. You need some visual warmth down there.”

“Brown?” he said, looking at it doubtfully. “I thought you liked the green tile.”

“I do,” I explained, thinking that breaking up a pop bottle for floor tile was ingenious. “But if you make everything the same color, you’ll wind up back in the seventies.”

Jenks’s wings dropped in pitch, and his shoulders slumped. “I’m not good at this,” he whispered, becoming melancholy as he remembered Matalina. “Tell me which one.”

I cringed inside. I wanted to give him a hug, but he was only four inches tall. Small, yes, but the pixy had saved my life more times than I had spell pots in my kitchen. Sometimes, though, I felt as if we were worlds apart. “Taupe,” I said.



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