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What's a Devil to Do?

NB/F, Paranormal Meet Cute
[25 Pages, 2024 / 4,000 Words]

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Even if Harper had realized demons are real, they never would've anticipated meeting one at a stuffy business conference. Now they're face-to-face with a flustered succubus, who says her name is Tria and wants to know why Harper can see her true form. Posed with such a quandary, what's an asexual enby to do?


A bank of windows takes up one entire wall of the massive hall, stretching all the way from floor to ceiling. A picture-perfect sunset shines through the glass, bright pinks and oranges above a dramatic city skyline and an icy river below.

The view goes a long way towards keeping Harper grounded and present despite their fatigue. Their own room has a window facing the other direction, into the heart of the city, with a tall adjacent building blocking out nearly all of the light. Harper can probably tolerate another half hour of conversations with strangers before retreating to hunker down for the rest of the night. Maybe order room service on their boss's dime, or even leave the hotel entirely and get their hands on some fast food. Harper's got no qualms about sitting in a burger joint wearing their best three piece suit.

They disengage a little further from the throng, putting some distance between themself and the nearest cluster of professionals. Their gaze drifts across the crowd, idly cataloging, trying to decide who else might be worth an approach. Most of the people in attendance have dressed up even farther than Harper, above and beyond the normal range of suits and ties and business casual. There are tuxedos and evening gowns, surreal in this space that is trying and only sort of succeeding in its efforts to feel like an elegant gala venue. Despite this, an easier air permeates the room than the rest of the conference. People have gussied up, dressed to impress, but they're also here as much to drink and eat good food as they are to make professional connections. This is a party.

It's just not the kind of party Harper is wired to enjoy.

By the time their meandering gaze reaches the edge of the room near the drinks table, Harper's brain has checked out far enough that it takes an extra heartbeat to realize their attention has caught on something so strange they don't know how to parse the sight. A large, shapely figure stands a solid foot taller than anyone else around them—but it's not the person's height that makes Harper do a double-take. It's the dusky purple shade of their skin.

And the large, thick horns curling from the top of their head and down around their ears.

The purple stranger notices Harper staring, and Harper's heart picks up the pace as the tall, striking figure strides toward them.

There isn't any hint of affront or violence in the stranger's posture. If anything, that swagger carries confident charm in every unhurried step. But Harper's pulse races even faster as the stranger joins them in their fleeting pocket of solitude—stopping directly in front of Harper, close enough to allow a glimpse of even more confusing details.

Loose jeans set the stranger apart from the rest of the occupants of the sprawling conference hall, as do a pair of heavy brown hiking boots. A sizable chest strains beneath a tight gray t-shirt that's been cut haphazardly into a low V-neck, a faint glint of some silver accessory catching the light just above pronounced cleavage. Broad shoulders rest at ease beneath a gray-and-black checkered flannel shirt, the front unbuttoned, the sleeves rolled up to reveal muscular forearms.

There are several patches with images sewn to the chest of the flannel. A stylized raven on a background of silvery clouds. A word twisted into a script so fancy and convoluted that Harper can't figure out what it says. A sparkly lavender rectangle with a blue border that says, She/Her.

Well. That's salient information. But it doesn't address any of Harper's significantly more urgent curiosities.

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Book cover: gold semi-transparent handwritten script over a purple-tinted bed of dry leaves, WHAT'S A DEVIL TO DO by YOLANDE KLEINN
Cover design by Yolande Kleinn
ISBN 978-1-946316-45-5
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