QSFer E.J. Russell has a new MM paranormal book out in her Supernatural Selection series: Demon on the Down-Low.
After decades of unrequited love, this kangaroo will jump at the chance for a date. Any date.
Lovelorn kangaroo shifter Hamish Mulherne, drummer for the mega-hit rock band Hunter’s Moon, waited years for the band’s jaguar shifter bassist to notice him. Instead, she’s just gotten married and is in a thriving poly relationship. How is Hamish supposed to compete with that? But with everyone else in the band mated and revoltingly happy, he needs somebody. Since he can’t expect true love to strike twice, he signs up with Supernatural Selection. Because what the hell.
When Zeke Oz was placed at Supernatural Selection through the Sheol work-release program, he thought he was the luckiest demon alive. But when he seems responsible for several massive matchmaking errors, he’s put on notice: find the perfect match for Hamish, or get booted back to Sheol for good. The only catch? He has to do it without the agency’s matchmaking spells, and Hamish simply will not engage.
But Zeke starts to believe that the reason all of Hamish’s dates fizzle is because nobody in the database is good enough for him. And Hamish realizes that his perfect match might be the cute demon who’s trying so hard to make him happy.
Zeke goggled at the big kangaroo shifter across from him, whose grin caused a dimple to crease one cheek under his golden scruff. Supernatural Selection forbade him from contradicting a client outright, but . . .
“You . . . you don’t think love is real?” Zeke wanted to demand that Hamish hold still and stop that driving rhythm that set up an odd resonance in Zeke’s chest. Sheol was all about the chaotic and unexpected. Zeke wasn’t used to organized, structured rhythms, and the sound made it hard for him to think.
“I didn’t say that. Love’s obviously real. But it’s not perfect. And it’s not symmetrical. One bloke can be in love up to his eyeballs, but the one he’s arse over teakettle for?” Hamish shrugged, but didn’t stop hammering on his thigh. “Maybe up to their ankles. Or worse, maybe up to theireyeballs over some other person.” He scowled. “Or persons.”
Clearly there’s a story there.If the spells were still active, Zeke was certain Hamish’s mind would be changed regardless of his backstory, because Supernatural Selection could absolutely find him the perfect mate. Not that the perfect mate guaranteed love necessarily, but ever since Zeke had been a counselor-in-training here, it had happened every single time.
Even when it shouldn’t have.The Johnson/Moreau pairing was inexplicable, yes, but he still got hot behind his eyes when he thought of the Farnsworth/Bertrand-Harrington disaster. Yet that had turned into one of the most successful marriages in the supe community, judging by the way the two men doted on one another.
But Zeke’s past mistakes were immaterial right now. The main thing at this moment was to convince Hamish Mulherne to postpone his search for a match until after the spell was back online—and until Zeke could figure out not only how Hamish had accessed the website in the first place, but how he’d been able to opt out of entering any match preferences. It was almost as if the spell had still been in effect.
If only he’d stop that distracting sound.
Zeke took a breath. “Mr. Mulherne, I’m not entirely certain why, if you don’t believe in . . . in symmetrical love, or in the possibility of a perfect match, you’ve chosen to seek out our services.”
“That’s obvious, innit? You lot are in the business of pairing people up. I’m unpaired.”
“Just to be clear—you don’t believe in love or in a perfect match, yet you still want to be paired?”
“That’s it. Shouldn’t be too hard, right? Like I said, I’m not picky.”
“Don’t you think you ought to be?” Zeke couldn’t help the edge of annoyance in his tone. If you’re not picky, go hit the Bullpen.Surely the shifter bar could provide plenty of choices for the non-discriminating.
Hamish’s brows snapped down and—thank Lucifer—his fingers stilled. “What’s that supposed to mean?”
“Don’t you think you should at least considerwhat—or rather who—would make you happy long-term? And how you’ll make your partner happy as well? The match involves at least two people. You can’t expect the other party to do all the work and make all the sacrifices simply because you’re lazy.”
The AI jerked forward, its nimbus enveloping Zeke’s shoulder, and a shock passed through his body. Zeke’s eyes clenched shut, his muscles seizing. Pain!Then it vanished as the AI backed away—although not as far as it had been before—while Zeke panted in the aftermath. Yeah, yeah. I get it. No being rude to the client, even if we want him to leave.
When he opened his eyes, Hamish was half out of his chair, reaching across the desk. “You okay, mate? Need a bit of a lie-down? Should I call someone? Get you some water?”
“No. No, I’m fine. Just a . . . momentary, er, glitch.”
“A glitch, eh? You sure? You’re still looking a tad rocky.”
“I’ll be all right. But could you excuse me for a moment?”
“No worries, mate. Take your time.” Hamish sat back down and began that distracting drumming again as Zeke stood up and escaped the lobby.
The AI, of course, followed.
Zeke refused to look at it as he nearly ran toward the private staircase to Magistra Lenore’s office. “I know I shouldn’t have been cheeky, but you heard him. He doesn’t want perfect. There’s no way we can make him happy.” The AI pulsed a sullen, faded indigo. “That’s easy for you to say. Do you know the problem with somebody who doesn’t know how to ask for what they want?” He pointed a finger at where the AI’s chest would be if it were an actual person. “They’ll neverget it. Because they wouldn’t recognize it if it bit them in the ass.”
E.J. Russell—grace, mother of three, recovering actor—holds a BA and an MFA in theater, so naturally she’s spent the last three decades as a financial manager, database designer, and business intelligence consultant (as one does). She’s recently abandoned data wrangling, however, and spends her days wrestling words. Her paranormal romantic comedy, The Druid Next Door, was a 2018 RITA® finalist and the winner of the 2017 Rainbow Award for Best Gay Fantasy Romance.
E.J. is married to Curmudgeonly Husband, a man who cares even less about sports than she does. Luckily, CH loves to cook, or all three of their children (Lovely Daughter and Darling Sons A and B) would have survived on nothing but Cheerios, beef jerky, and satsuma mandarins (the extent of E.J.’s culinary skill set).
E.J. lives in rural Oregon, enjoys visits from her wonderful adult children, and indulges in good books, red wine, and the occasional hyperbole.
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