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Sculpting a Demon Excerpt

December 3, 2015

sculptingademon_msr

An Excerpt From: SCULPTING A DEMON

Copyright © LISA FOX

All Rights Reserved, Ellora’s Cave Publishing, Inc.

Chapter One

“Nice,” Lila said aloud in her silent loft as she examined the phoenix sculpture she had been carving all afternoon. She shifted her weight, trying to get the feeling back in her lower regions and winced as the pins and needles prickled her legs.

She rotated the stand, carefully checking the phoenix from every angle and zeroed in on a tiny flaw in the carving. Well, almost nice. Bending back over the sculpture, she carefully enhanced the wing detail, happily losing herself once again in the creative bliss bubble that always enveloped her whenever the work was going exceptionally well.

When the doorbell rang, Lila almost shattered the delicate wing she jumped so hard. She shot a frown toward the door, wondering who it could be. She wasn’t expecting anyone.

The bell rang again, an obnoxious, persistent series of buzzes. Groaning aloud, she stood up and brushed the shavings from her jeans. Obliviously whoever was out there was not going to go away, however much she wished they would. She gave the sculpture one, last, longing look, and then answered the door.

“Surprise!” a high-pitched female voice screamed as a body barreled into hers. “Lila!” the woman screeched, and Lila smiled while she tried to untangle herself from her visitor, her very best friend from New York, Angelique Durand.

“What are you doing in Pittsburgh?” Lila asked. While it was wonderfully surprising to see Angie, it really wasn’t all that shocking. Angie always had a habit of popping up in the most unusual places. Lila held her at arm’s length so she could get a good look at her. “You look fantastic,” she added, more than a little jealous of the slinky black Versace dress her friend wore.

“Torque is here this weekend and I got the short straw,” Angie said, breezing by Lila into the loft.

“What’s a Torque?” Lila asked, closing the door.

“Torque is not an ‘a’. Torque is a he,” Angie said, heading for the kitchen space. She placed the bag she had been carrying on the counter and rummaged inside. “And he’s the very most hottest, hippest designer in the entire northern hemisphere.” She glanced over her shoulder at Lila. “For the moment.”

Lila balked. “If he’s so hot, what’s he doing here?”

“He’s from here,” Angie said, pulling a bottle of very nice red wine out of the bag. She held it up for Lila to see. “Wants to make his first major debut at home, as it were. Put Pittsburgh on the map or some such nonsense.”

“And you’re, what? Going to interview him?” Angie wrote for one of New York’s top glossy magazines. The kind of magazine that didn’t deign to give precious ad space to just anyone. If they sent her here after him, he really must be the current god of the fashion scene.

“No, I’m here for the full-on schmooze,” Angie said, struggling with the corkscrew. “Cocktails, dinner, nights on the town, you know how it goes. And I get the absolute pleasure of listening to him go on for hours and hours on what I’m sure is his very favorite subject, his very own fabulous self.” The cork came free with a loud, pleasant pop. “Where do you keep your glasses?”

“You sound excited,” Lila said, and retrieved two glasses from the cabinet over the sink.

“Oh yes,” Angie replied, matching Lila’s sarcastic tone. “Should be a blast.” She handed Lila a glass. “Let’s have a toast.”

“To what?” Lila asked, raising her glass.

“To fashion! Beauty! Art!” Angie said, touching her glass to Lila’s. “And most importantly, to amour!”

“Right,” Lila laughed, and then took a sip of wine. “So, how are things in The City?” she asked. “I miss it.”

“I still don’t see why you ever left,” Angie muttered.

Lila shook her head. They had been through this too many times to count. For Angie, New York was the only place worth living. “Because I, unlike you, do not have a trust fund. At least here I can actually afford rent and food.”

“Overrated,” Angie said, her high heels clicking against the hardwood floor as she strolled through Lila’s loft. “Who needs to eat when there’s so much to do?”

“I’d rather eat,” Lila said. “Besides, I’ve done more shows in the year I’ve been here than I did in all the years I lived in New York.”

“Yes, yes, I get it,” Angie said, the wine swishing dangerously in her glass as she moved. “Big fish, small pond and all that.”

“Something like that,” Lila said under her breath. Mostly it was that Pittsburgh offered her opportunities New York never would, not unless she somehow became an heiress or transformed into Rodin. Though she doubted even Rodin would catch a break in the New York art scene without the right connections or finances.

“Oooo,” Angie said, stopping in front of the six-foot-plus sculpture in Lila’s workspace. “What’s this?”

“It’s not finished,” Lila said, refilling her glass of wine.

“Well, obviously,” Angie said. “He’s got no face.” Her eyes trailed down the stone statue. “And not even a proper package, poor boy. But I do like it. It has definite promise,” she said, her fingertips tracing the abs Lila had painstakingly chiseled into the block of alabaster.

“I guess,” Lila said, coming to stand beside Angie. “I started out trying to do a modern take on the David, but it’s not really working. There’s something…” She frowned, frustrated with her inability to put what was wrong into words. “Missing,” she finished with a shrug.

“What you need is inspiration, girlfriend,” Angie declared. “How long has it been since you’ve even seen a real, live, naked man, hmmm?” When Lila didn’t answer, Angie nodded her head. “Just as I thought. For your own good and continued sanity we clearly have to go out and find you some stimulation.” She shimmied her shoulders. “Get those creative juices flowing.”

“No way,” Lila said. When Angie got that gleam in her eyes, it meant something outrageous, and probably illegal in most States, was brewing in her devious little mind. “I refuse to let you loose on the unsuspecting people of Pittsburgh.”

“You’re no fun,” Angie pouted. “Don’t worry,” she said, waving her hand dismissively. “I’ve seen that look on your face too many times not to know that no matter what I say you’re not going to budge. Not even for a hot night of gloriously anonymous, earth-shattering sex.” She began to pace the loft, tapping her finger against her lips. “Well, if we can’t go out…” She let her voice trail off and then a bright smile bloomed on her face. “Then we’ll make him come to us!”

“What?” Lila asked, blinking hard at Angie’s sudden burst of enthusiasm. This couldn’t be good. “Who—?”

“Candles,” Angie said, cutting her off. “I need some candles and a pink scarf or cloth or something and some red chalk.”

“What are you talking about, Angie?”

“We,” Angie said, spinning on her Manolo Blahnik heel to face Lila, “are going to perform the most stupendously powerful love spell ever. We’re going to conjure you a man!”

“We’re going to what?” Lila gaped. “Are you kidding?”

“No joke,” Angie said. “I did a four-page spread on love spells last month. Four pages, Lila. This wasn’t some front-of-the-book filler fluff. I interviewed oodles of witches, warlocks, shamans and santeros. For the most part it was all utter drivel, but this spell,” she said, ransacking Lila’s kitchen drawers and cabinets. “This is The One. They all said so.”

“You’re crazy. You know that, don’t you?”

“Positively mad.”

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