This deleted scene was replaced with the honky-tonk bar scene. If you'll recall, Madison and Alessa went there to meet up with Vela--a friend of Nix's. Well, Genovela Maxwell, as she was originally called, became a staring character in the original draft of Hell's Phoenix. And here is where you meet her. While I loved Vela and I miss her quirkiness, she was unnecessary to the storyline. She was legally crazy, but so much fun to write. Also, this is the scene where Madison originally discovered she could be trapped in Demon Locks.
So...honky tonk scene or this one...which way do you think works better?
So...honky tonk scene or this one...which way do you think works better?
Disclaimer: This scene is unedited and was removed from the book prior to submitting Hell's Phoenix to my publisher, Decadent Publishing.
Madison signed in as Grace Birmingham on the guest log at Mahogany Psychiatric Ward in Chadron, Nebraska. The telephone number and address she listed, both false. Looking over Alessa's shoulder, she caught her signature—Melissa Jones. Simple enough name to remember.
"Grace Birmingham?" Alessa whispered as they walked the hallway toward room 222. "Difficult to guess where you got that from."
Madison sent her a can it expression. Alessa didn't take the hint. Typical.
"So obvious you don't have a thing for the man."
"So obvious you don't either," Madison said.
Frowning Alessa stopped at the door to room 222 and they faced one another. "What does that mean?"
"It means you've slept with him, not me. Tell me who that means is closest to him."
"Sex and intimacy do not mean the same thing. You should know that after marrying a demon King."
"Sex and intimacy should mean the same thing." Madison stared at her friend, but she knew Alessa was right. "Tell me his favorite color?"
"Red." And Alessa's expression grew whimsical over some fond memory with the color. Madison didn't ask.
"His favorite food?"
"Pie. He especially enjoys eating it off—nevermind."
Madison felt her cheeks heat up over the possibility of that unfinished sentence. "His favorite vacation spot?"
Alessa shrugged. "Beats me. He came to my home a lot to relax."
"I knew none of that." Their gazes snapped together and held like Velcro. "So, tell me, which of us knows the intimate details of Nix's life."
Open mouthed Alessa stared at her as if she tried to come up with a valid response.
Madison smiled, gave herself a mental pat on the back for managing to silence Alessa. A first and possibly damn near a miracle because the woman always had a response.
"This isn't over," Alessa whispered furiously as a worker approached.
She rolled her eyes.
"Dr. Birmingham!" an elderly male physician said as he neared them.
"Yes. This conversation is over," Madison said, ignoring the approaching male.
Alessa snorted. "You know it's not that easy. Not with me."
Madison opened her mouth to retort but realized the 'Dr. Birmingham' the approaching male attempted to hail was herself. Alessa must have realized it also because she turned to peer at the man at the same moment Madison gave him her attention.
"Dr. Birmingham," he said again.
"Um…yeah." Madison shrugged at Alessa's hasty questioning glance. She hadn't put down that she was a doctor on the sign-in sheet. But she'd learned to play whatever game necessary.
"Dr. Birmingham, it's a pleasure to make your acquaintance." The short, pudgy and balding clinic physician extended his hand.
Madison shook his hand. "I'm sorry, you are?"
"Dr. Morrow. I've treated Genovela Maxwell since her arrival. I understand you're here to see her."
"Mmmhmm." News traveled fast. They hadn't signed it five minutes ago.
"I should warn you, Ms. Maxwell is having a particularly bad day today. Since yesterday, she's decided two more of my workers are demons."
Madison and Alessa glanced at one another. Shooting a snappy glance down both hallways, she saw no other workers so couldn't gauge the possibility if demons were present. But, her skin hummed as if receiving a frequency on a different level and had been since entering the building. That weird feeling usually heralded demon kin.
"At present only myself and a handful of other employees remain demon free according to Genovela." He shook his head. "It's a shame. Genovela had such a bright future as an Engineer, but at the rate she's declining I can't foresee she'll ever leave here."
An approaching orderly walked with purpose toward them. Demon!
"How did you know we were here to see her, Dr. Morrow?" Alessa asked. Madison waited for the answer, but didn't warn Alessa of the demon's presence. Not yet. There was an off chance the demon wouldn't recognize her in disguise...wig with heavy bangs and spectacles.
"My nurse, Ms. Cumbie, told me you were here. She praised your accolades, Dr. Birmingham." Madison nodded at the erroneous accolades. "She reminded me that I saw you at a seminar about a year ago and that you specialized in psychosis that related to demons."
"Yep, that's me." Madison kept her gaze trained on the orderly. A couple other employees entered the hallway. "We have a problem, Alessa."
Madison nodded at the dozen employees that now filled the hallway and approached, creating a perfect drumline pattern. Alessa looked in the direction she indicated and as she did each employee bowed.
"Christ on a stick," Alessa muttered.
"I'm sorry, Dr. Morrow," Madison said.
"This." She pulled out her gun and struck him on the back of the head with the butt of the weapon. He hit the floor with all the grace of a sack of bricks.
The lead demon—the male orderly—looked up at her. "We thought you dead, my Queen. We are honored to serve you."
"Viix. Xea wik pa," Good. Die for me.
"Fucking shit!" Alessa exclaimed as each worker hit the floor and ember lit smoke exited their bodies. "What'd you say?"
"I told them to die for me. We gotta get moving."
Madison shoved the door to Genovela's room open and Alessa moved inside, weapon drawn. Genovela rose from her seated position on the bed. Short stature, cute with soulful brown eyes and chin length curly brown hair. One of the few women Nix had helped that he hadn't slept with.
"Genovela Maxwell?" Madison asked business like. At the woman's nod, she moved into the room and slammed into an invisible wall. "Shit!"
"You're a demon," Genovela hissed and went for a butter knife she'd obviously pilfered from the kitchen.
"What the fuck? How—" Alessa said as hers and Madison's gazes were drawn to the floor. A Demon Lock penned with a sharpie circled her and from the jagged lines, it'd been drawn hurriedly.
Trapped by a Demon Lock was a new dilemma. Not that she'd ever found herself in one before since she was typically the one drawing them.
Madison looked at Alessa and dragged in an impatient breath. "Get me out of this fucking Demon Lock."
"She'll kill us both if you release her," Genovela tackled Alessa—literally—to the floor like a linebacker after the quarterback. "Demons are everywhere," Genovela shrieked. "They're trying to drive me crazy!" She clasped her head between her hands, butter knife saluting the ceiling like the suggestive one-finger salute telling the world to fuck off.
"I know. I know." Alessa patted the woman's arm patiently, but Madison's patience waned. In an hour, all this would probably be funny. Right now, she had at least a dozen demons lining the hallway, all murdered with her Queen mojo and a doctor she'd brought low with a crack to the head. Best of all, all of it had been caught on security cameras. Thank goodness she'd had the sense to cover her blonde locks with a dark brown wig boasting heavy bangs. The spectacles were a good decision too. Nothing about a brunette with glasses would tag her as Madison Wescott.
Madison looked around the room, spied a rare camera in the corner and lifted her gun.
Wonder what the viewer will make of me coming up short in the Demon's Lock?
One shot and the camera exploded into fragments.
"I'm Madison Wescott and Phoenix Birmingham saved you from demonic possession." Genovela looked up and her eyebrows drew together. "I am part demon. Yes, I can't deny that." Not everyone could be perfect. "My mother was a succubus and my ex-husband is a King of Hell. I make no apologies for either while admitting my soul is probably damned to the nether regions of Hell. But what is important at the moment isn't my soul, but rather Nix's soul."
"What do you mean?" Genovela asked, peering up at her from the floor, butter knife extended in warning. Certainly the woman didn't think that knife would harm a real demon.
"Did you hear Nix sold his soul to Hell?"
"Yeah," the woman said sullenly as Alessa shoved her away and rose to her feet, dramatically knocking imaginary wrinkles out of her clothing. "A demon or two mentioned it. I thought they lied. They're new tactic has been trying to trick all hope out of me."
"They didn't lie."
"Why would he do that?" Genovela's forehead a crease of bewilderment.
"No time to explain right now," Alessa said.
"I've got a plan to get him out." Madison kicked at the invisible shield.
Genovela looked at Alessa. "She's crazier than me."
"You can say that again," Madison muttered, blowing the heavy bangs of the wig out of her eyes.
Alessa nodded. "It'll take crazy to do this. And you'll have to sell her your soul too."
Madison was impressed Genovela didn't flinch over the 'selling her soul' spiel. Instead, the woman considered them both for a long moment before asking, "Do I get to kill some demons?"
"As many of the fuckers as you can," Madison said. She looked at Alessa. "Demon Lock if you freaking please! We don't have all day!"
Alessa smiled. "Only if you admit you're in love with the Nixster."
"I swear I'm going to beat your ass when I get out of this."
Laughing, Alessa snatched the butter knife out of Genovela's hand and scratched a line through the Demon Lock.
"My souls yours," Genovela said abruptly.
"No," she shook her head and stepped out of the trap. "I want you to come with us, discuss this with Alessa and the others. You need all the facts before you make up your mind. I know you have a lot of questions. We have a long way to go, so you have plenty of time to ask them. But we have got to get out of here because it won't be long before someone higher up in Hell realizes I just murdered a slew of demons."
They burst out of the psych ward, Madison on high alert just in case a demon planned an ambush. Her greatest fear was that one had gotten away and run tattling to Micah. She didn't want her gig to be up, but realistically the chances of that were slim.
"Christ on a stick," Alessa muttered and Madison whipped around expecting a horde of demon assassins or even Micah in the flesh. It was only Zen. But that wasn't fair because although it was only Zen, the anger flaring from his silver eyes was potent enough to knock them on their collective asses. Like a live entity needing feeding.
"Get in the car." Madison tossed Alessa the keys.
Alessa nodded, threw a cautious glance toward Zen and yanked a stumbling, heavily blinking Genovela with her. Obviously, the woman hadn't been out of her room and ingested sunlight in a while. Maybe not since her imprisonment if the demons had anything to do with it.
"I told you not to use your Queen power." Zen's voice was low, dark with suppressed fury. Most people wouldn't realize he presently felt any emotion, but Madison knew him well enough to pick out the telltale signs. Flaring nostrils were the first give away, the tiny tick at the corner of his right eye the final tell.
"We don't have time for this, Zen." She scanned the area, the tide of demon presence swelling with pinpricks of awareness. Only problem, she couldn't pinpoint the exact location. "We'll discuss this in the car."
At breakneck speed she dashed to the passenger side of the vehicle, yanked the door open and jumped in. Zen turned to glare at her. Of course that wasn't fair either because his expression hadn't altered. So, to say he glared was a bit extreme…if you didn't know what to look for anyway.
Madison depressed the window button and waited until the window lowered half way before speaking, "Get in the car or don't, Zen. You've got five seconds to join us before Alessa burns rubber."
Alessa didn't give him that much time. She threw the vehicle into reverse and punched the pedal. Madison's head snapped back striking the head rest. Just as fast as she punched it, Alessa slammed on the brakes. Genovela crashed into the back of Alessa's seat, while the dash broke Madison's launch forward.
"Shit!" Madison yelled, her forearms suffering from halting her impact against the dashboard.
Zen walked with controlled aggression toward them. Cool as a cucumber, he opened the back door and slid inside. "Drive," he commanded Alessa. "Explain to me why you used your Queen power."
"I didn't have a choice," Madison said, swiveling in her seat to look at him over the backrest.
"There are always choices."
Had the temperature dropped in the vehicle or was that her imagination?
"There were at least a dozen fucking demons in there, Zen! It was kill them or have them running back to Micah."
"I can't take you seriously wearing this." He yanked her wig off and tossed the short black strands into the back.
"Wow, much better as a blonde," Genovela remarked, squinting from the hard glare of the sun.
"Here." Madison handed Genovela a pair of sunglasses and scuffed her fingers through her hair, straightening the strands, thankful the thick brown bangs were no longer crowding her forehead. "You can bet your immortal ass those demons wouldn't be screaming 'the sky is falling, the sky is falling'." She snatched the spectacles off her face and threw them in the side pocket of the door. "Oh hell, no, it'd be more along the lines of 'the queen is alive, the queen is alive'."
Alessa snorted, but held back an outright laugh. Genovela gawked between them.
"I do not understand that reference. It is impossible for the sky to fall," Zen said.
Madison sighed. "I was being sarcastic!"
"She was quoting a famous children's book, Zen," Alessa explained.
"Why do you terrorize your children with impossible apocalyptic scenarios?"
"Are they brother and sister?" Genovela asked.
"No," Madison and Zen said in unison.
Zen stared at Genovela, his face devoid of expression. Madison laughed.
"What's so funny?" Genovela scrunched up her features and pushed the Ray Bans higher on the bridge of her nose.
"Not an hour ago I was accused of being in love with Nix. Now I'm Zen's lover. You gotta laugh over the irony of that," Madison said.
"You are in love with Phoenix," Zen said.
Madison huffed, spun around in her seat and crossed her arms over her chest. "You don't know everything, Mr. Immortal, especially not what's in my heart."
"Yes, I do. Do you wish for me to share with the class?"
"Fuck off, Zen!" She snapped back, although she was mildly impressed that he threw sarcasm back at her.
Alessa laughed. "Give me some knuckle fives over that, Zen." She swished her arm between the seats but Zen stared at her hand.
"I don't understand."
"I swear you've been in a cave for the past twenty years." Alessa shook her head.
"Yes," he said. "Almost."
Groaning, Madison glanced at Alessa's speed as she hit the interstate. "Keep it at the speed limit. We can't afford to be stopped. If any of them got to Micah, he could have demons swarming in the guise of Troopers. We need to stay as low as possible."
With a nod, Alessa set cruise control.
"Could someone explain this queen and immortal stuff to me?" Genovela asked into the resulting silence.
They recognized me with my disguise, Zen, Madison said to him telepathically.
I've thought of that as well. He reached around the seat's headrest and squeezed her shoulder. She knew Alessa and, of course, Genovela, grew curious over his action. I wonder what the video shows since video always picks up signs of a demonically possessed person.
Madison closed her eyes, recalling how easily the Demon Lock trapped her in Genovela's room. Would she be as monsterishly distorted as possessed individuals looked? Or since she was closer to a pureblood would she look worse?
Zen must have heard her thoughts because he squeezed her shoulder again and she pat his hand, thankful for his support.
I'll go back and get the video, he said.
Madison nodded. Wait until I tell Genovela everything. Explaining how you appear and disappear will be a lot easier after she knows what you are.Zen said nothing, just removed his hand as she began to lay everything out for Genovela to make an informed decision.
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