Cordelia Jones barged into the bookstore, bumping people into bookshelves as she descended on the romance section.
“Who d’ya think you are?”
Cordelia ignored them all.
“Yes!” She snatched the latest Ruby Rare bestseller from the shelf and kissed it, before hugging it to her ample bosom. For seven hours she would live the life of a high-flying courtesan in Regency England.
When you’re unloved and unloveable, spoiled and rich, you take your romance where you can.
Cordelia stumbled in her eagerness to reach the counter and buy the book. An arm reached out and caught her, halting Cordelia’s fourteen stone as she plummeted to the floor.
“Thank you.” Cordelia gasped as she stared at her rescuer. Pitch black hair, devilish eyebrows above burning eyes, a sensuous mouth, and he held her fourteen stone effortlessly well, almost effortlessly. A small grunt did escape.
“You’re welcome,” said the handsome unknown. “What are you reading?” He plucked Last Chance for Love from her grasp.
“Hmm…” The stranger stared down at the drooling, lust-struck Cordelia. “Are you looking for love?”
Cordelia nodded dumbly and the stranger tucked her hand into the crook of his elbow and tossed the book onto a shelf. “Shall we discuss your requirements?” — and he led Cordelia out of the store. She waddled beside him, hypnotised by her good fortune.
They sat in the food court, surrounded by noisy teenagers and the scent of frying food.
“Let me introduce myself. I am Lucifer.”
Cordelia’s mouth dropped open.
“You know, Satan, the devil.” The handsome stranger sounded a mite impatient, then his gathering scowl smoothed out. “I do like bookstores. So many people looking for new lives; hoping to slip into a better life for a few hours. Cordelia Jones, I offer people the opportunity to make their dream lives permanent.”
“Of course. No shoddy deals. I have my reputation to consider.” Lucifer considered Cordelia’s round, not-too-bright face. “What’s your favourite book?”
“Ruby Rare’s Passionflower, where the heroine, Jasmine Knights, is slim and raven-haired with lips like ripe cherries, and every man who sees her wants her.”
Lucifer looked faintly sick, but he recovered. “I can transform you into Jasmine Knights.”
“Easily. A small matter of altering the fabric of reality, and I’ll be sitting across the table from the desirable Jasmine Knights.”
“D-d-desirable?” faltered Cordelia. She looked into Lucifer’s burning eyes and imagined his hands touching her, his body desiring hers, worshiping her. “Do it.”
“First there is a small matter of a contract.”
“I know.” Cordelia had a burst of brilliance, her intelligence momentarily enhanced by her fantasies. “You want my soul.”
“Something like that.” Lucifer handed over a sheet of paper and an elegant pen. His fingers brushed Cordelia’s wrist. “Jasmine.”
She signed quickly. “There.” She pushed the paper back at Lucifer. “Now change me.”
“Look into my eyes.”
Lucifer carefully re-capped the pen and folded the sheet of paper, slipping it into his jacket pocket. He left without looking back at Cordelia, who sat staring at nothing.
Two minutes later, Jasmine Knights stirred from her trance. She admired her slender fingers with their tapering nails, then ran her hands slowly over her delectable body. She tossed her raven hair and frowned. She would need new clothes to go with her new life.
Jasmine sauntered out of the food court, hips swaying seductively. Men stood aside for her. Behind her, teenagers snorted with laughter at the fat lady vamping it up.
In the car park, Lucifer cursed as he read the signature on Cordelia Jones’s power of attorney: Jasmine Knights.
Damn the woman. He had been a scrawled signature away from controlling the Jones’ fortune. Lucifer, a.k.a. Bobby Jones, lit a cigarette and smoked viciously. The taste of failure meant he’d be back to the hell of hypnotist shows on cruise ships. Blast the woman.
Inside the mall, Jasmine vamped on.
Jenny Schwartz is an Australian writer. Double Dragon eBooks published her first fantasy novel, The Walk Alones. Her short stories have appeared in From the Asylum, Alienskin, and Coyote Wild.