QSFers Erik Scott DeBie & Amanda Cherry have a new FF superhero book out, a Cobalt City Universe story: Femmes Fatale.
Vivienne Cain has come to Cobalt City for one reason and one reason only: to confront the villainous sorceress who broke her friend’s heart. Getting hired by said villain to purge her shiny skyscraper of an invading demon was not on her agenda, especially not given her messy past with possession.
Nor did she anticipate exactly how hard it would be to resist a redhead bombshell in a green silk dress…
Of course Ruby Killingsworth is ready for her once-flame Jaccob “Stardust” Stevens’s dangerous goth booty call. But she isn’t prepared for exactly how good she looks in leather, nor for the demon that has made her tower its new feeding ground.
If she’s going to get her tower and her empire back, she’ll have to make a deal with Lady Vengeance, one that involves both business and pleasure…
It will take every ounce of knowledge, skill, magic, and trust the two can conjure to defeat their supernatural adversaries and save Cobalt City, the world, and each other.
Femmes Fatale is the sexy, sapphic story of two women battling their demons, both within and without.
Warnings: mentions (but no details/depictions) of ED, self harm
Vivienne groans at the sound of the knock at the door. She didn’t take this for the sort of hotel where the staff would harass her over not wanting fresh towels.
“The sign says ‘DO NOT DISTURB!” she shouts, and immediately regrets that decision. She wanted all her wits about her and every bit of power available when she went to meet Jaccob’s ex in her office, and so had gone in with nary a drop of liquor in her system. But that level of sobriety had never suited Vivienne well, and the unpleasant side effects of such, along with the memory of some ill-advised kisses in the elevator, had sent her careening from the Ruby Tower and into a corner seat at the nearest bar. She’d stayed there until a kindly barback had poured her into a cab back to her hotel.
She has no idea what time it is, nor how long she’s been passed out. She also has no idea what became of most of her clothes. But what she does know is that she has a splitting headache and no desire for company.
The knock sounds again.
“Go away!” Vivienne calls back.
“Let me in, Vengeance.”
Before yesterday, Vivienne had never heard that voice, but now she would know it anywhere. She rolls out of bed and stumbles to the door, tossing on shirt as she goes, but not bothering with pants. She knocks the swing bar aside and turns the handle just enough to release the bolt.
Vivienne is barely able to clear the entryway before the door swings fully open to allow Ruby Killingsworth to step inside. She looks good. Too good. She’s wearing a white tailored pantsuit with a magenta blouse that shouldn’t work with her hair color and yet somehow does. Her hair is down, loose, and shiny, and whatever perfume she has on smells so good it ought to be illegal. The damn woman is every bit the image of polish and perfection—from the top of her head to the tips of her obscenely expensive shoes. No one should be able to look so damned flawless, especially at … whatever time of the morning it is.
Vivienne lets out a grumble as she flops down to sit on the rumpled covers at the foot of her bed. “How the—” she begins, but the words come out as a mumble. She shakes her head and tries again. “Never mind. Of course you knew where I was staying. What was I thinking? So how about we start with what the hell you’re doing here?”
“I need you,” Ruby replies flatly. She is pointedly not looking at Vivienne’s bare legs.
“Wow.” Vivienne sits up a little straighter. She likes the sound of that, but it can’t be all that’s happening. She plays along. “That’s a little forward—even for me. But you did look mighty hot in that little green number yesterday.” Vivienne runs her hands through her still sleep-tousled hair, hoping it makes her look disheveled and fetching instead of unkempt and slovenly. She grins impishly, in spite of her headache. “I can’t say I’m against the idea.”
“While that’s not at all what I meant when I said that—” Ruby tilts her head as she smiles back. “I’m absolutely game if you are. That is, after I have your help with my current situation.”
“Current situation?” Vivienne can’t help but sigh. From what Jaccob had been willing to share, Ruby Killingsworth has a lot of “situations,” some of which Vivienne would just as soon have nothing to do with.
“You remember that demon in my office?”
“Sounds familiar,” Vivienne replies, “might have heard of it.”
“So I’ve been told.”
“But I digress. There is a demon in my building, and I’m going to need your help to get rid of it.”
“You want me to help you with the demon? I’m not an exorcist. Pretty sure I said.”
“I don’t need an exorcist. But I do need help.” Ruby’s tone is hard, annoyed, and impatient. “I know where it came from, I know how it got here, and I know how to send it back. But I can’t do it on my own, and the sonofabitch it followed through the Coil to our dimension refuses to help—”
“You mean Loki.”
Ruby’s mouth falls open, then she purses her lips closed. It’s more of a tell than Vivienne expected from her. And it’s more than enough to confirm her suspicion.
“As I said, he refuses to help, says it’s not his problem.”
“I’m not so experienced with Loki myself, but that does sound about the right speed.”
“Oh, it’s entirely on brand.” Ruby is frowning.
Vivienne takes note. She’s beginning to suspect Ruby’s acquaintance with the trickster god is more than a passing one. She wonders if this might prove useful.
“He says I can deal with it myself—and maybe I can. But demons aren’t at all in my wheelhouse. And since you seem to know a thing or three, I figure you’re my best choice.”
“I’m not saying I’ll help you,” Vivienne replies, still taking stock of what Ruby had just revealed about her relationship with Loki. “But what do you have in mind, exactly?”
Amanda Cherry (@MandaTheGinger) is a Seattle-area queer, disabled nerd who still can’t believe people pay her to write stories. She is the author of two published novels and a co-authored novella, wrote for the TTRPG Acute Paranoia, is an award-winning screenwriter, and has published multiple pieces of short fiction. Her nonfiction writing has been featured on such sites as ToscheStation.net, ElevenThirtyEight.com, and StarTrek.com.
Amanda is a member of SAG-AFTRA, SFWA and Broad Universe.
Follow Amanda’s geekery and hilarity on Twitter @MandaTheGinger and follow her literary journey at www.thegingervillain.com
Erik Scott de Bie is a speculative fiction writer whose favored genres include fantasy, sci-fi, horror, and superheroes, and especially pieces that mix all of the above. He is also a known quantity in the gaming industry, being the author and/or editor of a number of major releases for Dungeons & Dragons, Iron Kingdoms, the Cthulhu Mythos, and others. His most recent novel series is The World of Ruin, a post-apocalyptic fantasy like Game of Thrones meets Fallout, and is currently writing in a new gaming tie-in setting for Archvillain Games. He lives in Seattle with his wife and their menagerie of pets.