Speak of the devil

The hastily-researched hilarity that you expect from this blog will continue next week. For now, please enjoy this guest post by a character from my new book, a non-romance called See You in Hell.

Sometimes the Man Writing a Romance writes something other than a romance. That doesn’t mean that the result won’t be, as you people say, hot. Or that there won’t be a woman involved.
Please allow me to introduce myself. I’m the hero of David Thome’s new book, See You in Hell. Another character, Lucinda Nero, believes the story’s all about her, but of course, she’s human and your kind are always convinced that the whole world revolves around you.

Oddly, in this book, the whole world does revolve around Lucinda, starting when she’s handing out pink slips at the company she owns—only to have a disgruntled employee blow her away. She finds herself in my domain, which surprises no one. And then she proceeds to take over.

At least, that’s how she’d tell it. But she doesn’t. I do. Which makes it a much more interesting story because I’m adept at weaving complex, nuanced tales.
The Man Writing a Romance wants me to assure you that he has already resumed work on San Fernando Dream, the third in the Fast Lane series that tells the stories of Lara and Clay and Sushma and Holt—and a new heroine, Douglyss, who finds…love. That book should be available next spring.
In the meantime, I highly recommend See You in Hell. It’s pithy and fast-paced and full of surprises and droll humor. It also contains one of those infernal Happily Ever Afters you so favor.
I suppose you’ll complain about not getting a spoiler alert. Not my problem. As we all know, better the devil you know…
See You in Hell, Chapter 1
You’re going to blame me, but what happened with the Nero woman was not my fault. You humans are such inferior creatures, I long ago gave up trying to figure out what makes you do what you do. It’s certainly not me.
You’ll ask how I know what I know. “He wasn’t there,” you’ll whine; “he’s just making that up.” I’m an angel, for Christ’s sake. People forget that about me. I’m capable of doing things you’re not even equipped to dream of. Privy to information you couldn’t possibly comprehend. Aware of sights and sounds and sensations that your feeble flesh brains could never perceive. So when I say “this happened” or “this person said that,” you’re just going to have to trust me.
You probably won’t. That’s your problem.
At 7:54 a.m. that day, the managers of Nero Electronics—Benson, LaRue, Stevens, Davis, Schmitz and Pulaski—had already taken their seats in the conference room. The giant windows offered a glorious view of the Chicago skyline, but no one looked at it. They all had coffee, but no one drank it. They pursed and puckered their lips, but didn’t speak. Instead, they fidgeted with their pens and obsessively checked their watches and laptops and phones and twisted their wedding rings on their fingers. They knew what was coming.
What was coming was Lucinda Nero. She was only thirty-four, but already had seven years under her belt as president and CEO of the company her father founded when she was a baby. That’ll happen when a man dies young. Again, not my fault.
Lucinda was all business, all the time. Average height. Average weight. Not physically imposing in any way, really. Except for the way her jet-black hair set off her piercing blue eyes. And when I say blue, I mean just the faintest hint of color. They were almost clear, and yet reflected so much light that the glare made it impossible to see through to her soul. Lots of people, of course, assumed she didn’t have one.
The door banged open at exactly seven fifty-five and Lucinda charged in the way she always did. Those scary eyes scanned the table as she did a silent head count. One seat was empty, and Lucinda sneered at it.
“Jesus, it’s like someone died in here today,” she said as she popped open her briefcase.
“Everyone’s tense…understandably,” said Schmitz. He was the oldest man in the room. A man who had experienced work at some point in his life. Hard work. Not with a laptop. With a shovel.
“Yeah, well, there’s not much I can do about that.” Lucinda filled a big mug with coffee and slugged half down in one gulp. A little heat didn’t bother her. “You all saw the email?”
Lucinda looked at each man in turn, but every one of them looked away “Well?”
Schmitz piped up. “I thought we were going to have input.”
“I considered your input.”
“Most of us think it’s not reflected in the list you sent us.”
“I’ll tell you what was reflected in the analyses you sent me: Seven men on this board, no evidence of even one complete set of balls.”
“Balls? That’s what you think this comes down to?” Schmitz stood up. “Your father made a promise that this company would ride out hard times, not throw people off the ship any time it ran into a little wave. Bloody hell, this company was founded during hard times. We’ve never laid off one person. Not one.”
Lucinda looked around the room. Past Schmitz. Past the five men in the tall chairs. “My father?” she said. “Do you see him here?”
Lucinda took her seat. “Right. He doesn’t have a say any more. It’s the twenty-first century; this is how business is done.”
“I don’t know why you think you have to do this.” Schmitz sounded resigned.
“Somebody has to.” Lucinda chugged the rest of her coffee.
“It’s going to feel like a massacre,” Benson said.
Lucinda had already moved on to checking her phone for messages. “Not the metaphor I’d choose,” she said without looking up, “but if that’s the way you want to look at it”—now she looked up—“then your job will be to clear the bodies out of the building by noon.”

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