The Devil to Pay
(Shayne Davies, #1)
Publication date: September 18th 2018
Genres: Adult, Urban Fantasy
When it comes to talented new recruits at the Federal Underworld Agency, Nora Jacobs is only half the story…
The Devil to Pay is the first book in Jack May’s companion series to Nora Jacobs, set in the same urban fantasy Detroit, sharing several supporting characters (hello, Nick Gorgeous), but with a new main character, Shayne Davies. This series can be enjoyed on its own, but readers of the Nora Jacobs books will be more familiar with the world and its characters.
As a fox shifter, Shayne Davies gets no respect in an underworld run by the fearsome and powerful—werewolves and vampires, sorcerers, demons, and mythical faerie creatures. Even at home, Shayne is still treated like the brat of the pack. Her mom constantly nags; her intended (but unwanted) mate ensures plenty of awkward silences, and Shayne is even expected to act submissive to the pack’s future alpha…a six year old.
Yeah. Time for Plan B.
All Shayne wants is to prove that she’s got what it takes to run with the big dogs, which is why she is constantly hounding Nick Gorgeous to make her an agent at the “Double D”, the Detroit Division of the FUA. That’s an easy “No” for Gorgeous, who keeps a strict “No Shayne Davies” policy. Well, never say never. When mysterious underworld criminals steal a load of bomb materials, the FUA picks up a messy case nobody wants to touch. It’s bad enough that a demon horde is involved, but now the annoying FBI has sent out an agent to babysit the investigation. To make matters worse, the notoriously uncooperative master vampire Henry Stadther has control over what may be the only key to breaking the case: a handsome human detective.
The whole thing’s a hopeless disaster.
So guess what, Shayne? You’re hired!
The pill is small, so I decide to be cool like people in movies and pop it in my mouth without a drink. When I swallow, the pill sticks to the back of my throat. It’s not big enough to block my air, but I’m full-on gagging and hacking when I see a guy in a white shirt and tie duck past my window, open the rear door, and let himself into the backseat.
“Hey,” I croak, “you’re just in time to pass me that soda at your feet.” Which doubles in heavily-accented snark-talk for Who and/or what the hell, random guy?
But he’s not bilingual, so he only searches at his feet and passes up to me a half-empty bottle of soda. After a drink, I cough out: “Sorry, I wasn’t ready just then to host a mugging. But I’m good now.”
“Um,” he says, unsure, “okay, I think I might have made a mistake.”
“It’s true, I’m not a hooker.” In the rearview I can see a pristine wedge of blonde hair above pleasing green eyes. But very concerned eyes. Haunted, even.
He says, “I thought you were trying to take me.”
“Again, not a hooker.”
“But there’s no room back here to take somebody. I can’t even sit down. Are these all your clothes?”
“It’s laundry day,” I lie. “And let me get this straight. You were afraid I might be here to take you away in my car, and so…you got into my car?”
“Yeah, but I was going to do this.” He jabs a gun into the back of my neck. His voice is shaking. “Now look to your left. See those guys?”
“Wait, you were going to do this, or you’re actually doing it now?”
“Just look!” He quickly adds, “Please.”
“Well, since you said please…”
“You see them?”
I do. Up ahead, just beyond the light of the blue street lamp, stand two tall figures, deep black silhouettes against a lighter black night. They appear to be facing us. Just watching. “Yeah, I see ’em.”
“Can you call them off?”
“Hey, remember that one time when you were saying you might have made a mistake about me?”
“I know, but now I figure maybe even vampires gotta have laundry day, right?”
I take another look at him in the mirror. He’s sweating. Eyes darting. His aggression is coming from fear, not anger. I know he’s human, because I can’t feel any underworld in him, and I definitely would feel something from this close.
“And now I figure,” he says, “that when I say vampire and you say nothing, that tells me that maybe I didn’t make a mistake.”
“Could be I’m just speechless because I think you’re a crazy person. Or I could be waiting for you to look at me in the rearview mirror…” His eyes go to mine in the mirror. “…so I can use my Dracula mind-control powers on you.”
He quickly turns away and digs the gun deeper into my neck. Ow. “You might be supernaturally fast, but can you dodge a bullet?”
Human. White shirt and tie. Knows about vampires… “You’re from Washington?”
“Washington state? Is that a vampire thing? Makes sense. Lots of rain there, not much sun.”
Okay, I’m going to shut up now. This guy’s either the world’s greatest bullshit artist, or he’s just a human who found out way too much, and those two shadows under the streetlight really are vampires, in which case they’ll either wipe his mind or kill him.
“I’m Detroit PD, Homicide,” he says. Not the bullshit artist, then. Nice knowing you, guy. “Two days ago I’m assigned to a hooker from Corktown, and there’s no—”
“When you say assigned, you mean she’s dead?”
“I mean, her body was found with her throat ripped out, only there’s no blood at the scene, because there’s no blood in her body. Like it’s been sucked out.”
He eases up on the gun. “Right? Is that what you think?”
“I’m saying that’s what you think.”
“I don’t think, I know. Just like I know you’re either a hooker or a vampire, and probably both.”
“Try neither, and definitely not a hooker.”
“Yeah, you said that already. Very first thing when I got in your car was ‘I’m not a hooker.’ It’s like, ‘Oh, is your name also Methinks?’”
“Methinks, Methinks! It’s like a famous internet meme or whatever, and she protests too much about the thing that’s obviously true. I’m not a hooker, I’m not a hooker! Then why are you sitting out front of Dario Machlin’s apartment?”
“Dario? You’re here for Dario?”
“You tell me.” He pulls the gun away, and my shoulders can finally relax. After another glance at the shadow figures—yep, still there—he takes a breath, collecting himself. “Vampire or not—”
“Hooker or not.”
“—you have to know something. Last night you got into Underworld, which I’m pretty sure is a hangout for vampires. And you came home with Dario Machlin. You stayed all night.”
“What, so you’ve just been spying on us? Did you peek through his window at any time last night? Because you could have learned some things your girlfriend will appreciate.” I put the car into drive.
He flinches. “What are you doing?”
“I’m taking us around the block. Unless you want to have a chat with those guys?”
He sucks in a breath when he sees that the shadow figures are now on the move toward us. As they pass beneath the light of the street lamp, I recognize them, and yes, they are vamps, and yes, my night just got shot to hell.
(Click HERE for complete playlist)
The Devil to Pay is an urban fantasy detective story with a fox shifter protagonist named Shayne Davies. This playlist not only represents the music I listened to while writing the book, but also the personal music tastes of Shayne. If you were to jump in her car, you’d definitely hear all of these songs on full blast while cruising all over Detroit.
- SHE’S GOT THE LOOK by Roxette – If The Devil to Pay were a movie, this song would play over the opening credits. We’d see images of Shayne driving at night, infiltrating club Underworld, navigating the back alleys of Detroit as a lone fox. Lots of night shots, neon signs, Shayne’s face in the window of her Pontiac, waving and cat-calling to friends on the street corner.
- STIR IT UP by Patti LaBelle – Shayne likes Patti LaBelle because of her attitude and energy, not to mention the 80s sound. But I chose this particular song because of its connection to the movie Beverly Hills Cop. Besides featuring a Detroit setting, the film’s wise-cracking, often obnoxious hero Axel Foley (played by Eddie Murphy) is the original inspiration for Shayne Davies.
- DARE ME by The Pointer Sisters – Because The Pointer Sisters is Shayne’s all-time favorite music group, and the attitude of the song reflects Shayne’s attitude for most of the story: “Go ahead, dare me!” In fact, I almost used Just Dare Me as the title of the book.
- SHAKEDOWN by Bob Seger – Another one from Beverly Hills Cop, and the very first song I tagged for a playlist before writing The Devil to Pay. With these lyrics, this could definitely be Shayne’s theme song: “You can shake me for a while, but no matter what you do, I’m going to take you down. No matter where you hide, I’m coming after you.”
- A GOOD RUN OF BAD LUCK by Clint Black – Okay, so this one might not make it onto Shayne’s personal playlist, being country and all (she’s definitely a Motown and 80’s girl), but I kept it in my writing lineup for two very good reasons: 1. It’s all about poker (Shayne’s favorite pastime), and this song actually contains the lyrics that inspired the title of the book: “If I’m bettin’ on a loser, I’m gonna have a devil to pay.” 2. This song is from the poker movie Maverick, and Mel Gibson’s hilarious but sexy portrayal of Brett Maverick, the swindling, adventurous poker pro, was another big inspiration for the character of Shayne Davies.
- GET OUTTA MY DREAMS, GET INTO MY CAR by Billy Ocean – Besides being a great song for cruising the town (something Shayne does a lot), the title of this track actually describes the first “meet cute” between Shayne Davies and Detective Brenner.
- SIMPLY IRRESISTIBLE by Robert Palmer – This one’s easy. It’s 80’s, it describes Shayne’s outlook on hot guys, and because Shayne actually mentions this song in the book. Shayne might play this song while getting primped for a night at the club.
- HEART AND SOUL by T’Pau – Shayne doesn’t really do slow, mushy ballads, so if you’re a guy at a club, and you want her to snuggle up close, simply request this song. She’ll be all over you.
- RUBBERBAND MAN by The Spinners – Because the group’s other name is The Detroit Spinners! This song represents the whole genre of Motown music that Shayne loves so much. I couldn’t include it all, of course, so I picked one that seems iconic. If this song were to be playing when Shayne parked her car, she couldn’t bring herself to turn off the car until the song ended.
- JUMP (FOR MY LOVE) by The Pointer Sisters – This entire playlist could have been songs from The Pointer Sisters, lol. But this song, in particular, is the epitome of classic Pointer Sisters, who somehow perfected the type of sound that could be both a love song and an action movie theme song. This track was definitely blaring through my headphones while writing every car chase in The Devil to Pay.
- FREEWAY OF LOVE by Aretha Franklin – If The Devil to Pay were a movie, this would be the song playing over the end credits, during which we’d see bloopers of Shayne Davies giggling non-stop through everybody else’s lines, until Nick Gorgeous gets so fed up that he storms off the set, which, of course, only makes Shayne laugh harder.
Jackie May is a pseudonym for a husband and wife writing team. Josh and Kelly live in Phoenix, Arizona with their four children and their cat, Mr. Darcy. Jackie May is their only daughter. (And she keeps asking for her cut of the profits since we’re using her name.)