Book Tour & Review: Payable In Death by Rachel Rawlings
Payable On Death
The Jax Rhodes Series
Print Length: 207 pages
Publication Date: April 5, 2016
Genre: Urban Fantasy
Publisher: R Squared Publishing
Cover Artist: Najla Qamber Designs
A deal with the Devil. Demons haunting your every step. When an Angel offers you the chance to redeem yourself, you take it. Because eternal damnation isn't all it's cracked up to be.
But the Devil always gets his due.
On the streets of Baltimore redemption is..... Payable On Death.
Four (3.5) Boundless Stars
Jax makes a decision, maybe a rather rash decision to save her mother. The devil now owns her soul and she wants to try to get it back. So she finds the time to help others but like everything it's not that simple.
She soon learns she's part of a bigger picture. One that she had no idea existed. She's given an opportunity to become something else. Someone who can fight the demons that are every where.
There's a lot of action in this story. The Angels and Demons storyline, which, I did enjoy. But I didn't really feel a connection with the characters. It will still be interesting though to see what happens throughout this series.
My mother sat across from me, her hands hidden beneath the stainless steel table. The room was empty apart from the two of us. Neither of us spoke. She looked away every time I made eye contact. She'd lost weight since my last visit, dark circles and sallow cheeks. She wasn't taking care of herself. I worried every day she'd waste away to nothing, vanish.
Maybe that was the point.
I always hoped it would be different, her blonde hair would once again be full and lush, the smile in her eyes reserved solely for me would be back. Nothing changed. Except for the distance between us.
That seemed to be the only thing she nourished.
"Visiting hours are almost up. Five minutes." The guard looked over at us, giving me a weak smile. He felt sorry for me. I didn't want or need his pity. He saw a devoted daughter visiting her mother every Sunday, whether the woman wanted to see her or not. What he failed to see was a daughter who'd dammed her soul to Hell and her mother to ten years in one fell swoop.
"I'll see you next week, Mom." Without looking at her, I pushed my chair back from the table and prepared to leave.
"I really wish you wouldn't."
It was the first time she’d spoken during the entire visit—in several visits, actually. Her last words to me, prior to this, had been that she knew what I'd done. She blamed herself. Apparently, we'd moved past that and the blame now lay squarely where it belonged.
Stunned, I simply waved goodbye and walked away. With a heavy heart, I went through each security gate wondering if the following Sunday my name would be struck from the list of approved visitors.
In keeping with tradition, I caught the bus back to Fells Point. I got off at the Broadway stop and walked until the unmistakable awning of The Blue Moon Cafe came into view. A stack of Sarah's famous Captain Crunch French toast and a cup of coffee brightened even the shittiest of days. Tucked in the back of the restaurant at my favorite table next to the old fireplace, I sidled up to a platter of carbs and drowned my sorrows in maple syrup.
Two bites in, I knew the sugary sweet breakfast wouldn't be able to beat back the bitterness I felt. She didn't want to see me anymore? I pushed the plate away and took a swig of coffee. I tried to ignore the voices in my head. I'd had this argument with myself too many times. I'd made a mistake. A huge, epic, life-altering mistake. I was still her daughter. Why didn't she understand? Why couldn't she forgive me?
I should have known better than to believe anything he said, but I wanted a way out, an end to the pain and misery my mother experienced every day. He’d delivered—just not in the way I'd imagined. I thought my mother and I would be free to live our lives in peace. Neither of us got peace and only one of us was free. At least from prison.
I wore a different type of shackle.
And the Devil held the key.
My cup of coffee turned cold as I contemplated the fateful night I'd made a horrible decision that changed both my and my mother’s lives for the worse. He'd seemed pleased with his work and, despite my arguments to the contrary, assured me he'd kept his end of the bargain. The monster masquerading around as my mother's husband was gone.
The Devil never promised me a happily ever after.
I still heard his voice, saw the satisfied smirk and glint in his coal black eyes. "The devil is in the details my dear. You really should be more specific when bargaining something such as your soul."
The flashing lights from the police cars and ambulances lining the street in front of our row home had cast eerie shadows on his face. We’d stood side by side watching my mother being dragged out of the house in handcuffs, screaming that she didn't remember what happened.
I wondered if the Devil had a hand in her sentencing. The public defender had been confident my mother would receive a light sentence given the mitigating circumstances but the hammer of justice fell hard and she received every day of the maximum sentence. I never missed visiting hours and had tried more than once to tell her what happened, stopping every time I got to the part where I'd sold my soul. I couldn't bring myself to do that to her. I'd caused her enough pain as it was.
Three years in, she found peace and salvation and the answers to what happened. The pastor who came to worship with the prisoners took an interest in her case and, after several meetings with my mother, saw all the telltale signs of the Devil's hand in her life. In her daughter's life. She'd begged me to go to Saint Leo's and confess my sins. I'd been christened there. It was my first and last exposure to the church growing up.
Riddled with guilt, I'd tried to do as she asked but the doors of the church wouldn't open to someone like me. My soul belonged to someone other than God. She stopped speaking to me when I told her I couldn't get into the church. And now it seemed she wanted nothing more to do with me. I was damned and she didn't believe I could be saved.
I refused to believe she was right. The Devil hadn't come for me yet. That had to mean something.
I swallowed the last of the ice cold black coffee and dropped a twenty on the table. I'd been coming here every Sunday after visiting my mother for the last five years, none of the regular staff worried I'd short the check. With a nod to my waitress on my way through to the door, I headed home.
Somewhere between the entrance to the Blue Moon and the corner I picked up a straggler.
"I can smell the brimstone on you from here. Why do you fight it? You belong to him."
"Fuck off, Lazarus." Damn demon followed me everywhere, lurking in the shadows.
Lazarus closed the distance between us, his forked tongue slipping between his lips. "It's only a matter of time before he calls in his marker."
"Oh yeah? Well, what's he waiting for, anyway? It's been five years." I knew better than to antagonize him, I just couldn't help myself.
"Yo, Jax, wassup? Who you talking to?"
I let out the breath I hadn't known I was holding, my shoulders slumping. "Nobody, Tommy. Nobody."
"Nobody, huh?" Tommy knew it was a lie, but he didn't call me on it. "Okay, Jax, okay. Hey, I'm going to Atomic today, wanna come with?"
"Perusing the aisles of a comic store sounds amazing, Tommy, but I have to be at the shelter in a couple hours. It's my turn to cook. I want to hit the gym before I go."
"You're cooking? How is that helping the homeless?" The fifteen-year-old looked down at me, his bright blue eyes sparkling beneath his lashes. He hadn't finished growing and already towered over my five-foot-five frame. Despite being a ball buster, he was a good kid and the closest thing I had to a friend.
How sad was that?
"Ha. Ha. You're a real comedian. Come on, I'll walk you to the bus stop." I knew he'd refuse the escort. He always did.
"You wanna hold my hand while I cross the street, too?"
"Maybe I just wanted to spend a little more time with you. You ever think of that?" I smacked the brim of his baseball cap, forcing it further down and covering half his face.
Tommy pulled the hat off, his blond hair spilling out for a moment before he smoothed it all back and tucked it inside the cap. It was a miracle he hadn't fallen prey to the streets. He spun his skateboard on its tail. As much trouble as that damn thing had gotten him into with the cops, it kept him out of even more.
"You're so full of it. I'll catch up with you later." Tommy waved me off.
"Swing by the shelter later. Keep me company in the kitchen." I stepped off the curb, headed toward the soup kitchen I'd been volunteering at for the last four months.
As part of my self-inflicted penance, I volunteered at shelters, donated a third of my paycheck every week to different charities, helped little old ladies cross the street and kept my eye on Tommy. A voice in the back of my mind reminded me I'd never buy my way into Heaven.
No matter how many good deeds I did.
I tried to shake off the dark thoughts creeping into my mind, to stop the anger and self-hatred from worming its way in. Save it for the bag. Leave it all in the gym.
I looked over my shoulder and shouted back to Tommy. "Hey, if you see John Waters picking up his mail again, could you please get me an autograph this time?"
"Jax! Look out!"
A cab whizzed by, inches from hitting me head on. The side mirror clipped my hip as it passed, horn blaring. Some of the people inside the cafe came out to make sure I was okay. I brushed it off before anyone made a fuss.
"I'm fine. I'm fine. Go back inside. Finish your breakfast." I waved to Sarah, the owner of Blue Moon, trying to reassure her that I wasn't hurt. Unconvinced, she ushered her patrons back inside.
"Damn, Jax. You are one lucky...."
"Watch your mouth, Tommy."
"I didn't even say nothing." He looked at me sideways. "You sure you’re all right?"
"I'm fine. If your mom's working late tonight, swing by the shelter. I'll fix you a plate."
"One near death experience a day is my limit."
I couldn't help laughing. "Get the hell out of here. I'll see you later."
I headed toward the gym rubbing my hip, contemplating what Tommy said. People like me didn't have good luck. So what was with all the near misses? It wasn't the first time I'd come close to cashing out and paying my debt to the Devil. If I didn't know better, I'd think someone upstairs was looking out for me.
About the Author:
Rachel Rawlings was born and raised in the Baltimore Metropolitan area. Her family, originally from Rhode Island, spent summers in New England sparking her fascination with Salem, MA. She has been writing fictional stories and poems since middle school, but it wasn't until 2009 that she found the inspiration to create her heroine Maurin Kincaide and complete her first full length novel, The Morrigna.
When she isn't writing, Rachel can often be found with her nose buried in a good book. An avid reader of Paranormal/Urban Fantasy, Horror and Steampunk herself, Rachel founded Hallowread- an interactive convention for both authors and fans of those genres.
More information on Hallowread, its schedule of events and participating authors can be found at www.hallowread.blogspot.com and www.facebook.com/Hallowread .
She still lives in Maryland with her husband and three children.
Goodreads Author Page http://goo.gl/FZW0RN
Amazon Author Page http://goo.gl/Q6Ubn1