The Pain Eater by Courtney Diles

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    Roxie Maeda is a college senior who hears voices in her head. When she first sees the demonic creature haunting her crush, she blows it off as a hallucination, but then it shows up in her Psych class, visible to everyone.

    Its appearance triggers a police search of the campus, which reveals a bag of guns right outside the classroom. Someone was planning to shoot up the school.Over time, the creature discloses that he is a pain eater—a cursed, undead human who eats pain demons that arise from injuries, taking the pain into himself.

    His selflessness sways her, and she befriends him only to fall in love. Together, they resolve to break his curse and save Prometheus University from its unknown attacker.

    Rating: Spicy
    Page Count: 238
    Word Count: 55096
    978-1-5092-2270-4 Paperback
    978-1-5092-2271-1 Digital


    Chapter 1

    The Drinker


    I went to the party with two objectives—to drown out the voices in my head, and to flirt with Teddy Mascon.

    I waited until Teddy was drunk. He’d consumed so much alcohol within the last few hours, it completely saturated him. He blurred like a sketch in oil pastels. He hazed over between the dubstep beats, between the crisscrosses of laser beams spangling over the loft. He’d always felt ghostly, I guess, what with the way I watched him out of the corners of my eyes. I would glimpse him when I was driving down the street or walking down the hall. Long ago, he flickered past me on the bus. Since his graduation, I’d only glimpsed him at the store one Christmas when he was home on leave. After all, he’d spent the last year on the other side of the world, fighting.

    I had a few drinks before I decided to approach him. Each step toward him was like driving with my hands crunched into my jacket pockets. He was hunched so far down, when I stood beside him his messy shocks of dark red hair completely covered his face. So I decided to move them out of the way.

    The instant my fingers slipped in, I laughed.

    “She slipped her hand into Teddy Mascon’s hair and laughed,” Narra said, narrating my life as usual. My theory was that, because alcohol temporarily poisons the brain, maybe it would poison the part where the voices came from. I had tested this theory many times, and it had never worked. After all, the definition of insanity is trying the same things over and over and expecting a different result.

    “Whore, much?” Snark whispered in my other ear. “You wouldn’t even have the courage to act like a slut if you weren’t a useless drunk, just like your father.”

    I took a deep breath. Snark was the second voice in my head.

    I opened my mouth to argue with her. The drinks had nothing to do with it. I’d partied as much as anyone. I could hold my liquor. There are those who would argue—the chick I’d knocked into Dawnie’s pool the previous Sunday; the hot college boy whose palm I’d cut open in the kitchen last month; even Dawnie herself, who’s witnessed more of my little accidents than a puppy trainer, as my best friend. Whatever. It’s just as bad when I’m sober, and I’m not even a klutz. I could dance like nobody’s business. I still can.

    The point is, the courage was all mine. It wasn’t the fruity concoctions Dawnie brought for the girls, my favorite beer I’d bought for myself, or even the bright blue flaming shot I’d thrown back just to make Wayne shut up about my preference for softcore dance music. Even though the roof of my mouth still stung, and my tongue was half numb.


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The Pain Eater

The Pain Eater

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