Perfunctory Affection

Perfunctory Affection

Illustration By Julie Dillon

Dust jacket illustration by Julie Dillon.

We’re pleased to announce a new, 68,000 word novel by best-selling author Kim Harrison.

About the Book:

Is it better to live a lie of perfection when the truth is too ugly to survive?

Meg wants a normal life. Her new artistic style, born in the depression of her mother’s death, is poised to take the art world by storm, if she could just overcome the debilitating anxiety caused by the car accident that scarred her boyfriend, Austin. Encouraged by her therapist, Meg pushes outside her comfort zone to befriend Haley, a guest instructor at the university where Meg teaches. Haley is everything Meg wants to be: charismatic, confident, and perfect, but when Austin expresses his worry that Haley is changing Meg too fast and leads her to realize that Austin is trying to keep her afraid and needing him, Meg kicks him out of her life. Or at least, she tries.

Kim Harrison, author of the number one bestselling Urban Fantasy Hollows series, brings to life a world terrifyingly near to our own, where what’s real and what shouldn’t exist twine together in the madness of a troubled mind desperate for a way out. But when the truth is reveled, the question remains, is it better to live a lie of perfection, or cleave to an ugly reality that will destroy you?

Limited:1500 signed numbered hardcover copies

Lettered:26 signed leatherbound copies, housed in a custom traycase


Perfunctory Affection (excerpt)

She’d known what was real before Dr. Jillium increased her meds. Of that Meg was certain. Beyond that, nothing was sure.

The campus’s cramped roads had become black with night, and the sudden right angles made her headlights almost useless as she drove to the hospital. What Haley said couldn’t be true. Meg hadn’t done those things. How could she? It had been Austin.

Confusion-born tears started, and the car threatened to stall as she took a corner too tight.

Austin had been there. Haley was lying. She was a mean, spiteful bitch who’d pretended to like her for her own sadistic mind games. Meg should’ve known it was too good to be true that Haley actually liked her. People as perfect as Haley didn’t make friends with basket cases like her. Rorry was even worse, pretending to protect her from Austin when all Rorry was doing was protecting Haley’s “investment.”

“I’m a plaything to them. A toy.” Wiping her eyes, she bounced over the road bumps, struggling not to cry from the heartache of being used. “I can’t believe I painted a picture for him. Son of a bitch. Son of a bitch!”

The canvas was beside her where Austin once sat, its lines lost in the darkness. Throwing it away wasn’t an option. It was her best work, the beginning of something totally new, and now, she’d think of him every time she looked at it.

“Damn him. Damn them both,” she whispered. Frustrated, Meg hit the dash, and her hand began to bleed again through the bandage. Meg stared at the slick sheen leaking out, her panic rising anew. Was it really bleeding or just an illusion? Had she cut her hand or burned it?

“I hate this car,” she said softly, and then louder, when she realized she’d missed the turn and was headed into the nearby park, “I hate this car! Why am I even driving this car!”

Suddenly her headlights gleamed on the ragged silhouette of a man in the road, waving at her to stop. It was Christopher, and gasping, Meg spun the wheel to avoid him. That damned little dog of his jerked his lead free and ran away, but Christopher froze in fear. Panicking, Meg hit the gas instead of the brake.

With a sickening lurch, the car angled off the road and onto the open grass toward the trees. Meg shrieked, paralyzed as the memory of her accident rose up, thick and smothering. The impact of the curb bounced her head into the wheel, and dazed, she could do nothing but cross her arms over her face as the trees flashed past bright with light. With a jaw-snapping thud, the car ran into a tree and stalled.

For three seconds, Meg didn’t move, her breath a harsh rasp as she remembered where she was. There’d been no airbag to cushion her this time, and the taste of blood slicked her teeth. Dazed, she looked at the empty seat beside her, relief pushing out the fear. It wasn’t one of her nightmares. It was real and she was okay. Austin wasn’t here, his hand mangled and his leg nearly severed at the hip by a metal fence support. There was only a canvas lying on the floor, one that would haunt her for the rest of her life.

“I hate this car,” she whispered, wishing she’d gotten the airbag replaced along with the passenger side door. But it hadn’t seemed to matter if she wasn’t going to drive the thing.

Then Christopher banged on the window, and she jumped, shrieking.

“You have to kill them!” he shouted through the window, and Meg scrambled to the other side of the car and got out in a panic.

“Stay away from me!” she exclaimed as she reached back in for her purse, backing away from him as he came around the car. “You’re crazy. Crazy!”

“Like hell I am,” he growled, and she gasped as he grabbed her arm. “It’s not too late. Come with me to the fountain. They need moving water. That’s how they get here. They haven’t left. Help me. We have to kill them both or you’ll never know what’s real again. Don’t let them take you. Perfection isn’t real. They aren’t real!”


Julie Dillon
Kim Harrison
304 pages
United States
Out of Print