Heaven and Hell
By E. E. Nalley
I watched the man in the immaculate Armani suit wait until I had my skirt settled before he returned to his own chair behind the cherry wood desk to sit down. A part of me I still shudder away from was thrilled he was so interested in how the skirt settled over my knee. There was a feeling I can’t imagine I’ll get used to, even with the canyon of eternity spreading out before me.
It didn’t help that the Angel was so good looking.
He wore the form of young and up coming executive like the deep navy Armani suit that hung, rack like on his trim, boyish frame. A square jawed, honest face was highlighted by caring, deep blue eyes under a shaggy, but immaculate mop of yellow blond hair. The office was just another part of the canvas of this perfect image he affected. The deep cherry wood, the leather appointments, the computer andthe laptop, were just props to him and there were parts of me that hated him for it.
Indeed, hated everything he stood for.
I couldn’t help it; I was a Demoness after all.
My eyes fell on a Dutch Master’s take of Jesus whipping the money changers from the Temple that held a prominent place on one wall. “Can I get you anything?” he asked, even his voice was likeable, soft, rounded and caressing of my ears, but there was a steel under it. It was a voice of command.
“Interesting choice of eye candy,” I purred, before a ragged sigh escaped my perfectly formed lips. As a succubus, my voice always held a provocative tone to it. It was maddening.
He spread his hands in a gesture of supplication. “The Boss doesn’t take kindly to unscrupulous business practices. I hung it there to remind me. I am the Arch Angel of Commerce.”
“Marc, let’s not beat about the bush,” I told him. “What do you want with me?”
“Quite a bit, actually,” he drawled. “First, I’d like your story. The rest, well, we have plenty of time.”
“My story?” I asked, somewhat shocked, as I tried, and failed to get the snake-like tail that hung behind me into something like a comfortable position. Doing so caused me to shift somewhat, and once more I felt his eyes on me. I’d probably given him quite a show. I re-crossed my long, shapely legs to punish him a bit for looking. “What does the Arch Angel Marc, Custodian of Fair Commerce know or care of Rebecca, Daughter of Lilith, Succubus?”
“It isn’t often we get into a pitched battle saving a Succubus from her own mother, Rebecca. Tom tells me you handled yourself in a practically righteous manner.”
My stomach rolled in protest at being called righteous, but the tiny part of me that might still be human felt a tiny glimmer of hope. Maybe things would go a bit differently from the last time I’d been in Heaven. “There’s nothing righteous about me,” I admitted softly. “But just because I’m damned, doesn’t mean I have to help them damn others.”
Marc chuckled softly. “Now, there’s a tale worth hearing. If you would be so kind?”
I sighed. This was going to take some time.
For the short span of years I walked Planet Earth, I had been born Ricardo Estabon. My parents were well to do 1stGeneration Castilian Spanish emigrants to the United States. Papa was a banker and did very well for us. Mama was something of an erudite modern housewife. She wrote articles for a host of Women’s and Home Magazines and me, well, I was just spoiled rotten.
I wanted for nothing, I had every opportunity and maybe that was my problem. To me, suffering was having to give up something for Lent. I probably don’t have to say this, but both my parents were rather devote Catholics; they dutifully prayed for the Pope, the President and the family every night, pretty much in that order.
I went to Mass every Sunday, but I don’t think I really got what was being offered. Twenty something, dangerously handsome, well off Spanish men don’t really stop to consider something as big as Eternity. I certainly didn’t.
There is something about Miami that enforces that invincible feeling. People talk about the vibrancy of New York or Los Angeles, but no. Miami is the pulse of America, my friend. If you want to feel alive, you go there. Success and luck are people you can meet there. There are no problems, only solutions.
My solution? Well, my solution was I was popular and I was good in bed. That’s not egocentric, Jefe, it’s the truth. Having sex was just about the only thing I did in my life once I discovered it.
I didn’t want for partners, either.
In a way, maybe, there is a suicidal nature to Spanish Men. Machismo boils within us to prove just how masculine we are. We take risks we shouldn’t, we don’t think of the consequences of what we do.
I didn’t have to have sex with the Mafioso’s daughter. Part of me knew she was far more dangerous than I. Indeed, when push came to shove, my mouth fought a better battle than my fists. I could insult you in three languages using words most people wouldn’t know were in the dictionary. But there was something about her, something I couldn’t resist. She was the flame and I her moth.
I didn’t hear her father come in on us. Not that he said anything. I was snatched off, beaten and taken away. The last words I heard were him telling her she was grounded for a month.
I was taken out to the swamp and killed.
I found myself in the heaven Father Cordova kept talking about and I was afraid, Lord, I was so afraid.
My death wasn’t given last rites. My last realconfession was months ago. And my worst fears came true. That wonderful, terrible voice didn’t know me. There was no reason He should have. I hadn’t wanted to know Him. He was an obstacle to my Sunday morning.
I don’t know how long I was in Heaven, but it wasn’t very long. The floor didn’t want to hold me any more. The weight of how wrong and wasted my life had been pulled me down, through it; down to that awful place.
“Estabon?” growled the voice. I looked up from my own misery, a misery that went well beyond not having steak for 40 days. The voice matched its owner well. It was a nightmare given form and flesh. It stood with a woman whose cold, cruel beauty in a way made her more horrific than the thing beside her.
It snatched me up from the crowd of other new arrivals that scattered from it in terror. “Yes, you, Jefe,” it laughed in its terrible voice. “Hable Inglés?” It shoved me before the woman and she smiled, smiled in that place and that made it worse.
“He’ll do,” she purred. “Hello, Ricardo. How was Maria?”
“Wha..what?” I asked, more than a little amazed at this particular turn of events.
“How was Maria? Maria Valentina Celeste Corduca, the woman you were murdered for having sex with. How was she? Worth it?”
“No!” I exclaimed, ashamed and terrified.
“Oh,” she sighed, pursing her lips. “That’s too bad. You went to Hell over her. Well, her and Jennifer, and Susan and Virginia, and I can go on and on, Ricardo. You just couldn’t seem to keep your zipper closed, could you?”
“I didn’t understand…!” I started, but I didn’t get very far. She slapped me sharply across the face with a strength I wouldn’t have given her credit for. I staggered right and fell to one knee. The thing behind me thought it the funniest thing it had ever seen.
“That is lesson one, dear,” she said calmly. “Never, ever lie to me. You understood full well you weren’t making the old man upstairs happy. You understood full well what would happen to you and you didn’t care. I own you, Ricardo. Understand that just as fully as you understand the rest. I can see the very bottom of your soul. You can’t lie to me, so don’t try.”
My face stung from her strike, but the tears wouldn’t come. This perhaps was the worst of it. If I could cry, I would feel better after. Yes, even machismo personified Ricardo can admit he feels better after crying. But I couldn’t cry. Not there. Doubtless because I would feel better after.
“Now then, since I own you,” she continued. “Let’s have a bit of introduction. I already know you’re Ricardo Estabon. I am Lilith, your new mother. You’re going to work for me, down here. So get used to that as well. But, not like you are now. And that name won’t work either. We’ll think of something. Come with me.” The last was a command I was powerless to disobey.
She led me through the bowels of a nightmare to what felt like a deep, beating heart. As soon as we had arrived, I began to feel weak. Sick really, and the vision of the heart full of beautiful, but like Lilith, cold women did little to alleviate the feeling. “Another man?” one of them pouted. “Don’t you like us anymore, Mother?”
“This is my family, dear,” Lilith told her in her cold voice. “It’s run my way. But since you don’t seem to approve, you can have the honors. I want him drained and brought in to the Clan.”
The girl brushed back her thick, black hair and smiled a smile that made me recoil in horror. Her teeth were a collection of fangs and the fear that flooded my system let me realize they were all that way. Beautiful, oh yes, nothing below a ten in the room. But terrible in a way. Leathery, bat like wings, tails and cloven hooves. “Yes, Mother. One new sister, coming up.”
She approached me and I turned to run. Where, I wasn’t sure, but away from this nightmare made real. “Oh, no,” she purred, and I couldn’t move. “You might belong to Mother Lilith, but for now, you’re mine.”
She wrapped herself around me and, I couldn’t help it. One brain stopped thinking, and the other could only think about what got me here. We coupled and coupled even as they crowded around to watch.
I shouldn’t have been able to perform. I should have been embarrassed about having sex like this in front of them. But I could only rut like an animal and when it was done there was a feeling that something important to me was gone. I rolled off her and realized I was no longer a man in any sense of the word.
“My God!” I gasped as awareness left me, my voice now high and soft and feral. A woman’s voice.
“Mother, I think you’ve made a mistake with this one,” said a voice as I slowly clawed my way back to consciousness. Clawed was right, my oh so delicate hands ended in hard, lethal nails. If you didn’t look hard, they looked like just well manicured, feminine nails that were polished a blood red. But wearing them, I knew better.
“Did I ask for your opinion, Delilah?” purred the Bitch’s voice. I’m not sure when I had started thinking of her that way, but it seemed appropriate. “Rebecca, darling, get up and let’s have a look at you.”
It had been my intention to feign sleep for a bit, hopefully to eavesdrop on their argument, but at her command, I dutifully stood before her.
The shifting of breasts I heretofore had not had brought my attention to my body at once. Only it wasn’t my body anymore. From this side, these new breasts seemed huge, high, proud and firm. Her laugh brought my attention back to her. “Oh, would we like a mirror?” she cooed. “That’s usually first.” Suddenly, the bordello I had awoken in had a full length mirror. I saw another of those demon women staring at me, thick, dark hair framing a child like face with bottomless dark eyes over full bee stung lips that arched and curved perfectly. She was rather well endowed in the chest department, but they weren’t as large as they felt, and were in good proportion to the rest of her. Her torso slimed to a waist a wasp would be envious of to flare back out to generous, toned hips that cried out to give birth.
Her legs would have been more perfect if they hadn’t had an extra curve in them and the cloven hooves with the stiletto-like spur of bone didn’t help either. The barbed tail that danced from behind her heart shaped rear and the bat’s wings that flexed spastically behind her repelled as surely as those killer curves attracted.
“There, that’s no so bad, is it?” Lilith purred, draping her arms around my shoulders. “My little Rebecca turned out quite well.”
“What have you done to me, puta?” I shrieked. Her face didn’t change expressions as she collected a handful of my now much longer hair and jerked my face into hers.
“Rebecca, I’m inclined to be a tad lenient with new arrivals. But don’t mistake my patience for mercy. Push me again, my little slut, and I can find far worse torments for your time here. Entienda?” My body reacted strangely. The portions I began to mentally label as human were terrified by what she could come up with. I was in Hell after all. Nothing was sacrosanct here. But, a new, nearly as frightening portion of me I had no name for was filled with rage. Rage at her power over me, rage at my subservience of her and rage that lacked focus but seemed to encompass all creation. I nodded, painfully as her grip on my hair was quite strong.
Lilith was all cruel smiles again. “Good. I’m glad that’s settled.” She released me to the less than subtle snickers of Delilah. “You have a choice to make, Rebecca,” she went on as if we had not nearly come to blows. “You can choose to make things easy on yourself, as you alwayshave done. Or you can choose to defy me and the endless suffering that will entail. Which is it?”
“What do you want me to do?” I asked, more than a bit sullenly. She glared at me until I added, “Mother?” She tiskedbetween her perfect teeth.
“Perhaps, we need a little taste of what defiance has in store?” I blinked and we were in a different place. This one was filled with bulging, super masculine man things. Even their muscles had muscles and each was adorned in some kind of soldier’s uniform, in an odd mish mash of types and countries. The Nazis were easy to pick out, but most I didn’t recognize. In the center, looking up from a map of the world laid out on a table was the biggest, most hideous of the man things I’d seen.
He stood somewhere between seven and eight feet tall, ruddy skin showing through the bazaar uniform he wore, bedecked with braid and awards. The beret he wore was canted to one side to allow for the massive pair of horns that jutted from his fore head. He didn’t need to stoop, the room had no roof, indeed, and the entire area seemed to be a ruinous castle of some sort. “What’s this, Lilith?” he rumbled in a voice that threatened to destroy more of the castle.
She glared at him for a moment before he bowed stiffly. “I beg your pardon, PrincessLilith.”
“I have a gift for you, Lord Baal,” she told the creature. The other demons had left their work and were all staring at my nude form and I suddenly felt very afraid. Even the rage filled portion of me that was like them was afraid. “I wonder if you might teach my new one a lesson in obedience? Say, a week’s worth?”
The grin he wore would have given a mass murderer pause. “With pleasure, My Lady.” His massive hands began to unfasten his belt.
“Mother, no! I’m sorry, I’ll obey you, I swear!” I cried out, terrified at this new horror to be inflicted on me. Her smile was as empty and cruel as always.
“Yes, Rebecca, you will. And after a week here, I think your attitude will improve greatly.” She looked back at the now naked Baal, who was advancing on me, a cock as obscenely large as the rest of him leading the way. “Enjoy, Baal. I’ll be back in a week to collect her. Nothing permanent, mind you.” He nodded as his massive hand closed over my wrist.
Humiliation, as a word, falls fall short of its task. I’m ashamed to admit I laughed at the old joke about the rape victim just lying back and enjoying it.
I won’t talk about that terrible week. You can imagine what was done to me. The worst of it was, somehow, I fed off it. My new body didn’t seem to need food, but the raw, male energy that they possessed sustained me, even as I was repulsed by how I had to take it from them.
As I lay in a pile of my own filth and their remnants, without the strength to moan or seek any kind of solace, I swore to myself that, some how, in some manner, I would make amends for my thoughtlessness. I had lost the picture in my mind of cleanliness. I knew the word, and understood it’s meaning, but I couldn’t imagine myself ever being that way again.
So I lay there, wondering when the next time one of them would decide they needed a bit of ‘R&R’ when she was back, and I could picture cleanliness again. To call Lilith beautiful doesn’t really do her justice. She was violently female, with her translucent skin, the size one dresses that molded to her perfect body with an odd mix of come hither and armor of protection to hold one at arms length.
I envied her the beauty she held, velvet over steel and, that small and growing smaller human part of me pitied her. And that shocked me out of the stupor that had clouded my mind for the last several days.
But I did. I pitied her.
She smiled at me as I lay there, staring in wonder of my new found emotion towards her. “Well, it looks like someone had a good time. But, that’s all over now, my sweet. Baal, I’ve come for my daughter.”
“What do you want for her?” he rumbled. “I can offer a legion of my finest warriors to your beck and call.”
Lilith rolled her eyes. “What use have I of your so-called finest warriors, Baal?”
“I’m certain a Princess of your intelligence can think of something?” he fished. I couldn’t stand, but crawled beside her determined to do what ever I had to to get out of that place.
“I have too much invested in Rebecca to sell her, Baal.” She bent and actually helped me to my feet as I clutched the edge of the table to steady myself. “Now, if you’ll excuse us.”
“A moment, my lady,” rumbled the demon. “I have need of one of your girls.”
“I’m not a madam for your amusement, Baal,” she started before Baal drew himself to his full, rather impressive height. I couldn’t help but shrink away from him.
“You are a pimp and a whore, and this project has need of both. Further, you are commanded by The Prince himself to comply.” He tossed a manila folder on the table next to her. Yes, Virginia, even Hell uses office supplies. I could see the folder; it had landed near me as well. It was labeled Merovingian Project. Lilith picked it up, intrigued sufficiently to let his insult slide.
“How long has this being going on? Corruption of blood lines is specifically my dominion.”
“And you have the project, now that it’s reached that phase,” laughed Baal. “Have one of your girls see to this Edvaard, and be quick about it. He’s supposed to be getting married in three weeks.”
“I’m not sure I like your tone, Baal,” she hissed.
“I’m not sure I care, your highness. Get one of your sluts on the job or you’ll be answering to Lucifer, not me.” He chuckled as he turned, then paused. “Oh, and thanks for the little whore. If something comes of it, we’ll take it.”
Lilith spat something in a language I didn’t speak. Before my tormentor could respond, we were back in the heart and I collapsed.
When I came to this time, I was clean of the remaining filth from my tormentors and actually felt a bit rested. I had dreamed odd dreams of flight and sex with a succession of handsome, wholesome men that I was somehow spoiling. As I sat up, I found myself evidently in Lilith’s office as she was speaking with one of the others I didn’t recognize. “It’s a simple assignment, Ursula,” she was saying. “Corrupt him, feed from him, but don’t drain him completely. Once he’s ready, call me and I’ll finish the corruption. Be sure to wear this guise.”
“Yes mother,” the girl replied. Lilith noticed me and smiled.
“Ah, and our Rebecca is awake. Pleasant dreams, my sweet?”
I shuddered as I subconsciously sought some way to cover myself. “You left me there,” I whispered, more out of shock than anything else. Had I been thinking, I would never have challenged her temper once more. But, strangely, her temper didn’t flare, indeed she seemed puzzled.
“Yes, and I took you away again. You’re not still upset, are you?”
Finally my brain caught up with my mouth. “No mother, just trying to wake up.”
Her smile returned. “Of course. Now, I imagine you’re hungry. Ursula, why don’t you take Rebecca with you? Let her feed on the way and she can see what’s expected of her.” It seemed obvious Ursula didn’t think that was a good idea, but she only nodded and turned to me.
“Well, come on, little sister.” Lilith nodded at me as I looked at her so I rose and shakily followed Ursula. Once we were clear of the office, she offered her hand that I weakly took. “First rule, I’m in charge.” She told me, her eyes narrow. “You do what I say, when I say. Got it?” I nodded. There was a flash and we where in a back alley, somewhere. It reeked of urine, vomit and stale beer.
I became aware of wearing clothes once more. I looked down to find myself wearing a tight, black leather mini-dress that played well with my olive complexion and dark hair. It showed an obscene amount of leg and chest, but at least I wasn’t naked anymore. And my feet were normal!
They were encased in black leather boots that reached my thighs and heels only a street walker would be seen in, but they were feet! Not hooves. I looked at her to find her similarly attired, hers dangerously strappy pumps whose straps came up her claves to just below her knees. She had evidently conjured up a leather belt to pose as a skirt and a tee shirt top that wouldn’t have fit a three year old and only just covered her ample bosom. Her navel was pierced and ringed in a tattoo of fire.
“Welcome to the joys of teleport, Rebecca,” she told me with an almost friendly lopsided grin as we carefully picked our way out of the ally and its trash.
“Couldn’t you have picked a better place for us to arrive?” I demanded as I followed her, wondering what had happened to my tail and wings.
“No,” she replied. “That’s part of the rules. When we return to the world of men, we can not do so anywhere pleasant.”
“Who made that rule?”
“The old man upstairs. It’s part of the truce.” She looked back at me to see the question on my face as we reached the mouth of the alley to resettle ourselves. She sighed in frustration. “We are at war with them,” she said, pointing up. “You went to church enough to learn that, didn’t you?” I nodded, flushing a bit under her sarcasm. “So, now we’re in a truce. We don’t attack them, they don’t attack us and we’re both trying to get as many of these pathetic mortals to choose a side, preferably ours,” she said with a wave at the passersby who found their eyes glued to us as they passed. Ursula turned back to me, a coy smile on her face. “Who ever gets the most, wins.”
“Wins what?” I demanded. “A chance to languish in that horrible place? What mad man would pick that?”
Her eyes narrowed. “You did, honey. Or your laziness did, which ever makes you feel better. And that’s our big asset, they’re lazy and we get a number of them by default. So, I don’t have all night, I have a Prince to corrupt. Pick one and let’s be about it.”
“I don’t understand…” I started before she sighed in frustration once more.
“You are a succubus, Rebecca. You feed on male energy. Pick one that calls out to you and feed. Drain him dry if you like. That’s always fun. Just be quick about it.”
“You want me to help you damn them?”
“You prefer the alternative?” she demanded, a hit of anger in her voice.
“No,” I said meekly.
“Don’t think about it; just open yourself to finding one calling to you.”
I turned away from both understanding and not what she had meant. Immediately, I became aware of a strange scent teasing at my nostrils. Actually, there were two scents. One was absolutely delicious, like the aroma of Thanksgiving Dinner shortly before it’s ready to sit down to and enjoy. I followed it up the street to a clean cut young man who was talking to a pair of hookers who were obviously deeply amused by whatever he was saying.
He had a bible tucked under one arm and was trying to get them to take a pamphlet from a stack he had with him. As I stared, I became aware that his name was George Conner, a third year seminary student who somehow managed to maintain a 3.8 average at the local Theological University and ministering to the lost souls on the street at the same time. His purity sang to that part of me that I was aware was the Demonic Corruption I’d been infected with.
I wanted him in the worst way.
Closer was another scent, not nearly so welcome, but also food. It was attached to a large, bruiser of a man who was the pimp of the two girls George was talking to. And he had had enough of the street preacher cutting into his profit margin. I suddenly realized what Ursula expected of me and there was no way I was going to harm George.
I walked from the Demoness with a purpose, careful to make her think the young student was my target. It also brought me close to the thug, who I learned somehow was known as Cutter, for his fondness of knives. He wasn’t as evil as his job might make him out to be, and he had no real intention beyond putting the fear of God into the preacher, but he lived off the sin of those women and between the two, he was the better choice.
I reached Cutter before he reached George. “Hey there, tough guy,” I purred, somehow aware I was projecting a part of myself into his subconscious, grabbing him by the primitive brain and tickling every rutting emotion from lust to love to make myself irresistible to him. “Care to scratch an itch for a girl?”
I saw his girls and George gaping in wonder at me as Cutter let his libido do his thinking for him. I caught their eyes and let them see the real me, in all my horrific glory. George did me proud. He collected an elbow of each and drug them quickly around the corner and out of sight. I returned my attention to Cutter, working my mental claws deeper into him.
I was delirious with hunger and I’d passed up the banquet for a hog dog and fries. In a handy alley my dress was over my hips as he took me with a rough, intense urgency. As he took me, I took him. I fastened my lips to his as my body sang in the joy of the rutting and sucked the manhood from him.
Ok, it was a really nice hot dog and fries.
And George would live to preach another day and that was what was important. I wasn’t sure how long I fed on Cutter, but finally our coupling was done and small girl with elfin features was trembling in my arms. “What did you do to me?” she asked, real terror in her eyes.
To my immense surprise, she wasn’t a Succubus, but a young woman stepping from girlhood to womanhood. I extended my wings and held her against me. “What you did to those girls,” I told her as her eyes became even wider as she saw me. “I’m what’s waiting for you, Cutter. Think about that in this new life of yours.”
I opened my wings and she fled, her clothing far too large for her form, but her terror gave her speed. In short order she was out of sight as well. “What, the heaven, did you do that for?” demanded a very irate Ursula. “Why didn’t you take the preacher?”
I licked the essence of Cutter from my lips with my considerably longer tongue. “I was starving, and he was closer.”
Ursula considered this for a moment. She hadn’t seen me reveal myself to the others, and, thankfully, hadn’t heard what I told Cutter. She had no real evidence against me and my story was just as probable as hers. “Next time, don’t fuck with someone we already have corrupted.”
“How was I supposed to know that?” I asked languidly. So soon from feeding, my Demoness side was far stronger than my human. I felt very good.
“He was marked!” Ursula hissed.
“That funky thing on his forehead? You didn’t tell me what that was for,” I told her. A bit of guilt to spread would keep the story quiet. Truth be told, I had seen the clan mark of Baal on Cutter and that made things a bit sweeter. With any luck, I’d saved two birds with one screw. “I’ll do better next time, Big Sister.” She stared at me and sighed.
“See that you do. Come on, we need to get to Scotland.”
We flew to Scotland, but not how you’d think. We went British Air. I hadn’t done any great traveling in life, but I have to admit, first class is nice. On the way, Ursula filled me on a number of the finer points of my new abilities. It was rather surreal discussing paranormal abilities of the Damned while sipping Johnny Walker in a very comfortable leather seat.
The array of powers at my command was impressive.
I could assume any form, so long as it was female, usually I would do this subconsciously, making myself more irresistible to what ever prey I had picked out. But I could control it as well. Because I was male before I had been made a Succubus, I evidently would be an accomplished sorceress, or so the theory went. Ursula had always been female and had no magical power to speak of and so could not instruct me.
It wasn’t necessary for me to feed to the point of changing the sex of my victim. I could take only small amounts that would weaken his spirit and make it easier to corrupt him until his journey down on the elevator of the here after was assured. The rest, she assured me, I would pick up in time.
She removed a pack of cigarettes, rather long ones, from her purse and lit one to the glaring eyes of the Stewardess. “Or,” she continued, “you may be sent out on special assignments like this one, to corrupt a specific target that meets some goal of the Lower Downs.”
“Excuse me, Miss,” the Stewardess, an attractive woman past her prime, interrupted. “This is a non-smoking flight.”
“Fuck off, bitch,” growled Ursula. The Stewardess left in a huff forward. “This would be one of the down sides of our abilities,” Ursula told me. “Unless they’re homosexual, we have no power over women.”
“So, what are we going to Scotland for?” I asked cautiously, watching the Stewardess having an angry conversation with someone on the intercom.
“You should feel privileged,” the Demoness said. “I’m to corrupt the Male descendant of the Merovingian Line. And you’ll be there to watch a pro at work.”
“The what?” I asked. “What are you talking about?”
She didn’t answer as the Stewardess had returned, this time with the Pilot, a distinguished, if somewhat older gentleman who looked like he’d stepped off a poster for the Airline. Even though I was not particularly hungry, his smell, wonderfully innocent and pure made my stomach roll.
Oh, he wasn’t as pure as George had been, but he was a real straight arrow, just the same. Jaywalking was probably the worst thing he’d done in his life. “I’m sorry, Miss,” he greeted, “You’ll have to put that out. This is a non-smoking flight.”
Ursula pulled up her skirt to reveal her lack of foundational garments to the horror of the Stewardess and rubbed herself while blowing a smoke ring at the Pilot. “Cut a girl a break, Dave,” she purred. “I just needit so bad.”
Dave began to sweat and I could feel him struggle against her wiles. He was very aware of the wedding ring on his finger. Before Ursula could get her claws any deeper into him, I carefully touched her arm. “Ursula, we do need to get ready for this meeting.”
Anger flashed across her face, before the logic of my argument won out. “Fine,” she spat, rubbing out the cigarette and pulling her skirt down. “You win, fly boy. Now get lost.” Dave rubbed his face, as if waking from a bad dream.
“Thank you, Miss. And enjoy your flight.”
“You’re going to let that little bitch get away with that?” demanded the Stewardess as the two went forward once more. I felt Ursula’s eyes on me so I turned back to her, forcing my worry about the two away.
“Where were we?” she asked with a bit of an edge to her tone. I cleared my throat cautiously.
“You were going to tell me what this Merovingian thing was all about.”
“Oh, that,” she said, and I could feel the annoyance in her tone. “Ever hear of the so-called Devine Right of Kings?”
“What, that a King was king because God wanted him to be, so everyone had to respect that?” I asked. I hadn’t skipped all of school, after all. But Ursula just rolled her eyes.
“Light weight. No, the Devine Right of Kings works like this. The Christ married the whore Magdalene and got from her children.” I stared, open mouthed. “Oh yeah, not what that former Catholic brain of yours was expecting, was it?” There was nothing nice about her grin. “So, the little Holy terrors run off to what will be France with Mommy dearest and Uncle James and start interbreeding with the high mucky mucks there. Bingo! Suddenly the Crowded Heads of Europe can say they have the Blood of the Savior running through their veins so we all get to bow and scrape.”
“But, after a lot of work by our side, we get some of those Crowned Heads separated from their shoulders. Hitler was such a Lucifer send. Most of them aren’t even in power any more. But, the problem is a couple have ambitions. This kid Edvaard Plantard de Saint Clair we’re going to go have fun with? He’s about to get himself married to some little cunt of the House of Stewart, also one of those aforementioned Lines, thus giving our darling Edvaard a shot at a newly vacated Throne of Scotland. IF he does that without some major tinkering with, we’re fucked.”
“What does a king of Scotland have to do with…?” I started before she cut me off with an angry gesture.
“Shut up and listen. If all this comes to pass, you have a union that could produce a legitimate heir to the Throne of David. You remember David, right, daddy to Solomon? That throne, the physical seat of it, is in Scotland, brought back from the Crusades and made a part of English/Scott Ceremony. An independent Scotland, with a King from the Merovingian Line could usher in a new age of nobility that will set us back centuries. But, if our boy is corrupted….?”
“Then the true royal Blood Line creates a new Hell on Earth,” I whispered.
“Bingo! Go to the head of the class, Rebecca.” She looked up and became aware of something. “Let’s go, this is our stop.”
“But, we’re still in the air…” I managed before she took hold of my arm and we passed, incorporeally through the airplane, high over Scotland.
As our wings brought us invisibly to the ground, my worry went into high gear. What we were about to do would be a disaster for everyone on Earth. What was promised in this new crop of royalty, like the true Nobility of young Prince William, would be smeared by excess and evil of truly epic proportions.
No matter the cost, I had to stop it.
It was night in Edinburgh. A night of grave consequence for far too many I was certain. I knew that if I interfered with this, the jig, as they say, would be up. My senses took in the sights and sounds of a country I’d never been in before and, doubtless would be my last recollections of life on Earth.
At least this time around it would be for something worth while.
I followed her lead as she strode through the city, guided by some line of Fate I was unaware of. I was too young and too Damned to be going through this kind of thing. Up until a few short weeks ago, my greatest ambition was to get through my freshman year of College with as much nice female company as I could.
Now I was psyching myself up for saving the world and well and truly Damning myself.
Ursula led us to an extremely nice home. Not really an estate, and not really just a house, but somewhere in between. She walked through the closed gates as if they weren’t there. Or we weren’t. Still, I hopped over them, to her somewhat annoyed glance.
At the front door, she stopped, somewhat puzzled. “What?” I asked, getting a vague feeling of not being welcome.
“The ground is consecrated,” she growled, becoming visible even as I did. Then she did the least supernatural thing she could. She rang the bell.
An elderly gentleman’s gentleman opened the door, his lip curling ever so slightly in distaste at the two hussies on his Master’s door step. I felt Ursula reach into him, hard, even as she pulled her top up and bared her breasts to him. “Won’t you invite us in?” she asked sweetly.
The butler fought a battle within himself he ultimately lost. “Please come in, Miss. And you as well young lady,” he said in a sing song voice. The feeling of being unwelcome lifted and we could step across the threshold. Ursula kissed his cheek.
“Why don’t you go jerk off into the supper?” she asked with sour sweetness. The butler closed the door and ambled off. Ursula cracked her knuckles and shimmered, becoming a lovely young woman with deep blonde hair in a conservative, but well tailored skirt suit and sufficient jewelry to make a fair-sized down payment on the National Debt. “Don’t look at me,” she said; her voice melodic and colored by a soft, educated Scott’s bur. “This is evidently Princess Charming. Let’s go see about getting Eddie good and Damned.” She wiggled her eyebrows and it was obvious she was looking forward to what she was contemplating.
“Lorraine,” called a voice from the top of the lovely, banistered staircase in the back of the entry hall where we still stood. The voice was attached to a boyishly handsome young man with somewhat long, chestnut hair framing a kind face. He wore an expensive silk suit that had a crest of some kind sewn into the pockets. “When did you get here, my love? And why didn’t Reginald announce you?” He stopped a few feet away, somewhat confused. “Who is your friend?”
Once more I felt Ursula reach out with her powers and I knew my moment was at hand. Looking about, I saw a heavy looking wooden box by the entryway. I picked it up, wondering as I did so why it burned my fingertips, but I ignored the pain as I struck Ursula as hard as I could across the back of the head.
She didn’t make a sound, but folded to the floor, out cold and the box burned me so much I had to drop it. It fell beside her, opening to spill out a Bible, which explained the pain in my hands and its instant effectiveness on Ursula. “What will you do, now?” asked a terrible voice.
He stood beside the young Prince, who was himself evidently frozen in horror. The Angel was too bright too look at directly, so I had no clear picture of his face. Only the palpable aura of power that wrapped around him and the massive, tendril like wings of light behind him. He wore a judge’s robes and did not appear to be armed, but I was still sorely afraid. “What?” I whispered hoarsely, backing away from the creature into the corner of the door and the wall.
“I said, what will you do, now, Rebecca?” The Angel took a step forward and still Edvaard didn’t move. I realized then we were frozen, in that long space between one heart beat and the next.
“Who are you?”
“I am the Arch Angel Uriel, Guardian of Judgment, Emergency and Change, little Succubus.” I hung my head.
“Are you here to take me back to Hell?”
It was then he surprised me intensely. “No.” My head shot up.
“No,” he repeated patiently. “This is a nexus. A turning point between Edvaard’s Destiny and his Dark Fate. I am forbidden to interfere.”
“His who and what?” The Angel chuckled.
“All of humanity posses both a Destiny, the brightest promise of their choices through Free Will and a Dark Fate, the turning away from that light to the dark, bases of their own nature. This is Edvaard’s nexus and, oddly enough, yours.”
“But…but…” I stammered. “I’m not human any more. And I’m already Damned. How can this be my nexus?”
Uriel sighed with a saint’s patience. “Demoness or no, Rebecca you have Free Will. You have taken a step in that Nexus. Will you assist your Mistress and corrupt this innocent? Or will you take a different path?”
“What? What other path?” I demanded.
“Will you keep Edvaard protected so that he may fulfill his Destiny?”
“How can I do that?” I pointed at the unconscious form of Ursula. “Even if I stop her, they’ll send someone else. Can’t you help me?” The Angel shook his head. “But, they’ll keep coming so they can corrupt some child he hasn’t even sired yet…” I trailed off. There was a third alternative here.
If Edvaard couldn’t sire a child, then he would be useless to Hell, right? So the solution here seemed painfully obvious. At least it did at the time. I crossed over to him, more than a bit unsettled about doing this in front of the Arch Angel. But, it was all I could think of.
Uriel wasn’t exactly forthcoming with the options.
As I gathered the Prince into my arms and kissed him I felt him respond to me. My power reached into him and he responded to me. Suddenly we were one on the floor of the hall, our lips never separating. He was so sweet and pure.
I fed, even as he filled me but there was something different about this coupling. There was feeling, as if some nagging worry was gone and I could actually enjoy this wonderful moment. Then the last of his masculinity entered me as he shuddered in his orgasm and began to change. Within moments, the handsome Prince was gone and in his place, a lovely, aristocratic youth stared into my eyes, fear and terror dancing in her own as I helped her to her feet.
“You bitch,” hissed Ursula. My head snapped around to see her, wings spread and her mouth a feral collection of daggers. “Do you know what you’ve done?”
“Come find out,” I spat at her, my head giddy with the rush of feeding and some strange feeling of hope within me. She made to lunge at me and I lashed out by reflex. The power leapt from my hand and knocked her back, though the door behind her and out onto the lawn beyond. Her body lay motionless for a moment, then shimmered and sank into the Scottish loam.
“It is done,” declared Uriel as he faded away.
Big help he was.
Fire raked down my side as I lurched away from it, turning to meet this new threat. Edvaard had taken a sword from the wall and sliced my leg with it. Smokey blood oozed from the wound as the human form I wore became too much for me to hold onto and my true self was revealed.
The young woman Edvaard had become gasped, taking a half step back, but the point of the sword didn’t waiver. I could see a crucifix had been etched into the blade, along with other symbols I didn’t recognize, but glowed softly. “What are you?” she demanded steadily, mastering herself once more.
“I’m a Succubus, a Demoness of Hell,” I admitted, gritting my teeth against the pain in my leg. “My name is Rebecca.”
“Why have you done this?”
“I was sent to watch her corrupt you, to Damn you and pervert the Merovingian Line.” I watched the anger set on her face as she advanced a step, the sword casually held before her. I backed away in fear. “But, I couldn’t let her do that! I couldn’t let anyone else suffer the fate I have, you must believe me!”
“Must I?” she demanded. I kept backing up, knowing I should flee, but to where? There was obviously no hope of help from Heaven, and it wouldn’t be long before Lilith, or someone like her arrived to undo my stop gap and finish the job. My hand settled on the Bible, still on the floor and burned with new pain.
“Please! I swear I want to help you!”
The burning left my hand, even as I felt bathed in a warm, reassuring light. My vision blurred and I became aware of a new, hot wetness dripping down my face. The sword point wavered and finally withdrew. “You’re crying,” she told me softly. “What does that mean?”
I brought my hand up to my face even as the tears became a torrent. “I…I don’t know,” I admitted. It was a long time before I could speak again as the torment flowed from me.
“The tears meant you were on your way to Redemption,” Marc interrupted me softly, rising from his desk to offer me his silk handkerchief.
I realized I was crying again. I took the offered silk and dabbed at my eyes, being careful of my makeup as the feminine side of me demanded I should. It was hard, but I resisted the temptation to blow my nose into it.
Marc settled on the side of his desk to watch me. “Absolutely remarkable,” he commented finally. “I don’t know whether they’re slipping or this is just a fantastic bit of luck for us.”
“There are other forces at work here, you are ignorant of, Marc,” said the breathtakingly beautiful woman from the couch near us. She was remarkably tall for a woman, fair skin framed by ringlets of jet black hair and a lovely business skirt suit that was professional, but didn’t fail to display her remarkable charms either.
Marc sighed. “That’s usually how I’m forced to work here, Dominique. Would you care to fill us in?” The woman smiled her amusement at what I took to be her subordinate’s frustration.
“I might be persuaded to part with a secret or two,” she told us with a chuckle. “Just for the sake of completeness. But, first, I think I could use some coffee. Could you see to that, please, Marc?”
I watched his desire to remain and hear what ever this Dominique wanted to say to me out of his hearing war with the respect of submitting to his betters. Respect won out and he excused himself before leaving. She turned her full attention to me, polite, but intimidating, as if she had many more eyes than the two dark, mysterious ones she wore. “Well, Rebecca, it seems you have rather upset things, here and Below. I already have a formal compliant from Lilith to take before the Throne, because of you. What do you say to that?”
I swallowed, still terribly uncomfortable under her unblinking gaze. “I don’t mean to be rude, Ma’am,” I told her cautiously, “but, who are you?”
Her laugh seemed even a little forced to her, as if she hadn’t laughed in quite some time and was only just getting back into the practice of it. She winced a bit and shook her head ruefully. “I am Dominique, Member of the High Council of Arch Angels, High Inquisitor of Heaven and Hand Maid to the Throne. Which is a really overly complicated way of saying I’m number three honcho around here.”
I laughed, I couldn’t help it. My mind’s picture of Heaven didn’t include humor, which was doubtlessly one of my problems. “Oh. It’s a pleasure to meet you, your Honchoness,” I told her with a bit of a snicker.
“Charmed,” she told me with a far more relaxed smile. But her eyes still didn’t blink and that was quite unsettling. “Now that that’s out of the way, what do you have to say for yourself?”
I shrugged as I played with the hem of my skirt like a little girl answering to a parent that was both loved and feared over some transgression. “It wasn’t my idea to complicate anyone’s after life. I just couldn’t let happen what they were going to do. I don’t know what that makes me. I know I don’t disserve to be here, but that doesn’t change what I had to do.”
“Interesting,” she said softly as the door was knocked on softly and then opened. A lovely, rubenesque black woman wrapped in the most obnoxiously colorful sarong of silk I’d ever seen. Her head was wrapped in a turban of the same material and she wore far too much jewelry and make up.
Yes, I liked her pretty much on sight.
“Hey there!” she greeted with a smile that was every bit as easy and natural as Dominique’s had been forced. She held the door open for the returning Marc who was laden with a pewter coffee service on a matching tray. Once he was inside, she invited herself in and shut the door. “Dom, how was your vacation?” she asked with a grin.
“Welcome and I’m glad to be back to work,” Dominique told her with a tolerant smile. The new comer helped herself to the coffee and plopped on the couch beside her with a great sigh of relief.
“Good news!” she said with a toothy grin before turning to me. “So, this is theRebecca. How are you dear?”
I only just managed to take the coffee from Marc without spilling it under the spiritual onslaught of this new woman. “Um, fine, thank you. I don’t know if I qualify as the anything, but I’m here.”
“Think nothing of it, dearie. Oh, where are my manners? I’m Raphael, Angel of Mercy and Dom’s main foil on the Council.” Oh.
“I, guess, I’m honored to meet you,” I told her softly, not sure what else to say. She just chuckled, which was cut short by Marc softly clearing his throat.
“I believe you were going to part with a secret or two when I left, Dominique?” he asked with a boyish smile that probably let him get away with quite a bit. It did in this instance too.
“Ah, yes, secrets,” replied Dominique. “Well, about the time you were having your heart to heart with Edvaard, Rebecca, your friend Ursula arrived back in Home, the Principality of Hell that Lilith has dominion over. As I understand it, your mother flew into a spectacular example of one of her rages.”
“Ursula is still alive?” I asked, somehow worried, relieved and amazed all at once.
“No,” replied Dominique. “She died several hundred years ago, but she still exists as you did not inflict Final Death on her. She managed to inform Lilith of what you had done before she passed out and my informant tells me Lilith’s rage was a terrible thing to behold.”
“And your informant would be?” asked Raphael after a sip of the coffee. Dominique gave her a playful glare, and then smiled.
“This cannot leave this room, of course, but my informant was a Sister of yours, Rebecca. Her name is Lorelei.” The others seemed to attach some significance to this, but it was lost on me.
I had no idea who Dominique was talking about.
“In any event,” continued Dominique. “Lorelei rather quickly put together what the great Plan Rebecca had set on its ear was and what the ramifications of that would be. The heart of the Truce would be at stake. Realizing she had basically nowhere else to turn, Lorelei promptly went to see the Prince of Darkness himself. And this is where things get interesting. Lucifer told her to come to me and tell me everything.”
I watched Marc’s eyebrows ascend his face in surprise. “Really?”
Dominique nodded. “Armed with this information was when we began to rally the forces to find you, Rebecca, but I think we might be a bit ahead of ourselves. What happened after you convinced Edvaard of your real intentions?”
* * *
I don’t know how long I sat on the floor and cried. After a moment, I became aware that Edvaard had put the sword away and holding my shoulders, offering me what comfort she could. It’s funny, I set her life on its ear, steal her very manhood, and she’s comforting me.
I wish I had been half the man in life that Edvaard is.
Finally, I was able to pull myself together enough to use some that energy I’d stolen from him to heal the gash down my leg. That done, I manifested my human form once more and was finally able to meet his gaze. “I’m sorry,” I told him with a mighty sniff. “I did this to you because it was all I could think of to keep you beyond their reach. If you weren’t a man, you’d be immune to our power and you’d be safe from their corruption.”
She actually laughed as I laid out my logic to her. “It rather doesn’t help me sire a new heir, now does it?” she asked with a smile. I shook my head.
“We have to go,” I told him as I got to my feet. “It isn’t safe here. They’ll come for you.”
“Let them,” she said with something of a hint of steel in her voice. “I am Edvaard Plantard Saint-Clare and I run from nothing and no one.”
I couldn’t quite keep in a chuckle at her defiance. “Honey, you were Edvaard Plantard Saint-Clare. Now you’re a young girl with no papers, no ID and all of Hell is coming for you.” I paused a bit to let that sink in behind her fearful, but still resolved eyes. “I’ll do what I can, but if they know where to find us, that makes things much harder.”
“What did you have in mind?” she asked me.
“For starters, get that sword, it reallyhurt. I hope we won’t have need of it, but, better safe than sorry.”
“Shall I fetch one for you?” I shrugged my shoulders.
“I’m a lover, not a fighter, that’s kind of how I ended up here. I don’t know swords from shinola.” She nodded as she took down the sword once more. “How far away does your girl friend live?”
“About twenty minutes, why?”
“She might be next,” I told her fearfully.
About nine minutes later her Austin-Martin screeched to a stop at another of those more than houses but not quite mansions. At least my ability to drive like a manic wasn’t gone. The girl Edvaard had become was too small to reach the pedals properly. If I had to guess, she looked like she was about 16 or so, and, more to the point, I rather doubted Edvaard had done much in the way of driving any way.
As I killed the engine, she turned to me, a bit of worry on her face. “I don’t think she’ll believe me, to be honest. Can you make yourself look like my old self?” I shook my head.
“Females only, your highness. That’s the way it works. If you get us inside, then I’m certain my morning face will convince her.” Edvaard sighed and nodded.
“Alright. Let’s go.” We climbed out as I tugged the super tight jeans I’d conjured up out of the crack of my ass. Evidently, any clothing I wore could only be of the hottie on the prowl variety. The lowest heels I could manage were three inches.
The door was answered by another of these ubiquitous gentleman’s gentlemen. Geez, did everybody in the UK have a butler? “May I help you, ladies?” he asked with a curl to the lip that I was beginning to recognize and get pissed about.
“Yes,” interrupted Edvaard. “Elisabeth Plantard Saint-Clare to speak with Lorraine Gwendolyn Stewart. It is a matter of great urgency, if you please, Malcolm.”
The butler started a bit, at the use of his name. Edvaard, who was now calling herself Elisabeth, had changed before we’d fled his house, making sure to pin his Crest to the sweater she’d pulled on. The one pair of jeans he owned now made her look like some hip-hop wannabe; they were ridiculously baggy. Malcolm considered this for a moment and stepped to one side. “Won’t you come in?”
Yet again the barrier that kept me on the mat, as it were, lifted and I could enter the house. What a pain. It figures with me begrudging every second, not knowing when Baal, or Lilith, or both might show up, I have to grind my teeth and play Miss Manners.
“I’ll see if Miss Steward is still receiving visitors, Miss Saint-Claire,” started Malcolm. “It is quite late…”
“We don’t have time for this,” I growled, fearfully. Turning to Malcolm, I turned on the charm. “Malcolm, love, go and fetch her highness, see that she’s in rugged clothes as quick as you can and get her here, won’t you?”
I probably didn’t have to bat my eyelashes, but it seemed to help as he vaulted the stairs two at a time to please me. Elisabeth stared up at me. “That’s vaguely disturbing,” she said slowly.
My dark chuckle probably made her skin crawl. “You should see me when I’m really trying. Go get that sword.”
“Why? Can you sense someone coming?” I shook my head.
“No, but we’re not leaving by the car. I think I might know someone who’ll help us and he’s in America.” My explanation probably confused her a bit, but she went back out to fetch the weapon. Reaching within myself, I started weaving the threads of power I’d discovered when I’d lashed out at Ursula.
I wasn’t entirely sure what I was doing, but I did know what I wanted them to do so I weaved with that in mind. Dutifully a gate of magic appeared by the calling card table. “What is that?” asked Elisabeth as she returned.
“I should very much like to know that, myself,” called a familiar voice, attached to the regal looking blonde on the landing. She wore some nice, but durable looking hiking shorts, boots and a nice sweater, but was still the woman whose face Ursula had been wearing. She breezed down the stairs, hand outstretched like a proper lady. “Lorraine Stewart, how do you do?”
I took her hand; made sure my grip was firm and let her see me. “Rebecca, Demoness of Hell, working very hard to save the two of you. Charmed.”
She didn’t scream, which honestly impressed me. What she did do was pivot and use some kind of judo move to fling me to the base of the stairs. I slid to a stop on the marble and counted to ten before I called up my human guise again and got back to my feet. Being everybody’s punching gal was getting old, let me tell you.
“Get thee behind me!” she commanded imperiously.
“Lorraine, darling, I think she’s actually trying to help,” interjected Elisabeth. The two exchanged looks.
“Have we met?”
“That would be your fiancée, Edvaard Plantard Saint-Clare,” I told her as I returned to conversational distance, giving her outstretched arm a disdainful glance. “First, you need a crucifix for that trick, and two, I have to be a vampire for it to work in the first place, so, put your hand down, Dulzor.”
“I beg your pardon?” she demanded, but she did slightly lower her arm.
A sigh let me keep my temper and organize my thoughts. “Sorry, once upon a time, my name was Ricardo Manuel Estabon, so English is kind of a second language. Dulzor means sweetness. I’ll try to stick to English. Now, to recap, I was part of a conspiracy of Hell to corrupt the Merovingian Line, which would be the two of you. Now, I’ve changed sides, for what that’s worth, I don’t know, so I’m attempting to keep you kids safe. But I can’t do that here, so this,” and I gave a gesture to the portal beside us. “Is a gate that will take us to America where, I hope, I might have someone who will help us. But I really need you two to shut up, believe what I’m telling you and do as I say, K?”
“Or else, what?” Lorraine asked me.
“Or else Lilith, the Demoness who created me, or Baal, the Demon who led a week long gang rape of me, or both will show up to kill me and Damn the two of you, not necessarily in that order.” The two of them exchanged worried glances as I felt each second tick away. It is a fearful thing to have the Army of the Damned coming after you; worse, I suppose that your only ally seems to be one of Them. Finally Lorraine swallowed and nodded.
“Alright, Edvaard seems to trust you so, I will as well.”
Great. What I said aloud was, “Take my hand,” as I offered it. They both accepted and we stepped through the gate, me letting my sense of smell guide us through the maze of false paths I’d set up just incase we were followed. About half a million paths lay off this one gate at that end, all going somewhere far away from our actual destination.
Man, I hoped George would be home.
George Conner, would be priest, above average student and, by my enhanced senses, all around nice guy, lived in a rather average tenement, about a half hour’s drive from the College of William and Mary, were he went to school. Once we were clear of the gate I dispelled it, quickly releasing its ties to the gate at the other end, which, hopefully, would mean we weren’t followed.
His smell told me which apartment off the common hall was his. Each step became a little harder as I approached it until finally, at the door, if felt as if I were trying to move through cement. That vague, unwelcome feeling I was used to was a six five bruiser with a baseball bat and a really deep frown by comparison here. His whole floor practically screamed Go Away.
Finally, I worked up the strength to ring the door bell. After a moment, the door opened to reveal him, his eyes widening in shock and recognition. I was wearing my human face, but some new sense told me he was actually seeing the real me. “Go Away!” he shouted, making ready to slam the door.
“Wait, please!” I begged, with all my strength. As it was, it was like talking to a brick wall. It was questionable I would be able to enter even if he did invite me in. “I need your help, George and there’s no one else I can turn to.”
“How…how do you know my name?” he asked fearfully. He really was a nice sort, a little mousy, but that was to be expected from a theology student. In my heels, he was my height, painfully thin with meticulously groomed hair and thin framed wire rimmed glasses.
The smell of him was driving me nuts. I wasn’t even hungry and it was just so heady.
“I read your soul, George. I know what a good and decent man you are. I need your help, for the Love of God, please don’t shut the door.”
For some reason, the weight on me lifted noticeably after I’d said that. He pushed his glasses up his nose cautiously. “You can’t come in, can you?”
“Not unless you specifically invite me,” I admitted with a shake of my head.
“Then speak your peace, Demon.” Demon, the way he said it was like a slap in the face. It hurt to hear the disdain in his voice. I don’t think we would have been friends when I had been alive, but somehow his approval was so important to me. I gestured down the hall to where Elisabeth and Lorraine waited.
“It’s a long story, but these two are of the Merovingian Line. Do you know what that means?”
“I’m familiar with the myth, yes,” he told me casually.
“It’s not a myth; these two have the Blood of the Savior in their veins. I just upset a major plot of Hell to corrupt them so that she,” and I pointed to Elisabeth, “could ascend the Throne of David as a corrupt King of Scotland and unleash a hell on Earth.”
He looked at the two girls, then back at me. Finally, he said, “Kings are men.”
“No shit!” I screamed at him, more than a tad frustrated. “So was she until about an hour ago. I did that to her, trying to keep another succubus from corrupting her. I don’t have anywhere else to turn; George and you are the nicest man I know on Planet Earth. I need your help.”
He breathed a heavy sigh as he realized the full measure of what I was asking of him. Poor guy, this was so far over his head. He sighed again and I heard him silently commend his soul to God. “Come in and be welcome,” he said softly.
I nearly fell into the apartment, so forcefully did the bane against me lift. He caught me, getting a rather large handful of my breast as he did so. It took every thing I had to keep from jumping him. The poor dear blushed from his toes to the roots of his hair as he snatched his hand away. “Are you alright?” he muttered, deeply embarrassed.
“I’ll be alright,” I said, turning away and trying to focus on anything other than that beautiful smell that rolled off him. The two girls followed me in, Lorraine giving both of us a looking over as she did so.
“Exactly how do you two know each other?” she asked after a moment.
I waited for George to shut the door before I answered. “Ursula, the Succubus who tried to attack Edvaard took me to feed here,” I admitted softly. I looked up the young preacher, full of a war of desire and shame. “She meant for me to feed off of you, but I couldn’t let you come to harm, so I picked Cutter instead.”
George paled visibly at my admission. “Feed?” he squeaked.
“This!” announced a new, strident voice from behind me. I turned to see Cutter, some what adorable in a pair of George’s pajamas that were far too big for her, glaring at me, hands on hips.
“Hello, Cutter,” I greeted softly. “What are you doing here?”
“What, the hell, are you doing here?” she demanded angrily. She marched into the room and glared at George. “Are you out of your goddamn mind? What are you fucking thinking letting her in here?”
“Sit,” I ordered, contritely amused at her instant obedience. “And that’s enough of that kind of language from you, Missy.”
“How, how did you do that?” breathed Lorraine.
“I did to Cutter here, something like what I did to Edvaard. Difference is, Cutter, you were already corrupt. Did you even know that? You had a mark of a Demonic Clan on you, little lady. You’re more than half way on the elevator of the here after going down. That makes you under my thumb, unless and until I release you, or you get your spiritual house in order. If I were you, I’d be doing that.”
I furled my leathery wings over my shoulders like a cape to give my point a bit more weight as the little girl who had been a pimp once upon a time decided to do some serious thinking. George cleared his throat softly. “Why…why did you come here?”
“What I told you wasn’t a lie, George. I’ve got no place to hide out and no one to turn to. I’m in defiance of Hell and Heaven all but told me they won’t help.”
“When was this?” demanded Elisabeth.
“After I knocked out Ursula but before I, well, you know…” I trailed off, not wanting to be indiscreet in front of his erstwhile fiancée. Not that it did any good, as I saw her brain put two and two together.
“Edvaard!” she exclaimed.
“Dear…!” Elisabeth started, but I interrupted.
“He couldn’t help it, Lorraine. No man can resist me. He didn’t have a choice.” I wilted a bit under her stare. “Look, I’ll prove it.” I turned to George and reached out, just tickling his libido and reminding his hand of the softness of my breast.
The poor young man took a halting step towards me, his hands reaching for the memory before him. I had to shake myself to release him. Staying here was going to be damned hard. “My God, forgive me,” he breathed. “Can nothing stop you?”
“Well, I have no power over women, unless they’re gay. So, I imagine if you were gay, I wouldn’t have power over you,” I told them after a moment of thought. “If it’s any consolation, I nearly couldn’t come to your door, so we should be safe for the moment. I just have to think this through.”
“I, for one,” declared Lorraine with a glare, “am waiting with baited breath for the outcome of this.”
“I don’t know what else to do here, people. I couldn’t let this go down, but I can’t think of some way to make what I’ve done stick so this can be any kind of permanent.” I gave a frustrated gesture at my two charges. “You two have to get married and, I guess, have a kid to fulfill your destinies that Hell is so worried about.”
“That’s likely,” muttered Elisabeth. “Or, can you undo this?” I felt Cutter’s eyes snap up and lock on me. I sighed.
“Not that I know of,” I admitted.
“So…so I’m stuck like this?” wailed Cutter. I locked my eyes on him, more than a little angry at his selfishness.
“Even if I could, do you honestly think I’d let you go back to pimping out those girls like none of this happened? If you think that, girl, you’re in for a very rude awakening!”
“There’s a place,” interrupted George suddenly. We all turned to look at him. “I’d heard some of the others in my theology class talk about it and I didn’t give it much credit, honestly. Some of these people are into some pretty occult things, but they kept going on and on about a coffee shop in New York.”
“Lovely!” spat Elisabeth. “Just what we need, a nice double espresso!”
George made a placating gesture. “This place might be different,” he pressed. “They kept going on and on about it being a Nexus or Confluence or something. A lot of New Age mumbo jumbo, but after tonight, maybe there’s something to it.”
A Nexus? Like what Uriel had been talking about? I thought feverishly. I already knew there were angels, demons and magic. Maybe some of the other rumors I could remember from my misspent life were true as well. Maybe we could get some kind of help there. “What’s the name of this place?” I asked.
“Neutral Grounds,” he answered. “I can find out exactly where and take you in the morning.”
I didn’t sleep very well that night. Being in such close proximity to George, combined with my current situation made for a night of nightmares. Not of angels coming after me with flaming swords, but the far more real torments of Last Week. The dream made it clear that was fairly light weight as far as what Hell could come up with in the way of torture.
The sun on my eyelids made me wake with a start to stare into George’s face as he worked up the courage to wake me. Our eyes locked for several moments until somehow we were kissing and that felt so wonderful. I recovered myself before anything other than kissing happened and pushed him away. “I’m sorry!” we said at once and I wondered who had really been at fault here.
A shudder of my recalled dream let me work his lovely scent from my nose. “I’m sorry to add all this drama to your life,” I told him softly.
He actually chuckled and laid a consoling hand on my shoulder. “That which does not kill us, makes us stronger,” he quoted with a smile. “If nothing else, Rebecca, you’ve given me a life times worth of sermons.”
That brought a chuckle out of me as I looked up into his kind eyes. “I’ll be the first to admit my life was a text book case of how to screw up, George, but I never thought I’d be the subject of a sermon. Hey, look on the bright side. You don’t have to take your job on faith, now.”
“Neither did Thomas,” he replied, “and in a way that diminished his faith. He did know, Rebecca. The strength of faith of those who don’t know is far greater than mine now. Yes, I suppose it is a relief to know, but my business is faith. The not knowing and believing anyway. That makes it a harder case to make. God isn’t something I can wonder about any more. I’ve lost that mutual frame of reference with my parishioners.”
“Misericordia, George, I’m sorry.” His smile was warm and genuine as it worked its magic on me again.
“Don’t be, Rebecca. You have given me more hope than I think even you are aware of.”
“Venido ortra vez?” I asked, causing him to laugh.
“Wake up and speak English for me. Or at least switch to Latin. I’m fairly passable there.” I blushed and shook my head to clear it of its fog.
“I said, ‘Come again?’”
“Even dead and Damned, Rebecca, you are struggling towards God. Why else would you risk the wrath of your Masters? That tells me He’s worth it.”
I blushed and turned away. “I wouldn’t know. He didn’t know me.”
George reached out and brought my chin around. “He does know you,” he corrected me softly, and I was glad all over again of the decisions I’d made. George was a light that needed to shine. “And you want to know Him, or you wouldn’t have done any of this. I pray it will stand you in good stead.”
That gave me an interesting feeling. Other than my Mama, no one had ever really prayed for me. I wasn’t worth the effort before. Now, well, I’d already gone by the Gate that said ‘Abandon all Hope.’ I stood, ashamed and drawn to the intimacy we’d shared. “We’d better get going,” I told him. “No telling how much time we’ve got.”
He smiled and stood. As he passed I reached out and caught his arm. “Say, we’re about the same size. Do you have some clothes I could borrow? I can’t manifest anything other that Trashy Chic. I don’t think you’d want to be seen with that.”
“The judgment of another changes nothing of the truth in my heart, Rebecca. I’m ashamed to be seen with no one. But, sure, I’ll see what I can dig up.”
Oh it’s so hard to keep my hands to myself.
What George was able to dig up was a pair of jeans that still hugged my hips in a fairly suggestive manner, but at least didn’t fit like a thong up my rear and a sweat shirt that was in the colors of William and Mary and bedecked with the School of Theology logo. I felt my wings and tail open some kind of spiritual hole in the garments without actually damaging them which let me be a little more comfortable in the outrageous image of the Succubus in a Theology School sweat shirt.
He had a pair of cross trainers that fit and it took me a minute to remember how to walk flat on my feet again. I gathered my voluminous ebony mane into a pony tail and almost looked like a co-ed. Ok, the blood red dramatic lipstick was a bit out of place with the ensemble, but it was the least I could conjure up. I guess Hell didn’t really go for the natural look.
When I’d come out of his very tidy bedroom where I’d changed, noting that his was the only scent in it as I did so, and very distracted by wearing clothes impregnated with the essence of him, he’d had breakfast ready. I guess out of deference to his European visitors, he’d gone for something continental; bagels, cream cheese an assortment of jams and marmalade with the handful of fruits he evidently had on hand.
I ate with them, but it was like dust. While they were complimenting him on the jam, I felt like I was chewing on plastic food props and getting hungrier by the second. The only satisfaction I got from it was the little hints of him in the food he’d put such care into making.
Finally I couldn’t stand it any more and got to my feet, bringing their eyes to me in surprise. “I have to go,” I announced.
“What’s wrong?” asked Elisabeth, one hand had already found her sword.
“I’m hungry and I can’t stay here. I have to eat.”
“I thought you were…” started Lorraine before she trailed off, grasping my meaning.
“What will you do?” asked George softly.
“There’s got to be a rapist or a criminal or something I can feed on,” I mumbled as I manifested a purse that some part of me knew I wouldn’t be without. It held a wallet that gave me a name, a driver’s license and the other papers I would need if for some reason I had a run in with the Law.
“So, I’m going to have another Cutter to worry about?” asked George with a frown. I shook my head.
“No, I don’t have to take things that far. And, I promise I won’t. I just haveto get something in me or I’ll go mad.”
He stood and went into the kitchen to retrieve a small cell phone from its charging cradle. This he presented to me after a moment of fiddling with it. “Here. If something happens here, I’ll call you. And if you need me, I’ve programmed my home number in it as Home.” I took the phone and put it in the purse; actually shaking a bit being so close to him. “How long will you be?”
“I…I don’t know…” I stammered.
“I’m not sure how successful you’ll be finding a criminal in Williamsburg Virginia this early on a Thursday morning, but I wish you luck.”
“Do, do we have time for this?” demanded Elisabeth softly.
“Not really,” I admitted, “But I can’t think I’m so hungry.”
Lorraine swallowed nervously. “Could, well, since you say you can stop before the most untoward happens, couldn’t one of us…?”
My eyes locked with George’s as I focused my will on keeping my hands to myself. “There’s only one person here I could feed from.”
The corners of his mouth twitched into a corny half smile. “Well, I did commit to living my life in what ever way the Master had need of me. If I can be of service…?”
My lips crushed against his with a forcefulness that took both of our breaths away. Before things got out of control, though, I forced myself to step back, trembling with my repressed needs. “I, I don’t want to spoil you…” I whispered.
“God helps those who help themselves,” he told me, offering his hand. “I couldn’t tell you why, Rebecca, but I think He’ll understand.”
Lorraine smiled at me as she nudged Elisabeth up from the table. “Why don’t we keep the young lady occupied for a bit, dear?” The moved to the living room of the apartment, even as George took another step forward, taking my hand in his.
“Just promise me I won’t need and new wardrobe, Rebecca and, it will be fine.”
“Okay,” I breathed, both fearful and deliriously happy at the same time.
After being so long denied, to stand nude and expectant before the young man made me tremble with hunger and something else. Something more pure that I couldn’t fathom just then. In a way, it reminded me of the coupling that Edvaard and I had shared. In someway, it felt right as I gazed into his eyes and waited for him to work himself up for what was going to happen.
After a long look he shook his head. “That’s not who you are,” he told me softly with a gesture at the human form I wore. There was a part of me that was terrified of the strange power that he held over me suddenly. I shimmered and once more was the horror I had become. I brought my wings around me, ashamed to have him see me this way.
The balance had shifted. Just last night in this form, I had terrified him. Now I was the one who was afraid and I turned away from his handsome face. I felt him cross the distance between us and take me into his arms from behind. “Why are you ashamed?” he whispered.
“You are so beautiful,” I choked out, my voice closing with sobs over my fate. I pulled away from him, spreading my wings in fury and horror. “Look at me! I don’t disserve your kindness! I’m Damned!”
“So am I,” he responded reasonably, straightening his glasses from my abrupt departure. “We all are, Rebecca, and none of us disserve mercy. But we have it. That’s what makes it so wonderful. We don’t disserve the gift we have been given. Even you, even as you claw your way back towards it.”
My wings and arms dropped to my side, even as my cloven hooves wouldn’t bear my weight any more and I slid to the soft carpet of his floor. I had had enough time to build up quite a fantasy of what being with George would be like. Somehow, crying on his floor had never been a part of it. I felt him cross to me and once more take me into his arms. “Dear Rebecca,” he murmured as he kissed my forehead. “I don’t know what the outcome will be to all of this, but you can be of no help to those people out there depending on you like this.” His wonderfully soft lips kissed my tears away.
“Come, you need to do this. You aren’t taking from me. You aren’t spoiling me. I give you whatever of me will help.”
Oh, I couldn’t help myself. After an invitation like that? I’d had my share of sex, male and female. But, for the first time in either my life or death, I made love.
I sought out Dominique’s unblinking gaze, somewhat amazed at my forth right telling of this most intimate of my secrets. “You…you won’t hold this against him, will you?” I asked fearfully.
For the first time since I’d seen her, Dominique blinked. “Why should I?” she wanted to know. “You needed to feed and he did offer his service to us. We might not have known exactly where you were, or what you needed, but things like this never happen by chance, Rebecca. He wanted you to meet George. You needed to meet him. I’m certainly satisfied there’s nothing untoward there.”
I cast my eyes down, relieved beyond measure. “Thank you.”
“But,” she said with an odd tone. I looked back at another of her wry smiles. “I imagine what you fed on surprised you, didn’t it?”
“How did…?” I asked then thought myself rather foolish. Of course she knew.
“Did I miss something important there?” asked Marc softly.
“I didn’t feed off his soul,” I told him quietly. “It was like I was taking into me the little bits of pain and self disappointment with himself. There wasn’t much, George lived a pretty righteous life from what I saw. But there was enough that it tasted so wonderful. So much better than the just male energy I’d fed on before. It was sweet and, well, I can’t really describe how wonderful it was.”
Raphael cleared her throat without needing to, causing me to blush and look down at my reflection in the coffee. “Yes, the sex was really good too.”
I felt her smile of satisfaction. “Then what happened, dear?” she wanted to know.
After our third time around, George practically leapt off the bed. This was unusual. What ever knowledge I had of what I was told me I should be the one full of energy and he should barely be able to move. Instead, I lay on his bed, deliciously nude and happy, full of him in more than one way, licking my lips of the last remaining bits of what ever it was that I’d fed on while he paced with more nervous energy than a soon to be dad in a delivery room.
“My word!” he said from his pacing, “I neverthought …” He stopped and faced me, vibrating slightly with power. “Thank you.” That brought a languid chuckle from me as I did my best to focus on him.
“You’re welcome.” Finally the sleepy sensation of being full lifted, even as my body absorbed his physical offerings, turning that to energy for me and I could really see him. And what I saw surprised me. George might have been slight, but mousy would never apply to him again. Now that familiar, handsome face was perched atop the body of a gymnast, cords of muscle sculpted over a form that would have done Michelangelo proud. Even his member, a modest length and size at the start of things was longer, thicker and somehow stronger as well.
The washboard abs looked good on him. It was like Toby McGuire the morning after the spider bite. “What happened to you?” I demanded, amazed.
His grin was infectious. “I thought maybe you could tell me?”
I was finally able to sit up and shake my head, even as my tail snaked down my leg seductively trying to draw him back to yet another round. I felt a bit of myself drift over to him, like smoke in a soft breeze and wrap itself around the ring finger of his left hand.
The left over tendrils drifted back to me and copied the procedure on mine. I knew what I’d done. I’d marked him as my own, a mark both my sister demons and the ranks of Heaven could see and were bound to abide by.
But that wasn’t the way it was supposed to have happened.
And even as I could fell his presence through the link between us now, I knew both of us could call the other and that wasn’t supposed to be the way of it, either. He looked down at the sigil on his hand and back to me. “What just happened?” he asked.
“I…I just marked you,” I stammered out.
“I thought the mark of a demon was to the forehead?” was his confused reply.
“It is,” I affirmed. “It will protect you from my sisters. None of them can touch you now. But, God as my witness, George, I have no idea why it happened that way.”
He flexed his arms, getting a feel for his new body. “Somehow, Rebecca, my love, I don’t think you’re nearly as Damned as you think you are.” He stopped and cocked his head as if listening for some sound I couldn’t hear. “No,” he said after a long moment. “I can feel His presence just as strong. Stronger if that’s possible.”
“You can feel God?” I asked with a cocked eyebrow. His boyish grin returned as he returned to the bed to kiss me once more.
“I can feel that which I had labeled Him before you took my speculation to certainty.” I draped both arms and wings about him, revealing in the warmth of him. After a moment, he picked me up and deposited me on my hooves again. “Come on, we’ve got a train to catch.”
Well, I was already dead, and maybe I could sneak a hoof into heaven after all. This was certainly Heavenly.
On an AMTRAC train whirring along at 150 miles per hour I sat with my new lover, careful to keep my charges across the isle in sight as we talked softly. Edvaard’s sword was in my purse, which had obediently swallowed it, while still managing to stay the size and shape of an average, if sexy black leather shoulder bag.
What was even more curious was it hadn’t hurt me when I’d taken it to put it away. I’d expected the blade, like the Bible before it, to burn as I handled it. But it only felt like slightly warm steel in its scabbard.
“So,” I asked him, putting the thoughts of the strangeness of this morning from my mind. “How did Cutter end up with you?”
“Oh, that,” he chuckled. “After I got Nancy and Jill, the two prostitutes I was witnessing to, if you remember?” I nodded. “After I got Nancy and Jill to a safe distance, I got my cross from my car, a vile of Holy Water and went back looking for you.”
“Why on Earth?” I demanded, amazed by his courage.
“Well, I didn’t know then what I do now,” he told me. “All I knew was there was a demon loose and I had the tools of the trade to banish her. So I came back to do that. All I found was this little girl, dressed in Cutter’s clothes who spilled out this outrageous story about his manhood being stolen. Still, I had seen you and him, so there might be some truth to it. I couldn’t get any other story out of her, so not knowing what else to do, I took her home. If she was just telling stories, hopefully it would come out there and I could get her back to her parents. I was going to take her to the police this morning as a lost child, but you showed up.”
I felt my shoulders slump under this new burden. “Sorry, George, I know you don’t need to be saddled with a 10 year old while you’re going through seminary.”
“Charity begins in the home,” he told me. “It’s not like she’ll need a sitter. And we’ll figure something out.”
“What is this place we’re going to?” I asked.
“It’s called Neutral Grounds. According to, ahem, the self professed witch in my theology class, it’s called a Fount. Some kind of wellspring of power.”
A Fount. I felt my mind race at the possibilities, even as what ever arcane lore was hardwired into my being supplied me with knowledge of what it was. A place where the mystic boundaries were broken and pure power bubbled up for use. Even with the Truce, Founts were fought over and that made me nervous. “Who controls it? Heaven or Hell?”
“Neither,” he told me. “It’s set up as a coffee shop and is run by some thing that is evidently more powerful than both and content to run the place as a supernatural United Nations. Neutral to both sides and open to both.”
“Say,” he asked me as I wondered what I’d have to go through to get the Fount custodian on my erstwhile side. Whichever side that was. I turned to gaze into his expectant eyes. “Do you think…well, after this is over, do you think I could call you or something?”
As if saving the world wasn’t enough. Now I’m getting asked out. Perfect.
“Aren’t you in training to be a priest?” I asked him with a smile.
“I’m not Catholic,” was his answer. I crossed my arms under my bosom that were scratched slightly by the jersey material. It wasn’t like he’d had any women’s undergarments stashed for me to borrow and evidently they weren’t in my library of call up items either.
“I am,” I told him stiffly. “You got something against the Roman Catholic Church?”
“Not at all. Except the fact they don’t let their priests get married.”
Neutral Grounds was a little hole in the wall shop of the kind that made New York famous. On the corner of two of the big streets on the financial district you’d expect it to be full of Wall Street power brokers.
It was full of power brokers all right, but very few of them were from Wall Street.
There were Angels, devils and things I hadn’t the slightest inkling of a name for that all turned to watch the Succubus, the Street Preacher and the Blood of the Savior walk in. Two vanished instantly one from each side and that got me worried. Not sure what else to do, we ambled to the counter under the watchful eyes of a woman of indeterminate age, race and power, who pointed over her head at a sign.
It read No fighting. Period.
“Well, here’s an eclectic mix,” she greeted. I got the feeling of being seen for exactly what I was. There was a susurrus of noise behind me which caused her to look over my shoulder and clear her throat loudly. “Anybody who wants to spend some time on the shelf, try something.”
I turned to see one of Baal’s lieutenants, a demon I knew far better than I wanted to slowly sit back down.
Who was this little woman who could command with such authority?
Over her shoulder I saw the kind of shelf that most places like this keep filled with mason jars of bulk ingredients, coffees, sugar and the like. The jars were there, but I could perceive what was in them were powers. Most seemed to be from my erstwhile side, but there were several I didn’t know.
“So,” she said, turning back to us. “What will it be?”
“Um, can you see me?” I asked meekly.
“Yes, I can see you, Succubus. What will it be?”
“I, well, I’d like some way to turn her back into a him, please.” Her delicately arched eyebrows ascended her face.
“Oh really? Want fries with that?”
“What ever it is, it will be to go,” commanded a voice I knew and feared. I turned to see Lilith, in all her terrible beauty glaring down at me. “Rebecca, to say I’m disappointed is an understatement.”
“I’m sorry you feel that way,” I told her softly. “I really don’t care that you’re disappointed because I certainly am not going to let you harm these two.”
A cop, one of the few normal people in the place looked at us. “Hey,” he called loudly. “Take your 86 outside. Some of us are trying to eat here.”
“Eat your donut and mind your own business,” sneered Lilith before she in turn was cut off by the proprietress clearing her throat.
“Lilith, you know the rules,” she said with an edge of warning. “So long as she’s in my place, she’s in my place. Either order, or get out.”
Lilith nodded with a cruel smile. “Yes, that would seem to be the solution to this, wouldn’t it?” Her eyes returned to me. “You, outside. Now.”
For the briefest of moments I felt the cord she had on me tug, then, surprisingly enough, snap. The sneer left her face as I met her gaze with a good bit more courage than I probably should have. “No.”
I watched her face pull into frank amazement as I defied her, then into a comical confusion. “What do you mean, no?” she managed to the snickers of the woman behind the counter.
I squared my shoulders, bolstered by some reservoir of courage I didn’t know I had. “What part didn’t you understand?” I asked her sweetly. “The N or the No?” As she sputtered for a reply, I saw a handsome, if somewhat boyish, angel rise from his table and amble over, fishing in his breast pocket of the Armani suit he wore. As he arrived, all fantastic smiles, he produced a business card and presented it to me.
“Pardon me, when you get a moment, Miss, I’d like to speak with you about some career opportunities you might not be aware of.” He tipped a hat he wasn’t wearing to Lilith. “Fine morning, isn’t it, Princess?”
“You,” she hissed in anger as I looked down at the card.
Arch Angel of Fair Trade
“Um, can you give me just a second here?” I asked him and was rewarded with another of his dazzling smiles. I turned back to Lilith, bubbling with a supply of machismo that I think had something to do with that place. “Lilith, I can understand I’ve angered you and, for what it’s worth, I’m sorry. But I’ve come to understand quite a bit about life I hadn’t while I was so busy living it. I understand that my laziness and my selfishness blinded me to what I really should have been doing. But those blinders are off me, now. You, well, I can see you’re still wearing yours. You can’t see just how trivial all your little schemes are, and that’s sad, really.
“I won’t be a part of, nor allow you to corrupt these two innocents. If you can’t see the wrongness of that…” and I trailed off, as something profound occurred to me as I watched her face suffuse with rage. That beautiful face lost its beauty as it was replaced by a mask of animalistic fury. “You can’t see the wrongness of it, can you?” I asked in amazement. “You can’t see either right or wrong.”
“No,” supplied Marc softly. “Lilith was driven out of the Garden of Eden before Adam ate of the Tree of the Knowledge of Good and Evil.”
I stared at her in wonder. “You’re like a big infant, then, aren’t you? You can’t even see how you pimp the other girls out, or how evil it was to give me to Baal and his minions. No, you can’t see anything beyond what you want.” I shook my head in disbelief. “I pity you, Lilith. I really do.”
Her rage flashed into a power of terrible size as she snatched me up and threwme through the window, out into the street. There, what seemed like an Army of devils bore me to the ground. Mercifully, the pain was brief before it all went away.
“And then, I woke up here,” I finished after a sip of the excellent, and still steaming coffee. I shouldn’t be surprised that the coffee didn’t go cold. It was Heaven after all.
Dominique’s face showed an amusement she was diligently trying not to give voice to. Raphael, however, had no such restraint and was laughing freely. “You said all that to Lilith? Oh, Sweet Lord how I wish I could have seen that.”
Marc took a folder from his desk and presented it to her. “You can keep those,” he told her as she laughed her way through the collection of 8 x 11 glossies. “Double prints,” he said with an almost impish glee.
“What about Edvaard and Lorraine?” I asked, worried. “You said you’d tell me what happened?”
“They’re fine, Rebecca,” soothed Dominique. “Well, I should say that Elisabeth Plantard Saint-Clair and Lawrence GregoryStewart will be celebrating their wedding in a bit over two weeks.”
“Lawrence?” I demanded, stunned. Dominique nodded with great amusement.
“Yes, we decided to take a page from your play book, there, my dear. It made sense what you did to Edvaard. Not only did it keep him from the clutches of Ursula and all the other Succubae, but as she was once a man, gives her a unique strength against Incubi as well. There was a fair amount of logic there. So, once we had seen to your safety, and had a long chat with Lorraine, who also agreed with the sense of it, we merely concluded what you started. Thus, Lawrence now has the same protections as his blushing bride.”
Marc broke in with a soft chuckle. “See to your safety. You make that sound so simple, Dom. There hasn’t been a battle like that since the Old Testament.”
Dominique tried one of her uncertain chuckles and this one came out a bit more naturally. “Well, it had been forever since Mike had gotten to take the troops out, so I’m sure he had a good time. And it’s good to know our side isn’t slipping in that respect either. If the battle wasn’t sufficient to bolster Arch Angel Michael’s spirits, well I did mention there was a sale at Bloomingdales’ that would certainly have lifted the spirits of the Arch Angel Michelle.”
Marc polished his knuckles on his suit. “I do try.”
Her eyebrows had a rather interesting arch to them that matched the twinkle in her endless eyes. “Besides, seeing Lilith on the Wall of Shame was worth a bit of knock down, drag out.”
I cleared my throat cautiously. “The Wall of Shame?”
“Perhaps you noticed those jars on the shelf over the counter?” Marc asked with a wry smile. I nodded. “Lilith is in one, now.”
“And will be for some time,” continued Dominique. “Her assault of you, Rebecca, was a major violation of the Neutrality of the Fount. Jade doesn’t take kindly to that kind of thing. I think I’ll be drinking more coffee in the not so distant future.”
Turning back to me, Marc said, “It was a simple matter for Dominique to pluck the threads of reality and now everyone but a small handful down there are certain that’s always been the way of it. And with a tight guard against any further hanky panky the wedding should go off without a hitch. Which reminds me. Elisabeth made me promise to ask you if you would be her Maid Of Honor?”
Well that was a shocker to say the least! “Well…I …sure! If I can, I mean…?” I scanned their faces and, judging by the reactions, that was a done deal. “But, what about me?” I asked softly. “When do I get turned over, or exchanged or what ever?”
“Exchanged with who, dear?” asked Raphael in a serious tone. “You certainly don’t belong to them any more.”
“And we are over do for a conversation on other employment opportunities,” continued Marc. “We’ve been without a Bright Lilim for quite some time up here. Oh, we’ve experimented with some success, but there’s always room for the original model as it were.”
“A Bright Lilim,” interrupted Dominique smoothly, “is a former Succubus who has been redeemed. “If you want the job, that is, you’d be working with some of our best, a young angel by the name of Joy.”
I put the coffee cup down in a whirlwind of confusion. “Wait; hold on, how can I work for you? Aren’t I Damned? And even if I could, I’m a Succubus! I corrupt people.”
“Dear,” was Raphael’s response. “You’re terrible at that. All the more reason for the new line of work. Besides, we’ve been working for a while to get it into the heads of those poor souls down there that Sex isn’t dirty. It’s one of the Great Gifts! That would be your job, you and Joy and the other girls we have recruited so far.”
“Sex? You want me to be an Angel of Sex? I thought Sex was dirty…?” Raphael rolled her eyes with a saint’s patience.
“See?” she demanded with motherly charm. “That’s your problem, right there…”