Friday, March 1, 2019
Succubus Revealed Chapter 4
provided I dont k at a metre what it is Im doing I cried. Do you?Ive told you only I screwing for now, utter Carter, that sadness go. The virtu totallyy I can do now is buy you a drink.I shook my pointedness. I dont think thithers comme il faut whiskey in the valet de chambre.T here isnt, he said bleakly. There isnt. in s blazee of Carters pessimism, I colorwash tried c alling Hugh to nip on if he knew anything. He didnt, to a greater extentover his incredulity was so similar to mine that I took slightly comfort in it.What? Thats ridiculous, he told me. It was a mis school. It has to be. get by you try to get ahold of Jerome for me? I pick uped. I mean, Ill keep trying too, exclusively maybe if were both calling, hell eventually nonice the ph iodine. Even though it was politic early for the demon, I in any case had this strange feeling that he could precise well be avoiding my calls if something was afoot. Hugh qualification sneak in where I couldnt.I was fas t approaching the cadence when I was supposed to meet exercise set at the parallel school. I had wanted to run home and try lecture to Roman astir(predicate) my potential tape drive, save it didnt seem as alpha now, not until I had the story confirmed or denied by Jerome. So, afterward a few to a greater extent errands that seemed hopelessly mundane comp atomic number 18d to the greater transcendental takeings of the universe, I drove up to Lake Fo bear Park and arrived at the school beneficial as hardening did.Ian got go forth of the car too, and Seth flashed me a quick look that said he wasnt thrilled more or less having brotherly union. Ian was wearing the jacket Seth had menti unitaryd, a brownish woolen peacoat that fit him well seemly to be tailored and had strategically placed patches meant to give it a vintage appearance. Ian completed the look with a carefully knotted striped scarf and fedora. He also had on glasses, which Id seen no sign of at Seths.I di dnt know you wore glasses, I told him.He sighed. They go with the scarf.Seth was carrying two huge containers of white-frosted cupcakes that were liberally and sloppily dusted with special K and red sparkles. I took one batch from him and walked inside with the brothers, where we signed in and were given directions to the schoolroom.Looks like you were productive, I said with a smile.No convey to Mom, Seth replied fondly. It took her forever to leave. She kept come toering to service and double-check my work, counterbalance sure the oven was set and all that. It was a boxed mix. There wasnt that practically I could mess up.Ian muttered something to the highest degree preservatives and high fructose corn syrup.The classroom was pleasant, organized bedlam. Other parents and family friends were there to help with the party, distri anding solid food and running games. The twins ran up to the three of us with quick, fierce hugs sooner scurrying off to play with their friends. I didnt see Morgan and McKenna outside of the family very often, so it was refined to watch them so active and outgoing with their peers. They charmed their friends as often as they charmed me, and it was clear the two girls were leaders of sorts. Tiny, adorable towheaded leaders. The knot Id carried inside me since getting the HR memoranda began to soften as I allowed myself the small joy of observing them.Seth slipped an arm most me, following my gaze as we maintained our post near the food table. He nodded toward where Ian was trying to pitch his own cupcakes organic, vegan, gluten- clean-handed creations from a local bakehouse to some of the twins classmates. To be fair, the cupcakes were beautiful. They were vanilla, topped with elaborately swirled chocolate icing that was in turn adorned with perfect white frosting flowers. They make Seths cupcakes look like something the girls might energise make, but I knew better than to be fooled. When you made cupcakes without mo st of the ingredients found in traditional baked goods, the lawfulness came out in the taste. Pretty or not, Ian wasnt doing so good a job moving them.These are so much better for you than all this other junk food, Ian was parting a wide-eyed boy named Kayden. Despite the fact wed been inside the warm classroom for almost an hour, Ian was still in all clad in his scarf and wool coat ensemble. Theyre made with brown rice flour and garbanzo bean flour and sweetened with maple syrup none of that processed white sugar crap.Kaydens eyes grew impossibly bigger. Those take up beans and rice in them?Ian f demasculiniseed. Well, yes . . . but, no, I mean. Its flour derived from those ingredients in a demeanor thats totally fair trade and nutritious. Plus, I picked a brown and white color scheme, not only to save you from artificial dyes but also to show respect for all holi geezerhood and tradition, rather than giving into the mainstream domination of the Judeo-Christian machine.Witho ut another word, Kayden grabbed a red-frosted snowman cookie from the snack table and wandered off.Ian gave us a long-suffering look. I fear for todays youth. At least we can take the leftovers back to Terrys.Wed better, said Seth. Those equal me a small fortune.You mean they cost me a small fortune, said Ian. Theyre my contribution.I paid for themIt was unsloped a loan, said Ian imperiously. Ill pay you back.The party didnt last too much eight-day seven-year-olds didnt need to slam drinks for hours like my friends did but I still kept checking my phone whe neer Seth wasnt watching. I had it set to vibrate in my easy lay but was afraid I would miss Jeromes call. But no bureau out how legion(predicate) times I looked, the phones display remained the same. No in glide slope calls or texts.With things winding down, McKenna made her way back to me and wrapped herself approximately my leg. Georgina, are you going to come to our house tonight? Grammys cooking. Were going to wat ch lasagna.And cupcakes, piped in Ian, carefully packing up his goods. By my estimation, hed given away scarce one cupcake, and that was to a boy whod taken it on a hardihood from his friends.I lifted McKenna up, striked at how big she was getting. The years didnt alter my immortal friends or me, but mortals changed by leaps and bounds in much(prenominal) short time periods. She wrapped her arms or so me, and I touch a embrace into her blond curls.I wish I could, baby. But I drop to work tonight.Are you still helping Santa? she asked.Yes, I said solemnly. And its very important work. I cant miss it. Without me, there was no telling how sober Santa would go forward.McKenna sighed and leaned her head against my shoulder. Maybe youll come over when youre do.Youll be in bed, I said. Ill see what I can do for tomorrow.This earn me a tighter hug, and I tangle my understandt ache. The girls always had this effect on me, triggering a mix of emotion that was both love for them a nd regret for the children I myself would neer have.Children had been something Id wanted as a mortal, something denied to me even consequently. The pain of that populace had been driven home last year when Nyx, a primordial chaos entity, had visited me in my sleep and used tantalizing dreams to distract me while she steal my energy. The one that had recurred the most had shown me with a little girl my own miss stepping outside into a snowy night to greet her father. Hed been shadowy at first, later revealed as Seth. Nyx, in a desperate bid for help later, had sworn the dream was true, a prophecy of things to come. It had been a lie, however. An impossibility that could never be mine.Maybe youll come by my house after youre done with work, Seth said to me in a low vowelize, once shed wriggled away.That depends, I said. Whos going to be in your bed?We had a talk. He knows to stay out of my room.I smiled and caught hold of Seths hand. I would, but Ive got some things to do toni ght. Ive got to hunt down Jerome around . . . trade.Youre sure thats it? he asked. Youre sure my familys not scaring you off?Ill admit, I didnt relish the thought of perceive Margaret Mortensens disapproving gaze, but I also couldnt imagine Id be very good company for Seth if I still didnt know what was going on with my transfer by tonight. The transfer. Looking into his cordial, warm eyes, I felt a pit open in my stomach. Maybe I should be jumping at either chance I could get to be with him. Who knew how many more we had? No, I scolded myself. Dont think like that. Tonight youll find Jerome and clear up this mess. past you and Seth can be happy.Your family has cryptograph to do with it, I assured Seth. Besides, now that you have extra help, you can use your free time to get some work done.He rolled his eyes. I thought self-employment meant not having a boss.I grinned and kissed him on the cheek. Ill come by tomorrow night.Kayden, passing by for one last cookie, caught sight of my kiss and scowled disapprovingly. Ew.I parted ways with the Mortensens and headed off to the mall. It was often a surprise to mortals to learn immortals like me purposely chose to take day jobs, so to speak. If you were around for a few centuries and semiwise with your money, it wasnt that hard to eventually build up equal to comfortably live off of, fashioning human employment unnecessary. Yet, most immortals I knew still worked. Correction most lesser immortals I knew did. greater ones, like Jerome and Carter, rarely did, but maybe they already had too cover of a job with their employers. Or, maybe, lesser immortals just carried over the urge from when we were human.Regardless, days like today were clear reminders of wherefore I chose gainful employment. If Id had cryptograph but free time on my hands, I wouldve spent the rest of the day ruminating well-nigh my fate and the potential transfer. Assisting Walter-as-Santa as absurd as it was at least gave me a distractio n while I delayed to hear from Jerome. Vocation gave purpose too, which Id found was necessary to mark the long days of immortality. Id met lesser immortals who had gone insane, and most of them had done nothing but mishandle aimlessly byout their long lives.A new elf one whom Walter had christened Happy had joined our ranks today, one who was sure as shooting helping pass the time if only because of how much she was grating on my nerves.I dont think he should be drinking at all, she said, for what felt like the hundredth time. I dont see wherefore I have to learn this register.Prancer, a ex-serviceman elf, exchanged glances with me. None of us is formula its pay, he told Happy. Were just saying its reality. Hes going to get a hold of liquor one way or another. If we deny him, hell sneak it in the bathroom. Hes done it before.If were the ones giving it to him, I continued, then we control the access and amount he gets. This? I gestured to the schedule wed drawn up. This i snt much. Especially for a guy his size. Its not even enough to get buzzed.But theyre children Happy cried. Her eyes drifted off toward the long field of operation of families trailing through the mall. Sweet, innocent, joyful children.Another silent message passed among Prancer and me. Tell you what, I finally said. Why dont you pull out them your priority. Forget near the liquor schedule. Well handle that. You go trade places with Bashful at the head of the line. She doesnt very like working with the public anyway. When Happy was out of earshot, I remarked, One of these days, someones going to report us all to the malls HR office.Oh, they have plenty of times, said Prancer, smoothing out his green spandex pants. Ive worked with Walter for three years now, and Happys not the first elf to have moral qualms active Santa getting lit. Hes been account lots.That was news to me. And they havent fired him? Nah. Its harder to fill these jobs than you might think. As long as Walter d oesnt touch or say something inappropriate, the mall doesnt seem to care.Huh, I said. unattackable to know.GeorginaBeyond the gates leading to Santas pavilion, I saw someone beckon at the edge of the crowd. Hugh. My nerve center rate sped up. This mall was actually right around the corner from his office, so hed come by before for lunch. In light of recent events and the look on his face something told me he wasnt here for a casual meal today.Hey, I said to Prancer. Can I take my break now?Sure, go for it.I cut through the crowd and met up with Hugh, trying not to feel self-conscious about wearing the foil come up. Hugh had come from the office and was dressed impeccably, playing up the role of successful plastic surgeon. I felt cheap beside him, specially as he and I walked farther from the holiday mayhem toward some of the malls more upscale shops.I was on my way home from work and thought Id stop by, he said. I figured you werent taking many calls while on the job.Not so m uch, I agreed, gesturing to the tight dress and its lack of pockets. I caught hold of his arm. Please tell me you comprehend something. The transfers a mistake, right?Well, I still think it is, but no, I havent hear anything back yet not from HR or Jerome. He frowned slightly, intelligibly not liking the lack of communication. Underneath that, I also feel another emotion in him nervousness. Ive got something else for you. Can we talk somewhere . . . kind of private? Is there a Sbarro or Orange Julius around here?I scoffed. Not in this mall. Theres a sandwich place we can go to.Sandwich place wasnt entirely accurate. They also sold bon vivant soups and salads, all of which were made fresh and packed with enough prissy ingredients to prepare Ian happy. Hugh and I snagged a table, my appearance gaining the attention of some children there with their parents. I ignored them as I leaned toward Hugh.Whats up, then, if not the phantom transfer?He eyed the watchers uneasily and took several moments to begin speaking. I was calling around today, trying to work connections and see if I could find out anything about you. Like I said, I couldnt. But I got caught up on all sorts of other piffle.I was kind of surprised Hellish gossip was what he wanted to discuss, more surprised still that it had apparently warranted him coming in person. If hed heard a rumor about a reciprocal friend, it seemed like a phone call wouldve sufficed to pass the news. Even netmail or text.Do you remember Milton? he asked.Milton? I stared blankly. The name meant nothing to me.Nosferatu, he prompted.Still nothing, and then Oh. Yeah. Him. The vampire. A month or so ago, Milton had visited on vacation, much to Cody and Peters dismay. Vampires were territorial and didnt like outsiders, although Cody had been able to use Miltons comportment to impress his macabre loving girlfriend, Gabrielle. Or so Id heard. I never actually saw him. I just knew he was in town.Yup, and it turns out last we ek, he was in Boulder.So?So, first of all, its weird that hed have two vacations in that short time. I mean, you know how it is for vampires. You know how it is for all of us.It was true. Hell didnt like to give us vacations very often. When your employers owned your soul, they really didnt feel any need to make your life history pleasant. That wasnt to say we didnt now and again get time off, but it certainly wasnt a priority for Hell. The business of souls never rested. For vampires, this was doubly true because they didnt like to leave their territory. They also had confused complications with traveling, say, like with sunlight.Okay, so, its weird. How does that affect us?Hugh dropped his voice low. When he was in Boulder, a local dark shaman died under mysterious circumstances.I felt my eyebrows rise. And you think Milton was involved ?Well, like I said, I had time to make some calls and do some research today. And it turns out that even though hes based in Raleigh, Milton tr avels an awful lot for a vampire and every place he goes, some mortal in the supernatural club ends up dead.Youre saying hes an assassin, I said, intrigued but still not seeing the point. As part of the great game we all played, angels and demons werent supposed to flat influence mortal lives. Thats where lesser immortals came in, with our offers of sin and temptation. Now, we werent really supposed to butcher either, as far as the game went, and we certainly werent supposed to do it on behalf of a greater immortals instructions. We all knew it happened, however, and Milton wasnt the first assassin Id heard of taking out inconvenient mortals.Exactly, said Hugh. He frowned. He goes to places, and tidy sum disappear.How does that affect us?Hugh sighed. Georgina, he was here.Yeah, but nobody I gasped, freeze a moment in shock. Erik . . .The world reeled around me for a moment. I was no longer in an elite malls food court but instead was looking down on the broken, bleeding body of one of the kindest men I knew. Erik had been a longtime friend in Seattle, using his many years of occult and supernatural knowledge to advise me on my problems. Hed been investigating my contract with Hell when a freak robbery at his store had resulted in his death by gunshot.Are you saying . . . My voice was barely a whisper. Are you saying Milton killed Erik?Hugh shook his head sadly. Im not. Im just laying out the evidence for you, which is compelling but not enough to form a hard link to Milton.Then why tell me at all? I asked. You dont like to get involved with anything that questions the experimental condition quo. It was true, and it had been a constant point of contention with Hugh and me.I dont, he said. I understood now why he was so uneasy. Not at all. But I care about you, sweetheart. And I know you cared about Erik and wanted answers.Key word wanted. I thought I had them. My heart still mourned Erik, but I had begun to heal from his loss, moving on with life the way we all must after losing a loved one. perspicacious or, well, thinking hed been killed in a robbery didnt exactly give me peace, but it did provide an explanation. If there was any shred of truth to Hughs dangerous theory, that Milton a potential assassin might have been responsible, then my whole world was suddenly knocked offkilter. And in that scenario, the big issue wasnt that Milton had done it. What became important was why he had done it. Because if he was one of those Hellish assassins lurking in the shadows, then someone higher up had given him his orders, meaning Hell had a reason to want Erik dead.You okay? Hughs hand on mine made me jump. Jesus, Georgina. Youre like ice.Im kind of in shock, I said. This is big, Hugh. Huge.I know, he said, not sounding happy at all. Promise me you wont do anything foolish. Im still not sure I should have told you.You should have, I said, squeezing his hand and making no such promises about the foolish part. Thank you.I had to le ave shortly thereafter, returning to assist Happy. A little of her zeal about the pure, magical nature of children had faded in that time. I think it was the six-year-old who asked for a nose job that might have cracked her. As for me, I was in a daze, stunned over what Hugh had told me. Erik murdered. His dying words to me had implied something more was going on, but thered been no evidence to prove it. Or wait . . . was there? I vaguely remembered the glass pattern of his broken window, the unbelief from the police that it had been broken from within. But what did I do with this theory? How did I get the answers I needed?Equally amazing to me was the concession Hugh had made in telling me this. He valued his job and his comfortable position. He really wasnt the type to try to upset Hell or ask questions about things that didnt concern him. Yet hed pursued his hunch about Milton and passed on the news to me, his friend. Hell made desperate, soulless creatures out of its employees and most certainly liked it that way but I doubted any of the higher-ups had imagined the levels of friendship we were still capable of managing.Naturally, only one other thing could have distrait me from this new development, and that was Jeromes presence in my condo later that night. I was returning home after work and sensed his aura coming from within as soon as I put my key to the door. My fears and theorizing about Erik and Milton moved to one part of my brain, replaced by all the old hypothesis about the mystery transfer.When I entered, I found Jerome sitting in the living room with Roman, both at their ease and barely acknowledging my presence.And so, Jerome was saying, thats why you need to do this. As soon as possible. Nanettes people have been at it for a long time, so youve got a lot of fuze to cover. Set up a schedule I dont care how close it is and make those slackers start putting in their time at the alley.I stared incredulously. Youre here about the bowling competition?Both men looked at me, Jerome seeming irritated at the interruption. Of course. The sooner you start practicing, the better.You know what else might be better the sooner it happens ? I produced the well-worn HR memo with a flourish. You telling me if Im being transferred or not. My moneys on it being a mistake because surely, surely you wouldnt put off telling me. Right? some(prenominal) heartbeats of silence hung in the room. Jerome held me in his dark, dark gaze, and I refused to look away. At last, he said, No. Its real. Youre being transferred.My jaw wanted to drop to the ground. Then why . . . why am I only just now hearing about it?He sighed and made an impatient gesture. Because I just found out about it. Someone jumped the gun and delivered the memo to you before telling me. His eyes glinted. Dont worry, I wasnt too thrilled about that myself. I made sure they know my feelings on the matter.But I . . . I swallowed. I was so sure there was a mistake. . . There wa s, he agreed. Just not the kind you were thinking of.I wanted to decide to the floor and melt away but forced myself to stay strong. I had to ask the following most important question, the question that would shape the next phase of my life.Where . . . where am I going?Jerome studied me once again, this time I think just to drag out the suspense and agony. Bastard. At last, he spoke.Youre going to Las Vegas, Georgie.