1 - The Damn Tables
“Thou shalt not covet your neighbor’s wife, nor his male servant, nor his female servant.” Laurenzo put down the parchment with a soft chuckle. “Hell, no wonder this place is so damn crowded.”
Valeria flinched a little, causing him to raise his eyebrows to the point they almost disappeared under the dark hair that had fallen into his face. “What is it, princess?”
“We don’t say that here,” she reminded him, wrinkling her snub nose in her porcelain colored face.
"Damn? Sorry, I didn’t mean to step on your damned toes,” his lighthearted laugh filled the candle-lit room again.
“Hell,” she corrected him, wrapping her annoyance up in a polite smile while tucking a blonde curl back behind her ear before reaching her hand out for the parchment. He rolled it back up and handed it to her.
“What do you say then, when those poor souls wake up with their usual Where am I?” Laurenzo put a hand to his forehead and pretended to be swooning. Valeria rolled her eyes and put the parchment away in her desk’s top drawer, which she locked with a key dangling from a chain around her neck. Laurenzo watched very closely as she leaned in to do so.
“We don’t use it as a swear word,” she corrected him, now really struggling to keep her impatience hidden. “What, again, was it you said that kept the archangel from descending himself?”
“I didn’t say anything,” he reminded her with a grin, grabbing one of her neatly lined up pens and fiddling with it. Valeria frowned, her black eyes clearly asking him to put it back, but she didn’t say anything. “But since Lucifer obviously figured his right hand would do, I guess so will Gabriel’s.”
He tossed the pen at her, and she caught it with a sigh.
“Fine. So, what is your divine message that was so important you had to deliver it in person?” she asked, leaning back in her armchair. The fact that the eligibility for a spot in Heaven had to be expanded had been her concern. Or rather, Lucifer’s, but since all of Lucifer’s concerns had a tendency of becoming Valeria’s, that passed as the same thing. Laurenzo promising to look into the matter did not convince her at all, especially not since he had said it while downing a full tumbler of bourbon, so she was not too excited about fulfilling any kind of request of her own.
Laurenzo cleared his throat and sat up. “The Creator says, and I quote: Get me some damn tables, and get them quick.”
“Is this some sort of joke?” Valeria asked, aghast.
“The tables? Listen, I - ”
“The word! All I ever hear from you and your divine fellowship is damn, damn, damn! Damn Hell, damn tables, damn Lucifer, damn commandments, damn -”
“Valeria,” he interrupted her with an amused smirk. “I am sorry, okay? As I said, it was a quote. I will be sure to deliver your protest.”
“You will be damn sure not to, or I will make you regret the day you spread your wings,” she hissed, her calm demeanor crackling while Laurenzo laughed.
“You said it yourself now,” he remarked.
“Because you are threatening me,” she said, forcing herself to lower her voice again, her black eyes fixated on his golden ones.
He raised his hands in defense. “And who would I be to threaten a princess of Hell?”
“Don’t call me that.”
Laurenzo smirked. “So, seriously. About those tables. I fear our old man is...” He circled his index finger next to his temple.
“Losing his mind?” Valeria asked. Laurenzo hastily motioned for her to lower her voice, which she ignored. His ears weren’t that good. “Well, I have been saying that ever since Lucifer jumped. And that wasn’t exactly last century.”
“Lucifer didn’t jump. He fell,” Laurenzo corrected her snootily. “Why else would he be called a fallen angel?”
“Maybe your Creator isn’t so divine after all. Claiming your son fell out of a window rather than having pushed him — sounds very human to me,” Valeria crossed her arms in front of her chest.
“I thought he jumped.”
“What did I say?”
“He was pushed.”
“Forget about that.”
“What about the tables?”
“The damned ones.”
Laurenzo chuckled. Yet again. It was starting to get on her nerves. “Oh, right,” he said.
“He said He needed them to win the angels back. They descended.”
“Descended. It’s like falling, jumping, or being pushed, just without the falling, jumping or - ”
“I know what it means,” she interrupted him sharply.
“Then why did you -”
“Laurenzo!” Valeria slammed her hand on the table, and he raised a surprised eyebrow.
“I was told you were the composed part,” he remarked. “The...how do they say? Advocata Diaboli.”
“I prefer voice of reason.”
The boyish laugh. Again. Valeria felt her fist clenching. Laurenzo smirked.
“He’s been drinking a lot lately. Gab’s stressing them out as usual. I can’t blame them for needing a little...fun,” the way he winked at her sent a cold shiver down her spine.
“What did they do?” She asked quietly, squeezing her eyes as if waiting for a blow.
“Just a little, you know, partying.” Laurenzo’s grin was ambitious to get wider than his face. “Did you know the humans have an entire island just to drink and get laid on?”
Valeria rubbed her eyes, sighing deeply. “Yes,” she finally said. “They have several. I still don’t get the point with the tables.”
“Oh. That.” His palm brushed the top of her desk, then he traced the reflections of the candle flames on the polished surface. “Apparently, humans use these things to dance on them. I’m pretty sure He thinks if we can get some for Heaven, the angels can party right there. You know. Keep the crew together.” He laughed at her startled expression. “What?”
“You. Descended. To. Ask. Me. For. Tables,” she repeated, having some trouble not to reach out her hand to smash his head on the desk. Instead, she got up and walked around him, intending to hold the door for him to make sure he got lost as soon as possible. If Lucifer heard what he was making a fuss about, she was going to think she was being made fun of, and Lucifer did not like being made fun of.
Laurenzo, though, shrugged and helped himself to some more bourbon. “Yeah. Oh, and Valeria,” he grabbed her wrist when she was trying to pass him. “I know you said your capacity has exceeded, but I brought three or four souls. They were really getting on my nerves. You know, with the angels gone and everything...stressful as hell. I told them to wait outside.”
He had hardly finished his sentence when a deafening bang rattled the walls.