1 | i got school tomorrow, satan
I doubt Lucifer bothers to knock, even when he’s barging into a girl’s bedroom.
Especially when he’s barging into a girl’s bedroom.
Luckily, I kept dad’s old beretta tucked under my pillow. When the shadows around my bed started filling with red light and the stink of sulfur, I whipped out the gun and sat up.
With a flick of my thumb, I released the safety, too. I’d dunked the bullets in holy water, courtesy of the Baptist church down the road.
But that had been three years ago, right after the devil took my soul. Holiness had probably worn off by now.
Better than nothing, I guess.
When Lucifer finally materialized at the foot of my narrow bed, I aimed straight between those yellow eyes of his.
“Still a night owl, Darien?” He smiled, reminding me every tooth of his sported a razor’s edge.
“I don’t recall inviting you over,” I said.
“And I don’t think you have a permit for that gun, but let’s overlook our mutual flaws.” He strode over to the door and peeked out into the hallway. The red light suffusing my room cast an eerie glow across the far wall. Smoke curled around his snake print shoes and out into the rest of the trailer.
“Aunt and uncle still asleep?” he said in an exaggerated whisper.
I didn’t whisper.
“Yeah, they’d sleep through a gunshot.” I kept the beretta aimed at his head, knowing he didn’t have a heart to shoot.
Shaking his head, he eased the door closed. In the red light, that gross little smirk of his became a dark slash across his face. “Sometimes I wonder if you ever had a soul to take, Darien.”
“Quit saying my name,” I snapped. I hated to hear my name coming out of his mouth. That same mouth that munched down my kaleidoscopic soul. “What did you come here for?”
“A favor.” He straightened his black tie. The silver designs across it writhed. “Oh, don’t look at me like that. I’m embarrassed enough asking you.”
I lowered the gun, just a fraction. “What’s in it for me?”
He laughed. It sounded like a papercut felt. “I forgot how easily convinced the soulless are. Always eager for some excuse to get their hands dirty.”
He stepped up to my bedside.
I kicked the sheets off my legs and stood, damned if I let him tower over me.
Unfortunately, I wasn’t the tallest seventeen-year-old, so we were just about eye-to-eye. With one hand, I hitched up my sweatpants. With the other, I pressed the barrel of the gun under his chin.
He didn’t even flinch. “I’m prepared to make an exchange.” His yellow gaze held mine. “Your soul for another’s.”
“Keep it,” I said. My lips curled on the edge of a snarl. “I’m better off without it.”
“Now don’t say that. How can you get into Heaven without one?” He pouted. “Are you really going to leave your father up there all alone?”
“Shut up!” My shout was loud enough to wake up Aunt Meredith for sure. But I didn’t care. Hadn’t cared about much of anything since this bastard ate my soul.
I pushed the barrel deeper against his throat. My finger coiled like a snake around the trigger.
“I won’t take ‘no’ for an answer, Darien. And I won’t let you die until you give me what I want.”
I pulled the trigger.
An empty, hollow click answered me.
Like an explosion of sparks, Lucifer snatched the beretta out of my hand and wrapped his arm around my neck. I heard the clatter of the gun against the floor even while I was choking. My bare feet struggled to stay on the bed as I tried to scratch his face and cuss him out at the same time. All while his sulfuric reek clogged my straining lungs.
He spit something into his other hand. When he brandished it in front of my face, I recognized the marble-like ball of light he held between his fingers. Its kaleidoscopic colors, shifting and swirling, were something I’d dreamt plenty of nights these past three years.
He forced my soul into my mouth. It burned all the way down.
As soon as he released the chokehold, my hand went immediately to my throat. The bed creaked as I took a step back. “What the hell do I need my soul for?”
“She might be fallen, but she still has a sixth sense. She’d be suspicious if she were approached by a soulless.”
She? Fallen? I kept glaring at him until he started making sense.
“As I’ve already said, I want you to procure a soul for me. One belonging to a fallen angel.” A grin stretched his face. “Do you have any idea what an angel’s soul tastes like?”
I hopped off the bed and stooped to pick the beretta off the floor. “Can’t say I’ve tried that dish.”
He stepped on the gun, holding it in place. The reptilian scales across his shoe gleamed through the smoke rolling around him.
I blew my hair out of my glaring eyes.
“It’s really something,” he said. His forked tongue glided across his lips. “I haven’t eaten one in a millennia. That was the last time an angel fell.”
Reluctantly, I abandoned the gun and straightened up. “So where is she? In a ditch somewhere?”
“Not presently, no. She’ll be…” His voice trailed off and he scrunched his face up, like he was doing some mental calculation. “…six lockers down from you tomorrow.”
I dropped my crossed arms. ”What? At my school?”
“You know, when you kept attending that dingy little cesspit, I thought it was a waste of time.” He shrugged. “Funny how things work out. For me, that is.”
“You mean, she’s a student?”
“Well, she’s barred from Heaven and she doesn’t want to work for me, so I guess she’s earthbound. She’ll have to earn a living somehow. Might as well take the forged transcripts her little halfway house provided her.”
“You should’ve learned by now to take me seriously.” His grin had shriveled up and his tone was as flat as the railway running past our trailer park.
I tucked some strands of my black hair behind one ear. “What’s her name?”
“Angel Sanchez.” His slit pupils dilated. “Don’t laugh. Angels aren’t known for their imagination. I’m sure that name’s the best she could come up with.”
I hadn’t laughed for three years. Wasn’t going to start now.
Even though my soul was already making my heart ache.
The red light started fading off my arms. Smoke tendrils thickened around him, climbing up his shoulders like ivy.
“Any more questions you have, ask her yourself.” His lips quirked up in a smirk as the smoke began rolling over his head.
My room was almost completely dark now. The last of the red light was fading into the depths of his smoke cloud.
“Shouldn’t I have a picture or something?” I said. “So I know what I’m looking for?”
“Oh, she’ll be hard to miss.” His voice was little more than an echo, his eyes like headlights through fog. “You’ll see her in the morning if you catch the school bus.”
And then he was gone.
I stood in the dark for a few minutes, listening to my aunt’s muffled snores down the hall. So much for waking her.
I climbed back into bed, hating how fast my heart pumped beneath the sheet.
Fear. My first sensation since getting my soul back.
I hated that, too.
I turned over on my side and fought to get my rage back. Knowing it’d keep the fear at bay until I fell asleep.
I glared at the wall. If you catch the bus…
Like hell I was riding that bus tomorrow.
I’d stolen a motorcycle for a reason.