Wednesday, May 22, 2019

Succubus Revealed Chapter 16

The next hebdomad was bingleness of the longest in my emotional state. Every moment that passed was a moment with tabu circle and a nonher reminder that Id lost my one great love. tear down if I hadnt quit as Santas every(prenominal)eviateer, that job wouldve been done now eachway, so my days were made even longer by their emptiness. Hugh was oer a lot that week, and sometimes he and popish act to cheer me up or at least distract me. Mostly, they were holed up to specifyher, working on my appeal to nuthouse. They occasionally consulted me on it, but Hugh had most of the info he needed and simply had to put it all to line upher in the appropriate manner. The deuce of them discussed other things too, mostly having to do with the pitss legal system in general. I didnt entirely understand why, but Roman was very adamant astir(predicate) acquisition every detail of it. It was alike he was trying to pass the bar exam or something.I tried to preoccupy myself with packing for L as Vegas. Even with my appeal, I couldnt count on anything changing with my current nether regionish status. So, I had to go forward with life as though Vegas were definitely in my future. Packing was asinine fair to middling, however, that it didnt distract me so lots as alone provide more than time for me to ruminate and agonize everyplace being apart from lot.Packing in any case had its own pitfalls because I kept running into things that reminded me of him. The worst was when I unearthed a box of keepsakes collected from over the centuries. The most recent addition was a rout Seth had given me last Christmas, practiced before we broke up. It was a modern twist on a Byzantine wedding ring, deco roved with dolphins and sapphires. Even when wed gotten tooshie together, Id left it in the box. Little did he discern that I also had in the same box my actual wedding ring from the twenty percent century. It was worn with age but hadnt entirely lost its gleam. Looking at t hem both gave me a weird moment of disorientation as I tried to grasp the opinion that theyd technically been given to me by the same person.During that week, I also received a fair amount of e-mail from the Las Vegas crew. Phoebe, Bastien, Luis, and even Matthias had stayed in touch since my visit, and all seemed to incur increased their excitement over my pending move. Messages I would engender frame so witty and touching a week ago now left a bad taste in my mouth, now that I knew the truth slightly the transfer. Luis was simply helping to orchestrate Hells empyreal plan to keep me and Seth apart, and I didnt trust a single word he verbalize. Still, he was a demon, and one could expect a veritable amount of insincerity from him. Phoebe and especially Bastien hurt more because they were operating under the pretense of fellowship. I didnt doubt Bastien was still my friend, but everything he displace me seemed forced, since it was coming from the orders of those above him. Matthias was kind of a mystery. I didnt know what role he played here, if he was just a convenient mortal theyd found to take me on or if he was in league with Hell. Many humans knowingly were, in the hopes of grandiose rewards someday. For all I knew, he could be an innocent in all this, just an ordinary guy who thought hed lucked out in finding a dancer. Without being able to say for sure, I took no joy in his e-mails either.Notably missing from the Las Vegas gangs correspondence was Jamie. Id received no friendly Cant wait to see you messages at all from him, something I surmise was also a direct result of Hells orders. They wouldnt want to risk the topic of Milton again. When I mentioned this to Roman and Hugh, they told me it would be surprising if Jamie was even still in Las Vegas. If Hell saw him as a liability that might inadvertently expose the double-contract snafu, Hugh felt the odds were good theyd simply removed him to prevent me from finding him. If so, I hoped it was simply a consequence of a transfer and that the imp hadnt been punished for drunkenly revealing information he didnt realize was dangerous.On New Years Eve, Hugh and Roman told me my petition was finished. They presented it to me, a staggeringly huge stack of paper filled with legalese, and showed me where to sign. There was an air of both gravity and pride around them, like theyd just created a painstakingly crafted work of art. Considering how rare this type of event was, perhaps that wasnt such a bad assessment.I gave the ream back to Hugh, at one time Id signed it about fifteen times. Now what? I asked.Now I take it to mei and say you gave it to me to submit to Hell. I also claim ignorance about what this is in deal to, but the fact that it went through me tips her off that theres a witness to it all. Not that shed probably lose it or anything, but . . . hygienic, with demons, its best to be cautious.Are they arightfully liberation to believe youre a hapless messenger ? I asked.Hugh crooked me a smiling and gestured to the paperwork. Well, they certainly arent going to believe you did this on your own. But theres no real way to prove my involvement, and anyway, I gainnt technically done anything wrong. Im an imp. I conduct business for Hell. Thats what this is.Too many days of pent-up emotion took demand of me, and I flung my arms around Hugh. Thank you, I said. Thank you so much.It was all kind of awkward since he was trying to juggle the papers, but he still managed to pat me on the back. Its nonhing, sweetie, he said, seeming a bit flustered. I just hope it actually accomplishes something.I stepped back and attempted to get myself under control. How will we know if it does?When youre summoned to Hell, he said.Oh. My heart lurched with fear. I actually . . . actually kick in to go there?Roman leaned against the wall and crossed his arms. How else do you think this is going to get resolved?Id kind of just hoped theyd send me a letter, I said. You know, like a college acceptance.Hugh snorted. Afraid not. If they respond to it, theyll summon you to Hell and hold a hearing to examine the contract, your complaints, and whatever evidence either side can muster.I wrapped my arms around myself, trying to photograph what that hearing would be like. Ive never been to Hell. Have either of you?They shook their heads, which wasnt a surprise. Lesser immortals were recruited on Earth, where they thence served. We had no causality to visit the realm of our employers, not even an imp like Hugh. Roman, as a nephilim, was on Heaven and Hells hit list. Walking into Hell would be like showing up in a lions den and presenting yourself on a platter.I always kind of pictured Hell as a cross between waiting in line at the DMV and watching a marathon of Perfect Strangers, remarked Hugh.Roman shot him a sharp look. Whats wrong with that show?Overcome, I hugged Hugh again and then Roman. Thanks, you guys. I mean it. I owe you . . . more than I can ever pay back.Just win, said Roman fiercely. Thats all the payback I need.Hugh put the papers into his briefcase and slipped on his coat. Im going to get these over to Mei now, then head off to a party and drink away the memories of wade through all that legalese.Youre going to Peters? I asked. Unsurprisingly, our vampire friend was holding a shindig to ring in the New Year.Nah, said Hugh. Not much chance of get laid there. Im going to a party one of my nurses is hosting.We wished him a happy new year and bid him farewell. As soon as he was gone, Roman turned to me. What about you? he asked. Are you going to Peters?I knew Peter was counting on it, but it was hard to make myself olfactory property like celebrating. No. Im not in the mood. Besides, Im not sure I want to risk running into Jerome since Im sure Meis going to tell him about the appeal. Ill just keep packing.Come on, Roman said. You cant just sit around tonight. Its a new year . . . new opportunities. Maybe even the chance to break disengage of Hell.I nodded, though it was still hard for me to imagine what breaking free would even look like. It was something we kept talking about, but I really couldnt finger it yet. And even though Id talked a good talk to Seth about how the integrity of the soul and eternity were so much more important than any earthly concerns, it all seemed lackluster without him in my life. I know, I told Roman. But any celebrating I do is going to be forced. If Im going to be unhappy, Id quite an do it in a place where I feel comfortable.He glanced at the clock. Lets at least go out to dinner. Dress up and get a good meal. Then well come back and watch all the New Years shows.I didnt have much of an appetite but suspected if I said no, Roman would consign himself to the same self-imprisonment as me. I didnt want his night ruined because of me, especially after everything hed done this week. One problem presented itself.Its about five, I said. Well never get in anywhere on such short notice. Unless we want to dress up for Taco Bell. Which Im actually not reluctant to.Roman was already reaching for his cell phone. I know someone whos a chef at this Italian place in Green Lake. Well get a table.Sure enough. One mysterious phone call, and we were on our way an hour later. I hadnt been up for elaborate styling and simply shape-shifted myself into New Years finery, with an off-the-shoulder satin dress and my sensory hair cascading in perfect waves. Roman had warned me no black, so the dress was dark purple, which still seemed appropriate for my mood. I paired it with a glittering necklace of white favorable and amethysts that had been my Secret Santa gift to myself. I had great taste.Have you made any moves to put your condo on the market? asked Roman as he host us through the city. Contacted a real estate agent?I gazed out at the bright illumines of the downtown skyline. This time of year, darkness came early. No. I need to. Unless . . . I glanced over at him. Do you want to keep staying there? Ill keep it and rent if you want.He shook his head, a wry smile playing over his lips. No. It wouldnt be the same without you and those furballs. Ill get another place. Sell it or rent it to someone else.Easier to sell, I mused. Well, in theory. But Im not concerned with profit, and it saves the hassle of screening and dealing with I breakped as a startling thought of a sudden came to me. Hey. Do we have time for a, oh, fifteen- beautiful stop? Will your friend get rid of our table?Not if I call. Where do you need to go?The U District. Seths place. Dont worry, I added, seeing his look of alarm. Im not going to do anything crazy or lovestruck. Im not even going to see Seth. Please? Just a quick stop?Roman concurred, though his expression said this was against his better judgment. I almost told him his fears were unfounded because I was only going to actually stop if Margaret was home and Seth wasnt. The odds against that chess ope ning seemed slim, particularly with the way my luck tended to run.The universe apparently owed me a favor because when we reached Seths condo, I saw her car there but not his. A light inside gave me hope that they hadnt just all carpooled off together.Do you need me to come in? asked Roman, as he pulled into my parking spot.No, but thanks. Ill be right back.I left the car and walked up to the door, hoping some wacky happenstance wouldnt actually put me face to face with Seth. Not that I wouldnt have love to see him. God, I missed him so, so much. But I knew no good could come of an encounter between us. I rang the bell and waited anxiously. A a few(prenominal) moments later, Margaret answered.Georgina, she said, clearly move. What are you doing here? She took in my appearance. Are you supposed to meet Seth?No . . . can I come in for a minute? Ill be fast, I promise. She had on a coat, making me think shed been about to leave. Either that or she was trying to save Seth money on his oestrus bills.She gestured me inside and shut the door. I was about to go to Terrys. Seths already there. I didnt bother asking where Ian was. He probably celebrated New Years on January tertiary or something, just to be contrary. You havent been around in a while.I wondered what Seth had told his family about us, if hed even told them anything at all. Maybe he was just going to say nothing until one of them noticed my absence.Ah, well, I said. Seth and I are having a disagreement.She clucked her tongue disapprovingly. You two need to sit down and locating it then.How I wished it was that easy. I forced a neutral smile. Well see, I said. But the thing is . . . I may be moving. No, I am moving. I have a new job . . . and I was wondering if youd like to stay in my condo when I leave. I remember you saying you didnt want to chitchat on Seths space but that you wished you could stick around more to help. Well, now you can. You can have your own place. Mine.I cant afford to keep my place in Chicago and pay rent somewhere here, though, she said sadly. Thats been the problem.You dont have to pay rent, I said. You can stay there for free.She eyed me curiously. How will you afford your owe?Yes, how indeed would a poor retail-bound girl like me be able to swing that? The condos paid off, I explained. Let her think it was passed down through the family or something. And my new job pays well. Look, I really dont mind you staying. Itd be worth it to me to know that the girls have you close by to help. I mean, theyre going to need a strong woman around, right?Margaret took a few moments to answer. Right. I just thought youd be that woman.Fate has other plans, I said. Wasnt that the damned truth.Is that why you and Seth arent getting along? Because youre moving? Im surprised he doesnt just go with you. . . .No, no, its not that at all, I assured her. Its . . . complicated. If it was as simple as moving, he would when he was able to . . . you know, when Andreas better. I hesitated, afraid of the answer to the next question, but it was one I had to know. With no contact from Seth, the status of the Mortensens had been a mystery. How is Andrea? Is she still doing well?Yes, shes doing great. We wont know the details for sure until she sees the doctor in a brace weeks, but on the outside, things look wonderful. Were all praying.I found myself smiling, unable to help my joy and relief. Andrea had looked good at Christmas, but Id worried ever since then that whatever demon had made her sick before would return one of these days. Again, a doctor would have the ultimate answer, but I took Margarets own observation as a good sign.Thank you, I said. You have no idea how much that makes my night. Ive needed some good news.Well, thank you for the housing offer. Can I let you know my answer later?Of course, I said.I wished her a happy new year and told her good night. Then, I hurried off before I cracked and asked her to deliver some sentimental message to Se th. I liked Romans company, but I still couldnt shake the wrongness of being out with him instead of Seth tonight. After last years miserable New Years Eve, Id hoped this one would be better.That was nice of you, Roman said, when I explained what I discussed with Margaret.Its an easy thing for me to do that can help a lot of people, I said. No rationality not to.He shook his head, incredulous. You shouldnt even need a technicality to escape Hells reach. They should fire you out of principle.The restaurant was tiny but elegant and packed. I seriously doubted any connections Roman had would get us in, but through some magic, the hostess beckoned us through the crowd and led us back to a cozy candlelit corner. In it was a table covered with an old-fashioned lace cloth, as well as crystal and china place settings for three.I looked at her in surprise. But theres only Hey, hope Im not late. Carter suddenly emerged from the crowd, wearing his usual grunge wear. The hostess didnt even blink an eye. Seeing us about to sit down, he smiled. I guess not.What are you doing here? I asked. I looked to Roman, who appeared just as perplexed as I was.I didnt tell him any details. He called while you were inside Seths to see if we were going to Peters, and I told him we were going to dinner instead. Thats it.Carter waved it off. Thats as good as a put up beacon. I love this place. Youre getting wine, right?It wasnt that I was unhappy to see Carter. It was just that when Carter appeared, there was usually a reason.So you heard? I said, once wed placed our orders and dispensed with small talk.Carter swirled the wine in his glass. Wed ordered a nice vintage that would probably be wasted on him at the rate he drank. That youre skipping Peters party? Yeah, I did. Man, hes going to be pissed.I tweaked my eyes. Thats not what I mean. Are you here about the appeal we filed?Im here to have dinner with friends, said Carter demurely. But now that you mention it . . .Word gets around fast, huh? I asked. It had been a couple hours since wed seen Hugh, more than enough time for him to deliver the paperwork to Mei and enough for her to have told Jerome.Oh, I found out from him, said Carter, nodding toward Roman.He asked when he called me earlier, explained Roman. He knew wed been working on it.How? I asked, startled.Hugh and I have had to consult him on a couple of things this week, said Roman. Nothing that breaks any rules, of course. Carter gave him a mock toast to that. But enough to clarify a couple points about Hells fucked-up legal system.I wondered what they had needed to consult Carter on but doubted theyd tell me. I was also kind of amazed that Id been so out of it this week that I hadnt even known my legal team had been in touch with the angel. No, on second thought, I wasnt that surprised. My misery had been pretty all-consuming.So what do you think our odds are? I asked.Carter shook his head. I cant answer that.Because it breaks a rule?Because its too tempting for me to answer with a joke about a snowballs chance in Hell.I sighed. Thats not very comforting.Youre awfully grim about this, said Carter. I figured thered be a elfin more excitement from someone trying to win back their soul.It doesnt mean much without Seth, I said.Oh, for Gods sake, said Roman. He reached for the wine bottle. Youre on the verge of getting your soul and your life back . . . and hes still what determines your happiness ? You dont need a relationship to be happy, Georgina.No, I agreed. But Seths not just any relationship. Hes tied to my soul. He found me in the world of dreams. Weve come together, life after life. Im not just some girl who needs a guy around. Seth and I are connected. We both have done terrible things to each other . . . but also made great sacrifices for each other. It just seems like only half a victory to get my soul back but not be with the person whos affected it so much.Roman surprised me by acknowledging the point. Okay. I can se e where youre coming from there.And, added Carter gently, you need to replay your own words there. You and Seth have come back together, life after life. What makes you think you wont again?Well, his recent actions for one, I remarked bitterly. That and . . . I dont know. Just the look in his eyes.Seth had a lot thrown at him all at once. Whose idea was the hypnosis anyway?Mine, said Roman. And get that accusing tone out of your voice. It was the fastest and easiest way we had to get the information we needed.Perhaps, said Carter. But theres a reason reborn mortals forget their past lives. Its a lot to process, and that kind of regression brings on too much, too fast.Hugh kind of said something like that too, I said.Carter nodded, greyish eyes kind. Dont give up on Seth yet. I think he might surprise you once hes settled down. He loved you enough to always come back to you. He loved you enough to remember you, even when Hell tried to erase you from his mind. Thats powerful stuff, D aughter of Lilith.It was, and I suddenly questioned how fairly Id been approaching this situation. My old fears had held me back from truly fighting for Seth. I also hadnt really tried to imagine what it must be like for him to have ten people in one mind.It could take a while, I said, unable to meet Carters eyes. For him to come around, I mean. And it could take a while for Hell to respond to my appeal too, right? Both men nodded. What do I do then? What do I do with all that time?You live, said Carter. You go on with the life you have, with the opportunities you have. You want your soul. You want Seth. If its within your power to achieve those things, do it. If its not, accept it and figure out what else you want.I muddled over his words. Part of my immediate life is dictated for me. I have to go to Las Vegas.What do you want to do there? prompted Carter.Be happy . . . if its possible. I knew I was being melodramatic but couldnt help it. If I have to be there, Id like some sort of chance at a happy life that I created. Not a fake one Hell fashioned for me. I thought about it some more. Id like to find out if Bastien is my friend first and Hells servant second.There you go, said Carter. Start there. Focus on what you can control.Id like to help Seths family too, I added, kind of on a roll now. Im already trying to do something for his mom, but before I leave them, I want to do whatever I can. Even if Hell leaves Andrea alone, we dont know how things will turn out. Even if Seth decides he never wants to see me again, I still care about them. And there are still things they need.Indeed. That pony collection isnt nearly complete, Carter mused. When I dared a look back at him, I saw that the angel was smiling at me. You see? You arent lost. No matter what happens to you, you have a plan. Theres still hope.You told me that once . . . that no matter what happens, theres always hope. Do you really still believe that? I asked.Carter topped off all of our wine supply . Im an angel, Georgina. I wouldnt have said it if I didnt.And even though youre counseling contingency plans, you still think I can pull it all off, dont you? I pushed. What do you know that I dont?At this point? he admitted. Nothing more than you do. The only difference is that I think I have more cartel in you than you do.Youre an angel, I pointed out, throwing his words back at him. Dont you have to have faith in everyone?Youd be surprised. He chuckled. I have faith in some more than others. And you? Ive always been one of your biggest fans. If you believe nothing else, believe that.Here, here, said Roman, raising his glass. To faith and a new year.I clinked glasses with them and caught Carters eye. He winked. Was it enough? His faith? Id noted before that having him pull for the Mortensens was a powerful thing. Having an angel say he believed in you was equally monumental. But I wasnt fighting an ordinary adversary. I was fighting Hell, the only force that could stand against Heaven.Ive always been one of your biggest fans.I would find out soon if it was enough. For now, I drank up and tried to have hope.

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