A woman was leaning against the hood of my car. She was probably the most beautiful woman I had ever seen. Her features were exotic, with strong hints of Indian. She had honey colored almond shaped eyes, and a complexion like warm caramel. Her hair was a soft black waist length mass that seemed to have a life of its own. She was dressed in a skin tight leopard print halter top and a pair of black pants that seemed to be painted on, with an elegant silk scarf tied around her waist.
She stalked over to us, leaving puncture wounds in the ground with her three inch heels with each step. She reminded me of a cat by the graceful way she moved, slow and seductive as if she were putting on a show. I looked back at Phil. By the way his Adams apple bobbed, I was willing to put money on it that she was acting out for him.
“Old Girlfriend?” I whispered to him.
“Gamori.” He said, loud enough for the approaching woman to hear. It wasn’t a greeting, or an introduction, but more of a warning growl.
She stopped almost a breath away from him, looking up seductively, putting her arms around his shoulders. He stood straight and still. She was taller than me in those heels, but still about three inches shorter than him. “Azaraphel,” She answered. Her voice was husky, and I could definitely imagine that voice working wonders on an X rated film. She went to give him a kiss but he flinched and inched back. She pouted at him, “What’s the matter, love?”” I was a bit surprised to hear the British accent. She looked at me, with her arms still around Phil’s neck. “Don’t want to make out in front of your new girlfriend?”
Phil forcibly removed her arms from around his neck and stepped back, away from her. “She and I are not lovers, and neither are we, for that matter,” he told her quite bluntly. I think the “not anymore” hung in the air. I would have to be blind not to see that there was or had been something between them.
She made a soundless “Oh” with her lips and turned her attentions to me. She took the extra step to be closer to me and smelled my hair. “Smells like vanilla,” she purred. “I guess you won’t mind if I have her then?” She asked, teasing Phil, curling a tendril of my hair around her fingers.
I brushed her hand away. “Sorry, but I don’t swing that way,” I told her. “And I already have a boyfriend, too.”
She looked in my eyes for a moment. She was really pushing my personal boundaries hard, but I didn’t want to take a step back. That seemed like showing weakness for some reason. She laughed but it was full of condescension. “Oh love, that won’t last long.” I didn’t like the way she said that at all.
I looked back at the house. I was very glad that Holly and Tommy had already left, but neighbors were bound to notice soon if we stayed in their front yard. I looked at Phil, and turning my attention away from Gamori for just a moment. “Phil, we need to leave,” I said pointing to the house. “We are going to cause them more trouble if we stay out here.”
Gamori laughed, again with disdain. “You aren’t going anywhere until I’ve said what I have to say to you, Theresa Marie Grimshaw. The people who live here will be fine. ‘Daddy’ is going to have a little ‘accident’ in the near future.”
I looked at Phil, and I must have looked as surprised and scared as I felt. He said, “Gamori is oracular. She can also find hidden objects, and make women fall in love.”
“She’s a demon,” I said, catching on. Some days I’m just a bit slow. He nodded. “In that case, we really have to leave.” Gamori started to protest, but I cut her off. I know it wasn’t polite of me, but I was not going to bring another demon in range of Holly or Tommy, even if they weren’t home. “If you have something to tell me, you can tell me in the car. We are not staying here.” I said, putting my foot down. Admittedly, I didn’t like the idea of having a demoness in my car, but it was better than the alternative.
Gamori smiled, and this time it seemed a bit more genuine, even if it was still seductive. “I like you,” she said. “You are direct.” She tapped the place on my shirt where my stone amulet was hidden underneath. “If not for this bobble, I could have so much fun with you.” She smiled. I came to the conclusion that I didn’t like her at all. She went and sat in the front passenger seat, and waited patiently, with that seductive smile still plastered on her face. I guess that she was very amused with herself at all times, and couldn’t help but wonder what it would take to remove that smile. It wasn’t very nice of me to think.
I looked at Phil and he nodded. I took that as a sign that we were good to go, demoness and all. He climbed into the back behind Gamori.
As soon as I pulled out of the driveway, I asked, “Okay, so what did you come to tell me?”
“What relationship do you have with Azaraphel?” She asked instead of answering.
“It’s none of your business, Gamori,” Phil replied from the back seat.
She made a tut-tut sound. “Testy, love, testy. Is it a touchy subject with you?” she asked, turning around in the seat to face him. She looked at him for a moment, and then looked at me. “Oh, I see.” She laughed. “Phil, you naughty boy,” she teased him, using my name for him. It did not spark happy feelings in me.
“Is she doing some oracular thing, Phil, or is she just being a pain in the ass?”
Gamori patted my knee. “Trust me, love, you will know when I am being a ‘pain in the ass’.”
I think at that point, I’d had enough, and she hadn’t even said much yet. I think that it was what she wasn’t saying that pissed me off the most. We were at a four way stop, with open fields on two of the corners, woods on the third, and a small brick building on the fourth. It was boarded up, and had probably been a stable or something in a past life. I pulled my car into the flat dirt patch beside it and parked.
“A crossroads,” Gamori said, “How fitting a place to have a talk with a demon.” I understood the significance, but I really hadn’t planned it that way. I just couldn’t wait until she passed on her message and got the hell out of my car. “It’s traditional to have meeting with the devil and cast dark spells at crossroads, you know.”
I got out of the car, and hoped that she would follow suit, which she did. She took a deep breath. “I love the smell of dark magic in the evening, don’t you?” she asked.
I shook my head. “Wouldn’t know. I’ve never tried it.” I replied flatly.
She laughed and shook her head. “Oh, love. If only you knew,” she said.
“Gamori,” Phil said her name like a warning. I wasn’t sure what he was warning her about, but I hoped that he was warning her that she better start talking soon.
She sniffled as if she were faking sadness. “Phil, love, you take all the fun out of these things.”
He looked sternly at her. “Just tell Riesa what you came to tell her.”
“Down, boy,” she cajoled. “I’ll tell her, just as soon as she answers a question for me.”
“Ask.” I said, running out of patience.
She seductively swayed over to me, and brushed the side of my face with one of her long nails. “Tell me, love, how good is your delicious ‘Greg’ in the sack?”
I looked to Phil for help on this, because I didn’t want to answer such a crass question. He looked at Gamori, blank faced. “Riesa, you can answer her question.”
I looked at the demoness. “Not that it is any of either of your businesses, whatsoever, but I wouldn’t know.”
She laughed, “Well, it’s only a matter of time, love.” She thought for a moment. “Tell you what. To make up for my asking such a prying question of you, I’ll let you tell me one treasure that you would most like to find in the entire world.”
I didn’t even have to think about that one. “My memories. I don’t think you could find those for me, though.” I replied.
She opened her mouth to say something, but Phil interrupted her. “Do not offer her an answer before you state your price,” He said.
She grinned flirtatiously at him. “It’s a gift,” she said, then turned to me. “You need only look as far as the end of your nose, love,” she teased, tapping the end of my nose for emphasis. “You may ask me another question later. I came to give you a message from the one who holds my allegiance,” she said, and then added, looking pointedly at Phil, “because I still honor my oaths.” She walked over to lean against the car, and then looked back at me, and said, as if reciting verbatim, “Theresa Marie Grimshaw, granddaughter of Toliver Maxwell Grimshaw, you are hereby formally invited to a gathering on the night of the full moon, at a place to be determined, and disclosed via another messenger. You are invited to bring one guest. Yours truly, Mr. B.” She finished, and then tacked on quickly, “Oh and Gregory Behr sends his love.”
My heart sank. “Greg,” I whispered. I moved angrily towards the demoness, but Phil stopped me, holding me back. “Where is Greg? Is he hurt?” I demanded.
She smirked at Phil. “I do like her, Phil. She has spirit.”
“Its ‘Azaraphel’ to you, Gamori,” he growled. Apparently he didn’t like her using my name for him either.
She laughed. “Very well, I’ll tell you, love, but first, my price, since Azaraphel so demands it.” She looked at me, her usual flirtatiousness replaced by seriousness. “I will tell you where Greg is in exchange for the amulet you wear around your neck.”
Without thinking, I reached for the wire that held the stone. Phil stopped my hand. “Wait, Riesa, think about this.”
I looked at Phil. “I love Greg. If I put him in danger because I couldn’t tell him the truth about all of this, and then did nothing to help him, I could never live with myself.” I took the necklace off and held it out for Gamori.
She let it fall into her palm. The magic of it sizzled away in a flash of light, like a light bulb that had just burned out. The charm was broken now that it had been touched by someone else. She smiled. “Don’t worry, Azaraphel. I won’t use any of my wicked powers on your lovely practitioner,” she assured him, and then turned to me. “You will find Gregory Behr, safe and sound, at your home.”
“Damn it,” Phil cursed. I agreed, but was too mad to vocalize.
Gamori laughed. “I answered! But if you insist, I can give Riesa her bobble back,” she smirked, dropping the now-defunct amulet into my hand. “Sweet dreams, love,” she said to me, and then turned to leave.
“Gamori, wait,” Phil called after her. “How long have you been in town?”
She gave him a seductive smile. “A few days.”
“Then it was you messing with Riesa last night,” he accused.
Her smile turned demure. “Yes, I admit it. Mr. B. wasn’t happy when he found out, though. He threatened not to whip me for a whole month if I did it without his permission again.” She turned and vanished. No puff of smoke, just gone.
Phil looked at me. “Well, we still have a few days to prepare. You can just go back to Clarice and see if you can get another one, or have that one enchanted again.”
I looked at him, wide eyed. “Whoa, wait. She’s a masochist? And you dated her?”
He groaned and looked at me disparagingly. “Dated is such a strong term for what we were. I was her subordinate for a while. Subordinate in Discord is a lot like ‘slave’. You do a lot of things you aren’t proud of because if you don’t, worse things happen to you.”
I stared at the stone in my hand. “What are your domains, Azaraphel? What kind of demon are you?” I asked, not meeting his eyes. Gamori frightened me. The Boogie Man, or Krampus, or whatever he was, frightened me. Azaraphel was one of them. He frightened me, too, but in a completely different way.
He looked at me. “Well, according to the Goetica Grimshaw, I command 15 legions of demons. I hold the rank of knight. I bring chaos, but I also offer protections against chaos. It is my office to teach the arts of war and swordsmanship. I’m also pretty good at mastering video games. I am ranked 94th, though that is sure to have changed in the past 8 years. All of this commanding legions and ranking stuff is really just made up figures that we tell to make ourselves seem cooler to whatever demonologist summons us. Mostly.”
I looked up at him. “So, are you really a knight, or was that made up?”
He looked away. “I was a knight. We have our ranks, I’m sure you’ve guessed. I just don’t care about playing the game anymore.” He turned away and walked back to the car.
“Wait, Azaraphel,” I called out to him. I couldn’t bring myself to use his nickname at the moment. “I have one more question for you,” I caught up with him, and stood right in front of him, looking him in the eye. “Gamori obviously had no use for a summoner or a host, or whatever you’d call it. You told me that you needed me alive to stay on Earth. Was that true?” I demanded.
He fidgeted and looked away. “No it wasn’t, apparently.”
I sighed loudly, feeling an unhealthy dose of betrayal and anger. I turned away but ended up rounding back on him, yelling, “Why did you lie to me? Was anything you told me at the beginning true, at all?” A thought occurred to me. My voice went quiet, “You are just trying to get the rest of my soul, to own me, aren’t you,” I accused. I felt stupid immediately after it came out of my mouth, but he was so close to being perfectly bound to me that it scared me to my core.
He looked at me, and I could see the remorse and hurt in his eyes. “I lied to you, because I wanted to stay with you,” he admitted. “I lied to you because I needed a reason to give you that you would believe.” He laced his fingers behind his head, frustrated. “I spent seven years trapped in your journal, with your memories, Riesa. Seven years!” he shouted. I was shocked. He had never shouted at me before, but now it was like some bottled up tension that I had never noticed before had been released. There was no stopping it. “I had plenty of time to get to know everything about you, every single nuance, and every detail. I know what you like, what you fear, what you hate. I know how you found the strength to be happy after your parents died, and I know how you had the will power to look every challenge you faced with optimism. I relived all of your happy memories with you, for seven years.” His eyes met mine. “Tell me that it’s possible to see that much light in someone and not fall in love with it.”
I stood there, frozen, looking into his dark blue eyes. I didn’t know what to say. “I…” I grasped for words that wouldn’t come. He turned away.
I watched him walk across the dirt clearing. He jumped the fence and sat on the other side. I debated leaving him. I wanted to just leave this situation. I had someone I loved, and things were going great. Plus, Greg was human. But Azaraphel, my own personal demon, had just confessed his love in not so many words. I was conflicted. I decided that it would be very cruel of me to leave him behind.
The storm clouds had finally rolled away, leaving the sky clear. The moon was waxing, and almost to full, though I really couldn’t tell the difference between the moon above us, and a real full moon. The night was well lit, which worked for me. I think I was becoming afraid of the dark. As I walked toward Phil, I couldn’t help but notice that his unruly hair reflected the moonlight like a red halo, as if someone had set the field on fire in that one place and then took a still frame of it.
I hopped the fence and sat down next to him. He was staring up at the moon, and I could see the light shine in his eyes. I didn’t say anything. I just sat there, mainly because I didn’t know what to say.
“I know you don’t love me, Riesa. You don’t have to worry about that,” he said, still staring up at that moon. “I’d like you to know that I’m not reading your mind or anything. We are joined at the soul, that much is true.” He sighed. “It’s also true that I gain more power the more connected to your soul that I am. You should know that the opposite is also true. You become a more powerful spell caster through me.” He gave me a half smile, turning to look at me. The moon was still in his eyes. “I guess you could say, in a way, that I am your familiar.”
He looked at me, and I didn’t look away. I just stared into his dark blue eyes. I could have gotten up and walked away, but I didn’t. So it was my own fault when he leaned over and kissed me in the moonlight.
It was a tender kiss and started off innocent. It wasn’t like the bespelled longing that I had felt in the motel, but I found myself kissing him back. His hand caressed my face and I caught myself.
“Wait, wait,” I said, breathlessly, pushing him back. “We really can’t do this. It’s wrong on too many levels.”
He looked at me and sighed. “Yeah, can’t have that.”
I looked at my watch. “We need to go,” I said. I was glad that Greg was okay, but now I really needed to see him and set myself straight, especially if he had been waiting at the house all this time.
“You go ahead,” Phil waved me off. “I’ll walk home. I could use some fresh air, anyway.” He sighed. I felt sorry for him. This was all my fault. I was the one who had locked him in that journal. He should hate me, but he didn’t. He was bound to me, but I was already taken.
I nodded and walked back to my car, driving home alone with my unhappy thoughts.