D’Hoffryn walked in the door, toed off his shoes, tossed his keys in the bowl on the hall table, and sorted through the mail. There was a scroll for the Arashmahar Retirement Home Gala Feast, a couple of credit talisman come-ons, and his December issue of Demonico Delicto. Hmm. Vin Diesel made a striking cover model. As always, it was clear he’d been working out.
He could hear Skip humming in the kitchen, from which emanated a marvelous odor. He followed his nose and stuck his head into the doorway. “Hello, handsome! What’s cookin’?” He was rewarded with a brilliant smile and a glass of chilled bile was pressed into his hand.
“That’s for you to find out.” Skip firmly placed a lid on a steaming pot, and lowered the burner flame.
“Smells a little like my favorite. Could it be a special occasion?” D’Hoffryn eased further into the room.
“Could be.” Skip picked up his own glass and steered the both of them into the living room and onto the couch. Soft wailing was playing in the background and the torches were turned down low. D’Hoffryn noticed a very nice arrangement of herbs and antlers on the dining table. Good. His staff had managed a simple delivery, at least.
“How was your day?” asked Skip, rubbing the base of D’Hoffryn’s left forehorn.
D’Hoffryn sighed, partially in contentment, and partially to expel the stresses of the day.
“A little of this, a little of that. We almost snagged a very promising new recruit, so that was an upside. She needs a little more time to develop, but she might even come to make up for losing Anyanka. It seems they are acquainted. Perhaps I can send Anyanka a finder’s fee when Ms. Rosenberg signs. I don’t like to see her struggling like this, except from a professional standpoint, of course.”
“I know you miss her,” soothed Skip.” Hell, even I miss hearing about her exploits. It’s a damned shame.” They each took a sip of their bile, taking a moment to remember a fallen comrade.
“Other than that, today was the usual hassle,” continued D’Hoffryn. “Heads will have to roll before the sales department ever gets back into shape. I’m surrounded by gold-bricking imps with no long view. You are lucky to be out of Justice proper and into Corrections, darling.”
Skip smiled. “Well, it’s peaceful, but if I have to read another 35-year-old copy of Highlights for Children, I’m going to start thinking that the Justice is on me!”
D’Hoffryn made a mental note to have a subscription allotment added to the prison budget.
“How’s the novel coming?” he asked, gently stroking Skip’s chin ring with one talon while gazing into his scarlet eyes.
“Not bad. The second draft is going pretty smoothly, though I realized I’m going to have to rearrange the entire section about the mother and the llama ranch.”
“But I loved that part!”
“That’s because you are blinded by affection for the author,” teased Skip.
“Hmmpf. I think I am perfectly objective about your work.”
“I think you are perfectly sweet. But your secret is safe with me.”
They clinked their glasses together.
“I’d better finish up dinner,” said Skip, He finished his drink and headed back to the kitchen.
“I still say you should’ve let me take you out,” said D’Hoffryn, watching him go.
“Nah. It’s a pain, dealing with all your fawning subjects. I wanted tonight to be for just the two of us.”
“Does that mean there won’t be any fawning?” whined D’Hoffryn with a mock pout.
“You’ll just have to wait and see. Here. Toss these tentacles. Make sure the dressing is coating everything evenly.”
“Love you, too.”