Lucifer’s penthouse was dark against the glow of the night skyline, the smoked glass radiating soft shadows against the wood floor and dappling the dimly illuminated bar with shadows and strips of light with each flash of lightning. Chloe was enthralled, watching the storm rage outside while Lucifer peppered kisses up her neck, along her jawline, down the exposed curve of her back, but jolted out of the trance and shrieked as the next flash illuminated the figure lounging on the leather couch, supping from a lowball glass and apparently enjoying the free show.
Lucifer’s eyes flicked up in annoyance at the interruption to his ministrations, and then froze as he too registered the curves on his couch.
“Oh please don’t let me interrupt. Unless, of course, you wouldn’t mind my joining you?”
The figure stood as Lucifer clicked his fingers to activate the lights and suddenly all three were bathed in the soft amber glow, Lucifer, frustrated sex-on-legs, Chloe, half out of royal blue Versace and a woman wearing floor length champagne silk and a lecherous smile as she raised the whisky glass back to her lips with a hiss of approval as she deliberately raked Chloe from top to toe.
“Who are you?”
Up until now, Chloe had taken some heart from the relative geniality of the woman’s tone, with the ease of an old friend, she had assumed that she and Lucifer had had some shared history, though from the appreciative looks she’d been throwing Chloe instead, perhaps not of Lucifer’s usual sort with a woman of her type. Now, with Lucifer’s complete lack of recognition, Chloe tensed.
The woman, in lieu of answering verbally, took two strides forward and kissed Lucifer, hard. He actually stumbled back a step when she released him, but recognition had bloomed, whether from the close up, the kiss or something else.
“Brother?” Chloe asked incredulously.
The woman nodded, but Lucifer picked up the inflection in her tone, the human distaste and mediated.
“Of sorts. All God’s children and such.”
The woman – Ariane – seemed puzzled, as if she couldn’t comprehend why such a greeting to such a relation might be considered unusual, and Chloe’s face was a mixture of distaste and curiosity.
“Kissing, or the approximation that we can manage in these forms doesn’t hold the same- uh… connotations that it does to humans.”
“I see.” Chloe did not see. Chloe saw a beautiful woman in her partner’s apartment who had managed to interrupt their session, eye-fuck Chloe and make out with Lucifer all in the space of less than two minutes. But curiosity won out as she slid the strap of her dress back up over her collarbone, much to Lucifer’s idle dismay and picked up the decanter of whisky from the bar and turned to pour both of them a drink. Cock-blocked by a goddamn angel.
When she turned back, Ariane had sprawled out on the couch, the silk of her wrap dress falling open to reveal a lot, a lot, of leg and eye-wateringly expensive shoes. Clearly taste for the finer things in life, or immortality, ran in the family.
“What exactly are you doing here?”
“I haven’t seen you in a millennia and I get a ‘what are you doing here?’”
“It’s a fair question. Why aren’t you in Heaven?”
“You’re not really up to date with the family gossip, are you?”
“I’ve not read the last few Christmas cards, no.”
“Father threw us out.”
“What?!” Lucifer bellowed, eyes flashing dangerously red as Chloe came to sit down beside him. Her presence tempered him, and he managed a tight: “Who is us, exactly?”
“Around half the Cherubim. Juniors mostly, some with full wingspan, some without.”
“Half the – what for?”
“General misbehaviour. He’s tetchy. I may have been sleeping with Ruby too, but I’m not sure he caught onto that.”
“Ruby - my Ruby?” Lucifer sounded outraged, and Ariane sat up to match her brother’s fury.
“Don’t blame me for your demon spawn craving angelic satisfaction. You made her. And you made her pretty too, how on earth could I be expected to resist?”
“You got thrown out of Heaven for sleeping with one of my demons, and took half the Cherubim with you?”
“Well he didn’t cotton onto the other demons, so I doubt he caught this one. The Cherubim were cast out for abusing an immolation, I just happened to be in the same nest when he plunged it to Earth.”
“Other demons? Which other demons?”
“I don’t know; do you expect me to learn their names? I’m such a sucker for false worship and you’ve trained them so well.”
“Heaven’s own slut.”
“Modesty and chastity were human inventions; I’ll have no part in that. Besides, angels are such boring bedfellows; it’s like an eternity of limp noodles when a whole host of delights lay beneath our feet.” Ariane stretched out languorously, and Chloe, who had never once doubted her straight and narrow was suddenly struck with a serious dose of self-doubt about exactly what she’d manage to choke out if this woman asked her to bed. Lucifer seemed to sense this seismic shift on Chloe’s personal Kinsey scale, and cleared his throat. Ariane glanced from him to Chloe and smiled that same satisfied yet lecherous smile she’d dazzled them with before.
“An eternity of practice gives one a hell of a technique my darling. Perhaps you’d like to try it and report back to him.”
“I’m older than you.” Lucifer interrupted.
“You did spend the those few millennia being awfully angsty about it all, as I remember. Michael had more action than you did.”
At the mention of his twin, Lucifer’s nose wrinkled. “Yes, well, I’ve more than made up for that minor lapse in judgement. As Chloe will attest.”
“Leave me out of it,” Chloe begged.
“Well I wouldn’t just take Lucifer to bed now, it would be terribly dull. I’m afraid it’s you or me, or we three, or we all go without until that delightful new demon comes upstairs.”
“Don’t touch Maze.”
“Oh please don’t tell me you’re sleeping with her?”
“No…Father no. Just… Where are the rest of the Cherubim?”
“Scattered. Searching out Judeo-Christian hotbeds with which to ingratiate themselves with Father again. Such unimaginative creatures at that age.”
“You aren’t enrolling in the nearest convent then?”
“Good gracious no. The pleasure of converting the uptight is always enjoyable, but they have some sort of marriage pact with Father and I think he really might banish me if I tried it on with a bride of Christ.”
“Speaking of whom…”
“No idea. Haven’t seen him recently. He disapproves of my harem.”
Lucifer almost choked. “Your what?”
“My harem. Daniel is getting rather good now and I’d hate to waste him on someone else.”
“Heaven is wasted on you.”
“Isn’t it just. Ruby is still at the point of mildly interesting so I thought I’d stick around until that nice little phase ends.”
“Nice of her not to tell me that she’s sleeping with my sister.”
“You don’t have Grace any more Lucifer. Compulsion is such a basic art. Soul binding orders take precedent.”
“You’ve enslaved my demons?”
“If I wanted a demon, I’d ask for one. I merely thought it more prudent not to tell you in case you overreacted.”
“Such foresight. Why are you here?”
“Because I need to find Gabriel. Michael’s dictatorial Archangelship is not going to hold Heaven together for much longer, and whatever falls off of the top inevitably ends up smashing against the bottom.”
“Find Gabriel, what do you mean find him?”
“Gabriel disappeared three hundred years ago. Michael is about to lose control of the Virtues and when that happens…”
“Bad. Very bad.”
“How eloquent. Yes. Very, very bad.”