My Real Family

I’ve mentioned it before; I was adopted. 8 out of the 10 of us kids were adopted; most when we were babies and one when he was 7. I’m not one of those kids who has a desire to find my biological family though.

One of my sister’s found her bio family. It wasn’t a bad thing. She has a small relationship with her bio siblings and got to meet her bio mom. One of my brothers wants to find his bio family because he is certain that it will be a wonderful thing.

I don’t think it is bad to find your bio family. I thought about it when I was taking a family history class back when I was Mormon and went to BYU Idaho. I don’t know much about my bio family and what my parents have tell me I promptly forget. I know I was born in Martin Luther King Hospital in California. I was named Crystal Camille Phillips. That’s about it….

When I was a kid I dreamed that my bio family was rich and famous now and I was going to inherit their money. As I grew up I wondered if I had a bio mother who struggled with her weight and siblings who have the same tongue freckles and small pinky fingers as me. Now that I am older I mainly just wonder my real medical history. What runs in my family?

I don’t really have an urge to look for my bio family. It isn’t that I don’t care about them. I wish them the very vest. But I have a family. I have a mother and father who love me and spoil me rotten. I have brothers and sisters that drive me crazy and that I love dearly. It might be cool to have more family, but I do not lack in that department. No, my real family is the one I was adopted into and I don’t need anything else. Thank you Don and Melanie. You have changed my life and most likely for the better.

Image may contain: 32 people, people smiling

Body Image

I wish I could say I love my body, but honestly I don’t.

I wish I could say when I’m thin I’ll be happy, but no I really wont.

Because being thin is always in, no matter what your size

And the world will always judge you based on the width of your thighs.

Being an actor and judged on your looks is hard on the soul

And no matter how you try and stay dedicated you always lose control.

Because people are different, no one is the same, you are you and I’m me.

So why can’t the world focus on that and just let me be?

No, we want to be something different, change the person that was born

So that we can be like celebrities and toot our own horn.

If people could see the real you, the one who hides inside

Would they honestly care what you weigh, what you eat; would they chide?

Be the person you were born to be, the original that was birthed

And maybe the world will be different, our real selves will be unearthed.

 

Ch. 2 Meeting Lucifer

My chapters are a bit long and of course are all drafts. But if you have a second, go ahead and read it!

Ch.2

I don’t know how long I stood there and stared at Freddy, but he stared right back and we didn’t say a word the entire time. When I finally spoke I had to clear my throat so my voice didn’t sound weak. “You mean I’m meeting your boss? The devil? Tonight?” Freddy nodded. “Why?”

“So, I may have only told you a half truth about the relationship between some demons and their humans,” he said and looked at the floor. “It’s less of a companionship and more of a servant and master relationship. Demons pick one human to be their main attendant and they have to get approved by Lucifer himself.”

“I’m not your servant,” I protested. “I’m your friend! I saved your life!” Freddy held up his hands in defense.

“I know, I know! And I owe you a lot. I do. But since I told you about the demon world and I have been seen hanging around with you there has been talk that you are my new human. And now word has reached the ears of my master and he has summoned me to bring you to him. If you don’t get his stamp of approval then we are kinda done.” He bit his lip and looked away.

“Freddy,” I said softly. “What happens if I don’t get his approval?” He pursed his lips. “Freddy! What happens?”

“It could be a couple of things,” he explained. “So don’t freak out. He could just erase your mind and then you wouldn’t know anything about my world or ….He could kill you.”

“What?!” I collapsed in the kitchen chair closest to me and put my head in my hands. “You have got to be kidding me.”

“It’s not as bad as it sounds,” Freddy said. He came over and started to massage my shoulders. “He hardly kills humans anymore. He just wants to make sure you are devoted to me and won’t squeal. Anyone who sees us can tell we have a bond, so that isn’t too worrisome. But a demon’s human behaves a certain way. Since I am kind of a loud character they’d expect you to mirror me. That is part of the reason I’ve been making you over. Just in case you had to pass for my human.”

“Why didn’t you just tell me this,” I snapped and stood up to move away from him. He dropped his hands to his side and sighed.

“I knew the risk that I was taking when I told you of my world. If it looked like you couldn’t handle it I would have erased your mind myself and sent you on your merry way. But you really are perfect for me Kris. I mean, you haven’t really helped me with demon work like a real companion would, but we can fix that. I can give you small tasks to do and our relationship can just grow from there. You have so much potential Kris. I am just trying to bring it out of you.” I stared at his face, his bunched up brows and his frown, and I sighed. I hadn’t seeing him worried or sad. That wasn’t the Freddy I was used to.

“When did you learn that you’d been summoned,” I asked.

“I few days ago. I’ve been in meetings since then. Its part of the reason you haven’t seen me all week.”

“Okay. What do we have to do to make it seem like we have the proper demon and human relationship?” Freddy’s eyes widened.

“You’ll do it,” he asked, so much hope in his voice.

“Well do I have any other options?” He jumped and ran over and wrapped his arms around me.

“Thank you Kris! This is going to be great, I promise.We are going to a club, one that is reserved for demons and their humans, and we are going to have a good time. We’ll just have a quick meeting, you’ll get approved, and then life will return to normal.”

“Okay,” I said as I shoved him off of me. “So what do we need to do?”

“First off I need to get you ready. I know you think you look good, and you do, but not ‘demon good’. Hop in the shower.”

“I seriously just took one Freddy,” I protested.

“We have to start from scratch Kris! Build you from the ground up. Hurry now. I need to do your nails and your hair and makeup. Also, I brought you an outfit that is more appropriate for tonight. You’ll look hot. Appearances are everything!” I got in the shower and worried about what he was going to do to me. Freddy’s choices were loud. No doubt I’d come out looking like a hooker. I blow dried my hair and Freddy did my nails first. He painted them a deep burgundy, both my hands and feet, and while they dried he got to work on my hair and makeup.

He’d brought his own bag of products and he expertly made my hair look bed tousled, like I’d just had a good night of sex. The makeup he did was pretty tasteful, all things considered, but it just wasn’t my style. He was heavy handed on the blush, gave me smoky eyes, which I never would have worn, and made my lips match my nails. Then he pulled a dress from a bag he’d laid on my bed.

“No way,” I protested. “Freddy! That is a little much!” It was beautiful, just not something I’d wear. It was short, unbelievably short, and was black with red sparkled all over it. Every time it twisted it shone. It was strapless too, which meant I wouldn’t be wearing a bra. Big boobs and going braless were not a good combination. “It will be like I went out wrapped in a towel. But a towel at least is made of thicker material!”

“Kris. You’re hot. A hot demon’s hot human shows off her assets. I swear to you I’ll cast a spell to make sure you don’t fall out of your dress or flash the crowd. We have to play the part or Lucifer will suspect something is up!” I wondered if it would be so bad if my mind was wiped. Sure, I’d go back to the girl I was but at least I’d be comfortable with that. But there was the chance of death as well… Besides, I already was out of my comfort zone with the hair and makeup.

“Fine. But you really owe me one Freddy.” He turned his back while I slid into the dress and then he helped me put on some high and strappy heels. The look was complete and I gazed at myself in the mirror. I had to admit, I looked good; like someone out of a magazine. But it was not me. I’d rather be in sweats and a baggy t-shirt and sit in front of the TV all night. Maybe that was how I’d spend my Saturday as long as I wasn’t killed.

“You look amazing,” Freddy said before he bent to kiss my forehead. “Come on. I rented a car.” We locked up and I followed him down the stairs and around the corner where a black and red sleek looking car sat.

“Are your colors tonight black and red for a reason,” I asked as I slid into the car and practically purred at the feel of the leather seats.

“Don’t they just scream demon,” Freddy asked. He started up the car and merged into traffic. “I always thought that black and red were demon colors. Lucifer is usually dressed in black and red.”

“So you’re copying your boss?”

“More like honoring him. And trust me, I’m not the only demon who finds ways to kiss the boss’s ass. It couldn’t hurt for us to match him anyway.” I eyed his white pants. “Well I didn’t want to completely match him. That’d be obvious.” I leaned forward and began to fiddle with the radio.

“So where are we going,” I asked when I found an alternative station I liked and leaned back in my seat. “L.A. I presume?”

“Just outside of the city. It’s called Middle Ground. We didn’t want people wandering in who weren’t allowed. We do have a bouncer who decides how many humans can come in, but if we were in the middle of the city we’d be more popular than the boss man wants. I don’t think he wants that much attention.” I nodded along while he talked and slowly closed my eyes. It had been a long day and was sure to be a long and stressful night. The weight of the situation had finally hit me. I could die. Tonight. I’d never met any other demons within the year I’d known Freddy; I thought he was keeping me away on purpose. Not every demon could be as nice as him. He was protecting me. But now he had no choice but to bring me into the lion’s den. I’d be surrounded by demons and would meet the big bad himself. My heart leapt into my throat and I took a couple deep breaths. Freddy lay his warm hand on mine and gave it a squeeze.

“I have high hopes Kris,” he said to reassure me. “Killing you would mean a lot of work. He’d have to cover his tracks. I don’t think he really wants that. Just act like you belong and we should be fine. He’s expecting my human to be anything but normal, so you should be alright. Just act respectful and we will get out of there unharmed.”

“How do you act respectful to the devil?”

“Don’t meet his eyes unless he asks you,” Freddy suggested. “And even if he asks you, maybe stare at the bridge of his nose. He can read minds, ya know. So just try to keep yours as blank as possible. Don’t talk back to me, you’re supposed to be my human. And do not, I repeat, do not talk to or make eye contact with other demons. They will view you as my weakness and try to exploit that.” We pulled off the busy street and he began to navigate the back roads.

“How can I tell the difference between a demon and their human,” I asked. “Or should I just not talk to anyone?”

“That’s a perfect idea! Stick with me and ignore everyone else! You’ll be safer that way.” He pulled into a dimly lit parking lot and when the car was parked he took off his seatbelt and leaned over to me. “One last thing Kris. I need to take a bite of your soul.” I frowned and undid my seatbelt.

“Why? Didn’t you get something to eat tonight?”

“The bound between a demon and his human is soul based,” he explained. “To keep that bound fresh the demons must feed on his human regularly. Nothing big, just a small bite here and there. It marks you as mine and keeps other demons at bay to some extent.” I climbed out of the car and Freddy hurried to follow me. I leaned against the door and sighed.

“It’ll make me weak. Do you want me weak when we get in there?” Freddy frowned and look away. “What? You’re not telling me something Freddy. Be honest with me.” He sighed and came to lean against the car with me.

“There is another exchange I was going to do without telling you,” he admitted. “I was going to share my darkness with you. It is another link between us, but this lasts longer than a nibble at your soul. Humans and their demons must be linked for the relationship to work. I take some of your soul and you take some of my darkness. Both of us will be invigorated and everyone will know we belong together. It is a way to keep us both safe.” I brought a hand up to my face to rub my eyes and paused just in time. I’d almost forgotten about my make up.

“If I take some of your darkness will it make me evil,” I asked. Freddy snorted and pushed off from the car so he could turn to face me.

“Do I seem evil to you? Evil doesn’t have to do with your core; your essence. It is more surface than that. Even Lucifer at his core isn’t evil. No, taking my darkness will not turn you bad.. It is just something temporary to give you the courage to face what we are going to encounter tonight. It will wear off in a few days. Please Kris. Do this for me?” I looked down at the ground, considering the situation. “We don’t have a lot of time here…”

“Fine. Whatever. Do your thing, if you think it will be helpful.” Freddy stepped closer and I opened my mouth. The light began to flow from me into his open mouth, but this time I could see a blackness come from him to me. As it entered me my head began to feel light and my body got warm all over. When he was done I grinned like a fool and laughed. “Woah! What a rush!” I felt so many things. Strong! Warm! Happy! I ran my hands down my sides and smirked. I did look hot. Freddy had done a great job. We shouldn’t let such a good look go to waste.

“You feeling alright,” Freddy asked. He was watching me with wide, worried eyes. I was really lucky to have a friend who cared about me so much; even if he was a demon.

“Never better,” I crowed. “Come on. Let’s head inside!” I took his arm and he walked us from the parking lot to the front of the building. There was a line to get in, but Freddy ignored it and went right up to the bouncer. The man was large and his stone face and large nose reminded me of a rhino. I almost said something, but the man stepped aside for us to enter and I lost my chance. Inside the club were way too many people. I wondered if they were violating the fire code. People were everywhere, dancing, and laughing, and drinking. The dance floor was on the other side of the room by the D.J. but everyone was moving to the music; by the bar, at the tables, in line for the restroom. The beat was good and loud and I could feel the bass vibrating in my bones.

Freddy wrapped his hand around my hand on his arm and leaned in. “Stay close to me,” he yelled into my ear. “We are going to see if he is ready for us, but we have to go across the room.” He pointed and I saw another stage across from the one the D.J. was on. It was surrounded by a red velvet rope and people were sitting at tables and drinking. Freddy squeezed my hand to let me know we were moving and I stayed as close to him as possible and looked around as he led the way.

I couldn’t tell the difference between normal humans, demon’s humans, or demons themselves. Everyone seemed to be having a good time and I itched to join them. I wanted to dance. I wanted to show off my new dress. I looked just as good as all the girls I saw, if not better. As we walked across the room, bumping into random people, I bobbed my head to the beat and grinned like crazy. Freddy stopped just outside the red rope where a bouncer stood guarding the stairs. This man looked exactly like the rhino by the door, right down to the shaved head. They could have been twins. Maybe they were. “We have an appointment,” Freddy yelled to the wall of a man. “Frederick and Kristen.” The man nodded and walked up the stairs and approached one of the tables. I couldn’t see the people sitting there, other people blocked the way, but Rhino #2 leaned down and spoke to someone. He came back within the minute.

“Another meeting is finishing up,” he shouted. “I will find you when he is ready. Go have a drink and dance.” Freddy nodded and I practically jumped for joy. We had time to party! He lead me back towards the bar where he got a beer and me a margarita. We stood at one of the tables to drink.

“Can you tell the difference between humans and demons,” I asked as I eyed the dance floor and all those pulsating bodies. Freddy nodded and sipped his beer.

“It’s kinda like seeing an aura,” he explained. “Demons glow red, their humans are a sort of dark blue, and regular humans don’t show anything. There are actually quite a few humans in here tonight.”

“That’s a good thing.” He looked at me and arched a brow. “That means your boss is less likely to punish us because people could be watching.” Freddy tilted his head back and laughed, but it was a hollow sound; it wasn’t for joy.

“Trust me Kris. If he wants to get rid of us having a few humans around isn’t going to stop him. He’s King of Hell. He knows what he’s doing.” I bit the inside of my cheek to keep from snapping at him. Sure, I felt great; more alive than I ever felt, but that didn’t mean I wasn’t worried about what was going to happen to me. He could sugar coat it a little. I sipped my margarita, annoyed. We stood in silence, watching the crowd, for maybe five minutes before someone came up to our table. The man was stunningly beautiful with long black hair tied back in a braid that hit his butt, and dark skin that suggested a Native American background. The woman, African American with a wild afro, at his side wore less clothing than me, her dress had cut outs that showed her gold bra and panties.

“Who’s your friend Freddy,” the man cooed as he slid up to my friend and ran a finger down his arm. “She’s sure pretty.” The woman just stood there and looked me up and down with a wild grin. She looked like she wanted to swallow me whole.

“This is my human Kristen. Kris, this is Peter and Ana is his demon.” The woman tilted her head in greeting, but didn’t say a word.

“Ana wants to know if you’re up for some fun tonight Freddy,” Peter said almost too softly to hear. He leaned in close to Freddy and lightly nibbled his earlobe. “I certainly have missed you. You have missed me, yes?” From the look on Freddy’s face he really had missed Peter. Freddy wasn’t one to talk too much about his old flames. He talked a lot about guys we came across, strangers who looked good enough to eat, but he never talked about past relationships. Could he have a relationship with another demon’s human? That seemed against the rules, but from the way Ana kept staring at me I was guessing it was okay.

“Maybe another time,” I said with a small smile on my face, feeling bold. I blew a kiss at Ana, who playfully caught it and then acted like she ate it. Her teeth were filed into points and I shuddered. “We have a meeting with the Big Man tonight. But Freddy has your number. He’ll call you. Nice to meet you both.” Peter pressed a kiss to Freddy’s cheek and squeezed his butt before taking Ana’s hand and dancing them back into the crowd. “Woah. They are something.”

“Yeah,” Freddy sighed. “They are both bi, so playing with them is kinda fun. As long as you don’t mind getting hurt a bit.” I remembered Ana’s teeth.

“Physically or emotionally?”

“Both,” he admitted. “You’ll fall in love with Peter and Ana will be right behind you with a whip. Quick thinking to get them away, but you shouldn’t tempt Ana. She’ll eat you alive…literally.” I shuddered again and downed my margarita.

“You think they are gonna come and get us soon,” I asked. “Cause I’m in the mood to dance.” Freddy chugged the rest of his beer and licked his lips.

“They can find us. After all, they are keeping us waiting.” He took my hand and led me into the crowd of thrashing people. It was a tight squeeze, but I didn’t mind it. Everyone was dancing and jumping and some people were singing along with the music at the top of their lungs, trying to get attention. I guessed that those were normal humans. You could tell them apart if you looked hard enough. Dancing wildly, sticking with their groups of friends, eyeing the people around them, wishing to be part of the crowd. I knew I acted differently than them and I knew it was because of sharing Freddy’s darkness. I felt sexy, so I danced sexy. I didn’t care about anyone or anything else in the world but myself and my body. Freddy stayed close by my side, shaking his butt like a happy puppy. He really was an odd demon, especially when you compared him to the sultry people that surrounded us. I couldn’t tell which were demons and which were their companions, but Freddy’s dancing stood out like a sore thumb. Probably to the untrained eye I looked like the demon and Freddy looked like my human.

I was in my own little world when someone slid up and started dancing with me. Well, dancing closer to me than Freddy was. As I watched Peter started to dance with Freddy, wrapping his arms around his neck, and they started to make out. So much for being careful. The new comer who was a little too close for comfort drew my eye. She was stunning. She was dressed in a long and clinging black dress that showed of her arms which were covered in tattoos. Her hair was platinum blond like my own, but hers hung loose and long, past her butt. Her eyes caught mine and I gasped. They were purple and striking against her pale skin. She smiled at me and I couldn’t help but smile back, though it was hesitant. Was she a demon? She had to be. She was too beautiful to just be a human or a companion. We danced around each other, keeping eye contact the whole time and she just got closer and closer until her hands were placed on my hips. She leaned in close and whispered in my ear, “Let’s get a drink. On me.” I looked around for Freddy, but she took my hand and lead me away. I didn’t protest. Let me just say one thing. I am not gay, nor have I ever had gay tendencies. But I would probably make out with this woman like it was no big deal.

She led me to the bar where she ordered two drinks I didn’t recognize and we sat in silence until they came. I sipped the blue beverage, it was magical, and stared at her, willing her to talk. She did after the first few sips and her voice was light and airy like a flute, but still carried over the music without her having to shout. “You are Frederick’s human Kristen?” I nodded, perhaps too eagerly. “He is a lucky man. You are quite attractive.” I felt a blush spread to my cheeks and I took a gulp of my drink.

“Not that lucky,” I replied. “I’m not exactly his type.” The woman shrugged, somehow making it look as graceful as a dance.

“Frederick prefers men, but he is known to experiment. Ana has made that clear. Though most demons and their humans choose to play for both teams. Once you’ve allowed the magic into your life you are attracted to auras and souls, not to the outer form.” Was that why I was attracted to her? I’d like to think it was her soul I lusted after and not her body. What would my parents think? “How rude of me. I know about you, but I have not introduced myself. Henretta.” She held out a hand as if I was to kiss it. I almost did, but I couldn’t lower myself that much. Instead I took it in my own and shook it awkwardly. She smirked and sipped her drink. “This is your first time at Middle Ground.”

“Yes,” I answered, though it was not phrased as a question. “Freddy and I usually frequent human clubs. I don’t know why he never brought me here.” I lied effortlessly. He’d kept me away for my own protection. I looked toward the dance floor and wondered if he’d even noticed I was gone. He wouldn’t like that I was being chatted up by another demon.

“Freddy prefers human,” Henretta said with a light laugh. “He feels as if he has power over them. Here he is little more than a fledgling demon. No power, no status. Last year he was almost destroyed and it wouldn’t have even impacted the demon world. Now that he has a human though, his status may change. We shall see after tonight.” I didn’t think I really would change his status much, but if having me around kept Freddy from getting killed then that was alright with me. The woman tilted her head, as if she heard something above the music. She down her drink and stood. “Come. The master will see you now.”

“I should get Freddy,” I said as I stood, but she took my hand.

“He is already being fetched.”

“How do you….” She cut me off by tugging me back towards the roped off stage. She was strong and I had no choice but to follow her. The crowd seemed to part for us, as if they knew we were on an important path. We got to the rope the same time Freddy did, led by Rhino 2. He took one look at who I was with and lost some of the color in his face. Great. I’d been talking to a demon I shouldn’t have. Well, he shouldn’t have been distracted by Peter. The Rhino unclipped the rope and Henretta walked up the stairs, dragging me behind her with Freddy bringing up the rear. We weaved past a few table till we got to one in the middle. She stopped and bowed low.

“Master. Frederick and his human Kristen for you.” I felt silly but I bowed as well when I noticed Freddy do it. When I straightened I looked over the two men before me. Both were in black suits with red shirts. One wore a black tie, the other had his collar open. The man on the right had black hair slicked back and intense blue eyes. He looked me up and down and didn’t say a word. The man on the left stood and moved to press a kiss to Henretta’s cheek. He looked over at me and smirked. His eyes were the same purple as Henretta’s. Was this her human? Her brother? The other man must be Lucifer, so why was he sitting with him like they were equals.

“Thank you Henretta,” Lucifer said in a low voice. “ I have need of Simon for a bit longer. You may sit and watch or go enjoy yourself.” Henretta dropped my hand and went to take a seat at the unoccupied table next to his. Obviously she thought it would be fun to watch me die. I frowned. When had I decided that was going to be my fate? I’d been so sure of myself when I was on the dance floor. Maybe I needed more of Freddy’s darkness. Should it have worn off so quickly? Lucifer held out a hand with a large ring on his pinky with a black jewel embedded in gold. Freddy moved quickly to kiss the ring and I followed suit.

“Frederick. Your human is stunning. Wherever did you find her?”

“An alley my lord,” Freddy said in a rush. “I took some of her soul after I was punished last year, to regain my strength and help my station.”

“And has she always been this pretty,” the man asked.

“No. I gave her a makeover.” I blushed and wished Freddy wouldn’t be so honest. What did it matter that I usually dressed like a slob and only did my hair and makeup when Freddy asked me to?

“Seems to me that you were trying to make a poor man’s version of Henretta,” the man with purple eyes said as he retook his seat by Lucifer. “But I’m sorry to say that you failed. Though she is pleasant to look at.” I bit the inside of my cheek to keep from talking back. Simon had to be in a position of power. It wouldn’t do to snap at him, even though they were treating me as if I were an object instead of a person.

“No one could be as beautiful as your human,” Freddy said. That straightened my spine and I glanced at Henretta. She was Simon’s human? How did she look like that then? Why was there something so supernatural about her?

“Kristen.” I drew my attention back to the Big Man and focused on his chin. “How have you enjoyed your time with Frederick?”

“Its great, I guess. I mean, all he ever has me do is go clubbing with him and hang out.”

“But as his human you should be helping him with any and all tasks.”

“I didn’t know I was his human until earlier today.” Why were these words coming from my mouth. “I knew he took a piece of my soul but he’s only done it a few times. And he only just shared his darkness with him just before we came in.” I tried to bite my tongue.

“That explains why you are so weak,” Lucifer said with a smile. “Did you think we wouldn’t notice, Freddy? Did you think you could pull the wool over my eyes?”

Freddy’s face was red as he tried to keep his mouth shut. It was only then that I realized that Lucifer had some power over us. He was forcing us to speak the truth. How had Freddy not considered this? Finally his answer burst out, no matter how hard he’d tried to stop it. “I was hoping you wouldn’t notice or you wouldn’t care.” Lucifer glared at Freddy and suddenly my friend let out a yelp and fell to his knees. “Please Master! Please, I promise I’ll do better!” Freddy squirmed and I watched as his skin began to turn bright red.

“You keep disappointing me Frederick. One offense I can look past but you keep messing up. You don’t pull your weight around here and I’m getting pretty tired of it.” Freddy fell on his side and started writhing in pain. Soft cries came from his lips and I looked around at the tables full of demons watching, pleading for someone to stop this. Finally I couldn’t take it anymore.

“Please,” I shouted. Lucifer looked away from Freddy and the weight of his gaze rested on me. I winced, thinking I was going to start to burn too, but no pain came. “Please, my Lord. I don’t know what Freddy has done wrong. I don’t know what the role of a human companion is. But I will help him make things right. I will help him do what he is supposed to. Please, just give us a chance!” Lucifer looked back at Freddy, but this time he only looked him over, taking in his cowering form.

“Do you say this to spare his life or yours,” he asked. “You must know that if Freddy dies I won’t let you leave either.” I hadn’t thought of that. In the moment I just didn’t want to see Freddy in pain. But I didn’t want to die either.

“Both. To save my skin and his.” Lucifer looked back at me and smirked.

“If I may interject, my Lord.” Everyone’s eyes turned to Simon, who had been leaning back in his chair, enjoying the show. “Freddy is still young. Only just over 30. He never had any real training. He had no foundation to build upon. His creator was Helrich, if you may remember.” Lucifer nodded, looking thoughtful. “His failures may not be entirely his fault. If he was given another chance, taken under someone’s wing so to say, he might at least be able to pass for a good demon.” Freddy crawled to his knees and I noticed the clothes he was wearing had some holes from his burning skin. I wanted to take care of him. Instead, I opted for stepping closer and patting his head. He leaned his face against my knee. It was like I was his protector, not the other way around. What was I thinking, standing up to these demons? To the devil himself? I had no power. The only one who Lucifer seemed to care about was Simon. Our fate rested with this unknown demon now.

“Interesting proposition Simon,” Lucifer finally said. “Helrich was quite a disappointment. Disappointment can only beget more disappointment. Though, I could just kill Frederick and his human and end his line right here. Are you suggesting I grant mercy?” The tables of demons seemed to freeze, everyone’s eyes on Simon. The idea that the devil would grant mercy was laughable. If Simon didn’t choose his words carefully it would be over for both me and Freddy. Simon leaned further back in his chair and shrugged.

“It would take more training to start from scratch, is what I am saying. Either you’ll have a brand new demon that we need to baby for the first fifty years or we could change Freddy. I, personally, think Freddy has more potential. With a new demon you never know what you’re gonna get.” Lucifer stared at Simon for what felt like forever, but it was probably just a minute. Finally he looked back at me and Freddy.

“Agreed. But who among you will teach the boy? Who wants the responsibility? If he fails again you yourself might be punished as a result. It is a risk, but he would need an upper level demon to correct his behavior. Who wants the challenge?” I held my breath and looked around. So these were the upper level demons. They stood at Lucifer’s side and did who knows what. Would any of them want to risk their necks? It looked like they wouldn’t. No one said a word.

“I’ll do it.” My breath released in a whoosh and everyone’s eyes were back in Simon. “Who knows, it might be fun. And it’ll be good practice for when I create my own demon and need to train him. If I can fix a screw up like Freddy I can do just about anything.” Lucifer nodded and Simon stood and approached us. Freddy struggled to get up and I helped him to his feet. The men grasped hands, Lucifer whispered a word,  and a band of fire appeared around their clasped hands. Freddy whimpered at the pain, Simon did nothing. The fire vanished and the men stepped away.

“It is done,” Lucifer said. “You two are bonded as teacher and student. Do not disappoint me Simon.” Simon gave a deep bow.

“I will not, my Lord.” He turned to Freddy and I. “You may go. Henretta and I will be in touch soon.” I grabbed Freddy’s hand and made a beeline for the rope. Rhino 2 let us out, we passed through the crowd slower than I would have liked, thanks to Freddy’s pain, but we passed Rhino 1 and made it to Freddy’s car without stopping. When we reached it Freddy leaned heavily against the hood.

“What the hell Freddy,” I screeched. “You didn’t tell me that we’d have to speak the truth around him! If I’d known that I wouldn’t have come at all! You acted like we could trick him!” Freddy looked up at me with wounded eyes.

“I didn’t have a choice,” he said. “We had to make the meeting and if I didn’t get you to come with me they would have come and gotten you. I really hoped he wouldn’t care enough to force the truth from us. I’m only a low level demon, after all.”

I punched his arm and he hissed in pain. “You deserve that! You risked my life tonight without telling me everything. Don’t you ever do that again or I swear I’ll leave you to die!” Tears filled his eyes and I looked away and tried not to let it get to me.

“I’m sorry,” he whimpered. “I didn’t know what to do. I panicked and I wasn’t thinking clearly. Please, Kris, you know how much I love you. I would have spared you all of this if I could.” He reached out and grabbed my hand. “Please. You’re my best friend in the entire world.” He brought my hand to his face and I felt the heat radiating from his skin. He had to still be in pain, he looked like he had a bad sunburn.

“Let’s go back to my place,” I said, tugging my hand from his. “I’ll take care of you there. And you better tell me what we are up against and everything else I might need to know. No more secrets.”

“No more secrets,” Freddy agreed.