Max and I glanced at each other, then burst out laughing. We made our way downstairs, and found Mrs. Holbrook feeding the kitten out of a can of tuna.
“He is so cute!” she squealed. “Where on earth did he come from?”
I nearly said, “Actually he’s not from Earth,” but I thought better of it. Instead I explained about the alley, minus the angels and demons. “I’m going to bring him home to see if my mom will let me keep him.”
Mrs. Holbrook kissed the kitten’s nose. “Okay. If she says no, though, we’ll keep him here.”
Yeah, until he sprouts wings and buzzes your head.
Max and I gathered up Lucifer’s meager belongings, and Max drove me back home. When we reached my house, Max put the car in park and smiled shyly. “I had a really great time tonight.”
“Me too. Probably good that I didn’t stay, though. I really want you, but we should take our time, right?”
“Slow. Right.” He nodded absently. “Can you come over tomorrow?”
“Fuck, yes,” I breathed. Taking Max’s face in my hands, I brought my mouth down gently on his. He leaned into the kiss and laid his hands carefully on my chest, moaning as my tongue traced the seam of his lips. I was about to deepen the kiss, but the porch light came on.
“Shit,” Max laughed. “Caught in the act. You’d better go before you’re mom starts looking through the curtains.”
“I guess you’re right. See you tomorrow, around noon?”
“Sounds good. Night, Trace.”
I took Lucifer and the box of his accoutrements, and watched Max drive away before making my way to the kitchen door. It opened before I could put the boxes down to get my keys.
My mom wrapped her robe tighter against the chilly air. “Honey, I thought you were—”
“Mrrrrow,” the cat called, subtly introducing itself.
With a gasp, Mom snatched the cat from the box and held it to her cheek. “Look at you! Oh, aren’t you adorable? Let’s get you inside.”
The door closed in my face, and I stood there, too stunned to move. When the door opened again, Dad glowered at me. “What have you done?”
I followed him into the kitchen and put the box of supplies on the table. Mom had the kitten wrapped up in a fleece blanket, where it purred happily from the attention. She rubbed its head and murmured sweet nothings to the tiny animal. Dad was less enthusiastic.
“Where’d you find it?” he demanded of me.
“In an alley.” I saw no reason to go into detail.
He was furious. “In an alley? At night? In Boston? Jesus, Trace, do you realize how dangerous that was? You could have been killed.”
The irony of his words was too much to bear. I snorted and doubled over, laughing hysterically. Dad crossed his arms over his chest, obviously waiting for an explanation. After I’d calmed down, I made up a quick explanation. “It was just along the side of the club. It was well-lit. Max and I heard him crying and found him near a dumpster. Poor guy.”
My lies came easily, and they seemed to mollify my father. He exhaled slowly. “All right. Take it up to your room for now. It should get used to a small room first before it goes around exploring the whole house. Does it have a name?”
Mom pouted. “What a horrible name for such a cutie pie!”
“Trust me. It’s perfect.”
After wresting my new pet from my mother’s arms, I carried him up to my room and shut the door. As soon as the lock clicked, Lucifer’s wings unfurled, and he took flight, soaring around my room in dizzying circles. I shook my head at his antics and threw myself heavily onto my bed. Without undressing, I turned off my bedside lamp and closed my eyes.
“Hey, Trace,” came a voice from the darkness.
“Whoa!” I cried in surprise. I turned on the lamp. “Where are you?”
My desk chair squeaked and Philip appeared, dressed in faded jeans and a white t-shirt. His wings were folded behind him and moved slightly as he breathed. I took in his shaggy appearance and asked, “What are you wearing?”
“Something comfortable. I wanted to try a new look. Does it work?”
I couldn’t believe I was having a fashion discussion with an angel. I rolled my eyes. “It’s great. Now, can I ask what you’re doing here?”
The kitten, who had perched on my computer keyboard, studied Philip for a moment before mewling loudly and launching himself onto the angel’s lap. With a happy purr, the kitten licked at Philip’s hands, head-butting them while trying to get his attention.
Philip stared at the animal and sighed. “Michael told me…P-Pentus had brought this for me.”
His sadness filled me up and I wanted to cry. “Pentus really does love you, you know. You were the first thing he asked about.”
“Yes, I know. There’s nothing to be done, though. Even if I could forgive his sins, God certainly would not.”
“But you love him,” I insisted. “Doesn’t God want you to be happy?”
Philip stroked the cat’s back. “Sometimes, even happiness and love can’t overcome evil.”
My curiosity was piqued. “Philip, what on earth did Pentus do?”
TO BE CONTINUED…