post 1) and Frannie (post 2). Picking up at the end of last weeks post, here is the rest of that first conversation from Luc's perspective. This is also the end of chapter one.
I watch her write “Frannie and Luke 26-2 outline” in her composition book, and for some reason it really bothers me that she spelled my name wrong. I fix it before answering her. “I think he made some choices that he’s now got to pay the consequences for.” One of which is eternity burning in the Abyss.
She looks at me, all incredulity. “Just that simple, huh? No extenuating circumstances. No second chances?”
“Nope. Don’t believe in second chances.” The Underworld’s not big on that concept.
She shifts back in her chair and folds her arms across her chest, scrutinizing me. “You’ve never made a mistake? Done something you were sorry for?”
“Everybody has something they wish they could undo.”
I lean toward her and gaze into those sapphire eyes. “What do you wish you could undo, Frannie?”
She shudders when I say her name, and I realize I’m being unfair. I pushed a little power at her without really meaning or needing to. But I like the reaction.
When she replies there’s more than a hint of pain in her tone, and the faint scent of rose—sadness. I search deep in those eyes to find the root of it. “Lots of things,” she says without breaking her gaze.
For some reason, out of the blue, I don’t want her to hurt. I feel Hell-bent on making her happy. Just the tiniest push is all it would take…
Stop it. Where the Hell did that come from? I don’t even recognize the sensation that passed with that thought. Demons don’t have feelings. Not like that, anyway. This isn’t a charity mission…I’m here for a clear purpose, and Miss Frannie Cavanaugh is showing promise. Lots of promise. As a matter of fact, I’m starting to hope she’s The One. And as the bell rings I realize, to my own astonishment, that it’s her eyes holding me locked here instead of the other way around. This is going to be interesting.
She blinks as if startled from a dream and looks down at her empty composition book. “So…I guess we didn’t get too far.”
“I wouldn’t say that.” I push my book across the desk.
She reads the ten bullet points listed there in block print under the heading “Frannie Cavanaugh and Luc Cain, Steinbeck’s Themes—Chapter 26-2” and scowls.
“Oh…well, I guess these look okay.” Incredulous again. She’s fiery for sure. I like a little fire. Makes me feel at home. “Have you found your locker yet in this rat maze?” she says, throwing her books into her book bag and standing.
“Haven’t looked for it.” I hold up my only possessions: my composition book and The Grapes of Wrath.
“Well, it’ll only get worse, so unless you wanna lug all your stuff around with you, I could help you find it.”
I pull the slip of paper with the locker number and combo on it out of my back pocket as we walk together to the door. “Number…hmm.” I smile. The mortal world is so droll sometimes.
“666,” I say, and she looks at me funny.
“Oh. That’s right there.” She points across the hall. “Right next to mine.”
And even though I know fate is a crock—nothing but an excuse for mortals to make choices they wouldn’t otherwise make—this is a sign. I look at her more closely. If she’s The One, which is starting to look more likely, I need to tag her soul for Hell before some filthy angel beats me to it. Which roughly translates into now. Because the fact that she’s been so difficult to locate probably means she’s being Shielded by them. If they’re Shielding her, they’re watching her. It won’t be long before they know I’ve found her. I scan the crowded hall. So many prospects, but no angels—so far.
She starts across the hall to her locker and I hang back to admire the view for a few seconds before following her. She is petite—maybe five-two. Nearly a foot shorter than my human form. But she’s no little girl. There are curves in all the right places.
I laugh at myself. Although lust is one of the seven deadly sins, it’s not the one that got me where I am and not something I’ve experienced often in the seven millennia I’ve existed—though I’ve used it to my advantage a few thousand times. This is going to be fun.
I stride across the hall and catch her just as she reaches her locker. I spin the lock on mine a few times, and it springs open.
“How’d you do that?” she asks, like she could possibly know I used my power.
“I had that locker at the beginning of the year and switched ’cause the lock was broken.”
“Hmm. They must have fixed it.” I’ll need to be more careful. This mortal is extraordinarily observant. I slipped up in class by not keeping my eyes on the book—which she’d noticed because her eyes weren’t on the book either. And again with the locker, because as I try the real combination, I find she’s right: it is indeed broken.
She looks skeptical. “Yeah, I guess, except they never fix anything around here. Welcome to Hades High.”
What the Hell? “Excuse me? Hades High?”
“Yeah, get it? Haden High—Hades High. It’s just one letter, but it so much more accurately describes this hellhole.”
“Well, wouldn’t you agree?” She gestures to the cracking plaster, peeling paint, burned-out lightbulbs, gouged gray linoleum, and dented gray metal lockers surrounding us.
“Well, it looks like I’ve chosen just the place, then.” A grin stretches my face. How perfect is it that my target goes to a high school nicknamed Hell? This is too rich.
She looks away and reaches into her locker, but she can’t hide the smile playing at the corners of her mouth. “If your ‘just the place’ is this crappy, washed-up fishing town, then you’re more pathetic than I would have guessed.”
I laugh—I can’t help it—and then shudder when I catch a hint of Frannie’s ginger. Mmm…pathetic must be her type.
“How come you had to change schools a month before graduation?”
I smile inwardly. “Business.”
“Your father’s?” she presses.
“In a manner of speaking.”
She looks at me and her brow furrows as she tries to figure out what that means. Then she pushes her locker shut with a crash. “So…what’s your next class?”
I pull my schedule out of my back pocket and shake it open. “Looks like calculus, room 317.”
“Oooh, you have Mrs. Felch. Sooo sorry.”
“Why? What’s the deal with Mrs. Felch?”
Just then the bell rings. She cringes. “First, you get detention if you’re not in your seat at the bell—so, sorry—and second, she bites.”
“Mmm. We’ll see about that.” I kick my locker shut and turn to head to building 3—and don’t try to hide the smile that pulls at my lips as her eyes burn a hole through my back the whole way down the hall. A good start.