This is a chapter of the Adult Urban Fantasy/Paranormal Romance.
If you are not at least 18 years old please do not read.
For a list of Content Warnings and Possible Triggers, please go here then come back.
Aeronwen aka Ronnie Bhanrion (This is not Discord's Room, but it's a picture of Ronnie so you can better picture her)
“So, you have a disorganized killer, trying to gain the attention of the Triumvirate of Evil,” I summarized. She summoned her laptop to her lap and started typing.
I held the outfit to my body and exchanged the robe for the clothes with my powers. When I pulled the hangers away, the robe was on the tank tops hanger. I hung it in the closet then tied the tank top up to show off my toned abs, which had the added benefit of displaying the tribal tattoo around my bellybutton and my piercing. I grabbed a leather jacket from the hooks in the back of the closet and shrugged it on as another thought crossed my mind.
“Or Someone is killing to create fear and kick off their reign as the third member,” I theorized. She looked up from the computer and swiveled the screen around so I could see the bloodied card that looked like the Major Arcana Tarot card, the Magician. I took a step toward her and looked closer.
The masculine figure stood with one hand up, the other down. In the upraised hand was a bloody knife. His flowing white robes were splattered with blood, his long reddish-brown hair blew as if by a slight breeze, and his ruddy complexion looked eerily like another Demokæ I knew, Raphael. He was constantly toeing the line between the Agency and the Underworld. I heard rumors that he crossed said line, but was this his handiwork or merely a coincidence?
“You have that look in your eye, Neamhréir. What do you see?” Ronnie asked calling me by my Irish name.
“Either I’m still exhausted or someone used Raphael as the inspiration for that picture,” I said. She flipped the screen around and tilted her head. Her eyes went wide when she realized that I wasn’t kidding. She summoned a phone to her hand, and I added, “You hadn’t thought of that, had you?”
She held up her index finger, and I rolled my eyes. I walked back through the living room to the kitchenette thinking about last night.
Why hadn’t I redrawn the smudged ward? I don’t get black out drunk, so what affected me enough that I didn’t think about it? Was it Ornias working his Metakinetic asshattery again? Had he slipped in while we’d been too wrapped up in each other to notice or had he followed us back from the pub?
“I may have something… Do you know where Raphael is?” Ronnie asked into the phone as I opened the fridge. The only thing in it was a bottle of Jack’s favorite Euphoria.
Shit, why was he crashing here? I grabbed the bottle and opened it with one claw not bothering with the opener under the edge of the counter to the right of the fridge. Ronnie walked out of my room as I tipped the bottle back.
“She’s here. Want me to put her on?” she asked, and I groaned. I didn’t want to get involved in a case. I didn’t have time. I needed to find Jack before he ended up a victim of Ornias and get to Paris for the birth of my third grandbaby. She held the phone to me, and I groaned louder so that whoever was on the other end would hear me. I took it, saw Lucifer’s number, and set it to my ear.
“Lucy, it’s so not nice to speak with you. How’s the fam?” I asked, distracting him as I leaned back against the counter. If I kept him talking about other things, he wouldn’t ask and that was usually easy. I knocked the bottle back as he chuckled.
“About the same. Kalista’s recovering and overworking herself. Anna did very well with the birth and the twin boys are growing and thriving. But this isn’t about them,” he said, and I wasn’t going to let him rope me into this case so easily.
“How are Garret and Lovey?” I asked. He sighed, and I saw him with my third eye. He set a hand to his forehead, rubbed his temples, and leaned back in an office chair that was nowhere near as nice as his, which made sense given he was here in New Orleans.
“Garret is doing well, and Lovette is recovering from just having their twins. She’s getting anxious about Leighla and Remiel though,” he said, and I heard the weary tone to his voice. Leighla was in his triumvirate of Light, and she was taken six months ago. I tuned him out to think about what I’d learned about that particular incident and the rest of the abductions.
Leighla had been snatched just before Uriel came out of hiding. I figured it was because she’d threatened to expose him or so I’d heard through Jael, our niece, and his daughter. Then I heard about Remiel, Lovette’s father disappearing the same day. It raised the number of abducted Angels to six. That changed my hypothesis.
Their disappearance confirmed that the abductions were all by the same individual, which Leighla discovered just before they were taken. She’d taken voice memos, but no one knew where her phone was, so they still weren’t sure who it was. They’d also been distracted by the information Leighla gave Michael about the resurrected serial killer, aka Uriel. The Director, Lucifer’s heir, and his archnemesis, took care of Uriel quick enough, but no one had a lead on the missing Angels, or they didn’t last I heard. Maybe that was a better way to distract Lucifer…
“Still no leads on the Abducted Angels?” I half-asked, half-said. His chair snapped to attention as he sat up, and I set the mostly empty bottle on the counter. “I take that as a no, and these murders are yet another distraction.”
He slammed his fist on the desk, and I hung up. I tossed the phone at Ronnie and teleported to him. Most Angels would have run when Lucifer was like this. I always ended up nearby when it happened, or perhaps it was because I was nearby that he became this volatile.
I did have an unsettling, aggravating aura about me, or so everyone said. I chalked that up to the soulmate insanity that had been eating me since I ran away from Ornias.
I found myself in an office, but not Lucifer’s. He wouldn’t want to expend the energy to flit back and forth from Los Angeles to New Orleans. This one was nowhere near as grand as his office back home, either of them, but it wasn’t Ronnie’s home office either.
“Let me help you find them,” I offered, setting my hands on the desk. He jumped a bit and stared up at my crimson eyes that matched his.
“No, I can’t do that. I can’t throw another Angel at this,” he said. There was something in his eyes that I recognized. Guilt. He blamed himself for Leighla and Remiel being taken. As much as he’d put on a show of being strong and unshaken, losing Leighla hurt, and being this close, I could see why. Their triumvirate bond was whole again, but this threatened it.
“Lou, I—” I started to argue, and he shook his head.
“No, and that’s final. Kalista already has someone else looking into it,” he said, and I raised my eyebrows. “No, she’s not doing it herself, thank the Maker. Though she has been reading over Remiel, Leighla, and Matt’s notes.”
Again, there was a tone in his voice, and a haunted look in his eyes. Even having Matt, our brother and an Angel of Justice on this case was worrying him and there was something more than just work bothering him. I peeked over the metaphysical wall I kept between us just enough so that I could see his thoughts then dropped back down before I saw too much. It wasn’t just about Leighla’s capture. He felt guilty for not treating her like he should.
“Did Leighla ever meet your family?” I asked. He stiffened and didn’t meet my eyes. “That’s not your fault. Not all of it at least—”
“It is my fault. There is nothing you can say and no argument I can give to prove that it’s not,” he said. I walked around the desk and sat to his right, forcing him to turn and look up at me.
“Let’s say that it is your fault, that you helping and healing your relationship is why she was taken,” I began, and he tilted his head up and to the right. “Even if that is the case, you didn’t know who it was…”
He looked away from me and my spine stiffened. Oh, Hell no! No! If he knew, he would send his best to go get them back. Wouldn’t he? He had no reason not to.
“You don’t know, do you?” I asked and again he refused to look at me. “Lucifer, don’t make me use your Angelic name and pry it from your lips.”
“I have a lead on who, but only because of Matt’s latest work, and he won’t tell me because he’s reporting to Kalista. Besides, every time we get close someone goes missing or winds up dead,” he said, throwing his hands up. I crossed my arms under my chest, since over them was near impossible without spilling them out the top of the tank top, but he didn’t bother looking at the mounds of my breasts that peaked out the neckline. He was more worried than I thought.
“Every time you get close, something like these murders pop ups to distract you,” I clarified, and he nodded. “Then let me help Matt on this case. Let me find them.”
“No, I will not risk you,” he said, and I threw my hands up.
“This is ridiculous. Why am I arguing with you when Kalista is in charge of that case?” I asked, summoning my phone. He snatched it from my hand, and I summoned it back. He stood to take it again, and I teleported to the other side of the desk.
“Hasn’t anyone told you not to take things that aren’t yours?” I asked and his nostrils flared before he composed himself and I added, “Tell me who you think it is, or I’ll call Kalista.”
 Irish: Discord between entities.
“Kalista doesn’t know yet,” he said, and I scoffed. “She’s had visions of torture, but she doesn’t know who the torturer is. She’s also flying here with some of her kids right now.”
“Matt can’t be the only one who knows,” I said, and he sighed, shoulders drooping. “Lou, let me help you.”
“You can help me by working on the murder case while I work on the case with Matt,” he began and I started to argue, but he talked over me, “Too many people know me and my affiliations. They refuse to talk to agents or anyone who will report back to me, but you’re unaffiliated with a long history of not telling me things.”
He paused and I slipped the phone into the pocket on my bicep. I crossed my arms over my breasts again and waited for the rest.
“I need someone to go to The Crimson Claw, which is—”
“A Bar in the Quarter,” I cut him off, and he nodded once still staring distantly. “I know where it is.”
“I didn’t want to assume,” he said as a smirk lifted the right side of his mouth and he sat, turning to his computer. “I need you to talk to the owner. She refuses to talk to an Agent since the last time one was there her business was trashed…”
The memory of that almost made me smile, but I hid it behind my usually neutral expression. I was the one who trashed her business while chasing off the last Agent who stopped in a few months back, though I did repair the damage before I left. They hadn’t wanted to go, so I used persuasion of the violent kind. Come to think of it, I hadn’t been back to New Orleans since then. He looked up from his computer, and I tuned back in.
“She needs someone that she can relate to—”
“And you picked moi?” I said, setting one hand to my chest. “Lucy, Lucy, Lucy. If you want a negotiator, call Jethro.”
“She won’t talk to him, because he’s on the Council of Justice,” he reminded me. That wasn’t the only reason, but I’d lean into it to keep him talking.
“He was also on the Council of Spirit and the Council of Fire before that. Why choose me?” I asked. I set my hands on the desk again and a folder appeared between them. I flipped it open and looked at the face of the woman in the attached picture. It was a shoulders up shot from her Preternatural ID. It didn’t do her justice.
She was a tall, leggy blonde with green eyes the color of summer clovers and slim features that held hidden strength. Her real name was Cassandra, but she went by Sandra, and she was like a daughter to me.
I fought to keep a smile from my lips as I thought of her. I didn’t realize how much I missed her. I looked over what they had on the blonde Animorphis, so I could tell her if she asked, and to make it seem like I hadn’t known her before I looked back at Lucifer.
“Sandra Dexter… Have you tried sending a big, strong man? I heard she likes those,” I joked, and he rolled his eyes. Oh, someone hadn’t had nearly enough sleep. With growing preter twins in the house it was a miracle he was even this coherent.
“Sandra is not the type of girl to turn into a puddle over a mountain of muscle,” he dismissed the idea, but there was only one way he knew that. I let my smile slide up on the right side.
“Which hunk of muscle did you throw at her, hmm?” I asked, and his eyes flicked from his computer screen to me clearly annoyed that it hadn’t worked. “No judgement here. I’ll check her out if I can find the time, but I have personal reasons for being in town.”
“So, I heard,” he said, turning to face me. He leaned back, lacing his fingers over his stomach as his eyes went to my breasts and the touched-up tattoo that dipped between them. Sure, now he was interested in them and probably what I had to say. He cleared his throat to ask, but I got straight to the point before he could get distracted.
“You already know I’m here for the Shki, but I’m also looking for a friend, Jack Danaghe. You might know him. Lesser preter, gets into trouble a lot, wrong place at the wrong time, due largely in part to having no sense of self-preservation,” I listed. I stopped when laughter lightened his features, making him look a decade younger.
“Jackie got in trouble again,” he said, and I sighed.
“He always does…” I mumbled, removing my glasses, and pinching the bridge of my nose to relieve the small headache that started between my eyes when I talked about my problematic child.
“Did you pull the short straw, or lose a bet? I was expecting Nick or Dex to come sniff him out,” he said. I forced down the mama bear instinct that bristled whenever my kids were mentioned so close together. No one who knew them would peg the tall, bean pole Jack Danaghe and the broad, built Nickolas Ivanov for brothers, but Nick was always there to bail his older brother out of trouble… Just like I did with my siblings.
“You know that Dex and I have history. He’s busy with other things, and called in a favor,” I lied. Lucifer shrugged and was none the wiser. I’d been lying to him for centuries about a lot of things, including my identity, but he hadn’t noticed. For an Angel of Truth, he sucked at more than just seeing it.
He thought my Discord appearance was one of Chaos, our sister’s, alter egos. I let him keep said delusion even though I was taller, more volatile, and had a much larger rack, more curves… As she says, ‘I’m Chaos to the nth degree.’ But there was no harm in building her reputation while I faded into the background when I wasn’t needed, and I regularly apologized to her for Lou’s badgering.
“Unfortunately, I can’t help you. Jackie is wanted in connection to a few of the murders, including the last one, which happened behind the Crimson Claw. Sandra and Jack were seen together not long before the murder, and we still need to question him,” he said. I hid an eye roll behind my swathe of long sideswept bangs.
If Jack was avoiding someone from the agency, Sandra would be the first person he’d run to. The idiot was always endangering those he loved, just like his namesake. He helped Sandra start the Claw…
Then a thought hit me: With the Agency looking for him, he might be crashing at my apartment to keep her and their found family out of it. There was only one way to know for sure. I had to ask Sandra if she had seen him since the last murder.
“I’ll talk to her,” I said. I stood, taking the file and was moments from teleporting home when another thought passed through my mind. “Lou, Jack isn’t capable of killing like this—”
“That remains to be seen,” he said turning back to the computer. I stepped forward, and he looked up at me. “Some of his DNA was found at a few of the scenes. We just need to ask him where he was at the time of those murders.”
I nodded and teleported back to my apartment into the bowl-shaped chair where I’d thrown the duvet earlier, but it wasn’t there. Ronnie was sitting on the sofa, which she’d folded back up and the duvet was folded across the top of it. On the coffee table between us was an open pizza box.
“How’d it go?” she asked as I grabbed a slice.
“Lou’s a stubborn ass,” I said, and we chorused, “Per the usual.”
We ate in silence for a minute before she finished her first slice and grabbed another.
“Did he have any news about your friend?” she asked, and I nodded curtly.
“He’s one of the suspects. Damn idiot,” I grumbled, and she lifted one of her silver eyebrows. “There’s someone that might know where he is, but she’s not talking to anyone affiliated with the Agency.”
“So, Lou asked you to talk to her?” she deduced, and I nodded. “Are you going to?”
“Don’t have much choice,” I said, finishing my first slice. I grabbed another, and she pulled a bottle of Euphoria from under the table. She handed it to me, and I dipped my head.
“Do you know how to contact them?” she asked, and I looked at my watch.
“I’ll wait until later. The Crimson Claw opens at Three,” I said, and she choked on her drink. I lifted my right eyebrow, raising the hoop in it and smirked. “Breathe air, drink Euphoria.”
“Yeah, I’ll try to remember that next time,” she coughed as I ate. When she’d cleared her airways, she locked eyes with me. “Your friends with Jack Danaghe? You know who his father was…”
I rolled my eyes. Of course, I knew. Part of me wanted to snark back and ask if she knew who his mother was. She obviously didn’t, or she was doing her best to make me come out and say it. I wouldn’t. I prepared a bunch of responses in advance for times such as this.
“Yes, I know who his father was. We’re not that kind of friends. Damn, Ronnie that’s just wrong on so many levels. I would never sleep with a guy then bed his son,” I said, taking another drink. She scoffed and I slowly lowered the bottle, swallowing. “Name one-”
“Lucifer and Beelzebub,” she said, and I scoffed.
“That doesn’t count! Zeb is sex on legs, and I was drunk on his pheromones and Chaos’s brew when that happened,” I defended myself, knowing that wasn’t the full truth.
“She calls it Chaos Theory now,” Ronnie changed the subject, and I let it drop. We had all morning to talk. I wasn’t going to focus on Jack or Beelzebub, even if my mind strayed to the tall, curly haired King of the Sex Demons, and the true reason I slept with him.
He’d reminded me of a young Ornias, but unlike that Shki, he was kind and didn’t want to own or control me. He only wanted to pleasure me, to taste me, and to enjoy my company. I let the memories go and distracted Ronnie by asking after Badb.
 Demoki: Snake or Deceiver, used like son of a Bitch.
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