JANUARY 2016

Chloe heard the two thundering explosions in rapid succession followed by the sound of metal shattering glass. The smell of smoke and gunpowder filled her nostrils with an overpowering scent as two bullets burnt their way into her, one embedding deep within her lung and stealing the air she needed to breathe while the other passed through her and shattered more glass behind her in the recording studio. The rapid blood loss, the searing pain combined with the impact of bullets tearing through her sent her reeling backwards a step, knees buckling as she crumpled into a heap on the floor. With glass impaling her back, the lights above her appeared distant and blurry. She tasted the strong salty, metallic liquid bubbling up in her throat, making fear replace the lost blood in her veins.

The air was thin and her chest burned as she gasped for air, "I don't want to die."

"I won't let you," Lucifer promised, cupping Chloe's face, silently begging her to stay with him. "Father will just have to wait for you."

Chloe heard three more shots reverberate off the recording room walls, each hitting Lucifer and causing him to cringe. She tried focusing on him, but his face was distorted and blurry, his voice sounded distant and distorted. "Just give me one second."

Her heart fluttered in her chest, an irregular beat, as the last of the air in her lungs escaped and her vision darkened. Voices became mixed with buzzing and loud winds roaring. Chloe felt the last of her strength seep out of her and she only wanted to close her eyes and sleep for awhile to regain her strength. Just a few seconds for rest, then she'd get to her feet and do whatever she was supposed to do, but she couldn't remember.

A warm, breeze blew away the cold chills that made her shiver and she felt as though she had awoke from a good night's sleep The scent of the air carried a certain freshness to it one smells in spring immediately after an early morning rain. Chloe slowly sat up, feeling soft grass beneath her palms. Looking down, she saw it was thick and lush, a deep vivid green that went on until in the distance, it came to the edge of tall, snow-capped mountains. She heard a babbling brook behind and looked over her shoulder to see a river with waters clearer than crystal flowing from the mountains past her only a few yards away.

"Where am I?" She asked to the empty space around her as she stretched and rose to her feet. She went over the flowing waters, staring into the crystalline stream. Dipping her hands into the water, she took a sip and used some of it to cool her flushed face.

"Chloe, how do you feel?" A calm voice called out to her and she felt a gentle hand on her shoulder. Looking to her left, Chloe saw a man whom she guessed to be in his late twenties or early thirties with wavy chestnut hair and light gray eyes. His olive skin had a bronze cast to it as if he'd spent many days out in the sun.

"Better," she nodded, staring at the unfamiliar man standing near her. She thought she detected a faint trace of accent that she couldn't quite place, Middle Eastern, perhaps. He was on the slender side and a few inches taller than her, looking like he didn't waste his time eating junk food. "Where am I?"

"Heaven, Chloe," he smiled.

"Heaven?" she gave the man a skeptical glance. "I could only be in Heaven if I were. . ."

Then, it all came crashing back into her memory. Delilah's agent aiming his gun, ready to shoot Lucifer as she pulled her sidearm and fired off two or three shots. She and Lucifer started bickering as to how stupid he was for putting himself in harm's way between her and the shooter. Chloe remember the thundering shoots echoing off the acoustic walls of the recording studio, one burrowing into her chest while the other passed through her straight and clean.

Chloe remembered all of it: the blood loss, the punctured lung, the fatal shot that nicked the valve on her heart that brought around her early death.

"Chloe, I have a plan for you and mean good things for you, but it's not your time yet. I have a prodigal son who has taken a vacation and he has lost his way. I think you'd be a good person to help him remember who he really is and that he has family who loves him."

"Wait, hang on, I'm confused," Chloe held up her man to stop the man's dialogue. "If I'm dead, why can't I stay? Where's God and the angels, the harps and the millions of souls?"

"God is with you always. You and he have started a good friendship. Help him to return home, Chloe. He's lost and doesn't remember what it's like to be loved."

"Wait, hang on, do you mean Lucifer?" she exclaimed, her voice coming out an octave higher than usual.

"Exactly," He gave her a knowing nod. "When We made you, you are wondrous with your detective skills. You have good instincts, Chloe, go with that. I'll warn you, Luci is a charmer and I've never seen him go out of his way to selflessly save someone the way he has you. I'm glad I had you two cross paths. Don't worry, you teach him how to be human and he'll help you do the extraordinary."

She noticed the man's face seemed less clear that it had been a few seconds prior, more of a blur and a source of bright light flooding the area. Chloe felt her limbs get heavier and the drowsiness return. His voice faded as if he traveled away from her. "Wait, what's your name?"

"You know My name, Chloe, you always have. I AM-" Bright light filled the universe and everything went white.

"Well," a quiet Welsh lilt greet her as Chloe opened her eyes to a blurry vision of sunshine and yellow. "Look who's back."

Chloe felt the stiffness in her bones and muscles when she tried finding a more comfortable position in the lumpy hospital bed. Her body protested with several cracking joints and sharp aches protesting the series of movements, inspiring a groan. "How long have I been out?"

"Three years," Lucifer gravely replied.

Her eyes widened at her first thought, 'Is Trixie okay?' Her mind felt overwhelmed by an onslaught of too much information. "What?"

She saw Lucifer's smirk and she chuckled, secretly relieved that he was full of bullshit. "You are such an ass."

Thank you." he said smugly.

PERHAPS TO BE CONTINUED...