"Excellent!" Al boomed, leaning over me to peer into the spell pot cooking on the stove.
I looked down into the pot where a gelatinous brown mush sat congealing and blinked. I got it right? I was sure the spell had gone wrong when I refused to cut out the rat entrails. But Al knew best. Maybe demon spells just look different from witches' spells. After all, that brown sludge color seemed demony. I poked at the mixture with my spoon. Very Jello like. I shuddered, thinking they both probably had a lot of the same ingredients. Jello is definitely off the menu for the rest of my life.
Al hummed as he ladled a spoonful of the mixture into a vial and corked it. Guess it was right. I started to smile before I caught Al smirking at me. If he thought I was happy about doing minor demon curses he might move on to the bigger stuff.
I scuffed my shoe on the concrete floor. "Uh, so can you take me home now?"
Al's smirk vanished. "And leave this . . . thing sitting in my kitchen?"
I gaped. "You said I got it right!"
"I was merely complimenting you for the lack of pustules on your hands," Al said dryly. He flicked a piece of sand from his crushed velvet coat and fixed his red goat eyes on mine, daring me to complain.
"That was weeks ago."
"Two weeks ago."
"And now you're going to bring it up every time I do something wrong."
Al's eyes narrowed and he smiled with derision. "Stupid witch. I don't have the time to point out everything you do wrong."
I huffed and tapped the floor with my shoe. "Take me home, Al or I am spilling this potion all over your kitchen."
Al laughed. "That potion? If you want to die, Rachel Mariana Morgan, I can suggest much more pleasant ways." He leered at me, licking his tongue over his lips. I rolled my eyes.
"Knock it off, Al. And take me home! Our deal was you get me one day a week. Are you breaking our deal? Cause I could really use a genie."
Al morphed into my form, wearing a short black skirt and a halter top. The clothes looked vaguely familiar but I was sure mine weren't that short. He copied my stance, one hand on his hip. This always squicked me out. "Rachel Mariana Morgan, you could tempt the Devil himself," he purred, quickly morphing back into the green-coated Englishman. "But not today. You can clean the dishes today or, if you insist on leaving, I'll keep them for you until next week."
I sighed, fairly sure that by the time I returned next week the gelatinous brew would have hardened into some stone-like substance. "Fine, I'll wash them. Be ready to take me home in half an hour."
I turned back to the stove, and drained the mixture into the sink. It looked like I would need to bring Drano over next time. There was a distinct lack of household cleaners in the ever-after. Al could have used some spells to clean up, of course, but he preferred that I do it. And I refused to use a demon spell for something as simple as scouring dishes. I'd come to terms with the smut on my soul but that didn't mean that I was willing to accumulate more for just anything.
I checked my watch. Time could be wonky in the ever after, but it looked like I still had an hour to get out of here before I had to meet up with Ivy. She had been hovering over me recently, afraid for my control after I'd used a demon curse to fuse shut Kisten's killer's grave. It was annoying but somehow still comforting to know she cared. Especially after most of my friends had stopped calling once I was shunned.
Ivy and I were on a case. A baby had gone missing and her parents had called us, frantic and willing to pay almost anything for information about their daughter. I had asked Edden what he knew, but it seemed as though the FIB didn't have any leads. The parents were hoping non-humans could pick up better traces. I hoped we could, too, slightly ashamed that at least part of my desperation wasn't concern about the kid but rather that our stream of cases had dried up in the last few months. It seemed the paranormal community wasn't wild about using a demon-summoning shunned witch. Or at least not the section of the community I was willing to work for. Ivy and Jenks would never say anything to me, but I knew they were worried too. Since Piscary's death Ivy no longer had the strength of the undead. If the witches hired assassins to kills me we wouldn't have the money or power to stop them.
I shook my head, trying to clear my thoughts. All I needed was a plan to get my shunning reversed. Sure. I'd just do that tomorrow.
Dishes done, I rousted Al from the sofa where he was lying indolently, a gaggle of lesser demons waiting to serve his every whim.
I tapped my watch. "I need to go. Now."
"If you weren't such a stupid witch you would know already how to travel ley lines," Al grumbled, dissolving from the couch to stand beside me.
"Funny, I don't remember you teaching me how," I retorted snottily.
Al laughed. "Teach you? You stand in it, you think where you want to go, and then you're there! You are the most incompetent witch I have ever met."
I stiffened. "As I have told you over and over, I am an earth witch, not a freaking ley line witch! And now, thanks to you, I can't get anyone to teach me about ley lines."
Al looked at me, offended. "Rachel Mariana Morgan, you wanted to make a deal. I am not responsible for your shunning." He stared at me until I looked away then seemed to consider something. I watched him apprehensively as his smile widened and his eyes reddened. He leaned in until the scent of burnt umber filled my head. I wouldn't back away. If I admitted I was afraid of him these day-long lessons would turn into a whole new type of torture.
For a minute neither of us moved, me staring at him defiantly and him grinning like some sort of crazed….Newt at me. After what felt like eternity he raised his lips to my ear and whispered, "Perhaps you should ask Trenton Aloysius Kalamack why the witches shunned you."
I looked up, stunned, but before I could say anything we were travelling through the ley lines, the familiar sense of disorientation making my head spin.
By the time I recovered from the ley line trip Al was gone, and I was sitting on my butt in the cemetery. The very wet cemetery. After a moment I stood, barely noticing the muck by now permanently embedded on my jeans. My thoughts raced, barely coherent. True, Al was a demon but he couldn't lie to me. Trent? Trent was the reason the witches shunned me? Trent who I had risked my life saving from the ever-after?
"I am going to kill that freaking elf!"