Notes: This is my first Rachel Morgan fic. This is also my first fic with Naughty Bits in it. Please let me know if I slip up on my canon. I've been reading the eight books over the course of five years and some things do slip the mind.
Chapter 1 – Beginnings
I sat down with my "morning" coffee and looked at the newspaper dubiously. It looked so innocuous lying there where Ivy had left it, neatly folded and lined up with the right angle of the old table. I didn't want to unfold it because I didn't want to know what they had written about my little stunt in Fountain Square. Cincinnati's Famous Shunned Black Witch Rachel Morgan Appears Naked To Return Elf Porn. They knew the coven of ethical and moral standards had threatened me with death, but still. I didn't fully believe the newspapers would resist a chance to fry me. Again. They were still playing the footage of Al dragging me on my ass down the street on the nightly news' opening credits, in case anyone had forgotten. I knew I would eventually succumb, probably rationalizing that I needed to know what status my public image was in if I was going to leave my church ever again, but who wants to start their day with a front page picture of themselves naked in Fountain Square, hairy as an orangutan? Not this witch.
I resolved to read only articles not including me. So I pulled it toward me, unfolded it, and forced my eyes away from the large, naked picture of myself. I read the other headlines, until something at the bottom of the front page caught my eye. The article wasn't very big, but the word DEMON in large print caught my eye. I paused for a moment, remembering my agreement with myself, but it wasn't my picture at the bottom corner of the page, but another woman's. It was a mug shot of a pale, long-faced twenty-something with dark eyes and dark red hair clearly from a bottle. It was a dark cherry color, and I doubted if it was even meant to look natural. It fell in two curtains that were so straight and silky they made me jealous. DEMONS IN DETROIT, read the headline. Below it: Black witch Hildy Roberson tears up Detroit with demon summoning. My eyebrows raised. Stupid, stupid girl. "Crap on toast," I said as I skimmed the artical. Hildy Roberson broke into a house, went to prison to await trial, and was broken out within twenty-four hours. By a demon. I didn't even want to know what that cost. How in hell had she summoned him from prison? Nine people were injured, one of which died in the hospital. Another man had a heart attack just from the sight. I started when I saw my name. Her physical description read: "5'9", 125 lbs, red hair, dark eyes, and an aura blacker than Rachel Morgan's." Un. Necessary. Must I be brought up EVERY time a demon shows up ANYWHERE in America EVER. I tossed the paper away in disgust. No more morning paper for Rachel. Nuh-uh.
I finished my coffee and went to take a shower. A nice, long, forty-five minute indulgence shower.
When I came out and went back into the kitchen to make myself a sandwich, Ivy was sitting there. Reading that damned paper. "What's the damage report?" I asked.
"Oh," said Ivy coolly, "they're being fairer about it than I expected. That reporter with the truth amulet helped. Now they know you weren't lying. At least, about the coven." Ivy was reading an article on the inner pages, the paper folded so that she could easily read the article she wanted. With some of the inner pages now facing out, I saw another picture of that Detroit thing. They had a black and white, low-resolution picture some stupid person took on their phone instead of running the hell away, and I stopped. The demon had taken the form of a giant, evil-looking dog. I recognized it immediately. The library basement. Nick. Algaliarept. Al took the form of a dog to scare Nick. And there it was. That same dog, standing on a pile of broken wall, a tall, thin figure emerging from the building behind it. I looked at the paper. I was sure it was Al's dog. It had to be Al. I would have to ask him about it when I saw him this weekend. If they found out it was Al and connected him with me, I was sure to get blamed! They were already name-dropping me every time a demon got summoned.
This time, I'd do it right. If I got all uppity about how he occupied his weeknights again I'd surely get smacked across the room. Maybe if he let me into his library again… perhaps over some coffee? But then I remembered that rancid tasting stuff he gave me the last time I was there and thought again. Should I bring him a coffee? Try to sweeten him up? I could think of one way to sweeten Al up, but I wasn't going that route. I had yet to see Al's bedroom and didn't want to. I didn't know what to expect. I didn't know if he used it for actual sleeping ever, so all I pictured was black satin sheets and handcuffs. I shivered. No way. No matter how many snide comments Al made about me sleeping with him one day.