family secrets 14-18 -secrets 14-" 14 Parents and son looked at each other, tears streaming, filled with emotion. Suddenly remembering their current predicament, Sam shook himself.

"Dad what are you going to do now? You can't go back to Sock's place or our old house, the Devil will find you and kill you." Sam didn't want to lose his father so soon after getting him back, and was suddenly afraid again. John Oliver smiled. "I've already thought of that, son. Remember when I told you that I was wealthy due to my life of crime? I spent my money on real estate instead of fancy clothes or cars. I own several homes across the country. I won't tell you where we are going until we get on the road. It's all ready to go. We can leave before dawn."

"How do you know someone won't turn us in? The Devil knows everything; he has spies everywhere." Sam felt a mixture of relief and worry, and confusion at so much new information. "I hired some demons to manage my properties in exchange for living rent free. It's in their best interest to remain quiet. I trust them; I've known them for years."

"But where are we going? Is Mom coming with us? Wait, I can't leave Andi! The Devil will punish her if he can't find us. I don't want her to get hurt." Sam felt panic rising.

"Shh, don't worry, Sam, I've already thought of everything. Mom is coming with us and she has our bags packed in the trunk. I've bought you all new clothes, that's why I was at the mall this afternoon. I'll come back for Andi as soon as I have you and Mom settled in our new home. It'll take the Devil a while to figure out what's going on. He has problems all over the world, he can't just watch us alone." Sam felt relief, then exhaustion wash over him. With everything that had occured during the day, he was struggling to keep his eyes open. "Go get some sleep, honey, there's 'll wake you up in plenty of time for you to get ready," Linda said gently, as they all stood, Sam somewhat groggily. "Good night, son." "Goodnight, sweetheart." Sam hadn't kissed his parents goodninght since he was little but it seemed like the right thing to do. He staggered into the hall and into the nearest bedroom, falling asleep as soon as he hit the bed. John and Linda were about to go to bed themselves when they heard a knock at the door.

The two exchanged a look. "It's probably Gladys," Linda said. "Remember, she said she wanted to talk to you before we left. Relieved, John opened the door to find a very wet demon. "What took you so long?" Gladys demanded. "Gladys, you haven't changed a bit," John laughed. "Come in and have some coffee." He gestured to the couch, and went to get the coffee. "Did you need to see Sam? He went to sleep a little while ago-he needs some rest before we get on the road."

Gladys took a sip before replying. "That won't be necessary, John. Sam isn't going with you."
John and Linda stared. "What do you mean? Of course he's going with us! He's been under the Devil's thumb for far too long. It's my fault he's in this situation! I have to be the one to get him out! It's all planned, we can't-"

"John, listen to me!" Gladys cut in sharply. "The Boss is going to be in a foul mood when he realizes that Tony had planned to overthrow him and that Adam has disappeared. He won't tolerate you trying to take Sam away from him too. He'll probably kill you in front of Sam in order to prove a point to the other demons. This is not a good time to make your move." Linda Oliver turned white. "But we're so close to getting free. He wouldn't-he couldn't do that!"

Gladys pursed her lips. "Oh, yes he would," she said quietly. "I tried to defy the Boss one time and it didn't end well." Gladys shuddered, remembering emerging from the jaws of the Hell worm only to suffer torture at the hands of the Devil. "Believe me, you don't want to risk that, now. Not for either of you, or for Sam." She took another sip of coffee, and looked at them over the rim of the cup.

"I'm sorry that happened to you, Gladys," John said quietly. "But we can't abandon our son after all he's been through." "It'll work out, John. You've told him the truth and that's the best weapon against the Boss that there is. He won't be able to sway Sam now that he knows he's not his son." She nodded sagely. "Anyway, I'm surprised the boy would want to go away with you right now. I can think of at least one reason he'd want to stay." John smiled. "He was more concerned with Andi's safety than his own. I reassured him that I'd come back for her once we were safe." He sighed, and looked at Linda. "But you may be right, Gladys. It might not be safe for him to go away now, or her to follow. Maybe we should just play it cool for a while, see what settles."

Gladys thought for a moment. "You have to appear normal. Why don't you take your younger son with you? Kyle? That should be safe enough. No-one would question a normal family vacation." She rolled her eyes slightly.

"He doesn't have any demonic powers, he isn't really involved in all this." "But, we don't know that for sure, John," Linda said. "He doesn't turn 21 until October 1st. Sam's telekinesis didn't appear until his birthday. And we do owe Kyle the truth about Sam. He hates Sam because he thinks Sam is a slacker and that we've always been unfair with him. Plus, Kyle still thinks you are dead. He-he has a lot of catching up to do." Linda looked upset, but determined.

John looked resigned. "Okay, you've convinced us, Gladys. We'll leave Sam behind until Hell calms down. But as soon as we can secure the house for Sam and Andi I'm coming back for both of them." John stood up. "I'll leave a note for him describing the change in plans. Linda, where are Sam's clothes?"

"They're in the trunk," Linda whispered. Now that it was decided, she felt terrible about leaving Sam behind. Gladys patted her hand. "Now, now, Sam will be fine. I'll take good care of him until you can be together again. But the sooner you two get going, the better."

"Can I kiss him goodbye?" Gladys gestured encouragingly. Linda went into Sam's room and kissed him gently so he wouldn't wake up. Her husband joined her. He put the duffel bag at the foot of the bed. "I left a note for Sam on the kitchen table. It has stopped raining; let's go before I lose my nerve." John Oliver kissed his son goodbye and they left, closing the door behind them.

16. Sam slept heavily until the sun came through the window. "Mom? Dad?" he called out. "What time is it? When do we leave?" The cabin was too quiet and Sam got up, a heavy feeling in his stomach. He noticed a new duffel bag at the foot of his bed. He went into the kitchen and he saw a note addressed to him on the table. The note was in his father's handwriting. He picked it up, almost not wanting to read.

Dear Sam: We received a warning that it is too dangerous for us to take you away right now. We need to find a safer home for you and Andi. Dad will come for you when the time is right. We are so proud of you. We love you, and we'll be together soon. Love, Mom and Dad.
Sam fought back tears as he read the letter. "I knew that the Devil would never let me go," he thought. " least I won't have to worry about the Devil punishing Andi for something I did." He went back into the bedroom and opened the duffel, smiling a little even through his sadness. Mom knows how much I hate to shop for clothes, he thought. At least I have something decent to wear home. He showered and dressed quickly. He went outside and he was shocked by the condition of the lawn. All the birthday decorations had been destroyed by the storm and were covered in mud. Tree branches were strewn everywhere. Across the clearing, where they'd had the encounter last night, he could swear he could still see smoke rising.

He averted his eyes from that, but thought, "I can't leave the cabin looking like this. Maybe it'll make me feel better to clean it up." He found a large trash bag and he started picking up the mess. He was grateful for the task since it kept him from thinking about the horrible events, and his parents' departure. He finished clearing the lawn and his stomach began to growl loudly. "I need food, soon, and...Andi."
His cell phone was dead, so he put the garbage bag in his trunk and he started to hurry home, back to familiar territory. He made it to the Work Bench and put the trash bag in the dumpster. He got a sliver of phone reception, so tried to call Andi. "Sam! Where have you been? We were worried sick about you! Gladys wouldn't tell us anything. What happened? Are you okay?" Andi voice was in a rush.

"I'll explain everything-can you meet me at the house? I have something I need to tell everyone. Oh, and I'm starved-have you had breakfast yet?"

Andi made an incredulous sound, but played along. "It's almost lunch time! I was making tuna. You want some?" Sam smiled at this normal, silly exchange. "Sure could you put lettuce and tomato on mine?" "Of course. See you soon." Sam closed his phone, wondering if that was the last normal conversation he would have with his girlfriend. He drove to his house and was greeted by his friends, who rushed at him, waving their arms and looking overjoyed. "Sam! We thought you were hurt or dead or something! What the hell, buddy? What's going on?" Sock and Ben were yelling in unison. "What happened to Tony? Nina is going nuts trying to reach him. Why didn't you call?" Sam let himself be hugged and pounded on the back, then gestured at them to stop. "I'll explain everything once Andi arrives," he said, heading to the house. Andi arrived a few minutes later, carrying a bag filled with sandwiches. The couple hugged and kissed, with relief, and looked silently at each other.

Andi broke the silence. "So. Are you ever going to tell us what the hell is going on?" Sam took a deep breath and looked at his three best friends. "Well, the good news is I learned I'm not the Devil's son, and I'm not going to end the world." He looked at their shocked faces, and steeled himself to continue. "But...the bad news is I learned that my dad is a demon and my powers came from him."

"What?" "Huh?" "Whaaaa?" The three looked at him, stunned.


Sam nodded, looking from one to the other. "It's true. My dad was a demon who was stripped of his powers as punishment for marrying my mom." "Was he an assassin like Nina?" Ben asked. Even in his shock over Sam's news, he smiled a bit at the thought of his girlfriend, then looked around for her. Spotting her through the window, he went to call her to hear Sam's story.

"No, he used his telekinesis to be a master thief." As Ben ushered Nina into the room, Sam looked at her gravely. "Nina, I don't know how to tell you this but Tony's dead. And-and... my dad killed him."

The group looked shocked again. "Why would Mr. O. kill Tony?" Ben asked. "I-I don't get all that's going on."

Sam nodded wearily. "Last night, at the party, when Tony said he was hurt? When I went out to help him, Steve was there. They had planned to use me as bait to overthrow the Devil. My Dad knew, and he was waiting for them. But I thought he was just a Demon, or maybe the Devil. They tried to stone me to death and then my dad bit Tony on the neck and killed him. Steve was killed by a bolt of lightening. I'm not positive I think God killed him." Knowing how crazy that all sounded, Sm took a bite of his sandwich and a drink of water before continuing. "When it happened, I thought it was the Devil coming to rescue me and that would mean I really was evil. I had planned to run away because I didn't want my friends to get hurt. Any of you." He looked around at all their faces. "Then the demon turned into my Dad, and he and my mom told me everything. I-I can't talk about all of it right now, but...they had to leave, but I have to stay, so the Devil doesn't know we're all back together again."

"Where did they go, Sam?" Andi gently. "I don't know." He turned to look at her. "I'm so sorry, I was arguing with Steve, and Dad learned that you lost your soul. He said that he owned many homes and he would find a place where we would be safe. We were going to leave at dawn but-" He held out the note to her.
She read it silently, and he went on: "I understand if you want to break up with me. I know you were uncomfortable with me using my powers but now that I know that they came from him I want to be just like my Dad. Sock, if you want me to move out, it's okay. I-I know things can't go back to normal after all of this."

Sock slapped Sam on the back. "What? No, my man! It will be cool to have another demon around! The more the merrier!" He winked at Nina and waggled his tongue. "I'm not a demon, Sock; my Dad called me a my car." Sam smiled. "What exactly is a hybrid, Nina?" he asked, turning to the blonde demon. "Hybrids are very rare, Sam. They are more powerful than humans but not as strong as demons. You will probably live longer than most humans since wedemons have a long life span." She winked at him. But she didn't tell him that hybrids were ostracized by demon society and called half-breeds. She wasn't going to be the one to deliver any bad news. If Sam's father was strong enough to murder Tony, he could put some hurt on her too.

"Will I get new powers?" "Well, you are a obviously a telepath, so your powers will grow as you age." Sam looked startled. "Sure! You can do things with your mind that no one else can. Didn't anyone explain this to you when you got your powers?" Sam made a face. "No! The Devil told me about my telekinesis but I was too scared to ask him anything else."

Nina folded her hands and prepared to instruct. "There are four families of demons. Assassins, like me; shape shifters like my friend Maggie; succubi/incubi; and telepaths. We can't share powers between families."

"But my Dad was a telepath, but he killed Tony?" "Ah well. Most demons can't have children, and if a demon is fortunate enough to have a child they will do anything to protect them, even murder. And even if they're not in the assassin family. But it is so rare as to be almost impossible." Nina looked proudly at the others.

Andi stared, her mind working. "Well, if Sam's power isn't a killing one, I guess..." She turned to Sam, looking contrite. "I was so afraid you were evil, and that you would turn violent. But if I was wrong..." She looked hopefully at him. Sam's smile lit up the whole room. "Andi, you have no idea how happy I am to hear you say that. I know I'll only use my powers as a last resort, and only to do good. I love you Andi; I could never be happy without you." He took her hand in his.

The Devil arrived back in Hell early Monday morning. He was shocked to see Tony and Steve's lifeless bodies at his doorstep. "What are they doing here?" he said angrily. "I want to see the security tapes from the past week right now!"

"Right away, Boss," a hench-demon replied, sighing quietly to himself. The Devil watched the tapes with great concentration. Everything seemed normal until Friday, when he observed Tony's failed attempt to recruit demons to overthrow him. "I should have never let you live," he thought bitterly. He watched Adam standing in the background. "I knew he'd be loyal to me," he thought. The camera panned the inside of Adam's quarters. The Devil rose from his chair. John Oliver! He lost the right to be a demon. I can't believe what Adam just did! He'll pay for that! Now where did they go? The Devil was fuming. Someone will pay for this, he vowed. Sam will pay.
Sam went to work at the Bench feeling better than he had in a long time. He would miss his parents, of course, but now he knew the truth, and so did Andi and his friends, and they were sticking by him. He fingered his father's note in his pocket; he thought of it as a good luck charm.

Ted put Sam on cart duty for the morning, and as he was roaming around the parking lot, everything seemed easy, until he felt an angry presence, followed by a familiar voice from behind an SUV. "Where is Adam, and where is your father?" the Devil hissed. Sam rounded the corner and faced the man in the suit.

"How should I know where Adam is?" Sam was incredulous, and confused. "You were supposed to be taking care of him. He can't fend for himself, you know. What did you do, lose him?" The Devil realized that Sam didn't know Adam's true identity, nor how he was involved in recent events. He glowered again. "And your father?"

Sam felt afraid. "I don't know. He left without me, without telling me where he was going. You have to believe me. I just don't know."

"Don't lie to me, Sam!" the Devil roared. Suddenly, Sam felt his feet lifting off the tarmac; he was tumbling in the air and then body-slammed into a nearby car. "Tell me where John is or I'll kill you!" He continued to flip and drop Sam, until the note flew out of his pocket. The Devil stopped the action, and bent to pick up the note, reading it. His anger only grew as he realized that Sam really didn't know where his parents had gone. With all that had occurred in his absence, the Devil became sloppy in his anger. He was used to abusing Sam, however he was always careful to dole out punishment in private. This time, he was so angry that he attacked Sam in full view of Bench employees and horrified passers-by. There was an outcry, and a rush to summon aid. The Devil disappeared as soon as he heard the sirens.

Sam, lying on the ground in a heap, was half-conscious and begging for his parents, for the pain to stop. He was whisked away in an ambulance, and soon being reassured by the emergency room staff. "We're going to give you something for the pain, and we'll notify your parents. Just relax now you'll be be fine," various nurses murmured.

Ben and Sock had just arrived at work as Sam was being taken away. They got the gist of the story and called Andi at once. She was having lunch with Gladys, who loaded a distraught Andi into her car and headed for the hospital. "John and Linda will never forgive me if something happens to that boy," she said to herself.
Sam's friends gathered in the waiting room but the hospital staff refused to let them in. "Family members only." "But we don't know where his parents are," they pleaded. "Rules are rules," the head nurse maintained. Gladys decided to take matters in her own hands. "I'm the boy's aunt," she said said firmly. "My brother and his wife are in Europe. I must know his condition so let me see him now." She gazed unflinchingly into the nurse's eyes.

The nurse, almost against her will, nodded, and led Gladys to Sam's bedside. "He's in serious, yet stable condition. I've never seen injuries like that in all my years of nursing. He has three broken ribs and extensive bruising." She left Gladys alone with Sam. "Sam, I'm so sorry," Gladys whispered. "I never should have convinced your parents to leave you behind. I'm a poor excuse for a guardian." Sam responded to the familiar tone of voice, and stirred in the bed. "Mommy, I'm thirsty," he said drowsily. "Okay, honey, let me give you a drink." Gladys poured some water from the picture on the bedside table. She moistened his lips with the rim of the cup. Sam licked his lips, and fell back to sleep. Gladys gave him a kiss on the forehead, and she was about to leave the room when she became aware of an ominous presence. She heard a whisper: "I have some questions for you."
She was instantly teleported into an empty room, facing the Devil. "What went on weekend, and where is John Oliver?" he demanded. She stared him in the eye. "I don't know where John is," she said evenly. "Whatever they were planning to do, they've gone somewhere different now. I wasn't even involved. Andi invited me to Sam's surprise party on Saturday. I've known Sam's parents since before he was born. Out of the blue, Linda warned me that Tony was planning to kill Sam and John had regained his powers. They were going to tell Sam about his paternity and leave Seattle. I arranged to get the other guests home safely and then I returned to the cabin to speak to John. I convinced him that you would never allow Sam to escape and that they should leave him with me." She looked away. "Looks like that was a huge mistake. I knew you'd be mad no matter how it went, but I didn't know you'd go this far." "No, you made the right choice, Gladys," the Devil said, glowering. "I don't care what happens to them, as long as I have Sam." Gladys shrugged, and waited to be teleported back home.
Sam spent four days in the hospital recovering from his injuries. The nurses loved him since he was so grateful for everything they did for him. He received a visit from a Work Bench executive who assured him that security would be improved and all his medical expenses would be paid in full. Sam was being discharged on Friday morning. The day nurse told him, "Sam your aunt is here to pick you up."

He knew he didn't have an aunt, but that it meant it wasn't the Devil coming to get him, anyway. He smiled when he saw Gladys enter the room. "Did you take the day off just for me? That was so nice of you." "Let's go, Sam," Gladys said in her usual sharp voice. "Things are back to normal," Sam thought.

He was surprised when Gladys drove to her home instead of his. Sam followed her into the house. "I forgot to give you a birthday present last week," she said, handing him a photo album before he could respond. Sam opened the cover and was shocked by what he saw. "Dad!" he said, silently. The album contained photos of John Oliver looking young and healthy, in different settings. "Where did you get these? They are fantastic!"

"I knew your father long before you were born, Sam," she replied. "He gave me these photos for safekeeping." Sam looked surprised at the pictures of Tony and his dad, laughing together. "I can't believe Tony would try to kill me," he mulled. "Dad said they were best friends." Gladys nodded. "They went on many adventures together. Actually, it made Steve jealous. I think it was his plan to murder you." The next photos were of John and Linda looking very romantic. Gladys smiled. "I was the first demon to meet Linda. He was head over heels in love with her just like you and Andi." Sam nodded. The next photos were from the wedding. "Where was this? I thought they got married by a justice of the peace!" "They did, then they had a reception on a beach in Cabo San Lucas. Just lovely."

Sam pointed to two unfamiliar female demons. Who's this?"

Gladys peered over. "Ah. The blonde is Ingrid, she's a glutton. The redhead is Alexandra, she's a succubus. Crazy gals, both of them. They were good friends of your parents. I'll introduce you someday." "They're not my dad's former girlfriends are they?" Sam asked curiously. "No, no, your father was devoted to your mother."

The last photos were the demons cuddling a baby. "Is that me?" "Yes, Sam and if you ever annoy me I'll tell all your friends that I changed your diapers." Gladys gave Sam a wink. "Yes, ma'am, I'll remember," he grinned. "My dad told me that I was special, but I think he was biased."

"You were very special," Gladys replied. "Most babies hate me, they scream whenever I try to hold them. I could feed you and play with you and you would laugh. You fell asleep in my arms like a little angel." She looked a little misty. Sam was touched by the memory. Suddenly he couldn't resist. "What about Kyle?" "Him?" Gladys rolled her eyes. "He screamed if you looked at him crosswise. John couldn't even comfort him. I stopped seeing your parents once he was born. Too noisy." Same looked rueful. "I'm sorry Gladys. Kyle hates me too. Thank you for the album. I love it, and.. I love you." Sam gave Gladys a big hug. Gladys nodded. "I love you too, honey."