Nathaniel felt sudden remorse. “I apologize,” he said, but didn’t elaborate exactly what he might be sorry for.
“I don’t believe you,” she said quietly. “You don’t want me here. I am not welcome.” She leapt to her feet. “I don’t know why I bother.”
With that, she marched off into the woods and was gone. Nathaniel felt torn, but merely sat on the chair and waited for his clashing thoughts to clear, curious to see which side of the argument would emerge victorious. He didn’t know why she bothered, either, but tried not to worry about it. At least, that was what he told himself. After all, he had much larger concerns. Whether he would see Marie ever again wasn’t one of them.
What he could not afford to do was have her presence distract him from his mission, which was to seek God’s face and protect those under his charge. He had allowed himself to be unfocused too many times before when it had had mattered most.
Unfortunately, she had proved to be a distraction after all. The smell of sulfur hit him when it was far too late to do anything about it.
The chair beside him was no longer empty.
Satan sat there, in far finer clothing than even Marie had adorned herself with. He stared back at the vampire with the vilest grin Nathaniel thought he had ever seen.
“Greetings,” he said as he fingered the fedora in his lap. “You really have a way with the ladies, don’t you?”
Nathaniel bristled, but wasn’t afraid. It was far too late for that anyway. Satan had caught him unawares. And with an army of vampires well on their way, he never once considered the Devil doing anything but taunting him with that fact.
“She is a fine woman, you know?” Satan chided. “There’s an opportunity there. Her perverted brother keeps her chained up inside that estate of theirs, while he does what he pleases like Caligula. Not really in chains, of course, but she may as well be. She just sits in that garden of hers.”
“So, she wasn’t lying about that?” Nathaniel asked.
“And of course I can trust you to tell me the truth.”
Satan shrugged. “Believe what you want.”
“Why did you bring her here?” Nathaniel asked.
“Who says I did that?” Satan laughed before he could get the words out. “I’m sorry. It’s too much of a lie even for one as accomplished in the skill as me. She’s a gift.”
Nathaniel shook his head. “The level of your contempt knows no limits, does it? She is a person and not a thing to be given or thrown out with the trash.”
“She’s a vampire, but I won’t split hairs with you,” Satan countered. “So you do like her then. Good.”
“I didn’t say that.”
“Yes, you did. Of course you did. She is my gift to you. Take her and do as you please.”
“And why not?” Satan asked. “You’re both alone. Why not be companions? Besides, I brought her here, but your God routinely turns things around for good, does he not? Romans eight; twenty-eight, I believe. Why don’t you ask God about it?” He leaned close. “Still not talking to you?” When Nathaniel didn’t take the bait, he sat back. “I see,” he said.
Eventually, Satan slid down in his chair in his expensive Italian suit and kicked one leg over the other. The moonlight leapt onto his polished leather shoes and held them far stronger than it had with Marie’s blouse. Nathaniel wasn’t surprised at the unearthly glow.
“Great shoes, huh?” Satan remarked, following his gaze. “It’s amazing how quickly they wear out. They last days at best.”
“It must be all the ground you have to cover,” Nathaniel said.
Satan nodded. “You would be correct.”
“Couldn’t you retire and see the world?”
“Ha!” Satan laughed loudly and some birds flew off the trees, making a loud ruckus. “Oh, I couldn’t do that. I have only my work. Seeing the world is not all it’s cracked up to be anyway. In any event, seeing it is a part of the job description.”
“Are there not wars being waged that you need to attend to? Famines? Mankind being woefully unprepared for the next hurricane, earthquake, drought, tsunami?”
“Yes,” he replied. “And infinitely more. However, I have everything covered, thank you so much. I have more than enough time for all of that, to handle what goes on here as well as what transpires in the central valley of the State to our south.”
Nathaniel blinked, but said nothing. He crossed his arms and did his best to fight the urge to take his sword off of his lap and run the Devil through with it. If only it were that easy.
“What’s the matter?” Satan asked. “Don’t you worry about Barbara and her children? Especially with Michael being here with you?”
He said nothing.
“No, of course you worry.” Satan nodded. He took his hat and set it back on his head. “You shouldn’t bother. Soon there’ll be nothing to worry about.”
Nathaniel began to pray in his mind, but showed no outward appearance of it.
“Stop that!” Satan ordered as he climbed to his feet. He threw an arm out as if tossing something away. “I was afraid you were going to start praying!” He spun around and faced him.
If Satan became riled and decided to kill him, there was really very little he could do about it, he knew.
“Look around,” he spat. “What has God done for you? I mean, really? What has he gained you?”
Nathaniel stared up at the Devil. This was perhaps his defining moment and he knew it. His chance to stand in the face of the greatest threat to God and man, and declare his allegiance. Satan leveled his cold, dark eyes at him, as if he fully anticipated what was coming.
“I am nothing without the Lord.”Satan sighed and merely smiled. “Soon, you will be only nothing.”
If this is the first you have ever heard of my series, I hope you'll take a look at the first book, Dance on Fire. The e-book can be had for 99 cents at any of the major e-book stores. Here's the Amazon link. The series is definitely crossover or edgy, if you will. I don't label it Christian, though the themes are obviously present. You're going to find some language and a whole lot of blood being shed. Sometimes you will find your nose in the stuff. On the other hand the horror isn't so gratuitous that it turns all except the die-hards away.
Anyway, I hope you'll like it.
We'll talk soon.