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The Bed
The Bed
The Bed
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The Bed

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Liz just wants a happy birthday. Is that too much to ask?

A beautiful antique bed: Her birthday present to herself. The nice delivery men set it up in her room and then all Hell breaks loose. Literally.

Her family is the usual pain in the you-know- where and her boyfriend starts asking difficult questions, all on her birthday. But the ghost of her new bed’s former owner is the biggest problem of all.

When it turns out he’s not basking in the glow of a happy afterlife, Liz must face some really nasty adversaries to help him. Why on earth would she risk her life and her sanity to help a ghost? Certainly not because she’s in love with him.

Certainly not.

PublisherLaura Perry
Release dateJul 21, 2016
The Bed
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Laura Perry

Laura is a Pagan artist and storyteller. Entranced by the mystical traditions of the past, her aim is to bring those traditions alive in the modern world through her writing and art.

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    The Bed - Laura Perry

    The Bed

    By Laura Perry

    Copyright © 2016 Laura Perry

    All rights reserved. Except as permitted under the U.S. Copyright Act of 1976, no part of this publication may be reproduced, distributed, or transmitted in any form or by any means, or stored in a database or retrieval system, without the prior written permission of the author.

    Smashwords edition

    ISBN: 1535008938

    ISBN-13: 978-1535008938

    This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, businesses, places, events and incidents are either the products of the author’s imagination or used in a fictitious manner. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, or actual events is purely coincidental.

    Cover design by the author.



    To all the beta readers:

    You have my undying thanks.

    Also by Laura Perry:


    Labrys and Horns: An Introduction to Modern Minoan Paganism

    Ariadne’s Thread: Awakening the Wonders of the Ancient Minoans in Our Modern Lives

    The Wiccan Wellness Book: Natural Healthcare for Mind, Body, and Spirit

    Ancient Spellcraft: From the Hymns of the Hittites to the Carvings of the Celts

    Deathwalking: Helping Them Cross the Bridge (anthology editor)


    Jaguar Sky

    The Last Priestess of Malia

    Anthology Contributions:

    Paganism 101: An Introduction to Paganism by 101 Pagans

    Naming the Goddess

    Pagan Planet: Being, Believing, and Belonging in the 21st Century

    The Goddess in America: The Divine Feminine in Cultural Context

    Table of Contents


    Between the Worlds


    Between the Worlds


    Between the Worlds


    Between the Worlds


    Between Night and Morning


    Between Night and Morning


    Between the Worlds


    Between Night and Morning


    Between the Worlds


    Between the Worlds


    Between the Worlds


    Between the Worlds


    Between the Worlds


    About the Author

    Late May


    Hey, listen, thanks for your help, but you can just leave the mattress there. I’ll put it on the bed later. Liz hovered in the doorway of her bedroom, fighting the urge to pull out her phone and check the time again.

    We’re almost done, ma’am, the delivery man assured her as he secured the last bolt on the bed frame. You better let us put the mattress on. It’s awfully heavy for just one person to move. The two men deftly lifted the mattress onto the bed then presented Liz with a clipboard. One antique bed frame, one antique nightstand, one new mattress. Just sign on the bottom there.

    Liz dashed off her signature and thrust the clipboard back at the delivery man. Thanks very much. I’m not trying to be rude, but I’ve got to change.

    Big Saturday night plans?

    She pursed her lips. Family dinner. It’s my birthday.

    Well, happy birthday, then. But I’m sure they’ll wait for you. They’re family, right?

    You don’t know my family.

    The delivery men made their exit and Liz allowed herself a brief moment to stroke the woodwork on the bed frame before tearing around the room to get ready for her evening.

    Twenty minutes later she clenched her teeth and pulled open the front door of a little Chinese restaurant a few blocks from her apartment in the Virginia-Highlands district of Atlanta. Forcing a smile, she took her place at the table ten minutes late amid grumbles from her closest relatives. Before any small talk could begin, they placed their orders, with Liz opting for just an egg roll since she would be having a second birthday dinner later with her friend Jack at his insistence. He could be very persuasive when he wanted to be. Not that anyone else at the table knew about her plans with him.

    I’m glad to see you’re watching your weight, her mother said when Liz placed her order. It’s high time you started thinking about that middle-aged spread.

    Mom, I only just turned thirty today. I’d hardly call that middle aged. You’re just glad your share of my dinner won’t cost so much. She fiddled with the edge of the Chinese zodiac place mat, noticing that her mother was born in the year of the rat. How appropriate. She was just glad she was sitting far enough way that she couldn’t smell the cheap vodka that was probably on the woman’s breath. So, Dad, how’s life at college? Is it exam time yet? Are you teaching Latin 102 again this year?

    With practiced skill, Liz kept the conversation going until the food arrived. As she picked at her egg roll and sipped hot tea, she continued to ask questions and lead the others to chat about safe, non-provoking subjects while they ate. The practice was tiring but it was the only way to have a peaceful meal with her family. In other words, it was worth the effort. But she ran out of steam about the time the fortune cookies appeared and decided to let the conversation turn whichever way it wanted, figuring the meal was almost over anyway.

    Following family tradition, she held up the slip of paper from her fortune cookie for everyone to see. ‘You will soon meet the man of your dreams.’ Oh, please. Rolling her eyes, she crumpled the fortune and tossed it onto her plate, where it soaked up a blob of duck sauce and turned a greasy translucent orange.

    Her sister Amanda laughed. We should play the game where you add the phrase ‘in bed’ to the end of each fortune.

    Liz’s mother glared at her daughters, who quailed beneath her icy stare. Don’t turn your nose up at good news, she snapped, even if it comes from a fortune cookie.

    Liz pushed her plate away. Mom, my work is my passion.

    Now, Honey, her father intoned from far the end of the table, you know it’s family tradition—the fortune you receive on your birthday always comes true. Why do you think we get together every year like this in spite of our … differences?

    Liz offered her father a wan smile. At the very least, she had to give him credit for making the best of an awkward situation. Why they all continued with this charade every year, she didn’t understand, but it meant a lot to him, so she put up with two evenings of unpleasantness—her birthday and her sister’s—for his sake.

    What about your boyfriend? her mother asked. Where’s Jack? Why isn’t he here tonight?

    He’s not my boyfriend, Mom.

    Did he even call to wish you a happy birthday? You’re getting older every day; your biological clock is ticking. She motioned to Liz’s sister, who sat at the side of the table nursing an infant while her husband kept a toddler occupied. Of course, I’m grateful to your younger sister for those grandbabies, though she did give up a perfectly good job for them. I hope living on a single income isn’t straining your resources too much, Amanda. Did you pay full retail for that blouse? If the baby spits up on it, you’ll never get the stain out.

    Amanda ducked her head, kissing the baby, but Liz knew only too well the smirk her sister was hiding. Amanda had always been able to find humor in their mother’s volatility and had long ago given up caring about the role that booze and the occasional pill played in it. Sometimes Liz wished she could be that flippant about the situation.

    Mom, Liz said with a forced smile, Amanda’s good with a budget. You know that.

    Esther gave her younger daughter a look that assured the family she did not know that, then turned back to her older daughter. Look at those sweet babies, Liz. Do you expect an archangel to swoop down and inform you of an impending virgin birth? You have to get out there if you don’t want to die an old maid. You can’t stay cooped up in that shop all day and all night.

    Archangels be damned, Liz snapped. Her mother gasped. Do you have any idea how medieval that sounds, Mom? This is the modern world. You’re a career woman now. Why can’t you understand that I want the same thing?

    I raised you and Amanda first, Liz. I only went back to work when your father abandoned our marriage and I had no choice but to take an office job again. At least you were both mostly grown by then. I’m sure we would have ended up on the street if you girls had been younger. Liz pressed her lips together, willing herself to keep silent and let her mother finish her usual tirade. And you know what a terrible time I’ve had keeping a job, what with all these uppity young office workers complaining about how I’m paranoid and incompetent, when I know for a fact they’re just jealous that I have more experience than they do. I know how they talk behind my back, trying to turn everyone against me.

    Liz’s father scowled. Esther, you’re the one who filed for divorce, and I gave you a generous amount—

    That’s beside the point, Robert, she cut him off, waving away his objection. We’re talking about Liz now.

    He gripped the edge of the table, his face turning red. As he shifted in his seat, preparing to stand up, Amanda leaned across and took hold of her sister’s hand.

    Did you go antiquing like you said you were going to? she asked. I hope you bought yourself a nice birthday present. You always find the most amazing stuff.

    Liz’s father sank back into his seat, the scarlet slowly draining from his face as he focused on his daughters.

    I did, Liz said, eyeing both her parents who were reorienting themselves at their places on opposite ends of the table. Yesterday. They just delivered the stuff today, right before I came over here.

    You went shopping yesterday? Esther exclaimed. You closed that little shop of yours so you could go buy yourself a birthday present? That’s terribly irresponsible, Liz. Exactly why I want to see you in a secure office job with a reliable paycheck. She pounced her index finger on the table. How much revenue did you lose while you were out there spending money?

    Liz took a deep breath and started to count to ten, but gave up after three and turned to face Esther. Mother, she said through a tight smile, I went out yesterday because Susan was working in the shop all day. Remember her—my employee? I am, in fact, successful enough that three weeks ago I moved her to full time so I could devote forty hours a week to the bookkeeping, the website, and my art. I’m doing more than a third of my business online now. I’ve told you all of this before, more than once.

    Esther rolled her eyes. You’re still making that weird folk art and trying to sell it, aren’t you?

    Yesterday, Liz pressed on, aiming her comments toward her sister now, I went to a little antique store I found a few weeks ago and bought some furniture.

    What did you get? asked Amanda.

    A late nineteenth-century bed and nightstand. They’re a really pretty golden oak finish, Victorian but not too ornate. They look like something from a haunted house or one of those old silent movies.

    Is it a double bed? Esther asked, all innocence.

    That’s it! Liz stood up and shoved her chair back. Dad, Amanda, Tom, thanks for coming and putting up with all this crap just so you could wish me a happy birthday. Next year, let’s try a new tradition: Mom stays home and I actually get to enjoy my birthday for a change.

    Liz, how could you! Esther was jiggling her chair back from the table, trying to stand up but wobbling noticeably and getting tangled in the shoulder straps of the purse she had hung from the back of the chair.

    The birthday girl beat a hasty retreat to the restaurant’s front door while her mother fumbled. In moments Liz was out in the parking lot, walking away as fast as she could without actually running, taking deep breaths as the tears pooled in her eyes. She blinked hard and forced her emotions back under control; she would not cry, not because of her crazy mother, not on her birthday.

    Her phone rang and she fished it out of her purse. It was Amanda, calling to point out the humor in their mother’s insane behavior, she just knew it. Her sister worked too damn hard to make the family get along when the best solution was simply for everyone to stay away from each other, especially since Esther refused to admit she had a problem that needed professional help. Liz could swear they were all up in each other’s business more in the years since the divorce than they had been back when the family was still officially together. She almost let the call ring to voice mail, then punched a finger at the screen at the last moment.

    She’s not funny! she shouted at the phone as she stomped down the sidewalk. She has a real problem!

    All right, all right, Amanda said, chastised. You know, sometimes it’s a choice between laughing and crying, and I’d rather laugh, that’s all. We’ve tried for years to make her get professional help but she won’t go, not even to AA. I just called to make sure you were OK.

    To have her act like that on my birthday? Of course I’m not OK, but I will be. She just keeps getting worse, year after year. She kept moving as she talked, putting distance between herself and the restaurant. How is it that I can run a business, manage a full-time employee, handle hundreds of customers, haggle with junk dealers, stand up to vendors, but I lose my cool the moment my mother opens her mouth? Why can’t I just laugh it off like you do? What the hell is wrong with me?

    There’s nothing wrong with you, Liz. She’s been chipping away at both of us—and Dad—since we were little. And you’re right, it’s only gotten worse. I’m sure a psychiatrist could give you a better explanation, but she’s just …

    Broken. Always has been. Liz stopped, standing on the sidewalk half a block from her shop, and took a deep breath. Listen, I have to go. I’m all right, I promise. Give Tom and the babies my love.

    She ended the call and slipped the phone into her purse. Then she went around to the back of the shop’s building and unlocked a door that opened onto a stairway. In moments she was upstairs in her apartment, digging through her closet to find something to wear to dinner with Jack. Focusing on the part of the evening that still remained, she did her best to let the family fiasco slip away out of her consciousness. Her real dinner would make up for the crap time at the Chinese restaurant, she knew it. If there was one person she could count on, it was Jack. Always a fun time with no strings attached. He was a great friend.

    After a few minutes of fumbling through skirts, tops, and ensembles, she settled on a navy blue silk dress she had found at a consignment shop earlier in the year. It was classy and understated; the label was a small Parisian fashion house that had thrived in the 1960s. Liz spent much of her life in artsy clothing that most people thought was a bit outlandish, but for dinner with Jack, she figured she’d better rein it in a little. He was always a sharp dresser—expensive handmade business suits and even more expensive watches and shoes—and she didn’t want to embarrass him in a fancy restaurant. Of course. What other kind would he choose?

    She allowed herself one ‘interesting’ piece of jewelry, a one-of-a-kind lapis and gold necklace that looked like the pendant was hovering in mid-air, then grabbed her purse and headed down to her car. A short while later she pulled into the parking lot of the restaurant, right on time.

    As she got out she peered around, wondering what was going on. The parking lot was mostly empty. But there was Jack’s Lexus SUV, with its WINN3R vanity plate on the back. She was in the right place, at least.

    Still confused, she walked around to the front of the building, pulled the door open, and stepped inside. Then she just stood there, her mouth hanging open, staring.

    Happy birthday! Jack called from the only occupied table in the place.

    What the …

    He got up and strode over to her, taking her hands. I wanted us to have a little privacy.

    So you rented the whole restaurant? she said, letting him lead her back to the table. She sat down and looked around. Geez, Jack, you’ve really outdone yourself this time.

    He chuckled. Only the best for my girl.

    She squirmed in her seat but let the remark pass. So … where are the menus?

    You’re all questions tonight, aren’t you? He gave her an affectionate look. I’ve taken care of everything. Just relax and enjoy your birthday dinner.

    The restaurant staff brought out their best wine then served the couple an exquisite meal beginning with an asparagus appetizer, continuing with roast pheasant with a lingonberry coulis and truffles, and ending with the most beautiful Napoleons Liz had ever seen, topped not just with chocolate but also with real gold leaf. Along with the dessert, champagne magically appeared on the table, a label Liz knew was dreadfully expensive.

    To us, Jack said as he lifted his glass.

    Liz hesitated, not wanting to be rude but not wanting to encourage this line of thought either. It was bad enough that he had called her his girl. Sure, they had slept together a few times, but they were just friends. She had been careful not to make any innuendoes in the direction of a serious relationship and Jack had never suggested otherwise. Until tonight. She clutched the stem of her glass but kept it on the table, seeking any words that wouldn’t hurt his feelings.

    Flashing his trademark winning smile, he reached over and patted her hand. I know this is a change of course, Liz, but we’ve done college and jobs, so marriage is next, right?

    Her mouth hung open as she struggled to process his words. While she gaped, he slipped his hand into his jacket pocket and pulled out a small velvet box. With a flourish, he opened the box and set it on the table between them, its contents facing Liz.

    Marry me. It wasn’t a question.

    Liz stared in horror at the ring—the central diamond had to be at least a full carat, and it wasn’t the only stone on the thing—and felt her heart begin to pound. Visions of a greasy, crumpled Chinese restaurant fortune flashed through her mind.

    The man of my dreams. They always come true. It’s family tradition.

    While she sat there, frozen in panic, Jack deftly lifted the ring from the box and slipped it onto her finger.

    Say yes, he said, giving her hand a little squeeze.

    After a moment she managed to get her breath back.

    That’s a hell of a proposal, she said, scowling. We’re not even dating. And I’m not in love with you.

    Who said love had anything to do with it? We’re moving ahead in life, doing the things we need to do to get what we want. It’s totally a practical issue. We get along well, in and out of bed. We’re both smart and we already know each other’s idiosyncrasies and annoying habits.

    But …

    Let me guess, he said. You’re expecting true love. Someone you’d give your life for.

    Something like that.

    That only happens in fairytales and dime store novels.

    Wow, she said, twisting the ring on her finger. When did you get so cynical?

    I’m not cynical; from a practical perspective, this is an excellent decision. Listen, he said, taking both her hands in his, we make a good pair. I’d just hate to see someone else snatch you up, that’s all.

    While Liz was working up a rational comeback, she heard voices in the back of the restaurant. Then the door to the kitchen swung open and her best friend Olivia was trotting across the restaurant holding the biggest bouquet of yellow roses Liz had ever seen.

    Welcome to the family! Olivia squealed, plopping Liz’s favorite flowers on the table and giving her friend an enthusiastic hug.

    When Olivia finally let go, Liz just sat there, stunned. I don’t know what to say, she finally managed to squeak out.

    Well, I’m just happy you’re going to be my sister.

    Liz shook her head. I haven’t said yes.

    Olivia glanced at her brother, who pressed his lips together and scowled. Then he put on a smile again and patted Liz’s hand. You take your time, he said. I never rush into big decisions and you shouldn’t either.

    I’m sorry, she said. I just … She stood up and picked up her purse. I’m sorry, she repeated to both of them, then without any effort from her conscious mind, her legs carried her to the front of the restaurant and out the door.

    All she could do the whole way home was shake her head and wonder what the hell just happened. Her day had gone from good to bad to ugly in record time. Now she just wanted to go home and be left alone and not think about any of the things that had happened over the previous several hours.

    With her usual coming-home ritual on auto-pilot, she dropped her purse onto the counter and refilled her cat’s food dish. As soon as she kicked off her shoes, she fished a bottle of Grey Goose Magnum vodka out of the freezer. What would her mother say if she knew how much Liz had spent on that bottle? She was pretty sure Esther drank the stuff that came in gallon plastic jugs. But Jack would approve of the expensive stuff, she knew. After all, she had earned it. She filled the bottom third of a tall glass with the vodka, considered the labor necessary to squeeze the juice out of the last remaining orange in the fruit basket, then took a long drink of the straight liquor.

    Taking sips from the glass as she went, she walked toward her bedroom and stood in the doorway, surveying her new purchases, her birthday gift to herself. The bed had an absurdly high headboard with a carving near the top that might have been an angel but that struck Liz as more crafty and cunning than your typical Victorian-era chubby baby with wings. Whatever the figure was, Liz loved it. She could picture the creature telling everyone it knew to take a hike if they so much as suggested it wasn’t living its life right. And she would bet the whole bottle of vodka the little being wasn’t married.

    She set the glass on the nightstand and tested the still-bare mattress by sitting on its edge. It had a nice spring to it; the owner of the antique shop had given her a great deal on a new one and the delivery men had thankfully hauled her nasty old futon away.

    The two-drawer nightstand matched the bed perfectly; it was obvious they had been part of a set. The golden oak finish on the top showed the shadows of use, faint spots where a lamp had sat, or maybe a vase of flowers. With sudden comprehension, Liz snatched her glass off the nightstand and wiped the ring of condensation from the top with her bare hand, chiding herself for being so careless, then bolted the remaining liquor. Feeling embarrassed even though she was alone, she stole a glance at the carving in the headboard. She had the distinct feeling it was watching her.

    Get a grip, Liz. It’s a piece of furniture.

    Other than the Chippendale camel-back sofa in her living room, also procured at one of her favorite antique-store haunts, the bed and nightstand were the only decent furniture she owned. Everything else was cheap, modern, assemble-it-yourself chipboard stuff acquired during college and a few years of a low-paying, heartless cubicle-jockey job. All of it she hoped to replace with equally wonderful antiques as her budget allowed, and maybe a few pieces of her own funky folk art furniture as well, once she felt she could afford to keep some for herself.

    Her ring flashed as she wiped the dampness off her palm and the thought crossed her mind that Olivia might take it personally if she said no to Jack’s proposal. After all, they had been best friends since grade school; she couldn’t imagine life without her Olivia. No, she wouldn’t even think about that right now. Not yet. Luckily, right about then the vodka finally took effect and her shoulders dropped down from the near-the-ears position they had worked their way up to over the previous few hours. The worrisome thoughts dissolved along with the tension and she turned her attention toward getting ready for bed.

    With the little bit of energy she had left, she lovingly spread her best set of sheets on her new bed and topped it with a quilt her grandmother had made for her when she was a little girl. As she worked, she glanced up at the carving on the headboard several times to reassure herself that it wasn’t moving, it didn’t have glowing eyes, it wasn’t watching her, even though the prickles on the back of her neck told a different story. By the time she was done with the bed, she was too tired to fuss with filling the drawers of the nightstand, but she set her lamp and alarm clock on top to have them handy.

    Briefly she wondered where her cat was—a friendly grey tabby tomcat she had adopted from the local animal shelter. His usual evening routine involved ‘tucking her in’ then falling asleep curled up by her feet. But he had fled beneath the sofa when the delivery men brought her birthday furniture and had not reappeared since then, not even at the sound of his food bowl being refilled. She shrugged to herself. He was here somewhere and would come out in his own time, as cats do.

    Yawning, she stripped out of her clothes and turned the covers back, but a sudden compulsion overtook her and instead of lying down she knelt on the bed, facing the headboard. Her gaze focused on the face in the center of the carving. Her hands went to it, her fingertips tracing its outlines, stroking outward along the curves of the little wings, circling back to the center where she cupped its tiny visage in her palms.

    I don’t know who you are, she whispered, and you’re kind of weird looking, but I think you’re trying to tell me something and I hope that something is that you’re good luck. Maybe you could help me out every now and then. I’m pretty good at the business stuff but my personal life could use some help. Thanks. She kissed its nose.

    A wave of dizziness overtook her and she gripped the carving to maintain her balance. As she leaned against the headboard, her stomach churned and she felt the bed tilt beneath her. Goosebumps rose on the top of her head and traveled all the way down her spine; at the same time she felt a sensation as if bubbles were popping along the path the goosebumps had taken down her body. In an effort to regain her balance she took several deep breaths, but as she inhaled for the third time her awareness suddenly deepened until she could sense her internal organs, her blood pumping, her individual cells working. She marveled at the myriad tiny bits of herself, all pulsing and flowing in synchrony like some kind of microscopic community. Then her awareness expanded beyond her body to the room around her, the whole apartment, the city; it kept on enlarging until, in a single view, her consciousness encompassed the continent, the planet, the ever-enlarging cosmos, and she was one with all of it in an incredible, never-ending dance. Her mind buzzed and her heart thrummed as she floated in this novel state of being, reveling in the sensation. Then, as quickly as it had come, the feeling was gone. For a few moments she continued to grip the headboard, working to steady her breathing, staring suspiciously at the little carved figure.

    Then the light bulb in the bedside lamp blew with a snap and a pinging sound that rang in the air for several seconds. Eyes wide, Liz stared through the darkness at the spot where she knew the lamp stood on her new nightstand.

    Coincidence, she finally managed to hiss to herself. And too much vodka, she muttered as she slid beneath the covers, taking care not to move too fast. I’ll change the damn bulb in the morning.

    Her thoughts wandered to the possible identity of the unknown person who had owned the bed, who had slept in the very spot where she now lay. As she tried to form an image in her mind of what the furniture’s previous owner might have looked like, all of a sudden she felt as if someone was watching her. But this time they were a short distance away from the bed, not at the top of the headboard.

    Suppressing a shudder, she reached over to turn the lamp on, but of course, she couldn’t. The weight of exhaustion demanded that she remain in bed so she did her best to squint through the darkness. Certainly there was no one there, probably not even the cat. No sound, no motion came to her in the murky room. Rolling her eyes at her own paranoia, she slid back under the covers. But for just a moment before physical fatigue and emotional weariness dragged her down into sleep, she had the distinct impression that someone was sitting on the bed right next to her.

    Between the Worlds

    It is not my fault that humans no longer worship you, Michael sniffed, shifting to spread his glistening wings and stretch luxuriously.

    The other archangels backed away, avoiding the metaphorical crossfire as much as the gigantic feathered appendages. They had witnessed this interchange enough times to have it practically memorized. They also knew how close they could hover without fear of having their various pearly-golden angelic parts singed.

    Don’t worship me? said an archangel with raven-black hair and sooty wings. They think I’m the fucking Ultimate Bad Guy. It doesn’t help, you spreading that shit about a third of us falling from grace, as if High-and-Mighty Himself had ordered us to divide up into teams and face off.

    Michael cocked a golden eyebrow. I said no such thing. I cannot help it that humans are so … suggestible. Besides, he slid a sidelong glance at Belial, some of your cohorts might honestly be considered ‘bad guys’ by all sides.

    The brutish archangel flexed powerful muscles as he stepped forward, glaring at Michael and cracking his knuckles in preparation for a fight.

    You leave Bel out of this, Lucifer snapped, waving the Angel of Darkness back to his place in the crowd of onlookers. Anyway, you’ve got no room to talk. You’ve done your share of smiting. Everyone knows you used to be the Canaanite god of war and plague. Even Raphael here, he jabbed an accusatory finger toward one of the cluster of onlookers, "is

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