Evan gets me to work in record time. I push my final bobby-pin into place and take a final look in the passenger side mirror.
Well, it’ll have to do.
I shimmy out of my seat belt and hoist myself out of the car. My stomach grumbles loudly as I move to the driver’s side of the car, and I realize I haven’t eaten a thing since yesterday.
“Feel like running an errand for me?” I ask putting on a sly smile.
“What’d you have in mind?”
“Wanna go get breakfast for us?”
Evan smiles and pulls out a small notepad and pen from his center console. He nods for me to continue and scribbles down my order as fast as the words leave my lips.
“And you can get yourself whatever you want,” I say and fish out two twenty dollar bills from the side pocket of my purse.
“I’m good Stella. I don’t need your money.”
But then I remember just how Evan acquired his money and the thought makes me sick.
“I insist,” I say more sternly and shove the money into his hand.
Evan gives me a parting wave and I scuttle into work just shy of 9:30 AM. Grace’s office door is closed and I silently wonder if she noticed how late I was today. I’m sure I’ll be getting a lot of questions from her either way.
I tip toe into my office, so thankful Todd isn’t early for once. I flip on my office lights and start rummaging through my filing cabinet to pull Todd’s file. With Evan moving in, I didn’t have time to start doing my research on Todd…or on one of his select family members.
Two minutes before ten, Todd barges through my office door. His skittish eyes look all around the room until finally landing on me. He grimaces and takes a seat. His left foot starts tapping as he pulls out his Germ-X and squirts a generous amount all over his hands.
He looks just as bad as he did last week, if not worse. I tentatively open up his file and give Todd a sideways glance. Todd fidgets in his seat and sighs with impatience.
“We ready to start doc?”
“Whenever you’re ready, Todd.”
“Well, for starters, I know you know about Richard.”
My jaw drops at Todd’s statement and I can feel my eyes bugging out of my head.
Todd looks over his shoulder once again. It’s as if he’s afraid someone will overhear our conversation. Returning to my role as his psychologist, I clear my throat and regain my composure.
“Todd, I assure you no one can hear us.”
“I know that, doc. I just don’t want any ‘surprise visits’ from my brother. If you get what I’m sayin.’”
I nod a single time and take a few deep breaths. My stomach is in knots. Maybe it was a good thing I came to work on an empty stomach.
“Before you go and start askin’ a bunch a’ questions, yes – I know my brother is a demon hunter. He changed his name years ago and took up a fake identity so when the two of us were workin’ together, it wouldn’t seem obvious. We wouldn’t be connected.”
“But then why would he tell Grace….?”
“Ha, no. I was the one that told Grace ‘bout us bein’ brothers. I did it because I wanted you to find out. I thought she would’ve you sooner though.”
I close Todd’s file and set it on top of my desk. Clearly he and I are past the stage of ‘client – patient’ relationship. I cross my legs and intertwine my fingers on my lap.
“Are you trying to kill me too, Todd?” I ask trying to mask the fear in my voice.
Todd shakes his head and his foot taps faster.
“If I wanted to, you’da been dead weeks ago. Richard and I started this demon-huntin’ business when we were kids. Our parents taught us. I was born with this gift of seein’ demons, doc. I can see ‘em, and I gravitate towards them. I was dreamin’ about you before you even moved here. But I homed in on your dreams and knew you’d be here. That’s when I started to see Grace.”
I hear my cell phone buzz in my coat pocket and know it has to be Evan. He must be here with breakfast. I steal a quick glance at my watch and see that mere minutes have passed.
He must have been hauling some serious ass to get back here so fast.
“-and that’s when I told Richard he needed to start datin’ Grace. Because if she did I knew I wouldn’t be her patient anymore. And I was right - she gave me to you.”
I study Todd’s movements as he spills his confessions to me. I can feel nervous sweat trickling down from my arm pits and into my cloth shirt.
“So let me get this straight. You had all this planned out before even meeting me?”
“Yea. And truth be told doc, my brother still wants to see ya’ dead. And he’s been huntin’ demons long enough to know how to do it. I usually do the brain work behind a demon hunt, and then he goes in for the kill.”
“So….what makes me different?”
Todd’s foot slows and he looks me straight in the eyes.
“You weren’t, at first. You were just like the others. I experienced the trips to Hell enough to know how you treated humans. But then you got that angel to fall for ya.’ You know what that told me?”
I am captivated by Todd’s words - too nervous to talk, too afraid to even breathe.
“It told me that your human soul was stronger than your demon. You know how rare that is to find, doc?”
“I….uhm…no I don’t.”
“Never seen it in my lifetime. Or my parent’s lifetime. I heard about it once from my granddaddy. But that was just once.”
My cell phone buzzes again. Evan must be getting impatient.
“Why am I different?” I press.
Todd shrugs and his foot begins its nervous tapping mantra all over again.
“All I know is that when you make a pact with the Devil, he puts one of his minions inside you to do his bidding. Human souls that make a pact with the Devil are weak, pathetic, and easily ruled by their demon. So for your soul to be stronger than your demon…I’m guessin’ that means for whatever reason you made that pact with the Devil, it wasn’t all bad. Because somehow your human soul was able grow back to its original strength over time. I don’t rightly understand it myself.”
My demon sits quietly in the back of my mind, too absorbed in Todd’s words to throw a temper tantrum. I know she is wondering what this means for her.
I must admit, I’m wondering the same thing…
“Richard and I kill your type, doc. We split demon and human, sending ‘em both back to Hell where they belong. But I don’t think your human soul deserves that. And if an angel thinks so too, that’s proof enough for me. So what I came here to tell ya’ is I’m gonna do all I can to keep Richard off your coat tails and leave ya’ alone.”
“And you think he’ll do that – just like that?”
“Nah. He’ll need proof too. So you’re gonna need to bring Jeremy over to us once he comes back to earth. Unless Richard sees proof, he won’t stop comin’ after you. I can only hold him off for so long, doc.”
I hold up my hand to silence Todd. It’s too much to take in at once. My phone continues to buzz in the background and I silently beg Evan to stop calling me.
“Ok. Todd, if Jeremy comes back to earth, I’ll be sure to swing him by. But I honestly don’t know if that’s going to happen.”
Todd gets up from his seat and runs a hand through his messy hair. After his action he reaches into his pocket and takes out his Germ-X, squirting another glob into his hands. He looks at me and his eyes seem to sparkle with some hidden secret.
“Oh don’t worry about that, doc. He’ll be back.”
And without another word, Todd turns to leave, opening the door with the sleeve of his jacket. I watch him walk through the doorway and press the ‘down’ button for the elevator. When the elevator doors open, Todd gives a startled look and makes way for the person getting off.
It’s Evan, I realize, and he’s carrying a brown paper bag which I know is my breakfast. He stares at Todd over his shoulder. And then Evan’s eyes swing to my door and his walking picks up pace. He meets my gaze but fails to return my smile.
Evan enters my room and sets the brown paper bag on the empty seat next to him.
“Why was he here?” Evan asks as soon as he shuts the door.
“That man who just went on the elevator.”
I raise my brow at the question. “Because…he’s my patient….?”
Evan runs a nervous hand down the side of his face.
“Stella, that’s him.”
“That’s the guy. The one that hired me to date you.”
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