Chapter 12 - A Sharp Welcome

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Nassar shakes his head and sighs. "Don't mind him."

I nod, quick to forgive Chump for the near miss, figuring he's the sort of guy you want by your side during a battle.

"Pete's not here," Nassar says.

"The lady downstairs told me. She also said the pizza will be delivered any minute.

Chump calls out, "Good. I'm starving."

His saying so starts my stomach growling. The two servings of bugcakes have long since digested, thank God. Hopefully my separation from Margery is complete.

"I'm surprised you showed up," Nassar says.

"Yeah, sorry about running this morning." I think about Nina and wonder if Trisha found her before Margery or my father. If she's safe from Azael.

"Come on down to my room," Nassar says. "We'll open one of those bottles."

I'm quick to follow. Not knowing my father's next move, I should probably skip the buzz, but I also need to numb my nerves.

Inside Nassar's doorway, I put down the crate of liquor. His room is less messy than it was this morning. He's cleared off the table, but I have to remove a full cardboard file box from a chair before I can sit down.

"What's your poison?" he asks.

"Gin." I lounge against the chair back and take in the lingering tobacco odor that reminds me he smokes a pipe. When the silence turns awkward, I ask him, "Where's Candy and—"

"With Pete at the convent," he says, "cleaning up the mess your father made. Pete said there are nineteen nuns still alive at the convent, but those toothy mummy couriers took off with five of them."

"Are the nuns hurt?"

"Injured somewhat, but mostly okay." Nassar unwraps a plastic hotel glass and places it in front of me. He fills it half full with gin, then puts it on the table. "I'm guessing you'll need more."

He's right about that. I take two long gulps and gasp. "Why would they take five nuns alive?"

"Azael's starting a new family and he particularly likes to impregnate holy women."

I'm reminded of Father Timothy's story about my mother being a nun when Azael seduced her.

Chump walks in, balancing a large pizza box on one hand and holding the bottle of bourbon in the other. The aroma sends my stomach into a frenzy. When he drops the box, I hurry to lift the lid and race Chump for the largest slice of pepperoni.

His giant hand beats me to it. He snickers and pounds his chest like a gorilla with the hand holding the bourbon. It splashes out of the bottle and onto his shirt, but he doesn't seem to care.

I have no choice but to take a smaller slice and let him enjoy his victory.

"Pete will be back late," Nassar says. "He's bringing all the nuns with him. This place is safer now that Azael figured a way into the convent."

I don't buy that the hotel is safer, but keep my opinion to myself.

"I don't get it," Chump says while chewing. "Why are we preparing for battle and stuffing leases in envelopes at the same time? If we lose the war, who cares about the paperwork?"

"We're not going to lose," I say, but at the same time remember Pete has the sword Father Timothy gave me. Stupid on my part to take off without it. Not that I'd know how to use it.

"Those are your orders." Nassar shuffles papers on his desk, pulls out his pipe, and hangs it off his lip. "Barry and Javier can help you get them ready for the morning mail run."

"Just the three of us?" Chump says. "We can get it done quicker with Roz's crew."

Nassar lights his pipe. The smell of cherry tobacco fills the room. "They took off for the pub."

I wonder if Roz is the woman I saw by the elevators and if the men are her crew.

Chump pounds his fist on the table and the box hops. "They what?"

"You heard me'" Nassar says. "They wanted to spend the night out—"

"Getting drunk and layed." Chump spits pizza as he talks. "If they took off, I'm out of here."

"Oh, no you're not," Nassar says. "I let them go to get information about Azael's army. We already know about the mummy men Margery created. They're finding out if Margery's been recruiting demons or any of the possessed humans in town."

"Pete said no one leaves," Chump says. "Does he know you let them go?"

"Pete's got his hands full."

The room goes silent. Something feels off about Nassar sending the other crew members into town without Pete's knowledge.

"I'm in charge while Pete's gone," Nassar says. "Your job is to ready those leases. Now get out of here and take Barry with you."

"Bullshit." Chump smacks the wall and leaves the room guzzling bourbon. "I'm no babysitter."

Iglare at Nassar, but know that I've caused enough trouble today and should keepmy mouth shut. I grab the bottle of gin and follow Chump down the hall.


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