Chapter 3: Love and Other Witches

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Cover Art By Lance Robinson

The sound of plastic smashing a fractured skull against porcelain echoed throughout the grocery store bathroom. Demonic screams were drowned out by toilet water flooding windpipes. Deagan stood over the latest demon assailant, his foot pressing down on the monster's back, holding him in place as Deagan furiously slammed the seat against his head repeatedly. "Stay. away. from. my. daughter!"

"Wait, wait, wait," Fenrir cut me off from his place on the couch, from where he was listening to me read my latest blog post aloud. "What's up with all the 'Deagan did this, Deagan did that', crap?"

"I thought having the scene in third person might add some gravitas and style."

"Yeah I get that," Fenrir nodded, scratching his snout. "The thing is... YOU'RE GIVING A DEMON A SWIRLY!!!! Just write in first person and get on with your stupid little post and stop acting like you're writing the next Lord of the Rings!" Fenrir snorted condescendingly, "Self-righteous mother fu..."

"Fenrir!" I interrupted, pointing toward the fireplace. "Go put one of your treats in the swear jar!"

"You can't be serious?"

"Oh I'm dead serious. Go!"

Fenrir glared at me, picking up one of his bone shaped treats as he trudged over to the fireplace. All the way he muttered angrily. From the bits I made out it sounded like the usual rants about how he use to be a respected and feared god that would have eaten mortal garbage like me. Which for him was pretty tame. Anyway, now that the rude interrupter is moping in the corner, let's continue.

Satisfied that my demon friend had spent enough time gargling toilet water. I reached into the satchel behind my back, removing the hand of Tyr. Wincing as the bronze grafted itself to my skin, I drew my fist back to strike.

"As the saying goes... See you in hell, never." Chuckling to myself I drove the gauntlet through the center of his chest, obliterating the essence within.

I'm so awesome.

Smiling, I returned Tyr's hand to my satchel. Walking over to the sink I washed my hands of any and all possible fluids. Which, now that I was out of the moment, found myself wishing we hadn't thrown down in a public bathroom. These things are really disgusting. Whistling the chorus to Russian Roulette by Red Velvet, I dried my hands and returned to the store to find Ember waiting impatiently for me, "I was starting to wonder if I needed to send the national guard in after you."

"Well it would definitely qualify as a disaster area in there."

"Thank you for that mental image," Ember rolled her eyes, but with a smile.

I knew my jokes were lame. I'm not THAT delusional. However, it was worth the smile they brought. That little half smile as she struggled to not give me the satisfaction of laughter. Fifteen years of seeing it, and yet my heart still melted when she smiled. I know I'm rambling about this, but you're just going to have to deal with it. If there is anything at all you learn from this tale, it should be that I am one proud father.

I still remember the first time I saw that smile. With all the complications she was taken straight from the delivery room to have test run and be put on oxygen. It was two days before I got to see her without a window between us. My heart was breaking. Her mother was gone and I couldn't even hold her. Couldn't tell her she didn't have to cry. That it was all going to be okay. When they finally cleared her and put her in my arms... she immediately started bawling. I probably seemed like a lunatic, but I couldn't help but laugh as tears rolled down my eyes. Drying her cheeks with the sleeve of my shirt, I rocked her gently as I spoke softly. "It's okay, little one. You're not the first to start crying at the sight of my ugly mug."

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