December 20, 2019
I wish that I wasn’t such a slow writer. Note that while I’m usually distracted by bright shiny objects (I’m like a cat), I’m also stubborn and always complete whatever I’ve started. So, here’s the unedited prologue of ‘Angelo II’ in its entirety:
Chicago, Illinois. 2016. Early Summer.
Marian Drummond emailed the list of approved advances for the month to the head of the payroll department. In what was becoming a usual occurrence, she was running late. Even though she didn’t mind working into the early evenings, her husband wasn’t amenable to the late nights – never mind the fact that she was paid overtime for her efforts, and always made it home safely in the company car.
After shutting down her computer and tidying her desk, she left her small office and headed for the CEO’s office, which was adjacent to hers.
“Mr. Peacock, I’m leaving now,” she said through the closed door. “Goodnight.”
If there was anyone who worked more hours than she, it was her boss. Right when Mrs. Drummond reached the elevator, Mr. Peacock’s office door swung wide open.
“Mrs. Drummond, I hope that you are not taking a cab home.”
Closing the door behind him, he approached the opening elevator door while stuffing papers into his briefcase.
“Did you call Hastings?” he inquired, with a raised brow, as he stepped aside to allow her entry.
Mrs. Drummond looked up at her boss with a shrug and a sheepish grin after the elevator door closed.
Mr. Peacock shook his head. “Mrs. Drummond, how many times do I have to tell you to call Hastings whenever you’re holed up in that office of yours after hours?” he inquired, with an exasperated sigh.
For a moment, Mrs. Drummond was struck dumb by her boss’s penetrating gold and green eyes. They never ceased to amaze her, especially as they stood out in his dark, extremely handsome face.
What did he just say? Oh yes…
“Ah… I didn’t want to be a bother, Mr. Peacock. I can easily take a cab instead of calling Mr. Hastings at the hour. It’s no—”
“Hastings will take you home, Mrs. Drummond. The car is waiting for you.”
Refusing to take no for an answer, Mr. Peacock escorted his executive assistant to the awaiting maroon-colored Mercedes Benz S Class limousine in front of Peacock Publishing.
“Get a good night’s rest, Mrs. Drummond,” he ordered, before the chauffeur shut the car door after she got in.
“I’ll see you in the morning.”
He nodded to Hastings before reentering the building.
John was already loosening his tie when he entered his penthouse suite on the top floor of the three-story Peacock building. The first door immediately to his right at the entryway was his home office. He flipped on the light switch and tossed his briefcase on top of the small mahogany desk before heading into the huge open-plan kitchen.
Opening one of the stainless steel refrigerator doors, John grabbed a bottle of water. As he guzzled it, he suddenly felt an unwelcome presence.
“You have to be kidding me,” he muttered, before turning around to face his uninvited guest in the great room, brazenly reclining on his new leather chaise, drinking his liquor.
I should have sensed him before I opened the front door. I’m getting sloppy.
“Nice set-up you have here, Penemuel,” the blond man said.
Reaching for the brandy snifter on the small drum table next to the lounger, he raised the glass to his perfectly molded lips and took a sip.
Sighing, John shook his head before taking a seat on the leather sofa opposite his guest. Kicking off his shoes, he placed his feet on the coffee table.
“Well, just go ahead and make yourself at home,” he muttered.
“Why thanks, brother,” the man smirked. “You know you’re welcome at my place anytime.”
Running a hand through his long wheat-blond hair, he looked around John’s home.
“What’s it been… five or six thousand years?”
In lieu of a verbal response, John glared at the man in silence.
“Nice artwork. And an impressive library,” the blond commented. “Although I’m not surprised, with you being such a bookworm.”
Returning his penetrating turquoise gaze to John’s hardened expression, he snickered.
“Right now, you look just like that ridiculous wall of stone-faced forefathers in the lobby downstairs.”
Standing up, he sauntered over to the bar, and retrieved the brandy decanter before returning to the chaise.
“Which would make sense, as many of them are all old photos of you in historically accurate get-ups.”
Turquoise eyes concentrated on John’s short hair.
“I like the Caesar cut. It suits you, brother.”
Placing his feet on the floor, John leaned forward to rest his forearms on his thighs.
“Sataniel… why are you here?”
The blond quirked a dark brow before refilling his glass.
“Do I need a reason?” he inquired smoothly, before settling back comfortably.
“Do you have one?” John retorted. “As you’ve stated yourself, it’s been over five thousand years since we’ve last seen each other. Why show up now?”
When he didn’t receive an immediate reply, John rose from the sofa to get a brandy snifter for himself. When he returned to his seat, he raised a quizzical brow.
“I’ve been very busy.”
For a few seconds, John caught the shadow of something dark in the other man’s eyes before he quickly turned away.
“It’s not like I could come and go freely between Hell and Purgatory, brother,” Sataniel said quietly, before looking at John with a weary sigh.
“When was the last time you were in Angelo?”
With John’s silence, Sataniel nodded.
“I see. You haven’t returned since leaving in 1882.” He rolled his eyes.
“So much for the legendary band of brothers.”
Leaning forward, he poured brandy into John’s glass.
“Shit is going down,” Sataniel said. “El cielo de sangre is happening with more frequency, and as of right now, there are four of your beloved brothers living in Angelo.”
Sataniel’s information captured John’s full attention.
“El cielo de sangre? Four of my brothers?”
“The celestial phenomenon that brought you all here?” Sataniel replied, with raised brows.
“I was dumped here during the night, and I don’t recall a sky of blood. I do remember seeing an ominous red streak across the horizon briefly when I left. Who’s in Angelo?” John inquired.
“Since Ramiel was pulled from Purgatory right before me, I assume that he is one of the four?”
“Oh… so now you’re interested?” Sataniel scoffed. “Wow. You are something else, Penemuel. At any time, you could’ve gone back to check things out.”
He looked around the spacious industrial penthouse suite again.
“Of course, if you were too busy with your publishing empire—”
“Why are you here, Sataniel?” John snapped.
Sataniel held his hands up. “Hey; don’t get angry with me because you’re feeling guilty. Why are you still here?”
Rising from the sofa, John stalked to the bank of curtained windows along the great room’s one wall. Interlacing his fingers behind his head, he inhaled and exhaled a few times to calm down.
He’s right, he thought. I should have made several trips to Angelo by now. And just as importantly…
“What’s your stake in this, Sataniel?”
When he didn’t receive a reply, John turned around to face a great room devoid of an unwanted guest.
The unsettling quiet was immediately shattered by a boisterous laugh coming from his home office.
Rushing into the room, John found Sataniel holding a small frame that he had the audacity to remove from its place on the wall.
“Put that back,” John snarled.
“Chill out, brother,” Sataniel gasped, in between his laughter. “Is this supposed to be you?”
Turning the frame towards John, he displayed an aged piece of ruled paper with a crayon drawing of a Black angel in a white robe, complete with white wings and a halo. Even though it was the artwork of a young child, it was matted and framed with expensive materials, and obviously meant something to John.
“Oh! Now if this isn’t the cutest fucking thing!”
Approaching Sataniel, John snatched the picture from him and re-hung it, next to a Bill Traylor drawing of a man and a dog.
I’ll reiterate,” he said testily, facing his brother again. “Why are you here, and what’s your stake in all of this?”
Grinning, Sataniel adjusted his turquoise-hued tie, before sliding his hands into the trouser pockets of his immaculate black suit.
“I’m glad that you asked.”
He walked back into the great room with John at his heels. When he stopped at the bar, Sataniel faced his brother and closed the space between them.
“Besides you and I taking a stand with our brothers, there is a personal matter that I need to discuss with Shemhazai.”
“Shemhazai is in Angelo?” John gasped, completely taken aback.
“How… when… why did that happen?”
“Why the fuck are you asking me?” Sataniel replied, shrugging. “You are more familiar with Michael’s latest brand of crazy than I am.”
With John’s irritable expression, Sataniel added “During the Great Depression,” with an eye roll.
“Anyway,” he stressed “besides your fearless leader and Ramiel, Chazaqiel and Araqiel are also in Angelo.”
John gasped. “Chaz–Araqiel?”
Stunned, John headed for the sofa, plopped down on it, and hung his head in between his legs.
“Araqiel being here doesn’t make any sense,” he murmured. After a minute of silence between them, John looked up, shaking his head.
Sataniel twirled a finger near the left side of his head. “Michael?” he chuckled. “Cuckoo?”
John remained silent.
“A lot to take in, right?” Sataniel remarked, before resuming his comfortable spot on the chaise.
Rubbing his jaw, a frown appeared on John’s face.
“Why should we take a stand with you?”
Sataniel chuckled again. “Why not? The enemy of my enemy is my friend.”
With John’s renewed silence, Sataniel said “I suggest that you rearrange your calendar, and book a flight to San Antonio as soon as possible.”
He threw back the last of his brandy, grinned, and in a flash of bluish light, vanished into thin air.
John stared at the unoccupied chaise before blinking twice.
“I’ve always hated when he does that,” he muttered.
Entering his office, John sat at his desk, and sent an email to Mrs. Drummond. She was an expert in getting things done at the last minute. With any luck, he’d be able to catch a flight out of O’Hare to San Antonio in the morning.