Fire and Ice by Rhiannon Matlock

For Desi.

Drumming her fingers on the huge steering wheel, she pondered the idiocy of the tiny smart car in front of her. 

To top it off, it was bright green and had a stupid peace sticker on the back of it. She would bet her savings that it was some nerdy, earth-saving college boy who thought he was helping the world by driving something that would leave less of a footprint, whatever the hell that meant.

With little more than a Toyota, you could crush the moronic vehicle, and with her semi, she could run over it without even noticing. The notion delighted her. It’d been many weeks since she’d killed anyone, and it would give her a perverse sort of joy to flatten the piece of shit.

Before she could consider it much further, the stop light flicked green. She eased her foot off the brake, feeling the rumble of her beast and smiled. Ahead of her, the smart car whined and then shot off like a rocket. For some reason, this irritated Paige even more as she watched it.

Quickly it climbed up the long causeway ahead as it wove in and around the flock of cars, and after a few moments dipped from sight as it passed the crest of the bridge.

No matter, she thought as she began to pick up speed. There was another light not that far ahead and with the traffic currently, there didn’t seem to be any way to avoid getting a red at every one of them. It was just another thing that irritated her about the human race. Couldn’t they figure out a damn way to just let people drive? There seemed to be an inherent stupidity to the current system that was held in place either because someone had an unnatural sense of joy out of driving people mad or because they really were too simple minded to notice.

Whichever the case, it only caused Paige’s crossness to grow as she climbed the hill and then had to stop suddenly as the backup of cars became evident. Her teeth ground as did the brakes of her vehicle and her truck lurched forcefully, jostling her as it halted.

The lime green car that had been so erroneously named peaked out among the sea of black and gray sedans and minivans. A deviant thought zipped through her head at that moment and for the first time in hours, a genuine smile of happiness drifted across her lips.

Oh, this is going to be fun, she thought sensing the light turning green a moment before it did. The cars in front of her took too long to shift into gear and she laid a heavy hand on her horn. She could practically taste the sudden fear that jolted through several of the drivers around her and it spiked the excitement inside her. Oh yes, very fun indeed. 

As if sensing her sudden ill bent, cars started moving out of her way almost of their own accord. Some might call it sixth sense, others might say it was God’s work, but Paige knew better and her smile hiked up further. She was now on the hunt and only had eyes for the green smart car.

It eeked itself through another light up ahead just as it flashed from yellow to red. It should’ve been a sign that her quest was to fail, but instead it spurned it on. At least it wasn’t going to be too easy this time.

Sniffing the air, she caught his scent and committed it to memory. After getting through yet another light, she inhaled again and caught the faintest tendrils of his fragrance. No two were the same and it was a better identifier than any fingerprint as it told her so much more about the person–whether they were afraid or calm, excited or bored, healthy or on their way to death. Yes, smell was perhaps was of her favorite senses.

Tracking him further and further, it was nearly fifteen minutes later when the scent of him became strong once again. Taking a quick look around, she spotted the car as it pulled up to a restaurant. The driver in question popped out of the vehicle and her fingers tensed on the wheel. He wasn’t a whip thin boy, but a sturdy looking man with a full head of black hair and a smattering of facial hair that she could barely make out before he disappeared behind the front door. She would’ve liked to seen his face but no matter, she decided as she pulled into the parking lot, she didn’t much care if he was ugly or gorgeous; she was going to kill him either way.

After getting her beast of a vehicle safely tucked away from view, she checked her make up and climbed out. The strut she walked with was natural and the looks of appreciation she got as she entered the dodgy diner were expected. Men, women, children. It didn’t matter. Paige had made herself up very carefully in this form so as to attract all types. It made them feel safe or horny or challenged or anything at all that they wanted, mirroring back to them what it is that they desired.

As such it usually made the hunt quick and altogether unsatisfying in the end. This time though, something was off. She scanned the room even as a young woman in a ridiculous outfit came up to her. Paige frowned. The man was no where to be seen.

“Hello ma’am,” the young waitress said, “how many will it be today?”

It was said cheerfully enough, though Paige could detect an undercurrent of despair. Normally this would entice her, giving way for her to drop a sultry smile at the woman and leading her away from sight so that she may have a little appetizer before the main course. This time she gave the woman a cursory smile instead.

“Do you have a restroom I could use?” Paige asked, playing the meek woman in need of a little help. “I’ve been on the road for hours and …. well, you know.”

The waitress looked uncertain for a moment, glancing at the well placed signed that said no bathrooms for those that weren’t patrons, but then gave a surreptitious nod toward the back and winked at her.

“I won’t tell if you won’t,” she said cheekily and then witnessing an actual customer in need, disappeared from sight.

Paige wasted no time as she headed toward the restrooms. Just as she entered the back, a door clicked closed. She looked around and spotted an exit door. Instantly she knew it was the man she was looking for though wondered briefly why he was going outside. Perhaps for a cigarette. The thought was enough to make her slightly nauseous. She hated that smell, though hadn’t sensed it on him at all. It was even more puzzling as she stepped outside.

For just a second, the brilliance of the sun blinded her and she held up a hand to help her see. The silhouette of her stranger came into focus, looking black against the light. It was somewhat ironic as that was usually how she ended up being perceived.

Far too slowly, the spots in her vision disappeared and the face of her prey at last became clear. It was a handsome one; rugged cheekbones, strong jaw and piercing, dark blue eyes. It was also one that she recognized instantly and at once felt like spitting at.

“Michael,” she said flatly and watched as the handsome face of the man twisted into some sort of haughty smile.

He always was an arrogant prick.

“Hello Lucifer,” Michael said, “it’s been a long time.”

“Not long enough,” she said, not bothering to correct him on her new name.

She was sure that he knew it, and was just using the one God had bestowed on her to rub it in.

The smile on his face grew and she felt like someone was shoving glass under her fingernails. It would bring her nothing but pure joy to take out one of the Mighty’s messengers but it would no doubt get bloody and she’d have to restore herself. A difficult task and a laborious one. If there was one thing she absolutely hated here on Earth was how long everything took. Instead of engaging she turned and started to walk away.

“Don’t you want to know why I’m here?” he asked, his voice clear and warm, inviting even.

It was a trick she used often, so she wasn’t fooled.

“Nope,” she replied, popping the ‘p’ for emphasis.

Just as she reached for the door handle, Michael’s long arm snaked in front of her, pressing the door closed.

“I’m here to offer you a deal,” he said softly, his lips evidently close to her ear.

At first she was outraged at his insolence. Didn’t he realize who he was fucking with? Her fingers tensed but then it hit her. His voice had been husky, alluring even. Was Michael trying to flirt with her?!

Slowly she turned around and leaned back against the metal door at her back so that she could get a proper look at him. His face was as unreadable as stone but she sensed something behind his eyes. A storm of some kind but she couldn’t place whether it was a good one or a bad one. She’d prefer the bad kind.

“What do you want?” she asked, allowing her own voice to start to warm.

Something shifted in him and he took away his arm but didn’t withdraw from her.

“Finally tempted by the dark side?” she asked when he said nothing.

“He has an offer for you,” Michael stated cryptically.

“Well Mikhael,” she replied silkily, scooting closer to him and wondering if she could make him squirm. “You have me waiting with baited breath so … please do tell.”

His body tense but he didn’t for one second look away from her, even when she came into slight contact with him.

“You can have Earth,” Michael said quietly, betraying no feelings on that which he just said.

It took a few seconds for the words to process for her however. For thousands of years she’d been fighting for just one thing. Domination. And now, after all this time, it was being offered to her on a silver fucking platter. It rankled her and she didn’t like that so she lashed out. Raising a hand she touched a finger to Michael’s solid chest and he flinched. A touch of smoke emanated from the spot as she burned through his shirt and quickly found his flesh but he didn’t move.

“You know what they say about playing with fire don’t you?” she asked, trailing her finger slowly over his muscles and singing away at him as she did.

Despite the pain she knew he was feeling, he just continued to look at her. It pissed her off so she stopped her fingers just above his beautifully beating heart and laid her entire palm against him.

“That you’re bound to go up in flames,” she replied hotly.

For several seconds, he let her hurt him but finally made his move, yanking her hand away and twisting it back behind her back, bringing them flush up against each other. Heat radiated between them but it wasn’t from passion.

“You haven’t asked what he wants in return,” he said stiffly.

Despite the suffering evident around his mouth and in his body, Michael held on, his glare as cold as a January day as if daring her to be the one to break contact and thus relent to him. Fat chance.

“Much more of this Mikhael dearest and you’ll be dead soon,” she taunted.

He didn’t reply. He wasn’t even putting up a fight. If she were sane, she’d take her impending victory over one of the greatest warriors in God’s kingdom and celebrate with a bottle of wine and a fresh man but she didn’t like easy. Never did. Her eyes narrowed and just to give herself a little bit of pleasure, she leaned up and kissed Michael hard before she rammed her knee up into his nuts.

A yelp of pain slipped past his lips as his grip loosened and he fell to one knee, breathing shallowly and trying in vain to curb the agony coursing through him. She smiled. Finally.

“So my brother in arms,” Paige said smugly as she looked down on the man bowed before her, “what is it that God wants in return for this little patch of hell?”

It took a few seconds, but Michael eventually looked up at her. There was a wicked look in his eyes now and a little smile formed on his mouth.

“Your soul.”

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