Chapter Thirteen; Part Two
“Ned, what am I going to do?” I asked softly. I didn’t mind being vulnerable with Ned because I knew he’d never take advantage of what I perceived as my weakness. “I have to keep Morningstar away from me. I can’t resist him forever.” There. It was out. My dastardly attraction to the Prince of Darkness—what the fuck did that say about my soul? I knew I’d always been drawn towards the dark side, but this was beyond the pale. How the hell could I justify wanting to fuck the devil? There was no rhyme nor reason to it, but I couldn’t stop the attraction. That was the problem more than the open portal—I desired the devil.
“What about a crucifix?” Ned asked. I began to laugh, but he was serious. “Maybe it only works for Catholics, though.”
“That’s for vampires,” I said in exasperation. “Morningstar is not a vampire.” I didn’t mention that he had vampiric qualities because I wanted to avoid that particular discussion. “I doubt something as fragile as a cross would do much to ward him off.”
“What about this charm around your neck?” Ned asked, fingering the thread. “Isn’t that supposed to call up a protector?”
“Yes, but I never remember to use it,” I admitted, shameful of another flaw. “When I see Morningstar, the lust is overpowering. It’s almost as if some dark force is pulling us together.”
“There’s no way for you to block him out,” Ned mumbled. “Shit, Margaret. I don’t know what to tell you. They don’t cover this sort of thing on Doctor Phil.” Ned’s idea of a lame joke as he didn’t watch that asshole any more than did I. Doctor Phil, my ass! The only thing his doctorate was good for was fooling the audience into believing he actually knew something.
“Damn,” I said, closing my eyes. “I need to take a bath.” Even though I’d taken a shower earlier, I felt the need to cleanse once again. “Do me a favor?” I knew it was going to sound odd, but I didn’t care. “Sit on the toilet while I bathe? I’m afraid God or the Morningstar will show up otherwise.” Ned being there didn’t guarantee they wouldn’t drop by, but at least I would have a witness to whatever they said or did.
“Hey, if you want me to see you naked, all you have to do is ask,” Ned said playfully, patting me on the thigh. I swatted his hand away as I got up.
“Come in the bathroom in five,” I said, walking towards the bathroom. I knew it was ridiculous to ban him as he had no interest in what I was selling, but it was more for my sake than for his. Gay or not, he was a damn good-looking man, and he’d make me uncomfortable if he watched me undress. It wasn’t as if he hadn’t seen me naked before, but not since that ill-fated attempt to copulate. Oh, and he got a glimpse of me in my bed that time he and Wind barged in on me after God made His little announcement, but that didn’t count.
“Here I am,” Ned sang out after I was well ensconced in the bathtub under a heap of bubbles. I whisked back the shower curtain so I could see him. “Wow. That’s a lot of bubbles,” Ned said, eyeing the tub. I had been a bit zealous in my usage, which meant bubbles were cascading to the floor. Oh, well, it wasn’t the first time, and it most certainly wouldn’t be the last.
“Talk to me,” I ordered, using the loofah on my shoulder. “Talk to me about anything but God or the Morningstar. Tell me more about Alonzo.
Ned wasn’t shy when it came to dishing about his paramours, so he was happy to oblige. He prattled on about everything from what Alonzo wore under his jeans—nothing—to how long Alonzo could keep it up—two hours, without the aid of Viagra. By the time Ned wound down his recitation, I knew more about Alonzo than his own mama did. Ned switched to talking about rehearsals which reminded me that he’d be touring in a few months. That depressed me although I enjoyed hearing about the entendres between different cast members. Ned, himself, had a brief dalliance with the actor who played Roger until it was discovered that Roger could only perform in bed if he was spanked constantly throughout the fucking. Ned didn’t mind a little kink in his sex—hell, he practically invented it—but that was too much rigor for him.
He had me laughing out loud with the story of how the Mimi in the cast was struggling with her sexual identity. Oh, that she was struggling wasn’t the funny part—what she did with it was, albeit in a mean sort of way. She was just twenty-two though she could pass for fifteen, and she flirted with the cast members in an attempt to figure out who she was. She even tried to seduce Ned, although he made it abundantly clear that he didn’t swing for that team. She messed around with this cast member and that—Tom (Collins), Roger, Maureen, and Joanne at the last count—until she finally decided that what she really wanted to do was preserve her virginity until marriage. I laughed so hard, my sides ached—though it was more the way Ned told the story than the content itself.
“You actors are a fucked-up lot,” I commented, sinking into the water.
“Don’t I know it,” Ned said wistfully. “I love it, though. There’s nothing I’d rather be doing.” I was about to make a ribald comment when a clap of thunder was heard—in my fucking bathroom. I sighed loudly as I knew it portended a visit from above or below. Obviously, my attempts to shield myself from otherworldly beings by having Ned in the bathroom with me hadn’t worked. This time, it was God—swathed in silver from head to toe. Ned slid to the floor and genuflected—though he wasn’t Catholic.
“You must leave now, My son,” God said to Ned, helping him to his feet. “I am pleased you told your parents the truth. In time, they will accept it.” Ned bounced up and down, beaming at the news. I couldn’t help feeling a pang of irritation; why wouldn’t God impart that kind of news to me, the mother of His fucking child?
“I think I should stay,” Ned said uncertainly, looking from me to God. I realized that God would talk to me alone at some point or another, so it might as well be now. With a weary sigh, I nodded at Ned to go. He did after kissing me on the cheek. God waited patiently for His chance to speak.
“What?” I asked, my voice surly. I thought about how much easier my life had been before the hand of God had personally touched me. Then again, I wouldn’t have met Alan Rickman if God hadn’t intervened.
“Margaret Marilyn, what have you done about sealing up the portal? Nothing. You must do it soon, for my son is gaining power.” God folded His arms across His chest and glared down imperiously at me. That was really the last straw. Who the hell was He to scold me for not doing something it would take Him two seconds to do? He was the one who opened the portal in the first place.
“You have some nerve,” I said, sitting up straight. “You opened the damn portal, but refuse to close it. You expect me to do something about it, but You won’t tell me what. I’m only human, God. Morningstar is an immortal. What the fuck can I do against him? Not to mention he vowed to kill Wind if I tried to close the portal. What would you have me do? Sacrifice Wind in order to do your bidding? I will not be your next Angel of Death.” As soon as I said that, I knew I shouldn’t have. God changed to red, glowing brightly as He did. He seemed to expand to twice His normal size as He loomed over me. It didn’t help that I was naked and in the bathtub, and I covered my head as I waited for the Apocalypse to fall.
“Margaret Marilyn Wang,” God thundered, His voice coming at me from every direction. “I have tolerated your insolence because you are carrying My child. However, this time, you have gone too far. You are questioning My wisdom? Is that what you do? You dare think you know better than I what needs to be done? I understand you have questions. Fine. You may ask them. I understand you have opinions. Fine. You may voice them. Beyond that, however, you must not go. You are really testing My patience, which is usually pretty infinite. Whatever My son told you about the Angel of Death, you may disregard. How dare you take his word over Mine? You will not speak any more of this. Understand? And do what you must to seal the portal!” God’s voice bludgeoned me as it assaulted me on every level. I could literally feel the words pelting my skin as I cried out in pain. As soon as God stopped speaking, however, the pain dissipated as if it never existed. As the silence progressed, I cautiously uncovered my head and looked around. God was still there, still glowering at me, but He’d receded back to black. I took that as a good sign.
“You made Your point,” I said, unable to acquiesce. “Will You please leave now?” God nodded once, disappearing as quickly as He’d come. Two minutes later, Lucifer appeared. Since I’d been half-expecting him, I didn’t even blink.
“You made Him very mad,” Lucifer said, his voice full of delight. “I haven’t seen Him go off like that on a mere mortal in a long time. Do it again!” He sounded like a child who’d just been shown a neat party trick. I was in no mood to banter with him, however, so his comment fell singularly flat.
“What do you want, Morningstar?” I asked, rubbing my forehead tiredly. This was getting to be a bit much with the two of them tag-teaming me.
“Well, I wanted to congratulate you on not giving in to Him,” Lucifer said, eyeing my body in interest. It was a sign of my lassitude that I didn’t even bother sinking back into the bubbles. “Now that I’ve seen you, however.” With that, he was in the tub with me again. He was sitting across from me, and I could feel his muscular thighs pressing against my own. His wings were gone, of course, though I had no idea where they went. “What is it about you, Margaret Marilyn, that I am so drawn towards you? Are you sure you’re human?” Lucifer reached forward, touching my breast. Caressing it, actually. “You feel human. Perhaps you’re a witch or an undead?”
“I’m a hundred-percent human,” I snapped, pushing his hand away. It irritated me to have him questioning my humanity when I was doing the same thing—albeit for a different reason. “And I’d appreciate it if you’d get the fuck out of my tub.”
“I don’t think you would,” Lucifer said, dropping one hand under the suds. I felt him stroking my thigh and, yes, I reacted as any red-blood human woman would. I punched him in the stomach best I could from where I was sitting. Not the most intelligent response, but the most heartfelt at the moment. “What was that for?” Lucifer asked, his voice injured. It hadn’t hurt him, of course, but it felt good, nonetheless.
“I am tired of you trying to seduce me,” I said clearly. The reason I had called Ned over in the first place was to protect me from Lucifer. Now, here was the devil himself again, putting on the moves. I was tired of playing this game, and I was tired of having to rein in my lust. Right now, however, I wasn’t feeling very attracted to the Morningstar; I just wanted him out of my apartment. He must have read in my face that I was serious because he extricated himself from the tub with a shrug. Taking his time, he stretched his body out as his wings returned. He gave me plenty of opportunity to regret kicking him out of the tub as he was really the most perfect specimen of male beauty, but for once, I felt nothing but relief. He nodded at me before leaving, and I thought I might be becoming immune to his charms. “I hope that’s the last I see of him,” I muttered, splashing the bubbles in vexation.
“Not likely,” a voice said from the ethers. I knew it was Lucifer, and I knew he was most likely right, but I didn’t particularly care at the moment. I had fought Lucifer, and for once, I had won easily. I took my victories where I could find them.
“You are an ungrateful daughter,” my mother announced, pacing back and forth in my living room. “You think of nobody but yourself.” She had been going on in this vein for quite some time, and I was sick of it. It was Saturday afternoon, and I wanted nothing more than to read a book and empty my mind. She was having none of that, however, as she continued to lecture me. “How will it look in the Taiwanese community when they find out about Ned? I will be the laughingstock!” I had no idea why or how Ned’s sexuality affected her, but I didn’t bother answering. I hoped that the less I said, the sooner she’d be done. “And your poor sister! Do you know what you’re doing to her?”
“Actually, I do,” I said, unable to resist. “I know what the whole family is doing to her. We’re putting her in the middle of things that aren’t her concern. I will not have you go through her again. You know she’s dieting again, don’t you?” That was our code word for starving herself, something my mother refused to hear.
“I didn’t know,” my mother said, instantly deflating. “Are you sure?”
“Yes. I saw her on Friday, and she’s lost weight.” That was all I needed to say. My mother knew as well as I what it meant if Liz got thinner. “I made her eat, however, and I think I talked some sense into her.”
“She looks up to you,” my mother sighed, rubbing her forehead. She sat next to me on the couch, looking ten years older. “They all do. That’s another reason I’m so concerned about your choice of friends. I don’t want you to be a bad influence on them.”
“You’ve always liked Ned, Mom,” I said, trying to hold on to my temper. “He’s still the same person he was before you knew he was gay. Why can’t you see that?”
“It’s a sin,” my mother said simply. I didn’t answer as I knew she wasn’t going to budge.
“Tell me about Pastor Wu,” I said instead, hoping to change the subject. My mother gave me a look, but she complied. Thus, I was able to have a nice chat with her without once resorting to screaming. I considered that progress.