“What exactly are you doing?” I asked my father. He had a deck of playing cards laid out on his massive mahogany desk and he was putting tiny dots on the backs of the aces, queens, kings and jacks.
“It’s Thursday,” he replied.
“Yes…and?” I flopped down on the plush leather couch and waited.
“That bastard Hemingway won last week. That was unacceptable,” he huffed. He put down the red pen and picked up a blue one.
“So you’re going to cheat?”
He gave me a smile that had melted the hearts of thousands of women. Literally. “But of course.”
Being the daughter of Satan had its challenges. This was only one of many. I knew that explaining to him that cheating at poker was wrong would be like running up the down escalator for eternity, so I kept my mouth shut. Furthermore I was fairly sure that Hemingway cheated too. Poker Night in Hell usually consisted of Ernest Hemingway, Mr. Rogers, my dad and occasionally Mother Teresa. Since all of the players, my father excluded, resided in Heaven they basically took a bi-weekly field trip to Hell for game night. For real.
He finished his deceitful art project and gave me his full attention. “So, my beautiful girl, are you ready?”
I picked at my nail polish and considered my answer. Pleading had not worked, nor had crying or throwing a tantrum. Actually, the tantrum was a total bust. We ended up laughing because it was so far out of my character and I sucked at it. I suppose I could try the truth…
“Dad, being deported from Hell is not my idea of a good time. I’m not ready. I have no real power yet and I know I’ll disappoint you.”
“Dixie, the only thing that disappoints me is that you will be graduating from Demon College as the valedictorian and your obsessive need to do good.” He sighed dramatically and ran his hands through his jet black hair.
He was gorgeous. He was evil. And I loved him.
“My sisters are thousands of years old. College didn’t even exist when they were of age.”
“Point,” he agreed. “I just don’t understand why you couldn’t learn what you wanted and then flunk the tests on purpose. We have a reputation to maintain.”
“I know.” I let my head fall back and stared at the mirrored ceiling. What the…? When did he have the ceiling in his office mirrored? The reality was too much to take in. I shut my eyes and tried without success to block out what I’d just seen. I was from the most over-sexed family in history and I was a twenty-one year old virgin.
“I’ve done my best to help you past that little hump. No pun intended,” Satan said innocently.
“Get out of my head, Dad,” I snapped.
He wasn’t lying, and he intended every pun he made. He’d thrown the cream of the crop at me. Of course they were smarmy and way too old. The last Demon he’d set me up with had ridden on the Mayflower, had no clue who Maroon Five was and smelled funky.
“Dixie, darling, all of your sisters popped their…”
“Hell to the NO,” I yelled as I slapped my hands over my ears. It was beyond unnecessary to hear about the sexual exploits of my sisters, the Seven Deadly Sins. It was bad enough that one of them was named Lust.
“Dixie, I’m just trying to help,” he pouted.
“Look, Dad…there is a guy. And, um…well.”
There actually was a guy—an amazing perfect guy, but I had no intention of telling my dad about him. He would ruin it. My dad thought it was hilarious to threaten the lives of all my sisters’ paramours. And what did it matter anyway? I was leaving. All Demon Princesses had to do their time on Earth and my number had come up. The only thing that made it bearable was that I’d get to see my cousin Astrid. She was very pregnant and furious that no one could tell her what the gestation time was for a half-Vampyre half-Demon baby. She’d apparently caused so much property damage that her mate Ethan had everything breakable in the compound nailed down.
“Do I know him?” my father inquired casually.
My stomach clenched. Nothing my dad did was casual. “Nope.” I smiled and stood up. “And you’re not going to. I don’t like him anymore.”
“This happened in the thirty seconds since you announced his existence?”
“Yes. Yes it did.”
“Dixie, Dixie, Dixie, you are so like your mother.”
Considering no one had the testicles to tell me who my mother was, his comparison drove me to grind my teeth. “And that’s a bad thing?” I challenged, hoping for once he’d slip up and give me a clue.
He paused and watched me for a moment. “Not good. Not bad. Interesting.”
I went back to work on my nail polish and bit back a nasty retort as the tears threatened.
“Will you attend the poker game tonight?” he asked as if nothing important had passed between us.
“Sure,” I muttered.
“Bring your guy. I’d love to meet him.” With that my frighteningly beautiful father disappeared in a blast of black glitter and smoke. He was insane if he thought I’d bring my friend—completely insane.
“How was the poker game last night?” my best friend Stella asked as we tried to find something edible in the college commissary.
“Your dad always wins.”
“He cheated,” I muttered as I grabbed a sandwich and a bag of chips.
“So? He’s Satan.”
“Does anyone have morals here?”
“Dixie, we’re Demons. We live in Hell. What do you expect?” Stella asked logically. The crabby Demon with the unibrow behind the food counter slid a nasty-looking bowl of what could pass for beef stew onto my BFF's tray. Stella, never wanting to cause a scene, accepted the offending bowl and moved on.
She was correct, and I didn’t quite fit in. I never had and Hell knows I tried. I slid my tray quickly past the lunch lady and avoided the rank-looking stew.
"The commissary sucks," Stella lamented as she tried not to gag at the aroma rising from her tray. "I should have gone to college on Earth."
"Agree." I nodded as I made my way through the crowd to a table.
The Demon College looked more like a high school than a college—lockers and all. The commissary looked like a freakin’ high school lunchroom because up until a couple of years ago it had been. Most Demons, if they chose to pursue a higher degree, went to Harvard, MIT, Princeton, Yale, or Northwestern on Earth. From what I understood Angels tended to prefer the party schools. Since my father decreed I wasn’t ready to go to Earth four years ago, he created the Demon College—where my old high school formerly stood. While the education was top notch, the accommodations left a lot to be desired.
“Holy Hell, your boyfriend is staring at you,” Stella whispered gleefully.
“He’s not my boyfriend,” I hissed.
“Does he know that?” Stella’s smile broadened as she enjoyed my discomfort.
Glancing around the commissary, I spotted the person I dreamt about on a nightly basis and I debated my next move. Did I stay or did I go? Being near my secret fantasy made me stupid. I’d far rather be mysterious than idiotic. He made me feel hot, cold and tingly at the same time and I’d barely uttered a word to him all year. Go. I would go—just put my tray down and be out of the commissary in a minute flat—or I could dematerialize…but then I could end up anywhere. I didn’t quite have the hang of dematerializing to places I was actually trying to go. Last week I tried to travel to the mall and ended up in my father’s chambers while he was getting busy with his pregnant consort Amanda. Bleach couldn’t remove that one from my brain.
"I'm out of here," I muttered as I started walking. Speeding up my pace, I hightailed it to the tray drop praying to every deity I could think of that I didn’t run into the man of my dreams. In all of my inexperience I was liable to either drool or bodily throw myself at him.
“He’s still watching you,” Stella whispered as she followed close on my heels.
I rolled my eyes. “He’s not watching me.”
“Wrong,” she trilled happily.
“Stella, hush. Someone will hear you.” She was my best friend, and if I didn’t love her so much I would take great pleasure in killing her.
“Oh please.” She waggled her eyebrows and made smooching noises. Pretending I didn’t know her was impossible and I seriously considered dematerializing, but a healthy fear of seeing my father’s naked ass stopped me.
“He is totally gone on you,” she informed anyone within hearing distance—which was everyone—as she chased me. “And you are so gone. . .watch out,” Stella yelped.
I stopped short to avoid running into Vincent van Gogh, my art teacher. Dressed in a purple velvet cape and a frighteningly poofy hat, he was weaving his way toward the open bar. It was Hell, after all, where mixing alcohol and academia was the norm. Van Gogh had a very close relationship with his absinthe. When the great master died he had the choice between Heaven and Hell. He chose Hell, much to my Uncle God’s disgust. Van Gogh, while brilliant and extremely funny when he wasn’t morbidly depressed, was clearly intoxicated. Did no one notice or care about these things besides me? Much was overlooked in Hell, but drunk was drunk.