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E dolore magna Gloria? Maybe not...

Chapter Text

“It’s hotter than Satan’s armpits in here,” Ella moans, fanning herself ineffectively with an empty report folder and gesturing at Lucifer with her other hand. “Right my devilish dude?”

“Definitely Miss Lopez,” Lucifer grimaces back, shucking his jacket and rolling his sleeves up. “Even hell doesn’t seem this bad most of the time; at least there’s no water down there to create all this bloody humidity.”

“Well it certainly hasn’t done our vic any good,” Chloe sighs herself as she tries to mop some of the sweat beading on her face off. “I thought this much heat would slow decomp down given no flies or maggots could survive in this. But no, that’s some intense putrefaction and bloating.”

“He looks like the world’s worst hot air balloon,” Lucifer deadpans. “Even discounting the stench, not even I could be tempted to go for a ride on that.”

“Ew, no Luci,” Ella grimaces. “Less corpse based innuendo please. Besides, the data I’ll get from this is too cool to waste on jokes. Do you know how close to perfect lab conditions this guy died in? Honestly, I got the unis to go over the whole room with black lights and swabs before you got here and it’s almost sterile in here besides our dead dude!”

“So no fingerprints or DNA at all then?” Chloe asks, pulling out her notebook and thinking longingly of a tall, cool drink.

“None at all,” Ella confirms. “Even our vic is missing three of his prints on his right hand. Looks like they were burnt off a few weeks prior to death, maybe more. The pathologist will be able to give you a more accurate timeline, and maybe determine whether it was an accident or done deliberately.”

“Other basics?” Chloe continues, watching as Lucifer crouches down next to Ella and tilts his head in that curious manner of his. “Cause and time of death? Vic’s name or any other ID? Witnesses or-?”

“He’s a member of the Black Palm Gang,” Lucifer interrupts, pointing at the vic’s lower arm. “Or he used to be at least. He’s tried to get a tattoo removed here, but I can still see the faint outline of a handprint that’s been filled with diagonal crosshatching.”

“The black who now?” Ella asks, immediately budging Lucifer up to take a look herself. “Oh, and no ID so we’ll have to wait for dentures. As for witnesses, this house has been unoccupied and on the market for nearly 3 months now. The realtor found him when she came to investigate why her company received a set of astronomical utility bills this month for a supposedly vacant property.”

“The black palm gang,” Lucifer continues, reaching up and pulling a disposable glove out of the right pocket of her jeans. “Nasty bunch; I anonymously tipped off vice regarding their existence and operation years ago after they tried to use LUX as a meeting point to arrange human trafficking sales. This was before Delilah and our partnership though, so I didn’t think to track the case beyond sending Maze to ensure their dockside property and shipping fleet had been seized by the FBI. I honestly haven’t thought about it once since then. I assumed that all the members were apprehended and knew that any that slipped the nets would end up in my domain eventually anyway.”

Disgusted by the existence of such a group, Chloe watches as Lucifer scowls harder and slowly drags the man’s pants leg upwards over his swollen and green-marbled flesh. Despite the strong discolouration, a series of old banded keloid scars are clearly visible crisscrossing his shin and calf.

“See this here?” Lucifer points, growls. “This is how the gang marked their “merchandise” as their property. Which either means this man started off as a victim and worked his way up to being a gang member, likely for lack of better options if we’re honest, and I always am. Or he was turned into a victim as punishment for something by his fellow gang members.”

“Humans are gross man,” Ella grumbles.

“Well, some of you are,” Lucifer shrugs as he haphazardly throws his used nitrile glove in the general direction of Ella’s biohazard disposal bag. “Thankfully I’ve found the majority of you are actually pretty decent when given the chance to be.”

“Well, it’s a lead to start us off with,” Chloe muses out loud. “We might have some trouble getting hold of the full case files if the FBI got involved last time, but if you initially tipped off LAPD Vice first Lucifer, then we should be able to get the basics out of our own archives at least. We can also speak to the realtor and find out who else had access to the property and if there’s any CCTV footage that we can look over.”

“If it involves leaving this dad-damned heat box for cooler climes, I’m doubly on board with that plan Detective,” Lucifer groans as he stands back up and collects his jacket from where he had discarded it by Ella’s kit bags.

Realtor questioned, property access list requested, and lack of CCTV grudgingly accepted, and the two of them reconvene with Ella back at the precinct.

“Not got much more to tell you I’m afraid,” Ella sighs as she deposits a rack of used test tubes into the sink. “Looks like cause of death was probably an overdose of something that caused a seizure, but this guy doesn’t show any signs of being a habitual user of anything. Hopefully we’ll know more once the tox-screen comes back. In more unfortunate news, we still can’t tell if the garage was the actual murder site or just where the body was moved to. I did get a proper scan of that tattoo though, and it does match with what we have in the archives on black palm. Dan dug it out for me, so he’s got the files on his desk.”

Chloe watches with mild amusement as Lucifer twitches at that, and then immediately shuffles to the lab door and pokes his head out.

“Daniel! You are being summoned! This is me summoning you! This is your chance to prove useful for once!”

“I thought people were supposed to summon the devil, not the other way round,” Chloe huffs in amusement as Lucifer pulls his head back in with a grin.

“Contrary to popular culture darling, summoning circles, invocation rituals, and devil traps are all little more than the products of humanities overactive imaginations. That’s not to say you can’t get my attention, but you’d be much better off simply sending me an orgy invite on Grindr than chanting some Latin while surrounded by candles.”

“You still have Grindr?” Ella asks with a funny look. “Even though you’re all monogamous and committed now?”

“I gave Maze the logins for all my accounts and deleted the apps off my own devices,” Lucifer waves away, shooting a beaming smile at Chloe. “Just because I don’t want or need them any more doesn’t mean all those contacts should go to waste right?”

“Maze has been having huge fun with them, particularly Grindr and Taimi” Chloe adds dryly, with a sardonic look at her other half. “To quote her, “it turns out there are just as few perfect sixes in the world as there are perfect zeros”. I’m pretty sure she’s still pining after Eve and just trying to ease the ache, but not my place to judge.”

“Who are we judging now?” Dan asks as he shoulders the door open, stack of files cradled in one arm against his chest. “Is it Lucifer? Can I join in?”

“Nope, we’re not doing that,” Chloe blurts out hurriedly before either Dan or Lucifer can open their mouths again. While the genuine animosity between the two of them is more or less gone these days, they can still snipe viciously (albeit in a playful teasing manner) at each other for hours if given half a chance.

And they have murder to solve.

“Find anything useful in the archive files Dan?” she continues, ignoring the way both men pout at her for ruining their fun. “And we need to decide whether to try contacting the FBI for their data too.”

“Let’s… not do that unless we absolutely have to,” Dan grimaces. “They’ll want to swoop in and take the case off our hands. But so far it looks like we won’t need any info from them anyway. His name, DOB and sec number are all redacted, but I found a mugshot of our vic and a list of previous addresses. The most recent one is only 2008, but if we can get hold of any of his old landlords and the like, we might be able to get an ID and go from there.”

“You got the time to do that Dan?” she asks. When he nods agreeably, she turns to Lucifer. “Okay so in the meantime you and I should go scope out the gang’s old stomping grounds down at the docks, and when that list of people with access to the property in Granada Hills is sent over we can follow that up too. Ella, ping me if you get anything else from tox or pathology.”

“Sounds delightful,” Lucifer smirks as he holds the door open for her.

The old warehouse that previously functioned as Black Palm’s Headquarters is completely gone – along with most of the adjacent buildings- having been demolished and replaced with a brand new shipping crate manufacturing site. Lucifer charms their way inside and into the companies onsite office, and it quickly becomes clear that there’s no relation between the site’s previous owners and the current ones.

Writing that lead off as a dead end, they stomp back to Chloe’s car with drooped shoulders and no new ideas.

“Paul Faulkner-Wyas,” Dan reads out over the phone. “Born in San Diego in ’79, moved up here for college in ’98 and stayed even though he dropped out after his first year. A series of patchy employment records, mostly in chain store retail before he seems to go off the grid in early 2009. Then he crops up again in late 2013 in our files as a potential protected informant for vice which is what I showed you earlier. Four days later, vice gets a huge anonymous tip off about the dockside operation that we now know was from Lucifer, and Faulkner-Wyas disappears off the radar again. No mention of whether the FBI picked him up or whether he just took the opportunity to disappear and start his life afresh.”

“Any mention of known associates or family?” Lucifer asks out loud, Chloe having put her phone on speaker while she drives.

“Father died way back in ’85 of cancer, but his mother still lives in San Diego. Nothing about any siblings or a step-father. If he’s ever had any partners, they’re not listed. No known friends or co-workers either.”

“Dammit, another dead end,” Chloe grouses. “I suppose we can ask SDPD to double check for us, but I doubt the mother will know anything useful if he moved away before the turn of the millennium.”

“Or we could go ourselves?” Lucifer suggests with a raised eyebrow.

“It’s a minimum three hour drive even with good to moderate traffic,” Chloe points out as she pulls into the near side lane so they can turn off at the next intersection. “So that’s gonna be an eight hour round trip with potentially nothing to gain.”

“Sorry to interrupt guys,” Ella’s voice comes over the open phone call, tinny from distance. “But what if our vic set up a new ID after the 2013 raid and shut down? It’s possible he contacted his mother after that to let her know he was alive and kicking. She might know something if he changed his name and whatnot.”

“Or maybe the FBI stuck him in witness protection? ” Dan adds.

“Highly unlikely that they would’ve have kept him LA if that was the case,” Chloe disagrees as she watches the traffic lights impatiently. “Too much chance someone could recognise him.”

“We’re still going to have to check,” Dan sighs. “Dammit, I give it twelve hours tops before the FBI overrule our jurisdiction.”

“Orrrr,” Lucifer grins intently, rolling his shoulders. “I could fly us out to San Diego for a quick chat and we’ll back in time for afternoon tea. These abominable feathery appendages might as well earn their welcome for once in their miserable life.”

“Seriously cool that you can do that,” Ella breathes sounding awed. “My best buddy has actual freaking wings!”

“Say it louder Ella,” Dan jokes, “I’m not sure the guys right at the back of the precinct heard you clearly.”

“Tempting,” Chloe says directly to Lucifer as the traffic around them finally starts moving again. Bloody late lunch traffic (Oh fuck sake, I’m using his British cuss words now dang it!). “But how are we gonna explain to the lieutenant and anyone in court if this goes to trial how we got there and back in a couple of hours?”

“Simple,” Ella snorts, “you don’t. We just won’t mention how long it took you right? Dan and I can cover for you if we need to, say that you got this info earlier and have been headed out there since this morning while we chased up the other leads for you?”

“Well then Detective,” Lucifer purrs salaciously, “Sounds like I should hand you a return ticket for Angelic Express Airways. And guess what! There’s no prohibitions on taking more than 100ml of alcohol through security if you depart from Angel Arms Airport…”

It’s very rare that Lucifer offers to fly them anywhere, avoiding using his wings at all except in the most pressing of circumstances. He has no such computations where his brother is concerned, offering Amenadiel out as a personal taxi service at least once every other week without ever bothering to ask him first.

But normally he would never offer himself up unless bullets were already flying or a car crash was imminent or something similarly drastic was occurring.

Chloe decides not to ask what’s different this time.

“So I’ve got a small property on Santa Cruz Avenue in Sunset Cliffs Boulevard,” Lucifer is saying as they ride the elevator up to his penthouse – somewhere they can be sure they won’t be seen “magically” departing from (not to mention the staff will swear blind they haven’t been there all day if asked to). “There’s a car in the garage, but we’ll probably have to find a petrol station before we pop over to Ms Dyas’ – oh sorry, gas station. I will also add that there’s a rather nice Asian Fusion bar just round the corner from my condo there if I can tempt you into stopping for dinner before we wing back here.”

“Might be wise to, to be honest,” Chloe nods pensively. “Dan’s gonna drop a note to SDPD out of courtesy before we arrive, so we should waste some time before returning to account for the travel time we should use.”

“Oh, then it’s a date my love,” he smoulders with a small half smile.

Chloe grins back, checking she’s got everything she needs in her pockets or attached to her belt before pressing her back against her partner’s chest and letting him wrap his arms around her.

“Shall we go catch us a murderer dear?”

“I think we should babe,” Chloe smirks, as she feels the air displace suddenly around them, her ears filling with the distinctive whooshing sound of feathers sliding into existence behind them.

Chapter Text

There are two methods to flying if you’re an angel (or an ex-angel devil slash re-angel’d being).


You flap your wings like a bloody great bird boy and soar around defying gravity and other laws of physics, coasting on hot air plumes, swan diving at speeds that would no doubt make your human-miracle girlfriend scream, and basically treat the skies like your own giant playground.

Great fun if you don’t have wing related hang ups that make the whole experience less wild-thrilling-awesome, and more piss-off-dad-I-still-loathe-you-bad.

But behaving like an overgrown pigeon is also not vastly faster than any human designed aircraft. It’s still pretty damn fast; back in the 80s, he once chased a Russian stealth jet over China just for the hell of it and had little trouble keeping up. The poor pilot was probably confused as fuck.

But why bother when one has to consider the squishiness of human passengers vs the elements and G-force, as well as having the infinitely faster option two available?


You remember that the fabric of the universe and all dimensions is literally just that. Fabric. And then you celestially pinch the celestial fabric between your metaphorical celestial fingers, create a fold, and celestially jump from one place to another near-instantaneously across said (celestial?) fold.

Doesn’t work quite so well in Hell, as it’s a place which has a tendency to defy all logic and reason. But on Earth it’s pretty bloomin’ easy. Plus, it’s safe for any none-celestial beings you might happen to be carrying like the packhorse (Packbird? Packdevil?) you now are, as technically you… don’t leave reality? Kind of? Alright, he doesn’t really understand how it works, he just knows that it does. Sciencey flying bullshit was always Raphael’s obsession not his.

Anyway, it is perfectly safe, so this is what Lucifer does with Chloe.

One deep breath later and a reminder to his other half to keep her eyes closed and the penthouse disappears around them with a wuff of displaced air and a faint pressure pop in his ears. Less than half a second later, and he’s gliding them smoothly into the living room of his San Diego condo flat… sorry, “apartment” (same bloody thing, damn yanks).”

Despite owning the whole four floor building, only the top level is vacant, the others managed and let out by a property company that owed him a favour. By his standards, it’s a very modest living space; only one bedroom with a small en-suite, and a modern but very basic open plan kitchen separated from the front room by a breakfast bar style countertop.

“Touchdown!” he announces verbosely in an Americanesque accent as they come to a stop and he shakes his wings out gently, putting them away after with another whoosh of air.

“I don’t think I’ll ever get used to that,” Chloe shudders in his arms, rolling her neck until it cracks.

“Mmm it does feel rather odd when you’re near me, so I can only imagine it’s worse for you dear,” he replies, hugging her closer to his chest for a second and planting a soft kiss against the side of her neck. “Sort of tingly and like I’m being squeezed and stretched at the same time. Not painful though, just weird.”

“Pretty much,” Chloe agrees as she pats his arm and then steps away. She looks around the cosy room curiously as she moves, having been to several of his LA properties but none further afield.

“I only use this place as a pit stop on my way back from Mexico, hence the small size” Lucifer explains, pre-empting her question. “And I only ever go across the border when I fancy getting wasted on home brewed Tequila. I’m sure getting somewhere to stay in Tijuana would have been easy enough, but it didn’t seem worth the effort at the time when I’d already been given this block here. As you’re well aware, it’s not like I came by my passport or other ID honestly after all, and I didn’t want to waste favours on ensuring the paperwork held up in another country given that it’s all British.”

“You’re quite a way from the border here though?”

“It’s only a 30-minute drive if you pay attention to speed limits,” Lucifer shrugs back. “And the car in the garage downstairs is dual registered so that I can speed up passing through customs. Plus, it helps if you’re me when talking to border control agents.”

“I can imagine,” Chloe huffs with only a slightly disparaging look at him.

“Speaking of my totally definitely legal car!” he verbally segues brightly. “Shall we descend to ground level and then venture forth to ferret out our unfortunate fellow’s la familia?”

“Después de ti, mi diablo,” Chloe gestures grandly at the front door, her Spanish only slightly discoloured by her accent.

(Her Spanish is actually terrible, but Lucifer has recently vowed to stop being dumb enough to say such things to her face. He’s learnt that it never ends well for him.)

There’s a tired looking short detective waiting for them outside of Margery Dyas’ run down bungalow when they pull up and park on the edge of the pavement- sidewalk rather.

“Got your partner’s message,” the man greets them with as Lucifer slides the transmission of his convertible Ford Mustang GT into park. “The one from a Detective Espinoza? I’m Detective Akio Luo. I don’t mean to hover or intrude on your case, but our Lieutenant insisted that one us come out here to help out in case you ran into any trouble.”

“Actually Douche is the Ex. I’m the actual partner,” Lucifer corrects him with a wink. He grins harder when he hears Chloe’s exasperated sigh from his right and adds “I’m much better looking, as well much more athletic in bed!”

“Right,” Luo frowns with the confusion that Lucifer is used to people greeting him with. “You must be Mr Morningstar. Espinoza forewarned me about you.”

“Unfortunately forewarned is not forearmed in this case,” Chloe tells him dryly as she climbs out of the car and steps up to shake the man’s hand. “I honestly advise that you just ignore every other word that comes out his mouth.”

“She loves me really!” Lucifer smirks as he joins her. “She thinks I’m adorable. Told me so this morning in the shower.”

“Sure dude,” Luo nods with obvious incredulity. “Let’s just get this over with, shall we?”

After a quick flash of both Chloe’s and Luo’s badges, Margery Dyas lets them into her abode with very little fuss.

Everything smells rather strongly of cats. Lucifer is instantly displeased.

“We’re sorry Ms Dyas, but we have some unfortunate news,” Chloe opens with as they follow the woman out of the hallway and into a hideously yellow and out dated kitchen. By his father, the stench is even worse in here! And several of the furry beasts are staring at him from the countertops. Who the ever-living fuck lets such mangy creatures near a food preparation surface at all, let alone on top it!?

“This is about Paul isn’t it,” Ms Dyas mumbles mournfully as she noisily cracks open a tin of wet cat food. “That poor boy of mine. He always tried so hard to do well by me and his pop’s memory, but life was against him from the off. At least he’s at peace now, looking down on us with God and Brian.”

Chloe slaps a hand over his mouth before he can tell the cat hoarding woman that’s there’s just as much chance that he went down as up upon death given his choice of tattoos. He pouts at her with narrowed eyes, trying to keep watch on the small hairy hellion approaching his Tom Ford suit pants at the same time.

“You’re already aware of his death?” Luo asks carefully, stroking the cheek of the creature closest to him with the back of his left fingers.

“Felt his passing in my heart, didn’t I?” Ms Dyas shakes her head sadly. “I’ve been waiting for the police to come confirm it for near ten days now. Felt just the same as the night my Brian finally went to join our lord thirty-five years ago.”

“In your heart!?” Lucifer scoffs, yanking Chloe’s hand away from his face. “Well that’s bloody nonsense if I ever heard it! Complete codswallop! Come on, who really told you?”

“He’s a nonbeliever isn’t he,” she sighs to Chloe with a sorrowful look. With a glance towards him, she continues, “If you let the lord into your soul, you’ll learn of what I speak young man.”

Chloe stamps on his foot hard - and given his current proximity-induced mortality, he feels every bone in his toes crunch with it.

“Owww,” he drawls out dramatically in a flat tone as he turns to shoot a betrayed look at her. “Was that really necessary dear?”

“Yeeeaaah, it really was,” she nods meaningfully. “Behave.”

He rolls his eyes and crosses his arms, silently deciding to ignore the proceedings from here on out as retaliation.


He’s totally not listening still. Honest.

“Sorry for that. Please ignore him, the rest of us do,” Chloe apologises with a weak smile. “But yes, unfortunately we can confirm that your son was found dead early this morning in Los Angeles.”

“Kind of you to come all the way out here yourself to pass the news on,” she smiles back as she prizes yet another tin of food open and upends it into a grime crusted bowl. “I know it’s quite the drive from LA.”

“Well we have some questions we need to ask you I’m afraid Ms Dyas.”

“Margery dear. You’re being so kind and understanding after all.”

Lucifer manfully restrains a shudder and the urge to lash out with his foot when one of the purring savages dares to rub against his shins, leaving a rash of white fur stuck to his trousers. If it tries to do it again, he’s going to flash his hell eyes at it.

“Of course Margery. I’m sorry to start with this, but do you know if Paul had ever gotten caught up in anything less than legal?”

“Oh, I assumed you would know already! That hell forsaken gang snatched him off the streets when he was walking home from work back in 2009! I prayed for his soul to be spared when he stopped calling me every three days suddenly, and three years later my faith in our Lord Jesus paid off and he was returned to me. He was an emotional wreck you understand, but I knew that a few good home cooked meals and regular contact with Father Thomas and our congregation would set him to rights eventually. The FBI and Federal Marshals were kind enough to keep him out of most of the proceedings while they dealt with those evil men, may their souls rot in damnation, but they checked up on him regularly until the official all clear last year. He still had a bit of a nervous disposition when he last visited me last month, but he was happier than I’d seen him since he left for college in the 90s.”

“So he was in witness protection then?” Chloe asks, shuffling slightly closer to his side as another one of the cats gets friendly with her legs too.

“Oh yes, for almost 10 years! He had to change his name to Evan Richards and everything, though he’ll always be Paul to me. It’s a good job I’ve changed churches and moved neighbourhoods since he originally left for LA, or he wouldn’t have been able to stay near me. Too many people from St. Augustine’s would have recognised him you see. The Agent in charge of his case wanted to move him all the way out to Florida somewhere, but I put my foot down. I said no sir, I just got my boy back and you’re not taking him away again! Not on my immortal soul!”

“Right. So did he make any friends while he was staying here? Or have any from before he might have reconnected with?”

“Well he became a quiet soul while he was away and mostly kept to himself after – and obviously it wasn’t safe for him to contact his old school friends until recently- but he did get close to young Sammy. Both of them were big fans of the local food channel you see, always trying to bake this and that. That’s why he went back to LA when Agent Pointer said the coast was clear see; the two of them had grand plans to open a bakery once they got the money together. Of course, then Sammy couldn’t go because his poor Mamma took sick, but Paul went ahead to get the foundations laid.”

“Thank you Ms Dyas, that’s very helpful. if you could give me any contact information you have for this Sammy, I’d greatly appreciate it.”

“A list of his older friends wouldn’t go amiss either,” Luo chips in, scooping a cat up and cradling it to his chest, cooing at it. Strange man, Lucifer grimaces as more white fur is deposited on own his clothing.

“And it was an Agent Pointer that you mentioned?” Lucifer blurts out, forgetting his vow to remain silent and grabbing Chloe’s arm in panic when tiny little claws suddenly sink into his shin. Father above, he needs to get out of this house right now!

Don’t kick it, don’t kick it! Chloe will not like it if you kick it! You will not get laid for a week or get so much as a peek of those luscious breasts for a week if you kick it!

He will forever deny to his last immortal breath that he squeaks when the beast starts trying to climb up his leg.

Chloe is obviously biting her lip to stop herself from bursting into laughter over his predicament, which is not helping his ego at all.

“It was yes,”

“Well thank-you for your time Ms Dyas,” she almost snorts, still not coming to his rescue. The blasted thing has reached his hip now and what the fuck should he do!? “if we could take your number in case we have any follow up questions, we’ll then get out of your hair.”

“I told you dear, it’s Margery! And of course you can. I’ll just find a pen to jot it down for you.”

“And then she just stood there and let it try to mutilate me!” Lucifer protests loudly, slouched into Linda’s couch that evening, Charlie burbling away happily in his arms.

“It was not mutilating you!” Chloe laughs from beside him, leaning against his shoulder. “It was only a kitten and it barely touched you, you utter wimp.”

“It had claws! And it shredded my pure wool trousers with them! Shredded!”

“My brother is afraid of housecats,” Amenadiel deadpans, humour glittering in his eyes.

“I don’t know what father was thinking when he allowed them to evolve,” he huffs sulkily. “They’re worse than demons and twice as destructive.”

“And yet you didn’t lash out,” Linda states, slipping into her therapist voice. “You encountered a situation which made you highly uncomfortable, and yet you were able to handle your emotions maturely and remove yourself calmly from the upsetting environment. That shows real growth Lucifer.”

“Oh I don’t know if he was calm about it,” Chloe chuckles, letting Charlie grasp one of her fingers and pull it towards his mouth. “You should have seen his face when the poor lady scooped the kitten off his leg and then pushed it into his hands with an instruction to keep it. “Little mite seems to like you young man!” she said, and then gave me a tiny collar and a tin of kitten food to take with us too.”

“Wait,” Linda gasps mirthfully. “She gave you the cat!?”

“Father forgive me, for I have sinned,” Lucifer mock sobs, tipping his head back. “And the punishment for it is proving to be beyond all karma-based reason and logic!”

“She really did,” Chloe gasps mirthfully, tears threatening to escape from her eyes. “She was practically immune to his usual aura of lust, going full mother mode on him rather than angling to get in his pants, much to his displeasure! So now he has a white long-haired Persian kitten. The poor fluffball is with Maze and Trixie at his penthouse. Apparently, he’s called Spook now.”

“All my furniture is going to end up ruined,” he moans as he presses his face against the side of Chloe’s head, breathing in the familiar calming scent of her hair. “My Italian leather sofas! My Chinese silk sheets! The Egyptian hand-woven rugs and the Brazilian hardwood floors!”

“All of it! Ruined!” Chloe imitates poorly through her joyous laughter.