Time for another peek at “South of Eden”. I hope you enjoy the rough, hot-off-the-presses chapter.

Chapter Twenty-One
There’s Got To Be A Morning After

When the sun rose, Lucifer felt as he always did, that it would be best if he was honest with Eve regarding Ares’ short but disturbing visit while she was sleeping. “He was bound to find out, I would have told him.” She sighed.

“Do you want me to take you back? Or maybe just stay here?”

Standing up and smoothing out her dress the suspicious tone in his polite offering didn’t escape her not did the worry starting to mist in his eyes, “He’s not Adam,” she assured, “Stop worrying.”

Lucifer stood up, “Pardon me, I mean, he’s the only, I don’t know…The God of War….he might take this personally, don’t you think?”

“He’ll get over it,” she asserted and once again said, “He’s not Adam, he’s not what you think he is. Last night doesn’t mean I care for him any less than I did yesterday.”

Her words were crisp and abrupt, they took him back a bit and he put his hand over his heart, “Oh, sorry, excuse me. I thought last night meant something. I didn’t realizing you were just using me for sex.” He huffed as he put his hands on his hips and rolled his eyes in disgust.

He was so serious about it that she couldn’t help but break into a fit of laughter. “You poor thing,” she giggled as she tried to get a hold of herself.

“Stop mocking me,” Lucifer muttered. “The Eve I knew would never…”

“I am not the Eve you knew, Lucifer,” she interjected to correct him. “That Eve didn’t know anything except what you taught her. That Eve was naive and weak,” she hissed. “There’s a million years between her and me. I am not that needy little urchin anymore.”

Not liking where any of this was going, Lucifer took a step back as he gauged her closely, “I never thought any of that of you. You were curious, intelligent, and strong, you were funny, and beautiful.”

“It was a thousand lifetimes ago,” she said dismissively. “I came here because I couldn’t get you off my mind. I wanted to experience you again. When Chuck put you here he knew this was inevitable, he wanted this, and so did you. Even the others knew it was going to happen, if you didn’t, or if you thought it was going to mean something then you’re the naïve one. That, my sweet Lucifer, isn’t like you at all.”

“Why are you being so cold?” Lucifer looked behind him and down to the spot where they’d made love all night long. He looked back to her and could hardly recognize the woman he’d spent such a passionate night with. “What have I done? Tell me, what did I do wrong?”

It took every ounce of effort to defy the Devil and turn away from his stare, “I have to get back. You have to take care of the Trees.”

Lucifer stood there dumbstruck as he watched her walk away and not turn back. For a moment he thought of going after her and confronting her but decided against it. Instead, as The Mistress of Eden commanded, he started about his daily tasks of being the Sacred Trees back to enough health to get through the Winter.

***

Doing The Walk of Shame, Eve tried to slink back into the village unnoticed but that was not to be. It seemed everyone knew she’d spent the night away from her little cottage, and away from Ares’ little cabin, they were waiting for her return.  Not openly, not in a gawking manner, but they were standing in their windows peering out at her as she trod down the path between their little homes and the Gathering House.

Ares’ door was the first to open but he was swiftly and unexpectedly met by Demeter and Persephone who were hurrying down the five steps from their porch to the dirt street hand-in-hand.  Demeter gave her Nephew a harsh glanced and quick wave of her free hand to shoo him away. When Ares froze in his tracks but did not retreat she hissed at him, “Get out of here. Now. Let the women take care of this.”

Continuing to stand still, the God of War, watched his Aunt and his Niece hurry up the steps of Eve’s cabin, knock and then let themselves in before closing the door tightly behind them and then drawing the curtains. He stomped back to his own cabin where he stood on his rustic porch staring at Eve’s door and straining to hear anything at all.

“Here,” Gabriel muttered as he sauntered to the top of Ares’ porch and held out a wineskin. “Looks like you could use it.”

Ares grabbed the offering and took down a long drink. “What are they saying in there?”

“You’re asking me?” Gabriel took back the wineskin to get his turn off it, “why the hell would I know?”

Inside Eve’s cottage, she hardly made it through the small kitchen and into the living area before the door opened behind her. She turned to see Demeter and Persephone entering. “Oh, you two. I’m tired, I just…”

Demeter plopped herself down at Eve’s cozy kitchen table with her eyes lit up, “How was it?” She tittered in excitement. 

“Tea?” Persephone asked in an equally excited voice. Before anyone could answer she grabbed the kettle and put it on the stove while grabbing Eve’s teak tea box to place it in the center of the kitchen table. “So?”

“Sweetheart,” Demeter said easily, “I think we’ll need some of that fine whisky to go with this tea.”

Eve just stood there for what seemed like a very long moment as she watched and listened to the two women who were waiting for her to come and join them. They were waiting for her to give them the details just as they’d done the first time she’d slept with Ares.  “Girl talk,” she muttered to no one in particular. It was still a strange concept to her, one she had enjoyed as they sat around that very table until late in the evening laughing and drinking. She watched Demeter pat the table in anticipation. With a snort, Eve walked over and took her seat as they waited for the water to boil they shared shots of whisky.

“Not bad,” Eve whispered finally and then grinned and reddened, “not bad at all.”

As they raised their glasses in a toast, the three women broke out into a cackle that was easily heard by the eavesdropping Gabriel and Ares.

Listening to them laugh, Ares wanted to be adult about the current matter but that just wasn’t to be, “I’m going to kill him!” Turning quickly on his booted heels he started to march off the porch but Gabriel got in his path.

“Yep, nope, slow down there, Big Guy,” the Archangel encouraged.

“Get out of my way,” Ares sneered.

While standing his ground and holding his hands out in front of him, Gabriel kept his voice light and agreeable while inside he was a bundle of nerves. “Ya know, I hate him too, and I’d love to see you beat the shit out of him but the last thing we need right now is you two becoming adversaries. Or, ya know, one of you killing the other.”

“Alright, I won’t kill him, I’ll just maim him,” Ares put his big mitts on Gabriel’s shoulders and pushed him out of the way.

“Ar—oh shit!” Gabriel shouted as he saw Lucifer standing at the bottom of Ares’ steps. “Great timing, bro, impeccable as always,” he threw his hands up in the air knowing he’d lost any say in the situation.

“You,” Ares barked in accusation.

“Yeah, me,” Lucifer shot back in a tone full of snark, “me who she used and threw away like yesterday’s compost.”

“She did what?”

“I think you heard me,” Lucifer returned. “She had her way with me all night and then turned me out like a five dollar whore, said it meant nothing to her, it was just an experience, it was inevitable.”

Ares closed his eyes, shook her head, got hold of his voice and in a controlled tone asked, “One more time, please?”

“Oh fuck you, I’m not saying it again. But I’ll say this; she’s changed.”

It was Gabriel’s turn to muse aloud, “Not that much, bro, not that much.”

Out of the corner of his eyes, Ares glanced at Gabriel, “Does that sound like her to you?”

“No,” Gabriel offered with no hesitation.

The part about Lucifer feeling like a five dollar whore or yesterday’s compost didn’t bother Ares. The part about it being an experience that was inevitable was probably very close to the truth if not the whole of it. The part about it meaning nothing, that wasn’t her, not after the life she’d lived and the horrors she’d ensured. She was trying to get rid of Lucifer and, somehow, she’d managed to slip in an outright lie.  The Devil had a weakness and its name was Eve.

“How is he at sharing his toys?” Ares asked of Gabriel.

“Horrible,” Gabriel returned with a huff, “how are you at it?”

Ares turned back to Lucifer, “I can manage it if I have to.”

It was hard for Lucifer to get his head around what they were getting at, it was so unbelievable in the face of, “Didn’t you hear me? Did you hear…”

“I heard you,” Ares growled, “did you hear her? I don’t think you did. But I do. So answer the question; how good are you at sharing?”

Lucifer’s eyes darted between his Brother’s and Ares’ before he gave as honest an answer as he could, “I don’t know.”

“Then I guess it’s Lady’s Choice,” Ares intoned with a long exhale. “Whichever one of us she picks the other abides, you understand? We don’t need to prolong this or make it ugly.”

Lucifer felt as though he was caught in some of Time or Dimensional Warp. For eons he ruled over Hell listening to one poor wicked soul or another try to bargain with him as though he had the power to strike suck bargains in the first place. He did not and he wouldn’t if he had. They were there for a reason that he couldn’t change, only they could do that. Here was Ares, just like he was one them but a bit nobler, trying to strike a Deal with the Devil.  He wasn’t in Hell anymore and this was a bargain he could strike. A Truce as needed here and it was needed as quickly as possible before this could fester and cause a serious rift. “So long as it’s her decision, I’ll abide.”

Ares sighed as he motioned for Lucifer to join them on the porch and then passed him the wineskin. The three of them stood there getting drunk in an uneasy silence while they listened to the giggles and laughter of the women who were currently talking about them in Eve’s cabin.

“Oh to be a fly on one of those walls,” Gabriel wished as he took a swig and passed it to his Brother.

“Wouldn’t that be fun?” Lucifer agreed.

Ares stood between them remembering how Demeter had shooed him away, “She needs this,” he said as he took the skin from Lucifer, “we need to let her have it.”

“You know, you’re a lot more understanding than I thought you’d be,” Lucifer said as he looked up to meet Ares’ gaze.

“I’m a lot more of everything than you thought I’d be,” he said with a wicked sneer.

In the cabin next door the chatter grew louder as the liquor loosened their tongues and lowered their inhibitions. Just as another burst of laughter pierced the air and turned Ares’ sneer into a smile a snippet of their conversation floated before it. It seemed to be something about being caught between The Devil and The God of War.

***

“It might not be the worst place to be,” Eve agreed feeling relaxed and invigorated by her time with the women.  

“Certainly not,” Demeter chimed and poured the last of the whisky into her tea cup. “You’ve nothing to feeling guilty about, Eve. Ares is not your husband and he knows that, you owe him nothing, he knows that too.”

The sudden serious turn in their conversation started to bring Eve around to her situation, one she never dreamed she’d ever be in, “He said he loves me. Ares, he actually said it.”

The God of War was not foolish with his heart only one other woman had been able to win it and when she died he was devastated.  If Eve turned him away in favor of Lucifer he could become volatile. “He’s not a boy,” Persephone said in a soothing voice, “how do you feel about him?”

Eve wasn’t sure she knew what real Love was, how it felt, what it did, how it acted, so she’d only ever said the words ‘I love you’ to her offspring.  Where they were concerned she was certain that she loved them and would do anything to protect them. Where a Lover was concerned, well that place just seemed to be a dark hole in her heart. “I care for him deeply, I can’t imagine my life without him.”

“And Lucifer?” Demeter ventured.

“I don’t know, I’ve always been drawn to him, like a moth to a flame,” Eve admitted. “I don’t regret it, I don’t really feel guilty about it but I know I disappointed Ares, I let him down. That doesn’t feel very good.”

“He’ll understand,” Demeter put her hand on Eve’s, “we’re not mortals and these circumstances are quite something.” She smiled which brought a twinkled to aged eyes. “That, of course, doesn’t mean he’ll like it, but you know how to handle him. You’ve got him wrapped around your little finger.” Considering the conversation and the visit over, Demeter rose a bit unsteadily but was helped by Persephone, “Thank you, Eve, today has been lovely and you’ll do just fine with those two. Just don’t let them make you feel guilty. Don’t let them make you choose. Don’t play their game play yours.” She advised in all seriousness.

Persephone put an arm around her Mother’s waist to keep her close and upright, “They’ve been watching and trying to listen to us since we got in here,” she said to Eve as Mother and Daughter neared the door. “I’m afraid they’re going to mob you as soon as we leave.”

Eve sucked on her bottom lip as she gave a little titter, “They’ve struck own Gentlemen’s Agreement no doubt,” she peeked through the opening in the curtain of the kitchen window facing Ares’ cabin to see the three men standing on the porch passing a wineskin back and forth. Ares hadn’t killed Lucifer and there didn’t appear to be any bloodshed. She took those as good signs.  “No one is ever going to determine my Fate again,” she vowed as she stared at them, “Nope, Chuck was enough for me. Those two don’t get a say.”

“That’s what I want to hear,” Demeter smiled as Persephone opened the door, “don’t lose that fire, keep them in line.” The Goddess of Grain winked at Eve just before she walked through the opening and onto the porch. She looked to the cottage next door and gave a little wave to her Nephew who was no longer fuming. In fact, he looked exasperated and Demeter thought that was more due to Lucifer’s presence at his side than it was to do with Eve.  Nearly floating down the four steps from the porch to the small patch of front yard lined with flowers, she kept her eyes on Ares and gently said, “Behave yourself, Nephew.”  She was going to leave it at that but when Lucifer gave a grin she sternly added, “You too, Devil.”

“Yes,” Persephone added as she took her Mother’s arm and aided to the cottage on the other side of Eve’s, “Try to act like adults. I know it’s hard, but try anyway.” She advised in sweetly cool tone.

The men didn’t say a word in return.

As Demeter and Persephone got to the top step of their shared cottage, Demeter whispered to her Daughter, “So dramatic, this is better than one of those Tele Novellas,” she stifled the laugh that threatened to pierce the heavy air.

“Our own little Peyton Place,” Persephone agreed as she too tried to hold back the laugh. Nothing ever happened here unless it was Winter and then they were clinging on to each other for sheer survival as they rode out blizzard after blizzard in the comfort of their underground bunker. Other than that, it was always SSDD, Eden was absolutely gorgeous (in its Hey Day anyway) but it was boring as hell.

Entering the cottage and closing the door behind them, Mother and Daughter nearly sprinted to the west facing kitchen window so they could watch what was happening on Ares’ porch.

“Wait, wait, just wait!” Gabriel grumbled as Lucifer and Ares started for the stairs at the same time.  He grabbed Lucifer by his long blond hair and Ares by the scruff of his shirt collar to turn them around. “Maybe you wanna give the woman a break, huh? It’s not like she isn’t going to be there a few hours from now.”

“I say we do this now,” Lucifer said in defiance of his Brother and then looked to Ares.

“Finally, something we agree on.” The God of War sneered and then looked over his shoulder and down at Gabriel, “let go of me,” he demanded, “or I’ll break your arm.”

“You wish,” Gabriel chirped but let go anyway. “Go on, go fuck it all up,” he huffed. “Losers.”  He unfurled his wings and took off for his own cottage which did not have a good view or what was about to happen nor was it close enough to let him hear what was about to be said.  Flying past Demeter’s cottage he caught sight of Mother and Daughter in the window. Then he saw Demeter beckoning him to her front porch.  When it lit upon it with curiosity, the door flew opened and Persephone yanked him inside before closing it again. “Aren’t you two nothing but a couple of gossipy old hens?” He said in disgust even as he trotted over to the window where they had been standing earlier.

“Like you’re any better,” Demeter laughed and made room for him. “Cluck, cluck.”

They watched as Ares and Lucifer, side by side, approached the steps of Eve’s cabin and then they watched as they scuffled a bit to figure out which one was going to first as they wouldn’t fit up on the steps at the same time. Ares pushed Lucifer. Lucifer pushed back. Ares raised his fist. Lucifer cocked his head in open daring.

“Is this what mortal high school is like?” Persephone asked as she remembered the few stories she’d heard of the place.

“Oh, yeah,” Gabriel agreed, “couple of testosterone filled idiots fighting over the prom queen.”

Demeter made a fist and pumped it across her still slender body as she laughed, “Go Eve, go.”

“You’re incorrigible,” Gabriel admonished. “Why would you want this?”

“Because Eve never went to high school, because she’s never had even the chance to have men fight over her before,” Demeter answered with her cheeks aglow as she turned back to the window. “It’s high time she did.”

Looking at it from that perspective it was hard to argue. It wasn’t like Eve’s Dance Card had been overflowing these last several thousand years. Other than Lucifer, she hadn’t even had a single boyfriend until she came to back to Eden and met Ares. While he didn’t really understand the details of mortal mating and dating, Gabriel thought it was a shame that Chuck had kept those chances from her for so long. Thinking about it now it seemed terribly cruel but a lot of the things his Father did were terribly cruel. Still Gabriel wished it was just the Captains of the high school Football and Basketball Teams going at it. They were less likely to bring the whole place down around their ears than the Devil and the God of War.

Outside Ares gave Lucifer a harder shove which knocked the Devil back several yards so the God of War could reach her door first. It was clear Lucifer was unhappy with that development as he ruffled his glorious white wings and flew up to the door before Eve could answer it.  It took her a moment, no words were exchanged, she stepped back to allow them entry.

“Got anything to drink in this place?”

“Oh, yes,” Persephone answered, “grab a few chairs and open the window so we can hear.”

Gabriel was about to question the request when he noticed that Eve’s east facing window was wide open and they would be able to hear what was being said with a good amount of ease.

Demeter looked up at the Archangel who seemed confused, “She opened it before you arrived, she knows we’re here, that we’re listening. If anything starts to go drastically wrong….”

“We’ll know it,” Gabriel finished, “pretty smart.” Those two would never even know it was open. While he and the ladies were standing in Demeter’s kitchen, that window in Eve’s cottage was in the bathroom. She’d left the window open so they could hear and the door to the bathroom open so they could see into the parlor/sleeping area, at least a little bit, without being observed.

With Zeus and Hera at her side, Eve lead Lucifer and Ares into the parlor and motioned for them to sit while she stood, Persephone whispered, “Never underestimate her, my friend, I should think you’d know that by now.” She handed him a cup filled with wine as she grabbed a chair for her Mother to sit.

In Eve’s cabin, Ares and Lucifer opened their mouths to speak at the same time and were met with a firm and very harsh, “Shut up, both of you,” from Eve. “Sit.” The dogs settled on either side of her.

Ares drew a deep breath and sat on the couch to wait for her to take the lead. Lucifer wasn’t as intelligent, “I want to know what’s going on here? Tell him that you love me,” he demanded as he pointed at Ares. “Tell him you’re done with him!”

“Why?” Eve countered. “Because you want me to? You don’t own me, Lucifer, I don’t do as you say anymore.”

“What the…”

Lucifer’s words were cut short when the God of War put a heavy hand on his shoulder and shoved him down to the couch without getting up himself. “Can’t you see the lady has something to say? What kind of gentleman are you?”

“I’m not a…”

“You can say that again,” Eve interjected, “but neither are you,” she looked at Ares, “so let’s cut the bullshit, shall we?”

Lucifer, King of Hell, was very accustomed to having his word be law. No one questioned him. No one ever dared interrupt him. They all did exactly what he told them to. This was an unexpected and unwelcomed turn of events. Lucifer, Fallen Archangel and Lover of Eve, was thoroughly confused by it all. “Listen to me…”

Again he was cut off, “No, you listen,” she whispered heatedly, “when I’m done, if I want your input, I’ll ask for it. Got it?”

Lucifer’s head whipped around on his shoulders to Ares for some type of guidance or support but he found none, “We had an agreement, remember?” Ares asked him coldly.

“Yes, well you can forget about that too,” Eve told him.

“Really? I don’t think you want that because,” he looked squarely at Lucifer, “we agreed to abide by whatever she says in this moment, remember?”

“Yes, but…”

“But shut the hell up and listen,” Ares advised.

Lucifer stood up quickly, “No, now you you listen!”

“OH, shut the fuck up!” Eve shouted as she sprang to her feet. “You will sit your ass down and you will shut your mouth or you will spend the rest of your time here in Eden alone.”

“You wouldn’t,” Lucifer gasped suddenly realizing his position a bit better. Eve was in charge here, his Father made that quite clear.

“I wouldn’t what? Exile you…again. Try me,” she dared as she took a step toward him, “I’ll have you locked into that cabin of yours, only allowed out to tend the Trees, and I’ll post him at the entrance to the village 24/7,” she nodded toward Ares, “with orders to kill you if he sees you. Do you understand me?”  She waited a few seconds but it seemed Lucifer was too stunned to reply. She pointed to the couch behind him. “Sit.”

“I don’t believe you,” Lucifer countered and was taken aback when she took another step toward him and stared directly into his eyes.

“No? Then you tell me; am I lying?”  She waited again, she watched his jaw tightened and his eyes grow wide. The dogs at her side began to let out long low growls as they focused their attention on the Devil.

An unusual thing was beginning to happen to Ares, he was getting a headache listening to the two of them. “Are you going to make me sit on you, Lucifer? Because, if I don’t, those two,” he pointed to the dogs, “they look cuddly and friendly but they will tear you to shreds if you keep acting this way.” With a sigh, he hitched his thumb toward the window behind him. “Not just them.”

Lucifer’s eyes followed, he looked outside, and there were the other dogs.

“They’re surrounding the place. Can’t you hear them on the porch?” Ares huffed.

No, he’d been too wrapped up in his own disbelief and anger to hear anything other than her voice but now he heard the scratching of claws at the door and the growling coming from what seemed to be all around the cabin. “You could have warned me,” Lucifer shot.

Ares grinned and snorted, “Where’s the fun in that?”

“All I have to do is utter one word,” Eve said in an even tone, “just one and they will pounce on you. The others will stop at nothing to get in here. To get to you.”

Lucifer looked down at the dogs in front of him, even with their bared teeth, and their muscular bodies coiled like springs down on their haunches, he felt he could easily smite the beasts. If he was allowed, which he wouldn’t be because Eden would not consider that to be in her best interests. The dogs, like Ares, were here to guard Eve. Those teeth looked sharp, they might not kill him, but here where he was once again flesh, it would hurt just the same when they sank into his flesh and drew his angelic blood. Lucifer plopped down on the couch and folded his hands in his lap as he suddenly found himself in his own unusual position—that of being outnumbered.

“Good dog,” Ares grumbled as he watched Zeus and Hera also return to their relaxed sitting positions.

Eve bit her lip to keep from laughing as she said, “That’s better.” Inside she was a bundle of jumbled raw nerves, her heart was beating a mile a minute and she was sure she was going to break out in a heavy sweat at any second. If that happened she’d lose control of the situation. That would be bad. Outwardly she managed to maintain a cool authoritarian facade that convinced even Ares.  She turned to him first, “I suppose you’re very angry with me but I’m not sure you have a right to be.”

“Neither am I,” Ares agreed in a dusky tone. “As you said, I don’t own you, no one does, you are not my wife. You are free to do as you please.”  He rolled his eyes in Lucifer’s direction with disapproval. “I am, however, very disappointed.”

“No one asked you to approve,” she said easily. “I’m not offering a defense when I tell you that he and I…”

“Have a long rocky history,” Ares interjected darkly, “you never thought you would see him again let alone have to be so close to him. There was…unfinished business…between the two of you. I understand, I told you before, I am not a child, Eve.”

“Then why are you smoldering?” She asked quickly.

 Ares answered her while still sneering at Lucifer, “After all he did, not just to you, but to mankind, I think you can do better.”

“Better? Like, I don’t know…you, Cousin?” Lucifer quipped. “Yes, you’re so much better than me with all that bloodletting and killing. Talk about someone fucking over mankind,” with a great flourish and grin he held his hands out in Ares’ direction.

“I…”

Clearing her throat loudly, Eve interjected, “So, ok, neither of you is better than the other. You both suck. Ok?” The looks of sheer surprise that crossed their handsome faces at her comment was priceless, for an instant, Eve wished she had a camera to capture the moment and knew she’d said the right thing. “As to the rest of it, I will sleep with whomever I choose. If you opt not to comply, that’s up to you. Both of you are always free to say ‘no’ to my desires.” Seeing she had their complete and utterly undivided attention she settled easily into her chair with the dogs at her side and held her head high. “You will, however, return to your duties. Both of you. You will work together for the good of Eden whenever the need arises. Whatever ill will you bear each other you will bury it here and now. I will not have this descend further into an immature display of testosterone induced aggression. Am I clear?”

“Crystal,” Ares muttered and cleared his throat as he sat back on the couch.

“What? What…what the fuck is going on here?” Lucifer railed. “Who are you? What have you done with Eve?”

“I told you, I am not the Eve you knew so long ago,” she countered quickly. “That woman is long dead. Get used to it, get on board with it or….”

“Or what?” Lucifer interjected with a chuckle, “you’ll throw me out?  You can’t and even if you could, you need me, Eve.”

“Not that much,” she returned. “I just need you to tend the Trees and, by your very nature, you are compelled to do just that now that you’re back.”

The silence was deafening but very enjoyable as far as Ares was concerned. He just sat back on the couch watching Lucifer’s face and feeling an overwhelming amount of pride for Eve. She was handling him beautifully and he didn’t even know it. She had grown much since she arrived here, from a meek abused and unwanted broken woman who’d lived too long and seen too much to a woman now in full touch with her power and using it brilliantly.

“What are you smiling at?” Lucifer shot at him.

“You,” Ares snorted. “You really are so much more naïve than I thought you would be. All those eons trapped in Hell did you a great disservice.”

Balling his fists in frustration, Lucifer snarked, “Oh, no, really?”

“You can’t see what’s going on here at all, can you?” Ares remarked incredulously. “Whatever you want, Eve, I will abide.”  He stood up to take his leave without further fuss.

“Take him with you,” Eve said and shook her head.

Ares grabbed Lucifer by the upper arm to lead him out of the parlor and toward the door through the kitchen but Lucifer pulled away, “Don’t touch me,” he ordered, “I’m not going anywhere until this is settled.”

“It is settled, you moron,” Ares shot back and then pointed toward the door, “move your fluffy little ass.”

Before Lucifer could argue further the dogs started growling again, it was lower this time, more guttural and he got the feeling they might be serious about attacking him, “Fine, but this isn’t over.”

“Yes, it is,” Eve told him. “Now, please leave.”

Without further ado Ares hauled Lucifer to the door and then through it.  Out on the pathway between the cottages and the Gathering House Lucifer wrenched free of Ares’ grasp. “So, so, so, what? That’s it?” He shouted for everyone to hear. “You’re, you know what you are, there’s a word for it,” he stuttered as he searched for the phrase then landed on it, “pussy whipped! That’s it, you’re pussy whipped!”

“And you are a fucking MORON!” Ares railed in a bellow that shook the windows in the cottages around them.

“Moron? Me?” Lucifer uttered in confusion and anger as he pointed to himself, “What about you? What the hell was that?”

Ares was so dumbfounded he almost felt bad for the little bastard. “You know what you are?” He whispered rather loudly as he took a step toward Lucifer.

“I’m sure you’re going to tell me, Cousin.”

“You’re a seventeen year-old virgin, that’s what you are, for all you must have seen and done in Hell, up here, in Eden, that’s your maturity level. A bumbling boy.” He hissed and took another step feeling angry and sorry for the Devil. Ares sidled up right next to Lucifer and bent down to whisper in his ear, “That’s her way of telling us she loves both of us and she isn’t going to choose between us. Take it for the minor win it is and shut the fuck up or I will help her put you in exile, got it?” Patting the Devil heavily on his bare shoulder, Ares walked away and back into his own cabin.

Even more confused than before, Lucifer stood there for a few moments trying to let it all sink into his head and not getting very far with it when he felt eyes upon him. Unwilling to give his Relatives a show any longer, he unfurled his wings and flew off towards his own cabin but first, on his way, he made a pit stop to raid Eve’s distillery and her Drug Store.

In Demeter’s cottage, she, Persephone, and Gabriel, stood staring out the front window at the scene as they smiled and cheered for Eve while the two powerful and volatile men parted company unscathed.

“You were right,” Gabriel uttered to Persephone, “don’t underestimate Eve.”

“She’s got both of them wrapped right around her little finger,” Persephone returned with a wide smile and sparkling blue eyes. “Good for her.”

“Better for us,” Demeter said joining the conversation. “If they know both of them have a chance, when Cain gets here, nothing will stop them from tearing him apart.”

END CHAPTER from “SOUTH OF EDEN” by Lisa Beth Darling
Copyright 2021 Moon Mistress Publishing and Lisa Beth Darling. All Rights Reserved.

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