The frozen tableau lasted longer than I liked. I didn’t know the boy’s name, but he was smart enough not to squirm, smart enough to stay absolutely still. I wished Mike was here; this was exactly the kind of situation he would know how to fix.
“Okay. That’s good. Just send the old man away. Then we can talk properly.”
“Then you can try and drag me home by my hair, you mean.” Killing him would banish him, but not for long enough. Besides, I had no weapon. Somebody had almost certainly called the cops. “Alternative…drop the boy and get out of here before the police show up and screw everything up.”
I didn’t want cops. I definitely didn’t want cops. They were as likely to shoot the kid…or me…as the demon.
Unless it was Mike. My own resources. But maybe I couldn’t handle it, maybe I did have to think outside the box more than I was up to.
What, I wondered suddenly, would Loki do?
Trick him. I gave William a look and a nod. He scurried away, out of sight. I had to trust him to follow the play without me calling it, just as he had intended to trust me. One of the teachers had come out of the school and I hoped he didn’t intend to try and negotiate.
“Now drop the boy. Please. We’ll sort this out.”
“No. You’re both coming with me.” He started to drag the kid away, but he kept glancing to make sure I was following. Which I did.
He was going to give me no choice. I knew that. Except I couldn’t do it in front of some strange kid, even if I managed to have an opportunity to grab the knife. I watched him, I kept my eyes narrowed. “You’d think you wouldn’t have to resort to this.”
And I took the biggest gamble of my life. I called him by his real name.
He dropped the kid, who scrambled away, whirling around to face me. “Fool.”
“No. I mean to be rid of you for good. I might change my mind if you promise you’ll stop coming after me, and actually keep that promise.” Meaning I would leave him alone as long as he left him alone. There were still people watching, but nobody within earshot.
Then there was a crack. Somebody had had a gun and had taken the opportunity to shoot Martin. They hadn’t had great aim. They’d hit him in the arm rather than center of mass, and you always go for center of mass. I knew that.
At which point, he grabbed me. I didn’t even try to dodge, and then we were elsewhere. “Don’t worry, they saw you run off with me chasing you,” he informed me as reality settled.
We were on a rooftop. “First smart thing you’ve done.”
“And you. Setting a Christian priest, of all things, on me.”
My lips quirked. “I’m not interested in your suit. Maybe I’d be interested in a roll in the hay, but I will not be your consort.”
“Then who’s will you be?”
“Do I have to be anyone’s?” I felt his name on my lips, and I felt power flowing through me. “I will not be yours. That much I promise you. You might as well leave.”
“I will have…”
“If you could force me, you would. If you could drag me down as Hades claimed Persephone, you would. But you can’t, can you? I, however, know your name.”
He stepped back. “You are not in your full power. Yet.”
“I don’t need it.” I was bluffing. I was bluffing more than I had ever thought. “Go back to Hell, Tyv’zel.” The name, harsh and near to unpronounceable. A direct order, my eyes fixed on his.
He flinched at the name, enough to let us know we were absolutely on target. “You are…quite the woman…” he said and then vanished in a puff of brimstone and fire that left scorch marks on the roof.
I looked around.
There was no way off the roof.