Episode Seventeen: Taken: Scene 21

“That was the last of them,” said a conversational voice as I stepped out of school on Monday.

“Where were you?”

“As you said. We have limitations,” the angel said. “Limitations of energy.”

“So my guess was right. You were tired out from chasing them around the city.” I let out a breath. “Help him?”

“We are. Thanks for the rescue. I owe you.”

I shook my head. “Owing me could get you into trouble with your boss, so you don’t. Just I happen to like him…so…”

The angel laughed. “I would like you if I was allowed to.”

“At least we don’t have to be enemies.”

“And I promise there will be no more spirit bombs.”

“Did you lose anyone?” I found myself genuinely concerned.

“No permanent casualties.”
Which meant injuries, I supposed. “Good.” I felt genuinely relieved. “We’re all on the same side in the end, right?”

“We are,” he admitted. Then he looked at me. “As long as…”

“No poaching.” I grinned. “Not like I…”

“Give it a bit. You will learn.” He considered for a moment. “Never understood doing things that way, but…”

“But you…are a part and extension of him, aren’t you?”

“At some levels, yes. At other levels, no, or so many of us would not have rebelled.”

“Maybe he made the rules too strict.” I shook my head. “No. I don’t want to risk hurting you.”

“You haven’t.” And with a sense of wind and feathers, the angel was gone.

He wasn’t so bad, I thought. Or maybe he’d eased off now he knew I wasn’t any kind of a threat to his charge and his charge’s immortal soul. Idly, I wondered what heaven was like. It occurred to me that I would one day never see William again.

And then I understood why people might be tempted to poach. But I wouldn’t. I had enough to worry about, and William had his own decisions to make.

And I was determined to respect them. And anyone else’s.

Something clicked into place. As if I’d finally accepted something very important. My authority. What I was. Who I was.

That I had to accept this, and the only way I could was to put free will as paramount. Choices. Other people’s choices as more important than anything I might want.

That was how it was supposed to work. That was what mortals having more free will really meant. It meant that because we had the power, we had to let them make the choices.

It wasn’t really that hard.

Episode Seventeen: Taken: Scene 20

Mike was the only angel who showed up, along with a young woman who looked like she had to be a rookie.

“I hope she can handle things,” I murmured to him.

“She can.”

I nodded. I trusted his judgment.

“Lorraine, please book this woman. I’d like to talk to you in private, Father.”

William was missing his dog collar – no doubt they’d ditched it somewhere – but there was still something priestly about him. And I didn’t see any taint on his aura, as it were. He nodded.

“I’m afraid…”

“Don’t worry about it. You should hear what I hear in confession sometimes.” They disappeared into the corridor.

“I really do wonder where his guardian angel was,” Kanesha murmured.

“Tired from chasing these people down, I think. They have limitations, ya know. Like me.”

“Still. He shouldn’t have let this happen.”

I nodded. “But I think William will be okay. He’s tough. His faith is amazingly solid. He knows he didn’t do anything wrong.”

Thruor was helping Lorraine properly secure the prisoner. Mike reappeared eventually. “Okay. We’re taking her downtown.”

I wondered what the prosecutor would throw at her. More importantly, I wondered what would stick. It wasn’t a situation most people would believe, after all. And that was leaving out the magic.

It wasn’t a situation…and William came back out of the room. “I need…a drink,” he admitted, finally.

“I have some really strong stuff at our place,” Thruor said. “Want to?”

He nodded. “I do.”

I had a feeling Thruor could get him straightened out. Or at least ply him with good alcohol. I looked at Kanesha. “As much as…no. Let’s get out of here.”

She grinned. “Don’t want to try out a room?”

“No!” I exclaimed, blushing scarlet. Except part of me did, which was thoroughly embarrassing. I guess we all have a bit of us that’s at least curious about such things.

“Then let’s…not go home. Let’s do something date-like.”

It was still fairly early in the evening. And I was hungry. “Then let’s go to the southern place.”

“I can live with that. Actually, more than. Red beans and rice.”


Fighting makes one hungry, and catfish would hit the spot right about now. So, that was where we went. And stayed until we were sure the “adults” would be done with their getting drunk and forgetting.

If Thruor had anything to forget. I was starting to develop quite the collection myself.

Episode Seventeen: Taken: Scene 19

She was dragged into the conference room by two of the girls. Who both looked like they could hold their own. And were hotter than she was.

I rather thought she had to be feeling distinctly inadequate right about now.

“So, trying to force a priest to break his vows and then use it as blackmail?” Not to mention there was another nasty word for it.
She glared at me. “Demon.”

I turned to the priestess. “She thinks anything that isn’t an angel is a demon.”

Amara nods. “Of course she does.”

I turned to William. “The angels dealt with them, but apparently this one was left as a loose end.” I let out a breath.

“I’m not sure…”

I put my hand on his arm. “You’re not responsible for being kidnapped. You can’t be. Your boss might be strict, but he’s not unfair, right?”


He seemed very vulnerable, though.

Amara turned to him. “Are you going to file a complaint with the police?”

“Not if it would get you in trouble.” A pause. “I disapprove, but I’m not…”

She laughed. “Don’t worry. They’re some of my best customers.”
That didn’t surprise me. I couldn’t see Mike in a place like this, but some of the others I’d seen with him.

“Alright. I will.”

That, I thought, was brave of him. Brave of any man, but most especially him. A priest to admit he’d been taken advantage of by a woman.

“I’ll call Mike,” Thruor said. “That way we’ll have a cop in here who knows.”

I looked at the woman again. “I don’t know how you got away with what you just did, but you’re going to hell.”
She fixed her eyes on me. “You’re going to take me there?”

“No. I don’t know the way.” I grinned at her. “No, but I think you crossed all kinds of lines today.”

“If you really aren’t a demon, then what do you know about it?”

“I know what’s right and wrong. And I have never, and will never, do anything like that. Heck, Loki has never done anything like what you did.”

With that comment…which I knew would upset her, I turned back to William. I wanted to hug him, but I knew better.

“Mike’s on his way.”

When Thruor said that, I just sat down, one eye on our prisoner. Where were the angels?

Episode Seventeen: Taken: Scene 18

Then I heard a yell. It wasn’t quite a scream, it was a yell. I ran from the room without even thinking, past a man who wasn’t wearing, well, anything.

The door to room 34 was open, and Alex had just come flying through it to hit the opposite wall. She extracted her hairpins and shifted her stance.

“Do you actually need help?”

She grinned at me. The woman came charging out of the room. Saw Alex’s hair pins, turned pale. Turned towards me to run, turned paler and ran further into the building.

“Aww. She won’t get very far.”

“No doors that way?”

“No, the fire escape’s over there.” She pointed and grinned.

I moved into room 34. She had Father William naked and tied to the bed. “Did she have time to do anything?”

He…just stared at me, then shook his head. Alex tugged a sheet and tossed it over his private parts while I worked on getting him untied.

“Ugh. She’s no rope top.”

I glanced at Alex.

“They’re supposed to be easy to remove. Not to give if the person tugs on them, but with a quick release.”

As I wrestled with the knots, I was inclined to agree. William just seemed, well, traumatized. He’d fallen silent. “Find his clothes?”

Alex rummaged. “Here.” As I got William untied, she handed him his boxers.

Then the rest.

I turned my back so he could dress. I was going to kill that girl. No matter how far she’d got with things, I was going to kill her.

I wasn’t going to trust this one to mortal justice.

“You…can look now.”

I turned back around. “I’ll try to forget, okay?”

“You’re a teenager. You’ve at least seen pictures.” He rubbed his wrists. “Thanks.”

“I’m going to have words with your guardian angel for sleeping on the job,” I quipped.
Then I heard another yell. Alex grinned and headed towards it.

“Seb’s at the front door. I’ll take you there then go back to hunting the fake dom.”

He rubbed his wrists again. “As long as somebody takes me…I’m going to have to give myself about a thousand hail marys for this.”

“Only if you actually wanted her.”

She hadn’t even been, I thought, that hot. “She’s the one who deserves penance or worse.”

I was totally going to kill her.

Episode Seventeen: Taken: Scene 17

“Conference room,” she said, after taking one look at us. She turned to retreat.

I followed, not wanting to think about what might be happening in the other rooms. Call me a prude. But the conference room looked normal.

“So, what brings not one, but two Norse goddesses here.”

Thruor was the one who spoke. I let her, still feeling quite uncomfortable. “One of our friends was kidnapped. The trace led here.”

“I don’t appreciate people being kidnapped and brought here.”

“Furthermore, he’s a Catholic priest.”

She frowned. “Alright. This stops now.” She studied us. Particularly, her gaze lingered on me and Kanesha. “Love should be given freely.”

“Or paid for?” I couldn’t help but asked.

The madam laughed. “I don’t sell love. I sell a little bit of lust, here and there. I also sell…shall we say…instruction.”

I fell silent. This wasn’t what I’d expected. There was nothing sordid here.

Thruor apparently already knew. “So, you’ll turn him over to us and deal with the woman who brought him here?”

“Is she a witch?”

“No. She’s a crazy Christian fanatic. Who’s probably trying to set our friend up to get a hold on him,” Sebastian explained. “They must be desperate. They don’t like men.”

“Crazy Christian female separatist fanatics.” The madam laughed a little bit. “Oh. I’m Amara.”

I was sure that was a professional name. “Yes. I had that reaction too.”

“And this is most intriguing. Thor’s daughter and a daughter of Loki who’s name I don’t know. As allies.” She studied me.
“Priestess,” I retorted.
She grinned. “Well, yes. And on very good terms with my goddess. But Asgardians on either side of that feud showing up together is a new one.”

Thruor shrugged. “We are actually capable of getting over grudges. Just give us a few centuries.”

I laughed again. “Uh…well. Let’s get our friend.”
She touched the intercom and the same girl, the vaguely familiar one, came in.

“Alex, do be a dear. Go see what’s happening in room 34.”

Alex nodded and turned.
Amara looked at us. “Don’t worry about her, by the way. Hair pins.”

I decided I liked Amara. Even if she did run a brothel. Hair pins? I’d have to try that some time.

Episode Seventeen: Taken: Scene 16

It didn’t look like a brothel. It looked like its cover…a massage parlor. Still made me uncomfortable.

“Ugh,” Kanesha murmured. “I don’t like this.”

“Neither do I. But if they’re using it to hide in…”

Thruor, for her part, stepped up to the desk. “I want to talk to the manager.”
The woman behind the desk looked like she’d retired into that position from one more, shall we say, active – greying but still in good shape and reasonably attractive. She didn’t shy from Thruor at all. “About?”

“Looking for a guy.”

“If he’s your husb…”
Thruor brought her hand down on the desk. “He is not. I’m sure you don’t want me to call my actual boyfriend. He’s a cop.”

I managed not to snicker, then glanced around. A woman not much older than me came out of the back. She did look quite stunning. Or rather as if she put a lot of work into looking stunning.

Rather like me during a shoot. In fact, I wasn’t convinced I hadn’t seen her at the agency. Maybe model wasn’t always a euphemism. Our eyes met and I looked away.

Other fates, I thought. And heck, how many girls graduated from the foster system into places like this?

“Okay. What guy?”

She described Father William.

“Oh. Yeah. He was here with a girl. He seemed kinda dazed, though.”

“With a girl?”

She nodded. “We rent rooms too. With accoutrements.”

I found myself blushing. Thruor, of course, didn’t seem bothered at all. “Maybe I’ll bear that in mind.”

I thought of Mike plus Thruor plus sex toys. Decided I didn’t want to think about it any more.


“Thing is, we think he wasn’t here under his own power, as it were.”

The receptionist frowned. Then she tapped a button on her desk. The girl disappeared back into the back room, perhaps as she really registered our presence. We weren’t obviously armed, but we looked to be here on business. She probably thought we were mob.

A moment later, the madam emerged through the same door. Like the receptionist, she looked faded and aged out, but…I also immediately recognized a woman I wouldn’t mess with.
And I immediately realized something else too. She was a priestess.

Of, no doubt, Aphrodite or Freya or some other love goddess, but a priestess nonetheless. I abruptly relaxed.

“What?” Kanesha asked.

I focused for a moment, “Priestess of Aphrodite. I think they made a very bad mistake coming here.”

A very bad mistake.

Episode Seventeen: Taken: Scene 15

While Seb did the tracking spell, I called Mike and Thruor. Mike couldn’t get away, but Thruor promised to be there with transportation as soon as she could.

I paced while waiting. I didn’t like waiting while they got further and further away, but we did need transport. And Seb probably needed first aid, but Kanesha was taking care of that.

Pace. Why had…because, I realized, they’d lost their spirit bomb maker. Maybe they thought they could force Will to do it.

Or maybe they intended to burn him as a heretic. That would be sweet irony coming from people who thought of themselves as the spiritual descendants of the Maid of Lorraine. But also very human irony. People really didn’t always have any sense.

Then Thruor was there with two bikes. She took Seb behind her…we all knew asking him to stay behind was a waste of time. I hopped onto the second, patting the handlebars.

“I’ll direct,” Seb called then tugged on his helmet, somewhat muffling his voice. It didn’t matter as long as Thruor could hear him.

Then we set off. I had a sense of urgency…that thought about burning people at the stake…but we had to be somewhat careful. If we wrecked, it would take even longer to get there. Still, even the blistering pace Thruor was setting seemed too slow. “I’m really tired of people getting kidnapped,” I grumbled.

“Me too. It seems to happen with regularity.”

Which I had to do something about. But I couldn’t actually protect Father William. He didn’t belong to me. And if his guardian angel was asleep on the job…

…well. I could help out by beating people up. I could do that. I doubted the angel was really “asleep,” though. They had to have limits, after all. I had limits. Maybe it was tired from helping deal with the spirit bomb maker.

Or worse. A worse I didn’t want to think about. Although I wouldn’t want to piss off their boss any more than I would want to piss off Odin. Maybe I was more afraid of Odin.

Yeah. Actually, I was a lot more afraid of Odin.

But then Thruor was slowing up. “Sebastian, are you sure?”


“This is a brothel.”

“Where else would you not expect to find a priest? Or maybe they plan on making him…intentionally uncomfortable.”

He had a point, but… “I can’t imagine them using one.”
Thruor shrugged. “Probably the same thing. You can’t, so nobody else can either. Let me do the talking here.”
She tugged off her helmet and headed for the door. I glanced at Kanesha then followed.

A brothel. Really?

Episode Seventeen: Taken: Scene 14

“Are you jealous?”

Kanesha threw a plush hello kitty at me. I wasn’t even sure where she got it. “Of course not. She’s only ten years older than me and a model.”

Odin had only asked me not to tell Monica, not anyone else. “And apparently Odin has an interest in her.”

“Maybe in her…” She tailed off. “He’s been known to!”

Not as much as my dad, I couldn’t help but think. But, she did rather have a point. Odin wasn’t as bad as Zeus, but he’d sired a few half-mortal kids and Monica was rather attractive.

“And that should mean you aren’t jealous. Because I’m not going near anyone Odin has an interest in. Just in case.”

I didn’t think it was that, but I couldn’t be sure.

“Okay. Good point. Still, she’s quite hot, isn’t she?”

“Not as hot as you.” It was clearly what she was fishing for, and besides…it was true.

“Or you. Especially if you do the fire thing.”

“I’m not touching that until I’m sure it’s not some trick by Surtur.”

“Point. I don’t know if he can do that.”

I joined her on the couch and snuggled up. “I think he might be able to. But Odin’s the one who ultimately decides. Still, there’s also what Thruor said about us creating ourselves.”

And there was a knock on the door. I sighed, having just got comfortable. “I’ll get it.”

Standing at the door was Seb. Okay, make that swaying on his feet at the door and about to fall over, with a black eye and multiple bruises. “Get your butt in here. What happened?”

“They kidnapped Father Will.”

“Who did?”

“The Joan of Arc people.”

I guessed the angels hadn’t done as good a job of mopping up as they thought. “Well, then. Let’s go get him back.” I glanced at Kanesha. “I know it’s not…”

But she’d already vanished upstairs, probably on the first syllable of kidnapped. She reemerged a moment later with both of our guns and my sword.

“…a romantic date,” I finished when she appeared.

She grinned. “Oh, I don’t know. Fighting cultists should work up an…appetite.”

“Insatiable,” I teased her, taking my weapons from her.

Shieldmaiden. Lieutenant. Right hand…woman. I could live with that, but it felt a bit awkward when she started playing the squire. “What leads do you have?”

“I came to get you before doing a trace on him,” he admitted. “So…we can do that right now.”

“We need…”

“I got it. Clara would be better, but I’ve been practicing this.”

Seb doing witchcraft? Well, I supposed, it would be rather handy in his line of work.

Episode Seventeen: Taken: Scene 13

Talking to Odin, though, wasn’t something I wanted to attempt again. Monica showed up at the shoot. She grinned at me. “Hey.”


“You seem…”

“I finally managed to get a certain person to leave me alone, but I know it won’t last.”

“Ugh. And how many times have you heard to take it as a compliment.”

I shuddered. “Can’t count that high. Of course, if he was better in bed, he could get a girlfriend who actually wanted him.”

Maybe that was one thing he couldn’t change. We were doing casual stuff for a catalogue. Fall stuff – hats and scarves. And we had to do it outside. People didn’t realize just how far ahead we did these things. I was fine, but I was pretty sure the others were roasting.

I liked fire. And I wasn’t sure what that fire flicker had been. I hoped not another fyrhund after I’d got the last one killed.

I didn’t want that to happen again. But then, supposedly, the angels had dealt with the spirit bombs. Supposedly, it was safe.

“Want to join me for…I know you can’t drink, but I know a place that won’t card you unless you order,” Monica invited.

I considered, then nodded. “Sure.”

“You can call your girlfriend if you want?”

I thought about it, then decided I wanted to talk to Monica alone. I might not be able to tell her, but maybe I could find out more about her. More about why she might have attracted a certain person’s interest.

I had promised to tell Tyz’vel, and I’d keep that. He wouldn’t try to mess with her again. Whatever else, he had never come over to me as stupid and, well, only a stupid demon would try and take on somebody under Odin’s protection.

A stupid and very dead demon. I was sure Odin could put Tyz’vel into the deepest depths of Hell.

Maybe. Maybe he couldn’t. Hell wasn’t a place we had authority over, I’d had that made clear to me.

Monica took me to a little pub type place. I followed her inside.
“So…I was…” She took a deep breath. “Hoping to find out more about magic, but I’m afraid to read books or go on the internet.”

I laughed. “That’s smart. The internet is full of idiots and most of the magic books out there are fluffy wiccan stuff. Won’t hurt anyone, won’t really teach you anything either.”

“Love spells?”

“Love spells are actually kind of not a wiccan thing. It’s against their religion.”

Monica blinked. “Really?”
“Yeah. And Kanesha once told me that she’s pretty sure Medieval “love potions” were actually usually viagra.”

She blinked and again and then laughed. “You mean…”

“I mean there are herbs that are pretty good for helping people, uh, perform better in bed, and that’s probably what people went to Medieval herbalists for that got written down as love potions. That it’s probably a euphemism. But a spell to actually make somebody fall in love with you? That’s mind control.”

Monica nodded. “And thus wrong.”

“Well, that and it would wear off and then they’d hate you.” I shrugged a bit. “Wiccan stuff is more, trying to cast healing spells with varying degree of success. Real witches can be very powerful, but most people who try witchcraft aren’t that good at it.”

“Kind of like most people who try to sing.”

I grinned. “Exactly. Now, if you really wanted to learn, I have a coven that you could talk to. No guarantees, but…”

But they might be able to help her.

“No. I more want to know about demons and things.”

“I know just the person for that too.” Was this wise? Well, if Odin had an interest in her, it would be unwise not to give her advice…

Episode Seventeen: Taken: Scene 12

All he had to do was give up. He wouldn’t. I couldn’t understand it, really. He could, for one thing, have all of the mortal women he wanted.

They wouldn’t even have to know. But he was the way he was, I reckoned, and he wasn’t going to change.

But he was going to find out who Monica was. Or I was. I wasn’t sure I’d do anything about it. Maybe she didn’t even know she was being protected, as Loki had implied.

I was still sore about the way he’d worded that. But if it was protection, why couldn’t I sense it?

Because it was somebody very good at hiding what they did. Which gave me an angle. It was somebody subtle, somebody who liked to keep things on the down low.

It was, therefore, not Thor, Tyr, or anyone remotely similar.

And there was one name that jumped to mind. Somebody known for being subtle, somebody who had a motivation to keep Tyz’vel away from me and somebody who was absolutely way out of my league.
This time I was sure it was him. “Thank you,” I murmured.

I got the faintest impression of raven wings. “Should I tell her?”

No. That was clear. Not to tell her. Yet.

I got it immediately. She was supposed to work things out for herself. But wasn’t she also supposed to have the choice?

Sometimes, I suddenly knew, people had already made the choice. I smiled a little bit. And I had a feeling I had passed some kind of test – that he wanted me to also work things out for myself. To keep in practice on solving mysteries no doubt.

But I did wonder what he wanted with Monica. Other than just to troll Tyz’vel? No. He had something else in mind and that had just been a sideline.

I had a shoot scheduled with her that weekend. It would be hard not to tell her what was going on, but I knew I could do it. Besides, it would, I thought, rather be a spoiler if he had something in mind for her.

Then again, Odin was probably a tough person to work for. The valkyries were one thing, but from what I’d seen of him? He would have high expectations.
And maybe I was working for him myself. Yes, I was. Realistically. He was the boss, and regardless of who I was, I acknowledged that.

Instead of calling Monica, thus, I headed home. As I did so, I felt the faintest hint of a presence of fire. I stopped, looked around.

No sign of any fire giants. No sign of Surtur. But I felt what was inside me respond to it. I liked fire. I couldn’t help it.

Maybe I should ask Odin about that.

Maybe I’d even get a straight answer, as unlikely as it seemed.