Episode Four: Prank War: Scene 22

I knew who I needed to talk to, but he’d never shown up when actually wanted before.

But maybe if I parked myself somewhere in public and followed my instincts I could track him down. My instincts led me to an outdoor cafe and chocolate muffins. I would have made more cayenne brownies, but I hadn’t had the time or the money.

Next week. I munched on my muffin, watching the people go by. Slowly. If nothing else, I could at least savor the moment. I didn’t often have enough money for this and the modeling agency hadn’t called me back yet.

They had said it might take a week or two, though, so I wasn’t too worried. Yet. But no sign of the trickster.

Nope. Not going to show up when I wanted him to. Big surprise, that, and I suddenly felt exposed. No sign of any black leather clad watchers, either. I’d even have been glad to see pink hair…Ros. I knew she was good in a fight.

Then something landed on the table in front of me. It was an envelope. I reached for it, hesitated, then opened it carefully.

No white powder or anything else. Just a letter, in blocky script and with several spelling errors in it.

“I only want to talk” it said. No name. No to or from. Just that.

I scowled and put it back in the envelope, then in my pocket. Maybe he was telling the truth, but I didn’t particularly feel like believing him. I felt like that would lead me into trouble.

Come on, Loki, where are you? Where was backup when I needed it? No black leathers, no Loki, no valkyries, just a letter from somebody who wanted me alive in possibly the worst sense.

I pulled the letter out of the envelope and wrote “Okay” on the back of it. A moment later, it blew away.

Subtle. Sort of subtle, anyway. I waited.

Alone. This didn’t feel right. Or it felt like everyone was letting this meeting happen.

A man strode up the street, but I could feel, sense, almost see the heatless fire flowing off him, heatless only because he allowed it.

He sat down opposite. “We finally meet.”

“Only because I’m curious about what you want with me.” I studied him, even knowing this probably wasn’t what he looked like. He was big, bigger than anyone had a right to be, and still smaller than he would appear, I thought, if he wasn’t toning things down. Hairless. Red eyebrows. And red eyes.

“Well, first, I don’t want to have to hurt you.”

Ah, the veiled threat. “That’s good. I’m not in the mood for a fight anyway.”

“Cocky, especially under the circumstances. It’s simple. I want you to help me end the world.”

“And what would be in it for me?” Play along. I didn’t mean it, and I hoped anyone who heard would know I meant it.

“A guarantee of survival. You might make the difference. With you, we could win.”

“A guarantee of survival if you win. I’ll have to think about that.”

“Without you, it will be a draw, and everyone will die. Everyone. With you, we can salvage something. Do you really think Odin Allfather is the good guy?” From the way he said the name – such a mix of fear and utter hatred – I might have wondered.

Maybe. It was, oddly, Thruor’s face that floated into my mind.

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