He didn’t give a toss normally about the running of Lux. By nature, Lucifer was a big picture chap and was more than happy to delegate to underlings. In Hell, for those humans without enough guilt to sufficiently torture themselves, usually the masochists and dictators, he tended to let Maze and her legion of demon torturers come up with punishments. He found a few special cases over the years. Hitler was a personal favorite, and he’d done some of his best work on the arsehole. However, Lucifer tended to have a short attention span. If Maze with her killer (literally) focus wanted to spend hours and days on end flaying skin, then more power to her. So, it annoyed him that she’d come up to the penthouse directly to demand he interview the newest bartender and chef for the job.
It was beneath him. Besides, he was recently recovering from a wounded leg---it was healing fairly well over the last twenty-four hours and would be good as new by night fall—and that leg shouldn’t have been hurt at all. Mortality was a thrilling concept, but it was also a bitch.
“Maze, I trust your judgment.”
She grinned at him. It was a knowing look that he understood well. She gave it to the newest denizens of Hell when they were about to feel the full brunt of her whip even if they still didn’t understand where they’d landed yet. “You’re the one who said we needed to add the option of appetizers for the day crowd and before eleven p.m.”
He sighed and swiped a hand through his hair. It wasn’t cooperating today as well as he’d like, no matter how much he wanted to flat iron it into submission. That was probably inspiring part of Maze’s smirk too. “Bloody tosser and pick up artist had one point when we had the sting here. Lux is suffering from a lack of offerings for the puckish. We’d make more dosh thinking bigger. Loathe as I am to give credit to that weasel, it wasn’t a bad idea.”
Maze nodded. “And I’ve spent all week interviewing the candidates while you’ve played around with your detective.” Her face flashed to its real form, as if that would subdue him. Nice try, but even Maze would have to try harder to scare the Lord of Hell. Thanks Dad for that. “How’s your leg by the way.”
He strode past her and to the elevator. Forcing himself not to wince at the lingering flashes of pain that worked through his outer thigh. Far be it from him to give Maze the satisfaction. He had once, but not now. “It’s splendid. Mortality suits me.”
“It’s dangerous, and if you think I’m leaving you alone and not sticking to you like a shadow from now on, then you have no idea what the word ‘bodyguard’ means.”
“Sounds like a ruddy nuisance. I don’t need a babysitter. Besides all I have coming up is more debauchery downstairs in my own club…after that fashion show tomorrow, of course.”
“And I’ll be sitting by your side at the fashion show just in case.”
“There’s a hail storm of bullets. Don’t be daft, Maze. How likely is that?”
“About as likely as a human gun making the Devil bleed at all.”
The elevator doors slid shut behind him, and he scowled back at his lieutenant’s scrutiny. “I still don’t need a nurse maid to mother hen all over me.”
“Until we understand why you’re vulnerable, it’s exactly what you’ll get. Unless you want to return home and save us all the trouble.”
The elevator dinged to stop, and he straightened the lapels of his jacket. One could never be too put together. “You’d love that, but I’ve told you and Amenadiel both: I love it here. I’m not in charge of Hell any longer. If Dad has a problem with that, he can actually come here himself and deal with it.”
“And if you get shot playing cop for some dumbass reason---”
“I have my reasons,” he muttered, exiting the elevator.
“Oh, I’ve seen her,” Maze said coolly. “If you die, you go back anyway. We can just go home and save the trouble.”
“Then, we’re going to be careful since it’s as you wish. I only know how to protect you, which brings me to the bonus advantages of the top candidate I’ve brought you.”
He blinked. “You’re hiring other ninjas now?”
“Hardly,” she laughed. “Decoys, I can deal with.”
“I don’t understand, and I hardly like to talk in riddles, Maze. It’s been a long week.”
“Wouldn’t be if you’d stop prancing around with cops.”
“I do not prance.” Maybe he did, a little. That little ponce had called it “peacocking” in his seminar for the Mum’s basement set. Lucifer had practically invented that a few centuries back. So, sue him. “But if you’ve found the chef we need, then fine. One less thing off my itinerary.”
She grinned, looking so much like the cat who’d not only caught but eaten the canary as slowly as possible to watch it squirm and shriek its death throes. “Over there. I have to get some supplies before we open. I’ve already hired him.”
“Then, you’re assuredly wasting my time.” Lucifer looked down at her, letting his eyes flash to flames.
If she were anyone else, she’d have shrunk back, but he kept Maze around for her courage and her honesty. For some reason.
She just rolled her eyes. “He stays. You could use him, and I have gone through four dozen other applicants who, let’s be honest, are not as desperate so we can low ball someone who actually doesn’t suck at cooking. Deal with it.”
“Don’t test me.”
“What? Or you’ll get injured. Please,” she huffed. “Now, I’m going to sign off on the beer orders below. Don’t skin him.”
“I wouldn’t dream of it.”
She parted from him and made a beeline for the club entrance instead of the bar itself. “Once you would have.”
He could hear the unsaid, “It’s all Chloe Decker’s fault” between them.
Lucifer sighed and decided to focus on what he could deal with and control currently. Maze was in a snit about their prolonged vacation and agitated that he was, well, changing. Even a month ago if you’d have told him the Devil, of all beings, was going to be solving crimes and seeing a therapist (in more ways than one), he’d have laughed in your face. But here he was, doing both, like some mid-life crisis but it felt both right and interesting for the first time in centuries. Like life wasn’t so sodding predictable. She’d have to deal with them living in L.A. longer.
For a few more decades yet at least, if he had any bloody say in it.
He finally registered the man sitting at one of the stools. His back was turned to Lucifer so all he could make out was a lanky, long frame, hair that should have been combed quite a bit, and the unfortunate predilection for cargo pants. Seriously and holy hell. Had that even been popular since the early 2000s. And, when it had, he’d known instinctively it was a true fashion don’t. If Prada hadn’t embraced it, then it was a spring don’t.
The git oughta cook better than he makes first impressions…
“Ahem, Mister ?” Lucifer started, even more annoyed that Maze hadn’t even bothered to give him that much information. Not that she hadn’t hired this blighter by fiat anyway.
The man turned, and Lucifer arched an eyebrow. Oh, Maze was certainly toying with him, getting creative with her punishments, wasn’t she? The git---and that was the default name until the new chef proffered his own---bore a passing resemblance. Granted, if Lucifer weren’t cursed with an identical twin brother of his own, and he liked Amenadiel more than Michael if that were possible, he’d have been impressed by the resemblance. Clearly, the chef was as he sputtered a bit before getting to his feet and offering his hand.
“I…uh…well I guess it might be odd to ask if you have any relatives in Surrey, huh?”
Lucifer stared at his hand but took it. It was only polite after all, and he’d shaken hands with more questionable people over a host of deals in his long, wicked life. “No, mine are from much further out of town, I assure you.”
The git’s eyes widened. “Didn’t expect you to be a Brit. Assumed an L.A. type.” He looked around the décor of Lux once again. “Definitely expected that.”
“I’m full of surprises,” Lucifer replied. The git dropped his hand and sat back on the stool. Lucifer stayed standing, always about jockeying for position wasn’t it? “Now, Mazikeen didn’t tell me your name.”
“Last name will do Mr. Preston.” It was still going to be ‘the git’ in Lucifer’s head so first names were irrelevant. “My associate liked your sample dish and your resume.” She also liked your being desperate enough to work for peanuts, but that’s another story. “Can you mix drinks too?”
“Yeah, traveled all over. Malaysia and Hong Kong. Most of Europe too. I paid my way with bartending and cooking came out of that.”
“Sounds adequate. We’re not really a food establishment, haven’t been but we’re trying that now. I suppose Mazikeen also had other aims by bringing you in.” And her words of decoys made more sense now. Although, knowing her, she was probably just amused by having a chef here who bore a passing resemblance but would deign to wear cargo pants and, Dad help him, probably crocs and who knew what else. “But she’s probably explained to you the nitty gritty of probationary period, how the schedule works, when you get paid…that sort of thing.”
“Yes, she was very thorough.” The git’s voice was quiet and close to an octave higher than Lucifer’s own.
With the way Mr. Preston blushed from his ears down to his neck, Lucifer could deduce exactly how forward Maze had been with doling out the itinerary at Lux. His demon---and she was still his no matter how she chafed for change---never met a person she wasn’t willing to seduce. Even if this one was a right wanker.
“Good then. I don’t handle the day to day, but Mazikeen apparently has a bit of humor to her.” He shrugged and straightened his cufflinks. “I don’t see a resemblance.”
“Really? And you’ve never had family in Surrey ever.”
“I assure you, we’re a bit north of that,” Lucifer said, grinning. The git shrunk back on himself. Well he was smarter than Lucifer would have given him credit for. Seemed to at least sense the wolf lurking underneath the façade. Interesting. “Now, if there’s anything else you need? I assume Maze will have you starting next week after bar training. The club’s closed tomorrow anyway as I’ve an engagement to attend.”
“Works for me.” The git frowned. “May I ask something?”
Lucifer checked his Rolex. Mr. Preston was lucky he didn’t have any cases to work on today. He hated tedium and loathed people stealing his time more. And double damn Maze for making him do the detail work. “Yes but be quick about it.”
“First, she didn’t…Ms. Smith---”
“Maze. That’s her last name.”
“Oh, right.” Lucifer couldn’t help but smirk at the joke. So Maze was taking on aliases now, was she? “Ms. Smith…what did she say?”
“Didn’t actually. No one laid out the rules for the bar. Codes of conduct, that kind of thing. Is there an employee manual or?”
Lucifer laughed, a long throaty chuckle. Oh, the git was being serious. “No, everything goes at Lux, you’ll find that out soon enough.”
“Yes, and do you have any other questions?”
“This is probably going to sound stupid.”
It most likely would. The git made Detective Douche seem collected and put together. If Maze thought she’d torture him by bringing a kind of doppleganger and, again, in a world where Michael existed, he’d already had that Parent Trap style weirdness wear off on him eons ago, then she was sorely mistaken. Although, he did still rankle at cargo pants. Of all the things…
“Try me?” And be grateful I’m too shot to be annoyed currently.
“What’s your name. The ad was all about Lux and Maze didn’t mention it when she said the owner would be coming down to welcome me.”
Lucifer chuckled again and straightened his collar a bit. “Lucifer Morningstar. I doubt you’ll forget it.”
He strode away from the bar, leaving the git gasping like a fish. Maybe Maze was right. This had the potential to amuse him, at least for a while, and he was all about novel experiences these days.