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Dial Tone Devil

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It started with a coin, a weird gold one with a star on one side. You found it on the road outside of a club as you walked home, sitting on the curb without anyone or anything around it. You flipped it over, weighed the heavy – and scalding – coin in your palm as you stared up at the club behind you.

 

The club was Lux.

 

You tilted your head, squinting as the sun glared off the multiple glass panes, and glanced down at the coin.

 

“Sorry, dear, but we have to let you go. Business reconstruction, you understand.”

 

“Listen, it’s not…This isn’t a personal thing, but your work this year just hasn’t been up to snuff. You’re gonna have to repeat the class next year, get your grade replaced with a better one.”

 

“We’ve given you extensions every month on you’re rent, we can’t keep doing this. You have to be on time, this month, or you have to find somewhere else to live.”

 

If divine providence was real, this was a holy intervention. You rolled the coin around in your palm, pressing the burning metal into your palm as you made your way to the door. It hurt to walk. Your arms ached as you pushed open the frosted glass door. The dark atmosphere immediately made your eyes heavy as you looked around the entrance and made your way down the hall and into the club proper.

 

A woman looked up from the bar, narrowing her dark eyes as she cleaned a set of glasses. “We’re closed.”

 

“Sorry, sorry, I—” You cleared your throat and plucked the coin from your hand. Even in the dark, you could see the pentagram seared into your flesh, already forming a welt where it had sat. “I found this? Outside?”

 

She made her way around the bar with echoing steps. “You found this?” She snatched it from your fingers. “Outside?”

 

You  nodded extremely slowly. “Yes, I did.” You watched as she frowned, turning it over in her hands. “Um, can I ask you something?”

 

“Make it quick,” she answered, distracted, as she pulled her phone from her tight leather pants. She started to punch in a number, and set the phone on the counter.

 

“Are you guys hiring?”

 

She started to answer, still distracted by the coin in her hands, and paused. Stared at you. Narrowed her eyes even more. They traveled down your body, and the eyebrow with the scar cutting it in two slowly inched up. She nodded, satisfied, and returned her eyes to your face. “Can you dance?” she asked.

 

“I—excuse me?”

 

“Maze, you can take care of everything here for the day? The detective called, we have a case, and—” You and the bartender – Maze – turned towards the British voice. The man, dressed to the nines, paused as he came down the stairs from an elevator. “Oh, hello there.” He buttoned the coat at his waist and held out a hand. “I don’t believe we’ve had the pleasure.” You took his hand, voice catching on multiple starts of multiple sentences. “I’m Lucifer. Morningstar.”

 

You blindly reached out and sloppily grabbed the coin from Maze’s hand, holding it up in front of your face. And his. “Like the Devil?” you asked. His face, a mask of charm and allure, fell as he went cross-eyed, staring at the coin. “I found this outside on the curb.”

 

“Did you now,” he breathed, slowly, with a voice so full of reverence you thought you offered him diamonds. “Funny, I lost a coin just like this a while back to my father.” As he reached for it, you dropped the coin back into your palm. Now, it was him who was at a loss for words.

 

“Are you hiring?”

 

“I’m sorry?”

 

“Are you hiring?” you repeated. He released your hand to slide his into perfectly tailored pockets. You swallowed, and stuttered, “I need a job, badly. I can bartend, I can answer phones, I can do paperwork, Hell, I will clean—”

 

“Will you give me the coin?” You started at the sudden statement. He smiled. On another face, it would be slimy. “Consider the job a favor on my behalf, and all I ask is for the coin.” You stared at Maze, who had poured herself a drink between Lucifer arriving and that moment, and now drank slowly with a shrug. “You can answer phones? How about my assistant, hm? You can work here in the club, use the office – I don’t find much use for it anyway. Make sure paperwork is all in line, orders, all the not fun legal things that make Lux run.”

 

“For how—”

 

He turned to Maze. “What does a job like that pay? What do you make, catching all those nasty humans?”

 

“Enough.”

 

“Hm.” He turned back to you. “How about we say…Thirty? An hour?” You choked on the air in your lungs.

 

“That sounds low, Lucifer, you could better,” Maze prompted.

 

“Forty?”

 

You stepped back and pressed a hand to your chest. Were those palpitations? You were very sure you were having palpitations over the flippancy of which the British club owner was negotiating your wages. You could see Maze’s lips turn down in a massive, expressive frown. “Oh, why not fifty, that sounds reasonable.” He paused, and stared at a distant spot on the wall. “No, an even fifty-one. An hour, of course. That puts you just north of one-hundred-thousand dollars a year.”

 

You started to laugh: small, delirious giggles that bubbled out of your mouth like rabid foam. You covered your mouth to try and stifle them, and found it impossible. Tears pricked your eyes. Maze nodded slowly.

 

“That’s so much?” you tried to say around your laughter. “I—”

 

“Oh, don’t worry.” He smiled. “I will personally ensure that you earn that money.”

 

You held out the coin. He plucked it from your fingers, and tucked it into a pocket inside his blazer. “Perfect. I happen to know a few good lawyers, we can get the paperwork drawn up before the end of the day.” His hand slid over your shoulder, and turned you around, towards the door you had walked through. “Do you have the time? We can head to an office now, get everything settled, and you can start tomorrow.”

 

You pressed your fingers into your cheeks to smooth the tears away. “You don’t even know my name,” you whispered.

 

He leaned into the door to prop it open. “And what is it?” he asked. You gave it, quietly, breathlessly, and he smiled something akin to the sun. “Splendid…”

 

The paperwork was easy enough: a stack of legalese so small you thought you were getting dizzy, but you asked for a copy of it and found it sound. You even took notes. Lucifer escorted you out to his car as you read through the contract a second time, and then a third. You sank into the passenger’s seat of his beautiful convertible and sighed.

 

“Is something wrong? We can go back in and fix things,” he said as he sat in behind the wheel.

 

“No!” you exclaimed, looking up, “No, no, this is wonderful. I—” You gasped and shook your head, looking up through the windshield. Even in the parking lot, the lawyer he knew had a Hell of a view of the City of Angels. You sat back against the leather. “I never thought anything like this could happen.”

 

“What, you never thought you’d meet the Devil?” he asked with a grin.

 

You rolled your eyes. “Yeah, I…” You hugged the contract to your chest. “I never thought I’d get more second chances.” You looked up. “Thank you, Lucifer.”

 

He started the car. “Well, don’t thank me yet. You still owe me a favor.” He motioned to you. “Buckle up.”

 

“No? I don’t, I gave you your coin, that was the agreement.” You sat back as he turned out of the parking lot. “What do I need to know? Being your…assistant.”

 

“Oh, well, you’ll be helping me to manage Lux,” he slowed at a stop sign and continued on, peeling away from the intersection without a sound. “Like I said: orders, hiring—”

 

“Hiring?”

 

“Book acts, and parties, and setting up events—”

 

“Okay—”

 

“Taking phone calls for me, like the ones from the police. I mean, I know I’m consultant, but it isn’t my day job.”

 

“Should I write this down?”

 

“Oh, and finding a way to make sure the Holy can’t just drop into my place of business.” He violently rolled his eyes. “Find a witch doctor, curse the place, I don’t care, I can’t stand my brother dropping in at all times when he feels like it.” He tapped his fingers against the wheel. “Except when he wants a drink, then he drop as much money as he wants. And then there’s my mother, I can’t stand getting her calls on top of the Detective’s and the police departments—do they not understand that I have other things to attend to? Not that I dislike either, but I—”

 

You sucked on your teeth, looked around in your bag, and scribbled a list out on the back of a receipt. “Got it.”

 

“Wha—” He stopped at a light and stared at you. “You did?”

 

You nodded and lifted the list. “Anything else?”

 

Lucifer paused. He sat back in the seat, and stared at the light above his head. “Huh. I should have thought of hiring you years ago.”

 

You tilted your head and smacked your lips. “Well, I didn’t live in L.A. years ago, so you’ve lucked out.”

 

“You didn’t?” He hummed, and started back down the road. “Well, tell me about yourself! I know nothing of you, save your name and the luck of your timing.”

 

You continued to scribble on the receipt, notes that for what you could do to fulfill the requests he’s made of you, and rattled off the information he asked of you, “I took a break after high school that turned into a decade of poor choices and shitty apartments in equally shitty cities and situations across the country, and now I’m here.”

 

“Here doing what?” he prodded.

 

“School?” you offered, “I dunno, I’m just trying to find something that catches my attention and gives me that spark.” You shrugged. “It’s hard. Just not enough of the right chemicals for my brain to sit in.”

 

“Excuse me?”

 

You sighed. “It’s nothing.”

 

Lucifer took pause. “This must be what the Detective feels when I’m talking…”

 

You looked up, and folded the list together to stick into your bag. “Are you taking me home?” you asked when you finally looked up and saw the buildings whizzing past.

 

“No, back to Lux, but if you want me to take you home, I certainly can,” he answered with a wink and smile.

 

You nodded slowly. “Not what I meant.”

 

“Oh.”

 

“Uh, what street are we on?” You turned around to stare at a street sign. “We need to go to McArthur Park.”

 

“McArthur—” You thought the tires burned with how hard he slammed on the brakes. You braced against the dashboard, wheezing as the seatbelt cut into your chest. “You will not be staying there, certainly not when you’re working for me.”

 

“It was the only place I could afford, given the circumstances,” you protested, looking over. “And I can update my lease by month, in case I need somewhere else to live.”

 

“Good.” He leaned on the wheel as he stared at you. “Then you will no problem moving into Lux.”

 

“Excuse me—”

 

“Oh I will not be excusing any part of you. Consider Lux part of your employment package.” He scoffed, shifted gears, and continued to drive. You opened your mouth. “No exceptions!” He shook he head. “Cannot believe you thought you could drive from McArthur Park—what if I needed you right away?”

 

“I don’t drive, I take the bus,” you whispered.

 

“Well, that’s even worse!”

 

“It’s not??” You stared as he continued to complain, now on a completely new tangent, shaking his head. You wondered just what you got yourself into with such a deal – a new job, a new home, and a chance to restart?

 

Who in the world did you make a deal with?