“Here, dear, do try my famous Sugar and Spice cookies; nobody can resist them!”
Chloe battles the urge to gag; something tells her that Mrs Bolkonski won’t take nutmeg and clove induced vomit on her Persian rug too nicely, no matter how motherly and attentive she is.
“No, thank you,” she manages through a tight smile. “I’m, ah, allergic to cloves.”
What’s one little white lie between a woman and her daughter’s 72-year-old babysitter, right?
Mrs Bolkonski places the outstretched tray back onto the coffee table and furrows her brow in that strictly grandmotherly sort of way, shaking her head almost tragically.
“Oh, I’m sorry to hear that, Detective Decker,” she bemoans, her great bosom heaving with the grievous news. Chloe fights the instinct to roll her eyes at the old woman; she’s sure got a great flair for the dramatic. “I made an extra batch – for Trixie. You know how much she likes my baking.”
“Oh, she does! Of course, but – erm, spicy food makes her sick,” Chloe stammers hurriedly, feeling incredibly guilty. Not for the first time since she became a celestial insider, she wonders what’s the right dosage of guilt needed to win a one-way ticket to one’s very own hell loop. A sudden image of herself locked inside a miniature room filled with Sugar and Spice cookies creeps into her mind, and she has to blink rapidly a few times to rid herself of the horrific vision.
She really should do something about all the fibbing.
“You said you wanted to talk, Mrs Bolkonski?” she decides to prompt the old woman and try to distract her from the orphan cookies. “About Lucifer?”
The woman brightens considerably, jilted baked goods completely forgotten for the time being, and takes a sip of what Chloe strongly suspects is more brandy than tea.
“Why, yes, dear, I did,” Mrs Bolkonski simpers and places her teacup back onto its saucer. “As you know, my friends and I are very fond of Mr Morningstar, and we share the concern that his recent – shall we say, absence? – wasn’t good for his health. He’s lost weight, Detective; I know he did. And he’s not wearing enough layers – I’ve not once seen him in a coat! I bet he walks barefoot in that penthouse of his, too!”
Chloe rolls her lips together and nods, squinting hard. Laughter bubbles in her chest, threatening to erupt from her throat, and she squeaks a little in her attempt to squash it.
“I- I’m not really sure what you want me to do about it, Mrs Bolkonski,” she manages weakly, coughing a little to disguise her amusement. “Lucifer is pretty set in his ways, you know.”
Millenia-old angels kind of tend to be.
The old woman tasks and waves a surprisingly smooth hand to dismiss Chloe’s claim.
“Oh, nonsense, my dear!” she croons and takes another sip of the drink that really should be served at a bar - after hours - instead of at afternoon tea. “That boy will do whatever you tell him to do – he’s smitten! Just tell him his old ladies are worried, yes? Here, take that spare batch of cookies. Some nice and spice will do him a world of good!”
Chloe accepts the package with a waxen smile and rises to leave; Mrs Bolkonski sees her to the door with a smug look.
“Now, these cookies are really tremendous – nobody can resist them; not even our Satan.”
Chloe whirls around so fast, she nearly knocks into the old woman.
“What did you say?” she asks, her voice trembling slightly.
Mrs Bolkonski gives her a motherly smile and pats her on the cheek, pinching the soft skin fondly.
“I said ‘your consultant’, dear. You look pale, my girl! How about another splash of tea before you leave? It’s medicinal.”
She finds him at his piano, stroking the keys absentmindedly, his mind obviously elsewhere. He’s wearing her favourite waistcoat again – the one with the purple lining – and his sleeves are rolled up to his elbows, exposing his lovely forearms to her admiring gaze.
“Hey,” she says softly and takes a seat next to him, bumping his thigh with her knee.
Lucifer turns to her and smiles a little wistfully, his hands dropping into his lap.
“Hello, darling. Did you have a nice time with Gytha?”
Chloe chuckles softly and places a beautifully wrapped bowl of cookies on top of the piano.
“We talked about you,” she says and leans over to plant a soft kiss on his right shoulder. “Her knitting club thinks you’re too thin. I think I promised I’d feed you.”
Lucifer brightens at the prospect and wiggles his eyebrows at the painstakingly packed bowl.
“And what do we have here?” he purrs, scrutinising the dish with interest. Chloe groans.
“Ugh, it’s Mrs Bolkonski’s famous Sugar and Spice cookies,” she shudders. “I can’t stand the scent of nutmeg and cloves! She insisted I bring them to you.”
To her utter surprise, he tears at the wrapping and, instead of stuffing his face with his usual gleeful greed, buries his nose in the cookie bowl, inhaling deeply. His eyes are closed, his jaw slack; a look of almost relief crosses his handsome face. Chloe stares at him in amazement.
Lucifer turns to look at her and places the dish in his laps.
“Thank you,” he says softly.
She finds that she’s quite out of words.
“I – ah, I had no idea you were such a Sugar and Spice cookie fan,” she manages at last. Lucifer shakes his head.
“I’m not,” he explains. “Though I’m sure they’re delicious. It’s the smell, you see.”
“It’s strong; dominant, “he says, almost hesitantly. “Like a well-aimed kick to your sinuses, and, well, I need that.”
Chloe blanches at the implication, but Lucifer isn’t done talking.
“Everything smells better than brimstone and blood and rotten entrails, Detective,” he offers softly, and she shudders at the image that he paints, her chest aching for him. “I’d stick my nose in a pile of horse manure if it gets that stench out of my nose. And this,” he adds and raises the bowl for emphasis, “smells much better than horseshit.”
Chloe leans forward and takes the bowl out of his hands, returning it to its spot atop the piano.
“I smell nice,” she proposes, her lips soft against his stubbled jaw; she can feel his cheek expending with a sharp inhale under her waiting mouth. “Smell me instead.”
He takes her into his arms and buries his face in the crook of her neck, breathing greedily and sighing into her skin.
“What do you desire?” she asks him rather breathlessly as he mouths at her clavicle, his lips hot and open and wet.
“You,” he answers simply, his eyes warm and fond.
The cookies lie forgotten in their meticulously wrapped bowl.