I held onto the counter for support. I wanted desperately for someone to shake me awake, but I could no longer deny that I was not dreaming.
“A demon,” I repeated. “From hell?”
“That’s a common and extremely hurtful misconception,” Mordecai said, sounding more rehearsed than offended. “You’re conflating two different concepts. Fallen angels live in hell, and I assure you that I have no part in their business.”
“But you said that Brigid locked you away.”
His gaze dropped to the floor. “An unavoidable truth.”
“Can I ask why?”
He clicked his tongue and sighed deeply. “It has been so many years … I simply cannot recall. I’m sure it was something dreadful.”
“What brand of dreadful?” I said. I replaced the receiver on its base. Some part of me wanted to hold onto it in case Mordecai lunged at me and I needed to call for help, but I had a feeling that a fight between me and demon would be over in a matter of seconds. Besides, even though I wouldn’t call him stable, he didn’t seem dangerous. If anything, he was depressed.
I walked into the den and he lumbered along behind me, his heavy boots thudding against the linoleum.
“Was it, like … stealing a necklace, dreadful? Telling an embarrassing story in public? Calling her best friend a slut, maybe?”
“No …” Mordecai said. “Much worse than that, I’m sure.”
He sat down on the long, plush couch and yawned, showing off his fanged teeth. I cleared my throat.
“Do not misunderstand,” he went on. “Brigid summoned me in the first place. I … cared for her.”
I touched my lips, remembering how he had greeted me with a kiss. My first, actually, unless you counted towheaded Tim in my kindergarten play group, which I did not. Technically, Mordecai didn’t count either, since he wasn’t human. Though he definitely had a body like a man. But still. Not eligible, especially since he wasn’t kissing me—only who he thought I was.
“Did she, uh, care for you?” I said.
“My memories are a broken mirror. But I do have a vivid image stuck in my mind, of Brigid casting the binding spell,” he said. “Her voice was clear and firm, her eyes bright … but her hands shook, and tears trailed down her cheeks.”