“What the hell’s the matter with you?” Gabe brought drinks to the table and resumed his seat. Nick barely acknowledged him. “Come off it, Nick. I can read you like the good book. Something’s burning your ass.”
Nick’s shoulders heaved out a sigh. He shook his head slowly. Then, following a hefty swig from his goblet, he steeled himself and began.
“You know I was seeing that girl?”
Gabe nodded. “Rosalind?”
“Rosemary. Well, things have taken a turn.”
“She found out who you really are? I’ve always thought your disguises were a little transparent. Or perhaps it’s the whiff of sulphur. I keep telling you, a dab of frankincense behind your ears…”
“No, no. She knew who I was from the start. That’s not the problem. See, she turns up at my place last night, look of triumph in her eyes.”
“I don’t get it,” Gabe frowned. “What could she possibly –oh.”
“Oh is right,” Nick sighed. “Pregnant!”
“And you’re sure it’s yours?”
“Hey! I only go with virgins, you know that.”
“I suppose… Well, forgive me for saying, you don’t seem overjoyed by impending fatherhood.”
“Well, it’s not that. It’s everything that comes with it. It’s not the money. I have access to untold wealth – do you know how many billionaires are in hock to me? It’s just – well, it all seems a bit sudden. I don’t know if I’m ready to be a father.”
Gabe scoffed. “You’re thousands of years old. Perhaps it’s time to settle down. Be more responsible.”
“But that’s just it. I haven’t done half the stuff I wanted to do, and having a kid, well, it’s a bit like giving up, isn’t it? Making room for the next generation.”
“That’s one way to look at it,” Gabe conceded. “But having a child – or as you so succinctly put it, a kid — do you think it will have its father’s hooves? – Well, you could say having a kid is your next big challenge.”
“It’s just happening so fast, you know? There’s so much to plan and prepare. An army of demons to recruit, for one thing. I always thought, when it happens, I’ll be ready. I’d have time to get everything in place. What I didn’t want is for Armageddon to be a rush job.”
“Come on, you’re good at thinking on your feet.”
“Yeah, but it’s the pressure. I want the best for my son, of course I do. Now there’ll hardly be time to forge him a coronet for when he ascends to the throne of Hell.”
He drained the rest of his drink.
Nick stood and gathered the goblets. “I’ll get these.” He slunk off to the bar.
A human woman approached the table.
“What are you doing here?” Gabe hissed. “If he sees you…”
“Relax!” Rosemary grinned. “Just pay me what you owe me and we can get on with our lives.”
Gabe passed her a bulging envelope. She pulled out the cushion from under her coat and laughed.
“I can’t believe he fell for it,” she grinned. “And I can’t believe you, an angel, could be so devious.”
“Well,” Gabe smirked, “it’s not the end of the world.”