“Hurry up kiddo. I’m exerting way more energy today than is warranted by my contract, this sucks nuts.”
Sloane giggles. “You didn’t need to go full demonic aspect on that guy back there, it’s not my fault!”
“He was skimping on our icees!” whines Cain, then takes a long, noisy slurp of his through his straw. He always gets every flavour mixed together, which Sloane tries every time just to check but nope, it’s still disgusting. She’s going with blue raspberry this week, nearly overflowing thanks to Cain being all threatening with the hellfire and the ichor, but they’re both pros at drinking icees quickly before they can melt and overflow.
“Ah, fuck!” Cain smacks a clawed hand to his head dramatically. Well, one of them had mastered the art of drinking icees, the other had brain freeze. Sloane rolled her eyes.
“Come on Cain, let’s go play DDR.” She grabs the demon’s hand off his face, and he groans but winds up being the one tugging her through the arcade to get to the machines. Cain fucking loved DDR.
There’s a pair of boys already on the machines, having some kind of a competition. One of them is pretty cute. Sloane bats her eyelids and spreads her skirt a little. Mama had brought it for her the last time she visited, it’s super sweet with its Alice blue rawhide bone print. It really brings out Sloane’s eyes.
The attractive boy winks at her, and she leans against the railing of his dance platform until she’s close enough to take a swipe at his stupid squirrel hamstring. He falls over howling.
“Hey sweet, free machines!” says Cain with a smirk, jumping on. Sloane delicately wipes the blood onto her handkerchief.
There’s even a stack of quarters on the side for them. People are so thoughtful.
Back at Cain’s apartment, the door was open to reveal the eldritch shadows of hell within. The only reason Cain’s door would be open is if there was someone waiting for him inside.
“Mama!” squeals Sloane, running though the morass before Cain can grab her to stop her.
Jolene had been staring out the window, frowning and fiddling with her wedding rings, but spins round with a wide smile and open arms when she heard the voice of her beautiful daughter.
Sloane stops to do a twirl, and her mother applauds her outfit. “You look beautiful, darling,” she says.
“Yeah, your little girl killed at the arcade today,” says Cain with a snicker as he walks into his own home, shutting the door behind him. Sloane shoots him a glare in case her mother thought he’d meant actual murder and disapproved, but Jolene either doesn’t assume or doesn’t mind.
“I should hope so, you look prettier than Helen of Troy with your hair pulled back like that. Now, has she been getting to school on time every day?”
Sloane rolls her eyes. Yes she’d been attending all her classes. She’d tried to skive one day just to be cool, not to miss out on a test because it wasn’t like she was dumb or anything, her classes were way easy enough to pass without breaking a sweat. And even if they weren’t, it was no trouble to cheat. But Cain had tracked her down within minutes, going on and on about how if she missed anything his soul would be condemned to nonexistence for the next decade, which was really irritating and boring.
“Yeah, she’s been good about it,” says Cain as he tears into the first of a pile of chickens Jolene had left in a neat pyramid on his counter.
“Yeah, Cain’s been helping me whenever I get stuck.”
“You’d better not be doing any contracts with my daughter, demon. A lady has to learn English, math and sciences by herself, no trades for knowledge. It’s about learning hard work too, you know.”
“Mama, I know that. Besides, minors can’t make contracts anyway.”
Jolene beams down at her and kisses her on the tip of her nose. “Good girl. Except when you’re in danger, then you can do whatever it takes first. But remember, nothing’s a substitute for planning and elbow grease.”
Sloane nods obediently, trying to get a look at the mysterious wrapped box behind her mother without being too obvious about it. A lady should also know how to be sneaky, and every time is a good time to practice.
“So you got the guy yet?” Cain asks, sucking a strip of skin off the chicken.
“Soon. He needs to land a deal first, I’m pulling some local strings. I came by to drop off this as a thank you and advance payment for the next month.”
“There’s no need to thank me for a contractual obligation,” Cain points out, already getting up to see what it was.
“Oh, I think you’ll find I’m nothing if not generous. Besides, nothing’s too much for my babygirl.”
Cain rips open the glittery floral-patterned wrapping paper to reveal a brand new Wii. Jolene didn’t know demons could even make noises that high-pitched. Some static crackles through the air as he does a little happy dance. Jolene wrinkles her nose; the static was making her fur stand on end, but at least the console seemed to be well accepted. It wasn’t always a good idea, giving a demon a gift that wasn’t pre-negotiated, but Cain is fairly easy to please, for a demon.
A small paw tugs at her hand.
“I’ve missed you,” says a beautiful pink face quietly, and Jolene immediately drops to her knees to pull her daughter into a tight hug.
“I’ve missed you too. You know I love you, right babygirl?” Sloane nestles into her mother’s hug, taking a long sniff. She loves the way her mother smells, cigarettes and a rich rose perfume like a summer garden and a bit like raw meat. She smells like security.
“I love you too mama,” she whispers, muffled against her mother’s dress. Jolene pulls back to tuck her daughter’s hair into place.
“I’m gonna be back real soon, babygirl, and then we can live together again. We’re going to be so much better off.”
“Can we live in this town, mama? I like it here, and my friends will do anything I say.”
Jolene hesitates, wheels turning, then nods. “Of course we can live here. Know the perfect place already.” Then her eyes narrow. “Your friends will do anything for you? Sloane you know I approve of minions, but you mustn’t get too reliant on local riffraff, in case anything does go wrong. Adaptability is any young lady’s number one talent.”
“I know that, it’s just I’ve put so much effort in-”
“Yes yes, you’ve done a good job. I’d love to meet some of your friends the next time I’m here, babygirl, but I do have to run soon – I’m only stopping through today, but I’ll be back on Wednesday, alright? I’ll see you then and we can spend the whole day together when you get out of classes.” She pulls Sloane back in for a second hug, and Sloane gives her a squeeze.
“Thanks mama. Love you.”
“Love you too, babygirl.”
Cain has hooked up the AV cable to the TV and gives a cheery wave to Jolene as she leaves, then returns to fistpumping.
She’ll be back soon, and then after she was done with this husband she’ll be back with Sloane for good. Jolene had known it would be a few months, but it still hurts to be away from her princess for so long. Soon they’ll be safe in their very own castle, for good, she promises herself.