The Mark of Abel
The Mark of Abel, Book 1
by Viola Ryan
eBook ISBN: 978-1-77127-220-9
Is a frustrated artist Lucifer’s ticket to heaven, or will falling for her reawaken the compassion that got him expelled?
MuseItUp Publishing ‖ ARe ‖ Kindle ‖ Nook
25,000 years ago
From behind the large tree in the center of Eden, Lucifer reached for Eve. Her warmth teased his fingers. Just an inch more.
Thunder rumbled even though there wasn’t a cloud in the sky.
He yanked his hand back. Even though God didn’t specify Eve, the spirit of his command was clear. Lucifer’s shoulders sagged.
He was trapped. Something about Eve demanded his attention, despite God’s warning. He leaned against the tree and shut his eyes.
“Please, heavenly father, help me do your will.”
There was no answer, which was no surprise. Ever since Lilith left and Eve appeared, God remained silent. Lucifer opened his eyes. God hadn’t said he couldn’t watch the humans.
“Why did you create Eve?”
Lucifer sighed. He needed to discover what drew him to Eve. It was more than the mystery surrounding her creation, but at least that was a place to start.
Lilith had been first. Something must have gone wrong. Unease prickled Lucifer’s skin. He shook it away.
Eve was unlike Lilith in nearly every way. Though they were crowned with the same brown hair so dark it was like night and were covered in the same olive skin, the similarities ended there.
Lilith marched through the garden. Eve strolled. Lilith proclaimed her dominance with every action. Lucifer chuckled. That irritated Adam to no end. Eve, on the other hand, explored and was part of Eden.
The best part.
Eden. The Garden of Delight. God didn’t name many things. When he did, the words were imbued with power beyond mere sound and held magic humans couldn’t even comprehend. Power words that could shape the universe.
Eve glanced in the distance to where Adam was naming the animals. Lucifer’s gut knotted. Lucifer had stood at God’s left side when God had created Adam. Adam had no special purpose like the animals. Lucifer could’ve named everything. He’d already named the angels.
Apprehension slithered along his skin. It wasn’t his place to question God’s actions, yet the thought wouldn’t go away. Even Lilith knew how irrelevant Adam was. She had quickly grown tired of him and left Eden.
A smile slid across Lucifer’s lips. He licked them. Eden’s perfume was so strong, he could taste it. He closed his eyes and inhaled deeply. Under the flowers lay something sweeter, more pure. Eve.
If Lilith left, so could Eve. Lucifer merely needed to wait for her to get fed up with Adam.
Lucifer tuned out the cacophony of animal sounds and focused on Eve’s steady breathing and heartbeat. The gentle lub-dub caressed something deep within him and filled the void left by God’s silence. If only he could talk to her and make her laugh.
As if she could read his mind, Eve’s laughter tinkled through the air as she picked flowers. This woman enjoyed life. Lilith’s anger made the air around her heavy. Eve’s joy warmed the world. The closer Lucifer could be to her, the warmer he’d be. He eased around the tree.
Eve froze. Lucifer ducked back before she could see him. He clenched his fists. There must be a reason he felt this way. If only he could talk with her.
As the sun disappeared, Eve vanished down the path, taking her warmth with her. Lucifer shivered and curled his white wings around himself.
He followed Eve’s delicate footprints. They weren’t evenly spaced or in a straight line. She was dancing. What a beautiful thing. He must see it. He sped up, careful not to be seen. Angel’s didn’t dance, but Lucifer not only wanted to, he needed to. He must do something, anything, with Eve.
To his left, a lamb curled with a lion. Above, a raven nested with a dove. No doubt Eve would soon be with Adam. A smiled crawled across Lucifer’s face. Maybe Eve and Adam would be arguing. He always quarreled with Lilith. No doubt Eve had reached him by now. Lucifer listened carefully.
Adam’s grunts weren’t them fighting. They were quite the opposite. Tension rode Lucifer’s neck and shoulders. This was the last thing he wanted to see. Hearing it was disgusting enough.
Best to leave Eden and wait for Eve to tire of Adam. Lucifer tore a hole in space and stepped through to heaven.
* * * *
A cool mist enveloped him. He closed his eyes and breathed in deeply. Heaven didn’t smell like Eden. It wasn’t a cacophony of animal sounds or a riot of colorful flowers. The absence of these things defined heaven, pure and balanced.
Heaven only diminished Eden’s pull on Lucifer. It didn’t extinguish it.
Tomorrow, he told himself, after Eve left Adam. As much as he needed to see Eve, he needed not to see her with Adam.
When Lucifer opened his eyes, his perfect sense of balance was thrown askew. Angels flew like bees flitting from flower to flower between buildings of an enormous gleaming palace complex. That was new. Everywhere Lucifer turned, heaven was a busy beehive. His mind reeled as he struggled to make sense of this, and he staggered.
He called to the first angel who passed near enough to sense his presence.
“Gabriel, what’s happening?” Gabriel flew toward the largest building.
Gabriel turned around and headed toward Lucifer, but it wasn’t Gabriel’s fluid thought that answered.
“Welcome back, my son.” God’s voice filled him with awe.
Lucifer fell to one knee and bowed his head.
“Abba, what is your will?” Finally Lucifer would receive the direction he needed.
“I am glad you have returned, my son. We are preparing heaven for man.”
Lucifer’s head shot up. FOR MAN? The words echoed loudly through his mind. He leaped to his feet as Gabriel flew off.
Something scraped Lucifer’s soul, and his breath caught. Abandoned once again.
God had said to Adam, “Be fertile and multiply; fill the earth and subdue it. Have dominion over the fish of the sea, the birds of the air, and all the living things that move the earth.” The earth. God had said nothing about heaven. As God’s most powerful archangel, heaven belonged to Lucifer.
No way was Lucifer going to do Adam’s bidding. Even Lilith had rebelled from that barely sentient fool. Eve would soon follow. Lucifer balled his hands.
Four sharp pains stung each palm. He stared at his hands as his fingernails lengthened into talons like a dragon.
Lucifer had stood at God’s left hand as God had created the universe. He was part of it and it a part of him, just like Eve and Eden. Everything had become alien. He wasn’t even sure about himself anymore. He needed his heavenly father to help him make sense of these new developments, starting with his attraction to Eve.
God’s presence was always strongest in the center of heaven. Lucifer staggered there, trying not to look at his hands. They were proof of his change.
Last time Lucifer had been in the center, he had witnessed God create Adam and Lilith. The woodsy odor of the mud God had used lingered, even though none of it remained.
How had God made Eve?
Lucifer barely had time to realize he might be questioning God’s plan, before his mind stuttered.
The vast empty plain had been transformed. Instead of the perfect void of peace and light, seven concentric circles of gleaming columns rose, each inner ring three-feet taller than the previous. A fire blazed in the center of everything.
There must be a purpose for this. Now that creation was finished, God had other plans for this space. He didn’t need fire, nor did the angels. It frightened the animals. This place must be for Adam. The muscles in Lucifer’s arms tensed, and his talons dug into his palms. Four pricks of light dotted each hand.
He walked directly to the center. As he passed each concentric ring, his anger dwindled. He approached the central fire, and its warmth caressed him. Warmth like Eve’s. Maybe this place had been created for her. There was simplicity to its design, reflecting her gentleness.
Let Adam have that palace. It was overbearing like him. This was Eve’s refuge, a place she could go when she tired of Adam, which should be any day now. Then Lucifer could share this with her.
He inspected his future home. He needed to reside somewhere, and there was no way he’d live anywhere near Adam. Other than the fire, the central sanctuary was empty. Lucifer needed to bring flowers to make the place fit for Eve. He’d recreate Eden for her.
As he carefully inspected things, he realized the sanctuary wasn’t empty. On the far side of the fire, two waist-high pearlescent pedestals stood. Gold runes wrapped around the left one and silver around the right.
A twinkling blue mist appeared above the left pedestal. As he walked through the fire, the mist dissipated to reveal a purple velvet pillow with blue trim cushioning a silver sword. Gold runes matching the column ran the length of the blade.
“The Sword of Justice,” he read as he lifted it.
What an interesting word, justice.
“Justice.” He licked his lips and tasted it. It was strong, obviously a power word, though he had no clue what it meant.
He wielded the sword above his head. The blade transformed into blue flame.
As he deftly cut the air, it hummed a weighty note. A glowing blue line marked its path.
“Justice.” The word echoed in his heart. It was more than a power word.
It was his.
Only God had power words.
“Bring light and justice to all creation, my son.”
Lucifer trembled. God hadn’t given him a command since he had finished the earth. He must obey, but he didn’t know what justice was or how to bring his light to anything. His arms dropped to his sides. The flame extinguished. He placed the sword on the pillow.
He ran his thumb along the blade. It was sharp and cut him. Light poured from the wound. He stared at it. Angels couldn’t be injured like animals or humans. He watched as the cut sealed, leaving behind a white line. He felt it. It was smooth and slightly raised.
Above the right pedestal, a red cloud floated. When it dissipated, a familiar gold chalice appeared. Even from a few feet away, the iron smell of its contents were overpowering.
The blood of humanity.
This is what made Adam different.
After God had breathed into Adam, Adam’s eyes had opened like all the animals. Then God had handed Adam this chalice.
“Take this,” God had said. “And drink from it. This is the blood of my covenant.”
First Adam, and then Lilith had done as commanded and consciousness had followed, at least Adam’s version of it.
The recent chain of events—Eden, Lilith, Eve, and now this transformation of heaven—had all followed the simple act of drinking. Lucifer stared at the chalice.
He swished the contents around, careful not to spill a drop.
“What makes this blood special?”
Silence. Lucifer sighed.
Every creature in Eden possessed blood. That was no big deal. A strong energy surrounded this blood. It had transformed Adam from a talking ball of mud into something God was now preparing to hand over all of heaven and creation as a gift.
If drinking the blood had done that to Adam, it would have a stronger effect on the greatest of God’s angels. If he drank, he’d be changed into something God hadn’t made. Trembling hands lifted the chalice. If Lucifer did this, he wouldn’t be an angel.
Excitement buzzed through him.
God had said contact with Adam, Lilith, and their descendants will have disastrous consequences and angels must stay away from humans. If Lucifer drank, he could meet Eve. He would convince her to leave Adam. She would become Lucifer’s mate.
“For Eve.” He lifted the cup above his head.
If God was going to stop him, this was his chance. Nothing happened. God’s silent approval surrounded Lucifer with a nervous thrill. He drank.
The warmth of the blood coating his throat permeated him body, mind, and soul. He closed his eyes.
Without warning, the warmth changed. He staggered forward and grabbed the left pedestal. Something was wrong, very wrong. He dropped the cup. Time froze as the chalice tumbled through the mist, its precious contents leaving a trail of crimson drops staining the air.
Fiery needles marked the blood’s path as it wove into his body. His throat convulsed, but it was too late. He sank to his knees, clutching his chest. A scream ripped from his gut. He pounded his chest. Each vibration shoved the agony in more deeply.
Waves of pain pounded inside and out. Either he’d explode or compress. It didn’t matter which. Anything to end the torment. Sobs wracked his entire body and soul. The torture increased until nothing else existed. He writhed and rolled into the fire. Flames engulfed him and shot higher.
“Help,” he tried to scream.
Despair added to his agony. All of heaven must have heard him scream earlier. Why didn’t someone come to his aid?
God knew this would happen. Why didn’t he stop him? God should’ve allowed him to be with Eve. Then he wouldn’t have done this.
He was utterly alone. A dark void swallowed him, echoing his agony. It didn’t matter if he was extinguished. His role was finished. He had no purpose. No one would mourn him. Every other creature had a mate. After Adam had lost Lilith, God had made him Eve.
If only Eve was here. Her smile would be enough to light his way. He needed her like never before.
Adam didn’t appreciate her intelligence and spirit. It was only a matter of time before he drove her away. Then God would make his favorite child another mate. Eve would be alone, like Lilith.
There was no way in heaven or earth Lucifer would allow that to happen. It was one thing for Lucifer to be alone. Lovely Eve deserved a mate.
Clarity and desire filled him. All his muscles tensed. He fought his way out of the void, using the memory of Eve’s laughter to guide him. If he left her to Adam, she’d lose everything, including her smile.
Eve needed him as much as he needed her.
He shoved the pain away until only the warmth of the fire traveled through his bones. He forced himself to stand. Flames shot up. Red, yellow, and orange spiraled around him, surrounding him in a vortex of color. He drew the fire into him until the torment was a distant memory.
He must return to Eve. He tore a hole in the fabric of space and jumped through to Eden.
Eve stood with her hand on her chin in front of a tree with yellowish-orange fruit hanging in bunches. Lucifer appeared behind her. She shivered.
“Adam, would you care for a date?” She emphasized the word date and continued to inspect the tree.
Lucifer smiled. Adam wasn’t anywhere around. Lucifer reached toward her and froze. The memory of God’s earlier command played in his head.
“Contact with Adam, Lilith, and their descendants will have disastrous consequences. Angels must stay away from humans.”
At least he hoped it was a memory.
Contact with Eve wouldn’t be disastrous. It would be wonderful. Besides, he was no longer an angel.
“I’d love one.” He closed his hand over hers.
Eve yanked her hand away and whipped around. Her face was more radiant than yesterday, every feature more alive than the garden around her. She backed up until she was pressed against the tree.
“You’re…you’re…you’re not Adam.” Surprise and uncertainty replaced her warm smile.
“I’m Lucifer. The Bearer of Light.” He spoke gently, lest he spook her more.
His breath caught. From a distance, Eve’s brown eyes were pretty. Close-up they were magnificent. Two circles of nurturing soil, their brown depth held potential for beauty and life. He lightly traced each eye.
“You’re eyes aren’t like Adam’s.” She stood on tiptoes and examined each one. “They glow. Each one has splashes of blue like the sky, and green like the grass.” Her voice was wary, but curiosity drew her out.
His eyes were what? Angel’s eyes were luminescent white, like their skin. This must be one of the side effects of drinking the blood. Something to consider another day.
His smile coaxed one from Eve. Her smile was even more dazzling. Come to think about it, everything was brighter and the animals’ voices were clearer. So was Adam’s.
In the distance a voice called out, “Goat.” A bleat answered him.
Lucifer clenched his jaw. Seriously? That guttural noise was the best that overgrown ape could come up with? At least Lilith’s names had poetry to them. Butterfly. Swan. Dove.
Eve dashed behind the date tree.
“Your eyes flickered red like fire.” She gulped. “And your hands…” She shivered and looked frantically around.
Unsure what was happening to him, Lucifer shoved all his doubts aside. He took a deep breath and pictured the fire in the center of heaven. It would soon be his home with Eve. His talons receded. He stepped around the tree.
“May I please help you?” He smiled and offered his hand.
“You asked my permission? Adam never does.” Her tone was a mixture of disappointment and frustration with a hint of anger. She looked down.
With one gentle finger, Lucifer tipped her head up. Eve was the more exquisite creature. Adam should be subordinate to her. Heaven was being remade for Adam? What was God thinking?
Lucifer laughed. That was something no one ever knew. Not even the angels. Eve placed her hand on her chin and studied Lucifer.
“Yes. You may help. I’m naming things we can eat. This is a date.” She handed him the fruit.
Eve regarded him with anticipation as he bit. The flavor called to something deep inside, and his stomach rumbled. The noise and vibrations were startling. He examined the fruit. The flesh contained juice. It ran down his hand. It was cool and sticky. He devoured the date. Eve’s smile was more beautiful this time.
Because it was for him.
Eve named the plants. His help consisted of applauding her choices. She was especially proud of grapes and apricots.
He needed to give her something. A variety of flowers surrounded them. There were different colors, sizes, and shapes. He picked a small pink one. The wind scattered the five petals. He scanned the ground. A rock the size of Eve’s delicate hand caught his attention. He lifted it and closed his hand around it.
“My turn,” he told her.
“For what? We’ve named everything.” Her voice held a tinge of disappointment.
“For this.” He opened his hand. It cradled a diamond flower.
Her fingers were tiny next to his, her skin darker. She took the flower and held it up to the sun. The rays turned to rainbows as they shone through the diamond.
“What’s this?” She continued to inspect the flower. She held her other hand next to the flower to watch the rainbows on it. As she moved the flower, the rainbows moved.
“A gift.” Please smile so I know you like it. “A flower that will never blow away.”
She lightly traced the petals, but didn’t smile.
“I don’t know what to say.” Her attention was absorbed by the flower.
“If you don’t like it…” He reached for it.
She held it away.
“I don’t like it. I love it.” Her smile wrapped around her face, and she hugged Lucifer around the neck. She mashed her body against his.
He gently put his arms around her. He didn’t squeeze. She looked delicate enough to break. They stood for what seemed like both an eternity and not long enough.
“It’s beautiful. No one has ever given me anything. I give things to Adam, but he never—”
“I never what?” Adam’s voice was more annoying close up.
He grabbed Eve’s hand and yanked her away. The diamond flower fell. Lucifer caught it. He tried to hand it back, but Adam blocked his way.
“Who is this?” Adam shoved Eve behind him. He spoke to Eve, but his attention was on Lucifer.
Eve peeked around him, rubbing her shoulder. Her eyes said everything. You would never shove me around.
Lucifer stood in Adam’s face and reached for Eve. Adam blocked his way, and they glared at each other. Eve squeezed between them.
“This is Lucifer. He’s my friend.” Her confidence was beautiful, a far cry from her earlier timidity.
What a beautiful word. Friend. It possessed a strong energy, but Eve couldn’t know power words.
“He helped me name the plants,” she continued, not aware of the magnitude of the word she’d spoken.
“I want to name the plants. God put me in charge, not you.” Lucifer wasn’t sure who the words were directed to. Adam glared at Lucifer.
“Too bad.” Lucifer’s laugh nearly ate his words. “We’ve already named them all.” He didn’t hide his glee. Every time Eve ate anything, she’d remember the day they’d spent together.
Not one day. Adam’s arrogance and dominance proved he wasn’t right for her. Let God make another mate for Adam. Eve belonged with Lucifer, and he belonged with her. They would make their own Eden in heaven. Then their descendants would fill the heavenly vault.
Eve clung to Lucifer’s arm and kept looking between the two men. Lucifer patted her hand and smiled at her. Even though she returned the smile, it didn’t reach her eyes. Her fingers uncurled, and she moved to Adam’s right side.
Lucifer took a deep breath. Eve needed more time before she left Adam. He could give her that. It didn’t mean he couldn’t needle Adam.
“We didn’t name all of them. There’s still that one.” Lucifer pointed to the large tree in the center and strolled over to it.
Eve rushed to him.
The branches were a few feet above his head. He plucked a fruit. The weight was surprising. He compared it to the diamond flower, weighing both in his hands.
The fruit looked like a blue apple, but was heavier than diamond. It was a wonder it didn’t fall from the tree.
Eve grabbed it and tried to place it in the tree, but was too short to touch the branches. Lucifer reached for it. She hid it behind her back and shook her head.
“God said we can eat from any tree, but this one.” Her words were frantic. “If we do, we’ll die.”
Trembling hands threw the fruit behind her. It rolled and nearly hit Adam’s feet. He leaped out of the way. It landed in the flowers near Adam. He backed away from it.
“Why would God make something that could hurt you, and why place it in the center?” Lucifer mused out loud. “Centers are important. God created everything in the center of heaven. Heaven is the center of the universe. God has deliberately placed this tree in the center of Eden, the center of earth.”
Eve shrugged, but her eyes were ripe with fear. She tugged Lucifer away with both hands. He planted his feet. He’d pushed aside too many questions. Eve lost her grip. She nearly fell. Adam steadied her with a hand wrapped around her upper arm.
Lucifer placed the diamond flower on the ground. He picked another fruit and peered into its nature. It possessed energy like nothing on earth, except for… He gazed into Eve’s frantic eyes. This energy lived inside one, make that four things— Lilith, Adam, Eve, and him.
The fruit contained the blood of humanity and something else, something he’d only felt in one other place.
In the presence of God.
“This fruit won’t hurt you.” Lucifer squeezed it, and blood dripped onto his outstretched palm. He licked it. Definitely the blood of humanity. The juice didn’t contain God’s special energy. The flesh did. “It will make you gods.”
“God’s what?” Eve’s curiosity drew her out, however her fear kept her rooted.
“No. Gods as in plural. If you eat this fruit, you’ll become like God, so…” So would he. He stared at the fruit. He wouldn’t need that sanctuary in heaven. He wouldn’t have to stay in heaven or earth. He could be as far from Adam as possible. He could make his own universe for him and Eve.
He’d already gone through one transformation. That change had nearly destroyed him. Did he dare risk another?
Eve’s fear was so strong, it coated everything, including the fruit. Her body shook, and her eyes glistened with tears. If her heart beat any faster, it would stop beating. Nothing so delicate should ever experience fear.
Eve was terrified of God. Lucifer would not only take her far away from Adam, but from God. She would never be scared of anything ever again.
“Contact with Adam, Lilith, and their descendants will have disastrous consequences.” The words rumbled through his mind. He looked at Eve. She hadn’t moved. Neither had Adam. They hadn’t heard the words.
“You lied,” Lucifer shouted at heaven. “This won’t kill them.”
He bit the fruit. His throat constricted, trapping the fruit. He grabbed the tree and readied himself for the pain that had engulfed him in heaven. It came and he gripped the tree harder. Tears poured down his cheeks.
Eve gasped and fell to her knees at his feet, crying.
“Please don’t hurt him,” she begged. Her tears fell on Lucifer’s feet.
Words tumbled through his mind. He grabbed on to them.
“To love me is to love what I have created. To love what I have created is to love me.” His heart leaped at God’s words.
“Bring light and justice to all creation, my son.” Tears washed down Lucifer’s face.
He is my friend. The memory of Eve’s gentle voice warmed him.
His throat relaxed. He took another bite. Warmth flooded him. Eve’s warmth.
Peace followed, and a veil lifted. Each bite made everything clearer.
His name made sense. Lucifer, the bearer of light. He was to shine this light on the world and bring justice. His hand flexed. His sword was in heaven. He’d retrieve it as soon as they were done here.
He reached down and touched Eve’s hand to let her know he was okay. Her eyes were still downcast. His gentle caress made her glance up. He smiled at her, and she returned it. She leaped up and hugged him tightly.
Adam took several steps toward him. Lucifer let his anger turn his eyes to flame. Despite not wanting Eve to be afraid, fear could be a good thing. Now to quell Eve’s fear. Then they could create a whole new world together. He picked another fruit and offered it to her. Adam growled.
“Eve, this won’t hurt you. I vow I will never let anything or anyone”—Lucifer glared at Adam—“hurt you. This is the fruit of life itself. Not merely to live, but to create life.” He took Eve’s hand and placed it around the fruit. “This is why God lied. He doesn’t want you to become like the angels, like me, or especially like him.” He tucked a damp lock of hair behind her ear.
Eve looked between Adam and Lucifer. Slowly she brought the fruit to her lips. Adam grabbed her hands.
“You aren’t doing this without me.” There was no arguing with Adam’s tone, though Lucifer would have loved to. This wasn’t the time for that. This was a special moment between him and Eve. Let Adam do whatever he wanted. Lilith knew how irrelevant Adam was. Now so would Eve.
Adam snatched Eve’s fruit. She stood and with shaking hands, tried to pick another. Even on tiptoes, she couldn’t reach. Lucifer grabbed the fruit from Adam and resisted the urge to punch him in the gut. He wasn’t going to sully the hands that would soon touch Eve.
“That’s hers.” Lucifer shined and presented it to her.
Trembling hands accepted the second gift he’d given her.
“Wait for me,” Adam commanded. He yanked a fruit down, glaring at Lucifer.
Lucifer resisted the urge to laugh. Adam was so pathetic. He tried to shove Lucifer aside, but it was like a fly landing on a cow. Adam stood on the other side of Eve.
Sweating, she slowly raised the fruit to her mouth. Her teeth pierced the skin, and a trickle of blood ran down her chin.
Her scream barely squeezed around the fruit. She dropped it, and her pain echoed through Eden. Her eyes rolled back in her head, and she collapsed. A breath later, Adam fell next to her.
Lucifer scooped up Eve’s limp form and carried her to the flowers. He rested her head on his lap and brushed damp hair out of her face. Not Eve. She was what made Eden paradise. His tears washed away the blood marring her perfect complexion.
Maybe she needed to eat more. The first bite was hard on him, and he used to be an angel, not a fragile human. The fruit she’d tossed away lay next to them. He held the fruit to her mouth. She didn’t stir. He bit off a piece and placed it in her mouth.
His heart stuttered. God hadn’t lied. Contact with humans had had disastrous consequences.
Lucifer called the diamond flower to his outstretched hand and laid it on her chest. He covered it with both her hands.
Everything grew dark, though it was still day without a cloud in the sky.
“You dare think to disobey me.” God’s voice boomed from the tree.
Lucifer covered his ears. He needed to explain this was his fault, not hers. God would understand. He must.
Adam slowly sat up. Cradled in Lucifer’s lap, Eve opened her eyes and blinked. He hugged her.
Of course God understood. This was Lucifer’s fault. What happened to him didn’t matter. Eve was alive.
Adam grabbed Eve’s arm and yanked, but Lucifer held on. She trembled.
Lucifer grit his teeth. Fangs cut his lips. He yelped. The surprise of the sharp pain allowed Adam to rip her from his arms.
“I gave you paradise,” God roared.
All of Eden shook. Then silence as the universe and Lucifer braced themselves.
Adam and Eve knelt, their eyes cast down.
“Oh my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended you.” Lucifer tried to shove as much contrition into those words as he felt.
“You only had one rule to follow. You defied me.” God ignored Lucifer.
“Whose idea was this?”
“Oh my God, I am heartily sorry for having offended you.”
God knew everything. He didn’t need to ask questions. Before Lucifer could say anything, Adam leaped to his feet and pointed at him, a smile playing with the corners of Adam’s mouth. Eve didn’t look up, and her tears turned the dirt to mud.
In her hand was the diamond flower. Lucifer ran to her, but was frozen mid-step.
“Lucifer, you will return to heaven. Adam, you are respon—”
Lucifer appeared at the sanctuary in the center of heaven. Adam stood by the pedestals.
“Where’s Eve?” Lucifer rushed him. “You aren’t getting heaven.” He tackled empty air and crashed into the pedestals, knocking them down.
“Lucifer, my son.” Adam/God offered him a hand up. Lucifer slapped it away.
“God didn’t make man in his image. He remade himself in man’s.” Disgust dripped from every word.
“The blood of humanity gave humans free will. With it comes great responsibility.” The words were calm, a simple statement of fact, not a command or condemnation.
God should be furious. No one had ever disobeyed him. Lucifer didn’t think it possible.
“That’s what free will means.”
Fine. He could disobey God. Another issue for another day.
“Where’s Eve?” Lucifer shouted. The columns shook, but remained standing. He balled his fists until talons pierced his palms and blood ran down his hands.
“With Adam in Sumeria.” God warmed his hands by the fire.
“What will happen to Eve?” Quiet resignation filled his words, though his thoughts were spinning a mile a minute.
“You don’t care what happens to Adam. They both ate the fruit.” God shook his head and turned around. “They suffer for their disobedience.”
Eve’s scream squeezed around Lucifer’s heart, making it stop. He covered his ears and shut his eyes. In the dark, she collapsed. He leaped up.
“Punish me.” He could better withstand God’s wrath than Eve. He promised her he wouldn’t let anyone hurt her, including God. Maybe especially God.
“They expect to be punished. If they are not, they will not learn anything.” With a wave, the pedestals righted.
“You lied.” Lucifer stood in God’s face. “The fruit did not kill them.”
“That isn’t what I told them. I said if they ate the fruit, they would die. I did not say when.” God placed his hand on Lucifer’s shoulder. “I told them what they were ready for, just like heaven is being made in an image they can understand.”
“Adam gets that big palace.” It was an accusation more than a statement. “I named the angels. Heaven should be mine. I am a far more benevolent master.” God’s laughter made Lucifer’s talons grow longer. The edges of the world turned red.
“The palace is for me. They expect their creator to be exalted.”
“What will happen to Eve?” Lucifer could still help her, somehow circumvent God’s punishment or at least mitigate it. He would find a way to take it for her.
“They have been expelled from Eden. By the sweat of Adam’s brow shall he get bread to eat. In pain shall Eve bring forth children.”
Eve in pain? He didn’t know what was worse. Eve in pain, or having Adam’s children.
“So because they expect it, Eve must suffer. That is wrong.” The words were directed at himself as much as they were to God. If only he had left Eve alone.
“Wrong.” Another power word, one that tasted similar to justice.
“That is not for you to determine.” God’s eyes swirled gold, and a pulsing white aura surrounded him.
Lucifer recoiled and shielded his eyes.
Not for him to determine? That’s exactly what he’d done. He turned his back on God and scratched his head. Wrong. Justice. These were words that made no sense yesterday. Now they were power words.
Justice. Friend. Wrong. Strong words demanding strong action, even if that action was against God.
He froze. Against God. Abba. His heavenly father. A voice inside him cried. A louder voice spurred him on. He was the only one who could protect Eve. His heart beat strong and steady. At his feet the Sword of Justice glinted in the firelight.
Keeping Eve in Eden was definitely an act of justice.
In one smooth motion, he kicked up the sword, grabbed it, raised it above his head, and plunged it through God’s back into his heart. He twisted the sword, and God slid down into a crumpled heap at Lucifer’s feet.
“Now it is.” Lucifer held the sword above his head. It didn’t ignite. Who cared? Justice had been served. Little did God know the sword he’d created would be his death.
Eve appeared next to Lucifer. He couldn’t contain his joy. Now they would fashion the universe how they wanted.
She touched the sword with one delicate finger. Blue flame consumed the hilt, and he dropped it. Before it hit the ground, it disappeared.
“You are not ready for this.” Eve/God’s thoughts held a tinge of disappointment.
Lucifer appeared outside of heaven. A high wall of the same gleaming material as the palace formed around heaven. Eve appeared behind an open gate. Its gleaming bars stretched up and down into infinity until up became down and down became up. It swung shut.
He raced for it, but was too late. The clang echoed in his soul, and he collapsed to his knees.
“You are no longer an angel. You don’t belong in heaven. You must find your way home.” God turned away.
“What am I?” Lucifer rose and sent a burst of energy at the gate. It remained shut.
“Am I human?” His soul bled at the question and darkness surrounded him. As a human he had nothing to offer Eve. He couldn’t protect her. He couldn’t create another Eden for her. She would beget Adam’s children in pain. Lucifer cringed.
Eve/God appeared next to him and traced three triangles above his heart, each attached to the other two at the corners of its base to form a fourth triangle in the center. They burned, and he screamed until his voice was raw. He collapsed and gulped fire.
Standing above him, God laid her hand on his shoulders. Pain shot down his back. He reached around, and his hands passed through wings of fire. God ran her hand along his arms. His skin itched, and then burned, as it morphed into swirling red, orange and yellow. With sweat pouring down his face, he allowed God to help him up.
“Your re-creation occurred in fire. This is now your true form. To maintain your angelic powers, you must feed on the intense energy of fire.” A ball of fire appeared on God’s outstretched hand. She shoved this into his heart.
A sharp pain stole his breath, but Lucifer refused to collapse again. He grit his teeth, and his entire body shook.
“What am I?” He stared at his arms.
“To maintain free will, you must drink the blood of humanity every three generations.”
“What am I?” he shouted toward the center of heaven.
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