My present to you all is a short story called Nick's First Word and I have sent it off to my web designer, so it should be up some time between now and Christmas, and I hope you will enjoy it! But this is not that story.
Since I put up the first chapter last month on this day, it has become Official Cookie Day, and thus you are due a cookie.
I chose this bit of The Demon's Covenant because it has lots of Nick in it, and chapter one cruelly deprived those who like that sort of thing. Feedback on what sort of thing you wish for in Cookies of the Future much desired.
Major, huge, world-ending spoilers for Demon's Lexicon within.
“You’re quieter than usual,” Nick remarked.
He was the one driving to the graveyard. Alan was sitting relaxed in the passenger seat beside him, body stretched out long and loose, without the tension his shoulders always held when he was driving. He’d said hello to them when they first got in, then seen their faces and fallen tactfully silent.
This was the first time Nick had spoken.
“Sorry,” Jamie muttered to the window.
“Don’t be sorry,” Nick said calmly. “I kind of like it.”
They went around a curve in the road where red brick houses stood almost in line, old and leaning against each other like rusty tin soldiers.
Mae looked at Jamie, but he kept staring out the window, arms crossed tight over his chest and his profile tense. He didn’t even glance at her.
“So why are you being quiet?” Nick demanded.
“Why, concerned about my feelings?” Jamie snapped.
“Yeah,” Nick said. “You know me. I fret.”
“I thought that demons weren’t supposed to lie,” Mae said.
“We don’t,” said Nick, his hands light on the wheel and his voice even. “But I am in full possession of the amazing power of being sarcastic.”
The silence after Nick spoke sounded very strange to Mae, and for a moment she could not work out why.
Then she realized that it would normally have been filled with Alan’s soft laugh, loving if not always approving, and making Nick’s humor seem less grim to everyone else.
The silence continued until Jamie spoke again.
“Do you remember Seb McFarlane, Nick?”
“Yeah,” Nick answered warily.
“What did you think of him?”
“You’re lucky I remember his name,” Nick said. “Expecting me to have an actual opinion on the guy is going too far. Is he why you’re being all quiet?”
Jamie was quiet some more.
“I’ll deal with him,” Nick said at length.
The offer was so unexpected that Jamie straightened from his sullen slouch as sharply as if someone had just applied a jolt of electricity to his spine.
“I don’t want you killing anyone for me!”
When Nick pulled over Mae thought for a second he was angry, and then she realized they had reached their destination.
The graveyard was close to home, on the edge of the St Leonard’s district where Mae lived. It was set in sunken ground on the left of the road, and they had to pass it and park in someone else’s drive. There was a stone gargoyle set in the side of the house, looking with solemn surprise over at a red-brick rise of flats.
Mae twisted her head and looked out of the back window. Tucked between road and graveyard there was an alley that contained bricks, dustbins, and several waiting magicians.
“I’m not going to kill anyone.” Nick turned off the car engine and then slid a cool, amused glance back at Jamie. “Well,” he said, and smiled slowly. “Not for you.”