Devils and Details
Book 2 — Ordinary Magic
All by myself with no cell signal?
Chainsaw-wielding maniac glaring at me through his one good eye?
Hello, Monday morning.
Chainsaw maniac was also dripping wet in the middle of a truly violent thunder storm and pointing the growling three-foot bar of rotating teeth toward me threateningly.
I rolled my eyes.
Gods could be such drama queens.
“Shut it down,” I yelled over the buzz of the machine in Odin’s gnarled hands. “Now.” Just for good measure, I dragged fingers across my throat in a “kill it” gesture.
He yelled something which I couldn’t hear over the blast of thunder that knuckled across the clouds. I was pretty good at reading lips, especially when the lips were using four-letter words.
I put one hand on my hip, the other dug the citation book out of my light jacket. It was August and the little town of Ordinary, Oregon, should have been sunny and dry. Instead, it’d been raining pretty much non-stop since July.
Our daily thunder storm sieges were courtesy of Thor, who was upset he wasn’t on vacation here with the other gods.
“I will write you up.” Odin couldn’t hear me, but it turned out he was pretty good at guessing at a message too. Didn’t hurt that I clicked the pen and poised it over the citation pad, giving him one last warning look.
He killed the motor on the saw.
“I’m busy, Delaney.” He waved one beefy hand at the stacks of timber—maple, oak, cedar, and a smaller pile of myrtle—surrounding him. Most of the logs were covered in bark, moss, and various fungi, but a few were cut down into butter-brown lengths and chunks. Wet piles of sawdust humped across the area to the side of his little house in the forest. More wood debris pillowed up against the poles of the tarp he’d been working under, and a thin coating of dust sprayed over the round of oak he’d been cutting through.
“This can’t wait,” I said. “If you need me to pull out my badge and drag you into town, I will. Or you can get out of the rain and get this meeting over with.”
“Meeting,” he scoffed.
“You think it’s a joke?”
“Crow called for it, didn’t he? Of course it’s a joke. Waste of time.”
“Crow has your power—has all the gods’ powers,” I reminded him. “He said it’s important.”
“Never trust a trickster, Chief Reed.”
“It won’t take long. Your soggy logs will be here. Sooner we leave, the sooner you’ll get back.”
I eyed the massive chainsaw that he held as if it were no more than a steak knife. “Crow’s allowed to call an emergency meeting of deities.”
“Pranks and parties,” Odin growled. “What does he know about emergencies?”
“Well, since I’m sure he’s caused quite a few in his time, I expect he can identify one correctly.”
Odin grumbled and snarled. The thunderstorm grumbled and snarled back, flashes of lightning blinking away the mid-day gloom.
“I have a lot of work to do.” He waved again at the pile of wood behind him. “It’s been a slow year. This art isn’t going to make itself.”
Odin made his living selling chainsaw art. He was great with the chainsaw part of chainsaw art, but he wasn’t all that good with the art part.
“Odin.” I waited out a crack of thunder. “Come with me. We’ll deal with Crow’s emergency, then I’ll go home and get dry, and you’ll come back and make bigger piles of sawdust. Deal?”
He curled his lip.
“I have a thermos of hot coffee in the Jeep. All yours.”
His snarl disappeared as the reality of a nice hot cup of coffee soaked into his chainsaw-rattled brain.
The rain, which had been steady and cold, turned hard and freezing. It was like some god up there was pelting us with frozen marbles.
“Fine,” he said. “Fine. This better not take all day.”
He stowed the saw under the tarp, took one lazy swipe at the sawdust and wood chips covering his face and short beard, then stomped over to the Jeep. The Jeep bent under his weight as he crammed his huge shoulders, muscles, and girth into the front seat. He didn’t bother with the seatbelt.
Thunder cracked again, rain going liquid and gloopy, drenching me even beneath my rainproof jacket.
Thanks a lot, Thor.
As if in answer to my thought, thunder chuckled across the hills.
“What?” Odin snapped. His beefy arms strained to cross over his chest like twisted tree trunks.
“What?” I flicked the windshield wipers up a notch and slowed for the puddle that spread across one-and-a-half lanes of the main road through town. If Thor didn’t get over his temper tantrum and give us a break, we were going to have to close roads and issue flood warnings.
“You look worried.” He shrugged as if uncomfortable admitting he was paying that much attention to me.
“It hasn’t stopped raining for five weeks, tourist dollars are way down, we’ve got a fundraiser coming up this week, one month of summer left, and our resident trickster is calling an emergency meeting. A little concern isn’t out of place here.”
“Think he’s leaving?”
“Crow?” He’d been in town all my life. I’d grown up thinking of him as an uncle. It would be a different town without him. “I don’t know.”
“It’d be better without him.”
“Right. Because unleashing the trickster god upon the living world would make our lives any easier. Gods leave here and the first thing they do is remind us that they have their full powers back.”
Thunder broke the sky in half and set off several car alarms. “Point proven,” I said.
“You like him.”
“Crow? The annoying not-my-uncle?”
Odin wore an eyepatch over his left eye. So he had to lean forward and twist to make eye contact with me. “He’s one of your favorites.”
“And you think of Thor as a son.”
“I know Thor,” he said as if that answered everything. “So should you.”
“I know the mortal Thorne Jameson.” I slowed for the light, then turned into the parking lot outside Crow’s glassblowing shop. “Decent voice, good taste in vinyls. Collects rubber duckies. But once he picked up that power and went full god of thunder? I don’t know that guy hardly at all.”
“You know the god power doesn’t completely swallow our personality, nor does the lack erase it.”
“Crow is a trickster whether he’s carrying the power of Raven or just blowing balls for tourists.”
I put the Jeep in park, biting back my smile. “You know how that sounds, right?”
He plucked at the dusty sleeve of his flannel shirt. “I meant it how it sounds. Crow isn’t your uncle. He is just very patient.”
“He knows what he wants, Delaney Reed. And, like a spider, he will wait for his moment to strike.”
I studied his face. No bluff and bluster there. Odin was very serious.
But Odin didn’t exactly get along with the other gods in Ordinary. The rivalry between Zeus and him was on a constant simmer. The petty shots they took at each other’s businesses and life choices kept Aaron, who was Ares the god of war, in a constant state of entertainment.
Other than Thor, who had picked up his power and was therefore unable to return to Ordinary for a year, Odin wasn’t really buddies with the other deities.
“You think Crow’s pulling a long con?”
Odin’s deep blue eye shadowed down darker. A chill washed up my wet, cold skin. Just because gods put down their power didn’t mean there wasn’t an echo, a coal of it caught somewhere deep within them. They were mortal, but they were still the vessels of god power. It made them uncannily charismatic. It made them the flame mortal moths were all too tempted to fly into. And even that tiny spark was enough to make a regular gal like me sit up and take notice.
“Only Crow would know. But he has spent many years becoming your friend, Delaney. Your lifetime. Have you ever asked yourself why?”
“Because he likes me?” I gave him an innocent blink.
“Because I’m likable?” I fluttered my eyelashes. “Possibly even adorable?”
“You are not in the least.” He tried to scowl, but the smile won out.
“Because Crow and all the rest of the gods in town are happy that the family job of keeping this town safe fell into my adorable, capable, likable hands?”
“We’ve had better police chiefs.”
He shrugged one mountainous shoulder. “I’m sure you weren’t born yet.”
“Well, then I’m the best you’ve had in ages.”
He grunted. “I promised your father I’d keep my eye on you. Since I only have the one, I trust you won’t make me strain it.”
Oh. This was what he was getting at.
My dad had driven off a cliff. Crashed down and died right off a road he’d driven all his life. It had come as a shock to everyone in town: gods, mortals, creatures, and most of all, his daughters.
But I guess sometime before that, he had asked the gods to look after me, to help me as I took on his position as not only the police chief but also as the only person who could transfer god powers to a new mortal if a god died.
I might not be a friend to all the gods in town, but my father…my father had been respected by them. As far as I could tell, the gods had promised to help me if I needed it.
It was annoying. And kind of nice.
“If I need help, I’ll ask.”
He studied me, and I was caught again by that magnetic pull of power echoing in him. Good thing my Reed blood was immune to such things. We Reeds were fire-proof little moths.