Chapter Fourteen

The wicked plots against the just, and gnashes at him with his teeth.  The Lord laughs at him, for He sees his day is coming.  Psalm 37:12-13 NKJV

Folly paced.

Back and forth. Back and forth.

“Where is she?” Folly snarled to the darkness.

“Waiting for someone?”

Folly spun around, instantly feeling foolish and gawkish. Why couldn’t she, for once, feel at ease around Lust, and not like a child growing her adult legs and arms?

“What took you so long?” Folly hissed.

Lust’s eyes snapped.

“I don’t answer to you.”

Lust spun to leave.

Folly growled and rolled her eyes, hating herself.

“Wait! I—I need to talk to you.”

Lust paused, tilting her head, but she didn’t turn around.

“I need to ask you something.”

Lust stood very still.

Folly sighed.

“A favor.”

Lust turned slowly, a beaming smile on her face.

“Well, well, well. At last. Come to the expert on something you couldn’t handle? What is it, dear? Need help seducing someone? I have a few tricks, you know.”

Folly flushed and looked away. Lust’s methods were downright humiliating. Folly stayed far away from the temples of the sex goddesses, preferring murder and deceit and rage to the more…baser…of sins.

“No, not exactly—well, yes.”

Lust stood close, her face lit with eager anticipation.

“Who is it? Someone I know? Someone I haven’t tempted before? Tell me!”

Folly squirmed. She hated sharing. Especially with her.

“There is a boy…”

Lust squealed and clapped her hands.

“Oooooo…corrupting a boy! The very best! Get ‘em while they’re young. What’s his name?”

Folly shook Lust’s shoulders.

“For heaven’s sake, will you calm down and shut up?”

Folly glanced behind her.

Lust nodded and winked conspiratorially.

“I see. A secret. From Lucifer perhaps? Don’t worry; your secret’s safe with me. Pray, continue.”

It’ll be a gorgeous day in hell when any secret is safe with you.

“This young boy, he is hidden to us for now.”

Lust straightened, looking worried.

“Look, if you’re looking for someone to fight, get someone else—”

“Will you hush? I will tell you if you stop blathering on like an idiot!”

Lust’s eyes turned stony. Cold. Her words were clipped.

“By all means. Continue.”

Folly released Lust and paced, speaking rapidly. Brainstorming.

“This boy—Solomon, David’s son?—will soon come out of Wisdom’s safety. I need you to plant something in him that will be his downfall.”

“Wisdom?” Lust interrupted, voice shrill. “You want me to go against Wisdom? No way. Only Lucifer—Death maybe—would risk themselves by angering her.”

The bones shuddered in Folly’s jaw, she clenched her teeth so hard. Would Wisdom’s fame never end? Did the awe of her sister have to follow her here, where she had sacrificed everything just to be better than her—just to get away from her?

“You won’t face her. I promise.”

Lust twisted her hands, shifting her weight from one foot to another.

“If you’re sure…”

“I am.”

Lust could find out on her own of Wisdom’s vow to protect the boy. By then she would have already committed herself in front of Lucifer and most everyone else. Lust was shrewd enough to figure out how to get to the boy, once her hand was forced.

“What else?”

“Um, he sees how his mother is treated, the petty fighting in the harem. He’s already learning the best ways to appease manipulative and backbiting women. Maybe—I don’t know—see to it that he is addicted to what you do. Make sure he has a stumbling block before him so large, he can never get around it.”

Lust crossed her arms, her gaze narrowed.

“This boy has come to your attention, and foolishness and pettiness is your specialty. Why can’t you do it?”

“I just can’t, ok?” Folly snapped. “I’m sorry I even asked!”

Folly spun and stomped down the cloistering tunnel, chosen because they were far away from the tunnels Lucifer roamed when he wasn’t on earth.

Lust’s bark of a laugh grated on Folly’s ears.

“Slow down there, princess. Did you hear me say I wouldn’t do it? Get your sorry self back here.”

Folly paused, clenching her fists.

This is the last—and I mean the very last—time I do anything she tells me.

She turned and marched back to Lust, chin held high.

“I’ll do it, on one condition.”

Folly tensed. Why, oh, why, hadn’t she thought of that? Lust wouldn’t hand out favors without expecting something in return.

“And what is that?” Folly growled through her teeth.

Lust shrugged and glanced around the tiny room, the spark in her eyes belying her complacent expression.

“This Solomon—the king’s son? It was my idea. Lucifer or anyone else asks, it was all me. You had nothing to do with it.” A grin stretched her mouth wide as she finally stared directly at Folly. “Unless, of course, I mess it up. Then it’s all you.”

Folly clenched her fists and bit down on her tongue to keep the snarl from escaping her mouth. But she knew she had no choice. Leaving Solomon to Wisdom was not an option.

“Deal.”

Lust smiled seductively and Folly’s stomach turned.

“It’s been a pleasure,” she whispered, blowing Folly a kiss. She disappeared down the narrow hall.

Folly retched where Lust had been standing.

She stood and wiped her mouth.

“Next time it’ll be on you, witch,” Folly whispered to the darkness.

 

“Very good, Solomon. Now look at this one.”

They stared at the etched glass together.

Solomon spit out the answer before Wisdom could explain the equation to him.

Wisdom’s jaw dropped.

“Perfect!”

She left the clear plate floating in the air and grasped his shoulders.

“You didn’t see my answers, did you?”

He giggled.

“No.”

She shook him playfully and very, very gently.

“Have you been peeking in my scrolls while I ready your lessons?”

He snorted a laugh.

“No.”

Wisdom gasped, and shook her finger at him.

“I know! You wrote the equation, didn’t you?”

He threw back his head and chortled, the sweet sound perfuming the air.

“No!”

She hugged him tight.

“You are just too smart, Mr. Solomon.”

She planted a kiss on his forehead. He jabbed her in the ribs.

“Oh, that’s how it’s going to be, is it?”

The room pealed with laughter as she tickled him unmercifully.

“Ahem.”

Wisdom and Solomon froze, both staring at the doorway.

“Momma!”

Solomon jumped from her arms and bolted into his mother’s.

“Oh, how I’ve missed you! How are you, my darling? Well, I hope?”

Discretion cleared her throat again and nodded several times toward the floating glass.

Wisdom snatched it from the air. It curled into parchment in her fist.

Bathsheba looked at Wisdom, tears in her eyes.

“Thank you,” she mouthed.

Wisdom nodded, and Bathsheba led Solomon from the room. His little voice poured out of him in waves, telling his mother everything from the second lesson on.

The first lesson was precious to Wisdom and Solomon both. It had been the turning point of his grieving, Solomon seeing her heavenly beauty for the first time. And it was between them like a peace offering, though neither spoke of it.

Discretion moved to her side.

“Sorry, I was having the worst time getting you both to hear me.” Discretion smiled. “I think that was good for his mother to see. She’s been so worried about him.”

Wisdom glanced at Discretion in surprise.

“She told you?”

Discretion shook her head.

“She didn’t have to.”

Wisdom nodded.

“I suppose I should get his things.”

Discretion stared long and hard at her.

“How long are you going to do this, sister? It tears you so.”

Wisdom stood and left.

She didn’t tell Discretion that Solomon would be her last student. Her throat had closed like a vise and she couldn’t get the words out if she wanted to. She couldn’t bear to see another walk out of those doors to choose his own path instead of the Maker’s.

 

Wisdom followed Solomon and his mother into the palace, her school temporarily closed.

Solomon and his mother would never know how close they had come to not making it back to the palace at all. Bathsheba had made the long trek without servants, fearful of David discovering where she had taken the boy and why. He had returned from battle, triumphant, wanting to visit his wives and children after the sacrifices of thanksgiving. Bathsheba fairly flew to collect Solomon, and Wisdom sped them on their journey, making the miles disappear like the smoke from their campfire. Wisdom had shielded them—and their campfire—from a group of bandits following them, intent on harm.

Wisdom had covered them with her wings, daring the fallen angels accompanying the robbers to provoke her. Hate and Destruction had shied away, dropping their gazes as they let their too-easily-persuaded thieves wander away in their search. Not many of the fallen would dare go against Wisdom, not with the fire of battle in her eyes, and Wisdom knew it.

Now anger surged in Wisdom’s heart as she walked the hallways of the harem.

Wives milled around languidly or lounged on plush cushions, in varying stages of beautifying themselves or tasting delicacies from far-away lands. Children of all ages ran past, all carrying a hint of David, most bearing the faces of different women. Gold, silver, and precious gems sparkled from every surface, especially from the women. Wisdom remembered designing those gems.

“Lord, I know You love him so, but how can you stand such blatant disobedience? So many women, who could have been loved by one man, tending their own homes? Not trapped here, vying for attention like petty children.”

No answer came.

Wisdom wasn’t expecting one, but the silence still hurt. She needed to get away. Spend time with Him.

Solomon stopped, cocked his head to the side. Wisdom stumbled to a halt before she ran into him, mindful of the effect she had on the creatures when she touched them.

He turned his head, looked up at her, and smiled.

“Solomon. Come.”

Solomon trotted after his mother and took her outstretched hand.

Wisdom stared as the two hurried away.

Well, that was unexpected.

This was going to be harder than she thought.

 

Lust peeked around the corner, staring as Wisdom trailed the two creatures.

She was going to kill Folly the next time she saw her.

Solomon hadn’t left Wisdom’s safety. Rather, Wisdom had followed him here like the plague that she was.

Lust sagged against the wall, relieved that Wisdom kept moving, unaware of Lust’s presence.

She clenched her fists, one of her long nails snapping.

She stared down at her formerly perfect, manicured nails in horror.

Oh, yes, Folly was going to pay. Big time.

“Lucifer, I simply cannot do it.” Lust stared at the stone wall and cleared her throat. “Lucifer, there’s been a misunderstanding. Folly…” She grabbed her long blond strands and tugged—not too hard. She knew how difficult it was to remain beautiful while hair and skin and nails molted like they wanted to flee. How difficult it was with the constant fire, the ice, the rot that permeated her life. “Lucifer, I have to tell you something.”

“Tell me what?”

Lust spun, the smile springing to her face as if it had never been absent.

“Lucifer! Darling! I was just thinking of you!”

She ran to him and threw her arms around him, pressing herself tight against him.

“So I heard,” he said blandly. “What is this about Folly?”

She waved her hand in the air, swiping the words away.

“Oh, nothing. Nothing at all. What are you doing here? I missed you,” she quickly added.

“I’ve come to see your progress. It was quite brilliant, actually, your idea of seducing the son you thought would next be on the throne. However did you think of it?”

Lust laughed while she scrambled for something to say.

“Oh, you know, just did. Anyway, there he is and here I am! Now you’ve seen us, so goodbye.”

Lust pushed him down the path, away from the boy and the other with him.

“Wait a moment.” Lucifer dodged her shoving arms and stared through the wall. “Is that Wisdom with him?”

Lust sighed and, once again, sagged against the wall.

“The one and the same.”

He speared her with a frosty glare.

“And how, may I ask, were you planning on getting past her?”

Lust threw her hands up and looked away.

Lucifer was silent for too long, staring at the now-sleeping Solomon, Wisdom hovering over him like a new mother does her offspring.

“It looks like you need help.”

Lust rolled her eyes.

“And who do you suggest I ask? No one will come when they find out Wisdom is the one guarding the boy.”

Lucifer grinned, and Lust was at once repulsed and intrigued. Mostly repulsed.

“Me. And I suggest you ask nicely.”

Lust sauntered over to him. Slowly. She dropped her voice to a sultry purr.

“Lucifer, darling, might you distract the pesky Wisdom for the teeniest, tiniest bit? I will make it worth your while, I promise.”

Lucifer’s eyes gleamed, their black depths flashing with desire.

“Make it fast, and make it count.”

She cocked her head to the side.

“I’ve never heard you say that before.”

She raised herself on her tiptoes and lifted her lips to his.

He shoved her face away.

“Go.”

She blinked back tears as her fingers traced the jagged tear he left in her cheek. She patted at the congealing blood, wishing it would heal quickly—knowing it wouldn’t.

Lust watched Wisdom closely. Her head flew up, and she vanished from Solomon’s side.

Crouching on the ground, one giant leap and Lust was at Solomon’s side.

 

Sweat trickled down Solomon’s temple. He whimpered in his sleep. He swatted at the images playing in his mind, trying to push them away—trying to tug them closer.

Solomon bolted upright, the covers sliding from his small shoulders. Footsteps sounded from the hall.

The curtain separating his room from his mother’s was shoved aside.

“Solomon? I heard your cry—is everything ok? Are you ok?”

Bathsheba reached out to touch him, but he jerked away.

“Bad dream,” he mumbled.

“Ok.” Her hand dropped to her side. “Do you want me to stay with you?”

He shook his head and scooted farther away from her, not looking at her.

After a few moments, she left, lingering at the doorway before letting the drapery fall from her fingers.

Relieved that she was gone, he tried to catch his breath. His breath still came in short gasps.

He couldn’t tell her about his dream. It was so—dirty. And, yet, he liked it.

He uneasily slid back into the sheets, replaying the images in his mind, telling himself that he shouldn’t.

But he did.

 

Wisdom bolted through the wall, stopping short.

Solomon’s eyes were shut, but his body was rigid, the blankets clutched in his tiny fists.

She moved toward him, trying to sooth, wishing she could see what he saw.

One thing was certain. She could smell Lust’s stench everywhere.

Wisdom came close and gently swiped the hair away from his forehead.

He jerked away and gasped, sweat matting hair to skin.

She frowned as she gazed down at the small boy.

What had Lust done to him?

 

Wisdom and Folly: Sisters by Michele Israel Harper, Chapter Fourteen © 2014.

Can’t Live Without You by sara-hel on deviantART.com.  http://sara-hel.deviantart.com/art/Can-t-live-without-you-295725494

Used with permission.

Scripture taken from the New King James Version.  Copyright © 1982 by Thomas Nelson, Inc.  Used by permission.  All rights reserved.

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