The Beautiful Ashes

Page 37

“Ivy, isn’t it?”

Her accent held the harshly musical cadence that denoted her first language as Demonish. I hated hearing that accent from anyone except Adrian, and I put all my revulsion toward her kind into my gaze as I stared back at her.

“Ivy,” I repeated, wondering if I could shoot her before she hurt Costa. “So unpleasant to meet you.”

Bloodred nails dug into Costa’s shoulder. He let out a yelp, which only caused the demon to jab them in deeper.

“Don’t, Obsidiana,” Adrian said quietly.

I was wondering where I’d heard that name when the demon inclined her head. “Give me what I want, and I’ll release him.”

“You know I can’t,” Adrian said, still in that low, resonant voice.

Obsidiana managed to make an evil chuckle sound sexy. “Oh, but you can, my love.”

My love? I almost got whiplash from how fast I looked at Adrian. “You didn’t tap a demon,” I gasped out.

The way his expression closed off said that he had, and a lot. Now I remembered where I’d heard her name! Demetrius had said that Obsidiana missed him when he’d urged Adrian to come back home. From the way Adrian had stopped dead when we ran into her in Mayhemium’s realm, part of him had missed her, too.

I could guess which part, and it was all I could do not to kick it. “Me you keep pushing away, but a demoness is good enough for you?” My glare was withering. “Nice.”

“With how plain Demetrius said you were beneath that disguise, I’m not surprised” was Obsidiana’s smug response.

Hey, I’d been hot as a glamoured blonde! Besides... “Beauty fades, but Evil Bitch is forever,” I snapped.

Obsidiana flung Costa to the ground. Adrian grabbed her before she reached me, his arm like a vise around her neck.

She stilled at once, her topaz gaze sliding up to look at him. “You would harm me? Over her?”

She actually sounded surprised, and I’d heard people refer to feces with more respect than the way she said “her.” I told myself it wasn’t jealousy or spite that made me hope he ripped her head off. She was evil.

“I can’t let you hurt her,” Adrian said grimly.

Obsidiana seemed to sag in his arms. “When I heard someone had killed two of my people, I knew you’d come to my realm. That’s why I came alone to see you.” Her voice deepened with apparent distress. “It wasn’t even to capture the Davidian! I thought if you would finally speak to me, you’d let go of your anger. Does nothing matter to you except this fruitless quest for revenge? Don’t you love me at all anymore, benhoven?”

“Does this answer your question?” Adrian’s arm whipped back, snapping her neck with an audible sound. If she were a minion, she’d start turning into ashes, but all she did was go limp. I glanced away when he ripped something pulpy out of her throat. I hated Obsidiana, but my gross quota had already been exceeded today.

“Why do you do that?” I asked, busying myself by helping the boy up.

“Keeps them out longer,” he replied, dumping Obsidiana’s limp form in the grass. “Demon physiology is different. Their version of a heart is in their neck.”

The vindictive glow I felt was not because he’d metaphorically ripped Obsidiana’s heart out, I assured myself. It was because now we had more time to get away.

“Costa, are you okay?” Adrian asked, striding over to him.

A groan was his response. Adrian lifted him up, depositing Costa in the passenger seat. Then he cranked the driver’s seat forward so I could climb in behind it.

“Is he okay?” I asked, half lifting the boy to the car.

“Just a concussion. A little manna, and he’ll be fine,” Adrian said. It didn’t escape me that he sounded pissed, as if he had a right to be. When we were all loaded into the car and driving away, he started in on me.

“Why did you bait Obsidiana?” Adrian demanded. “Were you trying to give her more reasons to kill you?”

What was I going to say? That I’d been so insulted over the bitch’s comments and learning about their past relationship that I’d almost forgotten my life was in danger? Ah, noooo. That was too stupid. And humiliating.

“I did it to bait her,” I said, widening my eyes for increased innocent effect. “I was trying to get her to charge me so she’d let Costa go!”

Adrian’s stare said he wasn’t buying it. Time for another tactic. I tossed my hair, letting out a scornful laugh. “You really think I care that you used to get it on with her, or anything else I said? Please.”

Costa muttered something in Greek as he pressed a handful of manna to the gash on the back of his head. Whatever it was, Adrian let out a snort of agreement. When he looked at me, his expression was less stern, but no less intense.

“Unlike me, you’re a terrible liar, but since we didn’t have a better plan, I’m glad what you did worked.”

Did that mean he believed I’d been faking jealousy? Or did it mean he knew I was lying now? Asking would only show how much I cared, so I focused on the boy. He was slumped in his seat, most of his body tucked into the parka except his feet. He still wasn’t reacting to anything going on around him. Was it shock, or did he have something physically wrong that we couldn’t see?

“We should take him to a hospital,” I stated.

“That’ll do more harm than good,” Adrian said, with a sardonic glance back at me. “Remember being told you were crazy your whole life? What do you think they’ll tell him, once he starts talking about demons, minions and different worlds?”

I winced. “True, but he needs the kind of help we can’t give him while we’re looking for the weapon. Besides, he might have family that’s worried sick about him.”

“Next time we see Zach, I’ll ask him,” Adrian said, his tone roughening. “He always knows about kids’ families.”

I tried not to let that statement affect me, but it did. Your real mother didn’t leave you because she was running from the police, Zach’s voice whispered across my mind as if he were here. She did it to save you, just like your dream revealed....

I forced those thoughts back. One monumental crisis at a time, thank you. Until I found this weapon, it didn’t matter why my birth mother had left me beside that freeway. If I was the last Davidian, then whatever her reasons, she was dead. Gone forever, just like my adoptive parents I hadn’t even been able to say goodbye to because that detective tried to kill me before I could give them a proper burial....

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