The Beautiful Ashes Page 30

Costa lifted one shoulder in a shrug. ’’Only a fool turns down attention from a pretty girl.’’

Adrian\s expression hardened even more than his current scowl, which made no sense. First, having your bullet wounds treated could hardly be counted as flirting, and second, why would he care even if Costa was flirting?

’’I\m trying to help,’’ I said, placing manna over the second bullet hole, which effectively silenced Costa. ’’I didn\ prove too useful with a gun, but this, at least, I can do.’’

Adrian\s stare went from my face to my hand on Costa\s abdomen and back again. ’’Oh, I\m sure he appreciates it.’’

After those quietly growled words, he disappeared. Costa\s brow rose. I lifted my free hand in a ’’don\ ask me’’ gesture. Maybe his rudeness was just another side effect of having been raised by demons.

’’I don\ think he likes you touching me,’’ Costa said, his mouth curling. ’’Adrian, acting jealous. That\s a first.’’

’’He\s not jealous,’’ I muttered, wiping my hands on my shorts after I confirmed that his wound had healed. ’’He keeps reminding me that he can\ wait to get away from me.’’

’’That\s not about you.’’ Something dark flitted across Costa\s expression. ’’That\s about him.’’

Tomas returned, stopping me from probing more. ’’Jeep\s hidden,’’ he announced, ’’and more guns are on the way.’’

Relief swept through me. Who knew that guns would be my second favorite thing after hallowed ground?

’’What\ e the odds the demons won\ find us until we get those guns?’’ I asked, hoping for a high percentage.

’’Fifty-fifty,’’ Tomas replied, dashing that. ’’They know you can\ have gotten too far by sundown, so they\ll have minions search every hallowed site within a hundred miles.’’

’’Right, they want me dead because I\m the only person who can find a demon-killing weapon,’’ I said wearily.

’’That\s not ’’ Tomas began, then shut his mouth at the warning look Costa gave him.

’’Not what?’’ I asked, suspicion replacing my fatigue.

’’If Adrian hasn\ told you, he must have a reason,’’ Costa said, landing himself right after Demetrius on my shit list.

’’Yeah, because he\s pathologically secretive,’’ I snapped. ’’I\m getting sick of being the only person who doesn\ know what\s going on, so one of you had better talk.’’

Tomas exchanged another look with Costa, then he leaned back against the wall.

’’You know what it was like for us in the realms?’’ he asked in a conversational tone. ’’We were beaten, forced into cannibalism, worked almost to death...and that was on a good day.’’

Sympathy tempered my anger. ’’I am so sorry,’’ I said, meaning every word.

Tomas\s dark brown stare held mine. ’’Don\ be. We survived. Know how Adrian was treated before he started fighting demons? Like a prince.’’ He paused, letting that sink in. ’’Anything he wanted, he got. He didn\ even have to ask. They practically worshipped him, and when demons want to shower someone with adulation, crèeme, they make it rain. Beautiful women, more gold than Fort Knox, power to rule any realm he entered ’’

’’Why?’’ I whispered, stunned.

’’Because of his lineage, they believe he\s going to do something that will make demons unbeatable in their war against Archons.’’

It\s your destiny! Mayhemium had roared at Adrian. Demetrius had said something similar when he caught up with us. Even Zach had told Adrian he couldn\ escape his fate, but Zach was an Archon, so he couldn\ believe Adrian was destined to help demons win the war against them. If he did, why wouldn\ Zach kill Adrian as a preemptive strike? The demons sure wanted to kill me, and all I could do was find one ancient weapon....

I sucked in a breath, realization shattering me. ’’It\s the weapon, isn\ it? Adrian said if the demons knew where it was, they\d have already used it for their own purposes. I didn\ think it through at the time, but that means it must do a lot more than just kill demons.’’

Tomas\s mouth thinned into a straight line. Costa got up, dropping a hand briefly on his friend\s shoulder.

’’You\ve heard of David and Goliath?’’ Costa asked evenly. ’’Thousands of years ago, a shepherd boy killed a giant with nothing more than a slingshot and blind faith, thus David\s fame was born. You are the last Davidian, so in your hands, that ancient slingshot has the one-time power to overcome any and all odds. In short, whatever you point it at, it will defeat.’’

That sounded too good to be true, so there had to be more. ’’What can the demons do with it?’’

Costa\s smile was grim. ’’Goliath was no ordinary giant. He descended from demons, and some of his originating bloodline lives on. If one of those demons gets the slingshot, they get a one-time ability to overcome unbeatable odds, too. So with it, demons think they can win the war against Archons in a day.’’

My head was starting to pound, probably from trying to process information that was too incredible and horrible to believe. If I hadn\ crossed through to a different realm today or seen multiple examples of supernatural phenomena all my life, I would have called Tomas and Costa crazy.

Unfortunately, I knew they weren\ .

’’Is Adrian descended from Goliath\s line?’’ was what I asked. ’’Is that why the demons think he\s their savior? Because if he gets the weapon, he can use it against Archons?’’


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