The Beautiful Ashes Page 37

I reached out, trailing my free hand down his arm. ’’Thanks,’’ I said softly.

He stepped closer, brushing my hair back, and I closed my eyes. I felt so safe with him, which he\d say was the last thing I should feel. Still, if nothing but betrayal loomed ahead, how could Adrian be the only person I trusted? And how could he be the only person who made me feel alive if he was destined to be the death of me?

’’I believe in you, too,’’ I told him, not opening my eyes. ’’You\ll beat your fate. I know you will.’’

He let out a strangled sound, and my skin felt cold from how fast he let me go. When I opened my eyes, I wasn\ surprised to see only surf-soaked sand in front of me.

Once again, Adrian had vanished, but like all the other times, he wasn\ really gone. Whether by destiny or by choice, neither of us could completely walk away from the other.

Not yet.

Chapter nineteen

The next morning, I awoke to a strange man sitting on the end of my bed. His back was to me, and I would\ve screamed if I hadn\ recognized his faded blue hoodie. Good thing I\d caught myself. Adrian and Costa would\ve run in with their guns drawn.

’’What are you doing here?’’ I asked Zach.

The Archon set down a picture of Tomas as a boy with his father. Family pictures occupied most of Tomas\s room. I hoped looking at them made Zach feel guilty. He could\ve saved Tomas, but he\d chosen not to for reasons I still didn\ understand.

’’I am here to glamour your appearance,’’ Zach replied, ignoring the thought I knew he\d heard. ’’Adrian has chosen the next realm for you both to search, and demons will be more watchful of blond women.’’

I ran a hand through my hair, remembering that only Adrian, Zach and I saw its deep brown shade. As for my face, well, I hadn\ seen that clearly in almost two weeks. Not being able to look in a mirror without risking a demon attack cut back on any feminine urges to check my appearance.

’’Don\ overdue the hotness factor this time,’’ I said. ’’We might have made it out of that realm without a fight if Mayhemium hadn\ gotten a hard-on over my glamoured looks.’’

Zach nodded. ’’I will make appropriate changes.’’

Then he placed his hand on top of my head. Like last time, I didn\ feel anything, but when he said, ’’It is done,’’ I knew I now looked completely different. Pity I couldn\ see my disguises. When I looked at my reflection in shiny surfaces, it still looked like the ’’real’’ me.

’’Okay.’’ I got out of bed, put on a robe and went to the door. ’’I\m making coffee. Don\ suppose you want any?’’

The side of his mouth twitched. ’’I\m trying to cut back.’’

Had he just cracked a joke? I looked sharply at him, but that twitch was gone and his expression was back to its normal, placid mask. Deciding I had more important things to worry about, I left the bedroom.

’’Zach\s here,’’ I announced on my way to the kitchen.

Costa\s door flung open, and he stared at me, shock creasing his features. ’’Ivy?’’ he asked with disbelief.

I waved a hand. ’’I know. Zach gave me a makeover, so minions and demons don\ recognize me from my old disguise.’’

’’They sure won\ ,’’ Costa croaked, his lip curling in a way that said Zach had taken my admonition seriously by beating my new appearance with an ugly stick.

I gave a mental shrug. I was shallow enough to care if Adrian saw me that way, but he didn\ .

Speaking of Adrian, his door opened as we passed. He\d been in the process of pulling on a shirt, which gave me a glimpse of his muscled chest and ripped abs before the loose material covered them. I swallowed, glancing away. With a mind-reading angel in the house, now really wasn\ the time to dwell on how much Adrian affected me.

’’Zach.’’ Adrian\s voice was brisk. ’’We need more manna, plus a new appearance for me, too.’’

Costa said something in Greek that had Adrian whipping around to stare at me. Then he let out a snort of amusement.

’’Nice,’’ he told Zach, the edginess gone from his tone.

Had Zach given me Halloween-style warts, too? I lifted my nose and started making coffee. Some of us were too mature to worry about things like unattractive fake appearances.

’’Where are we going this time?’’ I asked.

Zach remained standing, but Adrian and Costa sat at the kitchen table. I pulled three cups out from the cabinet. None of us were trying to cut back on our coffee habit.

’’Roanoke, North Carolina,’’ Adrian replied.

Not another desert, at least. ’’There\s a vortex there?’’

’’No.’’ The edge was back in Adrian\s tone. ’’No more vortexes.’’

I turned around, still holding my empty coffee cup. ’’Why?’’

’’Demetrius now knows the weapon is hidden in a demon realm,’’ Zach answered for him. ’’He\ll expect you to try vortexes, since they are the most efficient means of entry into their realms.’’

Adrian\s shrug conveyed, What he said. Costa still seemed to be reconciling my new appearance with who I was, but I was focused on the information no one had told me before.

’’You mean the demons didn\ know the weapon had been hidden in one of their realms before they caught us looking for it?’’

’’That\s right,’’ Adrian said, with a sidelong glance at Zach. ’’It\ll be a race to see who finds it first, and you can bet they\ll be searching their worlds from top to bottom.’’


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