The Beautiful Ashes Page 44

’’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\ 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\ 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\ e a terrible liar, but since we didn\ 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\ reacting to anything going on around him. Was it shock, or did he have something physically wrong that we couldn\ 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\ give him while we\ e 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\ 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\ 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\ even been able to say goodbye to because that detective tried to kill me before I could give them a proper burial....

’’Ivy.’’ Adrian\s tone was urgent. ’’What\s wrong?’’

I swiped under my eyes, only now realizing that I\d started to cry. ’’Nothing.’’

’’Bullshit,’’ he said emphatically.

’’Just a little post-traumatic stress.’’ I forced a shaky laugh. ’’I\m still not used to narrowly escaping death, okay?’’

His gaze repeated the same thing bullshit. Okay, so maybe I was a terrible liar. I pretended not to notice him staring at me as much as he could without wrecking, and busied myself by tucking the boy\s feet under my legs so they\d be warm.

Then an idea struck me, exciting me so much that I reached over the seats to grab Adrian\s shoulder.

’’Drive to Bennington! We snuck the boy out with our disguises, so we can use them to get Jasmine out, too!’’

Costa gave me a pitying glance, and I felt as well as heard Adrian\s sigh.

’’Remember I told you that your sister will be the best-treated human in all the realms? She\ll also be the most guarded. Bennington might not be Demetrius\s main realm, but he\ll expect you to try that. I guarantee he\s given an order that if anyone unfamiliar shows up, they\ e to be detained.’’

My brief hope crashed. Adrian was right. The demons had no intention of making this easy on me, so either I went in with the ability to kill them all, or I died.

Or both. No one had said that, but no one needed to. Having the weapon didn\ mean I\d suddenly be bulletproof, so finding it didn\ guarantee victory. It only gave me a chance at it.

’’You\ e going to be okay,’’ I told the boy, giving him the assurance I so badly wished someone could give to me.

A slow blink was his only response. Either he still wasn\ processing what was going on, or he didn\ believe me. I patted his leg, wishing I could tell him I knew how it felt to be surrounded by people and yet still be on your own.


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