The Beautiful Ashes Page 58

In short, it accused me of being a mass murderer.

’’What are you doing?’’

Under other circumstances, Adrian\s harsh tone would\ve made me flinch. Right now, I was too numb from shock.

’’Finding out that I\m a wanted criminal,’’ I said with as much calmness as I could manage. Then I swung around to face him. ’’But you already knew that, didn\ you?’’

Adrian set down the bag he\d been holding, and I ignored the delicious aromas coming from it. Costa shut the cabin door and went straight for the food. He couldn\ understand what I\d asked Adrian anyway. Thanks again, Hound disguise.

’’I knew,’’ Adrian said, giving me a measuring look. ’’What did you think the police were going to say? That you went into hiding with the last descendant of Judas because the detective assigned to your sister\s case tried to deliver you to his demon master? They had to explain Kroger\s death somehow.’’

I waved an impatient hand. ’’Fine, but why claim that I murdered him? Or make me a suspect in Jasmine\s disappearance, let alone my parents\ deaths? Aren\ the demons begging for unwanted attention with this?’’

Adrian sighed. ’’Bennington isn\ the first police force they\ve infiltrated. They\ e everywhere, and with their connections, they made sure your picture was plastered all over the news and internet, turning everyone who sees you into a potential informant for them.’’

’’But they know I\m disguised!’’ I protested.

’’And now they\ve made sure you have to stay that way or they\ll catch you,’’ was his inexorable response. ’’Same as me.’’

I opened my mouth and nothing came out except a short, sharp sound, like a last gasp before dying. Adrian stared at me, his expression filled with a hard sort of empathy.

’’I told you before, Ivy, we don\ win this war. Archons or demons do, but either way, there is no going back for us.’’

I looked away, staring at the online article that had shattered the last of my hopeful illusions. This whole time, I\d kept telling myself that if I found the weapon and saved Jasmine, I could go back to some semblance of my old life. I might not have had the greatest one, what with pretending more than actually living, but it had been my life to screw up or improve. Sure, once I was back, I\d have to avoid mirrors and move Jasmine and me from the WMU dorms to hallowed ground, but I could handle that. Eventually, I\d make new friends, maybe finish college online, get a decent job, and

And what? Go back to pretending that the dark, icy places I\d glimpsed were figments of my imagination? Hope that every new person I met wasn\ a minion in disguise? Even if demons hadn\ been behind the warrants for my arrest, what did I really think was going to happen if I saved Jasmine by decimating one of their realms? That the demons would call a truce and let my sister and me live in peace? No. We\d have to hide for the rest of our lives, and to do that, we\d have to leave everything and everyone we\d ever known behind.

My head dropped into my hands. Adrian was right. Even if I won, I didn\ really win. The Archons did, but Jasmine and I were still screwed.

’’Is that what you really look like?’’

I picked my head up to see Costa staring at my computer, a half-eaten burger still in his hand. I glanced back at the article. My Facebook user pic was next to the part that talked about my abnormal psychosis.

Was I still the smiling girl staring back at me? Right now, I felt decades older, but that wasn\ what Costa meant. I nodded, which needed no translation despite my Hound disguise.

Costa let out a wry snort as he glanced at Adrian. ’’No wonder you\ve been having such a hard time, bro.’’

Was that a compliment? I looked at my picture again, trying to see it through the viewpoint of the handsome Greek. Okay, so I probably wasn\ as hot as I\d been with my blonde disguise, but my brown hair was thick enough not to need mousse, my eyes were a nice hazel shade and my mouth had a pouty kind of fullness. A guy I\d briefly dated had even called it lush.

Then I caught a glimpse of my reflection in the screen. My hair looked like it had been styled by drunk witches, raccoons would be jealous of the dark circles under my eyes, and if my skin was any oilier, the shine would light up the room. I needed a hairbrush, concealer and lots of pressed powder, stat!

Of course, that wasn\ possible. Even if it was, Costa would only laugh at the image of a Hound trying to primp. As for Adrian...the best makeover in the world couldn\ fix our issues. Only a broken destiny could, and while I still believed that was possible, Adrian didn\ . Not now and maybe not ever.

’’I need to see my sister.’’

Costa didn\ react to my statement, but Adrian froze in the middle of picking up a burger.

’’Ivy,’’ he began.

’’I so don\ want to hear it.’’ The words came out as a sigh despite my screaming on the inside. ’’You want me to embrace the suck? Fine, but I\m also finished with guessing if I\m weapon-hunting for Jasmine, or for you.’’

He dropped the burger and stalked over. ’’What do you mean?’’

I met his gaze without flinching. ’’You don\ want me entering the Bennington realm without the weapon, but is that because you\ e worried about extra demon security? Or because you\ e afraid that if I find out my sister\s already dead, I\ll stop looking for it and you\ll lose your chance at killing Demetrius?’’

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