The Beautiful Ashes Page 69

Haven\ worn any lately, I thought to distract myself from the fear that made me want to start shaking. Being on the run with Adrian hadn\ allowed for many shopping trips to the mall.

’’But I will discover which one you are,’’ Demetrius all but purred as he reached me. I forced myself not to recoil when his hand slid over me, brushing my breast on its way to my back. His touch was somehow burning cold, like holding an icicle for too long. Still, I tried to school my features into the bland, compliant mask the other Hounds wore. My situation might be hopeless, but if Demetrius wanted to kill me, he had to figure out on his own which one I was.

His hand slipped down my arm and he leaned in, taking a deep breath. Please, let me stink as badly as the rest of them! I silently prayed. What if he could smell the shampoo I\d used when I washed my hair this morning? Or the deodorant I\d put on because it hadn\ occurred to me that I\d be demon-sniff-tested tonight?

It was all I could do not to sag in relief when Demetrius moved on to the Hound after me. How I love you, filthy reeking mud bath! I inwardly crowed. If I get out of this, I\ll take a mud bath every night in your honor

Two more minions came into the room, freezing my thoughts in midvow. Not because the minions were the largest men I\d ever seen, but because they didn\ come alone.

They thrust Jasmine out from between them, causing her to stumble for a few feet before Demetrius caught her. My sister looked at the demon with all the horror I felt, and when he ran a hand over her dirt-matted blond hair, a tremor of pure rage shook me. Don\ touch her! I silently seethed. I\ll kill you, I\ll kill you!

But I couldn\ . The weapon was across the room under a pile of animal bones, and even if I could reach it, the damn thing didn\ work. Despair threaded into my rage, forming a toxic mixture that ran like poison through my veins. Everything I\d risked, all the pain I\d endured, everything Jasmine had been through...it had all been for nothing.

’’With you here, Ivy, I don\ need her anymore,’’ Demetrius said, his tone filled with the surety of victory. ’’So you have a choice reveal yourself, or watch your sister die.’’

’’Ivy?’’ my sister asked, looking around. ’’Where?’’

I drew in a breath that was probably going to be my last. I didn\ want to give the demon the satisfaction of making me reveal myself, but no matter what he\d do to me, I couldn\ watch my sister die.

’’Don\ bother.’’

Adrian\s voice filled the room, chilling and thrilling me as my traitorous emotions responded in wildly conflicting ways. Then my heart nearly stopped at his next words, which were delivered in a flatly emotionless tone.

’’I can see which one she is.’’

Adrian pushed past the huge minions like they were nothing more than toy soldiers. Then his gaze landed on me, and the coldness I saw devastated me. For a split second, I actually wanted to die. My worst fears were confirmed in those merciless sapphire depths, and the curl to his mouth seemed to mock me for ever believing the lies he\d told me.

And I had believed them. Even when I\d knocked him out and tied him up, part of me had hoped I was making a terrible mistake. Yeah, I had, but not by doing that. By not listening to him the first time he\d told me not to trust him.

Demetrius\s dark gaze flared as Adrian walked toward him. ’’My son,’’ he said almost reverently. ’’I never doubted that this moment would come.’’

I suppressed a bitter snort. A demon with unwavering faith, how ironic. And his faith would soon be rewarded, how unfair.

Adrian smiled as he embraced his foster father, practically shoving Jasmine out of the way to get to him. I don\ know why I didn\ run to my sister in the last few seconds I had left. Maybe shock froze me in place, keeping me from doing anything except staring at the man who\d proven to be every bit as traitorous as his infamous ancestor. Everyone had warned me about Adrian, yet just like my gullible or well-intentioned family members, I hadn\ listened.

Now, just like my ancestors, I\d also die after being betrayed by a Judian.

’’I kept everything in this realm the way you left it,’’ Demetrius murmured, pulling away. ’’Even your ridiculously burdensome means of feeding and housing your slaves.’’

Adrian chuckled like Demetrius had told a joke. ’’Makes them work harder to avoid being sent to one of your realms...Father.’’

The word was the final nail into my heart, but Demetrius smiled with such joy, it transformed his face, making him appear as he must have once looked however many aeons ago.

Angelic.

’’Let us finish this,’’ he said, kissing Adrian\s forehead. Then he turned toward the other Hounds and me, his arm still around Adrian\s shoulders as though he couldn\ bear to let him go. ’’Which one is she?’’

Adrian met my gaze and strode over to the Hound next to me, shoving it toward Demetrius with such force that he actually managed to make the huge creature stumble.

’’Here she is,’’ he said clearly.

Chapter thirty-seven

I looked at the Hound, then at Adrian, emotion after emotion crushing me as though I were being hit by multiple tidal waves. He hadn\ come here to betray me. Once again, against all odds and destinies, he was trying to save me.

I wanted to throw my arms around him and sob out an apology for ever doubting him, let alone all the other terrible things I\d done. Then I wanted to kiss him until neither of us could breathe. But I couldn\ do either of those things. If I so much as moved, I\d undo the ruse he was trying to pull off.


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