Black Spring Page 20

“Clearing the board of his less-favorite offspring to make room for the new one? It doesn’t seem likely. Lucifer is fanatical about anyone with the same blood as his. It seems more likely that Zaniel is going to meet Sokolov. If he’s going to meet Sokolov, I want to know why.”

“It would also be helpful to know whether he is meeting at Lucifer’s behest or another’s,” Nathaniel said.

“I can’t imagine what Lucifer would have to say to Sokolov,” I said. “But it seems like Zaniel is too much of a bit player to have the power or authority to go to the Agency on his own. There could only be one topic of conversation, anyway.”

“You,” Nathaniel said.

“Not that I think I’m the center of the universe or anything,” I said hastily.

“No, it is logical that any discussions with the Agency would involve you,” Nathaniel said. “Who could direct Lucifer’s son against you if not Lucifer himself?”

“Zaniel doesn’t seem to like me very much,” I said. “A smart person could play on that emotion easily.”

“Which smart person?”

“Take your pick,” I said. “I have too many enemies to try to narrow it down without more information. Too bad J.B. is away trying to be a good king. He might be able to get some extra information for me if he was actually in the office. It’s really bizarre that he’s not there. He spends more time sleeping at his desk chair than he does in his own bed.”

“At the very least he would be able to confirm our speculation that the messenger is going to the Agency.”

“Yeah,” I said. “We might as well head home and see if Jude and Samiel turned up any information on that shapeshifter.”

As I spoke I realized something was buzzing in my pocket. I pulled my cell phone out, surprised I’d even remembered to bring it. Then I reasoned I likely had not remembered, but that Daharan had known I would forget and put it in the pocket of the suit. The screen told me it was J.B.

“Hey,” I said. “I was just talking about you. I thought you didn’t think it was a good idea for us to talk while you were playing King of the Fae.”

“I’m not playing,” J.B. said. “Don’t you even say hello anymore? Your conversational skills are actually getting worse as you get older.”

“I can’t help it. I graduated from the Beezle school of interpersonal relationships. If I let you talk first, then I might have to suffer slings and arrows against my character.”

“I didn’t call to listen to you mangle Shakespeare,” he said.

“Is that from Shakespeare?” I asked. “I had no idea.”

“Not really,” he said. “Hence the mangling. I called because a messenger just showed up in my court. A messenger from Lucifer.”

“Let me guess. He gave you an invitation and ‘no’ was not an acceptable RSVP response,” I said.

“He gave me an invitation, but I wasn’t foolish enough to say no,” J.B. said. “I’m sure you were.”

I decided to ignore that comment because it annoyed me that I was so predictable.

“I wonder who else was invited,” I said.

“Everyone who’s ever come to Lucifer’s attention, I imagine.”

“Which would include those who’ve crossed him,” I said. “Why tempt fate by gathering your enemies in one place?”

“I’m sure he’s got something up his sleeve besides marrying Evangeline,” he said. “If I hear anything before Saturday, I’ll let you know.”

“Speaking of hearing things—have you got anyone you trust at the Agency that you can get in touch with?”

“Lizzie,” he said. Lizzie was his secretary. “And a couple of others. Why? Did you do something?”

“No,” I said. “Why does everyone always assume I’ve done something?”

“Your track record speaks for itself,” J.B. said. “Don’t make me start listing all the property you’ve destroyed.”

“Slings and arrows,” I muttered. “Anyway, I want to find out if the messenger who delivered the invite from Lucifer to me went to see Sokolov. And if he did, I’d love to know if he went there on his own or under somebody’s orders.”

“I’ll see if I can find out anything. See you in a few days.” He clicked off.

I looked at Nathaniel. “You heard all that, so there’s no need for a recap, right?”

Ever since Nathaniel had come into his legacy from Puck, he had super-werewolf-like hearing. He nodded in acknowledgment. “J.B. is certainly correct. Lucifer will doubtless invite all his allies and enemies to this event.”

“I notice you didn’t say ‘friends,’” I said.

“In all his long history, the closest thing Lucifer ever had to a friend was Michael,” Nathaniel said.

“The archangel,” I said. “I wonder if he will be invited.”

By silent and mutual consent we walked to a semi-secluded spot where we could veil ourselves from human eyes and fly home.

“I do not think you should concern yourself excessively with Lucifer’s wedding,” Nathaniel said. “As you told the messenger, there are other, more pressing issues at hand, including Alerian’s anger with your defiance. I am concerned about the stress you are under in your condition.”

“I’m pregnant, Nathaniel. I’m not dying,” I said.

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