Black Spring Page 39

Beezle spent plenty of time on the computer. By Thursday night he reported that Jack had posted an extremely detailed account of what he encountered at my home and far too many details about the shifter itself. He thankfully spared me the stress of identifying my house as the site of the murder, but I was still pretty sure that he wasn’t going to survive much longer if he kept doing stuff like that. Once the shifter’s master got word of Jack’s report, the blogger would be counting the remainder of his life in minutes rather than days.

By Friday afternoon it was almost a relief to be packing for Lucifer’s wedding. It freed me from the tension of waiting for something to happen—waiting for Daharan to return, waiting for Alerian to appear, waiting for the shifter to attack, waiting for the police to show up to take me away to their camp for magical creatures. Now I had something to focus my energy on.

Beezle flew into the bedroom and landed on the dresser as I threw things into a suitcase.

“What are you packing?” he asked, disgust evident in his tone.

I pointed at the various articles of clothing I’d put in the case. “Little black dress. Heels. Second-nicest dress for whatever you do the night before a wedding.”

“Dress rehearsal,” Beezle said. “The dresses are cheap and they look it. And I see you’ve also packed your crummy jeans and black T-shirts. Why can’t you ever shop for anything new?”

“Kind of busy saving the world,” I said, nettled.

“Buffy saved the world all the time and she always had leather pants and kick-ass boots,” Beezle said.

“Buffy had a stylist,” I said. “And apparently she had money that I don’t have. I don’t have the magic to make new clothes the way Daharan and Puck can, but I think I figured out how to make the belly part stretchy enough to fit.”

“You know, you probably do have money,” Beezle said. “Azazel died. You were his heir. Sooner or later a lawyer is going to show up at the door with a big check and some papers for you to sign.”

“I’m not holding my breath,” I said. “Besides, I don’t need a million dollars. I just need to be able to take care of my baby.”

“But first you need to not show up at Lucifer’s wedding dressed like the country mouse,” Beezle said.

I threw some underthings and a brush on top of my clothes. “I don’t have anything else to bring, and I’m not going shopping now. So Lucifer will just have to deal with the indignity of having a poorly dressed relation.”

Beezle muttered something that sounded like “But what about my dignity when I’m sitting on your shoulder and you’re wearing that off-the-rack dress?”

“What was that?” I asked.

“Nothing, nothing,” Beezle said. “Nathaniel said to tell you that he’s getting the portal ready now. He’s waiting for a signal from Lucifer. Once the portal opens, you’ll only have a short time to use it, so get a move on.”

“I’m sure Nathaniel didn’t say to get a move on,” I said.

“No, I did. Get a move on.” He flew out of the room after throwing one more black look toward my suitcase.

I fingered the cheap material of my dress. So what if it wasn’t a designer label? Did that make me less valuable as a human being? Why were immortals so damned shallow? Didn’t they have more important things to worry about than who was wearing what and when? They were all trying to outmaneuver one another every second of the day. You’d think they wouldn’t have room in their brains to think about clothes.

“Madeline!” Nathaniel called, and his voice was impatient.

I zipped up the case and hurried into the living room. That is, I hurried as fast as a pregnant woman carrying a suitcase can waddle, which isn’t very fast.

Everyone else was gathered in the living room. Jude and Samiel both had backpacks slung over their shoulders. Nathaniel carried a garment bag. The dogs lingered around the edges, their ears curled in question. I patted their heads gently.

“You guys will be okay without us for a day or so, right? Beezle says you don’t have to be dogs if you don’t want to.”

They rubbed their faces against my legs, telling me without words that they would be fine. I still didn’t want to leave them. I was worried about what might happen if the shifter returned while we were away.

Beezle landed on my shoulder, settling himself in for the trip.

“And where are your fancy clothes?” I asked.

“I’m perfect the way I am,” Beezle said. “I don’t need clothes.”

“Are you telling me that Lucifer won’t be offended that you don’t have a bow tie or something?”

“Children, please,” Nathaniel said. He had one finger pressed to his ear like he was listening to an in-ear microphone.

“Is Lucifer talking in his head or something?” I whispered to Beezle.

The gargoyle nodded. “Interesting that he chose to have Nathaniel open the portal and not you.”

“Am I supposed to read some dread portent in that?” I asked. “Maybe he just didn’t want to trouble me.”

“He didn’t want to trouble his Hound of the Hunt?” Beezle said skeptically. “I think it much more likely that he wants you to conserve your energy for whatever is waiting on the other side.”

Nathaniel beckoned us all closer. He pointed his finger toward the floor and drew a circle in the air. A line of energy left his hand and the portal opened in front of our feet, a swirling vortex that bore a strong resemblance to Alice’s rabbit hole.

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