Black Spring Page 54

“How are you going to do that?” I said. “There are dozens of guests here. You have servants and whoever else normally lives with you. Plus, most of the creatures you invited to your wedding are magical and know very well how to hide their tracks.”

“But not from me,” another voice said.

My eyebrows rose to my hairline as Puck appeared behind his brother. “What are you doing here?” I asked. “Your room isn’t on this floor.”

“Not happy to see me, niece?” Puck said, but the merriment that usually danced in his eyes was banked.

“Why would I be?” I said. Nathaniel put his hand on my shoulder and squeezed it in warning.

Puck ignored me and turned to Lucifer. “As you know, I can see into the past. There will be no need to interrogate the entire household. I can show you what happened and you will be able to identify the culprit.”

“How can you do that?” Jude asked.

“With a wave of my hand and some pixie dust,” Puck said offhandedly. “How it works is really none of your business. But the fact remains that I can do it.”

“Yes, he can,” I said, thinking of the way Puck had “animated” the lost tribe on that faraway planet, a race of faerie dead for centuries. “He can show the past, but he can also manipulate it.”

“How do we know that you will not show Lucifer some trick?” Nathaniel asked. “You could use this as an opportunity to present an enemy of yours in a bad light.”

“Worried I’ll put my own offspring on the chopping block, dear boy?” Puck said.

“You’ve done it before,” I replied. He’d killed Bendith, Nathaniel’s half brother, just to set me up for the fall. He knew I would have to get rid of Titania, Bendith’s mother, whose rage knew no bounds. And because I had killed her to defend myself, he was now free from the chains that had bound him to the Faerie queen for centuries.

I knew Puck was angry that I had “ruined” Nathaniel, whom he had designed as a kind of walking time bomb to assassinate Lucifer at some future point. This would be the perfect opportunity for Puck to clear the board of me or Nathaniel or both.

I turned to Lucifer. “He can show you the past, but I wouldn’t necessarily trust it.”

“I know quite well what my brother is capable of,” Lucifer said, his voice cold as winter. “You and Nathaniel have nothing to fear as long as you have done no wrong.”

That wasn’t true. Titania hadn’t believed a word I’d said despite my protestations that I’d had nothing to do with Bendith’s death. The murder looked like I could have committed it, and I was on the spot when it happened. Therefore it was my fault.

Now Evangeline was dead outside my door, and I was covered in her blood. No matter what Puck showed us, I had a feeling things were not going to end well for me. Somehow I was always blamed when things started to go wrong.

Puck waved us away from Evangeline’s body. We all moved to one side, even Lucifer. Puck held his hands over her for a moment, murmuring quietly.

At first nothing seemed to be happening. Jude shifted restlessly against the wall, his nose sniffing the air.

“What is it?” I asked.

He shook his head. “I can’t tell. It may be the shifter.”

“Silence,” Lucifer said, and Jude and I ceased our whispering.

Then, suddenly, Evangeline seemed to rise a few inches from the floor. Everything that had occurred in the hallway happened in reverse, as real as if we were watching a live performance. We saw Nathaniel remove the baby (which looked even more horrible the second time around), saw me cut Evangeline’s stomach open (also not particularly pleasant on review). Since the “film” was running backward, it looked like we all went into our bedrooms instead of coming out of them, and Evangeline crawled the wrong way down the hallway, away from our doors. At the end of the hallway, near the windows, Evangeline came to her feet.

A second figure materialized in the frame. Someone in a dark cloak stabbed her, a shiny silver knife sliding into her chest over and over. Evangeline struggled, throwing her arms out. The figure stepped away from her, back into the shadows. Just before the figure disappeared, the face under the hood turned toward our end of the hallway.

It was my face under the hood.

Of course it was.


I sighed. “Seriously. You could have predicted that would happen.”

I expected Lucifer to dismiss what he had seen out of hand, or turn on Puck and accuse him of manipulating the memory of what had happened here. But he did neither of those things. Instead, he turned on me with a look so cold and frightening that I took a step back.

“I thought you did protest too much, Granddaughter,” Lucifer said.

“You’ve got to be kidding me,” I said. “You believe all that? You think I killed Evangeline? Why? I have enough aggravation without adding on a murder rap.”

“We all witnessed it,” Lucifer said. “My eyes have told me the truth.”

“Your eyes have lied to you, or he has,” I said, pointing at Puck.

Puck shook his head. He looked at me with speculation and, I thought, surprise. “I have done nothing to change what happened here, niece.”

“And you believe him?” I said to Lucifer. “You do know what he’s been up to for the last few months, don’t you?”

“Puck cannot lie to me,” Lucifer said.

“Since when?” I said.

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