Black Spring Page 55

“Since always,” Puck said. “We cannot speak or show falsehoods to one another. It is a price of our magic.”

“Madeline could not have done this,” Nathaniel said. “She was with me for the duration of the evening. She never left the bedroom.”

“We are all aware that you would lie for Madeline,” Lucifer said. “It is the natural instinct of the protector.”

“Yeah, and how did I get in and out of the bedroom without anyone seeing?” I asked.

“There are paths in these walls, just as in Amarantha’s home,” Lucifer said. “And you discovered those easily enough.”

“How do you know that?” I asked. “Just how closely do you watch me?”

“Closely enough,” Lucifer said.

“Then you should know I didn’t kill Evangeline,” I said.

“I was not watching earlier this evening,” Lucifer said smoothly. “I had guests to attend to.”

“It was the shifter,” Jude said. I could tell that he was strongly resisting the urge to pick a fight with Lucifer. He had a grudge against the Morningstar to begin with, and now Lucifer was casting aspersions on my character.

“Damn right,” I said. “And it framed me for the third time.”

“What shifter do you speak of?” Lucifer asked.

Nathaniel, Jude and I fell over one another trying to explain about the shifter and what it had been up to—how it had slaughtered one of the Retrievers, how it had murdered Chloe, how it had betrayed and hunted Jude’s pack.

Lucifer listened, his expression unchanged. “And you say this creature is something created by Alerian? How is it I have not heard of it if this shapeshifter was formed to fight me and my armies?”

“Daharan said that he made Alerian destroy the creatures. I don’t know why you never heard about them. You can take it up with Daharan and Alerian,” I said. “And Alerian claims that the current iteration has nothing to do with him.”

Lucifer appeared deep in thought, brooding. He snapped his fingers and another servant appeared at the end of the hall.

“How does that work?” I said. “Do they lurk just out of sight or do you have little portals for them to use to walk through the walls?”

My grandfather only gave me another icy glare. It was shocking that he was taking all this so seriously. Not Evangeline’s death—of course he would take that seriously, especially if he truly loved her as much as he seemed to. But I couldn’t believe he was actually considering the possibility that I had been the one to harm her.

He told the magically appearing servant to fetch Alerian. He also gave instructions for the removal of Evangeline’s body and the cleanup of the hallway. A second servant appeared while he was speaking to the first.

“Search Madeline’s room for a black cloak or a large knife,” Lucifer said.

My indignation was growing by the minute. “There won’t be anything in there. And even if there is something in there, do you know how freaking easy it is to plant a murder weapon? Don’t you ever watch TV?”

“No,” Lucifer said shortly.

“Well, Beezle watches a ton of it, and I’ve picked some stuff up by osmosis over the years,” I said.

“Again, the protestations,” Lucifer said, his voice silky. “As I said, you will have nothing to worry about if you have actually done nothing.”

“I have done nothing, and yet I’m still getting worried,” I said. “Because you’re obstinately refusing to listen to reason.”

Lucifer turned on me then, his eyes blazing like the sun. “I am still master in my own house, Granddaughter. Whatever leniency I had allowed you in the past will not be considered if you are Evangeline’s killer. My justice will be swift and absolute.”

I covered my stomach with my hands, an unconscious gesture that drew Lucifer’s gaze there.

“My grandson will not be harmed, of course,” he said. “But you will certainly suffer.”

I narrowed my eyes at him. “It sounds like you’ve already decided.”

He turned his back on me then, saying nothing.

I knew I shouldn’t have come to this damned wedding. I should have stayed at home and taken whatever consequences came with ignoring Lucifer’s invitation. Anything would be better than being trapped in his house, at his mercy.

The only way we would get out of here was if Nathaniel and I joined our powers and blasted the whole place into oblivion. And even then it was a certainty that Lucifer and Alerian and Puck would put aside their differences to stop us. The resulting boom would probably look a lot like a nuclear apocalypse, and a lot of innocent people would be killed in the process. Lucifer might not care about those innocents, but I did.

It came as no surprise when Lucifer’s flunky emerged from my bedroom holding a bloody cloak and a knife covered in rust-colored stains.

“I’m being railroaded,” I said to Nathaniel as Lucifer turned to me in triumph, the cloak and knife clutched in his fists. I felt strangely dazed about the whole thing. It seemed as if it had all been planned from the start.

“You certainly are,” Nathaniel replied.

Through the haze of my bewilderment I became aware of something. Nathaniel was angry. He was very, very angry. The connection between us was choked with his rage. He kept such a leash on his emotions that I was almost never aware of him and our connection. But now I felt it acutely.

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