Black Spring Page 63

“We must be away from here before Lucifer discovers your condition,” Nathaniel said, taking my hand and leading me into the next room. There were three guards on the floor.

“Or before anyone discovers the string of unconscious bodies we left in our wake,” J.B. said. “Next time you get the bright idea to put yourself under Lucifer’s power, just slap yourself three times and then forget about it.”

“He would have locked me up no matter what,” I said. “I was just trying to streamline the process. Besides, in a way it was better. If I had stood there arguing with Lucifer, my water would have broken right in front of him. And if that happened, then he would have whisked me away from the rest of you and put so much security on me you would have never found me.”

“I would have found you,” Nathaniel said.

There was no arrogance in his tone, just a statement of fact. He would find me no matter what. He would fight for me. I don’t know why it had taken me so long to see this and understand it, and finally, to value it. To value him. I wanted to tell him, but there wasn’t time now. There wasn’t time for anything except escape.

Nathaniel expertly guided us through the warren of passages in this part of Lucifer’s mansion. We saw surprisingly few people, and those servants we did see were dispatched very quickly.

“Where are we going?” I asked.

“There is a back entrance for servants,” Nathaniel said. “I lived here for a time. I should be able to find it again.”

“And once we’re outside, then what?” Jude asked.

“I am hoping to make a portal to transport us away,” Nathaniel said. “There are many magical restrictions on portals within Lucifer’s home, less so on the grounds. But it is imperative that we get outside before he discovers you have escaped. Once he finds out, he will lock down the entire area, and we will be unable to even walk to the edge of his property.”

“Are you saying Lucifer could freeze us in place? Keep us from moving around?” Jack asked.

“That is precisely what I am saying,” Nathaniel said. “This is his home, and a magical creature can always draw more power from the place where they are rooted.”

“It helps that he’s one of the strongest immortals in the universe, too,” J.B. said.

“Yes, that as well,” Nathaniel said.

We were moving along pretty steadily when a contraction hit me so hard I had to stop in the middle of a hallway, gripping my stomach with both hands. I’d been vaguely aware of fluid running down my legs, and now there was a great gush of it. All of the men except Nathaniel turned their heads away in embarrassment. Beezle, who was perched on Samiel’s shoulder, had his claws over his eyes.

“It’s just blood,” I said to them. “You don’t seem to have a problem with it when you’re hacking apart bad guys.”

“I’m the mascot. I don’t hack apart bad guys,” Beezle said. “I’m delicate. I could be scarred by this.”

“Says the gargoyle whose favorite movie is about a shark that eats a bunch of people,” I said.

“A shark is one thing. This is Carrie,” Beezle said.

I wasn’t embarrassed about the blood, but it was getting a lot more difficult to walk, never mind run.

Nathaniel picked me up in his arms, cradling me like a child. I started to protest—his shirt, my weight—but he shook his head at me.

“You weigh nothing to me,” he said. “And a shirt can be replaced. You cannot.”

He began to run then. We both sensed that time was short, and our luck had held out for a surprising amount of time already.

Just as we burst through the door that opened onto a long driveway, I felt an unearthly rumble under our feet. I was almost choked with the anger that I felt coming from Lucifer. Nathaniel felt it, too. His breath drew inward sharply.

“He knows,” Nathaniel said.

He handed me to J.B., who looked a little more uncomfortable holding me than Nathaniel had. I heard Nathaniel muttering the words to open a portal.

“You can put me down,” I said to J.B., who appeared to be straining manfully. J.B. was part faerie, but his strength wasn’t anything close to that of a fallen angel’s. In fact, of everyone present, J.B. was the weakest—excepting the 100 percent human Jack, of course.

“Nope, I’ve got you,” J.B. said.

“You’re going to give yourself a hernia,” I said.

“Never mind a hernia. He’s going to have a heart attack,” Beezle said.

Samiel, who could probably lift a train off the ground using only his biceps, reached for me, and J.B. passed me over, conceding defeat. Beezle flew off Samiel’s shoulder.

“I’d better not add to the strain,” Beezle said.

“It sounds like you’re trying to insult me,” I said. “But really you’re just implying that you’re a fat gargoyle.”

“I’m not fat,” Beezle said. “I’m adorably round.”

Jude sniffed the air. “They’re coming for us. You’d better get that portal open, Nathaniel.”

“It is too late,” Nathaniel snapped. His face was strained. “Lucifer is closing down the borders. We can’t get out this way.”

“No,” I said, my heart pounding in panic.

I realized that it had never occurred to me that we might not escape, that we might not slip out of Lucifer’s net. The lot of us had faced long odds before. I had faced the longest odds of all in the Maze, and yet I’d always survived. To be so close and yet know that Lucifer would win, that Lucifer would take my child from me after everything I’d done to prevent that very thing . . . It was unacceptable.

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