The Lost Saint Page 57

Talbot held out his hand. “Where’s your stake?”

I pulled it out of my backpack.

Talbot made a choking noise—like he attempted to strangle his laughter—when he saw the jewel-encrusted hilt.

“April,” I said.

“Aha.” Talbot took my hand and pushed my sleeve up. He gingerly placed my bejeweled stake against my forearm and then tucked my sleeve over it. “Backup. Just in case you need it.”

“You mean I’m going in alone?”

Talbot nodded. He held my hand in his for a moment and then let go and moved his hand up to my neck. His fingers tangled with the white-gold chain of my moonstone necklace. I didn’t want his touch to send tingles down my spine, but it did anyway. I was about to ask him to move his hand—to remind him of the line that shouldn’t be crossed between us—when I felt a tug and a snap and he yanked my necklace away from my neck.

“What are you doing?” I reached for my pendant in his hand.

He pulled it away. “It’s a dead giveaway. You’re going to go up there pretending to be a lost little lamb; if those SKs see this, you’ll tip them off in two seconds flat.”

“But I need it.”

“No, you don’t, Grace. I’ve told you before. This”—he held up the moonstone pendant—“is holding you back just as much as Daniel and Gabriel. They don’t believe in you. They don’t know you the way I do. And you’ll never know what you’re really capable of without letting go of the things that hold you back.” He tucked my pendant into the front pocket of my backpack and then clasped his hands on my shoulders. He stared at me with his piercing green eyes, seeming to radiate with that same commanding presence that I’d noticed in the club. “Consider this as your final test. Show me you’re ready to be a real Hound of Heaven.”


I knocked on the apartment door and waited a good thirty heartbeats before knocking a second time. I couldn’t help feeling somewhat naked and vulnerable without the moonstone pendant that I hadn’t been without in more than ten months.

“Hello,” I called in a sugar-sweet voice that shook only a tiny bit. “Is anyone home? I need some help.”

I knew Talbot was watching. I didn’t know from where, but I could feel his presence close by.

I heard the floorboards creak inside the apartment, and then the door rattled open. A teenage guy peered through the crack. He looked just like any other wasted city kid: stubble dusted his chin, and his eyes were puffy and red like I’d woken him from a fitful sleep—but I could tell from his distinct sour-milk stench that he was a Gelal.

“Hi,” I said, and gave a friendly wave to the guy with my arm that wasn’t concealing a weapon. “My car broke down, and my cell’s not working.” I twirled one of my curls around my finger and snapped my gum. I have to admit I was doing my best impersonation of April. “Do you think I could use your phone? It’ll only take a second.”

The guy eyed the lock of my hair I had twisted around my finger. He cracked a smile. His teeth were yellow, and one was missing. “Sure thing, little bird.” He opened the door wider. “Come right on in.”

My muscles tensed, and my stomach clenched into a knot. I recognized that disgusting smile of his. He was the guy who had been harassing April with his friend at The Depot. The one with the iron-hard grip I’d kicked in the gut—the one who could probably crush my bones with his bare hands. I was dressed quite differently than I had been at the club—without the fake tough-girl vinyl pants and smoky makeup—so hopefully he wouldn’t recognize me too soon.

I fought off the instinct to run and gave him my best sweet and innocent smile as I crossed the threshold of the doorway into the dank apartment. There was no furniture in the room, only a crumpled mass of blankets in the corner like a nest. No TV, couch, or chairs. Not even a phone on the wall. Talbot had said that he had followed two demons here, but that wasn’t adding up. As far as I could tell, the guy was alone in the apartment, and it didn’t even look like he’d been staying here very long.

“I like your hair,” the guy said from behind me.

I pretended not to notice the sound of the bolt in the door locking shut.

“So, um, like, where’s your phone?” I asked.

“Oh,” he said with a raspy snarl in his voice. He stepped closer behind me. “I forgot. I don’t have one.” My body jerked as he grabbed me by my hair and pulled my back against his chest. His other hand wrapped around my neck. I could feel his nails elongating into claws as he tapped his fingers against the pulse in my throat.

“That’s too bad,” I said sweetly, and flexed my wrist. The stake slid out from my sleeve into my hand.

“What?” the guy asked, genuinely confused. I’m sure he’d expected me to scream.

“Now you can’t call for help.” I felt a burst of power, and I stomped on his bare foot. The bones in his toes popped under my heel.

He screamed and let go of my neck. I grabbed his arm and leveraged his weight against him, flipping him over my shoulder. He landed on his back, a look of pure shock on his face. Then his eyes narrowed, and he snarled at me. “I thought you looked familiar. You’re that feisty little bitch from the club.” He jumped back up on his feet and came at me with his clawed hands. “Did they send you?”

I dodged his attack and kicked him in the back of the knee. “Did who send me?”

The demon stumbled into the wall and then spun around. “We told them we wanted out, and he said we could walk.” He lunged at me.

I pushed him aside and then brought my fists up in a defensive position, one hand still gripping the stake. He snarled at the weapon and took a swipe at it with his clawed hand. I dodged his attack and bounced back on my heels.

“But they sent you after us, didn’t they?” the guy asked, and lunged at me again.

Is he talking about the gang?

I used three of my new moves to grapple with him until I subdued his attack. “Where are they?” I asked, and slammed my knee into his stomach. “Where’s the gang? How do I find them?” I sent a second blow into his gut.

He coughed. “Don’t you already know?”

“Tell me where to find them!” I grabbed him by the throat and slammed him against the wall. I held my stake above his chest. “I want to know where to find the Shadow Kings, or whatever the hell they call themselves. Tell me now, and I’ll spare your life.”

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