The Beautiful Ashes

Page 59

And I had believed them. Even when I’d knocked him out and tied him up, part of me had hoped I was making a terrible mistake. Yeah, I had, but not by doing that. By not listening to him the first time he’d told me not to trust him.

Demetrius’s dark gaze flared as Adrian walked toward him. “My son,” he said almost reverently. “I never doubted that this moment would come.”

I suppressed a bitter snort. A demon with unwavering faith, how ironic. And his faith would soon be rewarded, how unfair.

Adrian smiled as he embraced his foster father, practically shoving Jasmine out of the way to get to him. I don’t know why I didn’t run to my sister in the last few seconds I had left. Maybe shock froze me in place, keeping me from doing anything except staring at the man who’d proven to be every bit as traitorous as his infamous ancestor. Everyone had warned me about Adrian, yet just like my gullible or well-intentioned family members, I hadn’t listened.

Now, just like my ancestors, I’d also die after being betrayed by a Judian.

“I kept everything in this realm the way you left it,” Demetrius murmured, pulling away. “Even your ridiculously burdensome means of feeding and housing your slaves.”

Adrian chuckled like Demetrius had told a joke. “Makes them work harder to avoid being sent to one of your realms...Father.”

The word was the final nail into my heart, but Demetrius smiled with such joy, it transformed his face, making him appear as he must have once looked however many aeons ago.


“Let us finish this,” he said, kissing Adrian’s forehead. Then he turned toward the other Hounds and me, his arm still around Adrian’s shoulders as though he couldn’t bear to let him go. “Which one is she?”

Adrian met my gaze—and strode over to the Hound next to me, shoving it toward Demetrius with such force that he actually managed to make the huge creature stumble.

“Here she is,” he said clearly.

Chapter thirty-seven

I looked at the Hound, then at Adrian, emotion after emotion crushing me as though I were being hit by multiple tidal waves. He hadn’t come here to betray me. Once again, against all odds and destinies, he was trying to save me.

I wanted to throw my arms around him and sob out an apology for ever doubting him, let alone all the other terrible things I’d done. Then I wanted to kiss him until neither of us could breathe. But I couldn’t do either of those things. If I so much as moved, I’d undo the ruse he was trying to pull off.

“That thing isn’t Ivy.”

My sister’s confused whisper cut through my inner battle, but the surge had already activated my abilities, and they zeroed in on Adrian. Granted, my hallowed-sensor should’ve picked up on what was in his pocket before, but in my defense, I’d been a little preoccupied thinking I was about to die.

“Her appearance is disguised,” Adrian responded, flashing a nasty smile at the Hound. “Not that it does any good with me.”

The Hound looked mildly irritated at being shoved around, but it didn’t attack. Talk about well-trained. Demetrius pulled a knife out of the sheath on his belt, and I braced in pity for the creature. Here’s hoping the demon would make it quick—

Faster than I could blink, he had Jasmine in his grip, the knife against my sister’s throat. The Hound barely spared them a glance, but I lunged forward with an anguished cry.


Adrian caught me before I reached the demon, and for a split second, his eyes met mine. So many feelings spilled from his gaze that I could barely believe he was the same person who’d looked at me so coldly moments before. Then four incensed words brought our attention back to Demetrius.

“You lied to me.”

Adrian took off his long coat, putting it around me. The whole time, his gaze never left Demetrius’s, even when I felt him furtively remove something from the coat’s pocket.

“You wanted me to be a betrayer.” Adrian’s voice was thick with sarcasm. “Be careful what you wish for, father.”

“If you won’t rule with me, then you can die with your whore,” Demetrius hissed, digging the knife deeper into Jasmine’s throat. “But not before she tells me where the weapon is. I know you found it, Davidian. Where did you put it?”

Adrian’s gaze swung to me. “It was here?”

I nodded, too horrified by the line of blood trailing down Jasmine’s throat to answer audibly. Another ounce of pressure, and her jugular would be severed.

Adrian let out a short laugh. “Right under your nose this whole time. Must’ve been hidden here before you stole this realm from Ciscero.”

“Give it to me, Davidian, or watch her die,” Demetrius ordered, ignoring that.

I tightened the coat around me, then went over to the pile of bones and pulled the slingshot out from under it. Damned thing didn’t work anyway, but maybe it would provide enough distraction for Adrian to use whatever he’d brought with him.

“Ivy, don’t,” Adrian said, grasping my arm.

I glanced at his hand and then back at him, trying to tell him with my eyes to get ready.

“If he has this, he doesn’t need us anymore,” I said, knowing the demon would try to kill us anyway, but hoping Demetrius believed I was that naïve.

The two minions who’d brought Jasmine began to circle around us. Blondie, Muddy Minion and Scowling Minion moved to block the tunnel entrance, as if the dozens more behind them weren’t enough to prevent our escape. Demetrius didn’t seem to notice the extra activity. He stared at the braided rope dangling from my hand with something akin to rapture.

“So let us all go,” I continued, “and it’s yours.”

Adrian translated my words to the demon. He dropped my arm, too, his hooded sapphire gaze flicking between me and Demetrius.

I hoped that meant he understood and was on board. Demetrius was. He lowered the knife, revealing a small, still-bleeding cut on Jasmine’s neck. Then he shoved my sister toward me. She caught herself before she reached me, staring at me with horrified confusion. Right, I still looked like a Hound. How could I keep forgetting that?

“A deal’s a deal,” I said, tossing the slingshot toward the demon.

He reached out to catch it—and Adrian hurled the small object he’d concealed in his coat. Dazzling white exploded in the underground room, throwing Demetrius backward while briefly blinding me. The demon’s agonized scream seared my ears as Adrian yanked me into his arms, and I felt rather than saw him haul my sister against him next.

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