Manella whispers some words, and a small grouping of words appear on Lamar’s forearm.
“Use that. Get out of here if they come for you. Do not die. That’s a direct order from your prince,” Manella says, clearing his throat as though he’s trying to rein in his emotions.
I bounce out of my seat, seeing the weird words. I’m not sure what language this is, but I hope I can say those words close enough to get the guys out.
Lamar bends, picking up his cuffs and begins putting them back on.
“Say you understand me,” Manella snaps.
Lamar gives him a watery smile.
“My time is up, my prince. I’ll see you soon.”
Before Manella can argue, the doors open, and Lamar disappears, even though another person never comes in here. Well, shit.
That’s not good. How the hell am I supposed to get back to the throat?
Then again, I found the answers to escape, discovered Manella and Lamar look to be getting framed, all in less than ten minutes of being down here. It’s likely I could discover so much more down here if I had more time.
That explains why the guys want access to this area so badly.
The doors slam shut, sealing me inside with Manella. And I watch as the dark prince sags to a chair…and cries. He seems far less evil when he’s a man weeping with a broken heart.
No way would he send his love to go after the guys if the price would be his life. He’s not willing to sacrifice anything so important to him.
Manella stands, slinging a lamp across the room. It passes through me and shatters on the wall at my back. Then he breaks.
He drops to the ground, sobbing so fiercely that it’s impossibly painful to watch. My chest feels like it’s going to cave in on itself just to help bear some of the weight of his misery.
“I’m going to help you too,” I groan aloud, hating myself as I turn to pass through the wall beside me and give him his privacy in this moment.
I can’t believe I’m going to help the son of the devil that my guys are convinced is working against them. I was convinced of it too…until today.
Blowing out a breath, I ignore my own mist of ghostly tears. They’re definitely going to hate me once I defend Manella and Lamar.
The sooner I can sever this link between us, the better. Even if it does feel like excruciating fire in my chest to even think about.
So…hell is massive and confusing. I’ve walked in a circle half a dozen times, haven’t seen another soul—ha!—since I left Manella, and even passing through walls seems to get me lost and spin me back around.
It makes no sense.
I have no real concept of time, but I’m almost positive I’ve been tangled up in this optical illusion of a maze for hours.
So much for this place having all the answers at easily accessible points.
Just as I pass through another wall, beginning my loop again, two guards with the leather masks appear.
One hands the other what looks like a white key card, and the key card holder disappears from sight.
The one still lingering looks around before pulling out some type of compass looking thing.
“It’s done,” the guy states into the compass. “The prince’s lover won’t survive beyond the night.”
Shit! Now I have to hopefully conjure enough power to also protect Lamar, even though I have no idea how to even access my power. Damn it.
Cursing, I sit down and start concentrating on the guys, wondering if I can zap myself to them even though I can’t see them. It wouldn’t be the first time I’ve done it, but definitely the first time I’ve done it on my own.
I picture Ezekiel first, thinking of how he touched me and let me feel. Then I go through the routine of thinking of each of them, feeling their presence grow stronger in my mind.
“Where the fuck have you been?” I hear Kai snap, causing my eyes to fly open and take in the fact I am most definitely back in their cell.
Grinning, I look over, but my smile falls from my face when I see four angry glares on me.
“What?” I ask innocently, as Jude jerks his gaze away, his jaw ticking as his hands stay balled in fists.
Ezekiel gets in my face. “Where have you been?”
“I hitched a ride out of here and into the royal suite to get the release switch for these,” I say with a shrug as I gesture toward their cuffs.
Just as Ezekiel opens his mouth to say something I probably don’t want to hear, I say, “Un bracco.”
The cuffs all open and fall off, and four surly men just stare at me like I’ve sprouted a second head.
“Now that you’re free, does that mean you can siphon out of here?” I ask, even though I’m pretty sure they can’t.
“No,” Jude tells me warily.
“The soul stones,” Gage reminds me, eyes narrowing.
“I think Gage’s theory on her is definitely the most plausible at this point,” Kai mutters, running a hand through his hair like he’s frustrated.
No clue what that means, and it’s doubtful they’ll elaborate.
“Now that you’re free, you can take turns watching each other’s back and sleep in twos or something,” I tell them, turning to walk through Smeagol’s cage again.
“Where the hell do you think you’re going?” Ezekiel asks as he blocks my path.
My eyebrows go up. “To help someone who doesn’t have three others already looking after him. If I can. I’m not really sure if it’s because I’m linked to the four of you that I can protect you, or if I’m just naturally protective of anyone I feel an attachment to. Hopefully it’s the latter, because he’s going to need my help.”
I expect him to move aside, but he doesn’t. And since I promised not to touch him, I don’t pass through him either. When I start to sidestep him, Kai blocks my path, an angry glare on me again.
These guys are so frustrating.
“What’d I do now? Did I make myself look really suspicious because I got those cuffs off even though only guards or escorts or what-the-hell ever can do it? Well, I think you’re wrong on that, or maybe—”
“I think you’re a gift to us from Lilith,” Gage says from behind me, causing me to spin around and look at him like he’s crazy.
“The rest of us are leaning toward that now,” Jude adds, tossing aside the cuffs.
“What?” I ask, confused.
“The timing, the ability to withstand hellfire and pass through soul stones, not to mention the fact our spell had been drained without our knowledge,” Kai states randomly. “It all adds up.”
“Then I apparently don’t know devil math,” I decide to point out.
“Lilith has a special interest in us for whatever reason. But as we’ve stated, a gift from Lilith is wrapped in a curse. By the time you reach the gift, you’ve already torn open the curse,” Gage goes on.
I just stare at him for a minute, looking over my shoulder at him as I wait expectantly on him to elaborate. When he doesn’t, I nod once.
“Right. I’m a curse, and the fact I’ve saved your lives is the gift.” Totally bitter, by the way. But it does line up with the private thoughts I’ve had since their fight with Ezekiel.
“Not what he’s saying,” Ezekiel says, causing me to look back at him. “The gift is protection and exactly what we want,” he adds, his eyes leisurely raking over me.
That gets an eyebrow arch from me.
“One woman able to handle all four of us, and someone who can fit…in,” Jude goes on, causing me to look back at him as he stares directly at my ass with a smirk on his lips.
I know what he likes, and I wanted it really damn bad, until…he was a total dick. All of them have been.
“But we can’t touch you yet,” Gage resumes. “And we can also apparently touch you without each other when you are whole, which could harm the bond we’ve built over centuries.”
I open my mouth to ask how, when Kai takes over.
“Because there’s never been any jealousy before. Already you’ve stirred that. And that’s sure as hell not something we can afford. Everything has a price, Keyla. We’re trying to determine yours,” Kai continues.
“More than you can afford, as you’ve told me multiple times,” I grumble. “Don’t worry. I’m almost positive I’ll find a way to detach myself from you and become someone else’s curse, because I’m about to do something that will definitely make me a hot suspect in your never-ending conspiracy theories.”
Just as Ezekiel tries to grab at me, I pass through Kai and start moving through the walls.
“Keyla!” Gage’s voice booms.
Obviously I ignore him. I have one of their sworn enemies to protect tonight.
They can spend a night without a cursed gift.
I never realized the perks to seeing but not being seen until the quad hell squad, as they called themselves, failed to live up to my very dreamy and super high expectations.
Lamar, however, is excellent company.
We like chilling in companionable silence.
Of course, he has no idea we’re chilling at all.
Since seeing Manella, he hasn’t been shouting for someone to hear about his innocence. It’s like he’s defeated, resigned to die whatever death is coming for him, just so he can save his love.
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