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“He put some words on his arm and told him to run if he had to,” I decide to add.

“And you haven’t told us these words?” Kai snaps.

“I don’t know the language, and I also wanted to stick around to make sure Lamar doesn’t need more help, since he won’t run. And Manella isn’t faking it. I watched him sob uncontrollably after they took Lamar away. He’d never put him in this position willingly. Some people have hearts. Even the devil’s most mysterious son, apparently.”

They all stare at me like they don’t know whether they’re confused or pissed.

“You’ve kept us in here so you can keep an eye on Lamar, because you believe him and you’ve been protecting him, while Ezekiel was going through this internal riot?” Gage bites out.

“I had no idea Ezekiel was hurting. As for the four of you, you owe me. A lot. And you treat me like shit. I don’t give a damn if I’ve inconvenienced you by making sure someone else just as ungrateful for my help stayed alive.”

“At least she’s proving she’s honest,” Jude drawls, even as he takes a seat at my feet before stretching out so that his head is passing through my ankles.

Rude much?

Rolling my eyes, I shrug. “I’ve never had a reason to be dishonest. It’s not like you can kill me.”

Kai makes a sound of amusement, and Gage shakes his head as he stretches out along the top, his head almost touching mine. We’re in an odd, uneven square right now, with me trapped in the middle as I press against Ezekiel.

He’s asleep, not just knocked out. I can tell by the steady rhythm of his breathing. It’s a lot like the last time I slept with him.

“I don’t understand you, little spirit,” Kai says on a long breath.

“I don’t understand me either,” I confess.

A silence falls over us, and though I’m tempted to go check on Lamar, since he’s alone, unlike the quad, I can’t bring myself to leave. Guess that makes me a masochist.

Tingles course through my body from all four of them as they get more comfortable. I keep my eyes trained on the cell walls. For whatever reason they haven’t been attacked yet.

That might have something to do with Lamar’s botched attack. Maybe since their cuffs have popped off, no one—or nothing—has been brave enough to attack them.

With the cuffs, they should have been easily dispatched, even with all four locked in the same spot at the same time.

A weird sense of peace settles over me the longer the tingles last. Even Kai falls fast asleep. Though I’m sure none of them have slept much.

After all, it’s hell in here.

Chapter 18

The guys have all fallen asleep, and it’s another one of those times where I feel sleepy. Last time I felt that, I woke up a whole girl.

My eyes move around the stone cell, and I think about what a terrible idea being whole would be right now.

Something clanking heavily draws my attention, and I sit straight up when I strain enough to hear Lamar through the cells.

“Is that all you got?!”

Looking around, I get in Gage’s ear—since he’s the one who sleeps the most in this lot—and whisper, “Sorry. I need you awake.”

He jerks, his hand rubbing his eyes as he frowns and looks around. “What the hell? I was finally sleeping without the nightmares for a change,” he growls.

“Well, good. But do it when I get back. Something’s going on, and I can’t leave with all of you asleep.”

I stand to my feet, and he leaps to his. “You can’t leave at all,” he tells me, eyes narrowing as he glares at me.

“Actually, I’m the only one who can,” I tell him as I pass right through him.

He still tries to grab me, knowing he can’t.

“Don’t fucking leave, Keyla,” he gripes, but I rush through the walls anyway.

Just as I land in Lamar’s cell, another man appears. This one is a different kind of guard. His mask is white leather, and his wardrobe is red.

Lamar starts to do something, but the guy holds up his hands as a show of surrender. “I’m here on your prince’s behest,” the man states, tearing his sleeve up to show some sort of marking. “Lucifer has requested an audience with the two of you.”

I quickly pat Lamar’s arm, reminding him of the fact he’s got those escape words and he’s about to go before the devil, who might find that very suspicious if he’s so innocent.

Though I feel absolutely nothing, Lamar subtly startles and tugs down his sleeve to cover the markings before the man sees them.

“Try something and I will kill you,” Lamar cautions.

The man in the white mask nods, then his mask turns red. Totally creepy.

I reach for Lamar, touching his back, and finding it peculiar he stays relaxed instead of stiffened.

In a blink, we’re out of the room, and suddenly we’re alone with Manella, who is walking toward us in a brightly lit, elegant red room. He runs a hand through his hair, a small smile on his lips.

“My father has agreed to a meeting, and he seems fairly lucid today. He even called for me himself, and asked me to once again tell him about the night you were accused and your alleged true whereabouts. After I told him, he nodded and immediately sent for you.”

Lamar doesn’t look as excited as Manella, and that sends a prickle of dread up my spine.

“If he’s lucid enough to read lies, he’ll release you,” Manella goes on.

Lamar gives him a tight smile. “We can only hope, my prince.”

Manella jerks Lamar to him in a pre-celebratory embrace, and Lamar hugs him back, though his is a sadder, more desperate hold.

It makes me almost suspicious, but yet there’s no guilt in his eyes. Only trepidation.

Manella pulls back, clearing his throat even as he keeps that boyish, carefree smile on his face. He looks like a completely different man.

“They’ll send for you when it’s your time to join us,” he says, then grabs Lamar’s face between both his hands and kisses him hard before jerking back again, that smile spreading.

Lamar just returns a smile that’s so beautifully tragic it makes my heart hurt. Manella, oblivious, turns and darts out the doors, leaving them wide open as he vanishes from sight.

As soon as he’s gone, Lamar clears his throat and straightens his clothing out in front of the mirror. In a blink, he looks clean and pressed, not a wrinkle on the clothes that were tattered only seconds ago.

“I’m not sure what you are,” he says, causing me to look around for someone else in the room. It’s just me. My gaze swings back as he blows out a breath and continues. “But if you’re a gift from Lilith, I can only assume today I pay the price. Lucifer hasn’t been lucid in many decades. It’d be much too hopeful to believe it’s as Manella believes today.”

Is he really talking to me right now?

“If you’re my gift, I will pay the price without falter. But I only request that my damnation be his salvation, and you move onto protecting him without penalty.”

That really makes my heart hurt.

He believes Lilith’s price for protection is now the cost of his life. The true gift was borrowed time with Manella and seeing him happy one last time.

As happy as a man who is certain his true love is about to be his again.

I hate Lilith.

If I’m everyone’s gift and curse, I hope a day comes when I’m able to save her, just so she can be damned in one way or another.

But as it stands, everyone I’ve protected has faced a consequence.

Five men I’ve saved. Five men have been locked in hell’s throat. One of those men may die today.

Now his last wish is that I protect the one he’s leaving behind without consequence. And I have no way of telling him that if I could control it, none of them would suffer.

“You will be busy in this trying time, I’m afraid,” he says a little quieter.

I wonder if I’ll be able to stop the devil from killing him.

Highly doubtful.

Furious and hurting, I follow him when a red masked man comes to collect. I’m assuming these are the royal guards, unlike the hell guards with black masks.

It’s like the death mile with all the eerie paintings of the six royal devil spawns hanging every few inches. Paintings of them throughout time. One has Hera and all her blonde haired beautiful glory in front of the Trojan horse with a deviant smirk on her face.

I stop to try and make sense of the plaque underneath, and the weird symbols turn into actual words. Blinking, I hurry and read, in case the words disappear again.

Helen of Troy. A great war between two great countries, and the ruin of two feared or deeply respected kings.

Body count—massacre

Fear factor—little to none

Historical presence—heavy impact

Is this their weird Hall of Sick Fame dedicated to their earthly visits or whatever? Was she seriously Helen of Troy at one point?

I jog down the hall, but halt when I see another plaque hanging under a picture of a very sinister, yet highly sophisticated portrait of Cain in a top hat.

He’s tipping the hat with very bloody hands.

Jack the Ripper. Leaving behind a legacy that still lives on even in new generations, and haunting of the minds of everyone once they hear the tale.

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