Tucked snugly between the shadows, it was too dark to see his features clearly, but I pictured his look of resignation anyway. “Are you scared?”

A perfect nonanswer to my question. I knew he was referencing the Umbra demon, but the truth was Wrath scared me, too. Anyone who wasn’t a little afraid to enter a chamber with the demon last seen with their murdered loved one would be an idiot.

A couple streets over, voices rumbled like distant thunder. Laughter followed, bold and boisterous. Palermo was a city that worshipped the night as much as it basked in the glory of the day. Festivals, feasts—there always seemed to be some occasion worth celebrating, especially with food and drink. I hoped to stop the monster bent on destroying that before it struck again.

Several minutes of quiet later, the last golden light inside went dark.

“All right. It’s time,” Wrath said, straightening. “If you’d prefer to stay here, then stay. I don’t coddle.”

I ignored him and slipped into the shadows, letting him talk to himself. He seemed to enjoy the sound of his own voice well enough. It felt rude to interrupt.

“I won’t comfort. Or tend to your wounds. Emotional or otherwise. I despise—”

When the door across the alley creaked open, his mouth snapped shut. I flashed him a scathing look as I pushed it wider in invitation. He stood there, scowling. I’d wager anything he hadn’t heard me move. I wondered how many people ever surprised him. Probably not many, given the way his annoyance seemed to build at the thought of being bested by a witch.

“Are you coming, or not, demon?”


Thankfully, there were no supernatural whispers waiting for me in the chamber where Vittoria died. No insistent summoning tug, or magical request from the Great Beyond. Only silence and the slight scrape of Wrath’s boots as he moved around in the dark. At his quiet but gruff request, I handed him my satchel of supplies, grateful for a few moments to collect myself while he searched inside of it for candles.

According to Wrath, we’d only have a few minutes for him to sense traces of any summoning magic. He warned me there might not be any hints since more than a month had passed. I hadn’t been back in this room since I first found my sister’s mutilated body. If I had a choice, I’d never set foot in this cursed monastery again. I knew Vittoria wasn’t here, but the ghost of that night haunted me all the same. I closed my eyes against the memory of her torn flesh. The utter stillness of death. And the blood.

I rubbed my hands over my arms, though the air was pleasantly warm. It was odd how unexpected life could be. A month ago, I never would’ve pictured returning with the very creature I’d first found licking my sister’s blood, yet here we were. Working together.

Suddenly, I was no longer lost in grief. With everything that had happened, I’d forgotten all about that morbid, blood-licking detail. I spun around, relishing the weight of the demon’s dagger as it bounced at my side. “Just to be clear; I permitted you to leave the containment circle tonight for my benefit alone. It doesn’t mean I like you.”

“And here I thought binding me for all eternity meant we were good friends.”

“You haven’t explained why you were licking my sister’s blood.”

He finished digging through my bag and struck a match. Light flared up, gilding the edges of his face. Shadows darkened his gaze, but didn’t hide the shimmering gold of his irises. His attention slid to the dagger and lingered. He stared at it often enough during our walk here, that I couldn’t help but think he was plotting creative ways of getting it back.

I fought a chill as the familiar feeling of danger returned. Sometimes, especially since he agreed to help me, it was easy to forget he was one of the Wicked. “You didn’t ask me to.”

“I most certainly did.”

“What you said was ‘You were standing over her body, licking her blood from your fingers, you revolting beast.’ ” Obviously, it made a lasting impression. He lit the candles and handed me one. I avoided his fingers and he replied in kind. “Don’t touch anything, witch. We don’t want to disturb any lingering scent.”

“Do I even want to know what you mean by ‘lingering scent,’ or is that some Hell creature fact best left to the imagination?”

“Tempting though it may be, it’s best not to imagine me at all.”

I rolled my eyes. If he didn’t want to elaborate, that was perfectly fine. I didn’t give a rat’s tail about his precious demon senses, but I did care about Vittoria.

“Fine. Why were you licking her blood?”

He held up his candle and pivoted in place, scanning the chamber. “I was testing it.”

I drew in a deep breath and prayed to the goddess of strength and reasoning to keep me from butchering him right here and now.

“Listen, this little alliance will work much better if you elaborate without constant prompting. Pretend I know nothing about your wicked ways. Testing her blood for what?”

“Forgive me, your highness.” A small smile played across his face. “I was testing it for any hints of a demon House she might have aligned herself with.”

“Like the blood trade you offered me?”

He nodded.

“What did you discover when you tested Vittoria’s blood?”

“She hadn’t yet aligned herself with anyone. But that doesn’t mean she hadn’t interacted with a prince of Hell.”

“So even though I summoned you here, no one would know you and I are . . . working together . . . without a blood trade, right?”


Blood and bones. That meant Vittoria could have summoned Greed or even Envy, and, if she hadn’t agreed to a blood trade, there was no way to track that.

“Do you think Greed or Envy would want to stop Pride from marrying?”

He considered that. “Greed enjoys ruling his House, so no. And Envy wouldn’t attempt anything that would bring war to his House. He’s more likely to brood about all the things he doesn’t have and wants, but lacks the ambition to take it.”

Conversation over, Wrath shifted back around with his candle, and something caught my attention. I bent down, scraping a bit of wax with my nail. The wax was pale rose. I suddenly remembered the candles that had been here that horrible night. I moved my light in a slow arc to see the floor better. Another smaller wax splotch was gray. I rotated, spying the same alternating pink and gray wax impressions.

This was definitely the place where Vittoria had created a summoning circle. “Envy said the others will come looking for me, did he mean your brothers?”

“I imagine so.”

“Could he mean the Umbra demons, too?”


I stared daggers at the demon prince. After he went out of his way to save my life, I wanted to scream over his short responses. I thought again about his inability to directly lie to me and narrowed my eyes. “What did he mean about not knowing the future?”

“I wasn’t there. I’m not sure exactly what he was referencing.” Wrath avoided my gaze. “He could just be using it as a fear tactic to get inside your head.”

“What’s a shadow witch?”

He flicked his attention to me, and gave me a look that said if I didn’t know, he wasn’t going to be the one to tell me. I shot him a glare that promised a long, violent death if he didn’t start talking. He relented. “You’ve got a bit more demon blood in you than other witches.”

“That can’t be true. You’re—” I shut my mouth. He couldn’t lie, but there was no way what he said was true. Our family was goddess blessed, not daughters of darkness. “How would that even be possible?”

He arched a brow. “You do know how children are made, don’t you?”

“Of course I do.”

“Good. Saves me from explaining how one of your ancestors had a fine romp with a demon, and produced an heir. Probably not so distantly if Envy could tell by . . . looking.”

“My grandmother said we were guardians between realms. And that ‘shadow witch’ was the nasty name the Wicked gave us.”

His attention was fully on me now, and I suddenly didn’t want him knowing anything regarding my family’s secret history. I nodded at the candle wax, changing the subject. “I remember thinking the air smelled like thyme. And paraffin. Is that proof she tried summoning Pride?”

“No. Pale rose and gray candles are used by House Greed.” He walked around the chamber. “Thyme and copper are also required when summoning a demon who belongs to that court.”

“Demons can only be summoned using the right color candles?”

“Among other things, yes. Demon courts are broken down into seven royal Houses. Each have their own rituals and requirements. Candle colors, plants, time of day, objects of intent, and metals all vary.”

I pointed to the objects around us. “None of this can be used to summon Pride? Or does having the Horn of Hades negate that part of the summoning spell requirement?”

“Even if your sister had possession of both horns, it still wouldn’t work without the correct candles, metals, and plants.” He held his candle up. “Whatever happened in this chamber that night, I know your sister didn’t summon Pride. And it doesn’t look like she was trying to, either.”

“She told me she was.”

Wrath watched me closely. “It’s impossible to know what her intentions were. She very well might have wanted to summon him, but changed her mind along the way. Or, if she did attempt to summon him, she didn’t do that here.”

I collected my growing frustration. If she didn’t summon Pride, that meant Greed was to blame. He had to be. I thought about the attack on Nonna, and his desire to have the Horn of Hades. It made sense that Greed wouldn’t be content being a prince of Hell when he could become the king of demons. Part of his sin included never being satisfied, always wanting more. Not caring who or what was destroyed in the pursuit of his goals.