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“Asking them again wouldn’t be a good idea. Kim said they’re already onto us. It’s impossible to keep a secret in that realm. We need a human.”

“A human isn't going to be able to make sense of my dreams, Jared, unless it's someone that already knows. One of Graham’s men, maybe?”

Jared shook his head, deep in thought. “Claire didn’t leave any of them alive. Anyone that might have known anything about it is long gone.”

An idea popped into my head, instantly creating a sinking feeling in my stomach.

“What is it?” Jared asked, concerned.

My mind instantly searched for other options. I was desperate to make the name stuck in my throat a last resort, but she was our only choice. “My mother,” I whispered. “Cynthia would know.”

Jared’s brows pul ed in for a moment. “Jack left her in the dark.”

“You don’t real y believe that, do you?” I asked, incredulous.

He peeked over at me, and then relaxed. “You’re right. How to get her to tel us anything is the question.”

“SHe’ll tel us,” I said, determined.

Chapter Seven

The Perfect Storm

“Isn’t this a surprise,” Cynthia said, fussing with her hair. “I’m on my way to the Komen fundraiser, Nina dear. We’l have lunch tomorrow.”

I side-stepped, guarding the front door. “This is important.”

Cynthia laughed once, unamused. “Not more important than breast cancer, I assure you.” When I didn’t move, she cocked her head. The expression she used for immediate intimidation lit her face. “You wil let me pass this instant, young lady.”

Instinctively, I obeyed. Seeing that she was in no mood for antics, I decided to try the blindside approach.

“Daddy stole a book from someone a few years ago. Do you remember?”

She blinked a few times, my words clearly unsettling to her. “Your father was in shipping, Nina. What interest would he have in a book?”

“He did it, Mother. I’ve seen the book myself. Jared’s held it in his hands.”

Cynthia’s cold eyes darted to Jared, and then narrowed. “I must ask at this point, Jared. Are you trying to get Nina kil ed?”

“No,” Jared said emphatical y, taking a step toward her. “No, that’s why we’re here. We need to know why Jack took the book. What was inside that he was hoping to find?”

Cynthia relaxed, lifting her chin. “Nina, you’l find that if you ignore things…they tend to go away. Now, I real y must be going….”

Jared’s jaw flitted, and then he took an obstinate step in front of the door.

“I’m sorry, Mrs. Grey, but I can’t al ow you to leave until you tel us what you know.”

Cynthia stood unaffected, as if she could brush past Jared if she chose, but she was simply too much of a lady to shove her way through.

“What makes you think I know anything?” she asked, a tiny smirk on her face.

I crossed my arms. “Because you know everything, Mother.”

A smal grin of satisfaction crept across Cynthia’s face. “Your father underestimated that particular talent of mine for years. It’s nice that someone noticed.”

“We need your help, Cynthia,” Jared said. “Why did Jack think Shax’s book could save Nina?”

“The truth wil only hurt you, Dear,” Cynthia said. Her words were meant to be empathetic, but her eyes were devoid of emotion.

I pressed my lips together in hard line, taking her warning very seriously. Before I could make a decision, Jared spoke.

“I'm only going to ask you one more time, Cynthia. What do you know about Jack's reasons for taking the book?”

Cynthia chuckled. “Empty threats rarely compel me to comply.”

Jared leaned against the door. “I have al night, Cynthia. How important is this fundraiser to you?”

“Very wel , then,” Cynthia said. She shifted her weight, clearly irritated. “Your father never wanted children. I wasn’t exactly…maternal…so I never questioned him. But when you came along, Nina, it changed him. He seemed to watch you as if he were waiting for something. I asked him, once, why he stared at you that way. His expression was both disgust and shame, but he didn't answer. He simply walked away.”

Her words cut so deeply that I felt physical pain in my chest, as if a thousand needles were boring their way to the center.

Jared took my hand. “Jack adored Nina. He died trying to save her life.”

Cynthia laughed without humor. “You misunderstand. The first time Jack held Nina in his arms, nothing else mattered. There was nothing more precious in his eyes,” she paused. “But he was afraid.”

I struggled to swal ow the lump that had developed in my throat. “Of what?”

“You, I suppose,” Cynthia shrugged. Her eyes switched to Jared, then, resentful and accusing. “When your father recognized that you were in love with Nina, he shared a story with Jack. It was a story within the last passages of the book you're so desperate to acquire. About a human woman giving birth to a son of God, and that child would disturb The Balance.”

My face twisted. “You mean the story of the virgin Mary and Jesus? What could that possibly have to do with me and Jared?”

Cynthia sighed. “No, Dear. Sons of God are angels. Hel believes a human woman wil give birth to an angel; a powerful angel that wil threaten their power here.”

Jared frowned. “That doesn’t make any sense. Why Nina, then? Human women have been giving birth to Half-breeds for centuries. And even if Nina and I had a child, the baby would have just a quarter of divine blood in its veins. Nothing for Hel to be concerned about.”

“A human woman gave birth to Jesus Christ, Jared,” Cynthia retorted.

“He was human,” I said.

Cynthia raised an eyebrow. “A mortal man who performs miracles and rises from the dead? That’s some if you'l excuse me....”

Jared didn't budge, stil unsatisfied. “Gabe and Jack believed Nina to be the woman in the prophecy, and they stole the book to try to figure out a way to stop it?”

“They stole it twice,” Cynthia corrected. “First, from a family…the Pol ocks. They had spent lifetimes protecting it. Shax and his men alerted the Pol ocks somehow, and your fathers were detected. While they and the Pol ock men were distracted with one another, Shax absconded with his book. It was several months before Gabe located the book again and was able to successful y retrieve it. That’s when it al began.”