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“And all along he could have healed her? Did he know she wouldn’t really die?” Gage asks with an eerily calm tone.

Shit. Now he’s the one who might kill him.

“Kai, please just stay behind me. I need some tingles, and Lamar has enough of—”

Before I can finish the sentence, Kai is holding a sword under Lamar’s chin, appearing there in less than an instant. Now he really might kill Lamar too. Damn it.

“Move and I’ll do worse than cut you. Answer the questions,” he growls. “Did he kill her just to punish us for not properly playing a game we had no idea we were even playing? A royal fucking escort killed her.”

Lamar glances at him, not moving anything other than his eyes.

“No. There are always rebels in hell. It’s hell, after all. Rebellions spring up like weeds. We’re stifled by the volume in this particular rebellion, since Lucifer has been decommissioned for so long with your dead girlfriend’s father in his ear. At least we assume it’s him, due to her involvement in the botched assassination attempt on your lives. You were just caught in the crosshairs. Apparently we’re not the only ones who’ve noticed Paca back. And the Devil’s youngest daughter back from a true death and back to reign with her four unstoppable horsemen? I thought the five of you were playing a very dangerous game.”

“Rebels. Really? Rebels are trying to kill us and not Lucifer? I don’t know what to believe,” I grumble. “His timing is just terribly suspicious.”

They all give me a look, as though they’re exasperated with me for saying that, considering I heard that from them quite a lot when I first popped up, and I held it against them.

“I do believe I’m the Devil’s daughter, though. Oh, and in case this was the only thing still holding you back, it’s become abundantly clear I’m most definitely, without a doubt, unquestionably not a virgin.”

Kai turns and tosses the sword down like he’s frustrated, while Jude just huffs.

“On a related note, my vagina is most decidedly evil, so you win that argument after all,” I add.

“For fuck’s sake, Paca!” Kai gripes, saying the new name with ease like it’s perfectly natural. “Just take this seriously for a damn second. Do you have any idea what he’s saying?!”

I just stare at him, feeling my heart beat a little in my intangible chest. Something about him saying this apparent un-badass name of mine feels like a memory, even though there’s no real memory accompanying it.

He’s breathing heavily, his eyes hooded a little as he stares at me like he’s thinking the same thing. His eyes flick to my lips, and Lamar sighs loudly.

“The more things change, the more they stay the same. The air in here just got considerably warmer. You four were always pissed or serious when you used her nickname. And she always loved it when you did. She loved angry sex,” Lamar says, smirking.

“I’m really curious about seeing if that’s a real thing,” I tell Kai, gesturing toward the door like it’s an invitation.

He groans before turning his back on me and cursing.

“Wait, Paca is a nickname?” I ask, snapping out of my trance as I look back over.

Jude repeats the question aloud to Lamar, and Lamar nods, eyebrows furrowing.

“Yes. And not your nickname for her. Everyone called her Paca. But the rest of the time you all called her various things. Mostly, however, the four of you seemed to call her one phrase over and over in each life. You used it as a caution in every language you ever learned as mortals. Then you used it when you returned home to hell as a term of endearment.”

“What was it?” I ask immediately, curious what they called me back when they apparently loved me.

Me. The daughter of the Devil.

Ezekiel repeats my question so Lamar can hear it.

“The last language was Romanian, I think, because you’d just come back from mortal lives there before…” Lamar lets his words trail off.

“Before we were killed,” Kai supplies.

Lamar nods, the life drifting from his eyes a little as he gets distant. With a more informed eye, I almost see a reluctance in his gaze to revisit this memory. As though it’s painful for him. My death was painful for him.

“Romanian?” Jude asks, stepping closer as he visibly tenses.

“Yes,” Lamar says with a shrug. “Comoara trădătoare,” he says, causing the air to get sucked from the room. “I think that’s roughly the Romanian translation for treacherous treasure. You always called her that in numerous languages.”

Lamar just stares at us as we all remain still and silent. Well, he’s not staring at me.

“You remember?” Lamar asks, once again sounding hopeful when he reads their expressions wrong.

“No,” Ezekiel says shakily.

“Suddenly that headstone sounds much more endearing than it did a few hours ago,” I tell them quietly. “I almost forgive you for its simplicity now. Almost.”

“If you don’t remember, then why is everyone reacting to that odd endearment?” Lamar asks.

“Because we just realized we’re living a rerun from the longest running show in history, and we have no idea what happened in the rest of the countless seasons before,” I say on an exhale.

Lamar doesn’t hear this, obviously.

“You said Paca was her nickname. What’s her real name?” Jude asks for me, cycling back to that question, since he knows I’ll want to know once I get over the bomb Lamar incidentally set loose.

“Oh, I thought that was obvious by now,” Lamar says, frowning in my direction. “Especially after telling you that you’re the Four Horsemen. Everyone knows you’re the Four Horsemen of The Apocalypse.”

“Say what now?” I ask dryly.

“Are you saying she’s the apocalypse?” Gage asks incredulously.

“I’m saying she’s The Apocalypse. Her name is Apocalypse. She puts the in front of it when she wants to remind everyone she’s the only one who can truly level the world. As I said, she’s rather vain that way,” he says jovially as he reuses the one joke that got him a few snickers last time.

No one giggles this time.

It’s not funny anymore.

“My name is Apocalypse?” I ask on a hushed whisper. “As in the end of times for the entire world?”

My four guys look at me, regarding me like they’re waiting to see how to react.

“Now that, I did not see coming at all,” I utter on a shaky breath.

I don’t realize, until Lamar’s eyes widen, water, and clash with mine, that I’ve accidentally turned whole. And apparently I must look exactly the same, since the recognition in his expression is unmistakable.

I guess that explains the horror on most of the people’s faces who could see me in between life and death.

After all, I’m as bad as it fucking gets. I’m sure I have a reputation.

“I take it back,” I say as I swallow hard, my eyes tearing away from Lamar to look at each of my guys individually. “I don’t want a badass name.”

Chapter 14

“Paca,” Lamar says on a choked sound, causing me to turn back to him as a lone tear rolls down his cheek.

He opens his mouth to say more, but only a strained sound comes out. I guess believing and seeing are two different things in this case, because he almost looks like he can’t believe what he’s seeing, when he believed it before this moment with no problem.

“How do you have your own body?” he asks on a shaky breath, his eyes trailing down and…then his head jerking back as confusion creases his features. “And what the hell are you wearing?” he asks, less reverent and more incredulous.

I glance down, remembering I am indeed still wearing the sexy Devil costume.

“An outfit that wasn’t quite so ironic when initially chosen,” I say absently.

His grin spreads so wide, and tears wobble in his eyes as he laughs so genuinely that it warms me.

“You said Lucifer knew. Who else knows?” Jude asks him, moving closer.

Lamar blinks, returning his attention to him. “Too many people have likely figured it out. Especially since the trials. The second trial always ends up killing the echo quads, even though they put the rumor out there that some survive.”

“Echo quads?” Ezekiel asks him. “You keep mentioning that.”

Lamar grabs some books from behind him, and he starts putting them on the desk as he talks.

“Echo quads. There are so many echoes. The Gemini Twins were the first pair. Their echoed pairs are stronger than echoed quads. Echoes don’t have the same fierce bond as the originals—you. There was one obstacle to always drive out the posers in case the four of you ever returned home. You’d never leave a man behind.”

My mind flicks back to Kai’s injured leg, and the terrible options we had at hand. They would have died beside him before leaving him behind.

He hands them a book, and Gage warily takes it.

“That one is everything on your origins,” Lamar tells him.

“It’s blank,” Gage says as he opens it.

“It’s the only one. We never wanted anyone else trying to recreate the four of you. If you want to read it, spill your blood and start reading. The words will appear in whatever language you choose,” Lamar tells him distractedly as he grabs what looks like a journal.


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