Black Heart Page 63

“Better get under a veil,” I said. “We don’t want to attract attention.”

Nathaniel dropped a veil over all of us, but somehow managed to manipulate it so we could still see one another. His power was noticeably stronger than before, and the darkness that lingered beneath my skin quickened in anticipation.

No, I thought, pushing it back. I wasn’t a time bomb waiting to go off. I was Madeline Black, just as Nathaniel had said, and I controlled my power. It would not control me.

But Beezle was a little bit right when he said that you weren’t totally out of control before, wasn’t he? You liked it. You liked feeling all-powerful.

I pushed the thought away. My heart was still my own. I did not belong to Lucifer. I would not.

“Now what?” Beezle said.

“I can trace Bendith,” Nathaniel said. “We have a blood connection, so it is a simple thing for me to follow him.”

Nathaniel closed his eyes. I could feel the pulse of his magic spreading outward, searching for a trace for Bendith. J.B. raised his eyebrows at me, and I knew that he could feel it, too.

And I was as strong as Nathaniel, maybe stronger. It was a terrifying, seductive thought.

Nathaniel’s magic pulsed again, and there was something different about it, almost as if he were frustrated.

“What is it?” I asked.

“I cannot feel him,” Nathaniel said, and I could hear the strain in his voice. “I have been able to sense his presence since we met in Titania’s forest.”

“Since your eyes changed and you both realized that Puck was your father,” I said.

“Yes. I am always aware of him,” Nathaniel said. “However, now that I realize it, I lost him when you were, ah . . .”

“. . . on fire and kissing you like she wanted to devour you?” Beezle said innocently.

“I am going to make sure you never eat hot wings again if you keep this up,” I said.

Beezle mimed zipping his mouth shut.

“In any case, he must have disappeared then,” Nathaniel said. “But I did not realize it because I was distracted.”

“So there are two options,” I said. “He left this world for another, or someone is deliberately hiding him from you as you were hiding him from everyone else.”

“The list of suspects strong enough to do that is pretty short,” J.B. said. “I’m looking at two of them.”

“And obviously you can eliminate the two of us from your suspect roster,” I said.

“So that leaves Lucifer, Puck, Alerian, Daharan, Titania and maybe a few of the fallen,” Beezle said.

“I don’t think we want to go around quizzing any of them to see if they have alibis,” I said.

“What happened to Daharan, anyway?” Beezle asked. “I thought he was going to smack Sokolov around and then come back to you.”

“He didn’t have anything to do with this,” I said.

“Maddy—” J.B. began.

“No, I know he didn’t,” I said. “I don’t know how to explain it to you. I’m not more closely related to him than I am to Alerian or Puck, but I feel more connected to him. I know that he didn’t take Bendith.”

J.B. looked skeptical, but Nathaniel looked thoughtful. “I wonder why the two of you have bonded so strongly.”

I shrugged. “I don’t know why. I just felt it as soon as I looked into his eyes. It’s like he’s my guardian angel.”

Saying it made it seem true, and right. Daharan was my guardian. He was supposed to watch over me.

“I can tell you this,” I continued. “Puck got really, really angry about it.”

“That makes sense,” J.B. said. “Puck has been trying to maneuver you into his corner, away from Lucifer. He can’t be happy that this other sibling has popped up out of nowhere and staked a claim on you.”

“This is all very well,” Beezle said. “But what are we going to do about Bendith if Nathaniel can’t track him?”

“Let’s think about this logically,” I said. “Who has the most motivation to take Bendith away from you and hide him?”

“Titania,” J.B. and Nathaniel said together.

I nodded. “That’s what I think, too. So it looks like we’re making yet another unscheduled trip to Titania’s court.”

“Are you sure that’s a good idea?” Beezle asked. “You’ve, um, wrecked a lot of her stuff.”

I’d burned down a lot of her forest, killed off several of her magical guardians, and diminished her husband to his original fairy form. Yeah, you could say I’d wrecked a lot of her stuff.

Of course, she’d tried to kill me several times, so I considered us even.

“Would it even be productive?” J.B. asked. “I don’t think Titania would hurt Bendith. She just wants her son back. And if we went to her court, something bad and irrevocable is likely to happen.”

“That happens a lot around Maddy,” Beezle said.

“You’re probably right,” I said reluctantly. “But if Bendith doesn’t want to be there, I don’t think we should leave him there against his will.”

“We are also assuming that Titania will not harm him,” Nathaniel said.

“I don’t think she would kill her own son,” J.B. said.

“I agree,” Nathaniel said. “But that doesn’t mean she will not harm him.”

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