I shrugged. “I guess so.”

“Wait, why aren’t you more excited about all this?”

I plucked a string on the comforter. “There’s something else.”

He rolled his goat eyes. “Isn’t there always with you?”

This from a Mischief demon. I ignored his dig and explained about the prophecy.

Giguhl’s face remained expressionless during the explanation. Although, once I got to the part about the Caste of Nod, he sat up straighter. “Oooh. I’ve heard of them.”

“Really? Where’d you hear about them?”

“Duh, we’re not totally cut off in Irkalla. We hear things about you earth dwellers from the demons who are summoned here for nefarious purposes.”

For some reason, I figured demons didn’t pay much attention to dark-races politics on earth. A lot of times when people used the term dark races, they included the demons. Technically, though, demons were their own species, since they existed before Lilith was even created. So while the vampires, mages, and faeries squabbled like angry siblings over who was in Lilith’s favor, demons pretty much stayed out of it. It was complicated, though, because Lilith became Queen of Irkalla when she married Asmodeus, and then went on to have her own demon offspring, which meant some demons were related to the rest of the dark races and some weren’t. Frankly, the whole dark-race-genealogy thing made my head hurt.

“Okay, so what did you hear?”

He leaned in with the posture of a conspirator. “Word is the caste gets together every year for a huge orgy somewhere near San Francisco.”

I huffed out a breath. “No offense, G, but that’s not exactly the kind of intel I was looking for.”

“Well, excuse me, oh, Chosen One.”

I glared at him. “Don’t call me that.”

His lips curled up wickedly. “Would you prefer ‘New Lilith’?”

I swatted his arm. “I’d prefer it if you’d be serious for a second. I don’t know what to do here.”

He frowned. “Why do you have to do anything about it? You said yourself you don’t believe in fate. So do whatever you think is right. If Maisie’s right and you do have a destiny, then it sounds like your choices will lead you where you need to go anyway.”

My mouth fell open. I wasn’t used to receiving practical advice from Giguhl. But the weird thing? He was totally right. I didn’t have to make any decisions tonight. As far as I was concerned, Maisie’s prophecy didn’t change my original plan. I’d just go through the magic training and use it to suit my own purposes. “When’d you become so insightful?”

He smiled wickedly. “Lady, I piss insight.”

As much as I’d bitched about having to do this stupid werewolf duel, the truth was I was looking forward to it. After Rhea and Maisie’s revelations the night before, I needed to work out some tension. Rhea kept harping about how I needed to rely on my physicality less and my intuition more, but I’d found a good fight is the best form of stress relief around.

Speaking of Rhea, Maisie had appointed the old mage as my chaperone. She explained that as the leader of the mage race, it wasn’t safe or proper for her to enter the Black Light District.

“What exactly is a Black Light District?” I asked.

“It’s where the rougher elements of the city’s dark races go to indulge a variety of vices—strip clubs, brothels, the usual,” Rhea explained. “The Shade works out of a bar there called Vein.”

I’d argued that I didn’t need a chaperone at all but had been overruled. Luckily, no one saw a problem with me taking Giguhl for moral support.

“That’s fine, but how are you going to get him there?” Maisie asked.

“What do you mean?”

“Sabina, you can’t wander through the city with a demon. And if he’s in cat form, you’re going to have problems using public transportation.”

“Oh,” I said. “I hadn’t thought of that.”

Rhea piped up. “I have an idea.” She performed a little mojo and a duffel bag of sorts appeared in her hands.

Giguhl eyed the bag with suspicion. “I know you don’t think I’m getting in that thing.”

I shot Giguhl a look. “Don’t be a baby. It’s just to get from here to the bar. I’m sure you can switch back to demon form once we get there.” I glanced at Rhea for confirmation. She nodded.

“I don’t know, Red. It’s embarrassing,” he said.

“Look, I don’t have time to argue right now. Either you’re coming in the carrier or you’re not coming at all.”

The demon crossed his arms, looking just like a pouty toddler. “Fine.”

Getting into the bar was its own headache. After we took a cab to Hell’s Kitchen, Rhea led us to a hole-in-the-wall Chinese takeout joint. She led us into what appeared from the outside to be a walk-in freezer. We walked into the cold room, past shelves filled with slabs of meat. After she closed the door in, Rhea moved to the back and pulled on a meat hook. The sound of metal scratching against concrete made me flinch. The false wall opened to reveal a set of stairs. At the bottom, a short hallway took us to a door marked “Private.”

“This is it. Go ahead and let him change back now.”

I put the duffel down next to the door and unzipped it. “Okay, G. Time to switch back.”

After the transformation, Giguhl took the clothes I’d brought along. “That bag constitutes demon abuse,” he complained as he changed.

I nodded impatiently, keeping my eyes averted. He looked ridiculous in the gray sweats and red Demons Are Horny T-shirt, but I’d be damned if I was walking in a club with a nude demon.

Once he was done, Rhea opened the door. A mage bouncer sat on a stool just inside. He nodded at Rhea like he knew her and waved us in.

Even though Rhea had told me Vein was dark-races only, it surprised me to see all the races mixing so casually. Back in L.A., you’d never see mages sitting cheek to fang with vamps without fights breaking out. Not to mention you never saw werewolves in California. Nymphs and other faeries were common in L.A., but they mainly had their own hangouts.

Back in California, vamps were at the top of the food chain, and the Dominae ran everything with iron fists. That’s not to say mages or faeries didn’t exist there, but they tended to avoid interactions with us. Occasionally a brave mage would wander into a vamp bar, but it rarely ended well. But here I got the impression the races not only tolerated each other, but that they even hung out. Odd.

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