I stepped away and wiped my scraped and dirty hands on my jeans. Mostly I was fine, except where the rough landing bruised my ass. The demons, however, hadn’t fared so well. They still hadn’t moved.
I knelt next to Giguhl and listened for breathing. Big mistake. A steady diet of Cheez Doodles and catnip didn’t make for the sweetest breath, but at least he was breathing. I glanced at Adam, who’d given Valva the same treatment. He gave me a thumbs-up, and I released the air I hadn’t realized I’d been holding.
Now that I was sure they hadn’t been injured, I relaxed. When we’d flashed into the city earlier that night, they had been disoriented but recovered quickly—Giguhl’s stress diarrhea notwithstanding. But I guess two rounds of interspatial transportation in one night had taken its toll on them.
A groan grabbed my attention. I looked down to see Giguhl’s eyelids squeeze tight for a moment before popping open. The bright light overhead made his vertical pupils dilate. “Are we dead?”
“Nope. No thanks to your girlfriend.”
Giguhl swallowed and sat up slowly. When he looked over and saw Valva still passed out, he let out a little yelp. “Valva?” He grabbed her chin and shook her. “Is she okay?”
Her lids snapped open. “Hi, honey!” she said in a breezy tone completely at odds with the situation.
“Hi, honey?” he roared. “Don’t ‘hi, honey’ me!”
She frowned. “What’s wrong, sugar buns?”
Giguhl’s goat eyes widened impossibly. “What’s wrong? How can you even ask that? You almost got us killed!”
Her golden lips went from a frown to a full-on pout. The bottom lip began to tremble. I rolled my eyes, recognizing feminine wiles when I saw them. “But I didn’t mean to. Everything was fine until those trampires tried to stop me.”
“Valva,” Adam said, “what were you thinking getting up onstage in the first place?”
She shrugged her golden shoulders. “I couldn’t help it.”
“Bullshit,” Giguhl said. “You couldn’t wait to get out there and shake your sweet ass for all those bloodsuckers.”
She blinked. “But I’m a Vanity demon,” she said as if it explained everything.
“Like that excuses it?” Giguhl threw up his claws in frustration.
Pretty tears started to fall from her violet eyes. “I couldn’t help it,” she sobbed. “I swear.”
“Giguhl,” I said quietly. “Give her a break.” Don’t get me wrong. I was angry at her, too, but I was shocked to hear Giguhl talk to her that way. Ever since the demons’ eyes met across a bloodstained fight ring, it had been love at first sight. But now—
“Oh please,” Giguhl scoffed. “No female of mine is allowed to act like a common tramp in public.”
I cringed at his Cro-Magnon tone. Looked like the shine had worn off their sparkly new love.
Valva’s tears dried up fast. She advanced on Giguhl, her golden hands clenched into fists and her blue-feathered tail twitching. She poked a finger into Giguhl’s chest. “You listen here, buddy. I am no one’s property. I’ll shake my ass for whoever I want wherever I want.”
“Okay, everyone needs to relax,” Adam said, approaching the pair. The demons ignored him.
“Is that right?” Giguhl growled, getting into Valva’s face.
“I’m sick and tired of your clinging! I need some space.”
Adam tried to get between the demons. “Valva, you don’t mean that.” The demons moved closer, edging Adam out of their space completely. He looked at me. “A little help here?”
I held up my hands and shook my head. Refereeing a demon lovers’ spat was so not my area. “Just let them work it out.”
Adam pressed his lips together and looked to the sky for patience.
Giguhl crossed his arms across his massive chest. His eyes narrowed. “You want space? Why don’t you just go back to Irkalla then?”
“Maybe I will,” she said, poking him again. “At least I’m appreciated there.”
“Valva,” I said, finally moving in. Now that the talk had turned to her leaving, it was time for me to step in. “We appreciate you.”
“No, you don’t.” She turned on me. “You’re bossy and you have split ends.” She pointed at Adam. “You know what I’m talking about. Tell her!”
Adam lifted his hands and backed away, as if retreating from a ticking time bomb. “I’ve never noticed any split ends.”
“Please, you know she’s a bitch. Ordering us about like we’re her slaves.” She ran a hand over her peacock-blue hair. “Besides, she’s totally jealous of me.”
“Hey!” I said, ignoring the ridiculous accusation. “Need I remind you that you and Giguhl are my minions? It’s kind of my job to tell you what to do.”
Valva laughed. “Giguhl’s your minion. Maisie’s my master. Or she was, at least.”
I put my hands on my hips. This chick’s attitude was grating on my last damned nerve. I also didn’t appreciate her use of the past tense in relation to my sister. “Right. Maisie. Remember her? She’s the one who’s possibly being tortured while you waste all our time with your fucking temper tantrum.”
“Oh please. You’re all so fucking whiny. The only reason I chose to be her minion was to get out of going back to Irkalla.”
My mouth fell open. “What do you mean you ‘chose’ her?”
“That’s right, bitches. It was my choice. I just let you think it was destiny or whatever because it was easier.” She snorted. “Boy, was that a mistake. I thought staying here would be an adventure. But I’d rather be damned to the pit of despair than deal with your lame asses for one more second.”
Giguhl’s posture went stony. “What about me?” His voice was quiet, but fire lurked in the subtext.
She shrugged. “I thought you’d be a fun lay.” Valva waggled her pinkie at Giguhl. “What a joke.”
My chest clenched for Giguhl. “You bitch.”
“Pot. Kettle. Black,” she enunciated slowly. “I’m so out of here.”
Light burst through the area, momentarily blinding me. Brimstone smoke filled my nose. I blinked rapidly and finally saw wisps of black smoke snaking through the air where Valva used to stand.
My jaw gaping, I looked around at the guys. “What the hell?”