“Don’t misunderstand. I’m not helping you. You might have been fooling yourself all along, but your goal is and always has been taking out Lavinia Kane. By getting Maisie to safety, I’m just clearing an inconvenient to-do off your list. But rest assured, the minute I have Maisie, I’m gone. I won’t stay around to watch you and your grandmother act out your f**king Greek tragedy.”
I gritted my teeth. Part of me wanted to argue with him. To tell him to go to hell for implying Maisie wasn’t my priority. But in the end, I let it pass. After all, having Adam focused on saving my sister would make it easier for me to concentrate on ensuring Lavinia wasn’t a threat to either of them in the future. And if Lavinia showed up before we were ready, Adam could just zap both of them out of there. So why didn’t any of this make me feel better?
“Suit yourself. But just you. The others need to stay out of this.”
“I told Giguhl if he didn’t hear from me to call everyone off. Good thing, too. If they knew what you were planning they might get in your way. And we both know how much you hate distractions.” He bent to pick up the duffel and tossed it at me. “The reinforcements arrived loaded for war. You might want to avail yourself of some party favors. Until you’re ready to surrender your life, that is.”
His words slammed into me like shrapnel. Instead of responding to his dig, I slammed out the front door and into the street. The faster I could get to the temple, the sooner Adam would be rid of me. And the sooner I’d find an end to the pain of knowing I’d hurt him so badly he was now looking forward to that moment.
After a tense drive in which Adam refused to touch me despite sitting behind me on the bike, I parked just outside the cemetery gates behind the temple. The building sat dark and appeared deserted. But I knew better than to not expect company pretty damned quickly. Knowing Lavinia, she had the place under surveillance or magical wards rigged up around Maisie’s prison. That meant, as much as I hated to admit it, having Adam with me might be a blessing.
Of course, judging from the scorn on his face or the fact he didn’t spare me even a glance as he dismounted the bike, he didn’t necessarily agree with my assessment. But dwelling wouldn’t do me any favors. So I shoved it all away— the pain, the regret, the fear. Emotions had no place here. Any one of those feelings could get me killed before I was ready to go. And combined, they all but guaranteed it.
I forced steel into my spine and resolve into my gut. Adam didn’t wait for me to say anything. Just took off toward the gate in long, purposeful strides. Removing a gun from my waistband, I covered his back.
The gate swung open without a sound. Adam held out a hand, indicating he wanted me to lead the way to Maisie’s tomb. Without a word, I pushed ahead, ducking as I ran through the avenues of tombs. Behind me, the only indication he followed was the occasional muted crunch of boots on gravel. I kept my eyes out for other shifting shadows that might foretell an impending ambush.
In the lengthening shadows of deep dusk, nothing moved save the occasional breeze. The rain had stopped, leaving mist to rise from the damp earth like hazy spirits. As in the other cemeteries I’d visited since arriving in New Orleans, a low hum buzzed in my ears. But now I knew it was a result of my Chthonic powers reacting to the death energy there, and I was able to push it aside and focus on my task.
When Zen said people left flowers on tombs for All Saints’ Day, I expected a couple of sad carnations. Instead, elaborate wreaths and bouquets leaned against the monuments. Some people had even left offerings of food and bottles of liquor. Debris and candles littered the grounds, like we’d just missed a huge party.
Soon, we reached the tomb I’d seen in my astral projection. Adam and I ducked nearby, next to another, smaller mausoleum. Even as I looked for traps or guards, my eyes sought out some sign of David’s ghost among the marble slabs. I still hadn’t figured out why he’d come or who sent him, but I guessed I wouldn’t now. Unless he showed up again or until I met him again in Irkalla. And by then it’d be too late.
“Cover me,” Adam said, his body tensed to dart across the open space separating us from the tomb. I grabbed his arm.
“Be careful. It might be booby-trapped.”
He nodded curtly. Paused. His gaze met mine. I held my breath, wondering if he’d relent enough to say a final farewell. But just when I expected him to say something, he bolted away like a sprinter.
A lump formed in my throat at his easy rejection. The lack of emotion in his gaze. The loss of connection. The loss of Adam, period. Gritting my teeth, I scanned the area for unfriendlies.
Behind me, I heard Adam grunt followed by the gravelly slide of stone against stone. I turned in time to see the lid to the sarcophagus crash to the ground. It split apart into several pieces.
Adam began chanting under his breath. The breeze carried tendrils of magic toward me. The hair on my arms stood but soon relaxed as the magic fizzled abruptly. He cursed under his breath. Again, nothing.
I raised the gun and did another sweep, but the cemetery remained quiet except for the sound of Adam struggling against something heavy. His muscles strained as he tried to lift something from the box.
“Sabina,” he whispered.
“What?” I called quietly over my shoulder, my eyes scanning the perimeter.
“Come help me with the lid.”
I did one last sweep as I backed toward him. My boots sunk into the muddy ground. When I reached him, I saw sweat beaded on his forehead from exertion. He jerked his head toward the foot of the metal box inside. “Grab that end.”
I looked down to see some sort of metal sarcophagus resting inside the marble crate. No wonder Adam’s magic didn’t work. The entire body-shaped box was covered in intricate brass scrollwork. Still, I didn’t understand why Adam couldn’t use his muscles to pry the thing open until I hooked my fingers under the edges and pulled. “Holy crap,” I grunted. “Brass shouldn’t be this heavy.”
Veins stood on his neck as he gritted out a response. “It’s cast iron. Now lift!”
Our feet dug in for leverage and we put our backs into it. And with that, we still only managed to lift the lid a fraction. Even cast iron shouldn’t have been that heavy. They must have warded it or something to make it harder to get into. Or get out of.
My muscles shook with the effort, but spurred on by being so close to seeing Maisie, I ignored the strain and redoubled my efforts. Then, finally, with one last heave, Adam and I managed to flip the heavy top up and over the edge of the marble box. It hit the ground with a loud thud.