Thirty minutes later, we all gathered around the table to eat. For a little while the only sounds in the room were the occasional clink of a fork against porcelain and Giguhl’s exaggerated slurping.
“Dude,” I said. “Didn’t anyone ever teach you to use a spoon when you eat pasta?”
The demon looked up at me. His black lips were glossy from butter. “Um, hello? They don’t exactly stress table manners in Irkalla, Sabina.”
In all honesty, it’s not like this was the first time I’d witnessed the demon’s abysmal eating habits. They’d never really bothered me before because, as he pointed out, you can’t exactly expect a demon to care much about etiquette. But for some reason it grated on me that night. I grabbed my glass of wine and took a long gulp. Probably it was just stress talking. Nothing a little liquid Valium couldn’t fix.
“Giguhl,” Adam said, changing the subject. “You find anything interesting on the terrace?”
The demon shrugged. He was in his demon body now and wore a plush terry-cloth robe with the name of the hotel embroidered on the lapel. “The view’s pretty awesome. I saw that big old dome for that temple the mortals worship at.”
“The Vatican?” Adam said.
“Is that the place where the guy with the pointy hat lives?”
“You mean the Pope? Yes.”
“Yeah, that. Anyway, there’s a kick-ass hot tub and an herb garden.”
“Adam, we should check out the garden after dinner to see if there’s anything useful in there,” I said.
Erron, who’d been pretty quiet, spoke up then. “I didn’t know you did herb magic.”
Adam shrugged. “I don’t, really. But my aunt Rhea taught me a few things. Sabina actually knows more about them than me.”
I looked up from my wine. “I doubt that.”
Adam didn’t comment on my denial. “Anyway, we’ll check it out. Wouldn’t hurt to have some backups for Zen’s amulets.”
I fingered the one she gave me before we left and smiled. It’d been good to see both Zen and Brooks before we left. Although, to be honest, considering the gravity of our mission, it was as much a good-bye as a quick hello.
Giguhl set down his fork suddenly and scooted his chair back. “Oh! Speaking of amulets,” he said. He walked over to the small bag he’d brought with him. “I almost forgot. Rhea gave me this before we left New York. Things were so hectic in New Orleans, I almost forgot to give it to you.”
He removed something from the bag and clasped it in his large claw. I couldn’t tell what it was beyond the brief flash of gold. Frowning, I held out my hand to receive the mystery object. “What’s this?”
The instant the warm metal touched my hand, a zing of magic zipped up my arm. But I was too busy dealing with the emotional pain of seeing the amulet that I didn’t register the brief flare of physical pain. The moonstone in the center of the gold setting winked at me like some sort of cosmic joke. “Why did she give you this?” I choked the words out over the pain tightening my throat.
Adam craned his neck to see what the demon had given me. When he recognized the necklace, he hissed out a breath.
Giguhl patted me on the shoulder. “Rhea thought you might want it. You know, for strength.”
I’m sure Rhea’s heart was in the right place when she’d taken this necklace off my sister’s corpse, but it was having the opposite effect. My hand started to tremble.
“What is it?” Erron asked, clueless.
“It belonged to Maisie,” Giguhl said. “It’s the amulet that identified her as the High Priestess of the Chaste Moon. Sabina’s got one just like it.” I normally wore my amulet inside my shirt, so at that moment only the one Zen had given me was visible.
Adam scooted closer and put an arm around me. “You okay?” he whispered.
I looked up at him. The tears stinging my eyes made him blurry. I didn’t know what to say. Was I okay? How could I be? My twin was dead and my f**king father was alive.
Instead of answering, I groped with my free hand for my wine.
“Speaking of Maisie,” Erron said, oblivious to my impending breakdown. “You never told me exactly what happened with her.”
My hand stilled with the wine halfway to my mouth. When I’d approached Erron in New Orleans to ask for his help, I’d kept the details pretty vague on Maisie’s death. I feared if I’d told him everything, I wouldn’t get through the request without tears. She’d died four nights earlier and the extra ninety-six hours hadn’t done much to ease the pain.
Luckily, Adam sensed my chaotic emotions and said, “I’ll tell you later.”
I appreciated him sparing my feelings, but the damage was already done. The legs of my chair screeched against the marble floor. All the males froze and stared at me with concern. “Excuse me,” I whispered, and rushed out of the room.
I didn’t stop until the bedroom door was closed firmly behind me. I slid down the panel until I was crouched on the floor with Maisie’s necklace clutched between my trembling hands. The rumble of low male voices reached me beneath the door. I couldn’t make out the words, but I could imagine Giguhl and Adam filling Erron in on what had gone down the night Maisie died.
My own memories forced me back to that night, too. After we’d figured out Maisie was responsible for four murders under Cain’s influence, I’d entered the dream realm to try and free my twin’s subconscious from Cain. Unfortunately, his hold was too strong. Just after he forced Maisie to break the binding spell, Cain slit her throat. She bled out in my arms.
I lifted the necklace to the light. It spun in blurry, hypnotic circles. The Hekatian symbols engraved in the gold caught my eye. In my mind, I translated the words: For she is the torchbearer, this daughter of Hekate, she will light the way.
I snorted and closed my eyes. Maisie wouldn’t light the way for anyone. Not anymore. Not since Cain had snuffed out her flame.
I bit my lip to hold back the sobs I’d stored up. Things had been so hectic since we left New York that I hadn’t really had time to mourn my sister’s death properly. In all honesty, I hadn’t wanted to. Not because I didn’t miss her. Not because I didn’t think she deserved to be mourned. But because I worried that if I unbridled my grief, it would consume me. Far better to just be angry about it and use that anger to fuel my resolve. Anger made me a better fighter. Crying just made me weak. Then I remembered what I’d told Georgia about the only way to get over pain is to face it head-on.