I sighed. “It won’t take long, but it’s more extreme than what humans go through because of the speed.”

As if on cue, Cadence started retching. Brooks yelped and leapt back. Thinking quickly, I grabbed a nearby trash can and swooped it under her face just in time for the projectile vomiting to begin. The mixture was a pungent slurry of puke and black bile.

It was at that moment that Zen and Giguhl ran into the room. “What the hell?” the voodoo priestess demanded.

“Her body’s ridding itself of the drugs,” I said, trying to avoid the splash zone.

Giguhl cringed back. “It smells like Satan’s taint!”

Zen disappeared into the kitchen off the salon and soon the sound of running water reached us over the noise of Cadence’s heaves.

Brooks whimpered and moved restlessly from foot to foot, clearly not sure how to help. Over her shoulder Zen said, “Brooks, go get the ginger root from my workroom.”

The Changeling hesitated. But Zen shot Giguhl a look that communicated it was his job to get the faery out of the way. “C’mon,” the demon cat said. “I’ll help you.”

Reluctantly, the faery picked up the cat and the pair exited. I moved closer now that the area around the couch had cleared out. “Ginger root isn’t going to help with this nausea.”

The priestess rubbed Cadence’s back and nodded absently. “Yeah, I don’t have any in the workroom anyway.”

“Then why—” I stopped myself, realizing she’d just been trying to get rid of the audience. “Actually, why don’t Adam and I go see if we can help them, too?”

Zen shot me a grateful look. “Thanks, Sabina.”

With one last look at Cadence’s pale, sweat-covered face, I grabbed Adam’s arm and pushed him out the door. Zen might have thought I was just trying to give Cadence some privacy, but honestly, I was having some trouble being in the room. The smell alone was bad enough, but worse was seeing Cadence so weak and pitiful. It’s not that I didn’t feel bad for her, but being around that kind of vulnerability always made me edgy.

* * *

OCTOBER 31—Halloween

On Halloween afternoon, the news ran a story about how the old Breaux mansion on Lee Circle mysteriously burned to the ground overnight. When the anchors began speculating about the cause, I turned off the TV and went to join Giguhl on the couch. He was back in his demon form since we were in Zen’s private living quarters. So when he looked at me, his black lips and goat-pupil eyes flashed a worried expression.

“Was it him?” He nodded to the door.

I nodded but didn’t say anything. Adam had left just before sunrise claiming he needed some time alone. He’d returned a couple hours earlier without a word and resumed his vigil by Cadence’s side.

On the one hand I totally got it. The things going down in that house were downright evil. It couldn’t have been easy to see the woman he once wanted to spend his life with being used by vampires looking for a fix. But on the other hand—well, I’m not proud of the other hand. That hand was wondering if seeing her in that situation had woken up some latent feelings for his former love. The kind that made him commit wildly romantic gestures.

He’s never burned down a crack den for me, I thought.

“Don’t be an idiot,” Giguhl said.

I paused. I knew I hadn’t said anything out loud. “What?”

“I can tell your brain is going places it best not go. That Mancy loves you more than anything in this world. Don’t let jealousy make you do some stupid thing.”

I crossed my arms. “I’m not an idiot.”

“Sure you are.”

“Thanks, G.”

He nudged me with his shoulder. “Sabina, we’re all idiots when it comes to love. Trust me, if one of Valva’s exes showed up, you would see me do some epically ridiculous shit. And if that happened, I would also hope you could smack me around a little and remind me to get a grip.”

I pressed my lips together. “Maybe you’re right.”

“Um, hello? I’m wise as shit. You should totally listen to me all the time.”

I shot him a look.

He frowned. “Most of the time, anyway.”

I nodded. “Sometimes you do drop some epic truths on my ass.”

“Damn straight.”

I sighed. “Okay, so I won’t go all psycho girlfriend here, but I still feel like shit.”

“Understandable,” my best friend said. “But you shouldn’t take that out on Adam. You should take it out on Damascus White.”

I smiled, appreciating him trying to point out the positives. “Thanks for trying to cheer me up, but I’m afraid that honor will fall to Nyx since she appointed him.” I’d called her the minute we’d gotten Cadence stable. She’d insisted I stay out of it to keep the peace among the races. Since he worked for her, it was up to her to deliver punishment.

“Maybe she’ll let us help torture him a little,” he said, still sounding hopeful.

I sighed. “A girl can dream. It’s been a long time since I got to kick some serious ass.”

What I didn’t say was that part of me was relieved not to have to deal with Damascus. For once it was nice to let someone else deal with a clusterfuck. I still wanted Damascus to pay for what he’d done to Cadence and gods only knew how many other innocent people, but I trusted Nyx to deliver swift and potent retribution.

My cell phone rang and the screen told me it was Queen Maeve calling. I groaned out loud. I considered ignoring it, but I’d basically threatened her to give me an answer on the were issue before Samhain or I’d crack some metaphorical skulls. “Hey, Maeve.”

She made a squeaky noise to indicate her displeasure over my informal address. “Sabina,” she said in a sour tone, “I have Michael Romulus conferenced in.”

“Sabina,” the werewolf said in his deep voice.

“Does the fact that you’re both calling mean you’ve reached an agreement?”

“Yes,” Maeve said. Michael made an assenting tone to support her answer.

My shoulders lowered from beneath my ears. I hadn’t realized until that moment how much I longed for good news. “That’s great.”

“There’s just one little addendum,” Michael continued in a more hesitant tone. “We’ll need your approval to move forward with it.”

My high hopes began to plummet. “What is it?”

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