“I don’t know if I can…” I say, my voice quivering. I’m pretty sure I’ve reached my brutal torture limit.

Lucifer nods and turns with me, guiding me slowly to a chair. “You don’t have to watch.”

“Can’t I just go home?” I ask hopefully.

“No,” he says and pushes me down until I’m seated. “It will be a long time before I’ll be able to let you out of sight again.”

Oh god, he’s really going to make me do this. He’s going to make me sit here while he tortures Marshall behind my back.

“Not much longer, my love,” he reassures me. “Then we can go home.”

Squeezing my shoulder, he turns away and I listen to his footsteps as he walks away from me.

Staring forward, I focus on the concrete wall in front of me and try to block out what comes next.

Unfortunately, not being able to actually see what is happening only seems to amplify the sounds. Every grunt, every crack hits my ear in crystal clear high definition. I can only imagine what is happening, and I try very hard not to picture it.

There’s the clanking of metal against metal, Marshall’s cries and muffled begging, and worst of all Lucifer’s laughs.

“Look what you made me do…” Lucifer chides Marshall and then Marshall starts screaming in earnest.

My hands shake and I clasp them together but then the rest of my body begins to shake and I break out in a cold sweat. I don’t know how much time passes but my resolve begins to crumble.

I can’t go along with this; I can’t be a part of this.

Just as I rise from my chair, Marshall’s screams rise in volume.

“He’s almost done. Do you have any last words for him, Lily?”

I freeze in place, not daring to turn around. I know whatever is back there I don’t want to see it.

A million things run through my mind. A million questions.

But the only one I can get past my lips is, “Why?”

Marshall coughs and sputters. I brace myself, waiting to hear… what? The final death blow? The absence of suffering?

I certainly don’t expect Marshall to try to answer me after everything he’s been through.

“Lily, I would never sell our—”

Whatever he was trying to say is cut off by a wet, smacking sound. Then he’s only gurgling.

There’s thrashing, skin slapping against skin.

Then it all quiets. The only thing I can hear is my own labored panting.

Is it done?

Is this it?

“He’s gone,” Lucifer grunts.

I’m suddenly overcome by the strongest wave of sadness.

He’s dead, he’s really dead.

“Don’t cry for him,” Lucifer tells me, pulling me into his arms. I didn’t even hear him walk up over the noise of my sobs. “Don’t waste your tears on him. He doesn’t deserve them.”

I’m not crying only for Marshall, though, I’m crying for all of us.

Lucifer lifts me up into his arms and carries me out of the torture room. I cling desperately to him, hiding my face against his shoulder and wrapping my arms around his neck.

“All done?” I recognize James’ voice.

“Yes, have someone clean up the room,” Lucifer answers.

“The body?”

“Save it. It’s a message.”

Lucifer’s arms tighten around me and he hauls me back up as I start to slip down. “How are the children?”

“They’re safe in the safe room. I’ve sent word but they won’t release them until you personally see to it. Is she okay?”

“Yes. It’s been a long day, she’s exhausted.”

Lucifer carries me out into the day. It’s strange, it feels like so much has happened today that it should be night by now. That the things that happened in that room should have only happened in the darkness.

Cold air hits my back and the sunlight stings my eyes. I clench them shut and cling harder to his neck.

Someone wraps a coat around me. It isn’t enough to keep the chill out of my bones but it helps.

A car door opens. We slide into warmth.

“Where to?”

“Home,” Lucifer answers.

The car door shuts. We fall into a heavy silence.

As the car pulls out, I focus on Lucifer. The steady beat of his heart, the slow, even rate of his breathing.

After a few minutes, his arms tighten around me and I feel his lips against the top of my head. “I love you, Lily.”

As broken as my heart is at this moment, it warms and swells to hear him say that.

“After this, no one will ever try to take you away from me again.”

His arms tighten, nearly cracking my ribs.

“No one will try to hurt our children.”

I gasp and my body shudders as I start sobbing again.

“Lily?” he asks and gently pushes me away. His fingers go to my chin and he tips my head up, forcing me to look at him.

Even through the blur of my tears, he’s beautiful. A beautiful monster.

But he’s my monster.

And despite everything… I love him.

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