My eyes wander back over to the table of their own accord. Matthew is grinning as he holds Asad’s feet down so James can secure them…

And in my eyes Matthew is no longer Matthew.

With that grin of sick joy on his face and that dark gleam in his eyes, once again he’s transformed into that monster that’s haunted my nightmares.

Lucifer.

“Let’s have a look at those ribs,” I hear Andrew say.

Asad thrashes his head back and forth, and I bet beneath his gag he’s foaming at the mouth.

“Ah! Fuck!” Simon grunts and Andrew chuckles.

“Yeah, they’re cracked alright. Nothing I can do about that though. It will heal on its own.”

“Fine,” Simon hisses. “Just stitch me up. I have things to do.”

“You got it, Spider,” Andrew says.

I glance back at Simon. His eyes meet mine then they slide towards the table. A look of eager anticipation passes over his face and I know there’s no talking any sense into him. He’s hell-bent on doing whatever he wants to do.

But maybe, just maybe, I can still talk some sense into Lucifer.

Reach in and somehow connect with Matthew.

21

Meredith

Squaring my shoulders, I lift my chin into the air, turn my back on Simon, and slowly approach the torture table.

“Meredith?” I hear Simon ask behind me, but I ignore him. He’s in no place to stop me right now, but he will be in a couple of minutes.

Sensing my approach, Lucifer turns from Asad and regards me warily. I can’t help but remember there was once a time when he would welcome me with open arms…

I ignore his look and stop beside him.

I afford Asad one glance and then hold my hand out to Lucifer.

“If you give me a gun, I can end this all right now.”

And I will. I’ll put two bullets in Asad’s ugly head if it means I can walk out of this room. I’ve already killed two men, what’s one more?

Lucifer looks down at my hand and chuckles. “Now why would I do that, Meredith?”

I arch my brow. “So we can all go home?”

Lucifer shakes his head and his lips spread into a smile as if what I just said amuses him.

I’m not giving up though.

“Look, Matthew,” I say, trying to talk some reason into him. “Simon is injured. One of your men is dead, and another is in the hospital… Surely, we all have better things to do?”

Lucifer inclines his head. “We do.”

A sense of relief fills me and I almost smile.

Then he says, “But first, this little unpleasantness needs to be seen to.”

That’s not what I wanted to hear.

“Why?” I demand, dropping my hand. My lips curl up into a sneer as I look to Asad. He’s stopped his thrashing to stare up at us. “He’s not worth our fucking time.”

“I agree,” Lucifer nods. “But a message still needs to be sent.”

I roll my eyes with disdain. “What the fuck is up with you and messages? I never had to resort to such… such…” I want to say monstrous shit, but settle on, “brutal tactics,” instead.

Lucifer’s icy blue eyes light up with amusement and I don’t understand what’s he’s getting at when he asks, “Didn’t you?”

I scowl and shake my head slowly. “No… No, I never did. Unlike you, I’m not a fucking monster.”

All the amusement fades from Lucifer’s face and his expression grows cold. So very cold. “Even after all these years, you still think the worst of me?”

I take a small step back instinctually and remind him. “Yes. You didn’t have to cut that poor man to pieces.”

Lucifer’s icy eyes are as cold and hard as a glacier as he says, “I did it to protect you.”

Well, that’s a new one. But he must be lying. There was no reason for him to torture that fucking stranger to protect me…

“Oh no, don’t you dare try to put that on me!” I snap back. “You did it because you wanted to. You did it because you got off on it.”

“Oh yes,” Lucifer says with relish and takes a step towards me. “I fucking enjoyed it.”

I take a hasty step back, needing to put some more distance between us, when that damn cracked heel of mine snaps.

Lucifer’s arm whips out and he grabs me to steady me. He pulls me up so I don’t fall on my ass. “I enjoyed every one of his fucking screams after he admitted what he planned to do to you.”

I shake my head and try to rip my arm out of his hand but his grip tightens. “Do you know where I found him, Meredith? What I found him doing in our house? I found him sniffing through your panties after he raided all your jewelry.”

I stop fighting him and struggle to balance myself on one heel. Yeah, that revelation is extremely unpleasant, and I certainly don’t enjoy the visual, but it still doesn’t justify what he did.

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