“Give them some credit, sister.” Jackal gave me an exasperated eye roll. “You had just burned down my theater and killed a whole lot of them on your way out. Which, frankly, I’m still a little annoyed about. I happened to like that theater.

“But don’t worry,” he went on, confident and unconcerned.

“You’re with me, and the only way the minions will shoot at you is if I give the order. They’re a stupid lot, but they know their place on the food chain.”

“Just don’t get any ideas,” I growled at him. “Actually, I don’t know if I like the idea of going into your city of bloodthirsty killers. You’ve stabbed us in the back before—what’s to stop you from doing it again?”

“You’re never going to let me live that down, are you?”

Jackal gave me an annoyed look. “Even though it probably saved your soft little hide from being carved into a pentagram by Sarren. Everyone seems to forget that part. Would it kill you to have a little faith in your older brother?”

“It might.”

“Well, you’ll just have to take your chances now, won’t you?”

I scowled and glanced at Kanin, who stood a few feet away, watching his offspring argue with a stoic expression. “Kanin?

What do you think?”

The Master vampire sighed. “If we are already headed in that direction,” he said, “I see no reason why we shouldn’t go through Old Chicago. If we can procure a vehicle and reach Eden in a shorter amount of time, it will be worth the detour. But…” And his brow furrowed slightly as he looked at Jackal. “I fear what we might find when we reach the city,”

he mused, ignoring the other’s disdainful look. “Let us hope Sarren has left your humans undisturbed.”

We started off again, and now that I knew where we were, where we were headed, certain landmarks began taking on a familiar feel. I thought I recognized a bend in the road, a rusty car half buried in weeds and snow on the side of the pavement. I wondered if I hadn’t passed them on my way to Old Chicago the first time I’d come through. Though it had been only a few months before, it felt like a lifetime ago.

We came to another town, empty and deserted like all the ones before it. But as we walked down cracked, snow-covered roads, passing ancient structures falling apart and smothered by weeds, something felt strange. The sense of déjà vu was growing stronger, to the point where I finally stopped in the middle of the road, gazing around and racking my brain for the reason this seemed so familiar.

“Allison.” Kanin turned, dark eyes searching as I stood there, frowning. “What are you doing?”

I know this place. The feeling was stronger than ever, beckoning me down a certain street, and my curiosity was too insistent to ignore. I had to know. Without answering, I headed off the main road and began walking deeper into town. The other two vampires hesitated a moment, then followed.

“Uh, sister? In case you didn’t know, Chicago is that way.”

Still ignoring them, I continued down the sidewalk, past crumbling buildings and the hulks of dead cars. Everything looked different now, because of the snow, but I felt like I’d been here before.

Then I walked around the collapsed wall of an old gas station…and froze.

I had definitely been here before.

Across the street, a building sat on an empty corner, desolate and still in the falling snow. It had been burned, and charred, blackened beams stood out harshly against the snowy backdrop. The roof was gone, but I remembered the wooden cross that once stood atop it, and the flames that had engulfed it on that last night. The night Jackal’s men had attacked Jebbadiah Crosse and his followers, kidnapping everyone but Zeke to bring them to Old Chicago.

Silently, I crossed the road, stepped over the curb, and walked onto the tiny strip of land beside the church. Crosses and headstones poked out of the snow as I gazed around, my eyes falling on the very place I’d seen Zeke and Jeb Crosse together for the last time.

I heard Jackal and Kanin cross the road as well, but both vampires halted at the edge of the sidewalk, disdaining to step onto the cemetery grounds. “A church,” Jackal said in obvious distaste. “Of course it would be a church. Why am I even surprised? You real y don’t get this whole demon thing, do you, sister?”

I gave him a strange look. In New Covington, all churches had been razed and burned by the vampire lords long before I was born. There were stories and speculation as to why, of course, but some of the more colorful rumors said that vampires couldn’t cross the threshold of a church, couldn’t set foot on holy ground, and burned up if they tried.

Obviously, they were wrong. I was standing right here, in the shadow of a church, and I was fine. But Kanin and Jackal still looked reluctant to approach, and I grinned at my brother over the strip of earth separating us.

“What’s the matter, Jackal? Afraid you’re going to burst into flames if you set foot on the grounds?”

His sneer had an edge to it. “Isn’t that cute? A brand-new demon spawn, all puffed up and smug, thinking she’s invincible. Let me make one thing clear, sister,” he went on, still keeping well back from the edge of the lot. “I’m not afraid of the Big Guy, never have been, never will be. But, unlike some newbie vamps that won’t be named, I have never been confused as to what I am. Even if God is dead, even if He’s not here anymore—hell, even if He’s nothing but a boogeyman made up by pathetic humans desperate for some sort of hope—I, at least, am still a demon. I’ve never pretended anything different. And God, if He is real, still hates us.”

Jackal crossed his arms, smirking at me. “So, go ahead, my dear little sister. Stomp on His territory a while longer.

Maybe He’s dead after all. But if a lightning bolt strikes you dead in the next thirty seconds, I’ll save us some time and say ‘see you in hell’ right now.”

My stomach twisted. I remembered something Jebbadiah Crosse had asked me, long ago, when I hadn’t been a vampire for long and had first stumbled upon his group.

“Do you believe in God, Al ison?”

“No,” I said immediately. “Is this the part where you tell me I’m going to hell now?”

“This is hell,” Jebbadiah said. “This is our punishment, our Tribulation. God has abandoned this world. The faithful have al-69 ready gone on to their reward, and He has left the rest of us here, at the mercy of the demons and the devils. The sins of our fathers have passed on to their children, and their children’s children, and it will continue to be so until this world is completely destroyed. So it doesn’t matter if you believe in God or not, because He is not here.”

Tags: Julie Kagawa Blood of Eden Book Series
Source: www.StudyNovels.com
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