“They saw what they wanted to see and went home,” Luis explained to me. We stood near the entrance to the room, drinking coffee. “A lot of this is just sensationalism. The thrill is gone, though some might come back for the sentencing.”

I glanced over at the jury’s table. “At least none of them left. I kind of expected it.”

“Nah. They know better. There’d be serious consequences if they took off from something like this.”

Apparently, though, none of the demonic jurors felt they had to do more than just be present. They proved just as negligent as yesterday. The suspect today was a demon named Kurtis.

“Kurt,” he corrected Margo.

“Kurtis,” she said, “can you tell us about your relationship with Anthony?”

“Relationship? We barely had one date. I’d hardly call it that.”

A few people laughed at his joke. He’d chosen a lanky form and pale skin, with hair that kept falling into his face. If he was concerned about being accused of murder, he didn’t show it. His chronic smile indicated how silly he thought all of this was, Margo most of all.

She glared at his impertinence. “What I mean, Kurtis, is how did you know Anthony?”

He opened his mouth, and I would have bet anything he was about to crack another joke. Just then, he happened to make eye contact with Luis, and the accused demon’s face sobered a little bit.

As the story unfolded, we learned that Kurtis had once been Anthony’s archdemon. This perked the jurors up a little bit. Archdemons, as the leaders and power players in our world, tended to be better at self-constraint. Luis, Noelle, and even Jerome were good examples of that. If archdemons did take on others, it was their peers—not underlings. If Kurtis had indeed destroyed Anthony, it would be a juicy scandal. An archdemon undergoing a five-hundred year flaying would be equally compelling.

“Nothing’ll happen to him,” murmured the demon sitting beside me, as though reading my mind. He was the one who was into peanut butter. “He’s here because they wanted to make it look like they had a full group of suspects. You know, like they’d really researched all the possibilities. There isn’t enough evidence against him.”

I was surprised to hear something so astute from one of my colleagues. “That must be why he’s so laissez-faire about all this.”

“Yup.” The demon’s eyes studied Kurtis, then gave me a curious look. “What about Nutella? You into that maybe?”

When Anthony had worked for Kurtis, the two had apparently had a fair amount of tension between them. It wasn’t entirely clear if Anthony had done something to warrant the antagonism or if it was just a personality conflict. Regardless, Kurtis had taken retaliatory measures against his unruly employee.

Margo was pretending to read her clipboard again. “So, let me get this straight. You burned him alive?”

Kurtis shrugged. “If you can call it that. I mean, it didn’t do any permanent damage. And really, are we alive? Don’t we just exist? Or, in his case now, not exist?”

“And you locked him in a box at the bottom of the ocean for a month.”

“It was a roomy box.”

“And you decapitated him.”


Margo looked up from her clipboard, eyebrow raised. “I have several witnesses who say otherwise.”

“I only partially decapitated him,” Kurtis countered. “His head was still attached…technically.”

Margo continued to go through a laundry list of assorted tortures Kurtis had inflicted on Anthony. Horrible or not, I had to admit the archdemon was pretty creative. Anthony had finally filed a complaint with higher authorities and gotten a transfer. He’d also gotten in very good with a high-ranking demoness. She’d made arrangements to ensure Kurtis was punished for his transgressions. No torture, though—well, at least not in the physical sense.

He’d been transferred to Belgium.

The mention of this dimmed Kurtis’s humor a bit. The transfer was still a bitter point with him. It had happened four centuries ago, and he was no happier about his current locale than he’d been then. He’d apparently spent these last four hundred years being quite liberal in his slander and criticism of Anthony.

“And you’re up for a possible transfer now, aren’t you?” asked Margo.

“Yes,” he replied.

“Hmm. Coincidental timing.”

He snorted. “Hardly. Why would I destroy him now? You think I’d want to risk getting in trouble when my review comes along?”

“Or,” said Noelle, suddenly speaking up, “maybe you wanted to make sure he wouldn’t be able to influence the review committee.”

Kurtis gave her a tight, mirthless smile. “That’s your own wishful thinking, Noelle. You have no f**king clue who did this, and you’ll take anyone you can find.”

“I’ll take whoever’s guilty,” she replied. She’d matched the steel in his voice but still wore her usual composure. “And I’ll make sure they pay.”

I left the proceedings that day with mixed feelings about Kurtis. With his history of violence and casual attitude about said violence, he did make a suspicious figure. On the other hand, I had to agree with him about the danger of taking out Anthony with the transfer hearing so close at hand.

Just like the day before, I was the only one to ask any real questions. I wanted to know when Kurtis and Anthony had last seen each other and if Kurtis had an alibi. He did, but again, I didn’t doubt a demon could come up with any number of people to lie for him.

Post-trial parties held little appeal for me today, so instead, I decided to go straight to Seth’s diner. The notion of just hanging out and doing something mundane like watching a movie had astonishing appeal. Besides, I was feeling guilty about my neglect.

When I stepped inside the elevator, I was surprised to see Noelle riding down as well. We stood there in that awkward silence elevator passengers often have, our eyes trained on the numbers as we descended. Daring a sidelong glance, I again admired her pretty features and remembered what Luis had said about her loving Anthony.

The words were out of my mouth before I could stop them. “I’m sorry about Anthony.”

Her sea-colored eyes flicked from the numbers to me. Bitter amusement glinted in them.

“You’re the only one, I think.”

I thought so too. “I…I know it’s hard to lose someone you’re close to.”

“Close, huh? You’ve been talking to Luis. He might be the only other person who cares about this too.” A small frown wrinkled her brow. “But I believe you. You do know what it’s like. That’s the thing with you lesser immortals…you’re always around humans, getting caught up in their muddled emotions. Loving them. Losing them. Getting betrayed by them. You’d be better off staying detached from all that. Save yourselves a lot of pain.”

I wanted to tell her that if she’d loved Anthony, then she wasn’t a very good role model as far as emotional detachment went. Instead, I said something completely asinine.

“Well. I don’t think you can really have happiness if you don’t have pain too.”

Something like a snort caught in her throat. Noelle’s eyes swept me, and I felt as though she suddenly could see my life story without the benefit of a reading.

After several moments, she replied, “You must have a lot of happiness then.”

I held back a glare and left the elevator when it opened, murmuring a polite good-bye as I stepped out.

I walked down to the diner and caught sight of Seth through the window. He sat at the same table, and so help me, that f**king waitress was there again. The door was propped open to let in the nice weather. I started to step through, hesitated, and then retreated. There was a small overhang around the side of the building, obscured from the rest of the street. I sidled over to it and shape-shifted into invisibility. Returning to the front door, I crossed the threshold, hidden from mortal eyes.

Beth was laughing when I approached. “Really?” she asked. “You get love letters?”

“Sure,” he said. The abandoned laptop sat before him. Didn’t he have deadlines or something? “Not sure I really deserve it…but they show up more than you’d think. I’ve actually gotten poetry too.”

Tags: Richelle Mead Georgina Kincaid Fantasy
Source: www.StudyNovels.com
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