Black Heart Page 44

“Probably not,” I said. “I can get you a slice of pizza.”

“One slice?” Beezle whined. “You have twenty whole dollars. You can do better than one slice.”

“That’s my offer. Take it or leave it,” I said.

“Oh, fine,” Beezle grumbled. “But it better be deepdish.”

“Let’s walk to Art of Pizza,” I said.

“Walk?” Beezle said dubiously.

“You’re going to be carried no matter what, so I don’t know why you’re complaining already.”

“No, it’s not that,” Beezle said. “Well, of course I will be carried regardless. But I meant that you would be pretty conspicuous walking around with those wings. People are very curious around here about creatures that look different. Some of them are kind of on edge. So you might want to veil those things.”

“I keep forgetting. I’m still not used to having them,” I admitted as I dropped a veil over my wings. I started down the street, Beezle nestling more comfortably into my shoulder. “Wait a second. If people are still on edge, what are you doing flying around in public?”

“Oh, nobody thinks I’m a threat,” Beezle said with a touch of smugness. “In fact, most children and adults find me adorable, and they’re thrilled to know that cute little fantasy animals actually exist.”

“Cute little fantasy animals,” I repeated. “So they haven’t actually taken the time to get to know you, then.”

“A lot has changed here,” Beezle said soberly.

“How long was I gone?” I asked.

“Three and a half months,” Beezle said.

“So it’s May,” I said. “What happened after I got rid of the vampires?”

“Oh, the National Guard came in, and the Army. They made a big fuss on TV about scouring the streets for remaining vampires. Politicians got on the news and made pretty typical left-and-right pronouncements depending on their persuasion. Emergency funding was sent to the city, which was immediately squandered in backroom deals. In the end, Chicago was declared vermin-free and the government took the credit for making the streets safe again.”

I snorted. “Well, I can’t say that I’m surprised.”

“I’m surprised that they thought they could get away with it,” Beezle said. “Most of the world has seen the video of you turning into a supernova and making the vampires go boom. Nobody could believe the mayor when he got up in front of the press and thanked everyone but you.”

“He doesn’t know who I am,” I said uneasily. “Why would he thank me?”

“Oh, he knows,” Beezle said with relish. “I told you before you left that people would ferret out who you were. It took about three and a half seconds for your identity to be posted all over the Internet. You’re a total folk hero, like Robin Hood.”

“You told me that people would be terrified of me, that they would show up at my house with torches and pitchforks,” I said. “That was why Chloe and Samiel and you left.”

“No,” Beezle said. “They left because they were worried about torches and pitchforks. I left because I was afraid you were becoming a monster.”

“And that fear has just magically gone away?” I said.

“No,” Beezle said. “But I think I should stay and make sure you don’t transform completely from Jekyll to Hyde.”

“You’re going to be my Jiminy Cricket?” I asked.

“Do you want me to start singing ‘Give a Little Whistle’?” Beezle asked.

“Absolutely not. I’ve heard you sing and it’s not an experience I’d like to repeat. Ever. Again.”

There were a few people out walking on Lincoln as we headed south toward the six-way intersection at Ashland and Belmont. Most of them barely noticed me, although one middle-aged guy walking a perfectly groomed poodle did give Beezle a double take.

“What are people saying about the existence of vampires?” I asked Beezle. “Have other creatures revealed themselves, too?”

“Besides me, you mean?”

“I don’t think your coming out is that significant in the grand scheme of things,” I said. “What about the wolves? The fae? The fallen?”

“Jude, Nathaniel, Samiel and you were all on television fighting the vampires in Daley Plaza, remember?”

“Of course,” I said. That had been before I’d gotten my new wings, before Nathaniel’s legacy as Puck’s son was revealed, before I’d traveled through a portal to another world. But I would never be able to forget the sight of vampires streaming from the subway tunnels and out of manhole covers, infecting the city like a cancer.

“So because the four of you were on TV looking very supernatural, people kind of knew that there were other creatures out there besides vampires. There’s been a lot of chatter on Facebook about what myths could actually exist.”

“How do you have time to fool around on Facebook with your eating schedule?” I asked.

“I know how to eat and type,” Beezle said. “Anyway, overall the response has been more positive than you’d expect. There’s a lot of curiosity.”

“Curiosity can be just as dangerous as anger or fear,” I said, thinking of the doctor at Northwestern who had seen Nathaniel’s wings and coveted.

That guy had wanted to take Nathaniel away to a lab and perform experiments on him. He couldn’t be the only one who would want to take an angel or a vampire apart and see what made him tick. I shuddered. I was glad Beezle had made me cover my wings. I didn’t want to end up on an operating table with my insides on the outside just because some scientist wanted a Nobel Prize.

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