Black Heart Page 46

I let my power surge up, so that my eyes would change. Then I lifted my head so he could see it.

“Get your mitts off me and get out of my way,” I said in a low voice.

“Whoa, check out your eyes,” the guy said.

“He doesn’t have enough brains for self-preservation,” Beezle said to me. “You ought to blast him just on principle.”

“I thought we were against harming the innocent?” I said under my breath.

“Some people are too stupid to live,” Beezle said.

I looked up at the guy in my way, who was staring at me like he was hypnotized. “Move now or forever hold your peace.”

“Jack, move,” another guy hissed. He was seated at the counter that ran along the front window, overlooking the parking lot. The counter seating was right next to the front door.

Jack stepped out of the way, finally. I pushed open the door and went into the lot.

“See if he’s following me,” I said to Beezle.

Beezle twisted on my shoulder. “His friend is arguing with him. Jack’s collecting up his stuff to run after you.”

“We’re going under a veil,” I said. “Stay still.”

I pulled the veil over us just as Jack and his friend emerged into the parking lot. They both stood there blinking.

“Did you see . . . ?” Jack asked.

“No,” his friend said firmly. He grabbed his buddy’s shoulder and steered him back inside. Jack looked back several times, obviously hoping to see me.

“No one was going to recognize me, huh?” I said. I walked back toward the six-way intersection to find a bench to sit on while we ate.

“How was I to know that Jack Dabrowski would be in Art of Pizza at that very moment?” Beezle complained.

“Wait—you knew who that guy was?” I said.

“Of course I did,” Beezle said. “He’s got a blog that collects all the supernatural sightings in Chicago. He’s been doing it since before the vampire invasion. Once upon a time he was considered a crackpot who saw ghosts.”

“And now he’s a viewed as a high priest, right? All the people who made fun of him know he was correct, that there really are things that go bump in the night.”

“He’s the reigning authority on anything out of the ordinary,” Beezle said. “And he’s been a very vocal advocate of yours.”

“I guess he wasn’t aware that I was supposed to be dead.”

“Oh, he knew. He just didn’t believe it,” Beezle said.

“Why? All the evidence indicated such. He didn’t have a personal relationship with me. Why would he think I wasn’t dead, and more importantly, why would he care?”

“He wants you to take a leadership role in Chicago. Something high profile, like mayor.”

I stared at Beezle. “Did you investigate him to see if he was an agent of Lucifer?”

“He’s not,” Beezle said. “He just really, really thinks that you should use your powers for good. Be the human face of the supernatural world. People already like you. They already think you’re a hero because you wiped out the vampires. He might have a point.”

“No, he doesn’t,” I said firmly. “I am not running for public office, or turning into some kind of mouthpiece for supernaturals. I might as well walk around wearing a T-shirt with a target painted on the front and back. All I’d be doing is making it easier for one of Titania’s men to assassinate me while I stood on a platform at a press conference.”

“That’s true,” Beezle admitted. “Dabrowski isn’t exactly in full possession of the facts. He just thinks you did something heroic and therefore—”

“I should be punished for it?” I asked.

“I don’t think he views it as punishment,” Beezle said.

I dropped the veil when I found a very weatherworn bench with a yellow “Your Ad Here” sign on the back rest. There was a boarded-up storefront behind it with a cell-phone carrier name on the crooked sign. Every third or fourth business had been completely abandoned, and it wasn’t just a product of the bad economy. It seemed like a fair number of people hadn’t bothered to return to Chicago after the vampire devastation. I couldn’t say that I blamed them.

Beezle flew off my shoulder and landed on the seat, rubbing his hands together in anticipation as I opened the take-out box.

“You will use utensils,” I said, pulling a rubber-band-wrapped package with a fork, knife and napkin out of my pocket.

“You’re using your hands,” Beezle whined as I removed my slice from the box.

“I did not get deep-dish,” I pointed out.

“Oh, fine,” Beezle grumbled. He climbed inside the container and started cutting into the crust. “Now tell me everything that happened to you.”

I started with Alerian’s appearance on the beach. Beezle hadn’t been around for that. Then I told him about the Retrievers attacking the house, the portal that Nathaniel had made (prompted by Puck), my experiences on the other world, and Puck’s deception. I told him about Daharan and the need to pass through the land of the dead. I told him that I saw Gabriel again, although I didn’t fill in the details.

“So, Puck wanted you to go to this other planet and get rid of the giant insects,” Beezle said when I was finished. His stomach was splattered with tomato sauce. I took the unused napkin and wiped him down like a child.

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