Black Heart Page 47

“Yes,” I said. “Although I don’t know what Titania’s going to say when she finds out all the Cimice are gone.”

“Where did they come from in the first place?” Beezle asked. “If Lucifer closed the ways in and out except for that one portal, how did the Cimice even manage to get there in the first place?”

“Daharan said that if you had enough power, you could just manage to open a portal there. I assume Titania has enough power to do such a thing. Or maybe Lucifer just didn’t do a very good job of sealing the place up.”

“Yes, but why?” Beezle asked. “It doesn’t make any sense. She would have to move the Cimice across the ocean to get them off that planet and into Chicago. Why not leave them on the world that they originally came from?”

“Maybe she had a bone to pick with the fae that lived there,” I said. “It did seem like the Cimice were using their battles with the fae as some kind of training.”

“It still seems inefficient to me,” Beezle said. “And why is Puck so concerned about it, anyway?”

“He said that if Titania released the Cimice in Chicago, it would be tantamount to the Faerie Queen declaring war on Lucifer. Lucifer would be forced to respond. Puck says it doesn’t suit him to have the two of them at war. Yet.”

“I don’t know about that, either,” Beezle said. “He hates Lucifer. And he can’t have enjoyed pretending to be less powerful than Titania for all of these years. What’s he playing at? What’s his long game?”

“Don’t ask me,” I said. “I tried to think through all possible angles but I’m pretty sure I failed. I don’t have the right kind of brain for Puck-logic.”

“Well, now I’m back so the rightful order of things can be restored. I’ll do the thinking; you do the smashing,” Beezle said.

I collected up our garbage and stood. Someone touched my shoulder.

I spun around, grabbing the person’s wrist and wrenching him to his knees before he realized what was happening. I twisted the arm around the person’s back.

“Ow, ow, ow!” Jack Dabrowski said. “Dude, you’re breaking my arm.”

I kept him in position, especially when I realized who it was. “What are you doing here? Did you follow me?”

“How could I follow you?” Dabrowski protested. “You disappeared.”

“Don’t parse the question,” I said, giving his arm a tug. He let out a little bark of pain. “You were looking for me.”

Beezle landed on my shoulder and gave Dabrowski a good hard stare. “I told you he was too stupid to live.”

“Are you . . . Are you going to kill me?” he asked. “I wasn’t doing anything.”

“I’m sure that’s not true,” I said. “What happened to your friend?”

“He left,” Dabrowski said. “He thought I should leave you alone.”

“He was right,” I said. “How much of that conversation did you hear?”

“None of it,” Dabrowski said quickly.

“He’s lying,” Beezle said.

“I know,” I said.

“No, I’m not! I didn’t hear a thing. I just saw you sitting there and wanted to talk to you,” Dabrowski said.

He tried to pull away from me, but no human was stronger than an angel, even one with blood as diluted as mine. I held him firmly in place. I had a strong suspicion that he’d not only heard my conversation with Beezle but had recorded it. He was an investigator, after all. And the last thing that I wanted was for my personal business to be broadcast all over the Internet.

I pulled Dabrowski to his feet and grabbed his other arm. “Beezle, search him.”

“Eww,” Beezle said.

“Just check his pockets for a recording device,” I said.

Dabrowski started struggling in earnest, which confirmed my suspicions. Beezle flew around and patted the front of Dabrowski’s jacket.

“You can’t do this,” he said. “You have no authority to check my pockets and take my stuff.”

“That’s where you’re wrong. I have the right to a private conversation,” I said.

I was irritated with myself for not considering this possibility even after Beezle had told me that Dabrowski was interested in me. I’d been too happy to be reunited with Beezle and too involved in our conversation to pay attention to our surroundings. Any one of my dozens of enemies could have walked up behind me and slit my throat before I’d have realized what happened.

“The public has a right to know,” Dabrowski said as Beezle emerged triumphantly from the guy’s front coat pocket holding an iPhone aloft.

“Please do not try to disguise your invasion of my privacy as journalistic integrity,” I said. “You’re a blogger. You’re not writing an investigative piece on public corruption for the Chicago Tribune. I’m a private citizen.”

“You stopped being a private citizen the day you blasted all those vampires into oblivion on live television,” Dabrowski said.

“I didn’t plan on having the event broadcast,” I muttered. “And it doesn’t matter, anyway. Just because I was witnessed doesn’t mean I belong to you, or to anyone else.”

“Someone with powers like yours should be out protecting people,” Dabrowski said. “You have a responsibility to the citizens of this city.”

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