Black Heart Page 55

Nathaniel shut the door quietly behind us. I dropped his hand and crossed my arms, glaring at Beezle.

“I told you that you don’t need any more food. You just had pizza. We are not getting takeout.”

“Other people might be hungry,” Beezle said. “Bendith said he would eat if we ordered Chinese.”

I looked at Bendith, who shrugged. “Fae have large appetites.”

“If Bendith wants food, he can have some,” I said to Beezle. “But you’re not getting any.”

I rubbed my forehead, abruptly tired. I’d been through the wringer today. “Look, J.B., is there somewhere I can lie down?”

He got to his feet, immediately solicitous. “I’ll put you in the spare bedroom. Just give me a second to change the sheets.”

Nathaniel led me to one of the empty chairs. “Have you overexerted yourself again today?”

“Not in the way you’re thinking,” I said.

But I had been reunited with my dead husband, and then taken away from him again. And then I’d returned home to find out three months had passed and my house was gone.

All in all, it had been an emotionally stressful day, if not a physical one.

“Where shall we sleep if Madeline is going in the spare bedroom?” Bendith asked.

Nathaniel looked surprised that Bendith would show such poor manners by asking the question in front of me. He frowned at his brother.

“I am certain that appropriate arrangements will be made for everyone,” Nathaniel said with a finality that indicated the subject was closed.

Bendith muttered something under his breath that I couldn’t hear, but Nathaniel could. He’d gotten super hearing when he had come into his legacy from Puck.

His disapproving frown changed to thunderous anger in an instant. “Apologize to Madeline.”

Bendith gave his brother a truculent look. “She didn’t hear me.”

“But I did,” Nathaniel said.

“Sorry,” Bendith said to me. He didn’t sound like he was sorry at all.

“Accepted,” I said quickly, before Nathaniel could make a bigger deal out of the situation.

Bendith was acting like a brat, but it wasn’t surprising. He was the only son of a Faerie queen who had likely cherished him beyond belief, and therefore spoiled him. And the fae, despite their endless age, seem more immature than most supernatural folk. Except for J.B., but then, he was half-human.

J.B. emerged from the hallway and beckoned me toward him. Nathaniel helped me to my feet.

“I’m okay,” I said gently.

He kissed my forehead and sent me on my way. I’d half expected he would follow me, or at least help me to the room. But he apparently wanted a further word with Bendith out of my hearing.

J.B. raised a brow questioningly as I joined him. I shook my head.

Not now, I mouthed.

I followed him down the gray-carpeted hallway. There were two closed doors on either side.

“That one’s mine,” he said, pointing to the right.

He opened the other door and showed me into another drab room. The comforter was black; the sheets were gray. More gray window shades covered the windows.

“Jeez, J.B. Who decorated this place? A prison warden?”

“I like black and gray,” he said.

“Can’t you at least open the window shades? It would be nice to have some ambient light,” I said, sitting on the bed.

“Not unless you want to see Amarantha looming over you all night long,” J.B. said. “She has a horrible habit of hanging outside the window and screaming like a banshee if she can see you asleep inside.”

“She’s still hanging around doing that?” I asked. “I’d have thought she’d have run off with her tail between her legs after I blasted her out of your bloodstream.”

It was the wrong thing to say. It reminded both of us that things weren’t exactly right. Amarantha had possessed J.B., had nearly stopped his heart from the inside. I’d saved him, but in the aftermath we’d argued. And he’d left.

“Uh, yeah,” J.B. said, trying to cover the awkward silence. “She disappeared for a while, but now she’s back again.”

“Has she seen Bendith?” I asked.

If she had, then no amount of magic could hide Titania’s son from his enemies. Amarantha would report straight to whoever would listen. They wouldn’t need a spell to track Bendith down. They could just lie in wait outside J.B.’s front door.

J.B. shook his head. “We’ve been careful. Bendith’s been veiled whenever he leaves the building, and the shades are drawn whenever we’re inside.”

“Are you sure?” I persisted.

“Nobody suspects he’s here,” J.B. said reassuringly.

“But she might have seen me arrive,” I said. I stood up and swayed a little as blood rushed to my head. “I can’t stay here. I’m putting you in danger.”

“Maddy, you’re practically dead on your feet. You have nowhere else to go. Just calm down,” J.B. said. “I’m sure you’ll be safe here for one night.”

I wasn’t so sure about that. “Fine,” I said. “One night.”

J.B. looked like he wanted to argue further, to ask where I was going to go tomorrow. But he didn’t say anything.

“I’ll see you in the morning,” he said instead, and left the room.

I undressed down to my T-shirt and underpants and crawled under the sheets. It felt unbelievably luxurious to be in a real bed, with real pillows and a real mattress, especially after sleeping in a tree branch, on a platform exposed to the elements, on a beach, and in a sling while flying through the air carried by a dragon.

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