Black Heart Page 57

He went very still, his blue eyes staring at J.B.’s former abode. Then he floated up to the roof and began descending slowly, methodically scanning each floor.

“My brother can do anything,” Bendith said with obvious pride.

“You could probably do it, too,” Beezle said, landing on my shoulder. “If you just applied yourself.”

“I apply myself,” I muttered.

“Yeah, you apply yourself to breaking and smashing,” Beezle said. “Not even remotely as cool—or as useful—as being able to check if anyone’s alive without going into the building.”

“Breaking and smashing has its place,” I said, stung.

“Not as often as you think it does,” Beezle replied.

“It must not have been a very big charge,” J.B. said. “The building would have collapsed otherwise.”

“I thought it was going to,” I admitted.

“I don’t know why you thought that,” Beezle said. “There’s magic protecting this building.”

J.B.’s eyebrows winged up to his hairline. “There is?”

“Yeah,” Beezle said. “I always check every building Maddy goes in.”

“You do?” I asked. “That’s news to me.”

“Home guardian,” Beezle said.

“Well, you never seem like you’re doing that much at home, so why would I think you were at work when we’re elsewhere?”

“Touché,” Beezle said. “But the fact remains that there is magic protecting this building.”

“I wonder who put it there,” I said.

Beezle shrugged. “J.B.’s mom probably laid it in to keep him safe.”

J.B. snorted. “That would require maternal feeling. My mother lacked that even when she was alive. And if she had put protective spells on my home, she would certainly have found some way to remove them after she thought I’d betrayed her by siding with Maddy so often.”

Beezle shook his head. “These spells have been embedded in the brick. Once done, it would be very difficult to undo.”

“Who would care enough to do that if not your mother?” I asked J.B.

He shrugged. “I don’t know. The fae have never shown much affection toward me in general. Even the members of my own court don’t think much of me. Of course, that’s probably because I spent so much time here instead of there.”

“Well, whoever put those spells there saved the building,” Beezle said. “The explosion probably would have taken the whole thing down otherwise. Right now magic is holding it up.”

Bendith had been completely silent during this exchange. He cast me the occasional sidelong look, though, like he was wondering how to get rid of me.

Nathaniel landed beside me, but his gaze was still focused on the building. He seemed like he was staring into the ground now.

“There is a basement in this structure, yes?” Nathaniel asked.

“Yeah,” J.B. said. “It’s got storage areas and some maintenance stuff.”

“There is no one in the rest of the building. The fireman went through while I was scanning. However, at this moment there are about forty creatures alive in that space,” Nathaniel said, pointing down.

“Creatures?” I asked.

“I cannot tell what they are, but they are definitely not human.”

I looked at the others. “I don’t think we can leave them there without investigating.”

“Why not?” Bendith asked. “They are not humans to be saved. Not that I consider humans worth the effort, but you apparently do.”

“Yeah, I’m unreasonable about saving my own kind,” I said.

“They are not your kind,” Bendith pointed out. “So why do we need to waste our time poking in the business of these creatures?”

“Because it might be forty vampires waiting for a signal to start chowing down on the population,” I said.

“Or it might be demons,” J.B. said.

“Or zombies,” Beezle said.

I raised an eyebrow at him.

“What?” Beezle said. “There could be zombies.”

“The point is that something is in the basement that is not supposed to be, and we’re the only ones who know about it,” I said. “We check it out. Whatever is down there should have heard the explosion and smelled the smoke. Just about everything in the world has a sense of self-preservation when it comes to fire. So why are they still down there?”

“I do not care why they are there. I am not about to put myself in danger for something so foolish,” Bendith said.

“Then stay outside if you’re going to be useless,” I said. I addressed J.B. as I pointed to a metal door on the ground floor. “Is that the maintenance door? Does it lead to the basement?”

He nodded. “It’s usually locked.”

“That’s not a problem for me,” I said. “I’ll just do the Hound thing and then let you guys in.”

I went to the door, and tried not to feel self-conscious about the fact that I was wearing nothing but underpants and a T-shirt, and there were three guys standing behind me looking at my butt.

“You’re going to have to wait here for a second,” I said to Beezle.

He flew off my shoulder, hovering in the air beside me.

“Be careful,” he said.

“I will,” I said.

“No, you won’t,” Beezle said. “But it makes me feel better to say it.”

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