Misguided Angel Page 46

Schuyler did not say a word, and held Jack's hand even tighter.

"This is the only way, my love," Jack said. "For the two of us to be free, I must face the blood trial. I could never face myself if you ever came to harm because of me."

Schuyler trembled. "They will burn you," she whispered.

"Do you have so little faith in me?"

"I will go with you," she said, even though she knew she would not. She had to finish her grandfather's work. She had to carry on the legacy. Innocent women and children were being slain in the name of the Blessed.

"No. You know you must not," Jack said.

You said we would never be separated, ever again.

And we will not. Not ever. There is a way to be together always. Jack dropped to his knees and looked up at Schuyler with so much love. "Will you?"

Schuyler gasped and pulled him to his feet. She was ecstatic and devastated at the same time. "Yes. Yes. Of course. Yes."

It was decided, then. Shuyler would look for Catherine of Siena and the true Gate of Promise, while Jack would return to New York to fight for his freedom. But before they went their separate ways, they would seal their bond.

FORTY-TWO

The Road to Hell (Mimi)

Mimi Force looked up at the Repository scribe sitting in front of her. "The Venators have crushed the coup.

There will be no disbandment. For now the Coven stands."

"I heard. Congratulations."

"They're going to stick together and stick with me for now." Mimi pursed her lips. "If they know what's best for them."

"I can't imagine you had me fetched from the basement just to crow over your victory, as deserved as it may be."

"You're right; there's something else. The Repository report came in on the blood spell that hit me."

"And?"

"It was not sent by a member of the Conclave, nor from any vampire in this Coven."

"No?"

"No--and it wasn't from the Nephilim that Deming killed either."

"Then who?"

"I don't know. That's what we need to find out. And there was something else," she said.

"When the report came in, I also got back the coat I was wearing that day. I found this in it." She showed him a cross, monogrammed with the initials O.H.P. "It's yours, isn't it?"

Oliver nodded.

"You put a talisman in my pocket. The only thing that can deflect a blood spell. I survived because of you."

"I had a feeling you'd need it. But I didn't want to tell you because you probably wouldn't have accepted a talisman from me."

"You're right, I wouldn't have." She would never have believed that protection from a Red Blood could amount to anything. The blood spell was the essence of malice, and a protection was its opposite. It was a form of self-sacrifice--fashioning a talisman meant that whoever gave it went unprotected himself, vulnerable to whatever evil lurked in the universe.

"You don't have to thank me," Oliver said.

"I haven't."

"I mean, it's just my job. Can't have the Regent die on my watch, can I?"

"I suppose not." Mimi couldn't look him in the eyes. He wasn't her type, even though he wasn't bad-looking, and most girls would probably find him cute, with those long bangs and puppy dog eyes. But no--that was not the emotion she was feeling.

She was feeling something else. Gratitude. Affection. She had never felt this way for a boy before. She had experienced desire and lust and the agony of love, but had never fallen in like.

She liked him. Oliver, she was beginning to realize, in the space of just a few weeks, was her friend, and she was his. They had never cared for each other in the past, but somehow, because they were both alone and in mourning, he understood where she was coming from, and didn't judge her for her fits of grief and rage. He'd been there. He was feeling it too.

Plus, they worked together well. Because there was no attraction, no tension, they could laugh and tease and joke around. In the middle of this crazy mess, she'd made a friend.

"Don't," he warned.

"Don't what?"

"Don't get all mushy. I still don't like you very much." He smiled.

"I still don't like you very much either," Mimi said, even though she knew they were both lying. Her face softened. "Hey. Thank you. I mean it. Thanks for looking out," she said, trying not to cringe. It was hard for her to owe anyone anything, most of all a human.

"I did a little digging around the Repository files. I thought you might find this interesting. According to the Book of Spells, a subvertio does not kill the immortal spirit. It only consigns them to the deepest circle of the Underworld."

Mimi put the gold cross away. "Tell me something I don't know."

"Listen, if you can find a gate and walk down the Path of the Dead, you can get him out.

He can't do it on his own. But with the Angel of Death, he may be able to," Oliver said excitedly.

"There's just one thing: who knows where the other gates are? I don't have time to go on another wild goose chase."

"I went through the rest of Lawrence Van Alen's notes again. I think there's a real possibility that the Gate of Promise isn't in Florence, but in Alexandria."

"Why are you telling me this?" Mimi asked.

"The Venators have found your brother. He's left Florence. Jack refuses to turn himself in to them. He says he'll only submit to you. And he's alone."

"I saw that report," Mimi said. "You are very crafty, my friend. My brother returns to the city to face his fate, and so you dangle hope that I might find Kingsley, in order to get me out of town. Why do you even care? With Jack out of the way, she won't have a choice but to return to you."

"We can be in Cairo by nightfall," Oliver said, ignoring Mimi's taunting.

"We?" She raised an eyebrow.

"You'll need backup."

"So . . . all roads lead to Hell." She rested her head on her hands. She could go to Egypt and rescue her love, or she could stay in New York and face her brother and sentence him to death.

"Well? I doubt Kingsley is enjoying himself down there."

Mimi stood up. "Pack your bags. We'll leave tonight. Tell the Venators to hold my brother until I return. I'll deal with him then. Who says I can't kill two birds with one stone?"

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