Home > The Sweetest Burn (Broken Destiny #2)(6)

The Sweetest Burn (Broken Destiny #2)(6)
Author: Jeaniene Frost

Yes, humanity had its flaws, but that didn’t mean we weren’t worth saving, dammit! And I still couldn’t figure out if Zach even wanted us to be saved. Some days, he acted as if he did, yet other days, the Archon seemed just as happy to let humanity burn if it meant finally ending the war between Archons and demons.

“If you truly believe your race is worth saving, then you’ll be eager to get started,” Zach replied, using his mind-reading abilities. How could I forget about those?

I glowered at him. It sucked being reminded that in this case, “somebody” doing something really meant “me.”

“I’m ready,” I said, which was the biggest lie in the world, but what else could I say? We’re all gonna die! seemed too defeatist, even if it was probably true.

Zach rose with his usual grace, then cast a sideways glance at Brutus, who was in the darkest corner of the kitchen. He’d be in his room, if he wasn’t waiting for his breakfast of raw meat.

“Would someone explain why that gargoyle is wearing the stone of Solomon around his wrist?” Zach asked.

“The what of who?” Jasmine said.

I wondered the same thing, but Adrian replied to Jasmine before I could ask. “Ivy didn’t like her birthday present, so she gave it to Brutus,” he told my sister.

“Birthday? Oh crap, Ivy, I forgot your birthday!” Jasmine said with a gasp. Costa seemed shocked for a different reason.

“You gave a three-thousand-year-old diamond with famed mystic qualities to Brutus?” he asked me.

Zach also gave me a look that seemed to question my sanity. I shifted defensively even as this news rocked me. “I just thought it was a normal diamond,” I mumbled.

“It isn’t,” Adrian said, his arched brow implying that I should have given him a chance to say this earlier. “King Solomon stole this diamond from Asmodeus, a demon king, because it was said to shield its wearer from harm. After Solomon’s death, Asmodeus stole it back, and when I was a child, it was given to me because demons wanted to protect the last Judian.”

I was openmouthed discovering the diamond’s history, not to mention its protective qualities. Adrian hadn’t just been trying to buy my forgiveness with an expensive trinket. He’d given me the same talisman he’d had since he was a child. Damn him for making it harder to stay angry with him, I thought, my emotions wrestling anew at this.

“Very well,” Zach replied, although he would have overheard my inner battle. “Ivy, you will leave at once. Adrian and Costa will accompany you on your search for the staff of Moses.”

“Not Adrian,” I burst out.

“Yes, Adrian,” Zach said in his best don’t-argue-with-an-angelic-being tone. “Without him, you won’t discover the map.”

“There’s a map that leads to the staff?” That was a surprise. “One of those would’ve been helpful when we were trying to find the first hallowed weapon.”

Zach shrugged. “It’s a map of sorts, and perhaps if you would have looked closer, you would have discovered it when you were searching for the slingshot, too.”

Archons and their cryptic-speak, not to mention their lack of initiative that bordered on apathy. Figures there had been a map back then and Zach hadn’t told me. For all I knew, he had another map in his pocket now, yet couldn’t be bothered to mention that, either. “Or, why don’t you just tell me where the staff is, if you know?” I said to cut through all the crap.

“Because this is your task to succeed or fail at, Davidian,” was Zach’s inexorable reply.

Don’t hit the Archon, I reminded myself while clenching my fists. We still needed him.

Zach’s mouth twitched, as if he found my impotent rage amusing. “Adrian is coming with you, Ivy. Don’t bother to list all the reasons why you don’t want him to. The fact remains that he must or you will not only fail, you won’t survive. That’s why I rescinded his ban from seeing you earlier today.”

My gaze swung to Adrian. “What do you mean, he rescinded your ban from seeing me?”

A low, almost growling sound left Adrian. “Zach put a supernatural restraining order on me. I couldn’t get within a mile of you without suddenly becoming paralyzed, Costa supernaturally forgot every message I tried to send you through him, and if I attempted to call, text or email you, my phone would blow up.”

“Really?” Costa looked bewildered. “You and I have talked several times since then, and I don’t remember that.”

Adrian grunted. “Exactly.”

“Cock-blocked by an angel,” Costa muttered. “That’s new.”

I ignored Costa’s comment in favor of giving Zach a disbelieving look. “First you supernaturally prevent Adrian from so much as texting me, then you insist that he come along on the search for the staff. What kind of game are you playing?”

Zach’s dark brown eyes gave nothing away. “No game. Only fate.”

Fate. My teeth ground. I really hated that word.

“Why didn’t you tell me about this on the beach?” I asked Adrian, giving up on getting a more definitive answer out of Zach.

Adrian’s coloring was darker than normal, and when I caught the look he flashed Zach’s way, I realized why. Pride. He’d rather let me think that he was a total jerk than admit that Zach had shut him down so effectively, he’d been helpless. Yes, for longer than I cared to remember, Adrian had had both minions and demons scurrying to do his bidding. Plus, with his incredible strength, speed and fighting skills, almost no one had been able to stop Adrian from doing something he’d set his mind to. In that light, his bruised-ego silence about the way Zach had shut him down was almost understandable.

Almost. Adrian should have told me why he’d abandoned me when I needed him the most. The fact that he hadn’t only highlighted that he was thinking more about himself than me. Plus, if he couldn’t admit something so small to me, how could I trust him with the really big things, like our fates?

And Zach. He got the other end of my stink eye. He could have said something before now, too. Men. They were the same whether they were Archons, humans or Judians.

Something else occurred to me. “Zach lifted his restraining order on you the same day I came across the first minions and demon I’ve seen in months?” It couldn’t be a coincidence...

“It isn’t,” Zach said, using his intrusive skills again.

My irritation died away. His inconsideration paled next to making sure that I was still alive.

“Thank you,” I said, hoping for the hundredth time that Archons were more invested in the fate of humanity than they let on. Aside from my bloodline, I wasn’t anyone special, yet Zach had saved me more than a few times. I just wished I understood why so many other people had to suffer and die.

Zach inclined his head, which was his version of “you’re welcome.” “Preparations have been made. You are to start your search for the staff at once.”

“You’re forgetting one thing,” I pointed out. “We have no idea where Moses’s staff might be. This is a big world, and that’s not even counting all the demon realms in it, too.”

Zach glanced at Adrian, and when they exchanged a meaningful look, my hackles rose. “If either of you even think of hiding something from me again—” I began furiously.

“We’re not,” Adrian interrupted, his gaze piercing as it landed on me. “I told you, Ivy, no secrets and no holding back this time. Moses’s staff controls nature, which is why we need it to repair the realm walls and the demons also want it so they can use it to send those same walls crashing down. So, our best bet is to start with places that have natural anomalies. Even while dormant, the staff will affect what’s around it.”

That made sense, but, “I doubt it’ll be as simple as googling places that are known for large congregations of locusts, frogs, lightning bolts or partings of seas,” I said tartly. “If so, demons would’ve found it centuries ago.”

Adrian raised a brow. “They’ve spent a lot of time scouring places with unusual natural phenomena, but they can’t sense hallowed objects. Only you can. That’s why we’re going to find the staff and they’re not.”

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