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Black Magic Sanction: Page 92
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"Are you trying to kill me?"
Her eyes were black, and without a backward glance, she started hauling ass, dragging me until I found my pace at her side. Damn it, the painting was still in the car. But we were out and running. Memories of being chased by Trent and his hounds slammed into me, and I ran faster. The pavement seemed to rise up to hit my feet, every strike felt clear through my thin-soled running shoes. We couldn't make it back to Cincy, but the alternative was not pretty.
I prayed Jenks was okay. My hearing was coming back. I could hear a claxon honking behind us, and someone was shouting to get the gate open, but I'd bet the circuitry was dead. I felt a surge of hope and started to angle into the woods, but Ivy grabbed my arm, stopping us.
"Car," she panted, and I looked up into the glow of approaching headlights.
"You want me to lie down in the road, or should you?" I said, only half kidding, freezing when the car swerved to the right, spinning in a wobbly, terrifying half circle around us. I could have cried when I saw Pierce in the front seat, covered in pixies. He was saving my ass again. Even so, I swear, if he did any black magic, I would give him to Newt myself.
p>"Get in!" he shouted, the squeal of pixies and their darting shapes adding to the mess.
I opened the front door, shoving Pierce to the passenger side only to have Ivy shove me to the middle of the long front seat of my moms Buick. "How did you know we were in trouble?"
"You're always in trouble, Rachel," he said, fixing his hat firmly back on his head.
"You'd think she wasn't glad to see you," Ivy said, pushing the accelerator down even before her door was shut.
Pierce only grinned as he leaned me upright. "No magic, Rachel. I promise. I opine I can make a fist of saving you without any at all."
Jenks dove in the open window as we tore down the road, all of his kids shrilling in excitement. My hands went over my ears, and I cowered. "Jenks!" the hyped-up vamp shouted as she waved her hand in front of her face. "Get your brats under control! I can't see!"
A sharp whistle reverberated through the moving car, and I gasped. Crap, we were headed for a tree! "Look out!" I screamed, and Ivy jerked us back on the road.
"Holy shit!" Jenks shrilled. "Watch where you're going, Ivy! My kids are in here!"
"Really? I hadn't noticed!" she said, rolling the window up with one hand as she awkwardly drove with the one in a cast.
My elation shifted to dread. "Nick," I said, turning to look behind us at the fading glow of Trent's guardhouse. "We have to go back!"
"Are you nuts!" Jenks shouted.
"Quid me fiet," I said, touching Ivy's shoulder, and I shivered as our curses untwisted and we became ourselves again. "We have to go back for Nick," I said as Ivy turned off the lights and we drove in the dark. God, I hoped her night vision was better than mine. "He sacrificed himself to save us. You heard him!"
Pierce was silent in the corner, but Ivy wasn't saying anything either. The car jostled into the night, never slowing. "We are not going back for Nick," Ivy finally said.
"How can you?" I admonished, looking back at the black road. "He sacrificed himself so we could get out. Damn it, we left Jax, too. We wouldn't have gotten out without them!"
"I think you wouldn't have gotten caught without them either," Pierce said sourly.
"I don't believe this!" I shouted. "You're ditching him! After what he did?"
Jenks landed on the dash, glowing brightly. All his kids were in the back, adding to the noise. "Turn it on, Ivy," he said grimly, and I hesitated in my feeling of frustration.
"Turn what on?" I asked, and Ivy twisted, unbuckling her belt pack and tossing it to me.
"Just hit the button," she said, eyes glued to the black night. No one was following us, but I wasn't surprised. They had Nick, and all they had to do was radio ahead.
Feeling sick, I found a small recorder in her stuff. "This?" I asked, holding it up, and Jenks flew to me, kicking a small recessed button. The device warmed in my hand, and a soft squeal came from it, almost unheard, hitting the bones in my ears, not my eardrum. "What is it?" I asked, and Jenks's wings sifted a gold sparkle and all his kids complained.
"The bug we put on crap-for-brains."
My eyebrows rose, and Jenks wrapped his arms around a dial, turning it until the static cleared. I heard the sound of flesh hitting flesh, and Jenks hovered backward, expression angry. Clearly Nick wasn't wearing his demon-born disguise anymore either. I didn't think they'd smack him if he still looked like Trent.
"Enjoying yourself?" I heard Nick say, almost laughing. He had been tortured for days by fanatic Weres. Being slapped by Trent's security officer wasn't going to scare him. My heart gave a thump. We had to go back. Maybe not this instant, but soon.
"Leave off," came a high voice, followed by Nick's raw cough. "Mr. Kalamack's here."
I held the device tightly, staring at it when the unmistakable creak of a door opening came from it. "Leave us," Trent's cool, confident, and ticked voice said softly. I shook my head at Nick's ever trying to duplicate it.
"He's cuffed," Trent said, voice harsh. "I want to speak with him before Quen arrives."
"Sir." It was respectful this time, fearful. We couldn't just leave Nick, and my fingers tightened as I heard the door close and the soft creak of plastic as Trent sat down.
"What happened?" Trent said, his voice low. "You weren't supposed to get caught. Rachel was."
My lips parted, and I think my heart skipped a beat. God bless it. Nick had screwed me over again! The slimy little rat fink! Jenks's wings lowered in pitch, and he landed on my hand. I hated the sympathy in his eyes. No wonder Nick had known I could get through that elf door. Trent had told him.
From the black plastic in my hand came the jingle of cuffs. "Think you could get these off me?" Nick said, the slimeball.
"Quen is in the vault," Trent said, his beautiful voice icy. "The inventory isn't complete, but more than that canvas is missing. I gave you the code so I could catch Rachel with a fake picture, not let you steal a sensitive artifact."
Trent knew I could jump realities on my own, and hadnt bothered to tell me. My entire body warmed as I started to shake.
"The statue?" Nick said, the cuffs jingling again. "That's why I stayed behind. Let myself get caught. The witch took it along, with the canvas. I lifted it from her before she ran. You won't believe what she wanted to do with it."
He's blaming me for his theft?
"Ran off?" Trent said, and I heard Nick grunt in pain. "Your bug of a pixy dropped a magic-generated pinch on my gatehouse. Thirty-six seconds it took to reboot. Do you know what can happen in thirty-six seconds? Just whose side are you on, Sparagmos?"
"Mine," he rasped, taking a new breath. "But I know who's running Cincinnati. Don't get your wick out of whack. She may have taken it, but I swiped it back."
There was a creak of plastic, and I couldn't breathe. Nick was blaming me for his theft, the lie falling from him like a baby's giggle.
"I figured you'd want it," Nick was saying, and my eyes warmed as Jenks's pixy dust sifted onto my fingers, trembling as I held the radio. "So she escaped. So what? You'll get her, and now you still have your statue. I look like a self-sacrificing hero in her eyes - she gets a worthless picture."
It was worthless. The painting was worthless. Just like Nick. Angry and hurt, I wiped a hand under my eye. It had all been faked, even down to the kiss and his self-sacrificing drivel.
"Where is it?" Trent's voice was intent, and I took a breath, holding it.
"In my pocket," Nick said smugly, and I heard the thunk of someone hitting the floor, followed by Nick cursing softly and the rasping sound of him trying to get up off tile.
"This is a saltshaker," Trent said, and the scuffling sound redoubled, making it hard to hear Nick, but one thing was abundantly clear. He was not happy.
"No!" Nick exclaimed. "She did it again! The bitch! She did it to me again!"
In a turmoil of betrayal and frustration, I looked up at Ivy - smug, satisfied Ivy with her eyes black and her fangs showing in a savage grin.
Jenks flew to her, and the two exchanged a high five, Ivy using a single digit so as not to send him flying backward. Pierce breathed a heavy sigh of relief. "Got you, you sewer rat," Jenks said, spilling a clear pixy dust to light Ivy's belt pack. Inside was the statue.
I took a breath, then another, trying to figure it out. "She didn't take anything but the painting, did she," Trent said, pissed. "You took it, and when you couldn't get through the gate, you came up with this cock-and-bull story about picking it from her."
Nick grunted in pain, and I heard something scrape on the tile.
"How?" I whispered, and Ivy glanced at me, her eyebrows raised and her smile wide.
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