Black Lament Page 1

Author: Christina Henry

Series: Black Wings #4

Genres: Fantasy

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LUCIFER PUT HIS ARM AROUND ME. IT FELT COMFORTING, like the act of a parent, a parent I’d always wanted—a father. The air filled with the scent of cinnamon. It reminded me so strongly of Gabriel that the tears that always hovered beneath the surface spilled over.

Lucifer said nothing, only held me as I wept. After a long while, it felt like there were no more tears to be cried. I lifted my head and saw Lucifer watching me with great compassion in his eyes.

“If there is one human emotion I truly comprehend, it is grief,” Lucifer said. “I lost Evangeline and my children so long ago, and I never stopped grieving for them.”

“So it doesn’t stop hurting, then,” I said dully.

“The pain becomes, perhaps, not quite so sharp. In the future, you may find that days may pass when you do not think of him at all, but when you do there will be a tenderness there, like a bruise that has never healed.”

I didn’t need Lucifer to tell me that. A piece of me had been taken forever when Gabriel died. You can’t replace the missing parts of your heart.

Lucifer released me. I felt lost again, empty, except for the flame that burned bright with anger at the thought of Azazel. He would not be able to run far enough.

“Still, all is not lost. Gabriel lives on inside you,” Lucifer said.

“Yes, I’ve heard all the clichés.” I sighed. Beezle and Samiel had been repeating them ad nauseam.

“No, I mean Gabriel really does live on inside you,” Lucifer said. “Here.”

He put his hand on my abdomen, and I looked up in shock.

Far below, deep inside, I felt it.

The beating of tiny wings.

A child. Gabriel’s child. Wonder smothered the grief, just for a moment.

“My grandchild,” Lucifer said.

There was such possessiveness in his voice, in his face, that I pulled away from his touch, covering my stomach with my hands.

“So that’s why you wanted me to marry Gabriel,” I said angrily. “So I can be a part of your supernatural breeding program?”

“That sounds so… indelicate,” Lucifer said.

“And yet still true,” I said.

Lucifer didn’t bother to acknowledge this. Instead, he said, “You and Gabriel are powerful beings born of my line. Your child, no doubt, will be magnificent.”

“You can’t have him,” I said fiercely. “He’s mine.”

Mine and Gabriel’s.

Lucifer took me by the shoulders and kissed me on the forehead. I stayed perfectly still, my hands fisted at my sides, until he released me.

“Careful, my dear. Every time you try to cross me you just get pulled further into my orbit.”

He climbed down the steps of my front porch and walked away down the snow-covered sidewalk. I watched him until he was out of sight, his words echoing inside my head.

Every time you try to cross me you just get pulled further into my orbit.

It was true that I hadn’t managed to beat Lucifer at his game yet. It was also true that when I tried, something horrible would happen, like my being named the Hound of the Hunt.

But I was not going to let Lucifer use my child as part of his plan for total world domination. I was not going to let Lucifer take my last piece of Gabriel away.

Gabriel.

I felt my shoulders sagging, the familiar weariness settling on me. I wanted to go to sleep, which was pretty much all I’d wanted to do since Azazel had killed Gabriel right in front of me.

I went back inside, locked the front door and climbed the steps up to my apartment. Beezle and Samiel were nowhere to be seen, which meant that they were probably in Samiel’s apartment downstairs watching a movie.

I took off the coat that Lucifer had given me. For half a second I contemplated folding it up and tossing it in the trash, but practicality won. Both of my coats had been ruined in various battles with monsters, and I was too broke to afford a new one. On my best day I couldn’t have bought a coat as nice as this.

I hung the coat up carefully by the back door and wandered down the hall to the kitchen. The idea of a nap suddenly had less appeal. I didn’t want to climb in bed and find myself lying awake thinking about Gabriel or about ways to keep Lucifer from taking my baby.

My baby.

How was I supposed to raise a baby? I was surrounded by enemies who tried to kill me on a regular basis. The only reason I was still alive and hadn’t died of my injuries yet was because Gabriel had been around to heal me.

And now he wasn’t. And I was back to where I’d started, the place I was always trying to escape but found that I circled back to, endlessly.

Azazel’s sword in Gabriel’s chest. Gabriel falling to the ground.

I was on my knees, my arms wrapped around my body, trying to stop the pain that never left me, the grief that hung over me like a cloud.

I put my cheek on the cold tile floor and closed my eyes, hoping I would not dream of Gabriel’s blood in the snow.

* * *

I woke to the insistent tapping of a little gargoyle hand on my cheek.

“Maddy, wake up,” Beezle said.

My eyes felt glued shut. My chest hurt, like I’d run a long way taking gasping breaths of air.

I didn’t open my eyes or sit up. “Go away, Beezle.”

“You need to eat something,” Beezle said.

“It won’t hurt me to lose a few pounds,” I mumbled.

“No, but it will hurt your baby.”

I opened my eyes. It was dark in the kitchen. Light streamed in the back window from the streetlamp in the alley behind my building. Beezle sat frowning on the floor in front of my face.

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