The Company of Fiends (Tempting Monsters 2) - Page 118

"Alphonse," Magdalena said with a firm smile and a dip of her head. "I let myself in, of course, although I do congratulate you on your wards. They are very tidy. Who do you use? Don't tell me. It's Nathaniel, isn't it?"

"Alphonse," I repeated, sounding the name out, my eyes growing wider. I'd assumed Mr. Reddy had a first name, but I'd never heard anyone, not even Myra, use it before. "Alphonse."

"You, out!" Mr. Reddy snapped at me.

"No, let her stay. I like her very much," Magdalena purred. She drew a black handkerchief out of the collar of her fitted bodice and wiped it over the back of the spare chair before helping herself to a seat.

I snorted and shook my head. "You two talk business. Jude, you'll stay, won't you?" I asked. He nodded. Good. This way, he could report back to me on anything interesting between the pair. "Do you need anything, Alphonse?"

Mr. Reddy glared at me, and I thought at any moment, that stare might shoot flames. If he'd been part imp, perhaps it would have. "Find Constantine," he bit out, sobering me. "Bring him here."

I nodded, catching Jude's kiss on my cheek, and left them to their discussion.

Constantine was easy to find, sitting on the bed in his dressing room, but I stopped short in the doorway all the same. Ronan and Nireas were in the room too. Nireas was seated on the floor, long legs stretched out in front of him, two crumbling old books held between his six hands. Ronan was sitting backwards on an old wooden chair, tail coiled around one wooden leg, and another book in front of his nose.

"I told them not to bother," Constantine said to me as I stepped inside. He was also holding another book.

"Bother with what?" I asked.

"Hello, nut," Ronan greeted with a stretch of his wings.

Nireas tipped his foot to the side and it nudged my ankle, but he didn't tear any of his eyes off the pages in his hands. "We're studying up on demon bindings and deals. See if we can't find a loophole or the like."

"We can't," Constantine said flatly.

"He's a bit morose, but I don't mind him," Ronan told me, his head tipping. "What is it with you and serious men?"

"I have you for balance," I said to Ronan before turning to look at Constantine.

Constantine ignored our comments, shaking his head. "There's only one way to free me."

"Which is?" I asked, crossing from the door to sit at Constantine's side. His hand slid over my knees, drawing me in closer, and Ronan and I shared a smile.

"To convince the warlock to release him," Ronan said.

"Two ways. We could kill them," Nireas added, matter-of-fact. "But Constantine can't tell us who or where they are."

"Why are they doing this?" Constantine asked me, brow furrowing, glaring at the other two. Ronan was right—he was morose. Frustrated and weary at the idea of being helped.

"Because I like you, and they like me," I said, checking on the others for confirmation. Nireas's lips twitched and he shrugged, nodding. "But actually, Mr. Reddy wants to see you. I think there's a witch here."

"A witch?" Nireas echoed.

"No good can come of a witch," Constantine snapped, but his hand stroked over my thigh absently.

"Maybe not, but this one called Birsha a cockroach, so she doesn't seem too terrible," I said, nudging Constantine's side. "I'll come with you. Leave these scholars here to do the work."

Constantine stared at me for a long moment, glanced at the others out of the corner of his eyes, and then slid a long arm slowly around my shoulders, drawing me closer. His kiss was tenuous, fragile, like he was waiting to be interrupted. I pressed into his lips, stroking my hand over his sharp jaw, and then drew away.

"All right," he said mildly.

I nodded and rose up, and Constantine followed. "Maybe the loophole we should look for isn't how to get him out of the binding, but how to find out who the warlock is," I said to Ronan and Nireas.

"I don't want you near him," Constantine said, hard and crisp, his arm tight around my side.

"So it's a him!" Ronan noted brightly.

"We'll look at everything," Nireas assured me, leaning forward and reaching out to me with a free hand, cupping it around my ankle for a moment, his thumb stroking and sending bright darts of interest up my body.

Constantine and I left them to their work, and the hall was growing busier, filling up with monsters and humans.

"Hazel? Have you seen Hugh?" Isabella asked me, stepping out of Hugh's dressing room.

My heart went cold at her question, but then down the hall Evie answered, "He's upstairs, planning something with the stagehands for the third act."

I blew out a puff of breath and ignored Isabella's pout as she shoved past me and into her own dressing room.

Evie rolled her eyes and shook her head at me. "I think Hugh's soured a bit on little Isabella," she whispered to me.

"See if you can't talk to her," I said, laughing as Evie's beautiful features twisted with revulsion. "We need all the peace and harmony we can get."

"I suppose," Evie said with a heavy sigh, pushing off the wall and following after Isabella.

"The witch won't be able to help me," Constantine said, frowning and hunching to meet my eyes as we neared the door. "You and the others should—"

I rose up to my toes, my hand on the handle, and pressed a quick kiss to his lips, hushing his objections. I pushed the door open and caught the tail end of the conversation taking place.

"Khepri is calling them closer as quickly as can be managed. We will have allies and information soon, Alphie," Magdalena said.

Oh lord. Alphie was even better than Alphonse. Myra was in the room now, sitting on the arm of Reddy's chair and only looking a bit ruffled and nervous about the stunning and strange woman's familiarity with Mr. Reddy. Jude stood as Constantine and I entered, and he pushed the chair from Myra's desk closer, offering it to Constantine.

My demon looked nervous, and it hit me at once that it was the same stiff, frozen look on his face he'd worn the day he arrived. I followed at his back, my hand on his shoulder, and he jerked down into the chair, leaning away from Magdalena and into my touch.

Tags: Kathryn Moon Tempting Monsters Paranormal
Source: Copyright 2016 - 2023