Home > The Brightest Embers (Broken Destiny #3)

The Brightest Embers (Broken Destiny #3)
Author: Jeaniene Frost


CHAPTER ONE

    I WALKED INTO the museum with a half demon holding my hand and a gargoyle waiting for me back at our car. As a history major, I’d often dreamed about going museum hopping throughout Europe, but not once had I pictured doing it like this.

    “We’re here for the four p.m. tour,” Adrian, my new husband and the aforementioned half demon, told the museum attendant.

    “The four p.m. tour group is over there,” she said, pointing toward a small cluster of people about a dozen feet away.

    As we walked off, Adrian traced the braided rope tattoo on my right hand. My sleeve hid the rest of it, just like my high-necked blouse and long pants hid the remains of the other hallowed weapon that had supernaturally merged with my flesh. If the hallowed weapon we were looking for was here, I’d no doubt end up with a third supernatural tattoo.

    Of course, that tattoo might one day end up decorating my cold dead corpse.

    “Feel anything, Ivy?” Adrian asked in a low voice.

    I directed my senses outward and felt the distinct vibes that meant this was hallowed ground, as well as extra brushes of power from the various religious relics in this museum. But I didn’t feel anything potent enough to punch a hole through every demon realm in existence, and that was the specific ancient relic we were after.

    “No,” I said, frustration coloring my tone.

    I hadn’t felt the power we were seeking when we were at Saint Peter’s Basilica in Rome last week, or the Hofburg Palace in Vienna earlier this week. Now we were at the Mother See of Holy Etchmiadzin complex in Vagharshapat, Armenia. This was the third place in the world claiming possession of the spearhead of Longinus, aka the Holy Lance, aka the final hallowed weapon that I was supposedly fated to wield. The third time was, unfortunately, not the charm according to my lineage-derived radar. I could sense hallowed objects, and the famed spearhead wasn’t here, unless wards were messing with my ability to feel it.

    I wasn’t optimistic about our chances. “I suppose if the real spearhead was at one of the places it was supposed to be at, demons would’ve stolen it centuries ago,” I said.

    Someone close enough to overhear that gave me a startled look. I just waved at her. I wasn’t worried about shocking her with the truth about demons, demons’ minions, Archons—better known as angels—or any of the other supernatural creatures I now knew were real. I could spend the next twenty minutes telling everyone here that all these things existed, and no one would believe me even if a bunch of demons were breathing down their necks while I spoke. I knew that from experience.

    Adrian drew me closer, brushing back my dark brown hair. “We had to check out this museum to be sure the spearhead wasn’t hiding in plain sight. Besides,” he murmured, leaning down until his mouth nearly touched mine, “this might not be a successful relic hunt, but it’s turning into a great honeymoon.”

    My cheeks weren’t the only parts of me to grow warm at his statement, yet instead of leaning into his lips, I pushed him back. The look in his eyes said he was about to kiss me in a way more suited to our bedroom than a museum located on the headquarters of the Armenian Apostolic Church.

    Still, Adrian was right. We might have struck out at finding the third hallowed weapon, but other than that, this had been the best month of my life. I’d used the second hallowed weapon to close the gateways between the demon realms and our world, effectively locking the demons out. That made it a thousand times safer for me, Adrian, my sister, our friend Costa and every other person in the world. Only demons’ minions were left on this side of the realms, and with their demon masters locked up, the minions seemed to be running scared instead of terrorizing anyone.

    “Kiss me later. Let’s do the tour now,” I told Adrian. “I might not feel anything, but the last weapon’s power was blocked by wards. Maybe the spearhead is here, and I just can’t feel it yet.”

    “Maybe,” Adrian said, his light tone belying the sudden darkening of his sapphire-colored gaze.

    Then he straightened, and just like that, the teasing, passionate man I loved was replaced by a hardened fighter who’d been raised by demons to be the world’s most effective killer. I took in a deep breath, reminding myself that the demons’ efforts had backfired. Now Adrian used all of his amazing abilities to fight against them instead of for them.

    Besides, he was only gearing up in case the spearhead was here. If so, its incredible power would compel me into attempting to use it on the spot, and I wasn’t ready to do that. Not yet. That was why Adrian would fight to the last ounce of his demonically fueled, destiny-enhanced strength to stop me.

    Because if I did use the spearhead now, it would kill me.

    * * *

    AS IT TURNED OUT, neither one of us had anything to worry about. One glance at the relic should’ve been enough to prove that it wasn’t the real deal. Touching the glass around it to make sure it hadn’t been protected by wards had almost been redundant. A first-century Roman spearhead wasn’t a short, flat, ornamental object that looked better suited to be a necklace than an ancient tool of war. It was a nasty, two-foot iron shank crowned with a sharp, pyramid-shaped point designed to impale someone even through protective armor.

    No, this was another replica, and now we had no idea where to look for the real spearhead. Adrian wasn’t nearly as upset about that as I was, and he wasn’t even trying to pretend otherwise.

    “You could at least fake some disappointment,” I said as we left the museum and walked toward our rental van.

    He gave me a sideways glance. “Then I’d be lying, and I thought we agreed there would be no more lies between us.”

    We had, but he didn’t need to rub in how he’d much rather that I never found, let alone wielded, the spearhead. I could understand his reasons, but if I gave this up, then the demons would win and thousands of innocent people would die.

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