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.As soon as she removed the cork, its warm, pungent scent filtered through the air, telling Giordan that while Cezar didn’t provide his best brandy, it was still a far sight better than what most of the taverns in England served.The rush of the amber liquid sloshing into a small glass was the only sound for a moment.She poured a second one, surprising him faintly, and then turned to look at him.She left one of the whiskeys on the small table and stepped away, sipping from her own glass.“Your name…it isn’t French,” she said suddenly.Although they had conversed briefly before, Giordan hadn’t truly appreciated the low duskiness of her voice.But now, it curled around him like a smoky serpent and his belly twitched in response.“No, it isn’t, unless it is some shortened version of a name or place.Or perhaps my father was English.I don’t know.I don’t know much about my origins.I’m fairly certain my parents were from the countryside,” he said, willing to follow the brief diversion, for of course he’d been telling the truth when he told her he didn’t mean to touch her.Aside of that, conversation might perhaps relieve the pulsing gums pushing at his fangs and the bulge in his breeches.He walked over to pick up his own drink, wondering if leaving it there was a play for control on her part, or if she didn’t trust him to get close enough to hand it over.“They came into the city and then I don’t know what happened.We were poor.I have vague memories of my mother, but nothing very solid.”“But you are no longer poor.Was that…” She hesitated, looking at him with desperate eyes this time.“Did He promise you riches?”Giordan knew precisely what she meant.“Lucifer visited me after I was well on my way to becoming as wealthy as the king.” The old niggle of unpleasantness wormed into his belly.“He merely promised that things would never change, and that I would enjoy great wealth for eternity.And I… But I’d lived on the streets, slept in the alleys and beneath the sewer bridges.Once you’ve been hungry every day for five years, and haven’t had shoes or a clean shirt for a twelve-month, you are desperate to keep that from happening again.At least…I was.”He took a large gulp and pursed his lips, ignoring the doubts and darkness that weighted him at the memories of his past.Why had he agreed to follow this conversational path?“Did Cezar make you?” he asked.“No,” she replied.“But in a matter of speaking, yes.It was he who arranged for Lucifer to visit me.If he hadn’t…” She shrugged.“If he hadn’t, he would only have had a plaything for perhaps two decades instead of eleven.”Her tones were nonchalant; something that Giordan could hardly accept.How long had she been her brother’s prisoner? And what could he do to take her away? “Luce came to you in your dreams, then?” he ventured, keeping his thoughts away from what he could not change.Yet.“Is that not always how celestial beings deliver their messages?” she said wryly.“Or invitations?”“I do not think of Lucifer as a celestial being,” Giordan replied with his own dry smile, and felt a sharp twinge on the back of his right shoulder, where the Devil’s Mark marred his skin.Luce’s annoyance or anger with him often manifested itself through the rootlike weals that covered the back of his shoulder.“No, of course he is no longer.But he once was friends with Uriel and Michael and Gabriel.”He noticed that her face seemed less taut, and as she chose a chair on which to sit—still a distance from him, but at least she was lighting somewhere—he sensed her beginning to relax.Because of course, their conversation had turned from dangerous things to angels, fallen and otherwise, and the world they had in common.“And then Luce fell,” she added, her face serious.Worn.“Just as we have.”“One does not have to live an evil, completely selfish life despite being Dracule,” Giordan said, then gritted his teeth against the sharp searing pain [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]