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« J’avais inventé un surnom pour le Prince Noir.

Lucy.

Lucifer, Lucy. Vous saisissez ? Je l’avais appelé comme ça quelques jours plus tôt, et il m’avait frappée si fort que mes yeux étaient devenus tout enflés, alors maintenant je n’utilisais ce surnom que dans ma tête. Si Sera pouvait m’entendre, elle aussi l’appellerait comme ça, et cela m’aiderait peut-être à survivre mentalement à cet enfer, au sens littéral. »

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« — Je n’ai jamais rencontré une âme plus passionnée et loyale que toi, Brielle Atwater. L’étincelle de feu en toi, qui fait brûler ton âme, est ce que j’aime le plus. Tu ferais n’importe quoi pour ta famille et tu as un cœur en or. Mais plus que tout, tu me fais voir le monde différemment. Je le vois à travers tes yeux. Tu ne laisses jamais ta famille en arrière, tu ne comprends pas le sens du mot « non », et c’est ce que j’aime le plus chez toi. »

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CHAPTER ONE

I moaned, rolling over in bed and trying to let my eyes adjust. Every morning for the past month it was the same thing: I woke up in Hell, in my little stone room, all drugged up and discombobulated, seeing double and feeling ill.

“Morning. Time for your meds,” Raksha told me.

I glared at the Dark Mage. We had a love-hate relationship. She wasn’t abusive or overly rude, only did what the Dark Prince told her, and yet she was still my captor.

“No more drugs, please,” I whimpered.

The meds made me feel sluggish, depressed, and sick.

She mixed my oatmeal, her dark hair falling around her face, making her almost look pretty. She was a woman of Indian descent, about mid-thirties and terribly powerful. The first day I was here, I’d tried to blast her with my magic and she’d thrown me across the room, reopening my neck wound.

She tsked between her teeth. “You know the rules, child. You take the meds, and then you can see the Dark Prince.”

“I don’t want to see the fucking prince!” I snapped.

Her eyes snapped up to me, and a red haze came over them. When she stood and stalked over to me with the oatmeal in her hand, she wore a look of determination.

“I’m going to let you in on a little secret. You want to survive down here? Then you do what he says. You understand?” Something in her voice, in her face, changed to the point that she almost seemed like a decent human being. But that all ended when she shoved the first spoon of ‘oatmeal’ into my mouth, and clamped my lips shut.

“Swallow,” she growled.

I looked down at my left hand, the ring that sat there. She’d been the one to let me keep it. The Dark Prince thought it might be spelled, but she’d looked it over, declared it useless and suggested it might motivate me if I could have it. They’d taken the pendant Mr. Claymore made me, but at least they’d let me hold on to the ring.

I swallowed the medicated breakfast, letting it slide down my throat.

Lincoln.

God, that name, just the thought of him brought tears to my eyes, as a physical pain opened in my chest. Did he think I was dead? What was Shea doing? My mom? Mikey?

Tears flowed down my cheeks, and Raksha smacked my hand.

“None of that weakness in here. Swallow it down. Survive,” she barked.

There were glimpses, like this one, where I actually thought she was trying to help me.

“Why the meds still? I haven’t tried to attack the Dark Prince in a few days,” I attempted to reason with her, as she shoved another spoonful in my mouth.

Raksha gave me a glare. “A few days? Let’s try a few weeks, and then maybe I’ll be permitted to cut the meds.”

A few more weeks down here? Oh God, I couldn’t imagine that. I’d lose my mind.

The meds made it so I couldn’t do magic, couldn’t fly, couldn’t talk to Sera. That last one killed me the most out of all of them. Knowing she was down here with me, but our connection was suppressed.

“Okay, I won’t fight him anymore. I see now that it’s useless.” I would have to try another way to get out of here. Play it like I was on their side.

She nodded, spooning the gritty and bitter oatmeal into my mouth. “Good girl. Do as you’re told.”

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