Invision (Chronicles of Nick #7)(5)

Written By: Sherrilyn Kenyon


Xev nodded slowly. “Yes. Given that he most likely couldn’t be killed per se, he probably does exist in a noncorporeal state in Azmodea.”

“Can I have the English translation of that?”

Xev rubbed at the corner of his eye with his middle finger in a deliberate manner before he answered. “Remember when you were divided? Your soul not in your body?”

Like that wasn’t seared into his brain? Especially given the number of things that had tried to eat him and it was how the two of them had bonded. “Not something one forgets easily.”

“Well, there you go.”

“Um, you lost me, Sparky.” Nick scowled at something that confused him. If the soul was divided from the body … “Then he’s dead.”

“Define dead.”

He glared at Xev as he continued to play vague in a way that would make the ancient Atlantean god Acheron proud. “Would you stop with the head games and please answer the question?”

“I’m trying. It’s not that simple.”

“You and Caleb … what is it with the two of you? Did you take asshole pills this morning? Gah, you are brothers. I don’t know why you can’t get along. You’re just alike.”

Xev snorted. “You think we’re bad? You should meet our father sometime. Your great-great-grandfather is a total piece of work. But to answer your question, Nick. Zavid would need to be reborn here. Yes, you could do that. The Malachai theoretically has power. But that kind of thing will cost you. It’s not free, and the universal powers frown upon it. It’s like altering time. Just because you can, doesn’t mean you should. The hardest part of life is knowing when to walk away and let fate run its course. Even though it’s a kick in the stones to let it do it.”

“And if that was you trapped there? Would you still be advocating a retreat?”

“It was me trapped there, for countless centuries. And yes, it sucked.” He reached over his shoulder to rub at his back. “You want to know why I choose to stay in my cat form most of the time?”

“You hate people.”

He shook his head. “When I’m a cat, I’m not reminded of the fact that my own father ripped my wings off my back in a fit of anger over something I didn’t do. You’ve no idea how many times I instinctively try to move them, only to remember they’re gone. And why.”

Yeah, that had to burn. Soul deep. Having wings himself, he knew they were the same as an appendage. It would be the same as someone ripping off an arm or leg. “I’m sorry.”

Xev shrugged. “The point is we all have our own version of misery we deal with. And I do feel badly about Zavid. But you go down there, and there’s no easy way back. It’s a trap for you. Trust me. Noir will own you for eternity.”

“My father escaped.”

“By betraying a friend. You ready to do that?”

Nick snorted. “Depends on the friend.”

Xev gave him a flat, droll stare.

“Lighten up. It was a joke.… Sort of.” Letting out a tired sigh, Nick checked his watch. “Anyway, I’ve got to get to work. Keep an eye on my mom?”

“Always.”

“All right. See you later.” He left Xev, knowing the ancient being would die before he allowed anything bad to happen to Cherise Gautier.

That was the only good thing that had come of the deception that had been played with their lives. Xev wasn’t just an immortal houseguest Nick had taken in, the ancient cursed god was also his great-grandfather.

Yeah, it really messed with his head whenever he stopped to think about it. While they physically appeared to be only a couple of years apart in age, their births were separated by thousands of years. He’d had no idea they were related when he’d saved Xev and allowed him to move in here.

Neither of them had known.

It was something they were slowly coming to terms with, especially since Xev had been forced to give up his son and had never thought to see him again. The last thing Xev had ever expected to find when Nick had rescued him was that he had a living granddaughter, never mind the addition of her smart-mouthed son.

Life as a Malachai was ever a strange, strange thing. But Nick was slowly acclimating to it.

Leaving Xev behind, he exited his condo and dug his car keys out of his pocket. His mom was still at work and would be there for another hour. Until Xev had moved in with them, Nick would have been worried about her walking home from the bar and grill where she worked by herself. But Xev would head over and see her home for him.

And he’d die before he allowed any harm to come to her.

That was the only thing that allowed Nick to function these days, especially given the number of creatures out to claim a piece of his hide. And who were willing to use his mom as a bargaining chip to get to him.

Thanks, Dad, for that birthright.

’Course, he couldn’t blame it all on his father. A large chunk of it had to do with his own surly attitude of pissing off everyone around him and in particular the Grim Reaper, War, and the essence of all evil himself. Nick had done all that on his own.

No help whatsoever.

In retrospect, he should have thought it through a little better before he lipped off at them. But at the time, he’d been a little put out. It’d seemed like a good idea.

Now …

Well, he wasn’t gutted yet. They hadn’t captured or killed his mother or Kody. So, he was almost winning.

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