What’s happening now?
New to the Misery series? Let’s get you all caught up.
- A Demon Lord is Here and He Wants to Interview Me
- Nulli On My Mind – Misery, the Demon Lord Returns
- Misery Sends for Nulli
- Misery Loves Company – Nulli Pays a Visit
- Misery Loves Company – Nulli Pays a Visit Part 2
- Misery and Yuri Have a Chat
- Misery Loves Company: Surprises All Around
- Misery Loves Company: Date Night
- Misery Loves Company – Date Night Part 2
- Misery Loves Company – Yuri Raises the Bar
- Misery Loves Company – Yuri Raises the Bar Part 2
- Misery Loves Company – Change of Plans
- Misery Loves Company – Change of Plans Part 2
- Misery Loves Company – Search and Destroy
- Misery Loves Company – Where’s Nulli?
- Misery Loves Company – Visitations
As always, thanks to Yuri Bellamy for collaborating with me on these posts!
“Killed my wife?” Efrayim’s eyes widened a split second before he scoffed and waved his hand where he sat at the table, as if to send the notion on its way. “Elsbeth ran away and you know it. The girl was a stark raving lunatic.”
“She was my friend!” The anguish in his own voice surprised Misery, but there was no taking it back.
He let go of Yuri’s mouth and grabbed the servant standing near them on impulse. He’d changed his mind—he was not going to have Yuri waiting outside with his uncle’s whore. He dragged open the door they’d entered from and shoved the servant into the hall before locking the door from the inside. “Just stay where you are and keep your mouth shut,” he growled at Yuri, who nodded.
He stalked to the table where his uncle sat, but didn’t sit down. Instead he stood there, staring down at the one person he hated most in hell. “You killed her and I saw your bodyguard carry her away in the dead of night. I was staying here when it happened–or do you not remember that?”
“I remember,” Efrayim said levelly, in the kind of faux-patient voice most people reserved for madmen and idiots, “but I admit to nothing. You couldn’t have seen anything that night because there was nothing to see–except possibly Elsbeth running away. Now sit down. We’re not here to talk about my wife, Misery.”
Misery gripped the back of a wooden chair the color of the blackest ink, but didn’t pull it out from under the table. He leaned over the chair toward his uncle, watching him. The tension coursing through his arms and into the chair made it vibrate against the polished stone floor. “No, we’re not, but maybe we should be. Or I repeat: I’m going to tell all the other dukes you killed your wife. Do you understand, uncle? Or should I say that again slowly?”
His uncle’s bodyguard snarled and started to get out of the chair opposite Misery, but Efrayim stopped him with a raised hand. His voice came out as cold as ice. “He will not hurt me under penalty of death, Bartholomew.” To Misery, he said, “Your threat is pointless. If you slander me with your lies, it will cause me to lose favor with a few dukes and a handful of nobles, but no more. I have strong ties to too many of the other dukes for something you can’t prove to cause lasting damage.”
Misery suspected his uncle was right, but he could see no choice except to press the issue. This was the only bartering tool he had and he needed to save Nulli. He dragged out the chair he was leaning against and sat down facing Efrayim. “It would still cause problems if I told them. Think about it, Uncle. Not all of the dukes like you. Hell, they don’t like me either, but I’m not known as a liar. They’ll think about what I say for a while, some of them, and they’ll realize: if you will kill even those closest to you, what’s to stop you from killing them?”
Efrayim leaned back in his chair, gripping its armrests. His eyes had gone as cold and black as Misery was sure his own were. “Now you’re just being overly dramatic.”
“Am I? And what do you think will happen when I tell dukes like Ballres and Christain—both family men–you killed your twenty-two-year-old wife because she kept miscarrying and you didn’t want to deal with her anymore?” Misery was shouting now, but he couldn’t help it. He had been seventeen when he’d met Elsbeth, and he now recognized a part of him had loved her. He’d even kept the twenty some odd letters they’d exchanged in the time between when they’d met and when she’d died. He’d never been able to bring himself to throw them away.
Efrayim’s nostrils flared and his lips twisted as if he’d bitten into something terrible. Two pink spots tinged his cheeks, but Misery doubted his uncle was blushing. No. He was flushing with rage.
“How dare you ask me that? I bent over backwards to make that little slut comfortable and she gave me nothing! If I didn’t want to deal with her anymore, it was her fault, not mine. I know all about your little “relationship” with her–”
Misery jumped up from his chair so fast he stumbled, discombobulated as he was by his rage. His thighs bumped into the lip of the table and he quickly stepped back as pain shot up from his knee. His uncle’s nasty laughter rang in his ears.
Goddamn it. The bastard was actually laughing at him?
Righting himself, he made the split second decision to take Bartholomew out of commission with the table. He’d never have a better opportunity to even the odds—and get his uncle to listen to him.
He’d long since learned the prospect of death was the only thing his uncle respected.
Misery braced his hands against the table, shoving hard. Bartholomew let out a gruesome yell as the table bowled him over and crashed to the floor on top of him. His yell cut off as it mingled with a squishy thud.
Efrayim, since he’d been sitting at the head of the table and not the other side of it, managed to leap upright and move out of the table’s path as it upended. He lost his balance a second later and fell to the floor, knocking his chair over. Misery advanced on him as his uncle scrambled to his feet and pulled a green gem out of his pocket. Wild-eyed and wild-haired, but with his metal crown still magically attached to his head, the duke started to back away.
“I do not think you know anything about my relationship with Elsbeth.” Misery’s voice was unsettlingly calm given the circumstances, even to his own ears. He smiled grimly at his uncle, wishing he could kill him now and end Efrayim’s tyranny. However, it was better for both of them if he kept the duke alive. Killing the bastard now would bring him nothing except a death sentence for murdering his powerful relative, as well as a lifetime of being hunted for his crime.
“I loved her as I loved my brother,” Misery continued, wanting to make that clear while he still had Efrayim’s full attention. He stopped a few yards away from Efrayim, when his uncle backed into a wall. “And she was no slut. She never lay with anyone but you at all, although she probably would have preferred a woman.”
Efrayim’s hands shook as he continued to aim his gem at Misery. “You’re mad—and you owe me a damned bodyguard!”
Misery ignored him. He could still hear Bartholomew’s heartbeat—weaker now, but there—but the man hadn’t moved from where he lay beneath the table. However, he wasn’t going to point this out. All he cared about was Nulli. “And you owe me Nulli. Take me to her now.”