Girl of Nightmares

Page 20


Thomas and I look at each other. All we remember is Morfran spewing a bunch of crazy. I sigh.

"So what do you want from me? You want me to sit here and wait, when what I saw might be real? What if she's really in trouble?" The image of her hand, flung up against the furnace door, floats behind my eyes. "I don't know if I can do that. Not after yesterday."

Carmel's eyes are wide. I wish we hadn't gone to Morfran, because the things he said only scared her worse. All of his posturing, his forces spinning around the athame, something wicked this way comes B.S. My shoulders tighten and I wince.

"Okay," Thomas says. He nods to Carmel and takes her hand. "I mean, I think we're fooling ourselves thinking we have a choice anyway. Whatever's happening is happening, and I don't think it's going to stop. Unless we really do destroy the athame."

They leave a little while later, and I spend the afternoon on painkillers, trying not to think about Anna and what might be happening to her. I keep checking my phone, waiting for Gideon to call back, but he doesn't. And the hours tick by.

When my mom gets home, close to evening, she makes me a mug of decaf tea and spikes it with lavender to heal the burns from the inside. It's not a potion. There are no enchantments. Witchcraft and pharmaceuticals don't mix. But even without the mojo the tea is soothing. Plus, I've taken another Percocet, because my shoulders feel like they're ready to rip clean off. It's kicked in nicely, and I want to crawl under the covers and pass out until Saturday.

When I walk into my bedroom, I half expect Tybalt to be curled up on my navy blanket. Why not? If my dead girlfriend can cross over, then my murdered cat probably can too. But there isn't anything there. I get into bed and try to get comfortable against my pillows. Unfortunately, burned shoulders make that pretty much impossible.

When I close my eyes, a chill creeps up my legs. The temp in the room has plummeted, like one of the windows has come open. If I were to breathe out in a huff, it would be a cloud of vapor. Under my pillow, the athame is practically singing.

"You're not really here," I say to convince myself. Maybe to will it into truth. "If it was really you, it wouldn't be like this."

How would you know, Cassio? You've never even been dead once. I've been dead lots of times.

I let my eyes drift up, just far enough to see her bare feet pressed into the corner beside my dresser . Up just a little farther, to the white hem of her skirt, below her knees. I don't want to see any more. I don't want to see her break her own bones, or throw herself through my window. And her damn blood can stay inside of her nose too, thank you. She's more terrifying this way than she ever was with black veins and drifting hair. Anna Dressed in Blood I knew how to face. The empty shell of Anna Korlov … I don't understand.

The figure in the corner is half-encased in shadow, not much more substantial than moonlight.

"You can't be here. Not really. My mom's barrier spell is still up on the house."

Rules rules rules. No rules anymore.

Oh. Really. Is that how it is? Or are you just a figment, like Carmel says? Maybe you're not even you. Maybe you're a trick.

"Are you just going to stand there all night?" I ask. "I want to get some sleep, so if there's something mind-numbingly disturbing you want to show me, can we just get it over with?" My intake of breath is sharp, and a tight lump rises in my throat when her feet start to move, taking short, shuffling strides toward my bed. She comes so close, just outside of my reach. Then she lowers herself to sit beside my feet, and I see her face.

Anna's eyes are her own, and the sight of them shakes me out of the drugs like ice water across my back. The expression on her face is the same as it was in all of my imaginings. It's like she knows me. Like she remembers. We stare at each other for a long time. Shudders run through her, and she flickers, like an image from an old film strip.

"I miss you," I whisper.

Anna blinks. When she looks at me again, her eyes are red with blood. A ripple of pain passes through her jaw as phantom cuts open and close across her chest, grotesque flowers of red blooming and disappearing down her arms.

I can't do anything to help. I can't even hold her hand. She's not really here. The burns sear my shoulders as I sink back into my pillow and for a while we sit silently, passing pain back and forth. I keep my eyes open for as long as I can stand to, because she wants me to see.


I finally get fed up with waiting, and call Gideon again in the morning. For a minute I think it's just going to ring and ring, and I'm starting to wonder if maybe something's happened to him, when he picks up.


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