Girl of Nightmares


Page 46


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"You don't really think that," he says, breaking into my head. "You're trying to talk yourself out of it."

Maybe I am. Maybe Gideon's involvement in all this is the one thing I'd rather not know. "Look," I say. "It doesn't matter. We can ask him in person." Thomas looks up. "My mom's springing for two tickets to London. Want to go?"

"Face down an ancient secret druidic order that obviously wants you to know they exist?" Thomas scoffs. His eyes drift to his pack of cigarettes, but after a second he just runs his hand across his face, roughly. When his eyes are visible again, they look tired, like the distraction mask is wearing off and he doesn't care much one way or the other. "Why not?" he says. "I'm sure we can take 'em."

* * *

"I don't know why you don't want me to tell him you're coming," my mom says as she tucks another pair of socks into my suitcase. The thing is stuffed to the gills already but she keeps adding more. It took me ten minutes to convince her to take out the rosemary herb packs because the reek would set off the security dogs.

"I want it to be a surprise." It's the truth. I want to get the drop on him, because ever since I saw that photo I feel like he's had one on me. I trust Gideon with my life. I always have, and so did my dad. He'd never do anything to harm me, or put me in harm's way. I know that. Or am I just being stupid?

"A surprise," my mom says in that way moms have of repeating things just to have the last word. She's worried. She's got that crease between her brows, and the meals these past few days have been stupendous. She's feeding me all of my favorites, like it's my last chance to eat them. Her hands wring the life out of my socks, and she sighs before closing my suitcase and zipping it up.

Our flight leaves in four hours. We've got a connection in Toronto, and should touch down at Heathrow at 10 PM, London time. Thomas has been texting for the last hour and a half, asking what he should pack, like I should know. I haven't been to London, or to see Gideon, since I was four. The entire experience is a fuzzy, patchy memory.

"Oh," Mom says suddenly. "Almost forgot." She unzips the suitcase again and looks at me, her hand out expectantly.

"What?"

She smiles. "Theseus Cassio, you can't fly with that in your pocket."

"Right," I say, and reach for the athame . It seems like a dumb mistake, one that my mind was making on purpose. The thought of putting my knife into checked baggage, risking the loss of it, makes me more than a little queasy. "You sure you can't just put some mojo on it?" I ask, only half joking. "Make it invisible to metal detectors?"

"No such luck," she replies. I hand it over and watch with gritted teeth as she tucks it in deep, right in the center, and covers it with clothes.

"Gideon will keep you safe," she whispers, and then again, "Gideon will keep you safe," like a chant. Second thoughts hover around her like slow insects, but her arms are still and tight by her side. It occurs to me that I've bound her to this act as surely as if I'd tied her with rope, through my stubbornness, my refusal to let go of Anna.

"Mom," I say, and stop.

"What is it, Cas?"

I am coming back, is what I was going to say. But this isn't a game, and that isn't a promise I should make.

CHAPTER FIFTEEN

Thomas does okay on the flight to Toronto, but spends the first hour and a half of the London flight clutching the business end of a barf bag. He doesn't actually throw up, but he's definitely green. A couple of ginger ales later, though, he's settled in, comfortable enough to try reading the Joe Hill hardback he's brought with him.

"The words won't hold still," he mutters after a minute, and closes the book. He looks out the window (I let him have the window seat) at bleak darkness.

"We should try to get some sleep anyway," I say, "so we won't be dogging it when we land."

"But it'll be ten PM there. Shouldn't we try to stay up so we can fall asleep?"

"No. Who knows how long it'll be before we have a chance. Rest up while you can."

"That's the problem," he grumbles, and punches the inadequate in-flight pillow. Poor kid. He has to have a million things on his mind, the least of which is a fear of flying. I haven't worked up the nerve to ask whether he's talked to Carmel, and he hasn't mentioned it. And he hasn't asked me much about what we're doing going to London, which is very un-Thomas-like. It might be that this trip is a convenient escape. But he's fully aware of the danger. The lingering handshake he exchanged with Morfran at the airport spoke volumes.

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