Excerpt

Lena woke up to MacMillian’s voice echoing through the reception hall.

“Hello?  Is anyone here?”

Lena rolled over with a groan.  Pale morning sunlight filtered through the thin curtains over her bedroom window.  She didn’t remember falling asleep.  Cyrus must have carried her back here last night.

She pushed herself up and swung her legs over the edge of the bed.  Dull tension throbbed between her shoulder blades.  Lena groaned again and stretched.

“Lena?  Cyrus?  Hello?”

“I’ll be right down!”  She started to reach for her slippers, at the last minute remembered she hadn’t packed them.  Instead, she grabbed the open, flowy cardigan flung over the footboard of the bed and shrugged it over her shoulders.

The wood floors were cold beneath her bare feet.  Lena shivered, and hurried out of the room.  The carpeting in the hallway provided welcome relief.  Padding towards the main staircase, she drew her cardigan tighter.

The house was dim and dark.  Only a sliver of morning sun streamed down from the oculus over the third floor landing.  The light looked different today—brighter.  Sharper.  Lena shook herself.  It was probably just the rain.  Everything in the city looked brighter after it rained.

Nervous tension coiled in her stomach as she started down the stairs.  MacMillian was here.  He’d really come.  A part of her had thought maybe he wouldn’t.  She should have known better by now.

God, what was she going to say?  Their last goodbye had been so painfully awkward, she’d wanted to run and hide afterward.  Hanging between them was everything neither of them had been able to put into words.  At least before, she’d been able to pretend none of it existed.  She had a feeling she wouldn’t be able to do that now.

Maybe they didn’t have to say anything.  Maybe she could just take him into the kitchen, make him breakfast.  He liked coffee.  And scrambled eggs.

Lena didn’t realize she’d sped up until she skidded around the second floor landing.  The reception hall came into view.  Waiting in the center of it, just under the crystal chandelier, stood MacMillian.  His near-black hair looked longer each time she saw him.  She couldn’t tell if he was growing it on purpose, or had forgotten to get it trimmed.  One hand rested on the curved head of his black cane.  He looked so strong, so at ease, it was hard to imagine he even needed it.

At the sound of her footsteps, he looked up.  Their eyes met.  Lena’s stomach felt light.  She groped for the banister without looking at it.

She missed.  A metallic clang echoed down the stairs as her hand found the old fuse box on the wall instead.  Pain radiated up her arm.  She hissed, and looked down.  An angry red gash glowed against the pale skin of her hand.

“Lena?”  MacMillian sounded concerned.  “Are you all right?”

Lena stared at her hand.  A few drops of blood were already oozing to the surface.  The sight unlocked something inside her.  All the anger and grief that had been building since that last fight with Grace surged to the surface.  Lena glowered at the fuse box.  “Stupid thing!”  She smacked it hard.

It felt good.  She prepared to do it again.

A sudden change in pressure made her ears pop.  Lena looked around, hand frozen in midair.  She didn’t see any of the telltale signs a spirit might be trying to contact her.  The change in pressure intensified.  She cracked her jaw.  “What the hell…?”

She didn’t know what made her look up at that very moment.  The oculus looked like it was on fire.  Ribbons of white lightning snapped between the webbed framework holding the glass in place.  Electricity fizzed over her skin.  Lena tried to move.  Her feet refused to obey.

The lightning focused to a single, blinding point in the center of the oculus.  Before Lena could react, it poured downward.  The pressure grew until she was sure her ears would burst.

She was still staring up at the oculus when The Wayfare disappeared.

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