Blood Feud Page 44

Isabeau hauled herself up onto the roof, poked her head back down.

“What do you want today, Cerise?” she asked, forcing a note of cheer into her voice.

“A ribbon for my corset,” Cerise suggested, smiling again. It had become a game, to see what odd trinket Isabeau could find for her, once she’d finished working the crowd for more serious wares.

Isabeau hurried along the rooftops, fol owing the sounds of the political ral y. As promised, the square bulged with people, children, dogs, and cheese vendors hoping for a sale. The rain had washed the cobblestones and the streets clear, and the wind carried off the stench of so many unwashed bodies and the garbage in the al eys. There was a man at the podium dressed in the trousers favored by revolutionaries instead of the aristocratic knee breeches—thus the name “sans-culottes. ” He had the tricolor cockade pinned to his hat, just as Isabeau did.

Almost everyone in Paris wore one, even if they were secretly royalists. Everyone wanted to avoid unwanted attention. It was the only way to survive the riots and the National Guard and the gendarmes and revolutionaries.

He was yel ing passionately about Fraternite and Liberte and state education for children. Isabeau didn’t pay much attention to what he was saying. She wasn’t here to join the cause, or even to fight against it. She was here solely for the coin she could lift from unattended pockets. She had a smal stash tucked under the roof shingle of a ribbon shop that saw few customers these days. Soon, if the summer was kind to her, she would have enough to buy passage on a ship to England. If she went before winter, she could walk from the shore to London, to find her uncle’s house. She was trying to convince Cerise to go with her but the other woman absolutely refused to leave France, and spat at the mention of England.

Isabeau used her high vantage point to scope out the movement of the crowd, where it clogged together and where it thinned out. Once she’d marked her best point of entry, she leaped down into an al ey, scaring a cat and neatly avoiding a puddle of unidentified liquid. She strol ed casual y toward the main part of the square, looking for al the world as if she were paying close attention to the speeches. Someone handed her a flyer.

She let herself be jostled, stepped on a foot and apologized profusely. The man shrugged her off, checking his pockets.

They were gratifyingly ful and he forgot her instantly. The man next to him didn’t think to check and she hid a smile, dropping the silver coin she’d filched from his coat. She’d hung her coat on a chimney and practiced for days until she could pick her own pockets without even disturbing the pigeons nesting above it. She was proud of herself, as proud as she’d been the day she’d played her first song at the piano without a single pause or mistake. Prouder even then when she’d earned the praises of her dancing master.

Anyone could learn to dance.

Picking pockets was a harder skil to learn and eminently more useful.

By the end of the square she’d amassed another silver coin, a copper chain with a broken clasp, a bag of walnuts, and a feather from a woman’s bonnet. She’d have to find a red ribbon later. If she stayed any longer she increased the chances of being discovered. Greed would get her kil ed.

She spotted Marc leaning against a pil ar, his dirty face half-hidden under a cap. He winked at her as she passed but otherwise made no sign that he knew her. She slipped him the copper chain as a thank-you, nicked a clump of radishes from a basket, and vanished onto the maze of shingles and broken chimneys above the city.



“What the hel was that?” I choked as we were tossed back into the clearing. We weren’t in 1793 Paris anymore, but we weren’t in our bodies yet either. We shimmered like ghosts over the grass, our bodies slumped several feet away. I couldn’t get the image of Isabeau, abandoned and orphaned, clinging to rooftops.

“That’s never happened before,” Isabeau murmured, startled and embarrassed.

“You know, you keep saying that.”

She swal owed, turning away slightly as if she was embarrassed to look at me. That was definitely new. “So now you know what I was.”

I blinked. “Resourceful, clever, self-sufficient. Same as now.” She blinked back. “Logan, weren’t you paying attention? I robbed corpses and picked pockets.”

“You survived.” There wasn’t an ounce of censure in my voice, except maybe at the suggestion that I would think less of her.

“I was no better than Madame Tussaud,” she said, disgusted.

“What does this have to do with wax museums?”

“I’m talking about Madame Tussaud, who made death masks. I read that she dug through the corpses of the guil otine victims to find decapitated heads for her masks. What are you talking about?”

“A tourist attraction. They make wax replicas of famous people. I guess it was named after your Madame Tussaud.”

“This century is just odd,” she muttered.

“This from a girl who survived the French Revolution.”

“We’re blue already,” she murmured. That’s when I noticed the glow we were emanating was brighter, slightly blue around the hazy edges. “We don’t have much time left, we’l need to get back into our bodies before our spirits forget the way.”

“I do feel kind of odd.” Like the pul of my body was warring with the pul to just float away.

“Are you al right? I stil need to get a connection to Montmartre.” She kneeled and wiped her hands in the silver blood. “Which I can do, with this.” Her palms were smeared with thick silver, like oil paint. Her teeth were clenched tight together as she dabbed the metal ic blood on her forehead, between her eyebrows. She wavered, as if I were looking at her through heat lightning. She was going to vanish again and I wasn’t touching her this time. Hel if I was going to stay behind and float. I grabbed her hand, the blood cool on my skin.

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