Sisters of Blood and Spirit Page 25

“Can I help?”

She shook her head. “Why don’t you go out? It’s a beautiful Saturday. Go have some fun.”

Fun. It had been a while since I’d experienced that. Maybe Roxi would want to get together, or that cute Ben... I dumped some sugar in my cup. “Hey, Nan, there’s something I want to tell you.”

She smiled as she lifted her cup to her mouth. “Let me guess, you’ve stumbled upon someone who needs your help with a ghost and you don’t want me to worry about you?”

What the hell? “Uh...sorta.” I added cream to the cup. “How did you know?”

“Lucky guess. I figured it was only a matter of time. People like you are always going to stumble upon people who need them. Unfortunately, I can’t promise I won’t worry. I do appreciate you telling me, though.”

I squirmed. “I didn’t want to keep it from you.”

She reached across the table and took my hand. She was strong for an old chick. “You’re allowed to have secrets, Lark. I’m here to listen whenever you want me to, and I’ll do anything I can to help you, understand? This is your home, and I’m not going to send you away for being who you are.”

Unlike my parents. She didn’t need to say it—I could see the pain in her eyes. My father—her son—had told me I couldn’t stay with them anymore. He didn’t want me, so he’d told me it was too hard for my mother and sent me to live with his mother. I scared him, and we all knew it.

But I didn’t scare Nan.

Crap. My throat closed so tight my breath squeaked. My eyes burned. I tried to stop the tears, but I couldn’t. I hadn’t cried in... Well, I didn’t remember the last time I’d felt that familiar salt sting on my cheeks. Next thing I knew, my grandmother was standing next to me, holding my head against her stomach as I sobbed, clinging to her like she was all I had left in the world.

Other than Wren, she was.

After I finished soaking her shirtfront and recovered from the embarrassment of it, Nan and I finished breakfast. Wren was still gone, so I decided that I was going to go out in pursuit of this “fun” Nan spoke of. I went out to the garage, found my old kayak that had been stored there when we moved to Mass and strapped it to the hood of the dreaded Beetle. Then I made the short drive to nearby Marle Lake. I was just strapping on my life vest when another kayak joined my very girlie one on the launch.

“Never pegged you for a pink girl,” came a familiar voice.

Behind my sunglasses, I closed my eyes and silently swore. I glanced over my shoulder at Mace’s smirking face. He stood just behind me in a T-shirt, board shorts and sandals. “I’m full of surprises,” I replied. “You, on the other hand, are exactly the sort of guy I’d picture owning a black one. No skull and crossbones?”

“Thought that might be a bit much.” He glanced around, as though looking for someone. I looked, too. Was Sarah with him? I didn’t know if I would be happy or disappointed if she was.

“Hi, Wren,” he said. “If you’re here.”

I almost smiled at the self-conscious tone of his voice. “She’s not.” And really, I didn’t know whether to be impressed or pissed that he thought to say hi to her. I mean, he had yet to say hello to me.

Mace seemed surprised. “We’re alone?”

“Again,” I reminded him. “Careful, people will start to talk about you spending time with the crazy girl.”

He met my gaze—or at least I think he did. I couldn’t really see his eyes behind his sunglasses. “I think I can handle it.” He nodded at the lake. “Want me to give you a push?”

I made a face. “No.” And then, because I realized how I sounded, I added, “Thanks anyway.”

He chuckled and gave his head a little shake. Wow, didn’t need to be a genius to figure that one out. He had obviously just realized how obnoxious I was. “Yeah, okay.”

I sighed, and turned back toward the water. Did fate have it in for me? Why did it insist on shoving Mace in my face every time it got the chance?

I shoved my kayak into the water and hopped in, just barely getting my feet wet. I picked up the paddle and dipped one end into the water, then the other, finding my rhythm. I loved it out on the lake. Usually Wren was with me, perched up on the bow, trailing her feet through the water—or water through her feet, I guess. I didn’t miss her yelling, “I’m the king of the world!” like she did practically every damn time.

Mace’s boat glided up alongside mine. “So, you’re not going to talk to me?”

I didn’t look at him, but kept my gaze focused on the far shore. “You want to talk?”

“Don’t you?”

“Sure, Mace. What would you like to talk about? How you found me sliced open like a trout, lying in my own blood? Or the fact that an angry-ass ghost ripped you a new one?” Sometimes I pushed the “bitch” button before I could stop myself.

“Are those my only choices?” If sarcasm was water he’d be drowning right now. “Because I think we’ve done both to death.”

I chuckled at his choice of words. “Okay, you pick, then.” I had settled into an easy pace now, slicing through the water. “Obviously, I suck at conversation.”

“You?” I didn’t have to look to know he was smirking again. “But you’re so friendly and open.”

Normally I’d tell him to fuck off and paddle away, but I didn’t. I actually smiled. “Yeah, yeah. You can’t think of a topic, either, can you?” How sad were we?

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