Sisters of Blood and Spirit Page 34

“That’s just paranoia. This ghost stuff has freaked us all out. That’s it. It’s nothing.”

He shook his head. “You weren’t there the other night. I saw what it did to her. I felt it. She’s putting herself in danger by helping us.”

Sarah snorted. “Please. She’s doing this because she’s horny for you. Or Ben. She couldn’t care less about the rest of us.”

The Dumpsters trembled. Neither of them seemed to notice. Bet she’d notice if I picked one up and crushed her with it. She wouldn’t be half so pretty with her insides smeared all over the pavement.

“Don’t be stupid.” He just looked disgusted now. “I’m going back inside.”

She grabbed his arm as he walked past. “Mace...wait.”

He stopped. “What?”

“I’m sorry.” Her shoulders slumped. “I’m just scared.”

I watched as he seemed to debate for a moment, then put his arms around her. He was a good guy. Too good to date a girl that was manipulative, which was why I was going to keep an eye on Sarah. Sometimes being haunted changed people, especially if the ghost was able to influence them. It wasn’t quite possession, but it was close.

I left them standing there when she lifted her head in an invitation for him to kiss her. I drifted to the front of the building and looked around. There was a young woman walking down the road that was one of my kind—the sort people called a Woman in White. I wondered how many people had stopped to offer her a drive over the years? And in the distance, I saw a man dangling from a tree branch, swaying in the breeze like a lazy cat’s tail. Didn’t he get bored just hanging there?

My sister was standing near the door of the coffee shop when I came around. She turned and looked at me with a raised eyebrow. She was probably wondering what I was doing out there. Unfortunately, Mace and Sarah chose that moment to walk around as well, their arms around each other. I shrugged and smiled. She’d ask me about it later—and give me a lecture about eavesdropping. I’d heard it before.

The couple paused as Ben joined Lark. I smiled at the change in Lark’s aura when Ben stood next to her. She liked him.

“Get everything?” Mace asked.

“I think so,” Lark replied. “How goes the search?”

“We found three people sent to Haven Crest because of razor-related crimes. Gage’s still looking to see if there are any more.”

Lark nodded, her jaw tight. I knew she was miffed that the two of them were out here when there was work to be done. My sister was a little...obsessive when she put her mind to something, and sometimes she expected everyone else to jump on board. I told her she’d be a lot less angry at the world if she didn’t do that. She told me to...well, do something sexual to myself, and then I’d probably be less annoying.

My sister started for the door of the coffee shop when another car pulled in beside us. It was an odd thing that looked like someone had smooshed a car and truck together.

“Hey, Chuck,” Mace said when a tall, thin man with black hair down to his waist and a tanned complexion climbed out of the vehicle in a cloud of smoke. Lark smirked as she sniffed the air. I sniffed, too. I’d smelled that acrid scent before, but couldn’t place it.

“Mace,” the man greeted in a deep, lazy voice. “I have something for Kev. Is he inside?”

Mace nodded. I moved closer to the man, still sniffing, trying to identify what was so amusing to the other four. Suddenly, the man looked right at me. Then at Lark. “Miss, does this little red-haired girl belong with you?”

Lark stepped back as though he’d slapped her. It wasn’t very often that someone saw me—even less that they acknowledged it. My sister looked at me, and me at her. Then she turned to Chuck. “Yes.”

He nodded, then said to me, “Miss, I don’t mind if you come closer, but you should know that I’ve got a good quantity of iron on my person, and I don’t want to cause you unnecessary discomfort.”

Well, wasn’t that sweet? Most people didn’t even know that iron had an effect on ghosts, much less worried about it. “Thank you.”

He glanced at Lark. “What did she say? I can see her, but I can’t hear her.”

Poor Lark looked a little dumbstruck. “She says thanks.”

Chuck nodded. “Sure thing. Nice to meet you.” Then he smiled at me and went inside.

Mace shook his head. “That was weird.”

My sister wasn’t so amused. “Who is that guy?” The unspoken question was whether or not he was a threat to me.

“That’s just Chuck. He’s harmless.”

Lark shot him a sharp glance as she made to follow after the man. “No one who can see Wren and knows how to hurt her is harmless.” She yanked the door open and stepped inside.

Sarah smiled a little as they followed. Sometimes I was glad I wasn’t alive because I didn’t have to deal with all the strangeness that came with being a mortal teenager. So much insecurity and pettiness. Honestly, I’d rather spend a day with a raging poltergeist than a teenage girl—other than Lark, of course.

Inside, Chuck was at our table, handing Kevin a small burlap pouch. Kevin gave him a couple of twenties and thanked him.

“You guys be careful,” Chuck cautioned, then he left. He nodded at me as he walked away. I waved.

Kevin emptied the pouch on the table. Nine iron rings clanked against the laminate. They were made from old nails.

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