Sisters of Blood and Spirit Page 39

“I know you’re out there,” Kevin said. “I know you’re watching or hovering, whatever you do. We got the message you sent through Sarah earlier, and now we invite you to show yourself. If you want to be the big bad, show your face. Unless you’re a coward.”

Okay, so, not the way I would have done it. Although, antagonizing the ghost was probably the fastest way to call it forth.

Nothing happened. Everyone—except Kevin—glanced around the table at one another. I tried to keep my attention on Wren. She flickered for a second like bad TV reception, then was whole again.

“It’s coming,” she said.

“Kevin,” I commanded. “Keep going.”

And he did. “Come on,” he whispered. “Come scare us. Show yourself. You know you want to.”

The lights turned off and on. The table shook. Ben’s little finger slid over mine like a hug.

“You can do better than that,” Kevin goaded.

It was like all the air was sucked out of the room by a giant vacuum. Everything went quiet and perfectly still, like we were all frozen where we sat. And then a man appeared behind Sarah.

Gage jumped and swore.

“Nobody move,” I cautioned, keeping my gaze focused on the ghost. “Gage, is your salt circle intact?”

“Yes, boy,” the ghost mocked in a raspy voice. “Check your circle.”

Gage’s normally tanned face was chalky, eyes wide like inkwells as he peered down at the floor.

“It’s good,” he croaked.

That was a relief. Poor Sarah looked as though she might pass out. She clung to Mace and Kevin like they were the only things holding her in her chair. Kevin actually seemed surprised that the ghost had come.

Our spirit was a middle-aged man. Not bad-looking, but far too crazy-eyed to be really handsome—kind of like Bruce Campbell in some of the scenes in Army of Darkness. He had dark hair and dark eyes and was dressed in old-fashioned clothes. He wasn’t my first apparition, so I was able to study him without the same shock and fear as the others. I filed every little detail about him away in my memory.

He had bloody hands, and there was arterial spray across the front of his blue shirt.

“Look at you all,” he said, smiling as his dark gaze swept around the table. “Little lambs.” He leaned his head close to Sarah. “Hello, my dear.”

Her eyes widened, but she was too terrified to even make a sound.

Lambs? Farmer, maybe? Or a preacher. “Tell us your name,” I commanded, pulling his attention away from Sarah.

The ghost shot me a glare. “Bossy little bitch, aren’t you? No, I have no intention of telling you my name.” Then he turned his head and smiled. “You must be Lark—prickly little scar-girl. And you—” he turned to Wren “—you’re the Dead Born. Oh, I’ve heard so much about the two of you.”

“From who?” I demanded.

But it was Wren who had his attention. He drifted closer to her. My sister held her ground, even though I wished she’d come closer to me.

“Look at you,” the ghost murmured as he approached. “You pulse with life even though you’re so thoroughly dead. Not like you’re other half—the walking dead.”

Okay, so that stung. It also made a lot of sense. Wren watched him like a gazelle watching a lion.

“So powerful,” the ghost went on. “You don’t even know how much. It’s almost charming.” He stared at my sister as though she was an angel—or a demon.

“Hey!” I snapped. This was my show, not his. “Old MacDonald—you need to step off.”

The apparition turned its head. “I beg your pardon?”

“Not mine you need to ask for,” I told him. I gestured to those around the table. “You need to let them go.”

He seemed to find this amusing. “Or what?”

“Or I’ll salt your bones and turn them to ash.”

He smiled. “Such bravado. How will you find my remains when you don’t even know my name, little girl?”

“Josiah Bent,” Kevin said, and I knew from the ghost’s expression that he was right. Wren put herself between the two of them.

I smiled. “So, I guess I’ll be finding your remains now, asshole.”

Bent reared back, his face contorted into a monstrous, ugly mask. Somehow he conjured a straight razor—a long one that gleamed under the light. He whirled around, slashing the blade toward Roxi. She cried out and ducked. Gage thrust his arm—the one not protected by iron—in front of her.

“No!” I shouted, but it was too late. If Gage hadn’t moved he would have stayed within the salt circle and Bent wouldn’t have gotten him, but all I could do was watch as that razor sliced across Gage’s arm.

Gage screamed.

I jumped out of my chair, pushing it back so the legs ripped through the salt, destroying my protective barrier.

“Hey, dickwad!” I shouted.

Time slowed as Bent turned toward me.

“Lark,” Wren said softly—a warning. “What are you doing?”

I smiled at Bent. “You don’t scare me.”

He lunged then, coming at me with the wrath of a tornado. I drew back my right fist, and smashed the iron ring on it right into the middle of his face.

See, I can make contact with any ghost, not just my sister. I had managed to keep that pretty much to myself until now.

Bent scattered—exploded into a thousand jagged wisps, and was gone.

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