Sisters of Blood and Spirit Page 41

His dark eyes widened. “Wow. You are such a bitch when you’re scared.”

“That, too,” I agreed, my shoulders sagging. How long would it take the scout to reappear at the hospital? To pull itself back together on this plane and report to Bent?

How long before a larger welcoming party was sent out?

“Listen,” I said. They all turned to me. “This is a trap. Bent wanted us to come here, to his territory. I don’t know if he’s hoping to barter with Wren, or use her against us, but he’s going to want me to back off so he can nibble on you. My sister is the most important thing in the world to me.”

Mace nodded. “So, what you’re saying is that you’d give us over for her?”

I met his gaze. “If I had to? In a second. I don’t want to, but if it comes down to it, yeah. I just want to be up front about it.”

I didn’t understand his expression, and I didn’t need to. Ben, on the other hand, was as open as a book. “It’s okay, Lark. We all want to help you get Wren back, but more important, I want to save my own ass. We all do.”

The others nodded—hesitantly. I felt a little better about leading them into what might be their deaths—if it was possible to feel better about it. I knew why I had to do this. I knew why they had to do it. Out of all of them, though, Kevin’s motivation was the most like mine. Wren.

I glanced at him. He was looking toward the buildings of the Haven Crest campus with a grim expression. He was thinking about her, I knew it.

“Positive energy,” I reminded everyone. My sister was waiting. “Let’s pick up the pace a bit.”

We jogged toward the shadowy buildings not far away. Most were in total darkness—those still in ruins. Others were in the midst of being fixed up by the town. They were being reclaimed as some sort of community campus. I hoped they had a good exorcist or ten lined up.

“Where should we go?” Gage asked.

I pointed ahead and slightly to the right at one of the largest buildings on the site. “Patient residence.” Might as well jump right in. “It’s the epicenter.”

“How can you tell?” Sarah asked. For someone who didn’t like me, she talked to me a lot.

How could I tell? Right. Sometimes I forgot that norms didn’t see things the way I did. “It’s the brightest,” I replied. That was the easiest way to put it. “I see spirit energy as a glow.” More important, I knew that was where Wren was. I could feel her warning me away.

So, I was going to run right to her.

We kept low as we hurried toward the building. In addition to trying to avoid ghosts—and I was surprised we hadn’t been jumped yet—we had to avoid security. There was only one car patrolling the area, and probably two guards in it. There might be more on foot, but I doubted it. There were signs all over the place to warn against trespassing, and locks and chains to keep people out, but there were too many broken windows, and anyone could get a pair of bolt cutters. When a place like Haven Crest stood empty too long and built up a reputation for being haunted, there was no keeping out the people who really wanted in.

Thank God ghosts didn’t normally wander from where they were tethered; otherwise this town would have a real problem. I couldn’t see them—they weren’t gathered like a congregation, but I could feel them like a humming in my veins.

We were lucky—most of the lights were centered on the renovated buildings and main quad. This part of the property was pretty dim, a decrepit maze of overgrown shrubs and thick ivy growing up the sides of old brick buildings with broken panes and peeling paint. Tattered curtains fluttered in a window— No, that was a woman in a gown, watching us. She dipped her head to me and turned away. The ghosts didn’t have to come to us—they were watching us come to them. I glanced around and saw she wasn’t the only one. Pale, drawn faces with dark, glinting eyes watched from vantage points all around us—beyond what I could see in the dark.

The lack of lighting made it hard to see, but harder to be seen. We waited for a moment, hidden behind some bushes as the security car drove by. Then I led the way around the redbrick building to a set of steps at the side. They were almost completely grown over with vines and weeds and would have been far too easy to miss if not for the sign that read Visitors with an arrow pointing down.

“I am not going down there,” Sarah announced.

I ignored her. She was coming along. There was no turning back now. I pushed through the overgrowth and picked my way down the crumbling stone steps to the door. Its once white paint was grayish and peeling, revealing the aged wood beneath. One of the panes in the glass was broken, but not enough to slip my hand through. It was locked up tight.

“Now what?” Roxi asked.

I made eye contact with her, then the others. “Now’s going to be one of those times I ask you guys not to freak out,” I said. Then I raised my hand and knocked on the door.

“So what?” Gage asked. “Is someone just supposed to come along and—”

The locks clicked and the door creaked open.

“Fuhhhh,”Gage began.

“Uuuccck,” finished Roxi.

“Yeah,” I said, crossing the threshold. I couldn’t remember how old I’d been when I realized that ghosts would let me in if I just asked. Wren asked because it was just polite; most ghosts didn’t trespass on each other’s turf. I didn’t know why it worked for me, but it did, and that was really all that mattered.

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