Sisters of Blood and Spirit Page 62


“Did he give you that bruise?”

“Josiah Bent did that. Kevin was just his meat suit.”

“I know. I’ve been friends with Kev a long time. He’d never hit a girl.”

I snorted. “I’ve known plenty of girls who needed to be hit.”

“Did you hit them?”

“Some.” I glanced out the window. “Does that bother you? That I fight?”

“Are you kidding? It’s hot.”

I laughed. “If I’d known that, I would have started punching people a lot earlier.”

“We can spar if you like.”

“So, unlike Kevin you will hit girls?”

He shrugged. Thankfully he seemed to realize that I was joking. “I’ll let you hit me.”


“Oh, sorry. I’ll let you try to hit me.”

Smack talk—I loved it. “You’re on, Jackie Chan.”

Ben laughed. “You know he’s Chinese, right?”

“Yeah, but he’s the only martial artist I know other than Bruce Lee, and I think you’re sweeter than him.”

“You knew him personally, did you?”

“I might. You don’t know who I’m hanging out with beyond the veil.” Unfortunately, Joe Hard was the closest-to-famous ghost I’d ever met. Why couldn’t I meet cool ghosts? Most of them just seemed to want to rip my face off. I bet Kurt Cobain wouldn’t be so violent.

“Wren wants to start spending more time in the Shadow Lands,” I said suddenly.

Ben didn’t miss a beat. “Is that her ghosty place?”

That was as good a description as any. “Yeah. She thinks she needs to meet more people like her.”

“That’s probably a good idea, right?”


He glanced at me. I guess I hadn’t sounded all that convincing. “It’s not like she’s going to meet anyone she’ll like better than you.”

“I know.” What the hell, I might as well be completely honest. “I just feel like this is going to change everything.”

“That doesn’t mean it’ll be a bad change.”

“I guess not.” Still not so convincing. I couldn’t even convince myself.

Suddenly, Ben pulled the car into a gas station, turned it around, and pulled back out onto the road—headed back the way we’d come. “What are you doing?” I asked.

“I don’t feel like going home,” he said. “Want to do something?”

Yeah, I did. “Okay.”

We went to Marle Lake, where I had gone kayaking.

“Want to go for a walk?” he asked.

“Sure.” Walking with him was definitely better than going home and thinking about ghosts.

There was a wooded path not far from where we parked, and that was where we went. It was late afternoon now and it was getting a little cool, but the breeze felt so good on my face. Ben had loaned me a sweater that he’d had in the car, so I was nice and warm.

“This is weird,” I said after a few minutes.


“I’ve never just spent time with a guy who didn’t want to argue or make out.”

“Which did Mace want to do?”

I laughed. “Why does everyone want to know about me and Mace? We’re friends. At least, I think we are. Sometimes I’m not sure.”

Ben shrugged. “The two of you seem to have a connection.”

“He found me lying in a pool of my own blood, Ben. He saved my life. Yeah, we have a connection. We’ll always have that connection. That doesn’t mean I’d rather be with him than you.” That was true. Mace was gorgeous. Mace seemed to get me more than most people, but he also pissed me off and sometimes made me very self-conscious.

He squinted at me with a self-deprecating smile. “Yeah?”


“All right, then. No more about Mace.”


“Except that he’s mean and unattractive. Right?”

I laughed. “Very. An ogre, really.”

We walked a little farther, talking about movies and books. And then, on the path near the edge of park where it met a field, I saw a man—or rather, what used to be a man. He was a ghost now. Covered in mud and grass and...mushrooms. Gross.

I stopped. So did Ben. “What is it?” he asked.

“Dead guy.”

He glanced in the direction I was looking. “So?”

“I’m just so sick of dead guys.” Really. If I never saw another ghost—other than Wren—I’d be freaking happy.

“Ignore him.”

“Easy for you to say.”

“Lark, if you were like me and couldn’t see ghosts, would there be anything keeping you from walking around that trail?”


“Then pretend just for now that you don’t see ghosts and let’s keep walking.” He offered me his hand. Taking it would mean we kept going, and I would have to walk past that ghost like it didn’t matter. I would pretend that I was just a normal person.

I took his hand.

And dropped hard to the ground. My knee struck a tree root as my vision went black. Suddenly, I was in a building at Haven Crest, kneeling on the floor. Blood, thick and clotted like canned cherries, crept down the walls. The lights above my head flickered off then on with a menacing hum.

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