Sisters of Blood and Spirit Page 69

Could they smell it on me or something? Did I glow an odd color? “And I know next to nothing about what that means.” It was embarrassing to admit that. “Yet here I am. I’m going to stand up to him. I’m going to fight him.”

“You’re going to lose.”

I scowled. “Go find some underwear.”

And then he was gone—just blinked away. I guessed I’d hurt his feelings, but he annoyed me. Maybe it was wrong of me to lure Bent here when so many of the hospital’s ghosts were vulnerable to his power, but surely they’d faced bullies before? Either in life or in death. I was surprised a hospital this old didn’t have its own version of Bent. At least some sort of hierarchy. Other than Johnny Shirt I hadn’t really spoken to anyone else. There was that poor little toddler who had upset Lark, and that strange girl with no face, and that was it.

Why hadn’t anyone come to inspect me? They had to be curious. I was still wondering about that when I felt a jolt up my spine. Lark was in danger. The ghosts at Haven Crest had found them. I shouldn’t have to wait much longer...

“Hello, child.”

I closed my eyes—just for a second. I had to gather all my courage just to turn around. Bent scared me. There was only one thing that scared me more.

“Don’t call me that,” I said. “It’s condescending.”

Bent put his hands in his pockets as he entered the room. “What should I call you, then? Miss Wren?”

I lifted my chin—tried to look imperious. “That would do.”

He chuckled. “I think I’ll just call you Girl.”

“And I’ll call you Douchebag.” Oh, wouldn’t Lark have a laugh?

Bent’s brow furrowed. “What sort of name is that?”

“An appropriate one,” I replied.

“It sounds like it might very well be an insult.”

I crossed my arms over my chest. “That’s because it is.”

A smile curved his thin lips. “Then perhaps I should simply call you Wren and you may call me Josiah.”

“I’ll call you Bent.”

“Even better. Wren.” He glanced around the room. He looked so out of place in his old-fashioned clothes. “You’ve given the boy some protection from me. The girl, too.”

“Did you think we would leave them vulnerable to attack?”

He shrugged. “I suppose I’d hoped that you might be ignorant enough to do just that.” He leaned his shoulder against the wall. “You know I would have been content just to toy with them a bit if you and your sister hadn’t come along.”

“I may be ignorant, but I’m not naive,” I informed him. “You would have slowly infected and killed them all.”

“Perhaps. You’ll never know, will you? Because now my focus has shifted to something much, much more dear.”

Why did he bother trying to be cryptic about it? “Me.”

“And that delectable sister of yours. Where is she, by the by?”

As if he didn’t know. “Right now she’s probably putting an iron bar through some friends of yours.”

“They’ll eat her alive.”

I shook my head, even as fear kicked up in my stomach. “You don’t know my sister.”

“I know she’s not nearly as strong without you—or you without her.”

“You have no idea how strong we are.” Of course, neither did I.

Bent moved away from the wall. “I’m older than you are, sweetheart. I’ve been doing this a long damn time. You think I’m going to let two little bitches come between me and what I want?”

I made a tsking sound. “Such ungentlemanly language.”

His face changed—became harder and sharper. “I’m done playing nice with you. It’s time you learned your place, and I intend to put you in it.”

On the bed, Gage turned to Roxi. “Does it feel cold in here to you?”

She gave him a worried look. “Yeah.”

He took the moss agate from beneath his pillow and held it in his fist. Then he pulled his girlfriend close. “Kick his ass, Wren.”

I smiled. It was the most perfect thing for Gage to say at the most perfect time. I turned to Bent. “So, what now, Douchebag?”

A lot of people thought that ghosts fought by flinging things around, but that wasn’t really it. We were as physical as humans, but it was also about exerting one’s will over another ghost. It was like dominance. I expected Bent to stalk me, like a cat on a mouse.

He charged me, coming at me in a streak of malevolence. He caught me up in the force of his attack, whipped me around and threw me through the wall out into the corridor. The force of it made the cupboards in Gage’s room clatter.

I spun myself right and landed on my feet in front of the nurses’ station. The faceless girl sat on the counter, watching. She had the toddler in her arms, and it was playing with her hair.

Bent stepped through the wall. It was grandstanding, because he could have just come out the door.

“You could make this easy on yourself,” he told me as he approached. “Just join me and spare yourself a world of hurt.”

“Or you could just go away, stop picking on teenagers and end all of this now.”

“Why on earth would I want to do that?” He seemed genuinely perplexed. “Their fear feeds me. Their torment strengthens me. Why should I give that up?”

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