Sisters of Blood and Spirit Page 7

Out of the corner of my eye I saw a flicker of something in the next room—just a passing shadow flickering in the afternoon sunlight. Was there someone else in the house? I moved slowly into the room, hoping to catch our visitor, but there was nothing, not even a trace of spectral energy. That was disappointing. It would have been nice to meet another ghost—a friendly one.

In the Shadow Lands I had form and substance, but in the living world I was nothing more than a projection. It was annoying. In the Shadow Lands I could eat a cookie—if they existed there. The dead didn’t need to eat. We didn’t get our strength from food.

We got it from the living. Humans left a trail of life energy like slugs left slime. Maybe not the best analogy, but it was almost like they exhaled a little bit with every breath. We drifted along sucking that up. Sometimes a ghost would get greedy and siphon from a person. Heightened emotion meant more life force. Ghosts particularly liked the taste of fear. That was why so many hauntings were terrible things.

Fear tasted like my grandmother’s cookies smelled.

I looked around one more time, but there was nothing out of the ordinary. Maybe I had spent too much time in this world and my eyes had started to play tricks on me, or maybe I was becoming as suspicious as Lark.

I wished she had talked to Mace earlier. We—I—owed him so much for saving her life. When I saw her lying on the floor, and what she had done, I panicked. I couldn’t help her except to hold her wrists and try to stop the bleeding. I needed help, and I cried out to anyone who could hear me.

Kevin McCrae had heard me. Some people were more attuned to the frequency of the dead than others. In the human world they were called mediums. Where I came from, they were called “doors.” Kevin was a door I could open, and I didn’t even knock first. He hadn’t even known who I was when I tore into his mind like a madwoman, begging for his help. He didn’t live close to us, but his friend Mace did. Kevin called Mace and asked him to check on Lark, then Mace called 911.

Kevin and I kept in contact after that night. Not a lot, but some. He was the only person other than my sister to have ever known I was in the same room, and he was the person I’d run to when Lark wasn’t there.

He was the reason I wanted to go to the coffee shop that night. Lark knew it, of course. But my sister didn’t know all of it.

Oh, and I wanted to know what Roxi was hiding. There had been sincerity in her invitation, but there had been something else, as well. It was easy enough to assume that the secret was something she thought might convince Lark not to go if she revealed it straightaway. That made me suspicious.

“Anything exciting happen today?” Nan asked as she used a spatula to move the warm cookies from baking sheet to plate.

Lark and I exchanged glances. She knew.

“That lovely Principal Grant called today.” I didn’t believe lovely was the word she really wanted to use. “Told me you’d gotten called to the office because you’d scared a young man badly enough that he wet his pants and had to go home.”

Lark glared at me. I shrugged. “I’m not sorry I did it.”

“I didn’t do a thing to him,” Lark said.

“I didn’t think you did.” Suddenly, our grandmother looked right at me. “You owe your sister an apology, young lady.”

My jaw dropped. I knew she couldn’t see me, but this thing of ours seemed to come from her side of the family, because she was definitely sensitive to the Shadow Lands.

“She does?” Lark asked, speaking for both of us.

Nan nodded. “I know you didn’t hurt that boy, and that your sister’s intentions were good, but you got the trouble for it. You’ll always get the trouble for it. Wrenleigh, you need to think of these things before you act. I know you want to protect Lark, but now you’ve made things difficult for her, so you need to apologize for that.”

There was no way she’d have known if I apologized or not. I could have broken every window in this house. I could have made her sorry she’d tried bossing me around. Neither of those things were going to happen. I was chastised. She was right.

“I’m sorry,” I said to Lark. “I didn’t think. He hurt you and I just wanted to hurt him back.”

My sister nodded. “I know. It’s okay.”

But it wasn’t, was it? I knew Lark had forgiven me—she always did—but her life would have been easier if I hadn’t always been doing things she needed to forgive me for.

Nan smiled. “That’s a good girl.” She held the plate of cookies out to Lark. “Take one for your sister, too.”

Lark plucked two cookies off the cooling plate, gathered up her school books and announced that she was going to do some studying before dinner.

“Liar,” I accused.

Lark ignored me. “Nan, is it okay if I go out later? Roxi Taylor invited me to open-mike night at ’Nother Cup.”

There was no denying how much this pleased Nan—her face lit up. “Of course it’s all right! Do you want to take the car?”

Horror filled me. “No!”

But my sister smiled. “That would be great, thanks.” Because a white-haired girl driving a purple car wouldn’t stand out at all. God, it was a good thing I was invisible to most humans because I’d wish I was if I had to drive in that car. Fortunately, I didn’t have to depend on human modes of transportation.

As we climbed the stairs to our room, I thought I saw something again—a flash of black in my peripheral vision. I whipped my head around, but there was nothing.

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