Anna Dressed in Blood / Page 64

Page 64


Is this what I wanted? I set her free. I’ve just let the ghost I was sent to kill out of prison. She’s walking softly across her porch, touching her toes to the steps, staring out into the dark. She’s like any wild animal let out of a cage: cautious and hopeful. Her fingertips trace the wood of the crooked railing like it’s the most wonderful thing she’s ever felt. And part of me is glad. Part of me knows that she never deserved anything that happened, and I want to give her more than this broken porch. I want to give her an entire life—her whole life back, starting tonight.

The other part of me knows there are bodies in her basement, souls that she stole, and none of this was their fault either. I can’t give Anna her life back because her life is already gone. Maybe I’ve made a huge mistake.

“We should get out of here, I think,” Thomas says quietly.

I look at Carmel and she nods, so I walk toward the door, trying to keep myself between them and Anna, even though without my knife I don’t know how much use I’ll be. When she hears us come through the door, she turns and regards me with an arched eyebrow.

“It’s all right,” she says. “I won’t hurt them now.”

“Are you sure?” I ask.

Her eyes shift to Carmel. She nods. “I’m sure.” Behind me, Carmel and Thomas exhale and awkwardly move out from my shadow.

“Are you okay?” I ask.

She thinks for a moment, trying to find the right words. “I feel … sane. Is that possible?”

“Probably not completely,” Thomas blurts, and I elbow him in the ribs. But Anna laughs.

“You saved him, the first time,” she says, looking at Thomas carefully. “I remember you. You pulled him out.”

“I don’t think you would have killed him anyways,” Thomas replies, but some color comes up to his cheeks. He likes the idea of playing the hero. He likes that the idea is being pointed out in front of Carmel.

“Why didn’t you?” Carmel asks. “Why weren’t you going to kill Cas? What made you choose Mike instead?”

“Mike,” Anna says softly. “I don’t know. Maybe it was because they were wicked. I knew they’d tricked him. I knew they were cruel. Maybe I felt … sorry for him.”

I snort. “Sorry for me? I could’ve handled those guys.”

“They smashed the back of your head in with a board from my house.” Anna is giving me a look with her eyebrow again.

“You keep saying ‘maybe,’” Thomas breaks in. “You don’t know for sure?”

“I don’t,” Anna replies. “Not for sure. But I’m glad,” she adds, and smiles. She’d like to say more, but looks away, embarrassed or confused, I can’t tell which.

“We should go,” I say. “That spell took a lot out of us. We could all use some sleep.”

“But you’ll come back?” Anna asks, like she thinks she’ll never see me again.

I nod. I’ll come back. To do what, I don’t know. I know that I can’t let Will keep my knife, and I’m not sure if she’s safe as long as he still has it. But that’s dumb, because who says she’s safe if I have it either? I need some sleep. I need to recoup, and regroup, and rethink everything.

“If I’m not in the house,” Anna says, “call for me. I won’t be far.”

The idea of her running around Thunder Bay doesn’t thrill me. I don’t know what she’s capable of, and my suspicious side whispers that I have just been duped. But there’s nothing I can do about it right now.

“Was this a victory?” Thomas asks as we walk down the driveway.

“I don’t know,” I reply, but it sure as hell doesn’t feel like one. My athame is gone. Anna is free. And the only thing that seems certain in my head and heart is that this isn’t over. Already there’s an emptiness, not just in my back pocket or on my shoulder, but everywhere around me. I feel weaker, like I’m leaking from a thousand wounds. That a-hole took my knife.

“I didn’t know you could speak Finnish, Thomas,” Carmel says from beside him.

He grins lopsidedly. “I can’t. That was one hell of a spell you got for us, Cas. I’d sure like to meet your supplier.”

“I’ll introduce you sometime,” I hear myself say. But not right now. Gideon is the last person I want to talk to, when I’ve just lost the knife. My eardrums would burst from all the yelling. The athame. My father’s legacy. I have to get it back, and soon.

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