Anna Dressed in Blood / Page 91

Page 91

I wonder what things will be like after this is over. Assuming we all make it through, what’s going to happen? Will everything go back to the way it was? Will Carmel eventually forget about this adventurous time with us? Will she shun Thomas and go back to being the center of SWC? She wouldn’t do that, would she? I mean, she did just compare me to Buffy the Vampire Slayer. My opinion of her isn’t the highest right now.

When I step out onto the porch, tugging my jacket tighter, I see Anna sitting on the railing with one leg up. She’s watching the sky, and her face lit by the lightning is equal parts awe and worry.

“Strange weather,” she says.

“Morfran says it’s not just weather,” I reply, and she makes an I thought as much expression.

“You look a little better.”

“Thanks.” I don’t know why, but I feel shy. Now’s not really the time for it. I walk over to her and put my arms around her waist.

There’s no warmth to her body. When I put my nose into her dark hair, there’s no scent. But I can touch her, and I’ve come to know her. And, for whatever reason, she can say the same things about me.

I catch a whiff of something spicy. We look up. Coming from one of the upstairs bedrooms are thin tendrils of scented smoke, smoke that doesn’t break up with the wind, but instead stretches out in ethereal fingers to call something forward. The summoning spells have started.

“Are you ready?” I ask.

“Always and never,” she says softly. “Isn’t that what they say?”

“Yes,” I reply into her neck. “That’s what they say.”

* * *

“Where should I do it?”

“Somewhere that’s at least going to look like a mortal wound.”

“Why not the inside of the wrist? It’s a classic for a reason.”

Anna sits in the middle of the floor. The underside of her pale arm swims before my compromised vision. We’re both nervous, and the suggestions issuing from the upper level aren’t helping.

“I don’t want to hurt you,” I whisper.

“You won’t. Not really.”

It’s full-on dark, and the dry electrical storm is moving ever closer to our house on the hill. My blade, normally so sure and steady, quivers and tremors as I draw it across Anna’s arm. Her black blood runs out in a thick line, staining her skin and dripping onto the dusty floorboards in heavy spatters.

My head is killing me. I need to stay clear. As we both watch the blood pool, we can feel it, a sort of quickening in the air, some intangible force that makes the hair on our arms and necks tighten and stand up.

“He’s coming,” I say, loudly enough that they’ll be able to hear me where they all stand on the second level, watching over the railing. “Mom, get into one of the back rooms. Your work is done.” She doesn’t want to go, but she goes, and without a word, even though she’s got a novel’s worth of worries and encouragement sitting on her tongue.

“I feel sick,” Anna whispers. “And it’s pulling me, like before. Did you cut too deep?”

I reach for her arm. “I don’t think so. I don’t know.” The blood is leaking, which is what we intended, but there’s so much of it. How much blood does a dead girl have?

“Cas,” Carmel says. There’s alarm in her voice. I don’t look at her. I look at the door.

Mist is coming in off of the porch, seeping in through the cracks, moving like a seeking snake across the floor. I don’t know what I expected, but it wasn’t this. I think I expected him to blow the door off its hinges and stand silhouetted against the moonlight, some badass eyeless specter.

The mist circles around us. In all our rope-a-dope glory, we kneel, exhausted, looking defeated. Except that Anna really does look more dead than usual. This plan could backfire.

And then the mist comes together and I’m once again staring at the Obeahman, who stares back with his stitched-over eyes.

I hate it when they don’t have eyes. Empty sockets or cloudy eyeballs or eyes that just aren’t where they should be—I hate all of it. It freaks me out, and that pisses me off.

Overhead, I hear chants starting, and the Obeahman laughs.

“Bind me all you want,” he says. “I get what I came for.”

“Seal the house,” I call to them upstairs. I heave myself to my feet. “I hope you came for my knife in your gut.”

“You are becoming inconvenient,” he says, but I’m not thinking. I’m fighting, lunging, and trying to keep my balance through the throbbing in my head. I’m slashing and spinning against the stiffness in my side and chest.

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