“We all have dreams we aren’t sure about, but we keep on chasing them. We move to new places despite everything being unfamiliar. We fall in love even though we have no idea if it will last forever. I’m no longer scared about how up in the air the future is. Because the one thing I’m sure of is that it’s going to be worth it once I get there.”
“Christmas is big business in Eldovia. We have an annual Cocoa Fest on Christmas Eve day. Restaurants and pubs participate, and so does the palace. We make big cauldrons of different kinds of cocoa and serve them outside on the grounds.”
“Are you kidding me?” Gabby demanded.
Marie laughed. “I am entirely in earnest. And there’s a Cocoa Ball in the evening—though that’s not for children.” She wasn’t sure why she added that qualifier. It wasn’t as if Gabby, whose eyes had grown comically wide, would be around to be told she couldn’t attend the ball.
“Oh my god, you are from a fake Hallmark country,” Leo deadpanned.”
A chill runs through me. “Who’s them?”
The dead girl studies me. “She doesn’t leave the house,” Cam finally says, “but it doesn’t mean they don’t listen.” Her movements are erratic and fast, too quick for me to run before fingers slide over my temples and hold me in place. “I can only show you.” Her breath glides along my ear.
“Perhaps you could take only one book with you to read at the gardens. After all, you’ll only be there for the afternoon.” Hazel choked on her tea. “One book? One book? Now you’re being absurd. What if I finish it? Or what if I find it impossibly dull, what then? What am I supposed to read if I either complete the book I brought or I otherwise discover it to be unreadable? It what if it no longer holds my attention? Someone could spill tea on it. There. Think of that. Someone could spill tea on my one book, and then I would be marooned. Honestly, Iona, you must use your head.”
We rode our bikes out of town, until the roads became country lanes. Ben wouldn’t tell me where we were going, except to assure me it “wasn’t too far” and, alarmingly, “he wasn’t going to murder me in a remote location and bury my body in an old drain”, which sounded way too detailed and thought-out for my liking.
In any case, I was merrily peddling along after him anyway because I honestly think, when it comes to cute boys, any common sense I might possibly possess just goes right out of the window.
“Some books wrote themselves into people’s hearts as children and lived there, all but forgotten, until a bookseller recognized the spark and reunited them. Other books held their words close, waiting on the shelf to ignite a passion in someone who hadn’t even known they were wanting.”