“Welcome to Misty Valley!” Ms. Webster called, smiling. Her face looked pleasant now, wholesomely weathered. Her eyes were calm, sane. The streaky black makeup, the tears, the skull smile were all gone. She might have been a totally different person, except Ollie recognized her long amber-honey braid.
Henry calls me at 12:01 the night before homecoming. Or technically – and assuming the alarm clock I knock off my nightstand once a day is even in the right time zone – the morning of homecoming.
“Cleveland. I need you. Put some pants on.”
I pause the third episode in my Air Crash Investigation marathon. I’m supposed to be writing the world’s most uninteresting article for The Lion Ledger, our school paper, but literal fiery death is better than forcing myself to care about city council elections. “Who says I’m not wearing pants?”
“Come on. I know you’re not.”
I dangle one hand off the bed, snag a pair of black-and-white cow-print pajama bottoms, and wrestle into them. “I totally am.”
“You are now.”
I let Random.org select a page and it picked page 37.
Warm sunlight hits my skin as I step out into the garden, an instant tingle that turns my goosebumps into memories. I’m wearing my favourite T-shirt, the white one with a sequined star on the front, and the new jeans that Mum has bought me for the party. It’s going to be a perfect day.
Liam made a grumbly sound that kinda turned me on and wrapped his arm around my middle as I walked by. My feet left the floor even though they kept moving as if I were walking.
“You ain’t walking around in front of Alex with no pants on, woman.”
A disgusted sound ripped out of me, and I glanced up. “I’m not putting on my murder pants.”
She is a ghost ship sailing the mud of the mountain.
She is a spectre parting the shrouding mists.
She is a shadow upon a midnight river, she is the eye of the storm.
In her hand, a heavy portmanteau. She drops it every few steps to catch her breath and pull her cloak closer about her face. Even her bonnet is black. She is searching for a dwelling that she is beginning to think might not be there after all.