I missed how my mother had filled our home with her singing voice, how gracefully she’d danced, how she’d led me along by my fingers, twirling me around her so my shirt would flare. Whenever I was sad, I told myself to be strong, like my mother. She never cried or showed fear. Once we found a snake under our bed and, while I stood there shrieking, she bent and picked it up by the tip of its tail, flinging it out of the open window.
“Stop crying,” I say shortly, and grab Ettie’s hand. “Come on.”
“Where are we going?” she sniffles.
I smile. A smile that she should never trust.
“Somewhere he will not be able to find you,” I say, which is only partly a lie.
We rush down a tangle of back streets, keeping to the shadows.
She’s breathless and struggling along behind me, but at least she’s stopped crying.
She thinks I’m going to save her. When I’m sending her to a fate worse than the seven hells.
But sometimes we must pay a terrible price to protect the things we love.
The reached the edge of the car park and passed the low wall that encircled it. Skullduggery flexed his fingers and suddenly splayed his hand, snapping his palm towards the wall. The air rippled and the bricks exploded outwards. Stephanie stared at the brand-new hole in the wall.
“That,” she said, “is so cool.”