An excerpt from my upcoming novel. Out 7/15!
The single lamp makes Sophie glow, singular, as the rest of the room sinks into shadows and gloom and that darkest dark before dawn. It’s three thirty in the morning. She has her glasses on, her hair mussed behind her ears, the decadent new slippers Finch gave her for Christmas propped up on the stacks of papers arranged, seemingly haphazard, across the whole of the coffee table.
“Did you manage even an hour?”
Finch’s voice would be a harsh sound even if it wasn’t hoarse from disuse, heavy with her own sleep; there’s something about this silence that screams not to be broken.
But Sophie only glances up, smiles, tired. “I managed almost exactly an hour.” And then her smile curls just a little further up her left cheek and she pats the couch cushion beside her.
Finch feels that sharp stab of guilt like she always does. Whenever Sophie smiles at her. Whenever she looks up at her in the middle of the night with what can only be described as gratefulness. For saving her from the dark. From her own thoughts. From the reality she can’t close her eyes on because what she sees behind the lids is, impossibly, even worse than all the horrors she sees with her waking eyes.
So Finch collapses beside her now, grateful to ease the pain in her chest by lying back. At least until Sophie comes to lie with her back against Finch’s chest, her head resting over her heart, holding up another file to peer up at it through the hazy orange glow.
Still, Finch’s fingers run through that mussed gold of their own accord, twist one long strand around her knuckles, revel in the silk sliding across so many nerve endings.
“You know,” Sophie muses, “even if I wasn’t obsessed with her, I can see how I could become obsessed with her.”
When Finch doesn’t answer she turns her eyes from the pages, muses, “She’s fascinating. In a horror kind of way. Like you just can’t look away because she’s so terrifying. And it almost seems… not human. Like you’re looking at this horrible, deadly beast. And she’s so… omnipresent. Like she’s always stalking you. Always just a few feet away in the grasses. So you’re always keeping an eye out for her, straining for just the briefest glimpse of that familiar hide, those glowing eyes.”
Finch wishes she could smile, make a joke about it: Melodrama much? But it’s true. It’s horribly true. While her grandmother’s eyes do not glow – too dead for that – she is always lurking in the grasses. One of her long, long tentacles always suckered to a piece of you. At any moment she could draw you in. Devour you.
So she can only murmur her agreement.
Sophie holds up another file. This one Finch recognizes as Sophie’s own handwriting. She’s jotting another quick note now as she murmurs, “And almost… immortal.” She turns back to Finch when she’s finished, the file resting across her lap. “Do you know how many people have tried to kill her?”
“I’d imagine quite a few.”
“Hundreds,” Sophie says. “And they all failed.”