Sneak peek at my upcoming novel. Out 7/15!
She is harbinger of death. Inevitably it tiptoes in her wake, waiting, watching, springing forth in blood and the slumped shoulders of defeat just as soon as she turns her eye. The eye Gregor so praises her for. And she does see death everywhere, doesn’t she? Because it is everywhere. Everywhere she is.
Sophie went sixteen years without death. Now two corpses have lain in her house.
And more to come if Finch doesn’t leave. Maybe Sophie’s corpse next.
She has been plagued by the image, by dreams that leave her grasping at her training, eyes shot open in the pitch black of midnight, body stiff-still, her screams clenched behind a locked jaw. Sometimes, in her dreams, it’s Gregor. The Mad Mother sends her best. And Gregor knows the true punishment is leaving Finch alive. Putting a fatherly hand on her shoulder as they both stare down at Sophie, her neck twisted at an unnatural angle, her blond hair spilled across the floor where blood should be. Sometimes it’s Rafe. And Sophie screams for death. Sometimes, the worst of her dreams, the horrible truth of it scaring Finch worse than any fantasy: It is Finch herself. Sophie wanders into her room, as she does so often. She drops her shawl on the chair by the vanity. She crawls under the covers, whispering about her father, half delirious from sleep, curling up with her face pressed to Finch’s neck, her breath branding across Finch’s collarbone. And in the dream Finch stares down at her, thinks how precious this moment and this girl she loves such that the word ‘family’ finally has some meaning, a sensation and an image to attach to it.
She reaches up – at first she thinks it’s only to adjust her pillow – but then her hand emerges with the pillow gripped tight.
Finch smothers Sophie.
Just like she smothered her father.
More than all of the practical reasons, it’s her dream that has driven Finch here, staring down, hardly able to make out Sophie’s face through the steam and so relieved; the farther she gets from Sophie, the faster, the better.
Unlike most kids her age, Finch’s greatest fear is her dreams coming true.
“Do you have to go?”
The words are nearly lost beneath the hiss of the engine, the sputter of steam, but Finch hears them just the same, flinches back but can answer, truthfully, “Yes. My grandmother wants me home. She has since before the snow and I have no excuse now.”
“She could come here,” Sophie offers.
She could. It’s exactly what Finch is afraid of. Oh, the Mad Mother won’t come herself. But she’ll send someone. This train might very well bear Finch to her death, and strangely what hurts the most at that thought is that she might never see Sophie again… But if she doesn’t go, her grandmother will send someone and Sophie will certainly die and Finch will certainly never see her again.
She has learned over the past few months, it seems, to have fantasies. Some small part of her heart shudders with the possibility: that she’ll get on this train, that she’ll survive whatever Elana throws at her, that one day, however far from now, she’ll see Sophie again.