Isobel slid farther backward into her hiding place, afraid that he had somehow become alerted to her presence. Her eyes remained on him, the adrenaline within her building, telling her to move, to do something.

He turned his head in her direction, and she stilled her breathing.

Could he see her? Even through the veil of darkness cast between the tombs, had he been able to perceive someone watching?

She saw him give a slow nod, a deep and purposeful inclination of his head. Heart pounding, she tried to think of how to react as he raised one gloved hand—the same hand that held the roses—to meet the brim of his hat. That was when Isobel realized that he hadn’t been looking at her at all, that the gesture must have been meant for the group watching from inside the church. This was a signal, she thought. Reynolds’s own salute to the Poe scholars, a sign that told them he was the one. And one of them.

Isobel glanced back at the glass doors at the top of the iron grate stairs, just in time to see the man in the glasses return the gesture of acknowledgment with one of his own—an open palm.

She wondered if they’d seen Reynolds come through the tomb door. She didn’t think so. The crypt stood only a few feet in front of and below the door from where they watched. To them, it must have looked like Reynolds had simply stepped out from between the tomb and the side of the church.

She saw the other scholars smiling as they scrunched closer together in the doorway, their faces nearly pressed to the glass.

They looked excited, even giddy, their expressions lit with the glow of eager anticipation, like they were watching the dramatic opening act of a play.

But what would they do, Isobel wondered, if they had seen what she had? If they knew the things she did about what this man, this . . . being, whatever he was, had done? That it was his hand, the same hand that now clutched the roses of supposed remembrance, that had severed the line of Poe’s short life?

They didn’t know the truth behind what they were seeing. Like Varen, they were interacting with something they didn’t understand. And like him, they did not comprehend the danger.

Isobel forced herself to look away from the scholars, back to Reynolds. But her eyes skirted past him to the open tomb door. And somehow, it clicked with her that that doorway was the opportunity she’d come for, her one hope of reaching the dreamworld. Of finding Varen.


Suddenly she knew she couldn’t wait for Reynolds to finish his one-man show so she could follow after him. There would be no time for that and no way she would be able to cover the distance without being seen by everyone, including him. If she hesitated, if she didn’t go right now, right this very second while Reynolds’s back was turned, then it would be too late.

She crept forward on trembling legs, coming to stand just at the edge of the two tombs that concealed her.

She hunkered down, preparing to bolt.

But then she made the fatal mistake of taking one last look at Reynolds just as he lowered himself reverently onto one knee before the stone, about to play out his moment of mock tribute. One look at him there, bowing his head before Poe’s grave, paying homage to the very man he had slain, doing so in full sight of people who believed he was something he wasn’t, Poe’s own patron saint—it caused something within her, all the weight she had been carrying up to this moment, to shift. And implode.

The memory of his lie reignited within her.

Her muscles acted without her consent, her legs carrying her out of her hiding place and into the open. The wind bit at her skin. She could hear it whistling in her ears along with the surprised cries of those who watched from the street.

Possessed by everything she had tried to repress, by the rage and frustration she hadn’t been allowed to feel, Isobel surrendered control.

The snowy world around her melted away until all she saw was the dark figure who called himself Reynolds.

So absorbed in the part he’d been playing, he looked only at the last moment. By that time, it was too late for him to move away or draw one of the twin swords she knew he carried.

Isobel plowed straight into him with a shriek of fury.

The bottle and glass he held flew out of his grasp and smashed to bits against Poe’s gravestone.

She heard him grunt as they fell back together, landing in the middle of one of the evergreen shrubs.

Isobel gripped his collar, the scent of fermented roses filling her nostrils. Her grip tightened around his cloak, and rolling one over the other, they tumbled from the bush and out onto the hard and frozen turf.

Using all her strength to throw the last whip-snap revolution, Isobel pulled herself on top of him, straightening her arms to slam his shoulders to the ground. His head hit with a dull thud, causing his hat to tumble away.

Most Popular