She bared her teeth at him as his eyes focused on her in utter shock.

“Isobel!” he hissed.

That’s right, she thought as she reared back one fist, ready to smash her knuckles straight through his face, it’s me.

The blood in her veins seemed to reach its boiling point as she brought her fist down hard toward his scarf-swathed nose.

In that moment, she wanted nothing more than to hear the crunch of bones. But the sound did not come. He stopped her, his large hand wrapping almost entirely around her own. Growling, Isobel yanked back on her arm, but his clutch tightened, causing her shoulder to jam in its socket.

Isobel bit back the urge to cry out. Still, tears stung at the corners of her eyes, less from the pain than from frustration. She wanted him to know what he’d done. She wanted him to feel everything he had caused her to feel. She wanted revenge.

Before he could stop her, she grabbed his white scarf with her other hand and yanked the fabric free.

It unraveled, revealing the face of the man who had taken so much from her.



Almost as though she had struck him, Reynolds released her at once.


Startled by her own gall, Isobel fumbled back. She scrambled in a crab crawl over the frozen ground, doing her best to put distance between them before pulling herself to her feet. She dragged his long white scarf with her, tightening her grip on the fabric when the wind attempted to tug it free.

He, too, rose, his cloak snapping in the breeze.

Before her stood a man with hollow cheeks, his lips thin and pale, his nose sharp and hawkish.

No monster. No demon or angel. Only a man.

Reynolds glared at her, his dark hair, disheveled from their tussle, hanging in loosed strands around his unmasked face.

Younger than Isobel had imagined him, he had a haunted and weathered gauntness to his features. Aside from the blackened centers of his eyes, it was the one thing that suggested his true age. And yet his youth surprised her less than the fact that as far as secrets went, his face seemed to reveal none.

Could this really be the face of Reynolds?

If so, then why the mask? What had he been trying to hide?

“Who are you really?” she heard herself ask.

He did not answer, his jaw set in stiff defiance as they stood opposite each other.

Even with the sounds of people shouting from the gates, Isobel dared not look away.

His gaze penetrating and accusing, he held one gloved hand out to her, palm up. It was a gesture that seemed to ask for the return of his scarf.

But Isobel knew better than to come any closer.

She stepped back instead, her boots sinking into the snow.

“Give it to me,” he rasped, his voice urgent. His outstretched hand balled into a fist. She saw it quiver and knew she had been right in guessing that anger simmered just beneath the surface of that austere veneer.

It was so strange to hear his familiar voice, so full of age and grim authority, coming out of someone who looked so young. Deceptively young, she thought. But deceptiveness was Reynolds’s game. It was the hand he had always played, right from the beginning, and Isobel knew better than to gamble with him again. The stakes were too high.

“You there!” someone shouted from the church.

It was the man with the beard and glasses. He now stood outside the church on the top landing of the stairs leading out from the glass doors, a flashlight in his hand. Its beam winked toward them.

When Reynolds threw up his arm to shield his face, Isobel took another step away from him. Behind her, she felt a slight rush of air wash over her. But it wasn’t like the crisp winter wind that whipped the snow about them.

This breeze felt different, cool but not frigid, the air tinged with the acrid scent of earthy decay, of ash and dust and moldering trees. Of roses. And ink.

She risked a quick glance behind her.

The tomb door stood at a distance of mere yards, still open—waiting, it seemed, for her to make the decision to enter. And Isobel knew that this doorway was really what she had come for. Not for retribution. Not to punish Reynolds or even to try to understand who he was or all that he had done. The only thing that mattered, the only thing that had ever mattered, she knew, was getting to Varen.

“Out of the way,” she heard someone shout from the gates. “Security! Everybody, move!”

Isobel released her hold on Reynolds’s scarf. It puddled at her feet, blending into the white snow. If she ran now, she thought, she could make it. She was close enough that he wouldn’t be able to stop her.

“You cannot reach him,” he said as though he’d somehow been able to read her thoughts. “Not that way.”

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