Except the more she looked at this picture, the more it seemed to change.

Going to the shelves, Isobel took the frame between both hands. She held the life-size oval portrait out in front of her, studying the contours of the woman’s face as they shifted and morphed, as though the portrait’s subject couldn’t seem to decide how she wanted to look.

Then the image began to dissolve, eaten through by another. In its place, Isobel’s own face appeared, complete with the angry red slit that now marked her right cheek.

Isobel took in a sharp breath as details of the room’s dilapidated interior—the doorway, the hall, and the chandelier—began to fill in around her reflection until it became evident that in place of a picture frame, she now held a mirror.

“Memories,” came a melodious voice from behind her. “They are the cobwebs of the mind.”

Isobel whirled, dropping the mirror, which shattered with a deafening crash as it hit the floor, shards flying out to scatter across the wood.

The owner of the voice stood just outside the parlor entry, her lithe and luminous veil-swathed figure framed by the wide doorway. Isobel had not seen her there in the mirror.

“You can try and sweep them away,” Lilith went on, her dark lips moving behind the translucent screen of gauzy fabric. “But it seems as if some trace always remains.”

Isobel watched her without budging, a numbness spreading its way through her, causing her skin to prickle and her entire body to hum with a terror that had not quite clicked within her brain yet.

“You—you don’t have a reflection,” she murmured.

“Though it would appear as if you have two,” Lilith replied, smiling a small, close-lipped smile. “At least in his mind.”


Isobel swallowed. Knowing Lilith meant Varen, she forced out her next words. “Where is he?”


“If you won’t tell me,” Isobel said, taking a step toward the doorway, a step toward the demon, “then I’ll find him myself.”

“I would welcome you to look all you like,” Lilith said, and strode forward as well, passing through the doorway and into the parlor.

Distracted by the odd clicking noise Lilith’s feet made when they came in contact with the hardwood floor, Isobel glanced down. Bird’s feet, she realized with horror as she laid eyes on the enormous scaly black talons that peeked out from beneath the hem of the demon’s gossamer robes.

“But the fact is,” Lilith went on, “you would never find what you seek. I’m afraid it no longer exists. Just as will soon be the case with you.”

Isobel looked up again to see that the closer Lilith came, the more gaunt and inhuman she began to appear through the transparent barrier of her veil. With every step toward her, the white flesh of Lilith’s cheeks sank farther inward to reveal the contours of her skull, her lips shriveling back to expose rows of tiny needle-thin teeth. Her nose dissolved into a hole while her eyes, hollowing, became sunken pits lit by two distant pinpricks of light.

Isobel staggered back, her leg catching on the overturned piano bench. She fell, sprawling onto her side, and landed among the broken shards of mirror, which winked at her, reflecting light from the foyer’s floating chandelier. But the glow trapped within those shards was not violet, but a warm amber.

And in the closest shard, one that lay nearest to her hand, there was something else, too. A face.

Isobel met the familiar woman’s startled gaze and the lady paused for an instant, her straight blond hair draped forward around her features as if, somewhere on the reality side of the mirror, she was bending or stooping to pick something up. Just when Isobel recognized the woman as Varen’s stepmother, a large black talon slammed over the shard, crushing it.

Isobel looked up to see the hideous thing that was Lilith looming over her.

Lifting a hand to the veils that covered her face, her skin no longer milky smooth but chalk white and tightly stretched, the creature pulled free the gauze with clawed fingers. Her ebony hair tumbled around her now racklike shoulders. Scraggly and thin, it began to fall out in stringy clumps.

Isobel pushed herself backward, scrambling over the glass-sprinkled floorboards. When her spine met with the base of the bookshelves, she grasped at her throat for the hamsa.

Lilith laughed, a sound that was altogether girlish.

“You think your silly talisman will save you?” the demon asked, her eyes flicking to Isobel’s necklace. She raised her hand again, this time reaching for Isobel’s clenched fist, her fingers moving to hover just over the hand that held the amulet.

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