Isobel nodded. “Once. And . . . again. Later.”


Isobel shook her head. “He was always writing about the same thing,” she whispered. “About a woman. She came to him in his dreams, appearing every night. Calling to him for . . . something.”

“You mean it was like a dream journal?” Gwen asked, eyes narrowing.

“No,” Isobel murmured, then corrected herself. “It was a kind of dream journal. But it was also a story. She . . . this woman, she wanted him to write. It . . . I think it gave her power.”

“Do you still have it?”

“Varen’s journal?” Isobel shook her head once more. “No. I burned it. I had to. It was the only way to . . . to close the link.”

“Link?” Gwen asked.

“Varen created a link with the story he wrote,” Isobel explained, “between this world and . . . and a dreamworld. But then everything started to leak together. That’s what happened at the Grim Facade. Then, when I destroyed the journal, I broke the link. I only did it because I thought Varen was here. Back in this world. Safe. I thought he had come back. But . . .”

Gwen eyed her with uncertainty. Up until this moment, she had been eager to learn about the details of that night, the strange and seemingly unexplainable events that had led to Varen’s vanishing. Now, though, with her upper lip crimped into a squiggly line of unease, she looked as though she couldn’t be sure of what Isobel was telling her.

“Gwen, I know you must think that I’m crazy, that I’m making this up, but I was there.”


“I was there too, remember?”

“No, Gwen. I mean, I was there. On the other side. In the dreamworld. I went looking for him there. That’s where I went when you couldn’t find me.”

Gwen frowned, her eyes darting to one side. “About this woman,” she began. “The one you said Varen was writing about?”

Isobel could sense Gwen’s growing apprehension. She felt nervous tension radiating from her friend’s tiny frame, as palpable as an electric current.

Isobel kept her eyes steady on Gwen, waiting, finally ready for whatever she might ask.

“What did she look like?”

The simplicity of the question surprised Isobel. She thought about it for a moment, once again envisioning the woman who had appeared to her in the inverted dream version of the bookstore attic, luminous in swaths of white gossamer and tumbling veils. “She was . . . well, she was beautiful,” she admitted. “And at first, that’s all I could think when I saw her. She had white skin, like marble. And long, thick black hair. Tons of it.” As she spoke, Isobel traced her fingers through the air around her own hair, her hands gliding down past her shoulders and, before she knew it, all the way to the floor. “She wore layers of white veils that wound down to her feet. And her eyes . . .” Isobel shook her head. She would never in her life forget those eyes. “They were black. Completely black.”

She glanced up, realizing that she’d been lost in thought. She focused on the distraught expression that her friend now wore. It was so unfamiliar to her that Isobel had to backtrack mentally through her words, wondering what she had said that Gwen had found so disturbing. Then again, hadn’t Gwen already witnessed the worst for herself at the Grim Facade? Like Pinfeathers and the Nocs—those hollow demons, shape-shifting monsters with shattered faces and razor claws, that had followed Isobel from their world to this one.

Maybe, Isobel reasoned, Gwen was still trying to wrap her head around the concept of there being another dimension. Though, given everything that had happened, Isobel knew there weren’t too many other conclusions left for Gwen to draw.

“Did she tell you her name?” Gwen asked, her words slow, her voice laden with such dead seriousness that it made Isobel pause before answering.

“Varen called her Bess, I think,” Isobel said, still trying to gauge the source of Gwen’s sudden trepidation. “But then, when I asked her, she said her name was Ligeia, which was weird because I knew that was a character from one of Poe’s stories. Then she said that she had many names. She called herself—”

“Lilith,” Gwen whispered, her face white.

Isobel’s mouth popped open in shock.

Quickly Gwen stood. Dashing to the bed, she snatched up her purse and coat. Then, stooping to gather her shoes, she stuffed everything under one arm, opened Isobel’s door, and darted out into the hall.

“Gwen!” Isobel leaped to her feet. She rushed out of her room, only to find her friend already halfway down the stairs. She resisted the urge to call out, not wanting to alert her parents, who were still in the kitchen, and barreled after her.

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