Anna Dressed in Blood

Page 90

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"Cas," Anna exclaims. She comes back to let me lean on her.

"Don't go," I say.

"I'm not going anywhere."

"Don't go, ever," I tease, and she makes a face like she thinks I need a throttling. She kisses me again, and I don't let go of her mouth; I make her squirm and start to laugh and try to stay serious.

"Let's just focus on tonight," she says.

Focus on tonight. But the fact that she kissed me again speaks much more loudly.

* * *

Preparations have been made. I'm lying on my back on the dust-sheeted sofa, pressing a lukewarm bottle of Dasani against my forehead. My eyes are shut. The world feels a whole lot nicer in the dark.

Morfran tried to do another clearing or counteracting or whatever, but it didn't work nearly as well as the first. He muttered chants and struck flint, sending up nice little pyrotechnics, then smudged my face and chest with something black and ashy that smelled like sulfur. The pain in my side lessened and stopped trying to reach up into my ribcage. The pain in my head was reduced to a moderate throb, but it still sucks. Morfran seemed worried, and disappointed with the results. He said it would've worked better if he'd had fresh chicken's blood. Even though I hurt, I'm still glad he didn't have access to a live chicken. What a spectacle that would have been.

I'm remembering the words of the Obeahman: that my mind would bleed out my ears or something. I hope that wasn't literal.

My mom sits on the couch near my feet. Her hand is on my shin and she's rubbing it absently. She still wants to run. Every one of her mom-instincts says to swaddle me up and take off. But she's not just any mom. She's my mom. So she sits, and gets ready to fight alongside.

"I'm sorry about your cat," I say.

"He was our cat," she replies. "I'm sorry too."

"He tried to warn us," I say. "I should have listened to the little hairball." I put down the water bottle. "I really am sorry, Mom. I'm going to miss him."

She nods.

"I want you to go upstairs before anything starts," I say. She nods again. She knows I can't focus if I'm worried about her.

"Why didn't you tell me?" she asks. "That you were searching him out all these years? That you were planning to go after him?"

"I didn't want you to worry," I say. I feel sort of stupid. "See how well it all turned out?"

She brushes my hair out of my eyes. She hates it that I let it hang in my face all the time. A concerned tension comes into her face and she looks at me closer.

"What?" I ask.

"Your eyes are yellow." I think she's going to cry again. From another room, I hear Morfran swear. "It's your liver," my mom says softly. "And maybe your kidneys. They're failing."

Well, that explains the liquefying feeling in my side.

We're alone in the living room. Everyone else has sort of scattered off to their respective corners. I suppose everyone's doing some thinking, maybe saying some prayers. Hopefully Thomas and Carmel are making out in a closet. Outside, a flash of electricity catches my eye.

"Isn't it a little late in the season for lightning?" I ask.

Morfran answers from where he's hovering in the door of the kitchen. "It isn't just lightning. I think our boy is working up some energy."

"We should do the summoning spell," my mom says.

"I'll go find Thomas." I heave myself off the sofa and make my way upstairs quietly. At the top, Carmel's voice is coming from inside one of the old guest rooms.

"I don't know what I'm doing here," she says, and her voice is scared, but also kind of snarky.

"What do you mean?" Thomas answers.

"Come on. I'm the freaking Prom Queen. Cas is like Buffy the Vampire Slayer, you, your grandpa, and his mom are all witches or wizards or whatever, and Anna is … Anna. What am I doing here? What use am I?"

"Don't you remember?" Thomas asks. "You're the voice of reason. You think of the things we forget about."

"Yeah. And I think I'm going to get myself killed. Just me and my aluminum bat."

"You're not. You won't. Nothing's going to happen to you, Carmel."

Their voices drop lower. I feel like some pervert eavesdropper. I'm not going to interrupt them. Mom and Morfran can do the spells on their own. Let Thomas have this moment. So I back softly down the stairs and head outside.

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