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She lifted her head, and her eyes met mine. Since her birthday, when one of her eyes had turned a shade of gold while the other remained deep green, the colors had combined to create a shade unlike anything I'd ever seen. Almost hazel at times, and unnaturally golden at others. Now they looked more hazel, dull and pained. I couldn't stand it. I wanted to pick her up and carry her away.

I can get the Volvo, and we can drive down the coast all the way to Savannah. We can hide out at my Aunt Caroline's.

I took another step closer to her. Her family was crowded around the casket, and I couldn't get to Lena without walking past the line of Incubuses, but I didn't care.

Ethan, stop! It's not safe --

A tall Incubus with a scar running down the length of his face, like the mark of a savage animal attack, turned his head to look at me. The air seemed to ripple through the space between us, like I had chucked a stone into a lake. It hit me, knocking the wind out of my lungs as if I'd been punched, but I couldn't react because I felt paralyzed -- my limbs numb and useless.


Amma's eyes narrowed, but before she could take a step the Succubus put her hand on Scarface's shoulder and squeezed it, almost imperceptibly. Instantly, I was released from his hold, and the blood rushed back into my limbs. Amma gave her a grateful nod, but the woman with the long hair and the longer coat ignored her, disappearing back into line with the rest of them.

The Incubus with the brutal scar turned and winked at me. I got the message, even without the words. See you in your dreams.

I was still holding my breath when a white-haired gentleman, in an old-fashioned suit and string tie, stepped up to the coffin. His eyes were a dark contrast to his hair, which made him seem like some creepy character from an old black and white movie.

"The Gravecaster," Amma whispered. He looked more like the gravedigger.

He touched the smooth black wood, and a carved crest on the top of the coffin began to glow with a golden light. It looked like some old coat of arms, the kind of thing you saw at a museum or in a castle. I saw a tree with great spreading boughs, and a bird. Beneath it there was a carved sun, and a crescent moon.

"Macon Ravenwood of the House of Ravenwood, of Raven and Oak, Air and Earth. Darkness and Light." He took his hand from the coffin, and the light followed, leaving the casket dark again.

"Is that Macon?" I whispered to Amma.

"The light's symbolic. There's nothin' in that box. Wasn't anythin' left to bury. That's the way with Macon's kind -- ashes to ashes and dust to dust, like us. Just a whole lot quicker."

The Gravecaster's voice rose up again. "Who consecrates this soul into the Otherworld?"

Lena's family stepped forward. "We do," they said in unison, everyone except Lena. She stood there staring down at the dirt.

"As do we." The Incubuses moved closer to the casket.

"Then let him be Cast to the world beyond. Redi in pace, ad Ignem Atrum ex quo venisti." The Gravecaster held the light high over his head, and it flared brighter. "Go in peace, back to the Dark Fire from where you came." He threw the light into the air, and sparks showered down onto the coffin, searing into the wood where they fell. As if on cue, Lena's family and the Incubuses threw their hands into the air, releasing tiny silver objects not much bigger than quarters, which rained down onto Macon's coffin amidst the gold flames. The sky was starting to change color, from the black of night to the blue before the sunrise. I strained to see what the objects were, but it was too dark.

"His dictis, solutus est. With these words, he is free."

An almost blinding white light emanated from the casket. I could barely see the Gravecaster a few feet in front of me, as if his voice was transporting us and we were no longer standing over a gravesite in Gatlin.

Uncle Macon! No!

The light flashed, like lightning striking, and died out. We were all back in the circle, looking at a mound of dirt and flowers. The burial was over. The coffin was gone. Aunt Del put her arms protectively around Reece and Ryan.

Macon was gone.

Lena fell forward onto her knees in the muddy grass.

The gate around Macon's plot slammed shut behind her, without so much as a finger touching it. This wasn't over for her. No one was going anywhere.


The rain started to pick up almost immediately, the weather still tethered to her powers as a Natural, the ultimate elemental in the Caster world. She pulled herself to her feet.

Lena! This isn't going to change anything!

The air filled with hundreds of cheap white carnations and plastic flowers and palmetto fronds and flags from every grave visited in the last month, all flying loose in the air, tumbling airborne down the hill. Fifty years from now, folks in town would still be talking about the day the wind almost blew down every magnolia in His Garden of Perpetual Peace. The gale came on so fierce and fast, it was a slap in the face to everyone there, a hit so hard you had to stagger to stay on your feet. Only Lena stood straight and tall, holding fast to the stone marker next to her. Her hair had unraveled from its awkward knot and whipped in the air around her. She was no longer all darkness and shadow. She was the opposite -- the one bright spot in the storm, as if the yellowish-gold lightning splitting the sky above us was emanating from her body. Boo Radley, Macon's dog, whimpered and flattened his ears at Lena's feet.

He wouldn't want this, L.

Lena put her face in her hands, and a sudden gust blew the canopy out from where it was staked in the wet earth, sending it tumbling backward down the hill.

Gramma stepped in front of Lena, closed her eyes, and touched a single finger to her granddaughter's cheek. The moment she touched Lena, everything stopped, and I knew Gramma had used her abilities as an Empath to absorb Lena's powers temporarily. But she couldn't absorb Lena's anger. None of us were strong enough to do that.

The wind died down, and the rain slowed to a drizzle. Gramma pulled her hand away from Lena and opened her eyes.

The Succubus, looking unusually disheveled, stared up at the sky. "It's almost sunrise." The sun was beginning to burn its way up through the clouds and over the horizon, scattering odd splinters of light and life across the uneven rows of headstones. Nothing else had to be said. The Incubuses started to dematerialize, the sound of suction filling the air. Ripping was how I thought of it, the way they pulled open the sky and disappeared.

I started to walk toward Lena, but Amma yanked my arm. "What? They're gone."

"Not all a them. Look --"

She was right. At the edge of the plot, there was only one Incubus remaining, leaning against a weathered headstone adorned with a weeping angel. He looked older than I was, maybe nineteen, with short, black hair and the same pale skin as the rest of his kind. But unlike the other Incubuses, he hadn't disappeared before the dawn. As I watched him, he moved out from under the shadow of the oak directly into the bright morning light, with his eyes closed and his face tilted toward the sun, as if it was only shining for him.

Amma was wrong. He couldn't be one of them. He stood there basking in the sunlight, an impossibility for an Incubus.

What was he? And what was he doing here?

He moved closer and caught my eye, as if he could feel me watching him. That's when I saw his eyes. They weren't the black eyes of an Incubus.

They were Caster green.

He stopped in front of Lena, jamming his hands in his pockets, tipping his head slightly. Not a bow, but an awkward show of deference, which somehow seemed more honest. He had crossed the invisible aisle, and in a moment of real Southern gentility, he could have been the son of Macon Ravenwood himself. Which made me hate him.