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I felt my knees go weak. My stomach hurt where the cat had clawed me, my head hurt, my knees hurt; God, my heart was breaking. “He wanted to leave me.”

Lewis put his hands on my shoulders. “I think he was trying to save your life, Jo.”

“Bullshit. Bullshit!” I was suddenly furious. “This is—you guys just—men! You don’t make decisions for me, got it? I’m not some fragile little flower! I have a life, and it’s my life, and if I want to—”

“Throw it away?” Lewis interjected helpfully.

Okay, he had a point. I didn’t let it bother me. “Hey, I grubbed around at the dump looking for him! Hello! Leave a damn note if you’re stealing my boyfriend!”

And I realized that Kevin hadn’t answered my original question. His eyes were still frightened and blank.

“Oh God,” I said. “Did you use him? Kevin, did you call him out of the bottle and use him?”

He nodded. Rain dripped in silver strings from his lank hair to patter onto his soaked T-shirt. He was shivering. We were all likely to get hypothermia out there if we weren’t careful.

“Is he—”

“He’s gone,” Kevin said. It sounded hard and harsh, and I could tell he didn’t want to say it. “Sorry, but it’s like the bottle’s empty. He’s just—gone, he just screamed and he, you know… blipped out. I kept calling, but he wouldn’t come back. He couldn’t. I needed him, Jo, I’m sorry but I had to do it, Lewis was in trouble and—”

I knew. I’d done the same thing, hadn’t I? I’d called David even when I knew it was killing both of us.

And now I knew why Kevin hadn’t waded into the fight with his usual teen-angst enthusiasm. He couldn’t. Like me, he’d been drained of power. And it hadn’t been enough.

If he couldn’t sense David in the bottle, it was because David was an Ifrit.

Maybe he was in the bottle, maybe he wasn’t; Kevin probably hadn’t thought to order him back inside and seal it up. To him, David had just vanished without a trace.

I couldn’t help but feel a sick certainty that this time he wouldn’t be coming back.

I still had hopes, until Kevin dug the blue glass bottle out of his bag and put it into my hands, but it was no more mystical than grabbing an empty jar out of the kitchen cabinet. No sense of connection. It was an empty bottle, and God, I couldn’t feel David’s presence at all.

I couldn’t even feel him draining me, and that had at least been something, before.

“Back in the bottle, David,” I said, and waited a second before I slammed the rubber stopper home into the open mouth. I wrapped the bottle in a spare towel from the back of the Jeep, then buried it in my purse with the lipstick case and the Djinn sealed inside.

“Um,” Kevin said hesitantly, “are we—are you—”

“Do I want to kill your punk ass? You betcha.” My hands were shaking, and not from the chill. “I don’t care what David said, you didn’t have any right to do this. No right, do you understand?”

He nodded. He looked sullen and miserable, a combination only possible in teenagers.

“You ever touch anything I own again, and I swear to God, Kevin, you’ll wish I’d torched your ass in Vegas.”

“Like I don’t wish it already,” he muttered.


“Nothing.” He gave me a blank, militant stare. I threw Lewis a furious look.

He shrugged.

I growled in frustration. “I have to get back to Fort Lauderdale.”

It wasn’t like me to run out, not when the storm of the century was building up force out there off the coast and roaring our way. He raised his eyebrows. “I thought I’d have to get Rahel to haul you out of here kicking and screaming,” he said. “And you didn’t come chasing all the way out here to find me, flattering as it might be, did you? What’s wrong?”

I told him about Eamon and Sarah, and watched his eyes go lightless and angry.

If it had been me, I’d have dropped everything to go to his aid, but I knew not to expect the same in return. Lewis was a big-picture guy.

“I can’t,” he said finally. Regretfully. “I’m sorry. This thing—” He nodded out at the black void on the east horizon. “One life saved might mean thousands lost. I have to stay here.”

“I know.”


I know.” I swallowed hard and put my hand on his cold, wet, beard-roughened cheek. “Go do what you do. Eamon’s just a guy, not a Warden. I can handle him.”

I knew Lewis was thinking, You’ve done a bang-up job of it so far, but he was too much of a gentleman to say so.

“Yeah,” Kevin snorted. “Like you’ve done such a good job so far.”

Case in point.

I walked away, back to the Mustang, where Cherise was still sitting under her poncho. Shivering. Looking dazed and storm-tossed. Her high-gloss finish had been power-stripped, along with her self-confidence about her place in the world.

“Cher?” I said. She fastened a blank stare on me. “We can go back now.”

“Uh-huh,” she said, in a bright, almost normal tone, and slid off the trunk to go around to the driver’s side. Sometime during the hysteria, I noticed she’d remembered to put the top up on the convertible. Her hand was shaking uncontrollably as she fumbled for the door handle.

I gently guided her back around the car and opened the passenger side for her.

“My turn to drive,” I said. It took her three tries to get in the car, even with help.

The interior was wet enough to squish. I sighed and hated myself for wasting the energy, but the truth was I was tired and cold and shaking too. I banished the moisture from the car and our hair and clothes, leaving a sharp, fresh ozone smell and, unfortunately, frizzed hair. Cherise didn’t seem to notice. I turned on the car’s heater and pointed all available vents in her direction.

I had to reach over and fasten her seat belt for her. She wasn’t responding to suggestion.

The Mustang rumbled and growled as I backed it up and weaved it around the Jeep, catching Lewis and Kevin in the headlights. They looked fragile and bruised, far too small to go up against the fury of nature gathering out to sea. Lewis gave me a nod and a small, funny salute. Kevin’s eyes were lingering not on me, but Cherise. I bumped the car over the uneven, buckled road until we were back at clean surface again, and then opened it up to a run. It drove tight and fast, hugging the road and responding to a touch like an eager lover.

I’d missed Mustangs.

Cherise said, “So you’re, like, a witch, right?”


“A good witch?” She didn’t sound too sure of that.

I sighed. “Yeah, kind of. I hope.”

She nodded jerkily. “Okay, sure. That makes sense.” Hollow words, and an empty, scared look in her eyes.

I’d forgotten what it must be like, to have your certainty in life taken away, to find all the science and order and logic taken away. To find out humankind wasn’t the center of the universe, and things weren’t simple and controllable.

It hurt. I knew it hurt.

“Cherise,” I said. We rounded a curve and the headlights washed a riot of vegetation with color. I caught the glint of green eyes, quickly gone. “What you saw—that doesn’t happen all the time, okay? It’s not that the world is a lie you’ve been told. It’s that there are some truths you haven’t heard yet.”

She shrugged. “I’m okay.” The words were just as wrong as the movement, mechanical and dead. “So when you were working at the station, were you just—was it just some kind of game? Were you ever really—”

“This stuff doesn’t pay the bills,” I said gently. “Saving the world really isn’t all that profitable. You’d be surprised how little you get paid for that kind of thing.”

That won a smile of surprise.

“Not really,” she said. “Crime pays better than virtue.”

“You hear that on TV?”

“Read it,” she said, and leaned her head against the window glass. “Damn, I’m freaked.”