Zoe and Kay held hands once again as Kay opened the sliding door. She looked down as she walked through the slider and didn’t trip on the slight unevenness of the floor this time. Zoe breathed in the warm breeze and looked around. The trees waved at her from their position at the back of the yard, the single Crepe Myrtle in the forefront of the yard. She didn’t feel afraid out there, not like she had earlier.
A few birds chirped. Someone started a saw. Zoe closed her eyes, shutting out the world.
She felt Kay’s hand sweating in her own. She squeezed it.
She saw nothing at all behind her eyes at first, only blackness. She was a woman standing in her yard with her eyes closed. There was nothing there. Had whatever it was left?
Kay started to breathe harder. “It’s not working.”
“Let’s just wait. Think about him?” Zoe suggested. Should she have said “it”?
They stood there while a bird chirped loudly and then wings fluttered around above the house, like something had dived towards them.
Kay drew in a breath and then let it out slowly. Zoe stood waiting, wanting to open her eyes, not sure what would happen if she did.
“Emrys?” Kay said.
Zoe looked at the darkness, and in her mind’s eye there was the faintest spot of brown that was getting bigger, like something moving towards her. As it did, the whole picture came into greater focus, first the trees behind her yard, then the Crepe Myrtle. It was akin to a movie going from a very narrow frame to expanding back to the whole picture. Zoe was tempted to turn around to see if she’d see her living room.
“You called so soon?” Emrys said. “How can I be of service?”
“We need to know what happened to the women who were murdered shortly after my momma died. And the woman who was murdered a few days ago,” Kay said.
“Do you wish it?” Emrys pressed. There was a slight emphasis on wish, a slight grin on his face, as if he was enjoying pushing Kay to wish. Zoe wondered if they’d made the right decision to ask the creature about this. What if she was endangering Kay’s immortal soul?
“I wish that you’d tell me who killed those women a year and a half ago and also who killed Elaine Wilcox,” Kay said.
Emrys nodded. “They died as the one who stands next to you would have died had you not wished my intervention. They watch your friend still and I will do what I can to protect her, but you are my line to this mortal world.”
“Why?” Zoe asked.
“Another wish so soon?” Emrys almost giggled.
“I wish to know all about those murders. The how, the why. The what. Everything so that we can protect others in the town,” Kay said, her voice getting stronger.
“Very well, then. The ones who died were trying to change the town. Your mother often spoke out against such changes. And when she didn’t and the others were muttering, I could keep them from taking lives because that’s not what your mother would have wished,” Emrys said.
Zoe drew in a breath. The creature’s eyes flicked to her. He gave her a full toothed smile and glanced at her arm. Just his look, just his attention, seemed to inflame her arm and hand again.
“But then your mother died, leaving the town unprotected. I drew a certain level of power from you but you wouldn’t talk to me and the power waned. The creatures became stronger. I was surprised that they were able to take the first woman, but they were so angry with her ideas about expanding the town, about bringing in more mortals to unbalance the scales, perhaps driving us to the underground once more, that I couldn’t stop them. I had held them in check for as long as I could,” Emrys said.
He paused, eyeing them. Zoe wondered if he was actually telling the full truth. Demons did lie and while she worried that might be the case here, she wasn’t at all certain the creature was a demon.
“The second woman died because I still couldn’t stop them, for you wouldn’t talk to me, even when asked, and the third, her mother,” Emrys pointed his bony, gnarled finger at Zoe, “was easier for them still because now they knew how to kill. There was so much focus on the murders that no one else seemed to care if the town expanded or not. It even began to dwindle a little, those who had come here for jobs moving out of the area and into other towns around here. But then the librarian, though she should have known better, having a hint of the Blood, having felt the distaste of the others for the expansion, started in with the idea of having people visit this town like it was a zoo.” Emrys nearly spat out the last.
From what Zoe understood, a zoo was not what Elaine had in mind, but perhaps that was what the creatures felt bringing tourists to the town would be like. Perhaps they were on to something.
“You couldn’t just suggest we don’t do that?” Zoe asked.
Emrys glared at her as if she shouldn’t even speak. He didn’t answer.
“This is our land. I made bargains in good faith long ago and we worked together with those of the Blood. Your lack of understanding is not my problem, and we solve problems the way we have always solved problems.” The last was said angrily, like she was supposed to know the history of strange creatures in the garden.
He glared at them. “Are there other wishes?”
Zoe didn’t like the tone.
“No. Thank you,” Kay said quietly. She was gripping Zoe’s hand so hard it was becoming painful.
Zoe wanted to watch as the creature left, but he turned and got smaller, and then he was only a shadow against the blackness of her eyes. Zoe opened her eyes and looked at Kay.
“How can I anchor that here?” Kay asked. “Do you suppose if I died that I would cut the line and save the town from all of them? Would the blood line be lost?”
Zoe’s jaw dropped. She didn’t know what to say. Finally, “I’m not sure we should talk about that here.” After all, who knew what power those creatures actually held?
Chapter 39 will be coming next Friday. Don’t want to wait? Find the book here.