Low Midnight Page 42

Knowing abstractly what was going to happen and seeing it happen were two different things. When the power rose, feeling like the whole universe was going off kilter, he almost let the panic take hold. He wanted to run. Kick her out of his mind and get the hell away.

The dead body moved. The faintest flush passed through it.

“It’s all right,” she murmured. To the body, not to him. He held his breath, waiting.

The mirror fogged, as if hot breath blew across it. Breath from the body. Then the eyes blinked, and lips pressed together. Brief flickers of movement. Amelia murmured, “Shh, it’s all right, Milo. Just a question or two, then you can rest.”

He blinked again; his eyes were shining, moisture gathering in them. Tears, maybe.

“Milo Kuzniak,” she said. “I know you can hear me. I need to know what happened to you.”

The lips worked, struggling to form words. Amelia leaned close.

Of all Cormac had seen in his life, this was the first thing he’d ever thought to call horrifying. She’d called the man’s soul back to interrogate him—and he was in pain.

The mirror fogged with breath again, and he spoke in a wheezing whisper.

“Back. It came back. It came back.” Lydia Harcourt’s throat had been cut deep; she hadn’t been able to speak when Amelia summoned her a hundred years ago. Kuzniak could, and it sounded wrong.

“What came back, Milo?” Amelia said, gently as she could, but clearly impatient. “Was there a creature? One of your enemies? Was it Jess Nolan and his skinwalker?”

He—the body—grimaced, his whole face contorting with grief or pain or terror. He could talk, enough of him had been drawn back to his body that he was aware—but he couldn’t move. He had no power.

“Pocket. Book. Pocket.” A low keening started in his throat, a scream that couldn’t break loose. He bared his teeth, as if an electric shock traveled through his body. Still, only his expression stirred. His body was dead. But what was speaking?

“Milo—stay with me. I want to know who did this to you. Help me learn who did this, and how.”

“No one.” The words hissed, then the lips clamped shut.

The light sputtered; the candles around the circle had burned down to stubs in just a few minutes. Soon, they’d burn out.

Amelia said, “Do you have any messages? Anyone you’d like to say good-bye to? I’ll pass along any words for you, if I’m able.”

“No one. No one.”

The fog across the mirror’s surface vanished, and Milo Kuzniak’s face went slack. Dead, absolutely dead. His eyes were closed.

Cormac’s stomach was turning, and he wasn’t sure any of this had been worth it. Three sentences and a lot of pain.

Damn, Amelia murmured.

Sheslipped away, and Cormac’s body was his own again. His skin tingled, his muscles clenched. He stretched his gloved fingers, rolled his shoulders back, and took a deep breath. He was back behind the wheel, taking over from a lousy driver.

It’s not so bad, is it?

None of what dead Milo had said made any sense. Something had come back, something about a pocket book—or just a pocket. Cormac tipped the body on its side to pat down the overcoat, jeans, feeling in the front and back pockets. And there it was. His little moleskin notebook, worn around the edges, elastic around the cover stretched out, pages dog-eared.

Another damned book of shadows, he’d bet. He slipped the book into his own pocket to look at later. Another mystery, another secret, and maybe they had a chance of finding the answer this time. As long as he hadn’t written in code. Cormac resisted an urge to stand up and kick the body, just in case he’d feel like doing it later.

Instead, he cleaned up after the spell, gathering the mirror and candle remnants, brushing the chalk circle into oblivion with his boot.

“What the hell was that?” Cormac muttered. A rhetorical question mostly, but directed at Amelia. “Fucking necromancy?”

She wasn’t apologetic. I haven’t worked that spell since I was arrested. I wasn’t sure I’d be able to.

“Then was that me panicking, or you?”

She didn’t answer.

“So, what is it? A ghost, haunting their body? Their souls? Does the spell trap them?”

I’m … not entirely sure.

“You don’t know what happens to them after? You’re chaining some kind of spirit to their body and pulling their strings, and you don’t know? You might be trapping them, torturing them—you stop to think that Lydia Harcourt’s ghost may really be haunting that house in Manitou, after what you did to her?”

Silence. He couldn’t even feel her lurking.

Layne was walking back up the drive. Show was over.

“Well?” the man asked.

Something wasn’t right here. “I still need to do some checking around. I’ll let you know what I find.”

“But what killed him? Is it going to happen again?”

“I don’t know,” Cormac said.

“Then what good are you?”

“I never said I was any good, you just assumed.”

If it helps, I don’t think it will happen again. I think this was something that targeted magicians, someone who was working spells.

So where does that put us? Cormac asked. “I don’t think it’ll happen again. Looks like what got him might have been magic gone wrong. Avoid magic, you’ll be fine,” he said to Layne. “Keep an eye out, though.”

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