Home > Soulbound (Darkest London #6)(9)

Soulbound (Darkest London #6)(9)
Kristen Callihan

“Enough questions. I’ll no’ answer another. Just go before you’re caught.”

They glared at each other for a long moment.

“I’ll go,” she said finally.

“Saints preserve us, she does know how to obey.”

“But I’m returning,” she said, ignoring his quip and giving him a hard stare. “I want answers.”

Adam gritted his teeth against the urge to shake some sense into her. “You want answers? Open your eyes and see, lass. Pay attention not only to what Mab says but what lies beneath her pretty words. Look for the signs. Promises she’ll talk you into, pacts she’ll suggest you enter, yet somehow make it seem as though it was your idea all along. Knowing the bitch as I do, Mab will have already found ways to use you for her own ends.”

Something flickered in Eliza’s deep, brown eyes. Fear? A realization? He didn’t know. But he drove his point in. “If you have any care for your own skin, do not let Mab know you’ve seen me.”

Chapter Two

Eliza had thought that, having lived in Boston, she knew city life. Watching the endless stream of cabs, carts, omnibuses, pedestrians, peddlers, beggars, and urchins from behind the window of Mab’s well-appointed carriage, she realized she knew nothing. This was a true city, with its maze of avenues crisscrossing each other, buildings looming on either side in seemingly limitless supply. Coal soot and smoke had painted the buildings a dark, gloomy grey. That was, the small bits of buildings that weren’t papered in advertisements. London was absolutely covered in billings and posters promising this and that. Only the boys who slapped them up with a quick brush of wet paste did so in a haphazard fashion, covering old adverts with impunity, so that one slogan bled into the other. One might read of “Mr. Solomon’s hair tonic, guaranteed to be” “the finest dinner you shall ever serve your family!” Or of “Olly’s ladies face cream” to promote “quick and lustrous hair growth.”

London was ugly and foul and vibrant and beautiful all at once.

“What has you smiling, child?”

Mab’s curious question had Eliza turning from the window and pushed her thoughts away from bearded ladies. Mab, her aunt and savior, sat opposite her. Mab who tortured men in her basement.

“London, I suppose.” Stiff with doubt, Eliza gestured toward the grimy streets. “It’s like nothing I’ve ever seen.” As if to punctuate that fact, a man in lime green plaid velvet stomped down the street. On stilts.

Mab’s pretty face wrinkled. “It’s horrid. Too congested. One cannot properly breathe in this infernal place.”

“Then why do you remain?” Eliza knew Mab had a home in the countryside. Several homes, apparently.

Her aunt’s gaze slid away. “I’ve business here at the moment.”

Eliza’s fragile hold on levity crumbled. Did Mab mean Adam? Eliza did not want to picture him chained up, his body ravaged, his eyes filled with pain. He was there for a reason. Mab had shone her nothing but kindness, opening up a world of freedom and independence, while Adam had kept her prisoner for months without an ounce of remorse. Yet the itchy, ugly feeling within her remained.

He’d been tortured. Eliza hadn’t the ability to justify that and live with herself. And she found herself studying Mab again. There was a soft, green glow about her that grew brighter when she was content. After Eliza had died, she had begun to see the glow surrounding persons.

“You glow,” she found herself saying.

Mab’s red brows lifted with amusement. “Pardon, dearest?”

Eliza flushed. “I see a greenish glow about you at times.”

Her aunt watched her in silence before answering. “And out there” – she waved a slim hand towards the streets – “do you see anyone else glow?”

“Yes.” Eliza did not need to look. “All the time. Greys, blues, reds, and yellows.” Every color of the rainbow, actually. Everyone she encountered appeared to have a colorful glow about them. The hues changed, though some were similar. And it was enough to give Eliza a headache if she focused too hard on them. She’d learned, by sheer will, to let her gaze go soft or to focus on objects instead. It made it easier to bear.

Mab leaned in, resting her elbow upon her crossed leg. “You are seeing the light of a person’s soul.”

Eliza glanced at the window. Yes, she saw the light of souls. But that wasn’t the only thing she saw. Spirits, wavering misty grey forms drifted here and there, moving through solid objects. Moving through people. Ghosts. She suppressed a shiver and turned back to Mab.

“I see spirits as well.”

It was Mab’s turn to shiver. Her gloved hands clenched. “Do you now?” Mab glanced about as if fearful there was one nearby.

“All the time. All over London.” Truth be told, they were in greater numbers now. And always watching Eliza, as if pleading for her to hear them. Oddly, they did not frighten her. But they filled her with sorrow. Why did they linger when others did not? Where, for example, were the souls of her family? Did she even want to see them? No, she did not. It would be too painful when she could not truly have them in life.

“A word of caution, dear child,” Mab said tightly, her creamy skin pale. “Do not engage the spirits. Fae are not meant to interact with the dead.” Fear crept into Mab’s eyes. All the more shocking because Mab never quailed.

“Do I see these things because I died before?” she asked Mab.

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