“I need your help,” Neve said as she stared into the mirror, more at the reflection of Marin in it than her own. It was easier to look at the other woman’s reflection—Marin didn’t look like death warmed over twice.
Her companion very carefully set down the brush she’d been using to tame Neve’s dark hair and met her gaze in that mirror. “With what?”
“Everything,” Neve said, momentarily giving in to despair. “Hell, it shouldn’t be me doing this tonight. It should be one of you.”
“The last time we tried, I’m not so sure how well it worked.” Marin frowned a little. “The ghosts are still here and everything seemed to start going sideways after we did it anyhow.”
So they really did try to do it once before. That wasn’t just Phelan making up stories. Neve blew out a quiet breath and shook her head a little. “I’m not sure how well it’s going to work this time, to be honest. I haven’t…I haven’t done this in so many years…” It’s something you never forget, I suppose, but that doesn’t make it any easier to face this.
Gods and monsters, I don’t want to do this. It would bring back too many painful memories of times long ago and people dead or otherwise lost.
It was just going to hurt too much, injuries nonwithstanding.
“You wish he hadn’t asked you to do it.”
“He told me to do it,” she said quietly. “He didn’t give me a choice in the matter, Marin. I have to do it.”
“That doesn’t sound like Phelan.”
“You don’t know him as well as I do.” Or for as long. You’re still learning what he’s capable of doing when he feels like he has to. It’s not all noble sacrifice—sometimes, it’s well-applied force and leverage. He learned from Seamus and Father far too well when it comes to that.
“Maybe, maybe not.” She smiled wryly, putting away the brush and the smattering of makeup she’d use to help lighten the circles under Neve’s eyes. “What’s he told you?”
“What should he have told me?” Neve asked softly, half twisting with a wince toward her companion. What does she think she knows that I don’t?
Marin shook her head, not quite anwering the question. “Just that I know more than you think I do—about how he is, how he could be.”
“Maybe,” Neve said softly, reaching for her crutches. I can dig more later. More than enough time for that, since we’re staying here for a while, at least. “But maybe you don’t know everything yet.”
“Being his cousin, I’m guessing you do.”
“I like to think I do, anyway,” Neve said as she rose awkwardly from the chair. “I want to teach you what I’m doing tonight, Marin.”
“To sing the dead home to their rest?”
Neve nodded slowly. “You’ve as much right to learning as anyone. I should’ve tried to teach Kira, but I never quite thought about it and now it’s too late.” She smiled wryly. “You seem to be the next best thing.” Especially if Phelan’s right, if Teague’s right, if my flipping gut is right.
“Am I?” Marin moved to help her, apparently aware of how awkward it was for Neve to try to maneuver with the crutches in her borrowed dress. It was blue, dark and heavy, trimmed in black and silver—someone’s festival dress, Marin had said, though she hadn’t mentioned whose. “You could teach one of the others—one that’ll be around for the long haul.”
Neve blinked and looked at her. What’s that supposed to mean? “You don’t think you’re going to be?”
After a moment’s hesitation, Marin just sighed and shook her head.
“No. No, I don’t.”