Melusine was watching her. "You're strong. I think you can do it, daughter of Hellewise."
"I'm not strong. I'm scared."
"I think it may be possible to be both," Melusine said wryly. "But, Gillian? If you do get through it, please
come back. I want to talk to you about some things. About the Night World-and about something called
The way she said it alarmed Gillian. "Is it important?"
"It could be very important to you, a witch with human ancestors and surrounded by humans."
"Okay. I'll come back-if." Gillian glanced once around the shop. Maybe there was some sort of talisman
or something she should take...
But she knew she was just stalling. If there were anything helpful, Melusine would have already given it to her.
There was nothing left to do now but go.
"Good luck," Melusine said, and Gillian marched to the door. Not that she had any particular idea where she was going.
She was almost at the creaky front door of the Five and Ten when she heard Melusine calling.
"I forgot to mention one thing. Whoever your 'Angel' was, he was probably from this general area.
Earthbound spirits usually hang around the place they died. Although that's probably not much help."
Gillian stood still, blinking. "No ... no, it w helpful. It's great. It's given me an idea."
She turned and went through the door without really seeing it, stepped out into the square without really
hearing the piped-in Christmas music.
At least I've got a place to go now, she thought.
She drove south, back toward Somerset, then took a winding road eastward into the hills. As she
rounded a gentle curve she saw the cemetery spread out beneath her.
It was a very old graveyard, but still popular. Steeped in tradition, but with plenty of room. Grandpa
Trevor was buried in the newer section, but there were ancient tombstones on the wooded hill.
If she had a chance of finding Angel, it might be here.
The only way to the older section was up a
wooden staircase held in place by railway ties. Gillian climbed it cautiously, holding the handrail. Then
she stood at the top and looked around, trying not to shiver.
She was among tall sycamores and oaks which seemed to stretch black bony fingers in every direction.
The sun was falling lower in the sky and long shadows tinged with lavender were reaching out from the trees.
Gillian braced herself. And then, as loudly as she could, she yelled.
"Come on, you! You know what I want!"
Gillian refused to feel foolish. Gloved hands tucked under her arms, she shouted into the stillness.
"I know you can hear me! I know you're out there! The question is, are you in here?" She kicked a foot
toward a snow-covered sandstone marker.
Because of course there was nothing she could do here on her own. The only way to get the information
she needed, about who Angel had been in his earthly life and what he'd done or left undone, was from
Nobody else could tell her.
"Is this you?" Gillian scraped snow from a granite gravestone and read the words. " 'Thomas Ewing,
1775, Who bled and Dyed for Liberty.' Were you Thomas Ewing?"
The ice-coated twigs of the tree above her
clashed together in the rising wind. It made a sound like a crystal chandelier.
"No, he sounds too brave. And you're obviously just a coward." She scraped some other stones. "Hey,
maybe you were William Case. 'Cut down in the flower of Youth by falling from the Stagecoach.' That
sounds more like you. Were you William Case?"
(Are you all finished singing?)
(Because I've got one for you.) The voice in her head began to sing raucously. Eerily. (The Pha-a-antom
of the Opera is here, inside your mind...)
"Oh, come on, Angel. You can do better than that. And why aren't you letting me see you? Too scared
to meet me face to face?"
A light shimmered over the snow-a beautiful pale golden light that rippled like silk. It grew, it took on a shape.
And then Angel was standing there. Not floating. His feet actually seemed to touch the snow.
He looked-terrific. Haunting and beautiful in the gathering twilight. But his beauty was only frightening
now. Gillian knew what was underneath it.
"Hi there," she almost whispered. "I guess you know what I'm here to talk about."
"Don't know and don't care. Should you be out here alone, anyway? Does anybody know where you are?"
Gillian positioned herself in front of him. She looked directly into eyes that were as violet and darkly
luminous as the sky.
"I know what you are," she said, holding those eyes, giving every word equal weight. "Not an angel. Not
a devil. You're just a person. Just like me."
"You've got the same feelings as any other person. And you can't be happy being where you are.
Nobody could. You can't want to be stuck there. If I were dead, I'd hate it."
The last words came out with a force that surprised even Gillian. Angel looked away.
An advantage. Gillian leapt in. "Hate it," she repeated. "Just hanging around, getting stagnant, watching
other people living their lives. Being nothing, doing nothing-unless it's to make a little trouble for people
on earth. What kind of a life is tha-" She broke off, realizing her mistake.
He was grinning maliciously, recovering. "No life!"
"All right, what kind of existence, then," Gillian said coldly. "You know what I mean. It stinks. Angel. It's
putrid. It's disgusting."
A spasm crossed Angel's face. He whirled away from her. And for the first time since Gillian had seen
him, she saw agitation in him. He was actually pacing, moving like a caged animal. And his hair-it seemed
to be ruffled by some unseen wind.
Gillian pressed her advantage. "It's about as good as being under there." She kicked at the dead weeds over a grave.
He whirled back, and his eyes were unnaturally bright. "But I am under there, Gillian."
For a moment, her skin prickled so that she couldn't speak. She had to force herself to say steadily,
"Under that one?"
"No. But I'll show you where. Would you like that?" He made a grand gesture, inviting her down the
stairs. Gillian hesitated, then went, knowing he was behind her.
Her heart was pumping wildly. This was almost like a physical contest between them-a contest to see
who could upset the other more.
But she had to do it. She had to make a connection with him. To reach into his anger and frustration and
despair and somehow drag answers out of it.
And it was a contest. A contest of wills. Who could shout louder, who could be more merciless. Who
could hold on.
The prize was Angel's soul.
She nearly tripped at the bottom of the stairs. It was too dark to see her footing. She noticed, almost
absently, that it was getting very cold.
Something like an icy wind went past her-and there was light in front of her. Angel was walking there,
not leaving any footprints in the snow. Gillian staggered after him.
They were heading for the newer section of the cemetery. Past it. Into the very new section.
"Here." Angel said. He turned. His eyes were glittering. He was standing behind a gravestone and his
own light illuminated it.
Chills washed over Gillian.
This was what she had asked for, it was exactly what she had asked for. But it still made the hair on her
neck stand on end.
He was under here. Right here. Beneath the ground. The body of the person she'd loved and trusted...
whose voice had been the last thing she'd heard at night and the first thing each morning.
He was under here in some kind of box, unless maybe that had rotted. And he wasn't smiling and
golden-haired and handsome. And she was going to find out his name from a stone.
"I'm here, Gillian," Angel said ghoulishly, leaning over the granite marker, resting his elbows on it. "Come
up and say hello." He was smiling, but his eyes looked as if he hated her. Wild and reckless and bitter.
Capable of anything.
And somehow, the sick horror that had been sweeping through Gillian disappeared.
Her eyes were full, spilling over. The tears froze on her cheeks. She brushed at them absently and knelt