outlines of ghosts appeared all around her. She cast Barrington a frantic gaze,
but, consumed by his lecture, he didn’t notice her panic. But even if he did,
he wouldn’t see the phantoms moments away from materializing, their presence
lingering about the room like fog. Only seventhborns were burdened with the
cursed second sight.
away, Sera thought
to herself desperately. The dead had no say in the realm of the living. They
had to listen to her. Yet a spirit emerged in a burst of mist, a girl with pale
skin and dark circles under her eyes. Her gray dress and once-white apron were
both drenched in dirt and blood.
Barrington gestured to something on
the brush, and his hand moved near the protection dome.
The ghosts reached for Sera. Show you…
fingers wrapped around Sera’s forearm, and she screamed. Wild flames shot to
her fingertips in a manic gust, and savage flames roared from her wand,
consuming the dome and Barrington’s hand.
He cursed and jerked back, clasping
his burned hand in the other. The dome over their experiment vanished, and
plumes of toxic smoke twisted into the air. Barrington gripped Sera’s wrist
with his good hand and hurried them out into the hall. With a wave of his arm,
he forced the windows open, and the poisonous smoke was sucked out into the
He gave her a once-over, as though
to ascertain her well-being with a single look. “Are you all right?”
She nodded, though her pulse
thundered within. Not only had she seen a ghost, but it had touched her…or at
least she’d felt frigid fingers on her skin, a cold sensation that lingered
painfully on her arm. But the dead existed on an entirely different plane; it
was impossible for them to touch the living.
Had she been mistaken somehow?
Perhaps, but she would have to think on it later.
Moving to Barrington’s side, she
sought to inspect his injury, but it was already enveloped in a thin coating of
his magic. Within moments, the burn lessened, until only a slight pink tinge
remained. His sleeves, however, were charred.
“I’m fine. It was nothing,” he
assured her, though the thin sheen of sweat over his brow told her it was
anything but. “I must have miscalculated the amount of poison oak.”
Sera shifted back against the wall.
She knew as well as he did that she’d been the reason for the accident. “I’m
She winced and squeezed her eyes
shut. The hallway felt as if it was spinning and swaying, and a headache
throbbed with each pulse, the pain a constant scream drowning out all sound.
Barrington’s hands came upon her
shoulders, and he brought her closer. “Ghosts?”
Sera nodded, unable to lie. Not
here in his arms.
He weaved his hands into her hair.
Their nearness was dangerous, but the moment his musk of sandalwood filled her
nose and his cold hands found the nape of her neck, she rested her head against
his chest, lost to him.