A move that was not lost on Bodhi as his eye darted between Dacian and me, his brow quirking, thoughts swirling, as he said, “What do you say we vamanos then, boat’s waiting!”

We left the gorgeous Venetian palace in one long procession—a long stream of ghosts slipping through an old locked door before wandering down a maze of narrow alleyways to the place where those long, curving boats were all docked.

My progress halted when Bodhi turned and grabbed hold of my arm, telling Dacian and Jasmine to continue, that we’d catch up soon enough, then he pulled me into a small boutique as he said, “There’s something I want you to see.”

I stared at him in confusion, having no idea what he was getting at. I mean, yeah, the dresses they sold were all very pretty, but I had no need for shopping when I could just manifest whatever ne

w clothes I might want. Besides, I liked what I wore, I’d been through so many changes already, I wasn’t really looking for any more.

But when he pushed me before a full-length mirror and said, “Look,” I did.

Taking in a blond ponytail, bright blue eyes, cheekbones that were a little more pronounced than I was used to (which in turn made my nose slightly less semi-stubby!), and yeah, instead of caving like it usually did, the top part of my T-shirt actually jutted out.

Okay, maybe jutted out isn’t exactly accurate—maybe it’s a bit of an exaggeration. But what I can say for sure is that for the first time ever the fabric didn’t cave in. And yeah, seeing that made me feel proud.

But, as it turns out that’s not what Bodhi was referring to. He was pointing to my glow.

“Why’d you get rid of it?” He peered hard at me, wanting to understand why I’d do such a thing when my glow once meant so much to me.

“I wanted to fit in.” I shrugged, my gaze roving my reflection in wonder. “And no one in Messalina’s world had one. But also, to be honest, the way that it dimmed after what happened in Dreamland only reminded me of how bad I screwed up—how far I still had to go.”

“And now?” Bodhi’s voice was quiet and gentle, but nudging as well.

“And now it seems I’m well on my way.” I grinned, taking in my solid green glow, noting how it was much like the color Bodhi’s had been the day we first met—the day he first became my guide—an act that had changed the course of my afterlife.

Thanks to Messalina, I’d gotten a good long glimpse of the future. I’d seen firsthand just what I was capable of. Bodhi had too. And while I had no idea just when that future would unfold, I knew that it would. Of that I was sure.

The only thing that had changed was my hurry to get there. I was no longer sprinting toward it. Instead I decided to enjoy each day as it comes. Like they said in ancient Rome: Carpe diem!

“Are you happy?” Bodhi asked, and when I looked into his eyes, I knew better than to answer flippantly, or worse—shrug it off. It was clear just how very serious his question really was.

I paused, taking a moment to arrange my thoughts. Wavering between saying something deeply profound versus keeping it simple. But before I could get there, Buttercup ran into the store, clamped down on my pant leg, and yanked hard with his teeth.

“Boats are all waiting—you two still coming?” Jasmine glanced between us, her face betraying a small hint of worry.

I nodded, laughing as I allowed Buttercup to haul me outside to where Dacian waited. His hand closing around mine as I glanced over my shoulder, my eyes meeting Bodhi’s when I said, “Yes. The answer to your question is yes. I’ve never been happier.”

Residual Haunting [ri-zi-j -w l] [ho?n-tin]n e e Thought to be the most common form of haunting where a ghost reenacts a repetitive routine with no awareness of anyone or anything outside of that routine.


Tags: Alyson Noel Riley Bloom Fantasy
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