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Mortal Kiss : L'Argent des fous *Chapitre 24*
Something was whispering, close to her ear. Faye opened her eyes with a start. It was dark. No, not dark – dim. She could see shapes, but everything was grey and indistinct, as if she were looking through gauze. Faye reached up to touch her face, wondering if it was bandaged. Her fingers connected with nothing. She tried again, but still . . . nothing.
She couldn’t touch her own face.
Faye held her hands in front of her eyes. They were definitely there. She could see them, same as they ever were. She just couldn’t . . . feel anything. She reached out again, this time for the rock wall that had appeared in front of her, hoping its hardness would wake her from whatever strange dream this was. But her hands passed through it as if it were only an idea.
Faye thought she should probably be terrified, but she felt strangely calm. Close by, something whispered like a hushed voice. She turned her head, but there was nothing – no one – there.
Am I a ghost? she asked herself. I died, didn’t I? Or am I one of Koskay’s creatures?
Faye stared at her hands again. They looked normal – not at all like those of the people the Russian had turned into zombies to work in his mine.
She moved, but without really meaning to. One second she was thinking that she should try to move, and the next she was moving. She was in one of the mine’s many passageways, though she couldn’t recall how she’d ended up there. The last thing she could remember was seeing Finn’s face as she tried to tell him she loved him through the glass of Koskay’s chamber . . .
Finn . . .
Faye blinked, her mind full of his face, and when she opened her eyes, she found him at her feet. Somehow she had got back into the room where he and Lucas were being held.
‘Finn?’ she whispered, the words dropping from her lips, as silent as air.
He was sitting where she had last seen him, his head resting on his knees, his shoulders sagging. He looked . . . defeated. Faye could read the hopelessness in the slackness of his arms.
‘Finn,’ she said again, louder this time. She dropped to her knees in front of him, willing him to hear her. ‘Finn, it’s me. It’s Faye . . .’
She reached out to run her fingers through his hair, but her hand connected with nothing. Finn raised his head, and her ghostly heart turned over when she saw his face streaked with tears. The light in his eyes, the light she loved so much, had died. Finn looked as if a part of him were missing. The part that made him sparkle.
It’s me, she thought then – with no trace of triumph, only sadness and a realization of a truth. It’s me that’s gone.
Faye reached out again, this time to try and touch his face. ‘I’m here,’ she told him. ‘Finn. I’m still here . . . I still love you . . .’
Finn didn’t hear. He lowered his head onto his knees again, hiding his face.
He can’t hear me. He’s never going to be able to hear me again.
The thought filled her with an empty blankness. If she was going to be like this for ever . . . If Finn were to live on, with her seeing him, knowing that he couldn’t see her . . . To love someone without them being aware of it – she wasn’t sure she was strong enough to cope with that.
Faye stood looking down at Finn’s slumped form. She could think. She could see. She could move. If she could do these things, then there must still be hope. At least she had to try. What was the use of doing nothing until she knew there was nothing more that could be done?
She moved across to Lucas, still bound to the chair, still unconscious. Faye looked at the restraints closely. Could she do anything about them? She reached out, but again her fingers slipped straight through matter. She seemed unable to touch anything physical. But then, what did she expect? She was a ghost.
But people saw ghosts sometimes, didn’t they?
Faye looked around the room again . . . There was nothing she could do here. But perhaps there was something she could do outside. The pack was still out there.
She thought about the town above them, the crumbling buildings, the dusty streets. Koskay’s room vanished, replaced by the town and a heat she could not feel.
Outside, the moon was huge. Its light edged the old buildings of Silver Cross in silver. Faye moved between them slowly, watching a breeze throw eddies of dust into the night air. Everywhere was silent and empty. The inhabitants of Silver Cross were either gone, or in the mine. She looked around. How could she find the wolves? They couldn’t be far away, but . . .
‘Faye,’ said a voice. ‘Faye . . .’
Faye squinted into the silvery gloom. At the other end of the street stood a figure. No – not one . . . two. She moved towards them quickly, without stopping to think. Whoever they were, they knew her name – they knew she was there!
‘Hello?’ she called. ‘Can you help me? I need help – my friends are trapped, and I don’t know what to do. I don’t know—’
Faye saw Joe Crowley first. Finn’s father, the leader of the Black Dogs, who had thrown himself into the underworld to save them all, in the winter they had thought would never end.
‘Joe!’ Faye exclaimed, a tremor of surprise and delight shivering through her. ‘Is it you? How can it be? How did you . . . ?’
Then she saw the person standing beside him.
It was Mercy Morrow. The Mercy Morrow, trader of souls and terror of the world. She looked as beautiful as ever, and her eyes were still the bluest Faye had ever seen, bluer even than Lucas’s.
‘What – what are you doing here?’ she gasped. ‘Is all of this – is it your doing?’ She looked at Joe. She still felt detached, numb. Confusion flooded through the emptiness that was now her. ‘What’s going on? Why is she here with you, Joe?’
Joe held out a hand towards her. ‘I know this is a lot to take in, Faye, but just calm down. Things have changed. Trust us.’
Faye looked at Mercy again. She smiled, but it was unlike any smile Faye had ever seen on her face before. It was gentle and kind. The Mercy Morrow Faye knew was neither. The only smiles that had appeared on that face before were cruel and calculating.
Faye stared at her, and then turned back to Joe. He was looking at Mercy with the sort of affection she understood. She’d often seen it in Finn’s eyes, and every time it had made something in her heart sing. Faye realized that Joe and Mercy’s silvery hands were touching, their fingers entwined as if they could feel each other. As if they were as solid as when they were alive. As she watched, Mercy met Joe’s gaze, and something passed between them that Faye recognized.
Faye blinked – and suddenly she could feel. Everything came rushing back, so fast it nearly made her knees buckle.
‘Oh God,’ she said. ‘Oh . . . God, Joe – Joe, you have to help me. Finn and Lucas – they’re both trapped in the mine. Koskay’s got them – he’s going to use them to make himself live for ever. He’ll be unstoppable. Joe, please . . .’
Joe let go of Mercy’s hand and reached out to clasp Faye’s shoulder. She expected his fingers to float straight through her, but they didn’t. The weight of his hand was the first solid thing she had felt since she woke up dead, and the relief of it almost made her cry.
‘It’s OK,’ Joe soothed. ‘We know, Faye. We know. We’re here, don’t worry.’
‘Where is here?’ Faye asked. ‘Am I . . . am I dead?’
‘Not quite. Not yet,’ Mercy told her, with another kind smile. ‘This is the inbetween. A version of the world that is not the world, but a copy that overlays the physical one. You gave yourself willingly, you see. It means that you can still pass between the two – at least for a while. It’s where’ – she glanced down at her feet – ‘it’s where I used to send my victims, Faye. So that the creatures below could take them.’
Faye blinked, and looked at Joe. ‘What happened?’ she whispered. ‘How did you two . . . ? Are you together?’
The pair glanced at each other; then Joe smiled at her. ‘Mercy and I have always been bound together, Faye. I never stopped loving her, not really. Nor she me, it turns out.’
‘I’m sorry, Faye,’ Mercy said softly. ‘For everything I did to you, to your family, and your friends . . . I don’t expect you to forgive me. I know I cannot take back everything I did on earth, over all those many years. I was so twisted by the power of the underworld, the real me was lost a long, long time ago. But now’ – she looked at Joe and shook her head in wonder – ‘Joe is helping me to remember. Now that I am free of my body, it turns out that I can learn what it is to be human again. What it is to . . . love. And I love my sons, Faye, both of them, so much. I am here to help you save them. Believe me. Trust me.’
Faye stared at her – this woman who had done so much damage over so many centuries. She should forgive her, she knew. She should open her heart, and give up the fear and dislike that surrounded her image of Mercy Morrow.
But she couldn’t shake the idea that this was just another of Mercy’s tricks. She’d ensnared Joe once, after all. Perhaps Mercy Morrow still knew how to hold men’s hearts in her hands and squeeze every good thing out of them before she had no further use for them.
But none of that really mattered right now. Faye turned back to Joe. ‘Just tell me,’ she said. ‘Finn and Lucas . . . tell me how I can save them.’
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