A car pulled up to the former combined sewage facility, no door on the driver’s side. Denise sat behind the steering wheel, bundled up in a thick coat with her seat belt around the outside of it. Not a hint of the damage Sarah had inflicted on her showed anymore, as her bright smile evidenced. My mother dozed in the passenger seat, her lids fluttering when Denise parked. The sun had come up a few hours ago, and she was still noticeably feeling its effects.
“We here?” I heard her mumble.
Denise rolled her eyes at me. “Do you know how many times I had to poke her awake so she could mesmerize the cops who pulled us over into forgetting we were driving a car that clearly isn’t street legal?”
Seeing her so chipper after the awful thing that had happened to her brightened my mood even more. She didn’t say a word about my hair, which meant Spade had called her and warned her in advance. Oh well. There were always wigs if Bones had been stretching the truth about special vampire hair‑growing abilities to lessen the stress I was dealing with at the time.
Spade stood, smiling at Denise in a way that made me glad my best friend was so cherished. Then again, I knew what that felt like, as Bones’s arms around me and his mouth brushing my temple attested.
Elisabeth floated out of the facility, Fabian close behind her. I’d always thought she was beautiful, but today, she looked especially radiant even without the more vivid effect of being solid.
“You sure you want to stay here?” I asked her. “He’s been screaming in there for hours and it’s well past the time when he’d be air again. If he could’ve gotten out, he would have already.”
“I’ll wait until you seal the area off permanently. I don’t know what I’ll do after that.”
The words seemed to sink in, and I could almost see Elisabeth realizing that her long quest for justice was finally over. She let out a laugh that was half‑nervous, half‑filled with wondrous joy.
“I have no idea what I’ll do after that.”
Fabian cleared his throat, which, considering he was a ghost, was as obvious as a sky‑written message.
“Perhaps I might, ah, might be able to assist you with your options,” he stammered, and, though it was impossible, I could’ve sworn he blushed.
Elisabeth’s mouth dropped open, catching his meaning. Then she tilted her head in a very feminine, contemplative manner, a slow smile stretching her lips.
“Well,” she said at last. “Perhaps you can.”
Bones turned away so that they couldn’t see his grin. “Everyone, let’s leave them to their guarding,” he said, the faintest wicked emphasis on that last word.
“No, I want to stay and see this,” Ian protested.
Spade’s hand landed heavily on his back. “Get in the car, mate.”
Ian rose, shooting a last regretful look at Elisabeth and Fabian, who floated much closer to each other. “Only trying to enhance my repertoire with continuing education,” he muttered.
“I’m sure it’s plenty enhanced already,” I noted dryly, accepting Bones’s hand up. “Now get it out of here.”
The car was only meant to seat five, and there were six of us, but we made it work. Spade insisted on driving, and Denise sat snuggled between him and my mom. Bones’s comment that my mother could sleep quite comfortably in the trunk was met with a heavy‑lidded, evil look that only made him laugh.
“What a dreary‑looking day out,” Ian commented as we pulled away.
The sky did have a grayish tint that hinted at an early winter. Darker clouds kept most of the sunlight at bay, but as I glanced up at them, I couldn’t help but think that each looked like it had a silver lining.