Guide to dating the undead

Curls of steam gamboled around my ankles, chasing me back into the bedroom, where I dried off and got dressed in jeans and a faded tee.

I stomped on sneakers before combing the damp ropes of dark brown hair slicking my shirt against my spine.

Not once during the three weeks since my return had I stepped foot out there.

Truth be told, I didn’t want to be standing here right now. Not while my palm throbbed with the reminder of an old promise.

“Hold on.” I pinched it between my thumb and finger, tugging until my skinny jeans cried uncle, then pinned the cell between my cheek and shoulder like they did in ancient times. And more than enough to label me as a pariah among my own kind. “Still here.” I padded across the front yard barefoot, the plush lawn tickling the soles of my feet.

The low wrought iron gate leading into the backyard opened under my hand, and I followed the flagstone path under four connected archways dripping with fragrant jasmine blossoms and lush purple wisteria clusters.

Hands-free voice commands were as close to practicing craft in public as it got. You don’t sound like you’re talking through cotton gauze left over from a dental procedure.” Some people just don’t appreciate the hands-free experience. “I’m in.” Woolworth House wasn’t part of any regular tour by design. Once or twice, when money got tighter than my loaner corset, I allowed the supernaturally devout to pay me obscene amounts of cash to sleep in one of my spare bedrooms.

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Too bad no one warned her the trouble with being I jolted awake sitting on the hardwood floor in my bedroom with my back wedged into a corner. Starting my nights with a crick in my neck and a numb tailbone was getting old fast.A wobbly question mark cut through the condensation fogging the window above my desk. “Just a bad dream.” The same one, night after night after night, since my release from the black stone prison called Atramentous.Each dusk I expected to wake to iron bars, a grate in the concrete floor, the constant of water and other fluids as they fell from the ceiling into the drain.All the what-might-have-beens gathered on the fringes of my memory, tightening my throat until a ragged cough sounding too close to a sob broke free.I blamed the dust and choked down the burning ache before it consumed me, fisted my hand and let the burnt flesh sharpen my focus.

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