Too far. Her arms strained under her weight as she looked to her right, her left, trying to judge how far she’d have to shift and scoot over to reach the nearest vertical support and slide down it. No—she wasn’t going to make it, not with her shoulder on fire and her entire body shaking.
‘Henry Hemlock demands satisfaction from Cyrus Ironwood for the unspeakably cruel murder of his daughter, Henrietta, who has lately passed into eternity from wounds sustained from an attack by his guardians, while she was already weakened’—oh my God. Date and place of death is listed as October 2, 1905, Texas.Something like bile or fire was rising in his throat. He couldn’t speak. Nicholas felt parts of himself begin to close off, as if to deny entry again to that now-familiar pain.
The cathedral of hope in his heart, which he’d carefully crafted each day since he and Etta had been torn apart, burned down to its foundations of desperation and despair.Carter, Li Min said. I think perhaps we should continue through the passage, find a place to sit, and take some water, yes?He shook his head, straining to get away from her. He began to stalk down the hall again, reaching for doors, tearing them open. It couldn’t be right. Her earring was here. Hemlock must have been mistaken. He would have felt it, wouldn’t he? He would have felt the world crash down upon itself if she’d passed on. The bell of his spirit would have been silenced. She’s—
She had been dead, nearly the whole time he’d been searching for her.He had been chasing a ghost. A memory. No.
Sophia stood there watching him, letting the death notice slip from her fingers. Li Min finally caught his arm, and this time she didn’t let him shake her off. I know what it is you think, but consider the possibilities.
They said she died in Texas, two days after she disappeared, but then—then, how is her earring here? he demanded.Be careful…won’t you? He’s been…traveling again. Came here only days ago…called a family meeting. Don’t let him…find you, Octavia said, fixing her gaze back on Julian.
Him? Julian repeated. Grandpops? Why? The old man moves once every two decades at best.If I tell you… Octavia blew out a long, wheezing sigh. What trouble…will you find yourself in?
The good kind, Julian promised her. The kind that makes you proud of me, even as you put me in the naughty corner.The sound that came out of her must have been a laugh, though it was painful to hear. There’s…an auction. Came through…the family lines. He came to take…the gold from his vault here. Buy-in.