new pals found somewhere else to be. The idiot with the piece bolted down the street while the addict grabbed the little girl and raced them both into the house. They would probably dismiss or minimize what they saw later. But for now they had believed the threat, just as my beast had intended.
Nieve didn’t turn around when she spoke. “Your fearlessness will take you far, Celia. Especially for what awaits you.” She cut a sharp left, up a small incline, and into a yard where patches of yellow grass intermixed with the clusters of dandelions. Steps led up to a ramshackle house competing for the title of most likely to hide dead bodies and serial killers. Four to five smaller apartments made up the Victorian. Tarnished metal bars covered every window, while tarp and pieces of nailed-down plywood covered part of the roof. A family of pigeons gathered near the crumbling chimney, cooing at the setting sun. It saddened me to see a once lovely piece of architecture reduced to scraps, but what saddened me more was knowing that people actually lived there.
“This is it,” Nieve called over her shoulder.
Shayna wrenched her head up as we advanced. “Holy creepy mansion, Batman.”
Yup. I only wished Batman had come along for the ass-kicking.
But Nieve didn’t hurry up the wooden steps like we expected. Instead she remained on the grass, walking alongside the wraparound porch and into the side yard. We trailed quickly behind her until she stopped at the rusty gate of an old chain-link fence.
Nieve stared ahead at what appeared to be a converted garage. Strips of peeling white paint barely clung to the graying wood, and grime coated the narrow windows. The building was smaller, and in many ways in better condition, than the main house. But something about it colored my mind with images of bleeding walls.
Nieve motioned with a small jerk of her chin, keeping her trembling voice soft. “Tía Gris was known to worship in there. It houses remnants of the spells she cast—remnants of her power. The altar you seek may be in there, since it would require her energy to maintain, especially now that she’s dead.”
“Is she for sure dead?” Shayna asked. “I mean, if she was as strong as you say, I find ithard to believe she’s not still kickin’ around.”
“Oh, I’m sure she would still be with us if it hadn’t been for the incident.”
“Incident?” Emme asked almost inaudibly.
Nieve nodded. “She angered a werewolf and he tore out her throat.”
“Oh,” the rest of us answered in unison, our voices unusually shrill.
I rubbed my hands together, trying to work through my rush of adrenaline. “Okay … okay. Say the altar isn’t in there. Then what?”
Nieve shuddered. “If it’s not there, it’ll be in her old house.” She backed away from the gate, wrapping her arms tightly around herself. “I’m sorry,
I won’t go there.”
“Then let’s just hope the altar’s inside. Come on.” Taran reached for the gate’s latch. The minute her hand connected, her blue eyes bleached to white. Pure white. No irises. No borders. Nothing but space.
Shayna’s and Emme’s mouths popped open. I shook Taran’s shoulder, hoping the color would adjust. Nope. “Well, it looks like we’re in the right place.”
Taran threw the gate open and shook out her hand. “No shit, Celia.” She blew out a very deep breath. “Friggin’ hocus pocus. Let’s do this and get back to Danny.”
No one moved. Except Nieve, who raced to the front of the house. “I’ll wait here,
,” she shouted. “Good luck.”
“Th-that’s kind of sweet that she refers to us as ‘cousins,’ ” Emme said in lieu of charging into action.
Shayna’s head jerked from the old garage back to where Nieve had disappeared. “I just hope she won’t refer to us as dead
before this is all done. Man, that building looks totally Freddy Krueger.”
As if on cue, a flock of bats—that’s right,