Wednesday, 21 December 2016

Wednesday Snippet - The steps kept coming, echoing out in the hall

It feels like ages since I last posted a snippet, but I think it's actually just that it's ages since I last wrote. Real Life has been exhausting and I've really just been lazy with my evenings and weekends since we got back from holiday. That said, I have a lot of stuff I want to write next year and a very firm deadline in mind for finishing both Lich Queen and Through Fire, so there's no time for laziness!

And with that in mind, let's catch up with Dawn...

Upstairs the smell of smoke lingered, but it was ghostly-faint, and you could pretend this was a normal, albeit dusty, house. Yvette was a woman of good taste, Dawn thought, peering into the bathroom. It was done in cream and gold. Even the shampoo and conditioner bottles matched the theme. The showerhead dripped slowly and insistently, and she couldn’t stop herself turning it off, leaving smears on the taps as she did.

The spare room was just as elegant, all autumnal colours and text books A History of Western Philosophy. A Brief History of Time. Elemental Structures of Race. Dawn’s eyes ached just reading the spines. Surely Yvette picked them out for their intellectual titles rather than because anyone would ever read them. Although Imani probably would, and probably had, and could probably quote from them at length.

She left the spare room and went into the master bedroom, feeling twitchy. The part of her brain that was still a police detective whispered that she was breaking the law here, and as much as she knew it didn’t matter one damn bit, she couldn’t switch it off. Her dad would be disappointed in her. She smiled bitterly at the thought and switched on the bedroom light.

Unlike the rest of the house, the bedroom had a…a soul, for want of a better word. The furniture was just as refined and beautiful as the rest of the house, but there was a sense that someone with a real personality had lived here. There was a collection of glass perfume bottles on the window sill, their faceted sides casting tiny, pale rainbows across the carpet. Framed photos hung on the walls – family members, Dawn guessed, and wondered for the first time who and where Yvette’s family were. One photo was clearly a coven gathering, taken outside at dusk, with Rowan standing next to Yvette, her arm wrapped round Yvette’s waist.

The vanity set looked vintage, with spindly legs and a gracefully curved mirror. The wood was distressed pale blue and there were a handful of silky scarves draped over a jumble of bangles, lip glosses, and hair combs. The bed was draped with a soft faux-fur comforter and there were berry-scented candles everywhere. It was feminine and indulgent, and not the least bit witchy. But then neither was Rowan’s house, thanks to Caleb’s compulsive redecorating.

Dawn sat on the edge of the bed and wondered what she’d expected to find. A diary labelled People I Want To Kill? Yvette wasn’t an idiot. She sighed softly – then sucked in her breath at the ominous, unmistakable sound of footsteps in the hall.

Heart pounding, she cautiously rested her hand on her gun. The steps were deliberate and slow, stretching the time out into agonisingly long moments. She waited and frantically tried to pull a story together, her guilt over house-breaking rushing back full force. She was in deep shit unless she could bluff her way out of this with whoever walked in.

Except nobody walked in. The steps kept coming, echoing out in the hall, but the walker never reached the bedroom. An icy chill swept over Dawn and she rose stiffly, thinking now of the phantom footsteps plaguing her. She’d been sure earlier it was Isaiah playing tricks with her…but then he’d never admitted it when she asked him, had he? What other possibilities were there?

“I’m going mad,” she whispered to herself. That was a definite possibility. Gun in hand, she sidled to the bedroom door.

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