Main Tunnel of Bones (City of Ghosts #2)

Tunnel of Bones (City of Ghosts #2)

,
Year: 2019
Language: english
ISBN: B07M877N7P
Series: Cadsidy Blake
File: EPUB, 662 KB
Download (epub, 662 KB)
 
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Il Bernini.

Year: 1900
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Supernova

Year: 2019
Language: english
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Contents

Title Page

Dedication

Epigraph

Map

Part One: City of Light

Chapter One

Chapter Two

Chapter Three

Chapter Four

Chapter Five

Chapter Six

Part Two: Mischief Maker

Chapter Seven

Chapter Eight

Chapter Nine

Chapter Ten

Part Three: Menace

Chapter Eleven

Chapter Twelve

Chapter Thirteen

Chapter Fourteen

Chapter Fifteen

Chapter Sixteen

Part Four: Mayhem

Chapter Seventeen

Chapter Eighteen

Chapter Nineteen

Chapter Twenty

Chapter Twenty-One

Chapter Twenty-Two

Chapter Twenty-Three

Part Five: Memory

Chapter Twenty-Four

Chapter Twenty-Five

Chapter Twenty-Six

Chapter Twenty-Seven

Chapter Twenty-Eight

Chapter Twenty-Nine

Sneak Peek at City of Ghosts

About the Author

Also by Victoria Schwab

Copyright





The train rattles as it moves beneath the city.

Shadows rush past the windows, little more than streaks of movement, dark on dark. I can feel the ebb and flow of the Veil, the drumbeat of ghosts on every side.

“Well, that’s a pleasant thought,” says my best friend, Jacob, shoving his hands into his pockets.

“Scaredy-cat,” I whisper back, as if I’m not also creeped out by the presence of so many spirits.

Speaking of cats, Grim scowls up at me from the cat carrier in my lap, his green eyes promising revenge for his current imprisonment. Mom and Dad sit across from us with their luggage. There’s a map of the Metro above their heads, but it just looks like a tangle of colored lines: more like a maze than a guide. I went to New York City with my parents once, and we rode the subway every day, and I still couldn’t tell where we were going.

And that time, everything was in English.

Jacob leans against the wall beside me, and I look out the window again. I study my reflection in the glass—messy brown hair, brown eyes, round face, and the old-fashioned camera around my neck—but the space next to me, where Jacob should be, is empty.

I guess I should explain: Jacob is what he likes to call “corporeally challenged.” Basically, he’s a ghost. No one can see him, except for me. (And a girl we just met named Lara, but that’s only because she’s like me, or I’m like her, someone who’s crossed the line between the living and the dead, and made it back.) If it seems strange, the whole dead-best-friend thing, well, it is, but it’s not the strangest thing in my life by far.

My name is Cassidy Blake, and one year ago, I almost drowned. Jacob saved my life, and ever since, I’ve been able to cross into the Veil, a place filled with the spirits of the restless dead. It’s my job to send them on.

Jacob scowls at that. “Your job, according to Lara.”

I forgot to mention that Jacob can read my mind. Apparently that’s what happens when a ghost pulls a human back from the brink of death—things get kind of tangled up. And if being haunted by a psychic dead boy isn’t weird enough, the only reason we’re here on this train is that my parents are filming a reality TV show about the world’s most haunted cities.

See?

The fact that Jacob is a ghost is starting to seem normal.

“Paranormal,” he says with a crooked grin.

I roll my eyes as the train slows, and a voice on the intercom announces the station.

“Concorde.”

“That’s us,” says Mom, bouncing to her feet.

The train pulls to a stop and we get off, making our way through the crowds of people. I’m relieved when Dad takes Grim’s carrier—that cat is heavier than he looks—and we haul ourselves and our suitcases up the stairs.

When we reach the street, I stop, breathless not from the climb but from the sight in front of me. We’re standing at the edge of a massive square. A circle, really, surrounded by pale stone buildings that reflect the late-afternoon light. Gold trim shines on every surface, from the sidewalk rails to lampposts, fountains to balconies, and in the distance, the Eiffel Tower rises like a steel spear.

Mom spreads her arms, as if she can catch the whole city in one giant hug.

“Welcome to Paris.”





You might think a city is a city is a city.

But you’d be wrong. We came from Edinburgh, Scotland, a nest of heavy stones and narrow roads, the kind of place that always feels cast in shadow.

But Paris?

Paris is sprawling and elegant and bright.

Now that we’re aboveground, the drumbeat of ghosts has receded, and the Veil is just a light touch against my skin, a flicker of gray at the edge of my sight. Maybe Paris isn’t as haunted as Edinburgh is. Maybe—

But we wouldn’t be here if that were true.

My parents don’t follow fairy tales.

They follow ghost stories.

“This way,” says Dad, and we set off down a broad avenue called Rue de Rivoli, a street lined with fancy shops on one side and trees on the other.

People bustle past us in chic suits and high heels. Two teenagers lean against a wall: The guy has his hands in the pockets of his black skinny jeans, and the girl wears a silk shirt with a bow at her throat, looking like she stepped straight off a fashion site. We pass by another girl in glittering ballet flats and a boy in a striped polo shirt walking a poodle. Even the dogs are perfectly styled and groomed here.

I look down at myself, feeling suddenly underdressed in my purple T-shirt, my gray stretchy pants, and my sneakers.

Jacob only has one look: His blond hair is always tousled, his superhero T-shirt always creased, his dark jeans worn through at the knees, and his shoes so scuffed I can’t tell what color they used to be.

Jacob shrugs. “I do me,” he says, clearly unbothered.

But it’s easy not to care what other people think when none of them can see you.

I lift my camera and peer through the cracked viewfinder at the Paris sidewalk. The camera is an old manual, loaded with black-and-white film. It was vintage even before we both took a plunge into an icy river back home in upstate New York. And then, in Scotland, the camera got thrown against a tombstone, and the lens shattered. A very nice lady in a photo shop gave me a replacement, but the new lens has a swirl, like a thumbprint, in the middle of the glass—just one more imperfection to add to the list.

What makes the camera truly special, though, is how it works beyond the Veil: It captures a piece of the other side. It doesn’t see as well as I do, but it definitely sees more than it should. A shadow of the shadow world.

I’m just lowering the camera when my phone chimes in my pocket.

It’s a text from Lara.

Lara Chowdhury and I crossed paths back in Edinburgh. We’re the same age, but it’s safe to say she’s years ahead in the whole ghost-hunting department. It helps that she spends her summers hanging out with the spirit of her dead uncle, who happens—happened—to know about all things supernatural. He wasn’t an in-betweener (that’s what Lara calls people like us), just a man with a large library and a morbid hobby.

Lara:

Gotten yourself in trouble yet?

Me:

Define trouble.

Lara:

Cassidy Blake.





I can practically hear the annoyance in her posh English accent.

Me:

I just got here.

Give me a little credit.

Lara:

That isn’t an answer.





I lift the phone, make a goofy grin, and snap a photo of myself giving a thumbs-up on the crowded street. Jacob’s in the frame, but of course he doesn’t show up in the photo.

Me:

Jacob and I say hi.





“You say hi,” he grumbles, reading over my shoulder. “I have nothing to say to her.”

Right on cue, Lara snaps back with her own reply.

Lara:

Tell the ghost to move along.





“Ah, here we are,” says Mom, nodding at a hotel just ahead. I tuck my phone back in my pocket and look up.

The entrance is ornate—beveled glass, a rug on the curb, and a marquee announcing the name: HOTEL VALEUR. A man in a suit holds open the door, and we step through.

Some places just scream haunted … but this isn’t one of them.

We move through a large polished lobby, all marble and gold. There are columns, and bouquets of flowers, and a silver beverage cart stacked with china cups. It feels like a fancy department store, and we stand there, two parents, a girl, a cat, and a ghost, all of us so obviously, thoroughly, out of place.

“Bienvenue,” says the woman at the front desk, her eyes flicking from us to our luggage to the black cat in his carrier.

“Hello,” says Mom cheerfully, and the clerk switches to English.

“Welcome to the Hotel Valeur. Have you stayed with us before?”

“No,” says Dad. “This is our first time in Paris.”

“Oh?” The woman arches a dark eyebrow. “What brings you to our city?”

“We’re here on business,” says Dad, at the same time Mom answers, “We’re filming a television show.”

The clerk’s mood changes, lips pursing in displeasure.

“Ah yes,” she says, “you must be the … ghost finders.” The way she says it makes my face get hot and my stomach turn.

Beside me, Jacob cracks his knuckles. “I see we have a skeptic in the house.”

A month ago, he couldn’t even fog a window. Now he’s looking around for something he can break. His attention lands on the beverage cart. I shoot him a warning look, mouthing the word no.

Lara’s voice echoes in my head.

Ghosts don’t belong in the in-between, and they certainly don’t belong on this side of it.

The longer he stays, the stronger he’ll get.

“We’re paranormal investigators,” corrects Mom.

The desk clerk’s nose crinkles. “I doubt you will find such things here,” she says, her perfectly manicured nails clicking across her keyboard. “Paris is a place of art, and culture, and history.”

“Well,” starts Dad, “I’m a historian and—”

But Mom puts a hand on his shoulder, as if to say, This isn’t a fight worth having.

The woman at the desk gives us our keys. In that moment, Jacob succeeds in nudging the beverage cart and sends a china cup skating toward the edge. I reach out, steadying the cup before it can fall.

“Bad ghost,” I whisper.

“No fun,” answers Jacob as we follow my parents upstairs.





Back in Scotland, people talked about ghosts the way you might talk about your weird aunt or that odd kid in your neighborhood. Something out of place, sure, but undeniably there. Edinburgh was haunted from its tip to its toes, its castle to its caves. Even the Lane’s End, the cute little bed-and-breakfast where we stayed, had a resident ghost.

But here, in the Hotel Valeur, there are no dark corners, no ominous sounds.

The door to our room doesn’t even groan when it swings open.

We’re staying in a suite, with a bedroom on each side and an elegant sitting room in between. Everything is crisp, clean, and new.

Jacob looks at me, aghast. “It’s almost like you want it to be haunted.”

“No,” I shoot back. “It’s just … strange that it’s not.”

Dad must have heard me because he says, “What does Jacob think about our new digs?”

I roll my eyes.

It comes in handy, having a ghost for a best friend. I can sneak him into the movies, I don’t have to share my snacks, and I never really get lonely. Of course, when your BFF isn’t bound by the laws of corporeality, you have to lay down some ground rules. No intentional scaring. No going through closed bedroom or bathroom doors. No disappearing in the middle of a fight.

But there are drawbacks. It’s always awkward when you get caught “talking to yourself.” But even that’s not as awkward as Dad thinking Jacob is my imaginary friend—some kind of preteen coping mechanism.

“Jacob is worried he’s the only ghost here.”

He scowls. “Stop putting words in my mouth.”

I set Grim free, and he promptly climbs on top of the sofa and announces his displeasure. I’m pretty sure he’s cursing us for his most recent confinement, but maybe he’s just hungry.

Mom pours some kibble into a dish, Dad sets about unpacking, and I drop my stuff in the smaller of the two bedrooms. When I come back out, Mom has thrown open one of the windows and she’s leaning out on the wrought-iron rail, drawing in a deep breath.

“What a beautiful evening,” she says, ushering me over. The sun has gone down, and the sky is a mottle of pink, and purple, and orange. Paris stretches in every direction. The Rue de Rivoli below is still crowded, and from this height, I can see beyond the trees to a massive stretch of green.

“That,” says Mom, “is the Tuileries. It’s a jardin—a garden, if you will.”

Past the garden is a large river Mom tells me is called the Seine, and beyond that, a wall of pale stone buildings, all of them grand, all of them pretty. But the longer I look at Paris, the more I wonder.

“Hey, Mom,” I say. “Why are we here? This city doesn’t seem that haunted.”

Mom beams. “Don’t let looks fool you, Cass. Paris is brimming with ghost stories.” She nods toward the garden. “Take the Tuileries, for instance, and the legend of Jean the Skinner.”

“Don’t ask,” says Jacob, even as I take the bait.

“Who was he?”

“Well,” Mom says in her conversational way, “about five hundred years ago, there was a queen named Catherine, and she had a henchman named Jean the Skinner.”

“This story,” says Jacob, “is definitely going to end well.”

“Jean went around dispatching Catherine’s enemies. But the problem was, as time went on, he learned too many of the queen’s secrets. And so, to keep her royal business private, she eventually ordered his death, too. He was killed right there in the Tuileries. Only when they went back to collect his body the next day, it was gone.” Mom splays her fingers, as if performing a magic trick. “His corpse was never found, and ever since, all throughout history, Jean has appeared to kings and queens, a portent of doom for the monarchs of France.”

And with that, she turns back to the room.

Dad’s sitting on the sofa, his show binder open on the coffee table. In a display of almost catlike behavior, Grim wanders over and scratches his whiskers on the corner of the binder.

The label printed on its front reads: THE INSPECTERS.

The Inspecters was the title of my parents’ book, when it was just ink and paper, and not a TV show. The irony is that back when they decided to write about all things paranormal, I didn’t have any firsthand experience yet. I hadn’t crashed my bike over a bridge, hadn’t fallen into an icy river, hadn’t (almost) drowned, hadn’t met Jacob, hadn’t gained the ability to cross the Veil, and hadn’t learned that I was a ghost hunter.

Jacob clears his throat, clearly uncomfortable with the term.

I shoot him a look. Ghost … saver?

He arches a brow. “Awfully high and mighty.”

Salvager?

He frowns. “I’m not scrap parts.”

Specialist?

He considers. “Hmm, better. But it lacks a certain style.”

Anyway, I think pointedly, my parents had no clue. They still don’t, but now their show means that I get to see new places and meet new people—both the living and the dead.

Mom opens the binder, flipping to the second tab, which reads:





THE INSPECTERS

EPISODE TWO

LOCATION: Paris, France



And there, below, the title of the episode:





“TUNNEL OF BONES”



“Well,” says Jacob pointedly, “that sounds promising.”

“Let’s see what we’ve got,” says Mom, turning to a map of the city. There are numbers spiraling out from the center of the map, counting up from first to twentieth.

“What are those for?” I ask.

“Arrondissements,” says Dad. He explains that arrondissement is a fancy French word for neighborhood.

I sit on the sofa beside Mom as she turns to the filming schedule.





THE CATACOMBS

THE JARDIN DU LUXEMBOURG

THE EIFFEL TOWER

THE PONT MARIE BRIDGE

THE CATHEDRAL OF NOTRE-DAME



The list goes on. I resist the urge to reach for the folder and study each and every location the way my parents clearly have. Instead, I want to hear them tell the stories, want to stand in the places and learn the tales the way the viewers of the show will.

“Oh, yeah,” says Jacob sarcastically, “who wants to be prepared when you can just fling yourself into the unknown?”

Let me guess, I think, you were the kind of kid who flipped to the back of the book and read the ending first.

“No,” mutters Jacob, and then, “I mean, only if it was scary … or sad … or I was worried about the— Look, it doesn’t matter.”

I suppress a smile.

“Cassidy,” says Mom, “your father and I have been talking …”

Oh no. The last time Mom put on her “family meeting” voice, I found out my summer plans were being replaced by a TV show.

“We want you to be more involved,” says Dad.

“Involved?” I ask. “How?” We already had a long talk, before the traveling started, about how I’m good with not being on camera. I’ve always been more comfortable behind it, taking—

“Photos,” says Mom. “For the show.”

“Think of it as a look behind the scenes,” says Dad. “Bonus content. The network would love some added material and we thought it might be nice for you to help in a more hands-on way.”

“And keep you out of trouble,” adds Jacob, who’s now perched on the back of the sofa.

Maybe he’s right. Maybe this is just a ploy to keep me from wandering off and getting my life thread stolen by powerful ghosts, and avoid being charged with misdemeanors for defiling graveyards.

But I’m still flattered.

“I’d love to,” I say, hugging my camera to my chest.

“Great,” says Dad, rising to stretch. “We don’t start filming until tomorrow. How about we go out for some fresh air? Perhaps a walk through the Tuileries?”

“Perfect,” says Mom cheerfully. “Maybe we’ll get a glimpse of good old Jean.”





Calling the Tuileries a garden is like calling Hogwarts a school.

It’s technically correct, but the word really doesn’t do either one justice.

Twilight is quickly giving way to night as we enter the park. The sandy path is as wide as a road, flanked by rows of trees that arch overhead, blotting out what’s left of the sunset. More paths branch off, framing wide green lawns, trimmed here and there with roses.

I feel like I’ve stepped into Alice in Wonderland.

I always thought that book was a little scary, and so is the garden. Maybe it’s because everything is spookier at night. It’s why people are afraid of the dark. What you can’t see is always scarier than what you can. Your eyes play tricks on you, filling in the shadows, making shapes. But night isn’t the only thing that makes the garden creepy.

With every step, the Veil gets a little heavier, the murmur of ghosts a little louder.

Maybe Paris is more haunted than I thought.

Mom loops her arm through Dad’s. “What a magnificent place,” she muses, leaning her head against his shoulder.

“The Tuileries have quite a history,” says Dad, putting on his teacher voice. “They were created in the sixteenth century as royal gardens for the palace.”

At the far end of the Tuileries, beyond a section of roses that would rival the Queen of Hearts’s, is the largest building I’ve ever seen. It’s as wide as the jardin itself and shaped like a U, arms wrapping the end of the park in a giant stone hug.

“What is that?” I ask.

“That would be the palace,” explains Dad. “Or the latest version of it. The original burned down in 1871.”

As we get closer, I see something rising from the palace’s courtyard—a glowing glass pyramid. Dad explains that these days, the palace houses a museum called the Louvre.

I frown at the pyramid. “It doesn’t seem big enough to be a museum.”

Dad laughs. “That’s because the museum is beneath it,” he says. “And around it. The pyramid is only the entrance.”

“A reminder,” says Mom, “that there’s always more than meets the eye—”

She’s cut off by a scream.

It pierces the air, and Jacob and I both jump. The sound is high and faint, and for a moment I think it’s coming through the Veil. But then I realize the shouts are sounds of happiness. We walk past another wall of trees and find a carnival. Complete with Ferris wheels, small roller coasters, tented games, and food stalls.

My heart flutters at the sight of it all, and I’m already moving toward the colorful rides when a breeze blows through, carrying the scents of sugar and pastry dough. I stop short and turn, searching for the source of the heavenly smell, and see a stall advertising CRÊPES.

“What’s a cre-ep?” I ask, sounding out the word.

Dad chuckles. “It’s pronounced ‘creh-p,’ ” he explains. “And it’s like a thin pancake, covered in butter and sugar, or chocolate, or fruit, and folded into a cone.”

“Sounds intriguing,” I say.

“Sounds amazing,” says Jacob.

Mom produces a few silver and gold coins. “It would be a travesty to come to France without trying one,” she says as we join the back of the line. When we reach the counter, I watch as a man spreads batter paper-thin over the surface of a skillet.

He asks a question in French and stares at me, waiting for an answer.

“Chocolat,” answers Dad, and I don’t have to know French to understand that.

The man flips the crêpe and spreads a ladleful of chocolate over the entire surface before folding the delicate pancake in half, and then in quarters, and sliding it into a paper cone.

Dad pays, and Mom takes the crêpe. We head for the white tables and chairs scattered along the path and sit, bathed in carnival lights.

“Here, dear daughter,” says Mom, offering me the crêpe. “Educate yourself.”

I take a bite, and my mouth fills with the hot, sweet pancake, the rich chocolate spread. It is simple and wonderful. As we sit, passing the crêpe back and forth, Dad stealing giant bites and Mom wiping a smudge of chocolate from her nose and Jacob watching the turn of the Ferris wheel with his wide blue eyes, I almost forget why we’re here. I snap a photo of my parents, the carnival at their backs, and imagine that we’re just a family on vacation.

But then I feel the tap on my shoulder, the press of the Veil against my back, and my attention drifts toward the shadowy part of the park. It calls to me. I used to think it was just curiosity that drew me toward the in-between. But now I know it’s something else.

Purpose.

Jacob’s eyes flit toward me. “No,” he says, even as I get to my feet.

“Everything okay?” asks Mom.

“Yeah,” I say, “I need to use the bathroom.”

“No, you don’t,” whispers Jacob.

“I saw one, just past the food stalls,” says Mom, pointing.

“Cassidy,” whines Jacob.

“I’ll be right back,” I tell my parents.

I’m already moving away when Dad calls out, warning me not to wander off.

“I won’t,” I call back.

Dad shoots me a stern look. I’m still winning back their trust after the whole getting-trapped-in-the-Veil-by-a-ghost-and-having-to-fight-to-steal-my-life-back-by-hiding-in-an-open-grave thing (or, as my parents think of it, the afternoon I disappeared without permission and was found several hours later after breaking into a grave-yard).

Po-tay-to, po-tah-to.

I slip past the stalls and veer right, off the main path.

“Where are we going?” demands Jacob.

“To see if Jean the Skinner’s still here.”

“You’ve got to be joking.”

But I’m not. I check my back pocket for my mirror pendant. It was a parting gift from Lara.

She would be furious at me for keeping the pendant in my pocket instead of out around my neck. She says people like us aren’t only hunters; we’re beacons for specters and spirits. Mirrors work on all ghosts, including Jacob, which is why I don’t wear the pendant. Lara would probably say that’s why I should.

Needless to say, she doesn’t approve of Jacob.

“Lara doesn’t approve of anything,” he quips.

They don’t get along—call it a difference of opinion.

“Her opinion,” he snaps, “is that I don’t belong here.”

“Well, technically you don’t,” I whisper, wrapping the necklace around my wrist. “Now, let’s go find Jean.”

Jacob scowls, the air around him rippling ever so slightly with his displeasure. “We were having such a nice night.”

“Come on,” I say, closing my fingers over the mirror charm. “Aren’t you curious?”

“Actually, no,” he says, crossing his arms as I reach for the Veil. “I’m really not. I’m perfectly content to never find out if—”

I don’t hear the rest. I pull the curtain aside and step through, and the world around me—

Vanishes.

The carnival lights, the crowds, the sounds and smells of the summer night. Gone. For a second, I’m falling. Plunging down into icy water, the shock of cold in my lungs. And then I’m back on my feet.

I’ve never gotten used to that part.

I don’t think I ever will.

I straighten and let out a shaky breath as the world settles around me again, stranger, paler.

This is the Veil.

The in-between.

It’s quiet and dark, full night. No carnival, no crowds, and thanks to the deep shadows and the tendrils of fog rolling across the lawns, I can barely see.

Jacob appears beside me a second later, obviously sulking.

“You didn’t have to come,” I say.

His foot scuffs the grass. “Whatever.”

I smile. Rule number twenty-one of friendship: Friends don’t leave friends in the Veil.

Jacob looks different here, fleshed out and colored in, and I can’t see through him anymore. Meanwhile I’m less solid than I was before, washed out and gray, with one glaring exception: the ribbon of light shining through my rib cage.

Not just a ribbon, but a life.

My life.

It glows with a pale blue-white light, and if I were to reach into my chest and pull it out, like some kind of gruesome show-and-tell, you’d see it’s not perfect anymore. There’s a seam, a thin crack, where it got torn in two. I put it back together, and it seems to be working well enough, but I have no desire to test how much damage a lifeline can take.

“Oh well,” says Jacob, craning his head, “looks like no one’s here. We better go.”

I’m as nervous as he is, but I hold my ground. Someone is here. They have to be here. That’s the thing about the Veil: It only exists where there’s a ghost. It’s like a stage where spirits act out their final hours, whatever happened that won’t let them move on.

My hands go to the camera around my neck, and the mirror pendant wrapped around my wrist chimes faintly as metal hits metal. The sound echoes strangely in the dark.

As my eyes adjust, I realize that buildings outside the park are gone, erased either by time—if they haven’t been built yet—or simply by the boundaries of this particular in-between, whoever it belongs to.

The question is, whose life—or, rather, death—are we in?

The night sky is getting brighter, tinged with a faint orange glow.

“Um, Cass,” says Jacob, looking over my shoulder.

I turn and stop, my eyes widening in surprise.

There’s no Jean the Skinner, but there is a palace.

And it’s on fire.





The fog isn’t fog at all, but smoke.

The wind picks up, and the fire quickens, the air darkening with soot. I can hear shouting, and carriages rattling over stone, and through the smoke I see a huddle of figures on the lawn, faces turned up toward the blaze.

I step closer, lift the camera’s viewfinder to my eye, and take a picture.

“Cass …” says Jacob, but he sounds far away, and when I turn to look for him, all I see is smoke.

“Jacob?” I call out, coughing as the smoke tickles my throat, creeps into my lungs. “Where are—”

A shape crashes into me. I stumble back into the grass, and the man drops the bucket he was hauling. It topples onto the ground, spilling something black and viscous. I know instantly that this is his place in the Veil. The other ghosts are just set pieces, puppets, but this man’s eyes, as they fall on me, are haunted.

I scramble to my feet, already holding up the mirror pendant, ready to send him on—

But there’s no necklace wrapped around my wrist, no mirror hanging in the air.

I look down, scouring the ground where I fell, and see the necklace shining in the grass, where it must have slipped off. But before I can reach it, the ghost grabs me by the collar and pushes me back against a tree. I try to twist free, but even though he’s a ghost and I’m not, the Veil levels the playing field.

“Jacob!” I shout. The man’s grip tightens as he spews at me in French, the words a mystery but the tone clear and cruel. And then he trails off, his eyes dropping to the camera at my chest.

No, not the camera, I realize with horror. The thread. The blue-white glow of my life. He grabs for it, and I squirm, desperate to get away from the reaching fingers—

“Hey!” shouts a familiar voice, and the ghost looks sideways just as Jacob swings the bucket at his head.

The man staggers, black tar dripping down his face, and I gasp, dropping to the ground. The instant I’m free, I lunge for the fallen necklace as the ghost takes one half-blinded step toward me. I grab the necklace and scramble up, holding the pendant out in front of me like a shield.

The ghost comes to a halt, his attention caught on the little round surface of the mirror.

A mirror, explained Lara, to reflect the truth. To show the spirit what they are.

The mirror traps the ghost, but the words, the spell, the incantation send them on. I didn’t know there were words until a week ago, didn’t know about the power of mirrors, or lifelines. But as I stand here now, facing the specter, my mind goes blank.

I can’t remember the words.

Panic rushes through me as I grasp for them, find nothing.

And then Jacob leans in and whispers in my ear.

“Watch and listen,” he prompts.

And just like that, I remember.

I swallow, finding my voice.

“Watch and listen,” I order the ghost. “See and know. This is what you are.”

The whole Veil ripples around us, and the ghost thins until I can see through him, see the dark thread coiled inside his chest. Lightless, lifeless.

I reach out and take hold of his thread, the last thing binding him here, to this world. It feels cold and dry under my fingers, like dead leaves in the fall. As I pull the cord from his chest, it crumbles in my palm. Vanishes in a plume of smoke.

And then, so does the ghost.

He dissolves, ash and then air. There and then gone.

Jacob shudders a little in discomfort, but for me, it’s like coming up for air. In those seconds, right after the ghost moves on, I feel … right.

What you feel, said Lara, is called a purpose.

The palace continues to burn, and I sway on my feet, dizzy, the effect of the Veil catching up with me.

A warning that I’ve stayed too long.

“Come on.” Jacob takes my hand and pulls me back through the Veil. I shiver as the curtain brushes my skin. For an instant, the cold floods my lungs again, the water pulling me down—and then we’re back on solid ground. The park is bright and loud, filled with carnival lights and tourists and evening warmth. Jacob is faded again, vaguely see-through, and I’m solid, the bright coil of my life hidden safely beneath flesh and bone.

“Thanks,” I say, shaking off the chill.

“We’re a team,” says Jacob, holding up his hand. “Ghost five.”

He makes a smacking sound as I bring my palm against his. But this time, I swear I feel a faint pressure, like steam, before my hand goes through. I look at Jacob’s face, wondering if he feels it, too, but he’s already turning away.

“There you are!” says Mom, holding out the last bite of crêpe as I return to the table. “I had to shield this from your father. Nearly lost a finger.”

“Sorry,” I say, “the line was long.”

(I don’t like lying to my parents, but I tried telling them the truth, after the whole incident in the graveyard, and they didn’t believe me. So maybe that makes this lie a little smaller.)

“Yeah,” says Jacob, “keep telling yourself that.”

Dad rises, brushing off his hands. “Well, darling family,” he says, wrapping an arm around my shoulders. “We better head back.”

The darkness is heavy now, and the Veil is still pressing against me, calling me back. But as we make our way through the Tuileries, I’m careful to stick to the path, and stay in the light.





The next morning, our local guide is waiting for us in the hotel’s salon (the dining room).

She’s tall and slim, in a green blouse and a cream-colored skirt. She has high cheekbones in a heart-shaped face and dark hair pulled up in a complicated bun. She’s younger than I expected, maybe in her twenties.

“You must be Madame Deschamp,” says Mom, holding out her hand.

“Please,” says the woman in a silky voice, “call me Pauline.”

Her French accent makes everything sound musical. It’s funny—I used to think the same thing about Scottish accents. But now I realize the accents are like two kinds of music, as different as a ballad and a lullaby.

Dad says something in French, and Mom laughs, and suddenly I feel left out, like they’ve told a joke I don’t get.

“You speak well,” says Pauline, and Dad blushes.

“I studied in college,” he says, “but I’m afraid I’m rusty.”

“Pauline,” says Mom, “this is our daughter, Cassidy.”

Jacob sticks his hands in his pockets and mumbles, “Don’t bother introducing me.”

“Enchantée,” says Pauline, turning toward me. Her gaze is steady, searching. “Parlez-vous français?”

It’s my turn to blush now. “No, sorry. Just English.”

I did take Italian in school last year, but I was really, really bad at it, and I don’t think being able to ask where the library is in another language will help me here. The only French I’ve managed to pick up is s’il vous plaît, which means please, and merci, which means thank you.

A server drifts over, and Pauline exchanges a few words in rapid French before urging us to sit. “We’re so grateful to have you as our guide,” says Dad.

“Yes,” Pauline says slowly, “it should be … interesting.” She smooths her blouse as if brushing away crumbs.

“Tell me,” says Mom, “do you believe in ghosts?”

Pauline’s expression goes stiff.

“No,” she says, the word quick and crisp, like slamming a door on something you don’t want to see. “I’m sorry. That was rude. I will explain: I am an emissary, here on behalf of the French Ministry of Culture. I spend most of my time with dignitaries and documentarians. This is not an ordinary assignment for me, but I am Parisian. I have lived here all my life. I will take you where you wish to go. I will help in any way I can. But I cannot say that I believe.”

“That’s fine,” says Dad. “I’m here for the history. My wife is the believer.”

Pauline looks at me.

“And you, Cassidy?” she asks. “Do you believe?”

Jacob arches a brow in my direction. “Yes, do tell me,” he says. “What is your stance on ghosts?”

I smile, and nod at Pauline. “It’s hard to believe in ghosts, until you see one, and then it’s hard not to.”

A small crinkle appears, right between Pauline’s perfect eyebrows. “Perhaps.”

The server returns with three of the smallest cups I’ve ever seen (seriously, they look like they’re from the tea party set I had when I was five) full of dark coffee.

“And for the mademoiselle,” he says, handing me a mug of hot chocolate dusted with cocoa.

He also sets down a basketful of pastries. I recognize the crescent shape of a croissant, but the spiral and the rectangle are a mystery. I reach for the rectangle and bite into it, only to discover that the center is filled with chocolate.

Paris has just gone up a notch in my book.

“Pain au chocolat,” explains Mom as I take another bite. Between the hot cocoa, which is rich and thick, and the pastry, I can feel my pupils dilating. Back home, I’m not even allowed to eat sugar cereal.

Jacob sighs. “I miss sugar.”

More for me. Buttery flakes rain down on the table as I take another bite.

Pauline’s gaze flicks up toward the salon entrance and her expression warms. “Ah, the crew has arrived. Anton!” she says, rising to her feet. “Annette.”

They turn out to be a pair of siblings. They have the same brown hair, pointed chins, and gray-blue eyes. But otherwise, they look like shadows at different times of day—Anton is as tall and thin as a skeleton, while Annette is short and square.

Pauline kisses each of them twice, once on each cheek, then turns to my parents.

“If you are ready, we should leave. We will start with the Catacombs.”

“Yes,” says Mom, brushing sugar from her lap. “The ghosts of Paris await.”

“What’s a catacomb?” I ask as we step outside.

“It’s a kind of graveyard,” says Dad.

“Like Greyfriars?” I ask, thinking of the hilly cemetery nestled in the heart of Edinburgh.

“Not exactly,” he says. “It’s—”

“Don’t ruin the surprise,” says Mom, which makes me intensely nervous. Mom’s idea of a surprise has always been less Happy birthday and more Look at this vaguely nightmarish thing I found in the backyard. “Just wait, Cass,” she says. “The Paris Catacombs are one of the most famous places in the world.”

“At least she didn’t say most haunted,” muses Jacob, right before Mom adds, “And definitely one of the most haunted.”

Jacob sighs. “Of course.”





We take the Metro across the city and get off at a stop called Denfert-Rochereau.

Outside, I notice a placard on a building’s stone wall that says 14e: the number of the neighborhood we’re in. As we walk, I keep my eyes peeled for a graveyard, but all I see are normal buildings. And yet I know we’re getting closer because I can feel the tap-tap-tap of ghosts getting louder with every step.

The Veil ripples around me, and the beat shifts from my chest to my feet, a heavy bass drumming through the street. Haunted places don’t just call to me. They drag me in like a fish on a line. There’s no hook, only a thread, wisp-thin but strong as wire, connecting me to the other side.

My parents, Pauline, and the crew come to an abrupt stop in front of a small green hut. It’s plain and inconspicuous, more like a newspaper stand than a place for the dead. In fact, it doesn’t look large enough to hold more than one or two coffins. At first I think we must be in the wrong place, but then I see the copper plaque nailed to the painted wood.

ENTRÉE DES CATACOMBES.

“Huh,” I say. “I thought the Catacombs would be … bigger.”

“Oh, they are,” says Dad, pulling out one of his guidebooks. He shows me a map of Paris, and then turns the page in front of it. A filmy sheet of paper settles over the map, its translucent surface traced with red lines.

Slowly, I realize what I’m looking at. I also realize why I felt so weird as we walked.

The Catacombs aren’t in this little green hut.

They’re under our feet. And judging by the map in Dad’s hand, they’re under a lot of people’s feet. The Catacombs are a coil of tunnels twisting back and forth on themselves beneath the city.

We approach the door, but a sign on the wall announces that the Catacombs are closed.

“Oh, too bad,” says Jacob. “We’ll just have to come back another time …” He trails off as a man in a security uniform appears, unlocking the entrance to the little green shack and ushering us through.

Inside, there’s a pair of turnstiles, like the beginning of a roller-coaster ride.

We pass through and find ourselves at the top of a spiral staircase wide enough for only one person at a time. It plunges down out of sight. The tunnels below seem to exhale, sending up a draft of cool, stale air, along with a wave of anger, and fear, and restless loss.

“Nope,” says Jacob, shaking his head.

This is a bad place, and we can both feel it.

I hesitate as the Veil tightens its grip, calling me down even as something deep in my bones tells me to stay put, or even better, to run.

Mom looks back over her shoulder. “Cass? You okay?”

“Just tell them you’re too scared,” says Jacob.

But I’m not, I think. I am scared, but there’s a difference between being scared to do something and being too scared to do it. Plus, I think, clutching my camera, I have a job to do. And I don’t even mean ghost-hunting. My parents asked for my help. I don’t want to let them down.

And so I propel myself forward and take the first step.

“Everything about this is terrible,” says Jacob as we descend, down, down, down into the tunnels under Paris.





I used to have this one bad dream.

I was trapped in a room, deep under the earth. The room was glass, so I could see the dirt on every side, pressing against the walls.

The dream was always the same. First I would get bored, and then I would get nervous, and then, at last, I would get scared. Sometimes I would bang on the walls, and sometimes I would sit perfectly still, but every time, no matter what I did, a crack would form in the glass.

The crack would spread and spread, up the walls and overhead, until bits of dirt came through and then, just as the ceiling shattered, I’d wake up.

I haven’t thought of that dream in years.

But I think about it now.

The spiral stairs are a tight coil, so we can’t see more than a full turn at a time, and they just keep going, and going, and going.

“How far down are the Catacombs?” I ask, fighting to keep the fear out of my voice.

“About five stories,” says Dad, and I try not to think about the fact that the Hotel Valeur is only four stories tall.

“Why would you put a graveyard underground?” I ask.

“The Catacombs weren’t always used as a graveyard,” explains Dad. “Before they became an ossuary, the tunnels were simply stone quarries that ran beneath the growing city.”

“What’s an ossuary?” I ask.

“It’s a place where the bones of the dead are stored.”

Jacob and I exchange a look. “What happened to the rest of them?”

Mom chuckles. It doesn’t make me feel any better.

“The bodies in the Catacombs were transferred here from other graves,” explains Pauline.

Transferred.

Meaning dug up.

“Oh, I do not like this,” says Jacob. “I do not like this at all.”

“Today,” says Dad, “the Catacombs are home to more than six million bodies.”

I nearly trip on the steps. I must have heard him wrong.

“That’s three times the living population of Paris,” adds Mom cheerfully.

I feel a little queasy. Jacob glowers at me as if to say, This is your fault.

We finally reach the bottom of the stairs, and the Veil washes up around me like a tide, dragging at my limbs. I push back, trying to keep my footing as Jacob draws closer.

“We are not crossing here,” he says, all the humor gone from his voice. “Do you hear me, Cass? We are not. Crossing. Here.”

He doesn’t have to tell me.

I have no desire to find out what’s on the other side of this particular Veil.

Especially when I see what’s ahead of us.

I’d been hoping for a large space, like one of those giant caves with stalactites—stalagmites? I can never remember which is which—but instead there is only a tunnel.

The ground is a mix of rough stone and packed dirt, and the walls look dug by hand. Here and there, water drips from the low ceiling. Electric lights have been spaced out, casting dim yellow pools among patches of shadow.

“Well, this is cozy,” says Mom.

I swallow hard as we start walking. The only way out is through, I tell myself.

“Or, you know, back up those stairs,” says Jacob.

Come on, I think. Where’s your sense of adventure?

“I must have left it up on street level,” he mutters.

Mom and Dad walk on ahead, narrating for the cameras. I glance over at Pauline, who’s focused on where she’s stepping, careful to avoid the shallow pools of water, the muddy dirt patches between stones.

I lean toward her and whisper, “I expected more bones.”

“We haven’t made it to the tombs yet,” she explains, her voice echoing off the low ceiling. “These are only the galleries. Relics from the days when these tunnels served less grim purposes.”

The tunnel twists and turns, sometimes wide enough for two people, and sometimes so narrow we have to walk single file. The Veil presses against my back like a hand, urging me forward.

“You know the only thing worse than a haunted place?” asks Jacob.

What?

“One you can’t easily leave.”

You don’t know it’s haunted, I think, sounding thoroughly unconvinced.

“How can it not be?” he counters. “Have you forgotten George Mackenzie?”

George Mackenzie was one of the ghosts in a cemetery back in Scotland. He didn’t start haunting the graveyard until some vandals disturbed his bones.

That was one man.

But maybe the stories are wrong. Maybe he was already restless.

“And maybe they’re all friendly ghosts down here,” says Jacob, “just having a grand old time.”

Mom pulls out a small box, its surface studded with lights. An EMF meter—a tool meant to register disturbances in the electromagnetic force. Also known as ghosts. She switches it on, but the meter only registers a muffled static as she lets it trail over the wall.

We reach the end of the galleries, and the tunnel opens into a chamber, the walls lined with glass cases, like in a museum. The glass cases hold text and pictures, explaining how the Catacombs came to be. But the thing that catches my eye is the doorway on the other side.

A stone mantel looms over it, the words carved in bold French type.





ARRÈTE! C’EST ICI L’EMPIRE DE LA MORT.



“Stop!” recites Dad, his voice bouncing off the close stone walls. “This here is the Empire of the Dead.”

“Not ominous,” mutters Jacob. “Not ominous at all.”

“In the 1700s,” continues Dad, addressing Annette’s camera, “Paris had a problem. The dead outnumbered the living, and the living had no place to put them. The graveyards were overflowing, sometimes literally, and something had to be done. And so the conversion of the Catacombs began.”

“It would take two whole years,” says Mom, “to move the bodies of the dead. Imagine, a nightly procession of corpse-filled wagons rattling through the streets, as six million dead were ferried from their resting places into the tunnels beneath Paris.”

It’s so weird, watching them like this. The way they transform in front of the camera. They don’t become different people, they just become sharper, louder, more colorful. The same song with the volume turned up. Dad, the image of a scholar. Mom, the picture of a dreamer. Together, “the Inspecters” look larger than life. I snap a photo of them being filmed as Dad goes on.

“For decades,” he says, “the bones of the dead littered these tunnel floors, the remains piled haphazardly throughout the vast tomb. It wasn’t until an engineer by the name of Louis-Étienne Héricart decided to convert the grave into a place for visitors that the real transformation began and the Empire of the Dead was formed.”

Mom gestures, like a showman pulling back a curtain. “Shall we go in?”

“I think I’ll wait here,” says Jacob, suddenly fascinated by the glass cases.

Suit yourself, I think.

I follow the crew forward without looking back. And even though I can’t hear Jacob’s steps, I know he’s there, on my heels, close as a shadow as we step through into a world of bones.





The bones are everywhere.

They line the dirt walls, a sea of skeletons rising almost to the ceiling. They form patterns, rippling designs—a wave of skulls set on a backdrop of femurs, the morbid decorations stacked as high as I can see. Empty eye sockets stare out, and jaws hang open. Some of the bones are broken, crumbling, and others look startlingly fresh. If you squint hard enough, the pieces disappear, and you’re left with a pattern of wavering grays that could be stone instead of bone.

Our shadows dance on the walls, and I take photo after photo, knowing the camera will only capture what’s here, only see the real. But right now, the real is strange enough. Strange, and chilling, and almost—beautiful.

“And horrifying,” says Jacob. “Don’t forget horrifying.”

We round a corner, and as if on cue, the EMF meter in Mom’s hand erupts from static into a high-pitched whine that echoes through the tunnels like a scream.

Mom jumps, and quickly switches the unit back off.

“Well,” she says, her voice a little shaky. “I think that says enough.”

I shiver, unsettled.

Even Pauline is looking tense.

“Gee, what could possibly be making her nervous?” muses Jacob. “Is it the fact we’re five stories underground? Or that this tunnel is roughly the size of a coffin? Or could it be the fact we’re surrounded by six million bodies?”

Six million—it’s a number so big it doesn’t seem real.

Two hundred and seventy—that’s a better number. Still a lot, but countable. Two hundred and seventy is the number of bones you have when you’re born. Some of them fuse together as you grow, so by the time you’re an adult, you have two hundred and six (thanks, Science class).

So, if the Catacombs are home to more than six million bodies, how many bones?

Six million times two hundred and six is—a lot. Too many to capture in a photo. But picture this: It’s enough bones to stack five feet high throughout every one of the tunnels under Paris. An Empire of the Dead as large as the city, the bodies unmarked and unknown.

Jacob begins to sing, and it takes me a solid thirty seconds to realize what he’s singing.

“… the foot bone’s connected to the leg bone, the leg bone’s connected to the knee bone …”

“Are you serious?” I whisper.

He throws up his hands. “Just trying to have a sense of humor about this.”

We wind our way through the tunnels, the locked iron gates converting the maze around us into a clear path. I wonder how easy it would be to get lost without those doors.

“Do you see this line overhead?” asks Dad, the question directed at the cameras as much as us.

I stare up and see a thick black mark painted on the ceiling.

“Back before they installed lights and gates, that was the only way to keep people from getting lost.”

I try to imagine coming down here before there was electricity, armed with just lanterns or candles. I shudder. The only thing that would make this place creepier would be being down here in the dark.

Mom turns to the camera.

“Over the years,” she says, “more than a few travelers have wandered down into these tunnels, to seek shelter, perhaps, or simply to explore, only to get lost amid the many halls. Many never found their way out again. At least, not while they were still alive.”

The Veil leans heavy on my shoulders, urging me to cross over, but I manage to hold my ground. I feel like I’m the glass box in my dream, the world pressing in from every side. But I don’t crack.

There’s no question Jacob is getting stronger.

But maybe I am, too.

“Over here,” calls Dad, his voice echoing. Here, here, here …

The bone walls are interrupted every so often by stone plaques, their surfaces carved with quotes about life and death. Dad stops in front of one, and Pauline and I hang back so our shadows don’t cross into the camera shot.

I glance sideways, and nearly jump out of my skin when a skull stares back, its empty sockets at eye level. Before I can think, I’m reaching out to touch the bleached white bone and—

All at once the Veil bristles, rising to my fingertips. As it does, I hear the muffled sound of voices beyond: sad, and lonely, and lost. Someone is calling out, and I can almost, almost hear the words. I lean closer.

“Hello?” calls a voice from the shadows, sounding scared.

I look around, but no one else seems to hear it. My parents walk on, and Pauline looks straight ahead.

“Cassidy,” hisses Jacob. “Don’t.”

My hand falls away, but I can still feel the Veil, sliding through my fingers like silk.

“… s’il vous plaît …” comes another voice from the shadows, this one speaking French, the words thin and high and faint.

“… no one is coming …” murmurs a third. And then a fourth voice—

“HELP!”

The shout is so sudden and loud that I scramble backward. My heel catches a bit of rock on the ground and I stumble, unsteady. I reach out to catch myself, but this time, when my hand hits the wall, it keeps going, as if the surface is made of cloth instead of bone.

No, no, no, I think as the Veil parts beneath my fingers, and I fall down and through.





A short, sharp drop.

A shock of cold.

The taste of the river in my throat.

And then I’m on my hands and knees on the hard stone floor.

Pain scrapes across my palms, and my camera swings from the strap around my neck.

The tunnel is dark, and I blink my eyes rapidly, willing them to adjust. The only light I can see is the one coming from my own chest. The blue-white glow shines brightly, but only as far as my shirt. Not exactly a human flashlight. More like a human firefly.

I get to my feet, pulling the mirror from my back pocket.

“Jacob?” I whisper, but there’s no answer.

As my eyes adjust, I realize there’s another light, low and red, coming from around the corner. It reminds me of the light I use in my darkroom back home when I’m developing film.

I start toward it, and then I hear a small sound, like pebbles moving or feet shuffling over dirt, and the red light shrinks away.

“Hello?” I call, walking faster. But by the time I round the corner, the crimson light is gone, replaced by an old-fashioned lantern sitting on the ground. It throws off an unsteady yellow glow and casts shadows on the surrounding skulls, so it looks like they’re grinning. Scowling. Shocked.

I realize then how quiet the tunnel is, how empty.

I heard the ghosts, didn’t I? So where are they now?

Something moves behind me in the dark. I can feel it. My hand tightens on the pendant, and I’m working up the nerve to turn around when I hear the voice.

“Cassidy.”

Jacob. I sag with relief and I turn, only to find his face sharp, angry.

“I thought we agreed not to do this,” he says, arms folded tight across his chest.

“I didn’t want to,” I say. “I swear.”

“Whatever,” he says, “let’s just go before something—”

A pebble skitters across the stone floor behind us.

“Did you hear that?” I ask.

“Could be the bones settling,” he says, “or the wind.”

But there’s no wind down here, and we both know it wasn’t the bones, especially when the next sound is the crunch of feet. Someone else is here. I start forward, but Jacob catches my hand.

“We have no map,” he warns me.

He’s right. Space is space. A step in the Veil is a step on the other side. If we wander too far away from my parents and the crew, I could end up lost in the real world, too. Trapped in this maze.

And then a playful young voice, somewhere in the distance, calls out in French.

“Un … deux … trois …”

“Nope,” says Jacob. He’s already pulling me backward, already reaching for the curtain.

“Wait,” I say, trying to twist free as the voice calls again. But Jacob tightens his grip.

“Look,” he says. “I get it. You can’t help yourself. It’s your nature. Your purpose, whatever. You have to look under the bed. Open the closet. Peek behind the curtain. But have a little common sense, Cass. We are fifty feet underground, surrounded by bones with only a lantern for light, and I’m officially invoking rule twenty-one of friendship, and we are leaving right now, together.”

He’s right. I sigh, and nod. “Okay. Let’s go.”

Jacob exhales with relief, and grabs the curtain. The Veil ripples and parts, and I follow him through. But at the last second, before the Veil is swept away, I look back, into the tunnel, and I swear I see a shadow moving along the wall, its edges glowing red.

But then the Veil is gone, and I’m falling, ice water in my lungs before the world shutters back into focus, solid again, the lights bright. I hear the sounds of the camera crew packing up, and Pauline’s high heels clicking on the rock floor, and my parents’ voices moving toward me.

I’m on my knees on the grimy stones, but I hurriedly bring the camera’s viewfinder to my eye. I snap a photo—an arch of skulls around a gravestone—the second before Mom rounds the corner.

“Cassidy,” she says, exasperated. “I found her!” she calls back over her shoulder.

I manage a weak smile. “I was just taking some pictures,” I say, my voice a little shaky, my hands and knees slick with dirt. “For the show.”

“Too close, Cass,” says Jacob. He leans moodily back against the wall—or at least he starts to. At the first brush of bone, he jumps away, shuddering in disgust.

Mom studies me for a moment, then nods. “I admire your dedication, dear daughter,” she says, patting my hair, “but next time, stay where we can see you?”

“I’ll try,” I say as she kisses my head and pulls me to my feet.

As I follow her down the tunnel, I can’t help but look back into the darkness, half expecting to see the red light dancing along the wall. But all I see is darkness, shadows falling over bones.





Do you ever feel like you’re being followed?

That prickle on the back of your neck that tells you someone is watching?

I can’t shake that feeling as we reach the top of the stairs, trading the tunnels for the Paris streets. As we walk, I keep glancing back over my shoulder, sure that I’ll see something, someone, and every time I look, I feel like I’ve just missed them. My eyes start playing tricks on me, until every shadow looks like it’s moving. Every streak of sunlight has a shape.

I try to tell myself it’s nothing. Just the residual creeps, clinging like cobwebs.

It’s lunchtime, and we snag a table at a sidewalk café. All of us, I think, are grateful for the fresh air. Mom and Dad discuss the next filming location—the Jardin du Luxembourg—and I order something called a croque monsieur, which turns out to be like a fancy grilled cheese with ham. As I eat, the warm sandwich helps dispel the last of the Catacombs’ chill. But my attention keeps drifting down to the sidewalk, remembering the city of the dead under my feet. I wonder how many people cross these streets and never realize they’re walking over bones.

“Morbid much?” calls Jacob over his shoulder.

He’s standing in the sun, the light shining through him as he studies a rock on the curb, readying to kick it.

And then, out of nowhere, I shiver.

It’s like someone put a cold hand on the back of my neck. It’s all I can do not to yelp in surprise. A sharp breath hisses through my teeth.

Mom glances toward me, but before she can ask what’s wrong, there’s a ripping sound overhead. The edge of the café’s awning tears free.

“Cassidy, look out!” shouts Jacob.

One of the metal hooks in the corner of the awning sweeps down toward our table, shattering the pitcher of water right in front of my seat.

I jump back just in time, avoiding all of the glass and most of the water.

Mom and Dad gasp, and Pauline’s on her feet, one hand clutching the front of her blouse in surprise. Anton and Annette shake their heads and examine the broken awning, exchanging a flurry of French.

A waiter rushes out, full of apologies as he sweeps up the damage. He moves us to another table, and everyone tries to shake off the strangeness of the incident.

Mom keeps fussing over me, checking me for cuts. I assure her I’m okay, even though I’m feeling a little dizzy. I look back at our old table. It could have been nothing. A faulty screw in the awning. An old piece of cloth. Bad luck. But what about the rush of cold I felt, right before the awning broke? What was that? A warning?

“Do you think you’re becoming psychic now?” asks Jacob.

Even though I’m 90 percent sure that’s not in the in-betweener job description, I text Lara under the table.

Me:

Hey

Me:

Do people like us have any other powers?





A few moments later, Lara texts back.

Lara:

Some are intuitive. The more time they spend in the in-between, the stronger their spectral senses get.

Lara:

Why do you ask?





I hesitate before writing back.

Me:

Just curious.

Lara:





Jacob looks over my shoulder. “Ha!” he says. “It looks just like her.”





I have to hand it to the French: They really love dessert.

As we walk to the next location, we pass: shops devoted to chocolate; four window displays of small cakes as intricate and detailed as sculptures; countless ice cream carts; and counter after counter filled with tiny, brightly colored cookie sandwiches called macarons, in flavors like rose, caramel, blackberry, and lavender.

Mom buys a box of macarons and offers me one the buttery color of sunshine. I try to focus on the cookie instead of the shaky feeling in my stomach, the stutter step of my pulse, the nagging sense that something is wrong.

When I bite into the macaron, the outside crackles before giving way to soft cream and a bright burst of citrus.

“Like a natural,” says Pauline. “Next you must try escargot.”

Mom and Dad both laugh, which makes me nervous. When I start to ask, Mom pats my shoulder and says, “You don’t want to know.”

Dad leans in and whispers in my ear, “Snails.”

I really hope he’s joking.

“Here we are,” says Mom. “The Luxembourg Gardens.”

“You keep using that word,” says Jacob. “I don’t think it means what you think it means.”

He’s got a point. These gardens look like they were designed using complicated math.

Massive trees, their tops cut into parallel lines, lead like giant green walls to another huge palace. The packed-sand paths carve the lawns into geometric shapes, their edges trimmed with roses and dotted by statues. The grass is so short and so smooth, I can imagine someone down on their hands and knees, trimming it blade by blade with a tiny pair of scissors.

Mom veers left, ducking onto a wooded path, and we follow. The sand crackles beneath our shoes as we walk, and then Mom stops and lowers herself onto a bench.

“Do you want to hear a story?” she says, her voice soft and sweet and creepy.

And just like that, we all shuffle closer. Mom has always had that power over people, always been the kind of storyteller who makes her listeners lean in.

Even Pauline can’t really hide her interest. Her hand drifts to her collar as she listens, the way it has a few times today. A nervous tic, I think. Though it’s strange. After all, she said she’s a skeptic—what does she have to be nervous about?

Anton has started filming, and when Mom speaks again, she’s not just talking to us but to an invisible audience.

“One lovely evening in 1925, a gentleman sat on a bench here in the Jardin du Luxembourg”—she pauses to pat the seat beside her—“enjoying a book in the fine weather, when a man in a black coat came up and invited him to his home for a concert. The gentleman accepted, and followed the man in black back to his apartment, where he found a party in full swing, and passed the night with music and wine and excellent company.”

Mom flashes a mischievous grin and sits forward. “In the early hours of the morning, the gentleman left, but shortly after, he realized he was missing his cigarette lighter and returned to collect it. But when he arrived, he found the place dark, the doors and windows boarded shut. It was a neighbor who told him that a musician had once lived there, but that he’d died more than twenty years before.”

A little shudder runs through me, but this one is simple, the almost-pleasant chill that comes with a good ghost story. Not like what I felt earlier at the café.

“And yet, to this day,” finishes Mom, “if you linger in the park as the sun goes down, you just might be approached by a man in a black coat, extending the same invitation. The only question is, will you accept?”

“Finally!” says Jacob. “A friendly ghost story.”

As Mom rises from the bench, a cold breeze blows past. This one feels like the cool air I felt at the café. I’m fighting back another shiver when sand crackles under feet on the path behind me. I twist around, catching something—someone—in the corner of my eye.

But when I look at the path head-on, no one’s there.

“Did you—” I start, but Jacob has already moved ahead with the rest of the group. I let out an unsteady breath.

“Cass?” calls Dad. “You coming?”

I frown, then jog to catch up.





“If you keep glancing over your shoulder,” says Jacob, “you’re going to hurt your neck.”

He starts walking backward beside me. “Here, I’ll look for you.” He shoves his hands in his pockets and squints into the distance. “You still think we’re being followed?”

“I don’t know,” I say, shaking my head. “Something just feels … off. It has all day.”

“Maybe Mercury is in retrograde.”

I look at him. “What does that mean?”

“I have no idea,” admits Jacob, turning back around, “but I’ve heard people say it when things go wrong.”

I frown. “I don’t think planets have anything to do with this.”

Jacob shrugs, and we walk in silence toward our final location for the day.

The Eiffel Tower isn’t exactly subtle.

You can see it halfway across Paris, a dark lace spire against the sky. Up close, it’s massive. It looms like a giant steel beast over the city.

The park at the tower’s base is brimming with people, all sprawled in the afternoon sun, and the mood is the opposite of spooky. Yet when my parents start filming, I swear the clouds slide in and a light breeze rustles Mom’s hair and casts a shadow on Dad’s face.

They bring the atmosphere with them.

“The Eiffel Tower,” says Dad as Anton films him. “One of the most famous architectural feats and iconic tourist attractions in the world. A marker of history.”

Mom picks up, her voice smooth. “And story.” She glances over her shoulder at the tower before continuing. “Back at the start of the twentieth century, a young American fell in love with a French girl, and after courting her, he took her up the tower to propose. But when he drew out the ring, she was so surprised that she leaped back, slipped over the edge, and fell …”

I swallow, my skin humming with nervous energy. Maybe it’s just the near miss at the café, but the Eiffel Tower suddenly looks like an accident waiting to happen.

“There are a dozen stories just like that,” says Dad, sounding skeptical. “Perhaps they’re simply urban legends.”

“Or perhaps one of them is true,” counters Mom. “Visitors claim to have seen a young woman, perched on the darkened rail, still grinning like a bride.”

A small movement catches the corner of my eye.

It’s Pauline. As Mom and Dad tell the story, her hand drifts up to her collar again. As I watch, she draws something out from beneath her blouse. It’s a silver necklace, a pendant swinging from the end. My heart lurches, and I think of the mirror in my back pocket, ready to dispel any restless spirits.

But then her pendant catches the light, and I see it’s not a mirror, but an ordinary bit of jewelry, a silver disc worn smooth from use. As I watch, she rubs her thumb over it, her lips moving as she whispers something to herself.

“What is that?” I ask, and she shows me the talisman. Most of the details have been worn away, but I can just make out the lines of an eye.

“It’s an old symbol,” she says, “meant to ward off evil.”

“I thought you didn’t believe in this kind of stuff.”

“I don’t,” she answers quickly, waving her hand. “Just a bit of superstition.” I’m not sure I believe her.

“Well,” says Mom, coming over to us and clapping her hands. “Shall we go up?”

I swallow. “Up?” I echo, studying the tower.

Confession: I don’t love heights. I wouldn’t go so far as to say I’m afraid of them, but I’ll never be the girl standing on the ledge, arms spread wide, like that moment in Harry Potter when Harry rides a hippogriff for the first time (movie edition, obviously).

But I also can’t bear the thought of missing out.

It takes two elevators and several sets of stairs, but finally we step out onto the highest viewing platform in Paris. There’s a protective grate, but I hang back. Up here, the air is colder, and I wonder if I’d be able to feel a sudden change in temperature—a warning, if that’s what it was—before something goes wrong. The Eiffel Tower looks like it’s held together with a million nuts and bolts. What would happen if one of them broke? Or a sudden gust of wind forced me toward the edge?

I shake my head to clear it. I’m starting to sound as paranoid as Jacob.

“You say paranoid, I say practical,” counters Jacob.

And then, before I can protest, Mom links her arm through mine and draws me closer to the edge. As Dad rests his hand on my shoulder, I forget to be afraid. The entire city sprawls beneath me, as far as I can see, white, and gold, and green, and I know there is no photo in this world that can capture this view.

And for a moment, I forget about the ghosts that supposedly haunt this tower. For a moment, I almost forget the eerie, off-kilter feeling of being followed.

For a moment, Paris is simply magical.

“Just wait,” says Jacob cheerfully. “I’m sure something will go wrong.”





The crew hands Mom and Dad the day’s footage so they can review it, and Pauline kisses each of us twice, once on each cheek, and slips away into the late-afternoon light. Mom and Dad decide we should have a picnic in the hotel room. We stop by a street market and buy bread, cheese, sausages, and fruit. Mom hums, shopping bags swinging from her fingers. Dad has a baguette under his arm, and I snap a photo of them, smiling to myself.

By the time we get back to the hotel, it feels like we’ve walked across the whole city. We climb to the room on aching legs, and I’m the last one through.

“Cass, get the door,” says Mom, her arms full of food.

I nudge the door shut with my foot and tug the camera strap over my head, retreating to the little bedroom. Jacob and I flop down on my bed.

What a strange day, I think.

“Even stranger than usual,” admits Jacob.

I roll over with a groan, and I’m just reaching for one of the comics in my bag when Mom’s voice cuts through the suite.

“Cassidy!”

Jacob sits up. “That doesn’t sound good.”

My mom has a lot of voices. There’s the I’m proud of you voice. The You’re late for dinner voice. The I need to talk to you about this life-changing decision your father and I have made voice. And then there’s the You are in so much trouble voice.

That’s the one Mom’s using.

I head into the main room and find her standing, arms crossed, by the hotel room door. It’s open.

“What did I ask you to do?” she snaps, and I look from her to the door in confusion.

“I closed it!” I say, glancing toward Jacob, who only shrugs.

“Don’t look at me,” he says. “I didn’t open it.”

And I don’t really understand the big deal until I hear Dad out in the hall, calling “Here, kitty, kitty” and rattling Grim’s food dish.

Uh-oh.

“He got out?” I cry.

Here’s the thing: Grim isn’t a normal cat. He’s not a hunter, and not even all that fast. Back home, he moved around about as much as a loaf of bread. So even if I did leave the door open, which I know I didn’t, the chances of him going anywhere are slim to none.

And yet, he’s not here.

And he’s not in the hallway, either.

We split up. Dad makes his way up the stairs toward the third floor, Mom heads down to the lobby, and Jacob and I comb the space between.

How did he get out? Why did he get out? Grim’s never shown much interest in the outside world—the few times he wandered beyond our front porch, he made it as far as the nearest patch of sun before sprawling out on his back to take a nap.

“Grim?” I call softly.

“Grim!” echoes Jacob.

My throat tightens a little. Where is he?

We look behind potted plants and under tables, but there’s no sign of the cat on the second floor, or the first. No sign as we reach the lobby, where Mom’s talking to the concierge, and I decide to check the salon where we had breakfast. It’s out of service for the night, but one of the glass doors is open a crack. A gap just large enough for a cat.

I slip through, Jacob on my heels. I paw at the wall, searching for the light switch, but I can’t find one. Even though the curtains have been pulled shut, the Rue de Rivoli shines through, just enough light to see by.

“Grim?” I call softly, trying to keep my voice steady as I creep between the tables.

And then, between one step and the next, I suck in a breath. It’s like hitting a patch of cold air. A sudden shiver rolls through me.

“Jacob—”

Ding … ding … ding …

Jacob and I both look up. A chandelier hangs overhead, crystals chiming faintly as they sway.

Jacob and I glance at each other.

My look says, Was that you?

And his says, Are you crazy?

The cold gets worse, and as I watch, the tablecloth begins to slide from a nearby table, dragging the place settings with it. I lunge toward it, a fraction too late. The plates and silverware go crashing to the floor, and a second later, a shape darts through the darkness to my left. It’s shadow on shadow, too dark to see, but one thing’s for certain.

It’s larger than a cat.

Before I can follow it, Jacob calls out, “Found him!”

I turn back, and see Jacob on his hands and knees on the other side of the room, looking beneath a chair.

Sure enough, there’s Grim.

But when I get close, he hisses.

Grim never hisses, but now he looks up at me, his green eyes wide and his ears thrown back, fangs bared. And when I reach for him, he darts past me, through Jacob’s outstretched hands and out of the salon. We chase after him into the lobby, where the very displeased desk clerk who checked us in yesterday catches him by the scruff of the neck.

She turns toward Mom.

“I believe,” she says curtly, “this belongs to you.”

Mom scowls at the cat. “I’m so sorry,” she says, taking the thoroughly unhappy Grim, turning her glare on me. “It won’t happen again.”

But as I follow her back upstairs, all I can think is, I’m sure I closed our door.





Mom and Dad set out the makeshift picnic on the low coffee table, and the tension dissolves as we sit on pillows on the floor, eating apples and cheese and fresh baguette. As my parents discuss the day’s filming, my mind wanders back again and again to the cold. I felt it at lunch, right before the awning broke, and again on the path in the gardens, and again downstairs in the salon. And every time, it came with the feeling, just as strong, that I wasn’t alone.

Something certainly spooked Grim. He’s handled it by collapsing into a fluffy mound, snoring softly at the foot of my bed.

What did he see? What did I see?

I think of the shadow in the salon. Maybe it was a trick of the eye, streetlights making shapes …

“You okay, Cass?” asks Mom. “You look a mile away.”

I manage a smile. “Sorry,” I say. “Just tired.”

I push up from the table and grab my phone.

I need a second opinion.

I text Lara.

Me:

Can you talk?

Me:

Need help.





Ten seconds later, the phone rings.

I head for the bathroom, and Jacob follows me inside. He’s careful to keep his back to the mirror as I close the door and answer.

“Cassidy Blake,” says a prim English voice. “In trouble already?”

I hit the video chat button, and after a second of buffering, Lara Chowdhury appears on-screen. She’s sitting in a high-back chair, a cup of tea balanced on a stack of books beside her.

Her attention flicks to Jacob. “I see you still have your pet ghost.”

Jacob scowls. “Jealous you don’t have one, too?”

“Lay off,” I say, addressing both of them.

Lara sighs and leans her head on one hand. Her black hair is pulled up in a messy bun on top of her head. It’s the first time anything about Lara could be described as messy, and—

“Are those … Harry Potter pajamas?” I ask.

She looks down at herself. “Just because they’re blue and bronze—”

“They’re totally Harry Potter pajamas, aren’t they?”

Lara bristles. “They’re comfortable. If they just happen to accurately represent my chosen house—” She shakes her head and changes course. “How’s Paris?”

“Haunted.”

“Tell me about it,” she says. “I was there last summer, and I certainly had my hands full. Where have you been so far?”

“The Tuileries, the Luxembourg Gardens, the Eiffel Tower. Oh, and the Catacombs.”

“You went into the Catacombs?” Lara sounds almost impressed.

“Yeah,” I say. “It wasn’t that bad. I mean, don’t get me wrong, it wasn’t a day at the beach, but with so many skeletons, I thought it would be worse …”

Lara shrugs. “Graveyards are usually pretty quiet.”

“I know, but since the bodies were disturbed, I thought—”

“Oh, please,” says Lara, “if ghosts got riled up every time their bones were moved, there wouldn’t be room in the in-between.”

“But the Catacombs are haunted,” I say.

“Of course they’re haunted,” says Lara. “All of Paris is haunted. But I’m sure the Catacombs aren’t six-million-angry-spirits haunted.” Lara straightens in her chair. “Well? You didn’t call just to catch up.”

“No.” I chew my lip. “Something weird is going on.”

I tell her about the awning breaking at lunch, the sense of being followed, Grim getting out, and the tablecloth that moved in the salon—not to mention the shadow. And I tell her about the cold rush I felt right before each one.

Lara’s eyes narrow as I talk. “Cassidy,” she says slowly, when I’m done. “You might have attracted a poltergeist.”

She sounds nervous. Which makes me nervous.

“What’s a poltergeist?” asks Jacob.

“It’s a spirit drawn to spectral energy,” says Lara, keeping her attention on me. “It was probably dormant until it sensed yours, Cassidy.” Her eyes flick toward Jacob. “Or his. That cold sensation you’ve been feeling, it is a kind of intuition, a warning that strong spirits are near.”

“Okay,” I say, perching on the bathtub. “But a poltergeist is just a kind of ghost, right?”

“A very dangerous kind of ghost,” says Lara. “They feed on chaos.”

“Cassidy!” calls Mom, knocking on the door. “Everything all right in there?”

“Yep!” I call back. “Just brushing my teeth.” I lower my voice as I turn back to Lara. “But how can a poltergeist cause trouble in the real world? Shouldn’t it be locked in the Veil?”

Lara pinches the bridge of her nose. “Poltergeists are wanderers. They’re not stuck in a loop or a memory, and they aren’t tied to the place they died. They’ve come loose from the in-between. They can move freely through it, and even reach across the Veil into our world.”

“Like the Raven in Red,” I say, recalling the ghostly woman who haunted Edinburgh, stealing its children before she stole my life.

“Yes,” says Lara. “And no. Even the Raven couldn’t leave the in-between until she had your life. That’s why she had to lure you in. But poltergeists already have one foot on either side. So congratulations, you’ve managed to wake something even more dangerous.”

My stomach drops at the thought. The Raven wasn’t exactly a piece of cake.

“It’s like a video game,” says Jacob, “where the boss on each level is harder to beat.”

Lara frowns. “That’s an overly simplistic way of looking at this. But I suppose so.”

“Okay,” I say, mind spinning. “But a poltergeist is still a spirit. So I just need to find it and send it back.”

“Yes,” says Lara. “As soon as possible. Poltergeists start with little things, acts of mischief, but eventually they turn to menace and then mayhem. Violence.” I think of the torn awning, the glass shattering on the table, how lucky I was I didn’t get cut. “They don’t have any qualms about hurting people, even killing them,” warns Lara. “And the more trouble a poltergeist causes, the more powerful they get.” She looks to Jacob, and then back at me, her next words pointed. “Spirits this strong have no place in our world, Cassidy. Every minute they’re loose, they cause damage to the balance, and the Veil.”

Jacob looks down at the floor, hands closing into fists. We both know she’s talking about more than the poltergeist.

I clear my throat. “Well, great,” I say, “thanks for the pep talk. Sure you don’t want to make a trip down to Paris?”

A sad smile flickers across Lara’s face. “I wish,” she says. “But I’m here, if you need me. And, Cassidy?”

“Yeah?”

“Do be careful. And, you”—she glares at Jacob—“as long as you’re here, make yourself useful.”

She hangs up, and I’m left staring down at the darkened screen.

“You know,” says Jacob dryly, “I think she’s starting to like me.”

I sigh and kick him out so I can brush my teeth for real.

I need my sleep—tomorrow I’m going to hunt a poltergeist.

By the time I climb into bed, Jacob’s nowhere to be seen. He doesn’t stick around at night, but the truth is, I don’t know where he goes.

Sometimes, even psychic ghost best friends have secrets.





Something jerks me out of a heavy, dreamless sleep.

I don’t know what it is—a weight on the edge of my bed, Grim walking around—only that I’m awake, and the room is dark. The night is still thick beyond my window. My door is ajar, and I hold my breath and listen, straining to hear something, anything—Dad’s snoring, the ambient sounds of late-night tourists on the street—but the suite is unnaturally quiet.

Until I hear the click of a lock, the faint groan of the hotel door swinging open.

The poltergeist.

Thin red light spills in from the hall, and I’m on my feet, padding barefoot through the dark. By the time I reach the doorway, the crimson glow is sliding down the stairs. I step into the hall and reach for my mirror pendant, only to realize I’m not wearing it. I must have left the necklace on the bedside table. As I turn back to get it, the hotel door swings shut, locking me out.

A draft rolls down the hall, sudden and cold, and I fight back a shiver.

“Cassidy …”

My name is a whisper on the air, faint and far away, but I know that voice.

“Jacob?” I call out, trying to keep my voice low.

“Cassidy …” he calls again, his voice drifting up through the floor. Something crashes, and I hurry toward the stairs, sure that the poltergeist has Jacob, that he’s in danger.

Hold on, Jacob, I think, plunging down the stairs. Hold on, hold on.

They don’t have any qualms about hurting people, Lara said.

Hold on.

With every downward step, the temperature falls.

By the second floor, I’m cold.

By the first, I’m shivering.

“Jacob?” I call again, my breath fogging in front of me as I reach the lobby, slipping on the marble floor. I scramble to my feet, ready to fight, ready to save my best friend—

But there’s no one else here.

No poltergeist attacking him, only Jacob, on his knees in the center of the lobby. His head is in his hands as the air around him churns into a frenzy. The chandelier swings, and the paintings shake, and a chair scrapes across the floor, and I realize with horror that all of it is coming from him.

“Jacob!” I shout over the howling wind. “Can you hear me?”

He lets out a low groan. “What’s happening to me?” His voice sounds strange and hollow. “Cassidy …”

He trails off, the color seeping out of his clothes, his skin. Water drips from his hair, his jeans, pooling around him on the marble floor until he looks the way he did that one time I saw him in a mirror.

He looks gray and wet and lost.

He looks dead.

No. No. No.

“Cassidy!” calls a voice, but it’s not coming from Jacob.

It’s Lara.

She’s standing behind the front desk, bracing herself against the worst of the chaos, her black braid whipping in the wind. Lara, who always seems to have an answer, who always knows what to do. But her eyes aren’t wide with worry. They’re furious.

“I warned you this would happen!” she calls, her voice warping from the force of Jacob’s whirlwind. “I told you he was getting stronger.”

I duck as a vase shatters against the pillar over my head, raining down shards of glass and broken flowers that are then yanked back up before they ever hit the marble floor.

“Cass!” screams Lara as the chaos in the lobby reaches a high, keening pitch. “You have to send him on.”

But I can’t. I won’t. There has to be another way.

Jacob curls in on himself at the center of the storm, and I try to get closer, to grab his hand, to pull him back from wherever he is. I can save him. I know if I can just get close enough—but the whirlwind around him is too strong, and it slams me backward until I hit a marble pillar and—

I sit up, gasping in the dark.

It was just a bad dream.





“You’re acting weird,” says Jacob the next morning.

He looks like Jacob again. No ghoulish face, no empty eyes, no pool of water at his feet, just my best friend in all his semitransparent glory. I wish I could throw my arms around him. Instead, I do my best to clear my mind, grateful he can’t read my dreams as well as my thoughts.

“Just tired,” I say as we step off the Metro.

The truth is, my morning isn’t off to the best start.

I nearly jumped out of my chair at breakfast when someone in the salon dropped a coffeepot. No spirit activity there, just a server with slippery fingers. I know not everything is a portent of danger, but it still put me on edge.

I tried to shake it off, but it only got worse. As we were leaving the hotel, a car alarm went off down the street. And then another, and another, the horns blaring like dominoes.

“Bit nervous this morning?” asked Dad, patting my shoulder as I squinted through the crowded sidewalk, trying to catch sight of whoever triggered the first one. I thought about cutting through the Veil—but I couldn’t, not in front of my parents, Pauline, and the film crew.

Now we step through the cemetery gates, and I feel the temperature dip.

“Are you catching a cold?” asks Mom when she sees me pull my sweater close against the chill.

“Maybe,” I say, shoving my hands in my pockets and clutching the mirror necklace. I feel like my nerves are wound tight enough to—

A tree branch crashes to the ground on the path in front of us.

Mom jumps, her arm holding me back.

“That was close,” she says, looking down at the branch.

“Way too close,” I mutter.

What was it Lara said? First comes mischief, then menace, then mayhem.

I need to take care of things before they escalate.

And a graveyard seems like a good place to start.





I study the large paper unfolded in Mom’s hands.

“What kind of cemetery needs a map?” I ask.

She beams at me, eyes bright. “A very, very big one.”

That, it turns out, is an understatement.

Père Lachaise is like a city within a city. There are even street signs, blocks, neighborhoods. Cobbled paths wind between graves. Some graves are low, like stone caskets, and others looming, like small houses side by side. Some of the crypts are new and others are old, some sealed while others yawn open, and here and there old trees threaten to unbury tombs, roots pushing up between—and beneath—the stone.

There’s no anger in this place.

Just a shallow wave of sadness, and loss.

“Cass,” says Mom, “don’t wander off.”

And for once, it doesn’t feel like an idle warning. This place is huge, and it’s too easy to imagine getting lost. But that also means my parents won’t notice if I slip away.

I fall back a little with every step, finally stopping to linger among the tombstones.

If I were a poltergeist, where would I be?

“Here, ghosty ghosty,” calls Jacob.

I look up and see him perching on a large stone angel, one leg dangling over the edge and the other drawn up, his elbow resting on his knee. As I lift the camera to snap a photo, he strikes a pensive posture, surveying the cemetery.

The camera clicks, and I wonder if he’ll show up on the film.

There was a time when I knew he wouldn’t. Now I’m not so sure. I think of the last photo from Edinburgh, the one I keep tucked in the pocket of my camera bag. In it, Jacob and I are standing on opposite sides of a window. Me in the shop and him on the street, each of us turning to look at the other.

He’s not really there, in the glass.

But he’s not not there, either.

It could have been a trick of the light, a warped reflection.

But I don’t think it was.

Spirits this strong have no place in our world.

Lara’s warning fuses with her words from my nightmare.

You have to send him on.

Jacob clears his throat.

“Well,” he says, jumping down from his perch. “No poltergeist.”

“No,” I say, looking around. “Not here …”

Jacob frowns. “I don’t like the way you said that.”

Up ahead, Mom and Dad stop in front of a crypt, Anton and Annette readying their cameras, and I see my chance. I tug the mirror from my pocket.

“Come on,” I whisper, reaching for the Veil. “If the poltergeist won’t come to us, we’ll go to the poltergeist.”





I’m plunged from something into nothing and back again, all in the time it takes to blink.

My feet land back on the cobblestone path, and Père Lachaise stretches out again, a ghost of its former self. Tendrils of fog curl around my legs, and the cemetery is vast and gray and eerily still. I draw the mirror from my pocket, wrapping the cord around my wrist as Jacob appears beside me. He looks around, nose crinkling a little.

“What is it with graveyards and mist?” he asks, kicking at the cloudy air around our feet.

“A-plus for atmosphere,” I say.

Nearby, a crypt door swings on a broken hinge. Across the path, a crow caws and takes flight.

“I’ll take creepy Halloween soundtracks for two hundred,” mutters Jacob.

But for all the moodiness of this place, it’s quiet.

The thing about cemeteries is that they’re not as haunted as you’d think. Sure, there are a few ghosts here and there, but most restless spirits are bound to the place where they died, not the place where they’re buried.

So it shouldn’t be that hard to find our restless spirit.

As long as it wants to be found.

“And if it doesn’t?” asks Jacob.

Which is a good question.

How do you lure out a poltergeist?

“Maybe if we ignore it, it’ll just lose interest in us and go away.”

“It’s not a bee, Jacob. And you heard Lara. The longer the poltergeist is out, the more chaos it will cause. Which is bad on its own, and worse since this particular spirit seems intent on bothering us.”

I scan the tombs.

“Hello?” I call out, gripping the mirror pendant.

“What do you think a poltergeist looks like?” whispers Jacob. “Is it human? A monster? An octopus?”

“An octopus?”

He shrugs. “More arms, more misch—”

I lurch toward him, pressing my hand over his mouth. His eyebrows shoot up in confusion.

I heard something.

We stand, perfectly silent, perfectly still. And then it comes again.

A child’s voice.

“Un … deux … trois …” it says in a singsong way.

The graveyard begins to fill with a soft red light, and a cold wind blows over my skin.

I can hear the shuffle of steps, small shoes skittering across a path. I turn just in time to see a shadow dart between the crypts.

“… quatre … cinq …” the voice continues, and I really wish I spoke French.

“Come out!” I call. “I just want to talk.”

“… sept …” continues the voice, now behind me.

I spin, but there’s no one there, only tombstones.

“… huit …” Its voice is softer now, drifting away, taking the strange red light with it.

“Pretty shy for a spirit,” says Jacob.

I chew my lip. He’s right. For all the tricks the poltergeist has pulled, I haven’t caught more than a glimpse of it. And if I want to catch this ghost, I’m going to have to get it to come to me.

“How do you plan on doing that?” asks Jacob. “Do you have any poltergeist bait lying around?”

I rub my temples. What did Lara say?

They thrive on creating trouble. Making mischief.

Okay. So I just need to give the ghost a chance to make some. I look up at the crypts, some of them as tall as houses.

Jacob reads my mind, and then says, “No.”





“This is a terrible idea,” says Jacob as I hoist myself up on top of the grave.

“You always say that.”

I look down. I’m only two or three feet off the ground. Not high enough. I grab the carved corner of the nearest crypt and begin to climb higher.

“Yeah, and I’m usually right,” he calls up. “What does that say about your ideas?”

My shoes slip on the side of the crypt, but finally I haul myself up and straighten, balancing on the gabled roof. I scan the graveyard.

“Come out, come out, wherever you are,” I call.

Nothing happens.

I will myself to walk along the pointing roof, moving closer to the edge. I hold my breath and wait.

“Oh well,” says Jacob, shifting from foot to foot, “you tried your best. Guess you better come on down and …” He trails off as the voice returns, suddenly much closer.

“… dix.”

A flush of cold brushes my skin and a tile slips somewhere behind me, shattering on a tombstone below. The sound sends spectral crows into flight, and I turn toward the crash and see him, standing on the top of a tombstone ten feet away.

The poltergeist.

I don’t know what I expected.

A monster, perhaps. A shadow creature seven feet tall, all claws and teeth.

But it’s just a boy.

A little kid, maybe six or seven, with curly brown hair and a round face smudged with dirt. He’s dressed in old-fashioned clothes, a button-down shirt and trousers that bunch around his bony knees. His edges flicker a little, as if he’s not entirely here, but it’s his eyes that stop me.

They aren’t brown, or blue, but red.

The red of a burning ember, or a flashlight against a palm. The kind of red that glows, casting a crimson light on the graves, and the crypts, and the fog.

“Found you,” I say, and the boy smiles at me, right before he moves. Not the way a boy should be able to move, one foot in front of the other. No. It’s like he’s not bound by the rules of this place, and in the time it takes me to blink, he skips forward. One second he’s standing on a crypt ten feet away. The next, he’s a foot away, perching on the gabled roof.

“Now!” urges Jacob, and my hand flies up, the mirror pendant right in front of the boy’s face.

His red eyes widen as he gazes into the glass, lost in his reflection.

“Watch and listen,” I recite. “See and know. This is what you are.”

I reach for the thread in his chest, but when my hand hits his shirt, it doesn’t go through. He’s still solid, or as close as a ghost can get. I clear my throat, my fingers tightening on the mirror as I start again.

“Watch and listen,” I say, trying to make my voice forceful. “See and—”

But the boy frowns, his red eyes flicking from the mirror up to my face, as if it has no hold on him.

That’s not possible, I think.

Right before he shoves me off the roof.





There’s this moment when you start to fall, when you think, Maybe everything will be okay.

Maybe I’ll catch my balance. Maybe a hand will steady me. Maybe something soft will break my fall.

In this case, it doesn’t.

I’m falling, and somewhere between the edge of the roof and the lawn below, I cross back through the Veil and land hard on the ground beside the crypt. The fall knocks all the air from my lungs and sends pain jolting up through my right arm, and for a second all I can do is blink away the stars and hope I didn’t break anything.

Jacob appears, looming over me, and he’s worried enough that the first words out of his mouth aren’t even “I told you so” but “Are you okay?”

I sit up, dazed, and grateful that my head missed the sharp corner of the nearest tombstone. My elbow zings and my fingers tingle, but as far as I can tell, I haven’t broken anything. Including my camera.

Small miracles.

I groan, wishing Jacob were solid enough to help me to my feet. Instead, I get up, rubbing my arm. “I’m okay.”

“Good,” says Jacob, glancing back toward the crypt. “What happened up there?”

I look up, and for a second I can still see the boy’s outline, a faint impression of the poltergeist scowling down at me from the roof. An afterimage, like a flash, against my eyes, but when I blink, it’s gone.

“The mirror didn’t work.”

“Why not?” presses Jacob. “Is it busted? Or fogged up or something?”

I check, but my reflection looks back, sharp and clear—and confused.

“What about the words?” asks Jacob. “Did you say them right?”

I did. I did everything right.

So why didn’t it work?

I loop the necklace over my head and tuck the pendant beneath my collar. And then I do the only thing I can think of.

I call Lara.





“Wait, wait, slow down,” she says.

Jacob and I have been talking over each other from the moment Lara picked up the phone. “What do you mean the mirror didn’t work?”

I walk faster, scouring the graveyard in case my parents are close by. “I mean, it didn’t work.”

Voices rise up somewhere to my right. Mom and Dad.

“Well, you must have done something wrong,” says Lara. I spot my parents down one of the branching paths, narrating in front of a tombstone while Anton and Annette film them.

“I did everything you taught me,” I snap. Pauline looks over her shoulder and holds a slim, manicured finger to her lips. “I cornered the poltergeist,” I say, lowering my voice. “I held up the mirror, I said the words, and then he just looked up. At my face.”

“And then he pushed her off a roof!” adds Jacob.

“What were you doing on a roof?” demands Lara.

“It doesn’t matter,” I hiss, rubbing my arm, which is still sore from the fall. “What matters is that this poltergeist is still out there, and he’s apparently immune to mirrors.”

Lara exhales, and I can practically hear her pinching the bridge of her nose.

“Okay, okay,” she says softly, obviously talking more to herself than to me. “I’ll go talk to Uncle Weathershire and call you back. In the meantime, just stay out of the Veil, and on your guard.”

As if on cue, the corner of a tombstone crumbles near the film crew. Anton jumps out of the way and nearly falls through the glass of an open crypt door.

Jacob and I exchange a look, and then turn toward the phone, and Lara.

“Hurry.”





“Come on, Lara,” I mutter, tapping the phone against my palm.

It’s been an hour, and she still hasn’t called back.

The crew finished filming at Père Lachaise, and we headed for the Metro. Now I hold my breath as we make our way down to the platform, waiting for something to go wrong, hoping it won’t. It’s stuffy on the train, but I lie to Mom, telling her I’m cold, and she lends me the extra sweater she always keeps in her bag. I wrap it around me, pulling it close even though I’m sweating under all the fabric.

“What exactly are you doing?” asks Jacob as my cheeks flush from the heat.

So far the only warning I have that the poltergeist is near is that flush of cold. I want to be sure I can feel it.

“You’re turning yourself into a ghost thermometer.”

I pull the sleeves down over my hands. Basically.

The lights flicker overhead, and I nearly jump out of my seat. But there’s no flash of cold, no warning chill, and a second later the lights come back on.

“That happens sometimes on trains,” says Mom, scooting closer. “But don’t worry. I doubt this car is haunted.”

She says it breezily, but my stomach tightens, a reminder that the poltergeist isn’t the only thing I have to worry about. The Veil is still ebbing and flowing around me, ready to drag me under the second I let my guard down. Jacob inches closer until our shoulders almost touch.

“Not on my watch,” he says.

We get off at a station called Opéra and step onto the street in front of a giant stone building with more piping than a wedding cake. This, according to Dad, is the Palais Garnier. The Paris Opera House.

“I thought The Phantom of the Opera was just a Broadway show,” I say.

“It is,” says Dad.

“But you’re saying there really is a phantom here?”

“I’m saying there’s a story.”

“Most tales are inspired by something,” says Mom, craning her neck.

We walk inside the opera house. The entire gallery is made of marble, the swirls of white-and-gray stone interrupted only by massive iron candelabras. The stairs are straight out of Hogwarts, giant steps that split off to the left and the right, as if leading up to the house common rooms. As we step into the auditorium, Jacob lets out a low, appreciative whistle. It’s full of red velvet seats and balconies, every surface covered in gold.

Mom, Dad, Pauline, and the crew head down into the chambers beneath the opera. I decide to sit this one out, sinking into one of the velvet seats with the leftover macarons from yesterday. Dad shoots me one last stay put look as they retreat down the aisle.

I watch as a handful of workers onstage maneuver pieces of a set. I get glimpses of the unfinished bits, the cables and ropes and undersides exposed. Soon, the set pieces come together into what looks like the front of a mansion.

“This is