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.6486.Well, that isn’t nearly as helpful as I’d hoped, but it’s a pretty solid start.I turn and put up one hand to block the sun while scanning the yard in front of me.And it’s way more than a yard.This house is situated on some serious property and I don’t actually see any other houses.Spindly, leafless trees line the edges of a smooth expanse of snow that I assume covers a grassy lawn.The front walk is shoveled, as is a path to the garage, but I don’t see anything else to help me figure out where I am.The sound of a car zooming by, way faster than a typical residential street, pulls my attention to the left of the house.It’s early morning—the sun barely up over the Eastern hills.Beginning of the morning commute, or as much of a commute as Coldwater can claim.Even though the most direct path toward the sound of vehicles is across the unmarred blanket of snow, I let my feet carry me down the path to the garage instead.Something about knowing that I can affect the physical world—and contemplating the consequences of mysterious broken snow at a crime scene—makes me, I think understandably, wary.I’ll go the long way.Turns out the house isn’t actually that far from the road, but the wind break of aspens is super effective.I step off the long driveway and my heart sinks when I realize it’s not a road; it’s the highway.On the one hand, that means I can trudge no more than one mile in either direction, find a mile marker sign, and know exactly where I have to go.On the other hand, it means borrowing my mom’s car to find the house in real life.Which means lying to my mom.And either being totally weird and not letting Sophie come home with me, or hiding her from Sierra.Being close enough to walk to these people’s house would have been so much more convenient.But it also would have brought the killer closer.Geographically, anyway.As I shuffle along the gray snow banks at the side of the highway I think about how changed Coldwater is after last year’s murders.There’s a wariness in people’s eyes that wasn’t there before.The kids from school tend to hang out in clumps; it’s rare to see anyone high-school-aged walking around town by themselves anymore.Kind of like I am at this moment.Even now it feels weird, even though it’s not real.Maybe it’s better that this murder will be slightly out of town.Which prompts an entirely new round of self-lecturing.It’s not going to happen! The whole point of all of this is to prevent the murder.But deep in my heart I don’t expect everything to happen as planned.After all, nothing has ever happened as planned when I tried to change my visions.In fact, I have a pretty sucky record.But I have Sophie this time, I remind myself.She knows what she’s doing—it’ll be different.Assuming she’s not the killer.Which I do assume.Just … some confirmation would be nice, that’s all.It’s getting harder to walk now and I don’t think it’s because the vision doesn’t want me to figure out where the murder is.I think it’s very simply because I’m getting too far from the murder scene.The original location of the vision.The sensation of walking in deep sand is back and within a few steps it’s joined by the feeling of climbing a steep hill.A little farther, I think, cheering myself on as I struggle to get five more steps so I can see over that little rise up there.Four, three, two, one.I can’t move another inch, but I can see the small green sign! 146.I’m not sure if that’s coming or going, but a little driving around will solve that easily.The most important part is that I know I can find the house again.There’s no reason to trek all the way back to the house; I pull myself out of the vision.I’m sitting on the toilet again, slumped against the wall of the bathroom stall, but I feel fine.A quick glance at my phone tells me that the whole thing took fifteen minutes—I’d have guessed half an hour at least.One of these days I’ll figure out how to judge the differences in time, but evidently, today is not that dayChapter Nine“It’s complicated,” I explain when I meet up with Sophie before the last class of the day and tell her that she can’t come home with me.That I can’t let anyone see us together.It feels sadly like hiding a romantic relationship.“It’s just that my mom doesn’t know about … about me.”The silent O of Sophie’s lips fills me with a blend of guilt and sorrow.The sadness I’m used to.I hate that my mom doesn’t know.Can’t ever know.I’ve always hated that.But now, in addition, I feel awful that a girl I just met does.I mean, with Sierra it was totally different.Sierra had to know, and because we’re family she’s spent her whole life lying to the same I people I’ve been lying to.A sort of mutually assured deception; we shared the crime and the guilt, and it was clearly inescapable.But this? I feel like I’m betraying my mom, sharing my secret with a near-stranger; a secret I can’t share with the person I love most in the whole world.“And—” But I snap my mouth closed.I was going to tell her that my aunt follows the rules.But even saying that much means revealing to Sophie that my aunt is an Oracle.And that’s not fair; it’s not my secret to spill.But at least I can get away with not outright lying about her to Sophie—at least for today.I just won’t say anything at all.“And it’s just easier if we both go home separately and I come pick you up,” I finish lamely, to cover up the fact that I was going to say something else.“I get it,” Sophie says.And even though I can tell she does, I want to make sure she really understands.“I’d like to have you over another time,” I blurt, pulling out my exceptionally rusty social skills.“Just not when we’re in the middle of a … project,” I finish, my eyes darting around as people walk by us.Like I said—rusty.Like one of those abandoned cars that’s more rust than metal.Yep.A ghost of a smile touches Sophie’s lips and she switches her backpack from one shoulder to the other before nodding and saying, “Yeah, sure.”It occurs to me that despite blending in way better than I do, maybe Sophie’s been equally lonely.If her life essentially revolves around her abilities as a Sorceress, what kind of social life can she really have had? Maybe we have more in common than I originally thought—a list that has grown surprisingly long in the last four hours.An unfamiliar glow encompasses me as I pull out my phone and ask for her number and address.Sophie stiffens.“Um, now that I think about it, maybe you coming to my house isn’t such a good idea either.”“How come? I thought your mom knew all about this.”She looks down to where her toe is drawing invisible circles on the linoleum.“She does, but I really, really messed myself up last month [ Pobierz całość w formacie PDF ]