Nevermore (Nevermore #1) - Chapter 158
A chill of ice air rushed up behind her, causing her to start. The breeze stung her dampened cheeks and combed cold fingers through her hair. She twisted to peer over her shoulder.
Her window. It was open. She frowned, unable to recall having raised it.
The lace curtains fluttered and whispered in the brisk wind, the white gauze of their fabric slipping and uncoiling against the panels of her wall with every swell, creating a sound like the rush of distant waves.
The winds picked up again, growing fiercer, with a hint of the sharp, bitter tang of the oncoming winter. The breeze tugged and jerked at the note in her hand, as if to snatch it from her grasp.
Refolding the paper, Isobel stood with a shudder. She pulled the jacket tightly around herself, wrapping her arms in close. She rounded her bed and went to her window, but paused at the sight of its reflection in her dresser mirror. There, around the square of black and empty night, she watched the white lace curtains flutter and snap. They waved at her like twin ghosts in the wind until, she thought, one took the shape of a familiar figure—a shrouded, translucent form—with skin the perfect whiteness of snow.
He stood on the farthest edge of the cliffs, boots caked in ash.
Like clawed fingers, the black rocks jutted out over the torpid waters far below, pointing toward the distant horizon. A vast motionless sea, canvas white and still as death, spread itself wide and long before him. It met, in the distance, with the thin black line that separated it from a torn violet sky.
At his back stood the skeleton ruins of the once-grand palace, now a crumbling structure forged of forgotten words and thoughts long since given to slumber.
Varen closed his eyes, allowing the dead nothingness around him to numb his mind and still the rhythms of his body until all he knew was the buzz of static, that dull vibration, as familiar to him now as breathing. His concentration drew to the cool, soft sensation of the pink satin ribbon wrapped around one hand, held tight in his fist.
“Is that why you return to this place each night?”
At the sound of her voice, musical and deep, Varen opened his eyes, though he did not turn. If he looked, then he would only be trapped again, lured by that ivory seraphim face framed by those endless waves of black.
His gaze narrowed on the horizon. He held his silence as the winds stirred, brushing his hair from his eyes. It flicked cold fingers at the bare skin of his arms.
“But do not forget that it was she who left you here.”
Far below, the frost white seas began to churn. The waters turned choppy until restless waves lapped at the rocky cliffs, as though to test their resolve to stand.
There was a billow of white gossamer to his left as she floated to stand beside him. The gales picked up with yet more speed, whipping her hair wildly about her face.
Below them, the sea’s voice rose from a whisper to a roar. Waves crashed, throwing themselves as though in suicide upon the pointed rocks.
The wind howled past them, lifting her veils into a violent dance. The satin ribbon rippled and snapped. Varen clutched it tighter.
“Standing here, so alone for so long . . . Do you not grow cold?” he heard her ask.
He stared forward, unblinking, as a knife of blue lightning sliced the sky.
“No,” he said.