It is just a storm, he tells himself, but he is tired of looking for shelter.

It is just a storm, but there is always another waiting in its wake.

It is just a storm, just a storm—but tonight it is too much, and he is not enough, and so he crosses the roof, doesn’t slow until he can see over the side, doesn’t stop until the tips of his shoes graze empty air.

And that is where the stranger finds him.

That is where the darkness makes an offer.

Not for a lifetime—for a single year.

It will be easy to look back and wonder how he could have done it, how he could have given away so much for so little. But in the moment, shoes already skimming night, the simple truth is that he would have sold his soul for less, would have traded an entire life of this for just a day—an hour, a minute, a moment—of peace.

Just to numb the pain inside his chest.

Just to quiet the storm inside his head.

He is so tired of hurting, so tired of being hurt. And that is why, when the stranger holds out his hand, and offers to pull Henry back from the edge, there is no hesitation.

He simply says yes.

New York City

July 29, 2014


Now it all makes sense.

He makes sense.

This boy, who could never sit still, never waste time, never put off a single thing. This boy, who writes down every word she says, so she’ll have something when he’s gone, who doesn’t want to lose even a single day, because he doesn’t have that many more.

This boy she’s falling in love with.

This boy, who will soon be gone.

“How?” she asks. “How could you give up so much for so little?”

Henry looks up at her, his face hollow.

“In that moment,” he says, “I would have given it for less.”

A year. It seemed like so long, once.

Now it is no time at all.

A year, and it is almost up, and all she can see is the curve of Luc’s smile, the triumphant color of his eyes. They were not clever, they were not lucky, they were not slipping past his notice. He knew, of course he knew, and he let it come to this.

He let her fall.

“Addie, please,” says Henry, but she is already up, already moving across the bar.

He tries to grab her hand, but he is too late.

She is already out of reach.

Already gone.

* * *

Three hundred years.

She has survived three hundred years, and in those centuries, there have been so many times when the ground gave way, moments when she could not catch her balance or her breath. When the world left her feeling lost, broken, hopeless.

Standing outside her parents’ house, that night after the deal.

On the docks in Paris, where she learned what a body was worth.

Remy, pressing the coins into her palm.

Soaked through, at the ruined stump of Estele’s oak tree.

But in this moment, Addie isn’t lost, or broken, or hopeless.

She is furious.

She shoves her hand into her pocket, and of course the ring is there. It is always there. Grains of sand flake from the smooth wooden surface as Addie slides the band over her knuckle.

It’s been forty years since she last wore it, but the ring slips effortlessly on.

She feels the wind, like a cool breath at her back, and turns, expecting to find Luc.

But the street is empty—empty, at least, of shadows and promises and gods.

She twists the ring around her finger.


“Show yourself!” she shouts down the block.

Heads turn, but Addie doesn’t care. They’ll forget her soon enough, and even if she weren’t a ghost, this is New York, a place immune to the actions of a stranger in the street.

“Dammit,” she swears. She wrenches the ring from her finger, and hurls it down the road, hears it bounce, and roll. And then the sound suddenly drops away. The nearest streetlight flickers out, and a voice comes from the dark.

“All these years, and you still have such a temper.”

Something brushes her neck, and then a silver thread, thin as dew shine, the same one snapped so long ago, shimmers on her collar.

Luc’s fingers trail along her skin. “Have you missed me?”

She turns to shove him away, but her hands pass straight through, and then he is behind her. When she tries a second time, he is as solid and unyielding as rock.

“Undo it,” she snaps, striking his chest, but her fist barely grazes the front of his shirt before he takes her wrist.

“Who are you to give me orders, Adeline?”

She tries to pull free, but his grip is stone.

“You know,” he says, almost casually, “there was a time when you groveled, pressed yourself against the damp forest soil and pleaded for my intercession.”

“You want me to beg? Then fine. I beg you. Please. Undo it.”

He steps forward, forcing her to step back. “Henry made his deal.”

“He didn’t know—”

“They always know,” says Luc. “They just don’t want to accept the cost. The soul is the easiest thing to trade. It’s the time no one considers.”

“Luc, please.”

His green eyes gleam, not with mischief, or triumph, but power. The shade of someone who knows they’re in control.

“Why should I?” he asks. “Why would I?”

Addie has a dozen answers, but she scrambles to find the right words, the ones that might appease the dark, but before she can find them, Luc reaches out, and lifts her chin, and she expects him to play out their old, tired lines, to mock her, or ask for her soul, but he does neither.

“Spend the night with me,” he says. “Tomorrow. Let us have a proper anniversary. Give me that, and I’ll consider freeing Mr. Strauss from his obligations.” His mouth twitches. “If, that is, you can persuade me.”

It is a lie, of course.

It is a trap, but Addie has no other choice.

“I accept,” she says, and the darkness smiles, and then dissolves around her.

She stands on the sidewalk, alone, until her heart steadies, and then walks back into the Merchant.

But Henry is gone.

* * *

She finds him at home, sitting in the dark.

He’s on the edge of the bed, the blankets still tangled from their afternoon nap. He stares ahead, into the distance, the way he did that summer night on the rooftop, after the fireworks.

And Addie realizes that she is going to lose him, the way she has lost everyone.

And she doesn’t know if she can do it, not again, not this time.

Hasn’t she lost enough?

“I’m sorry,” he whispers as she crosses to him.

“I’m so sorry,” he says, as she runs her fingers through his hair.

“Why didn’t you tell me?” she pleads.

Henry is quiet for a moment, and then he says, “How do you walk to the end of the world?” He looks up at her. “I wanted to hold on to every step.”

A soft, shuddering sigh.

“My uncle had cancer, when I was still in college. It was terminal. The doctors gave him a few months, and he told everyone, and do you know what they did? They couldn’t handle it. They were so caught up in their grief, they mourned him before he was even dead. There’s no way to un-know the fact that someone is dying. It eats away all the normal, and leaves something wrong and rotten in its place. I’m sorry, Addie. I didn’t want you to look at me that way.”