She climbs into bed, and pulls him down beside her.

“I’m sorry,” he’s saying, soft and steady as a prayer.

They lie there, face-to-face, their fingers intertwined.

“I’m sorry.”

And Addie forces herself to ask, “How long do you have left?”

Henry swallows. “A month.”

The words land like a blow on tender skin.

“A little more,” he says. “Thirty-six days.”

“It’s after midnight,” Addie whispers.

Henry exhales. “Then thirty-five.”

Her grip tightens around his, and his tightens back, and they hold on until it hurts, as if any minute someone might try to pull them apart, as if the other might slip free, and disappear.

Occupied France

November 23, 1944


Her back hits the rough stone wall.

The cell grinds shut, and German soldiers laugh beyond the bars as Addie slumps to the floor, coughing blood.

A handful of men huddle in one corner of the cell, slouched and murmuring. At least they don’t seem to care that she’s a woman. The Germans have noticed. Though they caught her dressed in nondescript trousers and coat, though she kept her hair pulled back, she knew by the way they scowled and leered that they could tell her sex. She told them in a dozen different tongues what she would do if they came near, and they laughed, and satisfied themselves with beating her senseless.

Get up, she wills her weary body.

Get up, she wills her tired bones.

Addie forces herself to her feet, stumbles to the front of the cell. She wraps her hands around the frozen steel, pulls at it until her muscles scream, until the bars groan, but they do not move. She pries at the bolts until her fingers bleed, and a soldier slams his hand against the bars and threatens to use her body as kindling.

She is such a fool.

She is a fool for thinking it would work. For thinking that forgettable was the same as invisible, that it would protect her here.

She should have stayed in Boston, where the worst she had to worry about was wartime rations and winter cold. She should never have come back. It was foolish honor, and stubborn pride. It was the last war, and the fact she ran away, fled across the Atlantic instead of facing the danger at home. Because somehow, despite it all, that’s what France will always be.


And somewhere along the way, she decided she could help. Not in an official sense, of course, but secrets have no owner. They could be touched, and traded, by anyone, even a ghost.

The only thing she had to do was not get caught.

Three years of ferrying secrets through Occupied France.

Three years, only to end up here.

In a prison outside Orleans.

And it does not matter that they will forget her face. It does not matter, because these soldiers do not care about remembering. Here, all the faces are strange, and foreign, and nameless, and if she doesn’t get out, she is going to disappear.

Addie sags back against the icy wall and pulls her ragged jacket close. She closes her eyes. She does not pray, not exactly, but she does think of him. She does, perhaps, even wish that it were summer—a July night when he might find her on his own.

The soldiers have searched her, roughly, taken anything she might use to hurt them, or escape. They have taken the ring, too, snapped the leather cord it hung on, cast the wooden band away.

And yet, when she rifles through her ragged clothing, it is still there, waiting like a coin in the crease of her pocket. She is grateful, then, that she cannot seem to lose it. Grateful, as she lifts it to her finger.

For a moment, she falters—twenty-nine years she has had the ring, with all its strings attached.

Twenty-nine years, and she hasn’t used it.

But right now, even Luc’s smug satisfaction would be better than the eternity in a prison cell, or worse.

If he comes.

Those words, a whisper in the back of her mind. A fear she cannot shake. Chicago rising like bile in her throat.

The anger in her chest. The venom in his eyes.

I would rather be a ghost.

She had been wrong.

She does not want to be this kind of ghost.

And so, for the first time in centuries, Addie prays.

She slides the wooden band over her finger, and holds her breath, expects to feel something, a stirring of magic, a rush of wind.

But there is nothing.

Nothing, and she wonders if, after all this time, it was just another trick, a way to lift her hopes, only to drop them, in the chance they might shatter.

She has a curse ready on her tongue, when she feels the breeze—not biting, but warm, cutting through the prison cell, carrying the far-off scent of summer.

The men across the cell stop talking.

They slouch in their corner, awake but inert, staring off into space, as if caught in the throes of some idea. Beyond the cell, the soldiers’ boots stop sounding on the stones, and the German voices drop away like a pebble down a well.

The world goes strangely, impossibly quiet.

Until the only sound is the soft, almost rhythmic tap of fingers trailing along bars.

She has not seen him since Chicago.

“Oh Adeline,” he says, hand drifting down the icy bars. “What a state you’re in.”

She manages a small, pained laugh. “Immortality breeds a high tolerance for risk.”

“There are things worse than death,” he says, as if she does not already know.

He looks around at the prison, brow furrowed in disdain.

“Wars,” he mutters.

“Tell me you are not helping them.”

Luc almost looks offended. “Even I have limits.”

“You bragged to me once about the successes of Napoleon.”

He shrugs. “There is ambition, and there is evil. And as much as I’d like to create a roster of my past exploits, your life is the important one right now.” He leans his elbows on the bars. “How do you plan to get out of this?”

She knows what he wants her to do. He wants her to beg. As if donning the ring were not enough. As if he has not already won this hand, this game. Her stomach knots, and her bruised ribs ache, and she is so thirsty she could cry just to have something to drink. But Addie cannot bring herself to fold.

“You know me,” she says, with a tired smile. “I always find a way.”

Luc sighs. “Suit yourself,” he says, turning his back, and it is too much; she cannot bear the thought of him leaving her here, alone.

“Wait,” she calls desperately, pushing into the bars—only to find the lock undone, the cell door swinging open beneath her weight.

Luc looks back over his shoulder, and he almost smiles, turning toward her just enough to offer up his hand.

She stumbles forward, out of the cell and into freedom, into him. And for a moment, the embrace is only that, and he is solid, and warm, folded around her in the dark, and it would be easy to believe that he is real, that he is human, that he is home.

But then the world cracks wide, and the shadows swallow them whole.

The prison gives way to nothingness, to blackness, to the wild dark. And when it parts, she is back in Boston, the sun just beginning to set, and she could kiss the ground in sheer relief. Addie pulls the jacket close around her, and sinks onto the curb, legs shaking, the wooden band still wrapped around her finger. She called, and he came. She asked, and he answered. And she knows he will hold it over her, and but right now, she does not care.