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Trix would die for Jenny or Holly. But please let me live, she thought, looking at Anne. Let us all live.

What would happen afterward, when it was time for Trix and the Banks family to go home, she did not know. But for now, she relished the feel of Anne’s hand in hers and the knowledge that in this world—in this Boston—they had once been happily in love. “Come on,” she said, tugging Anne’s hand. “We should catch up.”

The two women hurried after Sally, Jim, and Jennifer, making their way past Trinity Church and starting across Copley Square. The park in front of the church had been partly converted into a staging area for rescue efforts at a building on Boylston Street that Trix thought had once been the Globe Bar. City workers and civilians alike were pulling apart the rubble of the collapsed building, looking for survivors. From the looks of it, the bar had been destroyed not by being merged with another structure from its parallel Boston but by the quaking of the city during the collision.

“I wish we had time to help them,” Jennifer said.

“So do I,” Sally said. “There are three people still alive in there, and one of them not for much longer.”

“How do you—” Anne began.

“Are you serious?” Jennifer said. “You know that? You can, whatever … sense it? We’ve got to go and tell them.”

Jim looked at her, eyes narrowed in pain. “You can go if you want to, but it won’t help them dig any faster. I’ve got to keep going. My daughter needs me. And my wife, my Jenny. My you. She needs me, too.”

Jennifer flinched. Trix saw the recognition in her eyes, and wondered if her desire to help everyone else sprang solely from her empathy or if it also came from her fear of what they would find ahead. This Jennifer had never married, never had a daughter. Trix couldn’t imagine how the woman felt.

Jennifer held out a hand to Jim. “Let’s go. We can always come back and help. After.”

They cut across the park, headed for the Boston Public Library, its imposingly beautiful façade with its row of arched windows looking out over Copley Square. The McKim Building, the library’s main structure, appeared untouched by the disaster that had shaken the city. Its red tile roof, crested with green copper, had not been disturbed, which mean that the building existed in all three Bostons.

Trix had known that, of course. Sally had told them. The Boston Public Library had been preserved by the people of three cities—with one difference. The Abbey Room, among the best known of the library’s features, boasted richly textured mural paintings by Edwin Austin Abbey, including a series entitled The Quest of the Holy Grail. In the Boston from which Trix and Jim hailed, the room was sixty or seventy feet in length, but in the Irish Boston, the city’s one and only terrorist attack had destroyed half of the room. Instead of restoring it, the architects had decided to separate the unaffected portion of the room with a wall and a door, on the other side of which they designed a new room, filled with paintings by Irish masters. It was meant to be a place of reflection, to honor the seven people who had died that day.

In the heart of the library, the Reflection Room was an island of stability, a place where the parallel cities did not overlap.

That was where the Shadow Men were holding Holly.

Trix took a deep breath, held Anne’s hand more tightly, and followed Jim, Sally, and Jennifer up the library’s front steps, passing between the statues that represented Art and Science. The middle of the three arched doors stood propped open, inviting them in. Holly awaited within.

As for Jenny …

Trix let go of Anne’s hand, giving her a soft smile to let her know that she hadn’t done anything wrong. But as they passed through the doors, she found clarity returning. Anne was a beautiful fantasy, but Trix could not succumb to that dream. Not yet. Not when the Jenny she had always loved still needed her.

She glanced around anxiously as they walked through the vestibule, the pink marble deceptively warm. There were people moving about in the entrance hall, but she glanced within and saw nothing threatening about them, and no trace of the Shadow Men. Jim went in first, and Trix watched the door through which they had entered, just to make sure they would not be attacked from behind. When she walked into the entrance hall, Trix glanced at the vaulted ceiling, imagining that at any moment the Shadow Men would emerge from the tile mosaic and attack.

“Trix,” Jim said, and gestured for her to join them.

The others had gathered a few feet inside the hall and off to the right. The sound of weeping echoed off the walls, and she glanced up to see a grieving woman coming toward the doors, attended by a trio of comforting friends. Moments later, Trix caught sight of a woman who could only be the twin of the one who’d been grieving, and who was apparently following the group but trying not to be seen. She looked bewildered and afraid.

“It’s real,” Trix told her.

“What?” the woman asked, flinching, as though afraid Trix might try to strike her.

“All of this,” Trix said, waving her hand to indicate the women who had just left and the city as a whole. “It isn’t your imagination. It’s just what is now.”

The woman’s eyes widened and she hurried out the door, leaving Trix to wonder if the truth had done the woman good or harm.

“Stay with me,” Sally told them as Trix came to stand between Jennifer and Anne. Her little-girl face seemed anything but innocent now. She was grim and determined. “Veronica must have Shadow Men holding Holly, so be prepared. If they grab you, shake them off. They’ve got to partially solidify to hold you, so fight them. But don’t try to beat them, because you can’t.”

“You’re going to call some of them up, though, right?” Jennifer asked. “Some of your No-Face Men, the ones who answer to you?”

Uncertainty flashed in Sally’s eyes. “I’m going to try. But it takes focus to call them and to command them, and I’m so tired I can barely stand. All of this … it drains me.”

“You’ll do fine,” Jim assured her, one hand on the little girl’s shoulder.

But Sally was looking at Trix for reassurance. Trix smiled. They had bonded a little in the short time they’d known each other. “You’re the Oracle of two Bostons now,” Trix reminded her. “If there’s magic in all of this, you’ve got more of it than ever. You’ll kick ass.”

Sally smiled. “Thanks.”

“Okay,” Jim said. “You heard her. Sally knows exactly what room Holly’s in. We follow her in, get Holly, and let Sally worry about the Shadow Men. And we try not to let them take us into the In-Between.”

“What happens if they get one of us?” Anne asked.

“Let’s just say it would be bad,” Jim replied.

“Bad?” Trix said. “Great. Thanks.”

“We’d turn into them,” Jim explained. “Shadow Men.”

Trix felt sick, a terrible dread spreading like poison in her veins. She tried to shake it off, reaching out to clutch Anne’s hand, but it clung to her and would not be dispelled.

“Ready?” Sally asked.

“Not even close,” Anne said.

Jennifer glanced at her, their faces mirror images. “In some other world, this girl is your daughter.”

Anne shifted uneasily. “I didn’t say I wouldn’t go. Just that I’m not ready. How could anyone ever be ready for this?”

Trix squeezed her hand and glanced at Sally. “Let’s go,” she said.

The atmosphere inside the library crackled with static electricity. Jim wondered if he might be the only one who felt it, and if it sprang from the knowledge that his daughter—his little girl—was so close. During the trek across town, he had forced himself not to hope, and now he put it inside an iron box in his heart and turned the key, not to be released until he held Holly in his arms again.

Jaw set, hands clenched, he marched grimly across the entrance hall, his companions nearly forgotten. A glance into the main reading room showed precisely what he had expected—not the quiet studiousness of an ordinary day but the shock and hushed trauma of the aftermath of catastrophe. People sat on the floor, or at reading carrels, faces buried in their hands or laid upon the shoulder of another, who might try to provide comfort in the midst of their own astonishment and horror. The whole city was like this now, and it would take time for them to wake from this shock-trance and try to see how much of their lives remained.

“Upstairs,” Sally said, nudging him as she passed by and went through the triumphal arch to the marble staircase.

Jennifer, Anne, and Trix followed, but Jim hesitated a moment. Something wasn’t right in the reading room. Something was off, a sense that no one there was concentrating on whatever they appeared to be doing. He met the gaze of a white-haired old man who had begun to stare at him and turned away so that the man would not think him some kind of ghoul, entertained by the dozens of little tragedies unfolding in that room. Then he caught sight of a plump black woman standing beside a pale white teenage boy with orange hair. They seemed to sense him looking and turned toward him. Jim felt himself the focus of unsettling attention.

Holly, Jim thought, tearing his gaze from them and hurrying through the arch toward the stairs. The others were already moving up the steps, and Jim hustled to catch up, glancing around warily. At the landing above, where the steps turned before continuing up to the second floor, the marble lions seemed ready to pounce. He couldn’t help feeling that the air held a similar threat.

“It’s like some kind of weird Roman palazzo in here,” Jennifer whispered, her voice echoing off the marble walls and staircase as she stared at the paintings in the arched recesses at the top of the steps.

Jim barely acknowledged that she’d spoken, quickening his pace so that by the time Sally reached the second floor he was only two steps behind her. In the shuffle of echoes that their climb had sent cascading from the walls, he thought he heard something that shouldn’t be there, something that didn’t match, and it took him a moment to realize that there were footfalls below them on the stairs. He glanced over the balustrade and spotted the plump woman and her ginger-haired teen companion starting up the stairs.

“This way,” Sally whispered, spurring him on.

They went through the arcade that separated the stairwell from the second-floor corridor, a gallery named for the artist whose paintings hung there but whose name Jim could not recall. His mural of the Muses of Greek mythology was one of the best-known pieces of art in the library, and two men stood in the corridor staring at it with the casual air of tourists, despite the disaster the city had become. Jim frowned at the sight of them, but now they were so close to Holly he could practically feel the presence of his daughter.

At the southern end of the gallery corridor was the Abbey Room. Jim passed Sally, but the young Oracle grabbed the tail of his shirt and forced him not to rush ahead. The girl glanced back at Trix and Anne. “I’m kind of a wreck. If I have to call up my No-Face Men, I may pass out,” Sally said. “Will somebody catch me?”

“I’ve got you,” Anne said.

“Me, too,” Jennifer added. She had been lagging behind, the shocks of the day catching up to her, turning her gaze distant and hollow. “Do what you have to do.”

They went into the Abbey Room and spread out instantly, Jim taking the lead with Sally and Trix behind him, and Jennifer and Anne coming last. The room rivaled the greatest museums Jim had ever entered, not just because of the paintings but because of the beauty of the room itself, all oak and marble, with thick ornamental rafters on the ceiling. As Sally had told them, the room had been divided by a wall, this portion just over thirty feet to a side. The far end of the room had heavy oak doors set into the dividing wall, and Holly waited on the other side.

There were half a dozen people in the Abbey Room already. Two middle-aged women—European tourists by the look of them—huddled together on a bench, holding each other as though cowering in fear. A sixtyish Asian man in a business suit stood in the center of the room, facing Jim and the others as they rushed in. A young couple, perhaps graduate students, flanked the far door as if they were guarding it.

The sixth person was a dead security guard. He lay on the marble not far from the Asian man, a pool of blood beneath him.

Sally stopped short, glancing anxiously around, and the rest of them followed suit. “I should have realized …,” Sally said. “I sensed them, but I didn’t see them. I never thought she’d risk it.”

“Sally?” Jim said warily.

“What the hell is this?” Trix asked.

Jim glanced back the way they’d come and saw the woman and the orange-haired kid from downstairs follow them into the room. The old man who had caught his eye entered a moment later, still staring at Jim. “Who are they, Sally?” Jim asked.

“Not ‘who,’ “Sally said. “But ‘what’? They’re Shadow Men.”

“But they look normal,” Trix whispered, glancing at Anne and Jennifer, the five of them clustering together as the strangers began to close in on them. Only the two terrified women on the bench did not rise—they were ordinary people, trapped here in the midst of the horror.

“They haven’t been changed completely yet,” Jim told her, glancing at Sally to confirm his suspicion.

Sally nodded. “They’re not dead yet.”

The white-haired Asian man had remained in the center of the room, but now he glanced at the others, and the strangers all paused. Jim blinked, thinking his vision had begun to blur, but it was the strangers that were blurring. The orange-haired teen’s shadow seemed to separate from him, wavering just a few inches to one side like a ghostly conjoined twin. The others all shuddered as the same transformation went through them. Part human and part wraith, they were bodies with living shadows.