The lake was bigger than I'd imagined. I could see wood cabins hidden amongst the trees. The lake itself was crystal blue. Small waves floating across the surface sparkled in the sunlight.

It was a beautiful fall day. The trees around us were all shades of red and orange. They'd started shedding their leaves, and I shuffled my feet through the colorful foliage on the ground as I followed Luke toward the water.

"The spirit is here. Can you feel it?" Luke asked. He was standing a few feet from the water's edge.

There was something out there—I could definitely feel it. The hair on my arms stood up, and a chill ran down my neck. "Yes," I answered, taking an unconscious step closer to him.

He turned and grabbed my arm. "Try not to concentrate on her."

"I thought you wanted me to commune with the dead." Wasn't I supposed to talk to spirits? Hadn't that been the whole reason I went through that first horrendous ritual of his?

"You will, but not like this. Not yet. You aren't ready." He started to edge closer to me but seemed to change his mind and instead let go of my arm. "You don't know how to handle spirits yet. Until you're ready, it's too dangerous. A spirit can take you over." He took a step closer to the water. "Try to fill your mind with other things."

Like what? At the thought I felt a sudden chill run down my arm and a strong breeze whistle past my cheek.

Luke spun around. "Colina, listen to me. You have to focus on something else!"

At his words, I could feel pieces of my hair lifting in the breeze. But not all of my hair—only a piece here and there. I looked over at the nearest tree, which stood only a few feet away. It wasn't swaying in the wind—its leaves and limbs were still. Whatever was happening to me wasn't natural. It was a spirit.

"A childhood song," Luke said. "Think of a song you sang as a kid."

I closed my eyes and tried to remember the words to songs I learned in summer camp when I was young. I tried to focus on the tune and ignore the breeze now blowing across my arm.

Luke suddenly looked up into the sky. "I hear you. Come closer. I can help you."

I hummed to myself as I watched him. His gaze became fixed to his left, and his head tilted as though he was listening intently to something.

I heard him mutter, "What's your name?"

And for a moment I could have sworn I heard another voice on the wind. A girl's voice, just off in the distance.

But just as I tried to focus in on it, Luke turned to me and frowned. "The song. Keep filling your mind with the song."

I nodded my head and took a few steps away from him. I turned my back and studied the countryside. I loved how the trees changed color—deep red, orange, and yellow. Fall used to be my favorite time of year.

When things were different. When my family was still alive.

I turned my thoughts from my family and forced the words of the song back into my head. My mind slowly began to wander, this time my thoughts turning to Luke. My emotions were in turmoil. A part of me was attracted to him, even as another part of me trembled in fear every time he came close. I hadn't been afraid of him before the ritual.

No, that's not true, I admitted to myself. I'd been scared of who he was from the first moment I walked into the magic shop. Death dealer. Banshee wielder. A mage who performed the dark magics.

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