I'd changed my clothes and now wore the white shift dress. The material was thin—even though a fire blazed in the hearth, I still felt cold.

Luke had rearranged the living room and pushed all the furniture to the sides of the room. A wooden chair surrounded by burning black candles stood in the center. On one side of the circle of candles was a pile of thick rope.

I wrapped my arms around my body. "I don't quite understand what's going to happen."

"We are calling on the dead."

I couldn't keep the discomfort I felt from showing on my face. "And my outfit?"

"Part of the ritual. It's tradition. Goes back hundreds of years. Something along the lines of a virginal journey into the underworld."

Like a bride. It sounded twisted. You'd think a guild of people who wear mostly black would be the last group to sport white, the color of purity. But what I was doing was far, far from anything pure—far from anything that came from the light.

Luke stood in front of me. "I know traditions sometimes don't make sense, but the elders have done it this way for centuries. Look—if you're uncomfortable, go back and change into something else."

He'd taken my silence for disapproval, but I was willing to follow his direction. "No, I don't want to buck the system. If this is how it's done, this is how we'll do it." Honestly, the outfit was the least of my worries—what concerned me most was the rope he was holding. "You aren't planning on hanging me, right? We agreed that you wouldn't try to kill me again."

Luke shook his head. "Now, after the cemetery ritual, you're wide open for the dead. Think of yourself as an empty vessel. Like water pours into a cup, a spirit will pour into you." He continued. "That's why we aren't doing this ritual at the cemetery—there are too many souls there waiting to be set free, clamoring for the use of your body. It could overpower you forever. There are maybe one or two spirits roaming close by this location."

At the words "a spirit will pour into you," I felt my blood run cold. "And what happens to me?"

"You're still in there. Your spirit and the dead will share the space. One of the things you'll learn, with training, is how to stay in control. To make sure the spirit doesn't overpower you."

I did not like the sound of this. "If that's something I'll learn...that means this time the spirit will overpower me?"

He nodded. "Yes."

"And the rope?"

"The rope is to keep you safe. I have to tie you to the chair, restrain you. As you train and learn you'll be able to decide which spirit can possess you. They're around, forever floating on the ether sea. When you call them to you, you don't know who'll show up—something with good intentions or something evil. But as you get more practice, you'll be able to discern who's around you, and you'll be able to choose whom to let in."

"But not this time."

"No, not this time," he answered.

"And since I can't choose, something might come and possess me that's evil?"

He studied me before answering. "It's possible."

"Terrific," I mumbled.

Luke smiled and tried to look reassuring. "By tying you to the chair, I'm keeping us both safe."

"How much control will this spirit have over me?"

"Complete. At first it will be able to overpower you and push the very essence of your being back. It will be able to control your mind and your limbs. It will speak through your lips. It will move using your body."

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