CHAPTER 4 Never Trust A Vampire

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The Second Line slowly walked underneath an iron archway that spelled out ST. VINCENT DE PAUL CEMETERY No. 1, and the mood changed so suddenly, chills swept up my arms.

As the priest led our procession to Bertrand and Sabine's new home, a solo came from Alphonse Jones's horn, so somber and quiet I could hear the birds swooping above us. Michel had been carved into the mausoleum where Jeanne and Sébastien's parents already resided. I'd never given the idea of eternity much thought, but now its vastness sucked me in like a black hole.

They were gone forever.

The pallbearers set the casket down, and my father walked over to join me. He stretched his back. "I'm getting too old—"

I plowed into him like a child, my arms locking tightly around his chest, as I buried my face in his shoulder.

"Hey," he said, cupping the back of my head.

"I don't want you to die, Dad."

"Sweetheart, I'm not going to die. Well, not anytime soon."

"I don't want you to die ever."

"I guess you'll be accompanying me on more runs, then?"

I looked up with a meek smile.

He rested his arm around my shoulder and guided me to the front row. Jeanne and Sébastien filled the space on my other side, Dee and the Borges on his other side. Isaac filed behind us with Ren's crew and the Daures. I hoped neither of them had just witnessed the moment with my father; surely that was crier behavior. The rest of the crowd filled in, and the priest moved to the head of the closed casket.

I tried not to think about the level of decomposition hidden underneath the lid. I tried not to think about how much the casket looked like les cassettes stacked in the convent attic.

"May the souls of the faithful departed through the mercy of God rest in peace." Father McKinley's voice was the kind that made you believe things, like Ritha's, and as he spoke about life and about death, I was moved by his words . . . until he began to talk about forgiveness.

I will never forgive Emilio for what he did. To Mémé and Pépé or to my mother. My clammy palms clutched handfuls of my skirt. Was it random when he killed her, or was it planned? Had Nicco known he was going to do it? My chain rippled against my chest, along with the sun charm and Isaac's feather. I took a deep breath.

When Father McKinley finished, my father left my side to deliver the eulogy. He did his best to keep the speech lighthearted, starting out with a joke about Bertrand's "French hours" fitting perfectly into New Orleanian work culture. I caught sight of Ritha's expression—the one worn too often by New Orleanians lately—the how did this senseless tragedy happen look.

My pulse accelerated thinking about exactly how it had happened. Ritha knows about the coven. She knows about my magic. Another ripple of my necklace made chills jaunt down my spine.

Ritha looked down at the rosary woven between her fingers, then unthreaded the beads and held them in her palm. I felt my eyes go wide as I realized her beads were shaking too.

Relax, Adele. I turned back to my father as he finished with a comment about how he hoped Sabine had passed the recipe for her heavenly croissants on to me.

Jeanne and Sébastien got up and walked to the podium, leaving the two chairs on my other side empty too. I crossed and uncrossed my ankles, feeling all of the metal around me. I slid my hands underneath my legs. And then, just as the next wave of anxiety came, arms slid around my shoulders from behind and locked in place. I nearly jumped up, thinking that Isaac had lost his mind, but as the arms pressed, weighing me down, familiarity rushed me rather than anxiety.

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