Chapter Twenty-Two: Inbetween

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Tiana's guest bedroom was not as restful as I'd hoped. Éven's crystal hung in the window, and rather than capturing moonlight, it cast spots of streetlight onto the walls and lit up Tiana's unusual decorations.

The wooden masks stared down at me, unfamiliar guests from distant kingdoms with their own rigid judgements. A worn-down Indian tapestry of a lion hunt hung on the opposite wall, revealing the moment the hunters speared their prey. The nightmare of the lion's pain was as vivid as the grimaces on the hunters' faces.

These were envoys from the far-and-wide of the known world. Beyond them were the shadows of the unknown. Every inky patch of the room was a hiding place, until my eyes adjusted and revealed a sewing machine, or a basket, or a bulging magazine rack.

Somehow, I fell asleep anyway. I know, because I woke to the sound of shattering glass.

My heart beat hard and fast. I got out of bed and picked up a carved wooden giraffe from the bookcase. The statue felt heavy enough to use as a club if I needed it. I was already dressed in a t-shirt and track trousers, so I slipped on my tennis shoes and ventured into the hall.

The only sounds I could hear were the cars passing on the park road. No-one moved in the house. No Horseshoe agents burst in through the front door or stormed down from the attic. There was no noise from Tiana's room above me.

This was it. I'd made my choice. I was betraying Horseshoe to get my mum back. I hoped, if Dad was watching over me, he'd think I was making the right decision.

From the foot of the stairs I saw light spilling out around the bathroom door. It glittered like the surface of the sea in bright sunlight. I tip-toed up and knocked. The door wasn't locked. I pushed it open.

The mirror was there; the same mirror that Éven had come through on the day he raided Tiana's attic. The glass was still shattered, but the pieces had been placed back together, connected with lines of shimmering light. The sound I heard was not glass breaking, but the mirror being magically restored. Through the spider-web of cracks I saw the shadow of a man, and I knew I was not looking at my own reflection.

Éven smiled, and my heart raced. He reached his hand through the glass, and the same cracks that etched the glass were etched across his skin like scars.

He was dark, and he was sinister, but he wasn't a devil. He was a powerful trickster born of blood, and he had placed lives at risk, including mine. He was a thief who carried a sword. He was an agent of the night.

But when he smiled at me, it was hard to remember that.

"Come with me," said Éven. "We must move quickly."

Everyone had warned me. But what other choice did I have?

I dropped the statue and put my hand in his. He gripped so hard that he almost crushed my fingers, and he pulled.

There was a flash of pain as I passed through the mirror, like the shock of plunging into freezing cold water on a warm summer day, or the sharp agony of a dentist's drill brushing a nerve. As quickly as it came, the sensation passed.

Éven took my other hand. "Close your eyes or look into mine," he said. I didn't need to hear it; I was already looking into his eyes. At the edges of my vision the air seemed to swirl with rainbow colours.

"Do not look up, or down, or around," Éven continued. "We are only passing through this place."

I felt breathless, being back with him at last.

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