ten: The Long Way Home

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 Miriam showed Nadine and Jim through the back door of The Marketplace.

"You're sure the Hinn will help us?" Jim asked, turning to her as they stepped back out into the cold.

Miriam nodded. She'd lost all resemblance of the glitzy high-hat that carelessly drank champagne and ordered around waiters. Now, she looked like a weathered middle-aged woman, shaken to the core. Feeble, even. "Find Zachariah Fulton," she told them.

She lowered her gaze when she said, "Jonathan did business with him before. He's got a lotta knowhow. I dunno if he'll give you an answer...but he'll help you."

"Thank you," Nadine said, taking Miriam's hands and giving them a squeeze. "I'm really sorry for your loss."

Miriam swallowed hard.

"Will you be alright?" Jim asked warily, observing the slight sway in her stance and dilated eyes.

Miriam shook her head slowly. "Someone's gotta run this joint. Might as well be me."

She gave them one fleeting smile and disappeared around the corner.

Nadine and Jim were left on the sidewalk to contemplate what had happened.

Nadine tried to draw in a breath, but her chest rattled with exhaustion. Whatever happened to her in that cell was different.

When the Ghoul had tried to make her envision her worst fears, it was like her mind was opened to a new world instead.

It had only lasted a second, but when she turned back to face Miriam when she focused hardest, she saw Miriam's past. Fragments of it all in vivid color.

Before, she'd only been able to see the situation someone was currently struggling with.

Now, the memory of being in someone else's mind left her feeling shaken, but she didn't tell Jim.

Instead, they walked silently down the sidewalk.

The image of the Ghoul leaving Jonathan Leavey's body and hovering above it made Nadine tremble. Those white, sightless eyes refused to leave her memory.

"We have to call a meeting to order at the Coven," Jim said.

Nadine's jaw went slack and she swiveled her head to look at him. His mouth was set in a hard line, and it was difficult for Nadine to tell what he was thinking. "But we have to find the Hinn!" she refuted. "Ghouls are possessing people as we speak. We already know the Djinn aren't on our side."

"They need to know," Jim pushed. "Like it or not, they're our people. Our leaders. We can't battle this on our own."

Nadine folded her arms as they walked and shook her head. "I always thought you were against the Coven."

"I am."

"Then why do we have to answer to them?"

"It's not them," he explained. "The Creed is in place for a reason. There's dark magic taking place here...magic we don't want to stick our necks out for. Or get involved with."

Nadine sighed. "After everything we've just been through, you're worried about the Creed?"

Jim's eyes flashed up at her, the first sense of anger she'd gathered from him. But his voice was even when he said, "Just because I don't agree with or support the Coven doesn't mean we can lie to them."

He slowed to a stop and turned to Nadine.

She searched his emotions to find determination and...fear.

"Did you see how powerful that one Ghoul was?" Jim asked. "Imagine an army of them. We have to stop them, but we can't do it on our own."

Nadine lifted her chin and searched his blue eyes, trying to decipher his features in the dark space between lamp posts. "What are you scared of?" she asked. "Really?"

Jim surveyed her with reciprocated gravity and said, "I have a feeling we would hurt more people than those we would save." His eyes took on a deep pain that surprised Nadine. A pain that told her there was more meaning beneath his words.

"I can't have another death on my head." His words came out in a rush, then he broke his gaze and continued walking.

Nadine watched him go a few paces, staring after him in confusion. She assumed he meant the death of his father. Of course, she knew it must have been tragic to lose him. But all the things she'd heard had not painted August Slater in a good light. Did he mean his mother? Was she closer to death than Nadine knew?

She sighed deeply before catching up to him.

There were no taxis running in the first hour of the morning, until they got to the still-bustling center of Chicago, away from the piers.

Nadine and Jim didn't say a word as the automobile purred through town.

The jazz tunes of the early night had slowed to a somber pace. The flappers and gentlemen that had been swinging around and drinking champagne were now strolling home, arm-in-arm, bundled in their fur coats.

Bums had dozed off on the corner, and a few speakeasies were shutting down for the night before the early watchmen began patrolling the streets.

The air smelled of cold rain and smoke as the fog settled in for the night as well.

Nadine almost fell asleep to the lilting atmosphere but found that every time she closed her eyes, she'd see Jonathan Leavey spitting black goo out of his mouth as his neck snapped from side-to-side.

She kept her eyes open from then on.

When the taxi came to a stop outside of her apartment, she stepped down and turned to Jim before closing the door. "What will we do if the Coven doesn't help us?"

"We'll cross that bridge when we get there."


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Hey guys! This chapter arrived a *little* late, but I started a new job this week and everything's a 'LIL CRAZY. Anyway, thank you for your patience!

~Do you think Miriam is really trying to help them?

~What about Jim and Nadine's disagreement?

~General thoughts?

Thank you so much for reading! {Don't forget to comment, vote, and share!}

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