Half a mile from home Jay pulled into a narrow park overlooking the harbor, turned off the engine, sat in the car for maybe fifteen minutes before getting out and slamming the door and walking slowly across old grass and overgrown stone toward a group of cars. They had planned to do the only thing they could do at the moment and that was drive back to Cloud Lake. Or Sandy Point. Or ditch the car at the Crossing and take the rail back to Wind Island.
He was suddenly and completely shaking exhausted though. Pull over, Fiona had said after giving him a bottle of water. Get some air, she’d said. Take a nap, she’d said, pointing to the back seat with a helpful pat on the open door of the car.
He might do that. For the moment, he was going to sit and look at the harbor and decide if he wanted to do any of those things or just go home.
Fiona had brought Hailie’s toy with her, carrying it in her lap on the ride here and now she it on a table beside a bench. Almost immediately fireflies gathered around it. Jay sat in one of the chairs and watched them shimmer and spin which he thought wearily was unusual behavior for fireflies but what did he know about them. Nothing. Maybe it was what they did out here.
“My mother isn’t a zombie you asshole,” she snapped.
He sat and looked at the lights in the shops and the restaurants on the other side of the harbor, familiar places, comforting in their familiarity. No, of course Kenley Dirac wasn’t a zombie and he felt guilty for even saying it. “Yeah, sorry, I know that, I grew up with her too.”
They sat there without saying anything just looking out at the water. The road was deserted at this time of night so they were comfortably alone.
“What if Gabe has nothing to do with this?” he said in a quiet, tired, empty voice. “Your father didn’t say anything about Gabe. There’s so much bullshit about him, what he did, what he could do, how many women he had, whether he had ten kids or one kid or none or teleported or turned lead into fucking gold. We’ve done what you wanted to do and we’re no closer to knowing anything at all. I don’t even know where we’re going to spend the night.”
She stretched and pulled at her hair and shrugged. “Probably not the lead into gold thing. Jay, I had to start somewhere, and he was a Lombardo, and he was there just before it happened. He was always in trouble and they were friends. My mother would have helped him if she could.”
“Not if it split space apart and killed her and ruined her family’s life she wouldn’t.”
“Maybe she didn’t know it would do that.”
“What’s ‘it’? We’re talking about ghosts and dragons, Fiona. That’s magic, that’s not physics. She was a physicist not a magician, and she would have known something was wrong and stopped. Okay, maybe not in time if it literally blew up on her but…I don’t know, it doesn’t make sense.”
“There were two of them,” she reminded him. “She was working with my dad and he didn’t do physics. He did something different. Jay why is that toy shining like that?”
It wasn’t just a few fireflies now. It was a cloud of them sparkling and expanding and he didn’t actually see any bugs in that cloud. What the hell…”
The ground moved, groaning, one long shudder after another and a white tower rose up out of the earth in a wall of arches, doors and windows pushing the trees between them aside as it made room for more behind it. It rang, and stopped, and a breath of long cold air blew toward them. It smelled of pine.
Candles burned. Ivy and roses climbed the doors and flagstones stretched across ground that been bare dirt.
The same little girl who walked out on the pier now stood at the foot of the stairs watching them. She waved and smiled. “Hello Fiona.”
Out from behind the ivy and the roses walked a thing. It placed one taloned foot after the other, its head raised, fanged mouth open as it swung heavily around and entered the yellow candlelight.
It cocked its head and snorted. It had wings.
“Jay,” said Fiona solemnly, “I think we’ve found your dragons.”