Book Nerd Excerpt
I’m not quite sure what to do with my hands. I toy with Mother’s pearl ring, trying not to think about the engagement ring Finn gave me months ago. I gave it back to him when I announced my intention to join the Sisterhood. Where is it now?
He braces his hands against the back of the chair. His rumpled white shirt is rolled up to the elbows, displaying forearms wiry with muscle and spotted with freckles.
I have the absurd urge to trace the patterns they form over his tanned skin.
“Are you a witch?” he asks.
I respect him all the more for coming straight out with it.
I should lie to him. For his own good. I should, but I don’t. “Yes,” I say quietly. “But I’m not the one who erased your memory. I swear it.”
He leans forward, squinting. “How do you know my memory’s been erased, then?”
My breath catches. Because I was there when it happened. I know who’s responsible. I will never forgive her for it, and yet I still want to protect her. Or Finn. Or myself. My reasoning is cloudy, even to me.
“Because I know you,” I say finally.
“Do you?” His voice is soft. “I don’t remember much about you at all. It’s the most curious thing. Like little pieces of me have been carved right out. I do things, think things, feelthings, and I don’t know why. And then there’s the missing time. Hours here and there, whole evenings, just . . . gone.” He snaps his ink-stained fingers. “I remember working in Denisof’s office that afternoon, helping with some correspondence, and then it’s all a blank, right up until I found myself on the convent steps with you. Where was I before that? It’s a mystery to me. A vexing one.”
The frustration of it is plain in his voice. It twists his lips and furrows his forehead, and I want so badly to fix this, to fix him.
“You were with me. At Harwood Asylum.”
A grin ghosts across his face. “I helped break out the patients?”
I nod, an answering smile playing over my lips. “You were instrumental.”
He turns his head and swears like a sailor. “I knew it! That’s why I joined the Brotherhood, isn’t it? As a spy?”
His relief breaks my heart. I tap my fingers against the rough wood of the chair nearest me. Anything to keep myself from going to him, throwing my arms around him, and begging his forgiveness.
Begging him to remember me.
“Yes. That, and to keep your mother safe.”
“Thank you.” His voice is fervent as a prayer; his smile is huge and exuberant. “It’s been driving me mad. The letters from my mother—she doesn’t come out and say it, but she implies there’s another reason for me to be in New London. I’ve never been what you’d call devout, and Mother—well, you know how she is. She raised me to question things, not follow doctrine. I couldn’t think what the hell I was doing in the Brotherhood. Pardon my language.”
“It’s all right. You—you can say anything to me.” The words twist on my tongue, and I must sound like a love-struck fool. The flickering candlelight casts shadows over his face, illuminating the late-night stubble on his jaw. It reminds me of the other times we’ve met in secret places: the convent garden, the conservatory, the National Archives. Of the sandpaper feel of his chin against my fingers. Against my mouth.
“We’ve been working together, then? Me within the Brotherhood, and you within the Sisterhood?” he asks. I nod, weak with longing. “Makes sense. But if I was helping the witches, why would— Did you hear that?”
There’s a thump from upstairs, followed by a muffled shriek.
“Rilla!” I cry, rushing for the stairs.
“Let me go first.” Finn pulls a pistol from his boot.
I follow right on his heels. We creep up the steps quietly, and he flings open the door to reveal Alistair Merriweather standing behind Rilla, his arm wrapped around her throat, his hand clapped over her mouth.
“Mr. Merriweather!” I gasp. “Unhand her at once.”
“What the devil?” Merriweather gapes at us.
Finn lowers his pistol. “You know this man?”
Rilla doesn’t wait for answers. She bites Merriweather, and when he releases her, she spins around and knees him in the bollocks. He moans and braces himself against a cabinet full of ink. Rilla grabs the broom leaning in the corner and aims the handle at his head like a baseball bat. Her stance is quite incongruous with her dress, which is yellow and dotted with sunflowers.
“Rilla, it’s all right. I know him,” I say, though I’m rather tempted to let this play out. Merriweather’s a good foot taller than Rilla, but my money’s on her.
“It’s not all right. He nearly strangled me!” Rilla narrows her hazel eyes at him.
“What exactly are you doing here, Miss Cahill?” Merriweather’s dressed in a long, double-breasted olive-green peacoat, with a black cravat wrapped around his throat.
“I could ask you the same thing,” I retort, chin up.
“I sleep here sometimes. With Hugh’s permission.” Merriweather frowns. “That key was not an invitation to come and go as you please. This isn’t a space for secret assignations. We’ve worked for years to—”
Rilla smacks him in the head with the broom handle. Merriweather yelps.
From the look of Finn, though, I’d say he got off lightly. “I resent your insinuation, sir,” Finn growls.
“I apologize.” Merriweather’s gray eyes are fastened warily on Rilla. “Surely you can see how it looks. Perhaps introductions are in order?”
What do you think, readers? The relationship between Rilla & Merriweather was one of my favorite things to write in SISTERS' FATE - along with any scene featuring poor, tortured Cate and Finn! I can't wait to share more with you. Only two weeks to go!!
A fever ravages New London, but with the Brotherhood sending suspected witches straight to the gallows, the Sisters are powerless against the disease. They can’t help without revealing their powers—as Cate learns when a potent display of magic turns her into the most wanted witch in all of New England.
To make matters worse, Cate has been erased from the memory of her beloved Finn. While she’s torn between protecting him from further attacks and encouraging him to fall for her all over again, she’s certain she can never forgive Maura’s betrayal. And now that Tess’s visions have taken a deadly turn, the prophecy that one Cahill sister will murder another looms ever closer to its fulfillment.