Wednesday, October 31, 2012

Halloween Charater Booktacular with Tara Hudson

Arise (Hereafter, #2)


For the second time that day I found myself gazing up at the ruins of High Bridge.

In the moonless dark it seemed creepier than it had this afternoon. More broken and hollow,

like the skeleton of some giant, mythical creature. Above me the ribbons of caution tape fluttered

in the wind. Otherwise the place was so quiet I could almost hear my nonexistent blood pumping

from the surge of emotion I’d just experienced.

I’d accidentally materialized here the moment I saw Joshua kissing Kaylen. Or Kaylen

kissing Joshua. Whichever. I didn’t exactly care about the specifics right now.

Gnawing furiously at my lip, I turned to stare at the darkened river. But instead of the water I

could only see a wild blur of mental images.

Her hand on his leg. His hand on hers. Their lips pressed together.

Was I angry? Oh, yes. Angry, and jealous.

But the longer I stared at the river, the more quickly I realized my jealousy didn’t resemble

that of a normal living girl. Not by a long shot.

After all, a living girl wouldn’t be jealous that her competitor could actually feel what she

touched. A living girl wouldn’t be jealous that her competitor didn’t disappear when she kissed

a boy. And a living girl wouldn’t worry that her boyfriend might—in fact, probably would have

to—choose someone else because at least someone else could grow with him. Change with him.

A millennium could pass and I wouldn’t change with Joshua. I would never change, never

I felt my breath speed up, but I couldn’t seem to slow it. I couldn’t stop thinking these

thoughts. Because, however much I disliked her, Kaylen was a normal, living girl. In fact, she

probably wasn’t even that annoying once you got to know her. It’s not like she was intentionally

going after someone else’s boyfriend, either. As far as she knew, Joshua was very available.

And however much Joshua might deny Kaylen now, she or someone like her would

eventually break through his defenses. How could she not? Girls like Kaylen could touch him for

longer than ten minutes, attend school with him, meet his family, laugh with his friends. . . .

Girls like me couldn’t do any of those things. Girls like me just screwed things up for the

living people we loved. One look at Joshua’s current social life proved it.

The evidence was everywhere: the way Joshua looked at me before telling someone ‘Sorry,

I can’t talk right now’; the frequency with which he walked away from his friends, like he was

afraid that even a minute spent around them might reveal my presence.

Joshua had intentionally limited our exposure to the living world. To keep himself from

looking like he was crazy in case anyone caught him holding hands with thin air. To keep me

By turning away from the living people he cared about, Joshua thought he could protect us.

And in the process he’d hurt himself.

I guess I should have felt grateful he hadn’t taken this mission so far as to start avoiding his

family too. But would that day come? Would Joshua discover in five, ten years that he could no

longer explain to his parents why they couldn’t meet his girlfriend? Why he couldn’t marry her

Such questions didn’t matter, not today. I knew that’s what Joshua would say if he could

But those questions would become reality soon enough. When you had a ghost for a

girlfriend, you eventually had to choose between the living and dead. Between a normal life and

He’d already started to make this choice with his friends. And I suspected he’d keep making

that choice—with his family and his future—if I let him.

In the end I would have to do something to make Joshua stop choosing me.

I suddenly felt the ache in my chest pull into itself, smothering-tight. I had to stop thinking

about this. I had to focus on something else, fast. Trying to distract myself, I looked up at my

surroundings for the first time since I materialized here. Then I blinked back in surprise.

High Bridge stood directly in front of me, so close I could almost touch it.

Without meaning to, I must have climbed up the steep embankment and stopped at the edge

of High Bridge Road. Now my toes rested on the asphalt while my heels stayed on the grass, as

if they knew well enough to keep me away from this place.

Up close, any sane person would see the bridge for what it was: dangerous. I had every

reason to fear it now as much as I did in the past.

But suddenly I didn’t. I didn’t fear this place at all.

As I continued to stare, I felt my eyes narrow. My feet began to pull themselves completely

off the shoulder and onto the road. Slowly, mechanically, my legs carried me forward until I was

walking across the bridge. Just taking a calm little stroll.

Inside, however, I was anything but calm. With each step I took my anger grew. Anger at

Kaylen, at Eli, even at Joshua. Anger at my whole, stupid existence. But especially anger at High

Bridge. It had ruined my life, and the lives of countless others.

“You know what?” I said aloud, addressing the bridge, a hysterical smile twitching at one

corner of my mouth. “You really piss me off.”

The word drifted toward me no louder than a breath. Yet the moment I heard it, I nearly

jumped out of my skin. I spun around frantically, searching for the speaker; but as far as I could

I squinted, peering at the path I’d just walked. Something about the look of a particular spot

seemed . . . off. As I watched, the air began to shimmer and shift until, floating above what had

been an empty road only seconds before, something took shape. At first it hovered like a mist:

pale and not quite translucent. But soon it solidified, and I could make out the contours of a

A man, sitting hunched, close to the railed edge of the bridge. His arms lay across his knees,

and his hands and head hung limp, lifeless. His long, curly hair had fallen forward, hiding his

But I didn’t have to see it. I didn’t even need him to whisper another word. Because I knew

exactly who had just appeared less than four feet away from me.

“Eli,” I gasped, taking a jerky step backward.

“Wait,” he said in that same choked whisper. “Wait.”

I didn’t want to wait; I wanted to get out of here. But I stood transfixed as Eli turned his head

toward me and, with horrific slowness, rolled his eyes up to meet mine.

A small, strangled noise escaped my lips.

The mist blurred the rest of his features, but Eli’s eyes blazed an electric blue, like centers of

impossibly hot flames. Bright, and ghastly.

I felt a surge of phantom adrenaline telling me to run. But I couldn’t look away.

“Eli?” I repeated. “Is . . . is that you?”

When he nodded, the gesture looked labored. Painful.

My mind began to race. Eli should still be somewhere in the darkness beyond the

netherworld, imprisoned there by the demons he once called masters. If he was here now, in the

living world with me, then that meant his masters were . . .

My head swiveled frantically, searching the bridge around us.

“Where are they?” I gasped. “Tell me.”

“No.” From the corner of my eye, I saw him shake his head. “No, Amelia, not here.”

“Tell me,” I demanded, my voice jumping an octave. “Tell me now, Eli.”

“Not here,” he said. The words seemed to crawl their way out of him. “There.”

“‘There’?” I repeated, still hunting for any other sign of movement on the

I whipped my head back around to face him. “If that’s true, then how are you here?”

“I’m not here, either,” he said, still struggling to speak but gaining a little momentum with

I twisted one corner of my mouth into a frown, confused. “What are you saying? That

you’re . . . what? Still in the netherworld right now?”

He shook his head. “No time. They’ll find me soon, and—”

“So they are on their way?” I interrupted. “Then I guess you won’t mind if I don’t stick

“Amelia, no! Please, wait—listen!”

I rocked forward, ready to jog, run, fly away from here if I had to. But the urgency in Eli’s

plea made me hesitate. I paused long enough to see a glint of real fear in those unnatural blue

eyes. Then I swore under my breath.

“Fine,” I said aloud. “Whatever you have to say, say it fast.”

He let slip a gravelly sigh that sounded almost relieved. “I’m here to warn you, Amelia.”

Eli’s eyes darted around, searching the bridge as I had. Then he met my gaze and lowered his

“They’re weak right now, without a spirit like me to build their ranks. But they are coming,

Amelia; and they’re coming for you.”

Something inside me clenched. “All the more reason to get the hell out of here, right?”

Eli nodded again. “Exactly what I wanted to tell you. It’s not going to happen tonight, but it

will happen. Soon. I’ve heard them talking. They want you. And this time they’re willing to do

“Killing,” he said. “They’ll murder everyone in this town if that’s what it takes to make you

I heard my own terrified whisper before I had time to think it.

Even through the shifting mist, I thought I saw Eli scowl. “Yes, him. And everyone else you

care about. The more of your loved ones they take, the better. Think of them as hostages, to force

Faces flashed across my mind: Joshua, my mother, Jillian, even Joshua’s parents and his

friends. As easy to find in this small town as a Baptist church.

“Oh, God,” I moaned, and Eli responded with a coughing sort of laugh.

“God has nothing to do with these creatures, Amelia. At least, not anymore.”

A panicky sensation began to twitch along my neckline like a quickening pulse. “Then what

do I do? What exactly am I supposed to do?”

“You have to get out of here,” Eli urged. “Tonight, if possible.”

“Away from the bridge?” I asked, my voice rising in pitch. “Just stay away from this place?”

I felt a slight twist in my core as I pictured my father’s face. How could I leave him here?

But how could I not, if that meant protecting everyone else?

Slowly, reluctantly, I nodded. “I . . . I could do that. I could stay away. For a little while, at

“No, Amelia, that’s not good enough,” Eli said. “You have to get away from Wilburton.

“Okay. Okay.” I continued to nod mechanically, my mind racing. “I can do that too. We’re

leaving tomorrow for Christmas break. That should buy me a few more days.”

“Still not good enough, Amelia. You have to stay away forever, especially from the people

you care about. Otherwise, their association with you might get them killed.”

“‘Association’? I . . . I don’t understand.”

“My old masters aren’t omniscient, Amelia. They don’t know your every move, or every

detail about your history. All they can do is follow you, study you, and then act accordingly.

Whatever—whoever—they see with you, they will attack. But if you don’t give them anyone to

My stomach dropped. “So you mean I have to leave everyone . . . permanently? Leave

“If you want him to survive this. If you want his freedom, and yours . . .”

As Eli spoke, he trailed off, distracted. After a moment of silence, his head jerked to the

right. He stared intently behind us, at the empty bridge, as if there was something approaching

Which, I realized, was probably the case.

When he whipped back around to face me, his eerie blue eyes had widened. “I have to go.

For your sake, Amelia, I hope I never see you again.”

Maybe I imagined it, but I thought I saw a trace of sadness in all that unnerving blue. “What

“Too late for me, I’m afraid,” he whispered. Then his eyes darted once more to the right; and,

without another word or glance, he vanished like a puff of smoke in the wind.

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Tuesday, October 30, 2012

Halloween Character Booktacular with Marisa Calin


This scene takes place on the night of Halloween during the Fall Semester of Between You & Me.


I'm dressed as a firefly. At least I'm wearing wings, antenna, and my shorts glow in the dark. That's the best I could do. I've never liked Halloween. It scares me. But it's your favorite holiday.

We're sitting at the table carving a Jack O'Lantern, our one tradition and my favorite thing about Halloween. I love the warm glimmer from the pumpkin's fiery core and the glinting eyes in a dark face, the way the windows of a house glow cheerfully on a cold night. You scoop a spoonful of stringy seeds out of the pumpkin and smile as you glop it into the bowl I'm holding.

You're a firework for Halloween, or you will be for one dazzling minute when we arrive at Bella's party tonight and set your costume alight. Dressed in iridescent metallic fabric, you've glued sparklers like spines to sheet metal wrapped around your fore and upper arms, with double sized sparklers across your shoulders fanning out behind your head like a halo. You look like you should be driving a chariot. If it was anyone else, I'd expect them to go up in a ball of flames, but you're meticulous. You've even put fire-retardant gel in your hair and coated your skin with something that makes it shine in the light. You'll blaze with the blinding brilliance of golden sparks for a minute, and then spend the rest of the evening as a burnt out frame, smelling deliciously of sulphur.

Watching you scrape down to the firm pale flesh, sparklers quivering, I get the distinctive smell of pumpkin, mingled with the smell of the match I struck a few minutes ago to light the candles in the windows. They're already flickering brightly against the inky blue evening, the glow of the sun only just visible through the twigs of the tree outside, a few rogue red leaves still fluttering on its branches. I shift my gaze from the reflection of the tiny orange flame on the windowsill to your reflected shape in the dark glass and see you looking at me. I make my best empty-eyed deathly Halloween face. I hear your warm laugh and turn to see the smile that follows the familiar laugh-sigh I know so well.

Careful, you're almost getting into the Halloween spirit!

I'm the life and soul of Halloween.

And a firefly. You spoon out the last of the pulpy innards and slide the hollow pumpkin toward me. I find its best side and start drawing a face. I always carve a happy face. Even then, it usually sits on the front step for too long, until its features sink into a yearning howl, the edges of the mouth curling in on themselves and reminding me of a mouth with no teeth and I remember why I'm scared of Halloween.

Give life to more pumpkins and ward off evil spirits.

It's too good to be true.

You shake your head with a smile, letting my sarcasm slide. I cut through the rind and into the flesh. We first made a lantern when I said there was nothing to like about Halloween. You said that given pumpkin is my favorite thing about Fall, how could we not carve one and plant the seeds. And every year, even though they're not perfectly round or big or brightly orange, we have a few characterfully squat dimpled sugar pumpkins to make delicious pumpkin bread and one winner for the role of Jack. I've always had a soft spot for the deformed ones - they have the most expressive faces. I've secretly started to look forward to hollowing out the faceless fruits and seeing their features crackle to life.

The pumpkin bread is already in the oven. Chewing on a crisp strip of peel from the green apple that went into the mix, you rest your chin in your hands and watch me push out the eyes so that the winning pumpkin can stare at me mutedly. I reshape a corner, thinking how funny it is that if you change the smallest detail, it changes an expression completely.

So, anyone you're planning to bob with tonight?

Everyone goes to Bella's party, one of the big events of the year. People plan their costumes for weeks in advance. And then there's pairs apple-bobbing. Celebrated or dreaded pairs apple-bobbing; where if you're lucky you can trap an apple between your mouth and someone else's. It's second only to Valentines Day as a time of year when you notice more than ever being single. The prizes are so good couples even practice. They can clear a barrel in less than a minute. And if you're single, you're chased around the barrel, apples buoyantly popping unexpectedly up out of the water and leaving nothing between you and an incoming mouth. Sometimes tempting. For the most part, reason enough to hate Halloween. I suddenly remember the question.


That sounded definitive!

I feel definitive. There isn't anyone at this party who I've been dreaming of putting my face in a barrel with.

I choose my words carefully, thinking so clearly of the person who won't be at the party, and who I would swim through an ocean of apples for. I slide the Jack O'Lantern across the table for you to continue and sit back. The sweet spicy smell of bread is already emanating from the oven. I push my hair back and get the delicious scent of cloves and grated nutmeg still on my fingertips. You've turned the pumpkin toward you so I can't see its face.

How about you? Dreaming of anyone?

Putting my head in a barrel with, or dreaming in general?

I'll take either.

You pause. You pause! I'm not sure I expected that.

Hmm. No.


Yep. Hmm. Followed by, no.

I try to catch your eye but you don't look up from your careful carving of the pumpkin's mouth.

Wow, no need to be so definitive! Leave your options open why not.

My sarcasm passes you by again with only the slightest smile. We're quiet, except for the sound of the knife cutting pumpkin. I'm still curious and you still haven't looked up. I have the urge to say kissy kissy like a five-year-old.

Well maybe tonight your eyes will meet amidst the bobbing apples... and...

There are no apples left in the fruit bowl but swept up in trying to get your attention, I put a tangerine in my mouth and lean suddenly across the table. You reflexively put up a hand to push the tangerine, and me, away.


We're both still laughing as I sit back, wiping the bitter zesty taste of tangerine peel from my lips. You eye me suspiciously for another second, then pick up the candle and set it inside the pumpkin.

Can I see?

You dip a match to the candle until it flares to life. Gently replacing the lid and turning it until it sits perfectly in its groove, you spin the pumpkin around for me to see.

The eyes twinkle like it’s laughing. Mine do too. Feeling unexpectedly happy, I nod my appreciation, and when I speak, my thank you sounds too loud. You pick up our masterpiece, holding it carefully with both hands.


I follow you out of the kitchen, through the front door and into the cold night air that smells of fallen leaves. The sky behind the tree has turned almost purple. You set the pumpkin ceremoniously on the stoop and we step back to smile fondly down at it. Side by side, we watch the eyes flicker in the breeze. I break the silence.

Are my shorts glowing?

I can't tell. Turn the porch light off.

I flick the switch but the light from inside still illuminates too much of the step. We walk away from the windows around the side of the house and toward the tree-house in the middle of the lawn. With every step into the dark garden, my shorts glow brighter. The moon is just a sliver, and the sky above the purple horizon is a deep midnight blue. I hear you laughing.

They are definitely glowing!

I look down at the light emanating from my shorts and laugh too. I untuck the black mini-skirt I'm wearing over the top so it falls down to cover them and start running around the foot of the tree, trying to get my wings to flap. I lift up my skirt every few seconds for the intermittent flash of a firefly.

The resemblance is uncanny. No one will ask you what you're supposed to be tonight.

Are you sure I don't look like a flasher?

You look exactly like a flasher. Isn't that what you're supposed to be?

I zigzag nearer, and hit you.


You take your phone out of your pocket to see if my luminescence will come out in a photo. Tucking my skirt back into the top of my shorts, I can't resist climbing up into the tree-house to glow in mid-air. I take hold of a branch, and swing out of the tree for my photo op.

Stop it. You've having fun.

No I'm not. I hate Halloween.

I swing my feet back onto the branch and, getting my breath back, settle into the crook of the tree where our tree-house/plank sits. I hold out a hand to encourage you up. Pocketing your phone, you take my hand. Your sparkler armor slows you up for a minute but you find your footing and pull yourself carefully up beside me. We sit in silence, looking up through the branches at the stars. My cat crosses the grass below us, picking her feet up in the evening dew. I sigh.

Best Halloween ever.

Pardon? I didn't quite hear.

I bite my lip and you go to nudge me with your shoulder before remembering your sparklers and stop short just in time. A parrot and a bee waddle by on the other side of the hedge. You breathe in the fresh October air.

Maybe we should just stay here tonight.

What? You mean not go?

You nod. We stare at each other for a second.

Everyone's going to be there.

And we'll be here.


It's too late to start pretending I wanted to go. I can't hide my excitement so I take your hand and we're quiet again.

All dressed up and nowhere to go?

All dressed up and in the perfect place. I'm exactly where I want to be.

In a tree with a giant bug?

Your laugh sounds so loud in the quiet night air.

But we haven't set you on fire yet, and you've been working on that for weeks.

We could do it now.

Just me and you.

Me and you! As long as you promise to appreciate my pyrotechnic genius enough for everyone.

You carefully sidle out of the gap and jump down onto the grass. Behind you, I stand up on the lowest branch, spread my arms wide and not much minding if the parrot and the bee are still in earshot, sing my best and loudest:

'Cause baby, you're a firework, Come on, show 'em what you're worth.

You seem torn between minor embarrassment and caution-to-the-wind enjoyment, so I persevere to help you figure out which.

Make 'em go -

oh oh oh.

As you shoot across the sky -

ay ay.

You respond to my imaginary outstretched microphone, but miraculously remain on the fence. I jump down to join you, still humming as I take the long gas lighter you hold out. I tuck it into the waist of my skirt, whipping it out quick as a flash when I say 'draw' and squeezing the trigger to produce the flame. I laugh. You give me your when you're quite ready face, so I bite my smiling lip and focus on the plan. Starting at the top, I'm lighting the right side and you're lighting the left. I eye the garden hose.

Thanks for the confidence.

Sorry for caring.

I run over to it, make sure the valve is open, and tug the hose back with me, whilst softly singing:

You just gotta ignite the light, and let it shine...
Ready. Blaze of glory, take one.

We each press the trigger on our lighters, poised with a small steady flame above the top sparklers.

One... Two.


I take a nervous breath and shake my fingers.

Okay... One.



I sweep slowly down over the tips of the sparklers, and they ignite easily in bright bursts of light. We reach the last sparklers together and I step back out of the way.

I'm transfixed. Speechless. A halo of sparkling light surrounds you. The rain of golden sparks makes your features glow and the song still plays in my head. Come on let your colors burst. With the sparkler in your hand, you write your name and then mine in the dark sky, leaving an effervescent trail of light. Time stands still and at the same time it's over in seconds. I find my voice and whoop in pure exhilaration. For a moment, even though they've burnt out, I'm still blinded by your radiance, the flaring points of light still burning on my retinas. And then everything is black and I'm sad that they've fizzled out, leaving us in the darkness again except for the glow of my fading shorts. It seems so much darker than before. I take a breath and look at you.

Wow! Totally and completely awesome. You lit up the nights' sky.

'Cause I'm a firework.

I nod, lost for any more words.

And you're a giant bug.

I shimmy my wings lamely as we walk side by side back toward the house. We open the door, the sweet smell of fresh pumpkin bread meeting the scent of sparkler sulphur in the cold crisp night air.

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Week One has come and gone but here are the links for last weeks post

Monday, October 29, 2012

Halloween Character Booktacular with Christine Johnson

Claire de Lune (Claire de Lune, #1) Nocturne (Claire de Lune, #2)

The knock at the door was a welcome change from the doorbell. The kids who were brave enough to come up the Benoit’s drive on Halloween night always rang the bell. Lisbeth always answered it, handing out candy with such a huge smile that the pirates and ballerinas and monsters inevitably left looking more confused than victorious.
    When Claire heard the knock, though, she darted out of the den and cut in front of Lisbeth, who was reaching for the orange bowl full of candy bars.
    “This one’s for me,” she said.
    Lisbeth raised an eyebrow and offered the bowl of candy.
    Claire swallowed. That had been sloppy. She’d recognized the sound of Matthew’s car tires coming up the driveway, but she could hardly explain to Lisbeth that her wolf-sharpened senses had told her who was coming.  She’d gotten so good about keeping her double identity a secret, but the smallest slip could be deadly. Even with Lisbeth.
    Claire took the bowl and opened the door, feeling ridiculous. Matthew stood beneath the porch light, the blue-black night sky behind him. He looked down at the bowl of candy bars and arched an eyebrow.
    “Trick-or-treat?” The corner of his mouth quirked up in a smile and Claire swallowed hard. She wasn’t going to kiss him with Lisbeth lurking in the foyer behind her. Besides, she could see flashlights bobbing up the driveway.
    “There are better things than candy inside,” she promised him, setting the bowl of candy back on the hall table. She’d kept her voice low, hoping Lisbeth wouldn’t hear, but Matthew obviously had. His gaze darkened, his smile deepened, and he stepped inside.
    “Perfect,” he replied. “Hey, Lisbeth,” he said, his voice rising and brightening.
    “Hi, Matthew,” she said. “Emily and Amy are already in the den. Holler if you need anything, okay?”
    “Sure thing.” He caught Claire’s hand as he came in, and the two of them walked into the den that way. Emily and Amy were on one of the couches, half-buried beneath a pile of pillows. A bag of chips was open between them on the sofa, and there was a movie on the television paused at the title frame.
    Emily caught sight of Claire and Matthew’s locked hands and rolled her eyes, but there was a smile on her face. Amy grinned at them. “Hey, Matthew. Are you ready for the horror movie-fest?”   
    He held up Claire’s hand. “Yep. She said she’d hold my hand during the scary parts.”
    “Awww,” Amy said.
    Emily threw a pillow at her.
    Claire pulled Matthew over to the other couch. In spite of Emily’s fake displeasure, Claire was relieved that they’d all been willing to come hang out with her on Halloween. It wasn’t a full moon, so she didn’t have any pack duties, and she didn’t really want to leave home. Halloween was always a night when some group of Hanover Falls morons went looking for werewolves.
    There were good things about being a werewolf, but Halloween wasn’t one of them.
    Two movies later, all four of them were sick of blood and cheap scares, and the doorbell had long since stopped ringing.
    “We should get going,” Amy said.
    Emily snuggled further down into the cushions. “But I’m so comfortable,” she protested.
    Amy pulled the pillows off her. “Come on. I promised your mom I’d have you home by midnight.” She caught Emily’s hands and pulled her off the couch.
    Emily eyed Claire and Matthew, sitting on the other couch.
    “Yeah. These two probably want some time alone, anyway.”
    Amy and Emily walked out into the dark. Claire stood at the den window and watched them climb into Amy’s car.
    Matthew came up behind her and slid his arms around her waist. She leaned back into him, her head finding the familiar curve between his neck and his shoulder.
    “I can’t remember the last time Emily went this long without dating someone,” Matthew said.
    “Me, neither. She and Amy are spending so much time together, I’m not sure she actually has room for a boyfriend right now.”
    Matthew made a non-committal noise. “Jealous they’re spending so much time together?”
    Claire blew out a long breath. “Not exactly. Yes. Sort of.”
    “That’s not much of an answer,” Matthew said. There was teasing in his voice, but Claire stared up at the moon, half-full, and it didn’t feel funny at all.
    “I used to love Halloween,” she said. “But now . . . now it just reminds me that I can’t ever live all the way in either world that I know. I can’t go to the woods and run tonight. I can’t go to any of the parties, in case someone comes up with the stupid idea to hunt werewolves. Emily and Amy can do whatever they want.” She hadn’t expected her voice to hitch on the last word, and she swallowed against the sudden tightness in her throat.
    Matthew spun her in his arms so that she was facing him.
    “No, you’re right, you can’t do those things.” he said. “Your world is different, but you’re not alone in it.”
    She looked up at him, glad for the millionth time that she could tell him everything, at least. She was beyond lucky that the one human who knew everything was the one she was in love with.
    “I know,” she said. “Thank you for being here tonight. I mean it.”
    He reached down and tilted her chin up. “Are you kidding? I wouldn’t have been anywhere else. This is the best Halloween I’ve ever had.” He closed the distance between them until the were almost kissing. “Ever.”
    He pressed the word against her mouth, his warm lips moving against hers. The light of the half-moon shone against her back while they kissed, and in that moment, Claire saw everything differently.
    Her world was not the same as anyone else’s, but it wasn’t broken, either.
    It was whole, and it was hers, and when Matthew dragged her down onto the couch in the dark, she thought that this was the best Halloween she’d ever had, too.


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