Cloud City (Anna Strong Chronicles #9)


The room is suddenly colder as Leticia moves to stand in front of Sophie. "Explain yourself, witch."

Sophie is not intimidated. "The name is Sophie," she says, looking directly into Leticia's eyes. "Sophie Deveraux."

Leticia frowns. "You and Jonathan were married?"

"Not exactly." Sophie closes her eyes, takes a deep breath, exhales slowly. "Come on out, Jonathan," she says. "We have company."

Silence. I don't feel Jonathan's presence and wonder if Sophie is having trouble bringing him back but then…

Company? Sophie, what do you mean? What did you do?

Jonathan's voice is muted, his speech slurred as if he'd just awakened from a drug-induced sleep.

Leticia's shoulders jump, startled eyes widening as she recognizes the voice. "Jonathan?"

There's a moment when the very air in the room begins to vibrate with the intensity of her confusion. "Where are you?"

"I told you," Sophie says, repeating her fist to chest gesture. "He's in here. He's a part of me."

Leticia grabs her shoulders. "How did you do it? Can you get him back?"

Leticia? This time the thickness in Jonathan's voice is more than being dragged to consciousness. How is this possible? How are you here?

"The witch brought me. She says her name is Sophie Deveraux. I don't understand."

I feel Jonathan's mystification as he tries to puzzle out Sophie's motivation for bringing Leticia to Leadville. It's more than Prendergast, he's sure of it. He reaches out to me.

What is she doing, Anna?

Before I can respond, Sophie does. "Don't ask Anna," she says, breaking into his cloaked thought. "Ask me."

Jonathan is startled by the intrusion into what he assumed was a private exchange. It doesn't take him more than a heartbeat to understand. How long–?

"Long enough. It's not so hard once you understand which part of the mind to open and which part to close."

Leticia's impatience grows with her confusion. She's fighting to control the vampire's natural inclination to tear the information out of Sophie. I see her jaw tense, hear her teeth gnash.

"Sophie, you'd better tell Leticia what she wants to know," I say, trying to ward off trouble. Leticia doesn't know that harming Sophie will harm Jonathan.

Sophie turns to Leticia. "You and Jonathan want to know why I brought you here? It's simple really. I want to reunite lovers. I want you to take Jonathan with you when I send you back."

My spidey sense starts to tingle with alarm. "Sophie, how do you expect to do that?"

Jonathan must be feeling the same panic. It's not possible, he says. You know it's not possible, Sophie.

Leticia holds up a hand to interrupt. "Let's hear her out. I don't know what's going on, but if Sophie can bring you to me, Jonathan, I want her to do it. I've regretted the way we parted everyday since I left you. I was a fool to let you go. Let me make it up to you."

She speaks the words with passion, looking into Sophie's eyes as if seeing Jonathan reflected there.

Maybe she does.

A satisfied smile tips the corners of Sophie's mouth as she says, "Okay. Let's put Jonathan to sleep for awhile." She grows still, closes her eyes, breathes in and out. After a moment she opens her eyes, releases a breath. "There. That's better. Now let's get to it, shall we?"

She crosses to the bar to retrieve her bag. I follow close.

"Sophie, what are you thinking? What kind of spell will separate you from Jonathan? And if you do manage to separate your essences, where will Jonathan's go?"

She looks up at me. "Don't worry, Anna. I have it all figured out. At first I thought I'd make Leticia and Jonathan one, like he is with me. But then I got a better idea." Her eyes twinkle as she glances over at a still prone Prendergast and whispers in my ear. "How do you think Jonathan will like being an editor?"