Cloud City (Anna Strong Chronicles #9)


Sophie comes around slowly. She presses both hands against her face. I can't tell if she's taking mental inventory or is just weary from the exorcism. I try again to reach out to Jonathan. Leticia is doing the same. We both ask the same question:

Where are you?

We both get the same answer: nothing.

Leticia isn't willing to wait any longer. She kneels down between Sophie and Prendergast. She turns Sophie's face upward with a hand to her chin.

"Did it work?"

Sophie looks at her with no expression.

Leticia's anger snaps. She slaps Sophie with the palm of her hand. "Come out of it, damn you. Did it work?"

Sophie's head jerks, her hand flies to her cheek. Anger flushes confusion from her eyes. "What did you do that for?"

At least she's speaking. Color rushes into her face. She struggles to stand up but Leticia stops her. Sophie pushes her hand away. "Let me up."

Leticia rises with her. For a moment, they stare at each other. Sophie touches her chest. Tilts her head as if listening. Then a slow smile blossoms on Sophie's lips.

"He's gone," she says. Her face shines with the wonder of it. "He's really gone."

Leticia doesn't take the same pleasure in Sophie's declaration. She takes step closer, teeth bared in warning. "Where is he, witch?"

Sophie looks down at Prendergast. "Did you see his spirit when it left my body?"

I figure it's time I inserted myself in the conversation. Leticia's growing fury is reaching critical mass. "We did," I say, stepping between them. Maybe not the best place to be if Leticia explodes, but I can handle her better than Sophie.

I point to Prendergast. "It seemed to rise like a cloud and settle into him. But he hasn't moved since and we can't reach Jonathan telepathically."

Sophie bends over Prendergast, feels for a pulse. "He's alive."

"I don't give a fuck if he's alive," Leticia roars. "Where's Jonathan?"

Sophie turns to me. "Help me get him to the bar."

I move around Leticia feeling the heat of her anger rolling off her body in waves. She'd tear Sophie apart if I wasn't here.

I hoist Prendergast over my shoulder and deposit him on a chair. Sophie gets a glass of water and tips it into his mouth.

Prendergast swallows reflexively, chokes. His head rolls on his shoulders. He moans and finally, finally, opens his eyes.

His expression is as blank as Sophie's when she first regained consciousness.

Until he sees Leticia.

Quicker than is humanly possible, he is at her side. He grabs her, crushes her to his chest, one hand at the nape of her neck the other on her ass.

I glance over at Sophie. "I think we've found Jonathan."