Neck craned, I squinted up between the shadowed apartments. High in the sun, dragonflylike wings threw back the glow with the transparent sheen of glittery tissue paper. The sporadic traffic at the end of the alley was enough to cover the sound of Jenks’s wings, but I could hear them in my memory as the pixy hovered before a pollution-grimed window.
The moist-dirt smell of damp pavement was a hint under the light but growing scent of frightened vampire coming from near my elbow. I doubted Marsha was having second thoughts, but disobeying your master vampire could have lethal consequences.
Still watching Jenks, I surreptitiously edged away from Marsha’s tense, middle-class office professionalism. Her heels were this year’s style, but she wouldn’t be able to run in them. Her hair was a luscious handful that spilled over her shoulders in an ebony wave—again, it made her an easy target in a close fight. A curvaceous figure sealed the deal that she was beautiful. But as a living vampire, it went without saying that her looks had been selected for over the last two generations, and not for Luke’s benefit, the man she’d unfortunately fallen in love with. But she knew she was vulnerable. That’s why Ivy, Jenks, and I were here.
My neck was getting a crick, and I dropped my gaze to the passing cars, confident that distance and recycling bins would hide us from casual sight. A tight hum jerked my attention back in time to see Jenks dart from a winged shadow. A blue jay squawked, and the tips of five feathers spiraled down between the buildings. Flapping wildly, the sheared bird managed to get across the street before thumping to the sidewalk.
Having already dismissed the bird, Jenks cupped his hands around his face and peered through the window. His skintight, thief-black tights and knit shirt helped him blend into the shadows, and the red cap was to tell rival pixies that he wasn’t there poaching, a real issue this close to Eden Park. So far, no one had bothered him, but birds were a constant threat.
“I shouldn’t have to do this,” the woman at my elbow complained, oblivious that a third of the team here to keep her alive had just had a narrow miss. “It’s my apartment!”
I took a slow breath when Jenks lifted the flap to the bathroom vent and vanished inside. “You want to risk running into Luke?” I said, and she made a sound of frustration. Yes, she did, but to do so would mean her death.
A lingering sensation that something was off dogged me, despite—or perhaps because of—the ease of the run so far. Restless, I resettled my shoulder bag. I wasn’t a slouch when it came to looks, but next to this woman’s structured beauty, my frizzy red hair and low-heel boots fell flat.
Ivy’s confident steps against the hush of the side-street traffic tightened my gut. The vampire next to me stiffened at my increased pulse, and I gave Marsha a look to pull herself together. “Stay here,” I said, not liking that Jenks was still inside. “Jenks will tell you when you can come in.” Hiking my shoulder bag higher, I headed for the sidewalk.
“The hell I will,” Marsha said then stepped as if to follow.
Spinning, I shoved her shoulder, sending her thumping back against the wall. Shocked, the woman stared, not a hint of anger thanks to a lifetime of conditioning. “The hell you will,” I said. “Stay here until Jenks says you can move, or we turn around and walk. Right here. Right now.”
Only now did her anger show, her pupils widening and the scent of angry vampire prickling my nose. Wanting to nip this show of dominance, I stretched my awareness out and tapped the nearest ley line. Energy flowed in, making the tips of my hair float as it spooled in my chi. My skin tingled, and I leaned into her space, proving I wasn’t scared of her little fangs or her greater strength. “You’re under a conditional death threat, sweetheart,” I breathed. “Once I verify that Luke isn’t in there, you can come get what you want. But if all you’re looking for is a way to die that doesn’t invalidate your life insurance, do it on your own time.”
Sullen, Marsha dropped her eyes, the rim of blue around her pupils returning to normal.
I rocked back, thumbs in my pockets, satisfied that she’d wait. It was unusual for a vampire to listen to anyone outside their camarilla, but she had come to us. Nodding, I looked up and made a sharp whistle. Immediately, Jenks peeked out of the bathroom vent and gave me a thumbs-up. “Park it,” I muttered, and the woman shrank against the Dumpster and out of sight.
Appeased, I started for the front entrance. The run had sounded simple enough when Ivy had brought it up over grilled cheese sandwiches and tomato soup last night. Helping a woman get her things out of her apartment was a no-brainer—until she told me the separation was being forced by two rival vampire camarillas and if Luke and Marsha didn’t comply someone was going to end up dead. No way was Ivy going to do this one alone.
This was doing nothing to bolster my already low opinion of the undead vampires, the masters who manipulated everyone and everything in their decade-long games. Once they noticed you, the only way to avoid being a victim was to die and become a player yourself.
But not Ivy, I thought as I emerged from the alley and she angled toward me. I wouldn’t let that happen to her. Unfortunately, the harder you squirmed, the more they squeezed.
Ivy’s pace hid a thread of tension I never would’ve noticed if I hadn’t been sharing living space with her for the past three years. Sleek in her black slacks and top, she strode forward with her arms free and swinging. Her long black hair was up in a hard-to-grab bun, and even from here I could see the rim of brown around her eyes was nice and steady. She jumped at the distant sound of a door closing two streets over, though. She’d noticed something was off, too.
Her shoulders eased as she fell in beside me, and we took the steps up to the front common door together. “Luke’s car is still in the lot,” she said as I pulled the door open and we walked into the foyer of the old apartment building as if we belonged. “By the smell of it, it’s not been run for two days.”
“So he’s doing what he’s been told and is still alive.” I glanced up at the camera. Jenks had been through the common areas, and according to him, they were fake. The scuffed tile floor was dirty in the corners, and I leaned against the stairway as Ivy leafed through Marsha’s mail, pulling out everything she might want before putting the rest back in.
“They won’t let one of them die without killing the other,” Ivy said as she made keep and toss piles. “Otherwise the dead will claim the living as his or her scion.”
Which wouldn’t do at all, I thought, looking up the dimly lit stairwell. It reminded me a little of my first place. “I don’t like this.”
A rare smile came over Ivy, and the letter box snapped shut with a click. “You worry too much. These two aren’t that important.”
My eyebrows rose. Despite my comments, Marsha was gorgeous. It would be hard for a master to let that much beauty go. “Worry? I only worry about you. I don’t like this run.”
Ivy handed me Marsha’s mail, and I tucked it in my bag. “You just don’t like the undead,” she said, and I pulled my splat gun out and checked the hopper.
“Golly, I can’t imagine why.”
Making a soft sound of agreement, Ivy started up the stairs. I knew she wasn’t interested in the mail, but it had given us a chance to stand at the foot of the stairs while she breathed the air and decided if anyone was waiting for us on the way up—Jenks’s assurance or not. “Relax,” she said as I fell into place behind her. “They agreed to not see each other. We go in, get her stuff, get out. End of story.”
“Then why did you ask me to come with you?” I said, rounding the first landing.
Not looking back, she whispered, “Because I don’t trust them.”
Me either. The door downstairs clicked open, and I spun. My hold on the ley line zinged through me, but it was just Jenks and Marsha. I put a finger to my lips, and she closed the door behind her to seal out the shush of cars. Even three stories up, I could see a new, healthy fear in her. Maybe Jenks had talked to her.
The pixy’s wings were a soft hum as he rose straight up in less than a second. “We’re clear,” he said, the silver dust slipping from him making a temporary sunbeam on my shoulder.
Clear, sure, but he couldn’t detect charms unless they were active. “Keep her in the hall till I say,” I asked. “And let me know if anyone pulls up.”
Jenks nodded, dropping down to where Marsha was trying to creep up the stairs without her heels clicking. Ivy was waiting for me at the end of the hall, and I closed the gap quickly, eyeing the new detector charms on my bracelet. It had been a pain in the ass to make them that small, but if they were on my bracelet, I could watch them and point my gun at the same time. The wooden apple detected lethal spells, and the copper clover would glow in the presence of a strong charm. The two were not always synonymous.
Ivy was starting to smell really good, a mix of vampire incense and leather. I tried to ignore it as I gripped my splat gun tighter, amulets clinking. Marsha’s front door had a corkboard for leaving notes, decorated with flowers and a smiley face with fangs. I could hear the woman’s heels scrape on the stairwell, and I grimaced. It was noon, a time when most day walkers would be at work and the night walkers safely underground—but there were ways around that.
The amulets were a nice steady green and I nodded, splat gun level as I crouched opposite the door’s hinges. Ivy worked the key and pushed it open to stand in the opening. Jenks flew in, confident that his first look was sufficient, but I listened as Ivy tasted the air, running it through her incredibly complex brain. “Hi, honey. I’m home,” she said, and I followed her in.
I had to walk right through Ivy’s scent, and even with my breath held, I shivered at the touch of pheromones she was kicking out—wafting over my skin like the memory of black silk. Though still sharing our investigation firm’s letterhead, she’d been pulling away from me the last six months or so. I had a good idea why, and though I was happy for her, I missed working with her on a more daily basis. My old vampire bite tingled at the obvious aroma of amorous vampires that permeated the one-bedroom, open-floor-plan apartment. Or maybe I just missed the intoxicating mix of sexual thrill and heart-pounding adrenaline she pumped into the air when she got tense.
Frowning at my own shallowness, I looked over the small, plush, well-decorated sunlit apartment and the evidence of their love. I knew what it was like having people tell you who not to fall in love with and my thoughts pinged on Trent before spinning away.
“Stay there,” I said to Marsha, now at the door. My amulets were a nice steady green, but I was only five feet into the place. “There could be person-specific spells.”
Person-specific spells: a nice way of saying a bullet with your name on it—and Jenks couldn’t detect them. They were a necessity when making lethal, illegal charms. Vampire politics would keep the hit quiet, but if the spell took out an innocent, they’d track down and jail the black witch who’d made the lethal charm.
Senses searching, I did a quick walk through the living room before checking out the small kitchen. Ivy was in the bedroom, and I slowed, eyes on the amulet. It was easier to hide stuff among the gleaming metal and new appliances, but if there was anything here, it’d show.
“Hey!” Ivy exclaimed, muffled from the walls. My head snapped up and I lurched to get in front of Marsha. Shit, I’d been right.
“Jenks!” Ivy shouted, exasperated this time. “Why didn’t you tell us about the dog?”
I slid to a stop, peeved as Jenks dusted an embarrassed red. Marsha had come in, eyes alight, and I waved for her to stay where she was.
“Sor-r-r-rry!” Jenks said as the jingle of a dog collar became obvious. “It’s just a dog.”
No one had been here for two days? The place smelled like candles, not dog crap.
“Buddy!” Marsha called out, exuberant as she pushed around me to drop to her knees, and I eyed the small, scruffy, pound puppy that timidly walked, not trotted, into the living room. “Come here, baby! You must be starving. I thought Luke had you!”
My eyes narrowed. I’d never had a dog, but I knew they generally underwent the throes of delight when their owners came back after checking the mail, much less two days. “Ah, Marsha?” I said as the dog took a hesitant step in, his tail just hanging there.
“I think we’re good,” Ivy said as she came out of the back room. “You want to sweep it with your charms?”
“Sure,” I said slowly, something ringing false.
“Buddy?” Marsha called again, and the dog gave me a sideways look as he passed me, a mix of excitement and hesitancy I wouldn’t expect from an animal.
At my wrist, an amulet flashed red. “Shit, it’s the dog!” I shouted. Marsha looked up, her beautiful little mouth in an o of surprise. Her hands were outstretched and the dog was almost to her. I’d never get there in time.
“Rhombus!” I exclaimed as I pulled on the ley line, feeling it scream into me, harsh from my demand. The energy pooled and overflowed, and I shoved it out again, my word tapping into a hard-won series of mental handsprings that harnessed the energy into a molecule-thin barrier. It took the easiest form—a sphere with me in the center—and the dog predictably ran into it.
But instead of the expected yip of surprise, the energy levels spiked.
It was the only warning I got, and I cowered as a bright flash of energy exploded inside my circle, coming from the dog! The loosed power reverberated, making my circle chime like a sour bell, and I froze, skin crawling as the illegal death spell flooded over me, then fell back into the dog when it didn’t find its intended victim.
“Buddy!” Marsha screamed as Ivy shoved her into the wall, covering her with her body.
“Get her out of here!” I shouted, afraid to move. The spell had been invoked, but it hadn’t fastened on its intended victim. It was a loose cannon, and it was trapped in here with me.
“That’s my dog!” the woman protested, wild with fear as Ivy manhandled her into the hallway. “Buddy! Buddy!”
Slowly I realized I was unhurt. Buddy, though . . . wincing, I looked at the dog, prostrate and beginning to shake. He wasn’t dead, and he wasn’t a dog. It was her boyfriend, Luke.
I hate vampires, I thought, realizing what had happened. Someone had turned Luke into a doppelganger of their dog and tacked a secondary spell on to him that would kill them both when Marsha touched him. Luke was halfway gone, but until the spell found Marsha, it wouldn’t invoke fully. I had a chance.
“Marsha!” I stood, carefully watching the energy flow as I broke my own circle. “Where do you keep your salt!”
“Stay put,” Ivy snarled. “Tell me.”
“In the cupboard beside the stove!” the woman sobbed from the hallway. “What happened? Buddy? Buddy!”
I ran to the kitchen and snapped on the faucet. “It’s not your dog, it’s your boyfriend.”
Maybe that had been a mistake since the woman totally freaked out. “Luke!” she screamed. “Oh God, Luke!”
“Stay in the hall!” Ivy shouted, and the sounds of a struggle grew louder.
Salt, salt . . . I thought, pulse fast as I found a mixing bowl and dropped it into the sink. “Don’t let her touch him! If she touches him, they both die!”
“Luke!” the woman sobbed, and I triumphantly found the salt. I wedged a nail under the spout and ripped it right out. Hands shaking, I shook it into the mixing bowl.
“Is he going to be okay?” Jenks asked, his dust pooling on the surface to run like mercury, but I didn’t know.
“Oh God. Hurry!” Marsha begged, and I gave the saltwater a quick stir, tasting it before I picked up the bowl. The woman was hovering over the dog, terrified. My heart went out to her. Vampire masters were sons of bitches. Every last one of them. “Help him!” she screamed, her perfect face twisted in terror. Ivy held her, and I moved fast, bowl of saltwater before me.
“Stay back,” I warned as I stood over the little white dog and dumped it. Water splashed, and Marsha backed up, white faced and breathless. I had no idea if the entire concentration was optimum for breaking earth charms, but there’d be enough to not just turn him human, but to break the lethal charm as well.
As expected, the dog vanished behind a thick puff of brown-and-blue aura-tainted energy. “Luke!” Marsha screamed, and Jenks frowned at her. He’d seen enough spells break to know this was normal. I backed up, tense as the cloud grew to man size. Slowly the mist broke up to show a naked, bruised, and beaten man huddled on the soggy white carpet.
Luke took a sobbing gasp of air. He was going to make it—for now, and I eased back to sit on the edge of the cushy couch, elbows on my knees and head dropped into my hands. The amulets on my bracelet clinked, and I sighed. The saltwater had ruined them. I’d tack it on to Marsha’s bill, but I didn’t think she had the money. Besides, she was going to be a little busy trying to survive.
“You can touch him now,” I said, realizing that Marsha was still hovering over him.
Frantic, she dropped to her knees. Water squished from the carpet, and she pulled him to her. “Oh, baby!” she gushed, oblivious that he was covered in saltwater. “Did he hurt you?”
By the bruises, clearly someone—probably his own master—had, but he raised a shaky hand and brushed her cheek. “I’m okay,” he rasped, a flash of ugly memory finding me at the sight of him, his black hair plastered to his face and his eyes not quite open. It hurt like the devil to shift with earth magic, but his toned, athletic, and beaten body covered in easily hidden scars looked as if it was used to pain.
Crying, Marsha cradled his head to herself and rocked him. I wondered how many scars were hidden behind Marsha’s expensive clothes. This sucked. Vampires looked as if they had everything, but it was a lie. My eyes shifted to Ivy, seeing her inner struggle. A big fat ugly lie.
The clatter of Jenks’s wings was a short warning as he landed on my shoulder. “He looked like a dog to me,” he grumped.
“That’s because he was one.” I plucked at my wet shirt, sticking uncomfortably to me. The question wasn’t how, but why. Why had two minor vampire camarillas spent this much on a double-whammy spell like this on a simple Romeo and Juliet? it was expens-s-s-sive.
Ivy was in the hall to convince the neighbors nothing was going on. It didn’t take much. Clearly they were familiar with the situation. Not happy, Ivy shut the door and stomped into the kitchen to turn the faucet off.
“I’m sorry, Marsha,” Luke was saying, and the crying woman stretched for a blanket to cover him. “When they told me I couldn’t see you again, I went to a witch. She said she could turn me into a dog so I could be with you. No one would know it was me.”
I watched as Ivy pulled the living room blinds. Her expression was empty, hearing far past what the man was saying. Closing the last, she sat across from me in the shadow light, worried.
“I didn’t care if I was a dog,” Luke continued, his eyes still not open as his hand gripped hers. “I knew you wouldn’t leave Buddy.” His eyes opened, and I stared. They were the clearest shade of blue I’d ever seen. “I love you, Marsha. I’d do anything for you. Anything!” Crying, he pulled himself into a ball in her arms. “I’m so sorry.”
My God, they’d tricked him into buying the charm that would’ve killed them both. Ivy and I exchanged a worried look. This was bad, but we couldn’t just walk away. Jenks, too, was looking ill, and he moved to the decorative bowl of pinecones on the coffee table. He’d loved and lost more than Ivy and I combined, and this wasn’t sitting well with him either. But it wasn’t one master vampire we’d have to outwit, but two.
Ivy was still silent, and I sourly thought of my bank account. “You think we should help them?” I said softly, and Jenks’s dust shifted to a hopeful yellowish pink.
Ivy didn’t look at me. The couple on the floor was silent.
“You think we should help them,” I said again, this time making it a statement.
Ivy’s eyes flicked up. I could see her tremendous need to give, to make it right. She’d done so much wrong, and it chewed on her in the small hours. My heart ached for her skewed view of herself, and I wished she could see herself as I did. This would rub the guilt out—for a time.
“Okay, we’ll help them,” I said, and Marsha gasped, her tear-wet eyes suddenly full of hope where there’d been only despair. Jenks’s wings hummed his approval, and I sat up, gesturing weakly. “But I don’t know what we can do.”
“You can’t,” Marsha said, voice harsh as she held Luke. “They know everything.”
Unfortunately, she was right. We couldn’t simply set them up in a nice house out of state and hope that they wouldn’t be found and made into an even bigger example. Ivy had been trying to wiggle out from her master her entire life only to become more entangled, so much so that they’d ensnared me, too. Trent, maybe? I thought, but as it was, he was struggling to keep his head above the political sharks.
“Maybe,” I said as Luke sat up, muscles beginning to work again. “Changing into a dog was a great idea.” Actually, it had been a lousy idea, but unless you practiced magic, you wouldn’t know how easy it was to circumvent it. My gaze went to the soggy carpet. Obviously.
“We’ll run,” Marsha said, tensing as if ready to walk out that exact second.
Ivy shook her head. “You won’t get past the city limits.”
“Marsha, sweetheart,” Luke whispered. “You know that won’t work.” But I’d given her hope, and the woman wouldn’t let go.
“We can use the tunnels!”
Ivy looked toward the shuttered windows at the sound of a horn. “They built the tunnels.”
“I can’t live without you. I won’t!” the distressed woman cried out, and I wondered if the place had been bugged. But if it had, Jenks would have heard the electronic whine and disabled them. We had a moment to catch our breath, and then we’d have to move.
It wasn’t as if we could stake their two master vampires; there were laws against that kind of thing. Unless Marsha and Luke could come up with iron-clad blackmail, they were stuck.
“Okay,” I said, feeling the need to get moving. We’d been here too long. “There might be some law or something you can tap into. Ivy’s going to need access to every document your name is on. Birth certificate, property deeds, insurance, parking tickets, tax returns, everything.”
Marsha nodded, that same glow of hope back in her eyes hurting me. This wasn’t going to work, but we had to try something.
Ivy rose to look out through a crack in the blinds. “Do either of you have a safe house?”
“None we trust anymore,” Luke said, and Ivy let the blind fall.
“I’ve got one,” Ivy said, coming back to help Luke stand. “You should be okay for a few days. especially if you help out a little with the other guests coming in.”
Wrapped in the blanket, Luke awkwardly got to his feet, pale and shaking. “Anything. Yes. Thank you.”
Jenks took to the air, humming out under the crack in the door to check the hallway. Almost immediately he darted back in with a big thumbs-up.
“We can’t just walk out with them,” I said, and Ivy gave me a glum smile.
“They won’t try anything new until sundown,” Ivy said, catching Marsha’s arm before the woman went into the bedroom and shaking her head to leave everything. “They’ll want to be present the next time.”
God help me. I hated vampires. “Okay, let’s move out.”
“But he needs his clothes,” Marsha was saying as I collected my splat gun from the counter. Ivy was almost carrying Luke to the door, and tears began to slip again from Marsha. I totally understood. The entire place was a perfect blending of their love. It was sucky when happiness became this costly. But if they’d fought this hard for it, then it would last their entire lifetime. I just hoped that lifetime would be longer than a week.
The hallway was quiet, smelling of dust and old carpet. Eyes were watching through peepholes, and it made me edgy. Marsha took Luke’s elbow to help him shuffle down the stairs in his blanket, and Ivy dropped back to talk to me.
“Jenks, you’re going with Ivy, right?” I asked, knowing she wouldn’t tell me the address of her safe house, much less take me there. Jenks, though . . .
Jenks’s wings hummed into invisibility, and he rose up a hand width. “Yeah.”
“No,” Ivy said, frowning, and he made a face at her. “You’re not coming, pixy.”
“Tink’s a Disney whore, like you could stop me!” he shot back.
Smiling, I edged around Ivy to keep Marsha and Luke from heading out without us. “I’ve got my phone on,” I said, pushing them back to the mailboxes until I could look at the street.
“I’ll be fine. See you at home,” Ivy said, ignoring Jenks and his sword pointed at her nose. “Hey, you doing anything tonight?”
“Listen to me, you broken-fanged, moss-wiped excuse for a back-drafted blood bag!” Jenks said, a silver-edged red dust slipping from him.
I looked back inside from the street, thinking this had been nice, even with the near miss. I liked working with Ivy. Always had. We did well together—even when it had gone wrong. “I’m working security for Trent,” I said, lips quirking as I saw her mentally smack her forehead. “You want me to bring you back something? It’s probably going to end somewhere with food.”
“Sure. That’d be good,” she said, turning to give Marsha and Luke some last-minute instructions on how to get from here to there alive. “I’ll call if I need help.”
I touched her arm, and her eyes met mine in farewell. Smiling, I turned away remembering something Kisten had once said: I was there when she had her morning coffee, I was there when she turned out the light. I was her friend, and to Ivy, that was everything.
“Jenks, I’ve got this!” I heard, and then I shut the door, my steps light as I headed for my car. Ivy would get home okay. She was right that the masters would want to be there when they brought their children in line. Besides, everyone in Cincinnati with fangs knew Ivy Tamwood.
Head up, I stomped along, eyeing the few pedestrians. Slowly my good mood was tarnished. Love died in the shadows, and it shouldn’t cost so much to keep it in the sun. But as Trent would say, anything gotten cheap wouldn’t last, so do what you need to do to be happy and deal with the consequences. That if love was easy, everyone would find it.
I turned the corner, my head coming up at the clatter of pixy wings. “She said no, huh?” I said as Jenks landed on my shoulder, his wings tickling my neck as he settled himself.
“Tink’s little pink rosebuds,” he muttered. “She threatened to dump insecticide on my summer hut. Besides, she’s got it okay. God! Vampires in love. The only thing worse is you mooning over Trent.”
My smile widened. Maybe I’d make cookies. The man loved cookies.
He made a rude sound, his silence telling me he was unhappy. “Sorry about the dog.”
I lifted a shoulder and let it fall. “You didn’t know.”
“I should have.”
I didn’t answer, thinking about my date tonight with Trent. Well, not a date exactly, but I had to get dressed up as if it was one. I was still trying to decide whether to put my hair up or wear it down. Chocolate chip was his favorite.
“Oh God,” Jenks moaned. “You’re thinking about him. I can tell. Your aura shifted.”
Embarrassed, I halted at the crosswalk, waiting for the light. “It did not.”
“It did,” he complained, but I knew he crabbed because he couldn’t say he was happy for me lest he jinx it somehow. “So it’s been like what, three months? Does he still curl your toes?”
“Totally,” I said, and he made a rude noise at my blissful smile. “He’s a total toe curler.”
“Awww, this is sweeter than pixy piss,” he said with false sarcasm. “All my girls happy. I can’t tell you the last time that happened.”
My smile widened, and I pushed the walk button as if that might hurry it along. “I think it was when—”
The unmistakable sound of tires screaming on pavement iced through me. My breath caught, and I turned. Jenks was gone, his white-hot sparkles seeming to burn an airborne trail back the way we’d come. A woman screamed for help, and I jumped back when a black sedan roared past me, the front fender dented. Somehow I knew, like when a picture falls off the wall, or the clock stops ticking.
“Ivy,” I whispered, then turned and ran.