Blue craned her neck to see what they were looking at. It was just Adam. He sat in the reading room by himself, the diffuse morning light rendering him soft and dusty. He had removed one of the tarot decks from its bag and lined each of the cards faceup in three long rows. Now he leaned on the table and studied the image on each, one at a time, shuffling on his elbows to the next when he was through. He looked nothing like the Adam who’d lost his temper and everything like the Adam she had first met. That was what was frightening, though — there’d been no warning.

Maura frowned. In a low voice, she said, “I think I need to have a conversation with that boy.”


“Someone does,” Calla replied, heading up the stairs. Each stair groaned a protest for which she punished the next with a stomp. “Not me. I’ve outgrown train wrecks.”

Blue, alarmed, said, “Is he a train wreck?”

Her mother clucked her tongue. “Calla likes drama. Train wreck! When a train takes a long time to go off the tracks, I don’t like to call it a wreck. I like to call it a derailment.”

From upstairs, Blue heard Calla’s delighted cackle.

“I hate both of you,” Blue said as her mother laughed and galloped up the stairs to join Calla. “You’re supposed to use your powers for good, you know!”

After a moment, Adam said to her, without lifting his eyes, “I could hear y’all, you know.”

Blue hoped fervently that he was only talking about Maura and Calla and not about her kitchen conversation with Gansey. “Do you think you’re a train wreck?”

“That would mean I was on the tracks to start with,” he replied. “Are we going to Cabeswater when Ronan’s done?”

Gansey appeared beside Blue in the doorway. He shook his empty bottle at her.

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“Fair trade,” he told her in a way that indicated he had selected a fair trade coffee beverage entirely so that he could tell Blue that he had selected a fair trade coffee beverage so that she could tell him Well done with your carbon footprint and all that jazz.

Blue said, “Better recycle the bottle.”

He dazzled a smile at her before knocking on the doorjamb with his fist. “Yes, Parrish. We’re going to Cabeswater.”


You could ask anyone. 300 Fox Way, Henrietta, Virginia, was the place to go for the spiritual, the unseen, the mysterious, and the yet-to-occur. For a not-unreasonable fee, any of the women under its roof (bar Blue) would read your palm, pull your cards, cleanse your energy, connect you with deceased relatives, or listen to the dreadful week you had just lived through. During the business day, clairvoyance was often work.

But on days off, when the mixed drinks emerged, it often became a game. Maura, Calla, and Persephone scavenged the house for magazines, books, cereal boxes, old decks of tarot cards— anything with words or images. One woman selected an image and hid it from the others, and the other two experimented with how accurate they could get their guesses. They made predictions with their backs to one another, with the cards splayed, with different numbers of candles on the table, while standing in buckets of water, calling up and down three or seven stairs from the front hallway. Maura called it continuing education. Calla called it turning tricks. Persephone called it that thing we could do if there’s nothing on television?

That day, after Blue and Gansey and Adam had gone, there was no work to be done. Sundays were quiet, even for nonchurchgoers. It wasn’t that the women of 300 Fox Way weren’t spiritual on Sunday. It was that they were spiritual every day, and so Sunday didn’t particularly stand out. After the teens left the house, the women abandoned work and set up the game in the shabby but comfortable living room.

“I’m very nearly drunk enough to be transcendent,” Calla said after a space. She was not the only psychic drinking, but she was the closest one to transcendence.

Persephone peered dubiously into the bottom of her own glass. In a very small voice (her voice was always small), she said sadly, “I am not drunk at all.”

Maura offered, “It’s the Russian in you.”

“Estonian,” Persephone replied.

At that moment, the doorbell rang. Maura swore delicately:

one well-chosen and highly specific word. Calla swore indelicately: several more words with rather fewer syllables. Then Maura went for the front door and reappeared in the living room with a tall man.

He was very . . . gray. He wore a dark gray V-neck T-shirt that emphasized the muscular slope to his shoulders. His slacks were a deeper gray. His hair was an ashy blond, drained of color, and so was the fashionable week-old facial hair round his mouth. Even his irises were gray. It escaped none of the women in the room that he was handsome.

“This is Mr. —?”

He smiled in a knowing sort of way. “Gray.”

All of the women’s mouths twisted into their own knowing

sort of smile.

Maura said, “He wanted a reading.”

“We’re closed,” Calla said, utterly dismissive.

“Calla is rude,” Persephone said in her doll voice. “We are

not closed, but we are busy?”

This was said with a question in her voice and an anxious glance toward Maura.

“That’s what I told him,” Maura said. “However, it turns out that Mr. — Gray — doesn’t really need a reading. He’s a novelist, researching psychics. He just wants to observe.”

Calla rattled the ice in her glass. One of her eyebrows looked exceptionally skeptical. “What do you write, Mr. Gray?”

He smiled easily at her. They noticed he had extraordinarily straight teeth. “Thrillers. Do you read much?”

She merely hissed and tipped her glass toward him, plum lipmark first.

“Do you mind if he stays?” Maura asked. “He knows poetry.”

Calla sneered. “Give me a stanza and I’ll fetch you a drink.”

Without the slightest hesitation or suggestion of selfconsciousness, the Gray Man placed his hands in the pockets of his dark gray slacks and said, “Where has gone the steed? Where has gone the youth? Where has gone the giver of treasure? Where are the feasting seats, where the revelry in the hall? Alas, bright goblet; alas, mailed warrior; alas, prince’s glory! How that time has passed away, obscured beneath the crown of night as if it never were.”

Calla lifted her lips from her teeth. “Do it in the original Old English and I’ll put alcohol in that drink.”

He did.

Calla went to get him a drink.

After she had returned and the Gray Man had been encouraged to sit on the worn couch, Maura said, “I’ll warn you that if you try anything, Calla has Mace.”

By way of demonstration, Calla handed him his drink and then removed a small black container of pepper spray from her small red purse.

Maura gestured toward the third member of their group. “And Persephone is Russian.”

“Estonian,” Persephone corrected softly.

“And” — Maura made an extremely convincing fist — “I know how to punch a man’s nose into his brain.”

“What a coincidence,” the Gray Man said genially. “So do I.”

He watched with an attentiveness both polite and flattering as Maura scraped her cards up from the sofa cushions. He leaned to pick up one she had missed.

“This fellow looks unhappy,” he observed. The art depicted a man stuck with ten swords. The victim lay on his face, as most people did after being stuck with ten swords.

“That’s a fellow after Calla’s done with him,” Maura said. “Good news for him is that the tens represent the end of a cycle. This card represents the absolute worst it’ll get.”

“Does seem like there’s not much worse than ten points in your back and dust in your mouth,” the Gray Man agreed.

“Look,” Maura said, “his face looks a little like yours.”

The Gray Man studied the card. He placed his finger on the blade rammed through the victim’s back. “And that sword looks a little like you.”

He glanced at Maura. It was a glance. She glanced back. It was also a glance.

“Well,” said Calla.

“Would you do the honor, Mr. Gray?” Maura handed him the deck of cards. “You’ll have to ask ‘top or bottom.’”

Mr. Gray gravely accepted the responsibility. He asked Calla, “Top or bottom?”

“Three of cups. And top, of course,” Calla said, her smile plum and wicked. “The only place to be.”

Mr. Gray removed the card from the top and turned it over. Of course it was the three of cups.


Maura grinned. She said, “Empress, bottom.”

The Gray Man removed the card from the bottom and showed it to the room. The Empress’s gown was suggested with a liberal swipe of charcoal, and her crown was studded with inky fruits or jewels.

The Gray Man clapped slowly.

“Four of wands, bottom,” Calla said.

“Ten of coins, top,” Maura shot back.

“Ace of cups, bottom,” Calla fired out.

Maura slapped the arm of the sofa. “The Sun, bottom.”

“Four of swords, top!” Calla returned, her mouth a deadly curl of purple. The Gray Man flipped the cards again and again, revealing the correct predictions.

Persephone’s quiet voice cut through Maura’s and Calla’s increasingly loud competition. “The king of swords.”

Everyone turned to look at Persephone, who sat with her knees together and her hands folded neatly in her lap. Occasionally, Persephone appeared both eight years old and eighty at once; now was one of those times.

The Gray Man’s hand hovered obediently over the deck. “Top or bottom?”

Persephone blinked. “Sixteen cards from the top, I believe.”

Maura and Calla both raised an eyebrow. Calla’s went up farther.

The Gray Man carefully counted the cards, double-checked his count, and then turned over the sixteenth card for the others to see. The king of swords, master of his own emotions, master of his own intellect, master of reason, gazed out at them, expression inscrutable.

“That’s Mr. Gray’s card,” Persephone said.

Maura asked, “Are you sure?” At a wordless agreement from Persephone, Maura turned to the Gray Man. “Do you think that’s your card?”

The Gray Man turned the card one way and another, as if it would reveal its secrets to him. “I don’t know much about tarot. Is it a terrible card?”

“No card is a terrible card,” Maura said. She eyed the Gray Man, fitting the king of swords into the man before her. “And the interpretation can be very different at each reading. But. . . the king of swords is a powerful card. He’s strong, but impartial— cold. He is very, very good about making decisions based upon facts instead of emotion. No, it’s not a terrible card. But I’m picking up something else off it. Something like . . .”

“Violence,” Calla finished.

It was a word that had an immediate effect on everyone in the room. For Maura, Persephone, and Calla, memories of Maura’s half sister came in first as they were the most recent, followed by the boy Gansey and his broken thumb. The Gray Man recalled Declan Lynch’s swimming gaze, blood streaming from his nose. Violence.

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