our chance is gone. Sigi is gone with them.”
“I told you not to speak of her.” Arabella turned from him.
“And I tell you, you should. I know it pains you—” Father Gruneman put a hand on her shoulder, but she pushed it off.
“It doesn’t pain me. Don’t you turn ‘Father Gruneman’ on me, Viktor. I’ve seen far too many sides of you for that.”
Thea was startled by Freddy putting an arm around her shoulder and whispering, “Let’s go.” When she didn’t move at first, he said, “I don’t think we’ll learn much more.”
“But we’ve been here only a few minutes, after all that trouble to get up the fire escape!”
“At least it’ll be easier to get down again. And I need to talk to you. Alone.”
T he cabdriver was whistling a jaunty tune, seemingly oblivious to the heavy mood of Thea and Freddy in the backseat. Out of the corner of her eye, Thea could see the city lights racing across the strong, straight lines of Freddy’s face.
In this quiet moment, she began to move the pieces in her mind, to see how they fit together. Freddy, with his silver hair, bringing a strange vision of her father and an odd story about Nan…and this talk of a sorcerer who could revive the dead…
It couldn’t be him.
Surely it couldn’t be him.
He wouldn’t be here with me if he had that kind of power. They wouldn’t even let him go out.
The cab pulled up in front of her apartment building and they both got out, but Freddy walked around to the driver’s window and exchanged a few words before giving him money.
“Sending a message to Gerik,” he explained as the taxicab drove away.
“He won’t worry that you’re out so late?”
“Not if I tell him the right thing.”
Thea approached the stairs apprehensively. These were dank, poorly lit stairs trod by well-worn shoes, and she hated to bring him here. But when he had asked if there was a private place where they could discuss things, the only truly private place she could think of was her apartment. Although it sounded strange to call it that. It wasn’t really her place. It was still paid for, in part, by checks from her father’s military service. It was waiting for her mother to come home.
“Step quietly,” she whispered. “If Mrs. Weis or Miss Mueller hears me bringing a boy up, heaven knows what.” She fished out her keys.
After she hung up her coat and lit the gas lamps, he looked around curiously, as if her apartment were an exhibit. She cringed inwardly. The apartment was dusty, the floor grimy, dishes piled up and needing attention….Mother had been cleaning less reliably in recent months, and Thea really hadn’t felt like picking up a broom or a rag since she was taken.
His eyes wandered to the photographs on the ledge—her parents’ wedding photo, and another of Father in his army uniform. Freddy picked that one up. “This is your father?”
Freddy studied the picture for a long moment. “I remember,” he said. “I always remember.”
Thea stood near the table, not knowing where to put her hands. “Remember what?”
“It’s a wondrous, humbling thing, bringing someone to life,” he said, his voice trembling. “Why would I be granted such a gift? But I was. I brought back your father, and Nan.”
She wanted to sit down. But she couldn’t bear to make all the noise of dragging out a chair. Instead, she took the picture from him. Father’s smile looked out at her. Mother was right. All along. I never should have doubted her.
“It is you, then,” she said. “You’re the sorcerer the revolutionaries are looking for?”
“It was probably stupid of me to walk into their den. But then again, it was probably the last thing they’d expect.” He looked at her kitchen. “Would you mind if I had a bit of that bread? I’ll give you money for a new loaf.”
“Is this really a time to be eating?”
“It just—it makes me hungry all the time, the magic. Gerik says it
Kristin Flieger Samuelian