With Fate Conspire

Free With Fate Conspire by Marie Brennan

Book: With Fate Conspire by Marie Brennan Read Free Book Online
Authors: Marie Brennan
worked …
    The ghost part worked well enough. But before she could try and make money at it, Owen had disappeared. The only ghost she’d tried to summon since then was his, every All Hallows’ Eve.
    Five years she’d tried, calling for her lost friend, trying to manifest him in the air before her, or at least feel the comfort of his presence in her mind. Five years of failure, and then she’d given up, because she no longer wanted to know. If he came, she would know he was dead. If she didn’t try, she could tell herself he was still alive, and ignore the possibility that perhaps she just wasn’t strong enough to raise him.
    It didn’t make sense, but there it was.
    To her surprise, she heard the bell of a nearby church tolling eight. Lifting her head once more, Eliza felt the imprint of folded cloth on her forehead. She’d fallen asleep. Bloody lucky, you were, not to be caught by the peeler. Silently calling herself nine kinds of idiot, Eliza stood and looked through the bars again.
    Lights still burned in the house across the street, and before long the front door opened. A maidservant emerged, trotting off toward High Street; shortly after she returned, a hansom cab arrived, followed by someone’s brougham. People began to depart—Eliza counted seven, ranging from the gentleman she’d seen before to a matronly woman in the gaudiest bonnet she’d ever laid eyes on. The only one missing was the furtive young woman, and just when Eliza was about to give up waiting, she appeared on the steps.
    Followed almost immediately by another woman. “Miss Kittering!”
    The first one paused, hands on the edge of her hood, ready to pull it up. The light above the steps of No. 9 showed her to be quite a wealthy young woman indeed; she had obviously taken care to choose plain clothing, but her pert little cap had some very expensive feathers in it. The hair beneath was a glossy yellow, twisted into an elegant knot. Eliza caught only the briefest glimpse of her face, though, before the young woman turned to see who had hailed her.
    The other woman was remarkable in her very lack of remarkability. Medium-brown hair; medium-age features; medium-quality clothing that could have belonged to the wife of a middling professional man, perhaps a solicitor or a clergyman with a good living. As she hurried down the steps to join Miss Kittering, though, a strange intensity came into her manner, that gave the lie to her drab appearance. “Will you spare me a moment?”
    Miss Kittering glanced behind her, to where one last carriage waited. “I must get back—”
    “I understand. Would you perhaps let me ride with you? I have a very particular proposition, you see, that I did not want to make before the others—it is for you only, Miss Kittering, because I can see that you are a more … visionary spirit than the others. I suspect you could accept, even embrace, truths the others are not yet ready for.”
    Miss Kittering’s interest sharpened visibly. Eliza curled her hands around the bars, as if they were the only things holding her in place. Otherwise she might fly up the steps and accost this stranger on the spot.
    “What truths?” the young lady asked, curiosity clear in her voice.
    The other woman hesitated, then stepped closer. Her reply was so quiet that Eliza could only barely make it out. “That the materialistic views which bind so many in this scientific age are not the whole of the story. I know more of faeries than I have admitted publicly, Miss Kittering. And I tell you this: You are in a position to do a great favor to one of them, and receive a favor in return.”
    Miss Kittering’s laugh was much louder, and half disbelieving—but only half. “Me? I don’t see how—”
    “This is not the place,” her companion said, a tilt of her head toward No. 9 making her meaning clear. “If I may ride with you, though…”
    “Yes, of course—I am quite intrigued. And I mustn’t delay here any longer; Mama expects

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