Wait, wait. I didn’t need to move physically to use my power, which was independent of my human form. And my power could—

I shifted before I finished the thought, ending up outside the tub, with my bare ass several feet above the bathroom floor. Gravity took care of that, dumping me onto the cold tile before I’d even managed to get a breath, along with about forty gallons of tepid water. In my panic, I’d shifted the entire contents of the bath, which foamed over the floor, drenching the fuzzy rug and breaking against the walls like a miniature tide.

I barely noticed. I lay on the water-slick tile, sucking harsh gulps of air into my screaming lungs, while Billy hovered around me. He looked a little panicked now, I noticed irrelevantly, right before a hand clenched around my throat.

It took me a second to realize that it was mine.

Fortunately, I have small hands, so the one trying its best to choke the life out of me wasn’t having much success. It might have done a better job if it had had some help, but my other hand was locked, white-knuckled, around the standing towel rack and it wasn’t letting go. I stared at it, dazed and uncomprehending, and my own wide blue eyes stared back at me from the bright chrome surface.

What the hell?

The question echoed the one in my head, but it hadn’t come from me. It took me a second to realize that Billy had slipped inside my skin, the way he did when feeding. It gave him access to my power, something I’d learned to put up with but never to like. Today, I grabbed him in a metaphysical clench, almost sobbing from relief.

Help!

Help how? he demanded. What’s happening?

Possession. The word stopped me, since my conscious mind hadn’t connected the dots. But my unconscious seemed to be more organized, because that sounded about right. I’d had some experience with possession in recent months because it was one of the Pythia’s chief weapons, but I’d never before had it turned on me.

I decided I wasn’t enjoying the experience.

By what? Billy demanded.

Like I know! Just do something!

Yeah, only what I can do depends a lot on what exactly is—

Billy!

Okay, okay. Don’t worry, Cass. I got this, he told me. Right before he was thrown out of me, across the bathroom and through the wall.

I watched him disappear, a look of almost comical surprise on his face, and belatedly realized who’d had control of my other hand. Because it immediately went numb and joined the choke party at my neck. But amazingly enough, that wasn’t my biggest problem.

There were a limited number of things that could possess a human. Ghosts were one of them, but unless they were welcomed inside like I did for Billy, they had to fight their way through the body’s defenses. And that meant a much-weakened spirit by the time it finally got in—if it did.

But that hadn’t been weak. Whatever it was had exorcized Billy while maintaining its grip on me, and no mere ghost could do that. Which narrowed things down to the Oh, Shit list.

A fact that was demonstrated when the towel rack tipped over and tried to bash my head in. My hand wasn’t on it anymore—no one’s was—but it was going nuts, anyway. It shattered the mirror over the sink, then ricocheted off and slammed into the tub, sweeping the jar of bath salts onto the floor and turning the soggy tile fluorescent pink.

The result was enough noise to wake the dead, one of whom started hammering on the bathroom door. “Miss Palmer. Are you all right?”

I didn’t know the voice, but it didn’t matter. I couldn’t answer, anyway. All I could think about was getting to the source. The vamps might not know any more about this than I did, but they could at least pry my damn hands off my neck.

I tried to shift, but this time, nothing happened. Maybe because the room was starting to spin and my vision was graying out and I was slowly sinking to my knees. And then Billy was back, looking pissed.

He slipped inside my skin, and immediately I felt a very familiar energy drain. You’re feeding now? I asked incredulously.

I have to have energy to fight this thing, Cass! And I’m almost bottomed out.

And what do you think I am?

Billy didn’t answer, and the drain didn’t stop. But a moment later, my hands sprang away from my neck like they’d been burned. Suddenly, I could breathe again.

I stayed down because I didn’t have the energy to get up, coughing and wheezing as my lungs struggled to drag in air through a throat that felt maybe half the right size. It was burning and my head was swimming, and I really, really wanted to throw up. But I would have cried in relief if my eyes had been under my control.

Unfortunately, they’d rolled up into their sockets and wouldn’t come back down.

“Miss Palmer?” The vamp was sounding seriously unhappy now, but the door still didn’t open.

Why isn’t he coming in? Billy demanded angrily.

He doesn’t want to upset me.

You and your damn personal space!

I didn’t answer because he had a point. And because I suddenly realized that I could feel my legs again. It shouldn’t have surprised me. Holding on to a body that isn’t yours and doesn’t want to be held is no easy task. And it looked like whatever had its claws in me couldn’t keep all my appendages in thrall at once while also fighting off Billy Joe.

It wasn’t much of an advantage, but it was the only one I had. I staggered to my feet, wincing when a piece of broken glass cut my heel, and almost tripping over the soggy, bunched-up rug. I was trying hard not to panic, but it felt a lot like drowning again—being naked and blind and at the mercy of an enemy I knew nothing about.

Except that it wanted me dead.

And it wasn’t too particular about how I got that way.

I hadn’t taken two hesitant steps when my legs suddenly went numb, my body turned and I ran—straight into the nearest wall. My head happened to be twisted slightly, which saved my nose, but my temple hit hard enough to leave me reeling. I staggered back, but only to get enough leverage to ram the wall again.

Eyes! I screamed mentally as I jerked out a hand to break my fall and almost broke the bone instead.

Working on it.

Work harder! I cried as the impact sent me stumbling into the side of the sink.

My hip hit the unforgiving marble hard enough to bruise, but a moment later, my eyesight returned. That would have been a relief, except that it freed up my attacker to grab back one of my hands. Luckily, it was the bad one, and it dropped the hair pick it had snatched up before it could stab me in the eye with it.

The pick went down and my other hand came up—along with a jagged piece of the mirror that it used to slash at my jugular. Billy caught it just in time, but the hand didn’t drop. It hovered menacingly in the air in front of my face, shaking from the effort, while three different spirits battled for control.

I couldn’t tell who was winning, but I didn’t think it was us. I stared at the wickedly sharp triangle as it slowly edged closer, reflecting back to me wildly matted blond hair, a bone white face and dazed blue eyes—and the door to the dining room over my left shoulder. It was nearer now, and I was still on my feet.

I ran for it.

Halfway there, my body went into spasms and I went down. But I managed to snag a potted fern on the way. The pretty piece of blue and white delftware was on a pretty little stand, which made a pretty little crash when it tipped over and exploded against the hard tile.

And, finally, that was enough for the guards. The door burst open and three vamps rushed in, stopping in confusion when they saw nothing but a skinny white girl ripping the bathroom apart. And then it felt like something was ripping me, too, a burning, tearing sensation that mercifully only lasted a second before something shot out of me.

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