“Let’s find out for sure,” I said. “Let’s ask Gottfried.”

“SO YOU DONE raise him again?” Tante Ju-Ju asked.

I nodded. “I hope that’s it, too—it gets harder every time. But Gottfried came back. His body is a bit banged up from the falls, but he’s still willing to do the task. And when I worded the question the right way—asking him what work needed doing on the balcony—he told us that it was Von Doesburg who told him to check for termite damage. Which there was, only not in the place Von Doesburg told him to look. Von Doesburg set him up to fall, and probably pushed him down the stairs the other time, too.”

“Why he want to get rid of a revenant so bad?”

“We’re not absolutely sure because Von Doesburg has clammed up, but I started thinking about what Gottfried said about substandard building materials, and how he wasn’t building an Emerald Lake house. I got C.W. to take a look at Mr. Scarpa’s house, and apparently the place wasn’t built to code. Fixing it will be expensive and Scarpa said he was going to sue Von Doesburg to recoup his costs. Chances are that all the houses in the development have the same code violations. The man’s going to be bankrupt.”

“You think that enough? Or are you gonna send the loa after him for messing with your revenant?” Tante Ju-Ju said, with an ironic twist to her lips.

“Actually, I suggested to Mrs. Hopkins that the police just might want to investigate Gottfried’s real death a little more closely. After all, he must have discovered the problems with the Emerald Lake houses before he died, and from what I know about him, I don’t think he’d have kept quiet.”

“Where the revenant be now? You didn’t bring him here.”

“They’ve lost so much time these past couple of days that Gottfried insisted on working through the night, and you know how hard it is to argue with a revenant. With Von Doesburg out of the way, I figured he’d be safe enough there—C.W. and Elizabeth will keep an eye on him.”

“I think Dodie done us proud,” Papa Philippe said firmly. “If she not be bringing that man back, people start to think we can’t keep a revenant up and doing his task.”

“Maybe she did—maybe she didn’t,” Tante Ju-Ju said. “Tell me this. That third time you bring him back, where you get that sacrifice?”

I was so screwed. I’d been hoping nobody would ask that question, which was why I’d kept my hands behind me while I was talking. “I used my Order ring.” I held out the hand with the white mark that showed where the ring had been.

There were audible gasps, and if looks could have killed, I’d have been revenant material. I was afraid to look at Papa Philippe, who must have been wishing he were anyplace on earth other than standing next to me.

“Why you sacrifice that ring?” Tante Ju-Ju asked. “You got nothing else to give the loa?”

“What could I have given them? My car? My computer? None of that is worth anything.”

“But the ring be gold so that make it valuable?”

“No! Yeah, sure the gold is worth something, but that’s not what made it valuable. A sacrifice has to mean something, right? The ring was the only important thing I had.”

“Why it be so important?”

Was this a trick question? She knew what that ring symbolized. “Papa Philippe gave me that ring when I became a houngan.”

“You saying being a houngan is something special?”

“Are you serious?”

“You the one who never be serious about what you doing!”

“Sure, I make jokes. It’s a funny job—people are funny, and dead people even more so. That doesn’t mean I don’t take raising the dead seriously. I help people finish their life’s work so they can rest easy. If that’s not special, then I don’t know what is!”

She looked at me for what seemed like a year. The other council members were looking, too, and probably Papa Philippe, too. Then Tante Ju-Ju smiled so wide it was almost scary.

“You come here.”

I wasn’t sure if I wanted to, but since Papa Philippe nudged me and I was outnumbered, I went.

“Gimme your hand.” When I held it out, she slipped a ring on my finger, right where the other one had been. “The loa, they do like jokes. They be wanting you to stay houngan.”

“They aren’t playing a joke on me, are they?” I asked.

Tante Ju-Ju said, “No, I think maybe they be playing a joke on the rest of us houngans!” Then she actually laughed out loud, and the rest of the council joined in. People started patting me on the back and kissing both my cheeks, as if they’d been in on it from the beginning, but I didn’t think they had been. Papa Philippe was nearly as happy as I was.

It wasn’t until I got back to my car that I took a good look at the ring Tante Ju-Ju had given me. It wasn’t the gold signet I’d expected. It was green plastic, and in place of the vévé of Baron LaCroix, it had a simple circle with two lines on either side.

“In brightest day, in blackest night,” I said. She’d given me a Green Lantern power ring.

ABOUT THE AUTHORS

PATRICIA BRIGGS is the #1 New York Times bestselling author of the Mercy Thompson and Alpha and Omega books. She is grateful that although most adults who play all day with their imaginary friends get sent to the funny farm, authors get paid to do it. She currently lives in eastern Washington State with her family and a small herd of horses.

VICTOR GISCHLER’s work has been nominated for the Edgar® and Anthony awards, and has been translated into Turkish, French, German, Italian, Spanish, Japanese, Portuguese, and Czech. His novel Gun Monkeys is being made into a film with Ryuhei Kitamura attached to direct. He has scripted such titles as Punisher, Deadpool Corps, Death of Dracula, and X-Men for Marvel Comics. He lives in Baton Rouge, Louisiana, with his wife, Jackie, and son, Emery. He loves his giant charcoal grill. His fantasy novel based on the characters he created for this anthology is in the works.

JAMES GRADY, author of Six Days of the Condor (adapted into a Robert Redford film), received Italy’s 2004 Raymond Chandler Medal, France’s 2001 Grand Prix du Roman Noir, and Japan’s 2008 World Baka-Misu award. In 2008, London’s Daily Telegraph named Grady as one of “50 crime writers to read before you die.” Montana-born Grady’s short stories have won numerous awards. He has written for film and TV, and is also a contributor to AOL’s news site PoliticsDaily.com. He and his wife, writer Bonnie Goldstein, live inside D.C.’s Beltway.

New York Times and USA Today bestselling author HEATHER GRAHAM majored in theater arts at the University of South Florida. After a stint of several years in dinner theater, backup vocals, commercials, and, of course, bartending, she stayed home following the birth of her third child (of five) and began to write, working on fiction—horror, paranormal, historical, suspense, and romance. After some trial and error, she sold her first book, and since then she has published more than a hundred and fifty books in all genres. She wrote the launch books for Shadows and Mira, and has been published in more than twenty languages around the world. She loves all her associations—Romance Writers of America, Horror Writers Association, Mystery Writers of America, International Thriller Writers, and Sisters in Crime—and is pleased to have been honored with awards from Waldenbooks, B. Dalton, Georgia Romance Writers, Affaire de Coeur, Romantic Times, and more. She has been quoted, interviewed, or featured in such publications as The Nation, Redbook, People, and USA Today,

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