“Your son died,” July said, shortly. “He died a while ago.”
“I know,” Libby said, honestly unsurprised. Whenever the subject of Grayson came up, a few people in Dragomir’s inner circle were just a little too weird about him - people who shouldn’t have acted strangely. When had Logan ever really interacted with the kid? “But he’s still alive.”
“He’s alive but he’s dead. He’s a ghost with way too much power.” July tapped her chest. “This is his body. I nabbed it a while ago. Hence my bein’ here. That good enough for ye?”
It was. Despite Libby’s dislike of July - How do I know her name is different? Oh, right, she’s a witch, shit making sense doesn’t apply here - she knew the old woman was an ally. Even if she was wearing the skin of Libby’s child. Libby barely considered Grayson to be her kid anymore anyway. He’d committed too many fucked up crimes in his short lifetime. Even before recent events Libby wouldn’t really have cared.
But my son is dead, she thought, and now it’s confirmed. Am I a monster for not carin’? Or just a human for bein’ glad he’s halfway into the grave?
“I suppose you have a plan for gettin’ outta this shitheap?” Libby pushed against her restraints. They didn’t budge. “Maybe workin’ on these?”
July shook her head. The motion - a little cocky, a little condescending - was a weird combination of Grayson and the old woman, as though they’d always been meant to merge. “Canna do nuthin’ ‘bout those, m’love. If I take ‘em off he’ll start te suspect. They stay. It’s difficult enough te keep this charade up as it is. But aye, I have a plan, of sorts.”
Libby’s face flushed. She didn’t like the way July stood there, half grinning, waiting for Libby to ask. “Okay, what’s the plan, then, you sour bitch?”
July waved a finger. “Tut tut. I see yer mouth hasna changed much in the last year ’n a bit. Truth is, I’d rather ye not know too much ‘bout what I’ve been schemin’. All ye need te know is that ye’ll be playin’ a key part in the drama, ’n you need te stick to your lines at all times. Ye’ve played a part before, haven’t ye?”
Libby struggled with the word ‘part’ until she realized that July was talking about theatre. “The fuck? You want me to act? The hell good is that gonna do me? Look, if we can find a way to fuckin’ take him down - “
“That is up to me,” July insisted quietly. “And I won’t be takin’ him down, per se. Not, ah, directly. Again, though, ye needn’t be worryin’ about that. All you need te do is distract the fuck outta the little brat. Enough that he won’t even consider lookin’ somewheres else for a while.”
Libby’s heart sank, and she stopped struggling to break free. She felt vaguely sick at the word ‘distract’. “Please don’t tell me I’ve gotta…”
July cocked her head. “I didna say anything. Gotta what, eh? Don’t despair too much, lass, or he’ll sense ye and come runnin’.”
Libby couldn’t help it. She knew, almost immediately, what July had in mind, even if the crone hadn’t bothered to spit it out yet. She wanted Libby to do the one thing Libby couldn’t do anymore, to do what Libby hadn’t willingly done for almost two years. She couldn’t, because doing it would absolutely disgust her - and it might tear her heart out a second time. She didn’t know if she could commit to that.
“Ye’re nay stupid,” July declared, grin stretching. Grayson’s stitched face almost resembled the witch’s original mug, wrinkled and crazy. “Say it. Then ye can start committin’ to it. Time works oddly here, so if ye need a few days, ye have ‘em. Just don’t take too long with the lad or all the time in the world won’t matter.”
Libby took a breath, held it, let it go, took in another. She held the second longer, as if testing her resolve. She held it for five seconds - exactly five, she’d counted - before letting it go again. A word lingered behind her breaths, waiting to emerge, held back by the iron clad bars of Libby’s anger, anxiety, and outright fear.
The word never did come out. But Libby was committed anyway, and both of them knew it.