Cristina stood despairingly in the extremely clean kitchen of the Princewater Street canal house and wished there was something she could tidy up.
She’d washed dishes that didn’t need washing. She’d mopped the floor and set and reset the table. She’d arranged flowers in a vase and then thrown them out, and then retrieved them from the trash and arranged them again. She wanted to make the kitchen nice, the house pretty, but was anyone really going to care if the kitchen was nice and the house was pretty?
She knew they wouldn’t. But she had to do something. She wanted to be with Emma and comfort Emma, but Emma was with Drusilla, who had cried herself to sleep holding Emma’s hands. She wanted to be with Mark, and comfort Mark, but he’d left with Helen, and she could hardly be anything but glad that at last he was getting to spend time with the sister he’d missed for so long.
The front door rattled open, startling Cristina into knocking a dish from the table. It fell to the floor and shattered. She was about to pick it up when she saw Julian come in, closing the door behind him—Locking runes were more common than keys in Idris, but he didn’t reach for his stele, just looked sightlessly from the entryway to the stairs.
Cristina stood frozen. Julian looked like the ghost from a Shakespeare play. He clearly hadn’t changed since the Council Hall; his shirt and jacket were stiff with dried blood.