Anacostia recited regulations in her head the entire length of the hallway.
She would be the first into the room.
She would protect the General from any perceived or unknown dangers.
She would know immediately if this was a cruel trick – an attempt to utilize their greatest tragedy as a weapon.
She would not allow it.
Izadora paused before the doorway and held her left hand aloft to halt the women behind her. She looked inside briefly in silent question and Anacostia felt every muscle in her body tighten.
Izadora was silently asking was Sarah ready?
Anacostia took a deep breath through her nostrils and squared her shoulders a little tighter. She saw Petra and Magda exchange a look, but she kept her eyes firmly on the side of the stone doorway.
She could not fathom how this could be real, yet the possibility that someone was utilizing her mother’s death as a means of attack sparked white hot anger in her. After everything she had seen and done over her life, after everything her mother had taught her, the belief in the possibilities of the unknown was strong in her, but this?
No, she had given her mother to the Mycelium; had cried alongside a silent Tally Craven as they watched Sarah disappear through the opaque tendrils of the Mother.
This could not possibly be happening. Izadora was mistaken, she was sure of it. And that meant that whoever was in that room couldn’t possibly…
“It’s alright, Izadora.”
Her thoughts stuttered to a halt and her heart squeezed painfully at the sound of that voice. Petra’s eyes went wide, her face falling slack as she physically stepped back. Magda Verger’s mouth dropped open slightly and she pushed passed Anacostia roughly without so much as sparing a glance.
But Anacostia couldn’t move.
She watched as Magda stepped around Izadora and stopped as she peered, mouth hanging open, into the doorway.
“Well, I’ll be a motherfucker.”
The sound of her mother’s deep chuckle was amplified against the stone walls and Anacostia felt her heartrate quicken. Beside her, Petra jolted and closed ranks behind Magda in three long strides. She gasped and froze mid step as she rounded the corner of the doorframe. All of her carefully personalized propriety went out the window.
There was a brief pause before Sarah’s voice rang out again, exasperated humor clear in her tone.
Her mother’s voice was soft, but Anacostia heard only it over the roaring of the blood in her ears.
She could feel tears pressing against the backs of her eyes and she clamped her jaw shut hard. She would not cry. She would not give in to emotion when there was a possibility that this wasn’t real.
Izadora merely watched her knowingly as Magda limped into the room.
Petra’s face was one of pure shock as she disappeared hurriedly into the room behind Magda. Anacostia knew with certainty that as Head of Intelligence she needed to be in that room - she needed to protect the General, but her feet would not move. It was as if roots had taken hold of them.
She didn’t understand why she could not hear the words she knew were coming from the side room. A loud buzzing rang in her ears, power surging within her. She wouldn’t be surprised if a storm was raging outside at this very moment.
She swayed on the spot, hands clenching at her side.
Izadora was next to her in two strides.
Anacostia clamped her jaw tighter as her eyes flicked up to the doorway and held. She needed to be in that room.
Her vision swam with unshed tears as the ringing in her ears turned to pressure.
Izadora grasped her forearm firmly and dug two fingers deep against the pressure point there.
“Anacostia. Listen to me.”
Anacostia blinked twice as she watched Izadora’s mouth move. The woman kept repeating the same thing over and over again, but she couldn’t make it out. By the look on her face, it was important, however. She flicked her eyes back to the doorway and swallowed thickly. She needed to be in that room. She needed to …
A sharp tug on her arm chased the thoughts away. The thrumming in her ears was beginning to ease. She blinked rapidly a few times and turned her eyes fully to Izadora, who still had a vicelike grip on her arm. Anacostia could see she was mouthing a mantra, perhaps a protection seed?
With another slow blink, sound came rushing back in.
Anacostia felt the air tear itself from her lungs. She hadn’t even realized she’d been holding her breath.
She gulped in a rush of cold air and panting, nodded shakily towards the shorter woman. Izadora’s grip on her forearm was still firm, but relief was visible on her features. Anacostia nodded once more and gripped Izadora’s hand still holding on to her, squeezing tightly.
“I’m ok. Thank you.”
Izadora searched her face for a few tense moments before she nodded and released the pressure from her forearm immediately. Released from the pressure point, Anacostia felt her head swim with the full rush of her blood once more.
“Handy. Bet that’s very effective for slowing bleeding in the field.”
Izadora wiped a shaky hand down her face quickly and glanced back over her shoulder. Anacostia could hear the voices easily now.
“Yes, and I’d be happy to discuss its merits with you at a later time.” Izadora stepped forward once again, lowering her voice as she did so.
“Are you going to be ok with this?”
Anacostia caught the concerned gaze of her friend and felt a rush of emotion threaten to come spilling over once more. She swallowed thickly as she nodded.
“I have to be. Either way. I have to be.”
Izadora’s touch was gentle on her arm this time.
“It’s her, Ana. I know it.”
Anacostia felt the calm mask of Officer slide into place at her words. She would have to be analytical here, she couldn’t be emotional.
She had to be a soldier. She tugged her jacket down hard and straightened her shoulders.
Izadora squeezed her arm in solidarity as Anacostia clasped her hands behind her back and started forward. No matter what she saw, she was going to handle this as the Head of Intelligence of the Armed Forces.
The thought skidded to a halt in its tracks the moment her eyes landed on the woman sitting between a pale Petra Bellwether and a smiling Magda Verger.
Sarah’s head was down, hand running smoothly over her features. It was an action she had seen a thousand times over the years and a bolt of emotions tore through her with such force that she couldn’t stop the gasp as it pushed from her lips.
Sarah’s head whipped up at the sound of Anacostia’s shaky breath and she pushed to her feet in an instant. Petra turned to look at Anacostia in the doorway, Izadora’s eyes darting between the three women from her vantage point in the hallway.
Anacostia merely stared, drinking in the sight of the woman who had raised her as her own. The woman she had loved so fiercely that she’d lost years to anger and hurt at the mere breath of betrayal. The woman she was still mourning.
Sarah’s eyes were wide as she took an uncertain step and then stopped. Petra was shocked to see tears forming in the woman’s eyes. She suddenly felt like she was intruding and her thoughts turned to Abigail, somewhere in the country – hopefully still safe. She dropped her head from the scene when Anacostia moved, darting forward to throw her arms around Sarah.
Sarah enveloped her in her arms and tilted her head immediately to press her cheek against the top of Anacostia’s head. A loud sob tore through the air at the action. Sarah closed her eyes and hugged tighter.
Izadora watched the scene with such a tender look on her face that Petra felt unease crawl up her spine. She took a step back towards the door as Anacostia sobbed once more, fingers gripping the fabric of Sarah’s sweatshirt tightly.
Magda merely clasped her hands on top of her cane and dropped her gaze.
“Shhh, my darling one, shhh.”
The words seemed to have the opposite of the intended effect for Anacostia merely sobbed once more. Sarah pressed a tender kiss to the top of her hair, hands rubbing in soothing circles across her back.
Petra had always known that Sarah had raised Anacostia as her own, but she had never bore witness to such tenderness between them. Sarah had taken a particular interest in the young fosterling who had been unafraid of anything even at the tiny age of 4. She had taken the news of her mother’s death hard when Sarah had had to convey it to her. She could remember with distinction the look on Sarah’s face as she stared into the daycare room for the children. She had refused to allow the job to be handed to anyone else. Petra herself had volunteered although her gut twisted with the thought of it. Perhaps there could be an easier way to handle the disclosure, she had suggested.
Sarah had merely dismissed the notion. The girl’s mother had died under her watch, she had said. She would deliver the news and she would not hide it in any way.
“Never lie to a child, Petra. They’ll see right through you anyway.”
Petra had watched as Sarah had entered the room and knelt down to the ground, eye level with an inquisitive and seemingly knowing look. She could not hear the exchange with the door closed, but she saw the child’s eyes water. She watched as she squeezed her little fist tightly at her side. Sarah had touched her cheek then and a young Anacostia had flung herself into the General’s arms. Petra remembered the look on Sarah’s face when she had stepped back into the hallway, the way her voice wavered.
It was very reminiscent of the scene now.
Anacostia pulled back slowly; arms latched on to both of Sarah’s forearms as she stared in disbelief.
“Is it really you?”
Sarah’s face softened. She brought one hand up to gently smooth away the tears on Anacostia’s cheek and nodded. Anacostia shook her head and flung herself forward once more, arms wrapping tightly around Sarah’s stomach.
Sarah reached up to gently run one hand across the back of Anacostia’s head as she lay her cheek once more upon her head. Her eyes sought Petra across the room and Petra swallowed thickly.
“You’re going to run tests and examine me, yes?”
Petra nodded quickly. She didn’t trust her voice to form words as she watched the moment play out before her. The tenderness and care were so contradictory to everything she had always thought she had known about Sarah Alder and yet here it was on display as if it was the most natural thing in the world.
Sarah nodded against the top of Anacostia’s head.
“Good. I’d do the same.”
She pulled back slightly, hands sliding down Anacostia’s arms as she brought her to arms length in front of her. With one small movement, she cupped the Head of Intelligence’s cheek once more, smiled a watery smile, and turned to face the three other women.
Anacostia swiped at her eyes with one hand, the other clasped tightly in Sarah’s own.
Sarah nodded at the trio and smiled.
“Then let us begin.”
Another week had passed without much news.
Nicte’s thoughts on the events in town had proven to be true. A rally had blown through quickly, clearly the Camarilla stirring support. They were using Alder’s death as a sign that things were changing, and Raelle had seen an influx of propaganda featuring both Penelope Silver and General Alder’s defaced posters when she and Scylla had gone to gather supplies from the local market. She had been shaken by the sheer volume of hatred she had witnessed. A man had ripped a poster of Alder right down the middle next to a swinging effigy of her former General and the crowd had erupted into cheers. Scylla had shared a significant look with her and pushed herself tighter against her at the moment. Raelle pulled her hood down tighter even though she knew she was wearing a false face.
No one would know it was her, but the anger at the scene mixed with fear and apprehension inside of her.
Something was coming. She could feel it in her gut, but she couldn’t put a name to it for the life of her.
Scylla grabbed her hand and tugged. With one last look back into the riled up crowd, Raelle followed. By the time they had banged back into the front door, Raelle was fuming. Abigail clocked it the moment she had started unwrapping her scarf angrily from her neck.
Scylla glanced shortly at Tally as she leaned against the doorframe into the kitchen and then back at Raelle. Her look was clear.
“Yeah, it’s uh… it’s fine. We just…”
She paused and then slammed her scarf down hard on the back of the couch. Scylla’s hand was on her back immediately as she took over.
“There’s a rally. Camarilla stirring up support. They’re using the Vice President’s daughter as a propaganda tool.”
Her eyes flicked towards Tally once more. The redhead had gone quiet, eyes wide as she griped the mug in her hands tightly. Scylla could see her knuckles turning white from across the room. She took a deep breath and sighed. Ignorance wasn’t going to help them.
“They’re also using Alder’s death as a uniting tool.”
Abigail’s angry, “What?!” wrenched the tension in the air. Raelle could feel the anger burning inside of her. She knew what the Mycelium had shown her – knew the pain and devastation that Sarah had already been through at the hands of the Camarilla. She hadn’t told her sisters of what she had seen because really, she hadn’t been sure of how to convey it.
“They had a fucking effigy of her strung up on a fucking noose.”
The words exploded from her lips before she could stop them. Scylla’s soft voice held a tiny bit of exasperation.
But Raelle couldn’t care at the moment. She was seething, shaking with anger at the injustice of everything that had happened and that was happening.
Nicte chuckled darkly and shoved towards the door.
“Here we go again.”
The words were low as she shoved the front door open. It banged loud against the frame as she pushed through. The tension was physically palpable in the air. Raelle glanced towards Tally once more to find an unreadable expression on her face.
She turned suddenly and sat her unfinished drink on the counter.
Raelle had to sidestep as she grabbed her jacket and pushed through the screen door. She was gone by the time Raelle turned back around.
The room went silent again before Abigail’s anger exploded. She hurled the water bottle she had been drinking from with so much force that it exploded open when it hit the wall. Khalida merely looked at the water as it dripped down the paint. Adil sprung up and grabbed a kitchen towel from the counter before anyone spoke.
Abigail raised her hand and pointed to the front door as she began to pace.
“That’s just fucking great. What are we supposed to do now, huh?”
Raelle sighed heavily and shoved her body up from its position against the back of the couch.
“I don’t know, Abs. OK, I’ve never been in this situation before just like you haven’t.”
Abigail whirled - all others seemingly forgotten in the room.
“Why’d you have to come in and say that? Did you see her? She bolted out of here, Raelle. She can’t keep going like this, it’s eating her alive!”
Raelle shoved her way forward then, anger searing through her even as Scylla grabbed her arm.
“You think I don’t know that?!”
“Ok, that’s enough.”
Scylla’s usually calm voice rang out loud through the house. Abigail dropped her head backwards to her shoulders, a loud sigh emanating from her lips. Raelle tugged her arm out of Scylla’s grasp and turned to face the wall where Adil was silently wiping away the water, pretending as if he wasn’t paying rapt attention to what was happening.
Scylla looked hard at Abigail and then back to Raelle. “Look, I know you two are still reeling from what happened. From everything you saw, from what you had to do.”
Raelle shifted uncomfortably beside her, but Scylla merely stepped further between the two sisters.
“It’s bullshit and it sucks that you can’t fully process what happened. I get it.”
Abigail scoffed slightly and tilted her head forward once more. Anger was etched all over her face.
“Oh right, like when you murdered hundreds of innocent people?”
Scylla straightened to her full height in the silence that followed the question.
“No, Abigail. Like when I had to hide and watch my parents and everyone I know be murdered. Like when I joined an organization that I thought would help me deal with that pain by doing something, but it didn’t.”
Raelle glanced up then, her eyes darting between her sister and the woman she loved. Abigail’s gaze swung around to catch her own briefly before she dropped it.
“I’m sorry. I shouldn’t have said that.”
Raelle could see Scylla’s tense form loosen ever so slightly. She stepped back, running her hand up and down her arms in a tell Raelle knew conveyed her uncertainty in a situation.
Quinn’s voice was even as she stepped forward, new bottle of water outstretched towards Abigail. The younger woman took it with an embarrassed look on her face.
“This is what they want. Us turning on each other.”
She stepped forward to glance out the front window before she turned back to address the group as a whole. “There’s a lot that needs to be dealt with and dangers out there that you can’t imagine. We aren’t going to get through this if we’re at each other’s throats. So whatever you have to say to each other, say it and get it out. Bottling it up ain’t gonna do anybody any good and we got bigger problems.”
It was Raelle’s turn to look sheepish. She pushed herself up from the couch back once more and nodded in Abigail’s direction.
“I’m sorry, Abs.”
Abigail smiled a tight-lipped smile and nodded her acceptance. Raelle ran a hand roughly through her hair and sighed.
“Seeing that shit? I don’t know what…”
Abigail stepped forward then, hand reaching out to grasp Raelle’s forearm in understanding.
“Hey, we’re going to do what we’ve been planning to do. We’re going to win this war and we’re going to take those bastards down in the process.”
Scylla watched Raelle stare at her for a moment, nod her head once, and then stand slowly to her full height. She may not like the High Atlantic from time to time, but she could feel the power from her – could feel the sway it held over everyone in the room. Even after all she had witnessed in town, somehow, even she could believe they stood a chance with Abigail’s fiery confidence.
With a heavy sigh, Raelle turned back to the front door and stared into the distance.
“We’re going to have to do something about Tal.”
Abigail’s sigh joined her own as she moved forward to stand shoulder to shoulder with her.
Khalida’s soft voice broke the silence.
“I may have an idea. Though you may think it unpleasant.”
Every set of eyes turned to the youngest member of their group. Her face was unreadable as always.
“Tally Craven is holding an immense sense of guilt for the way things are. She needs to see the world for what it is and understand that her actions, though unfolding vast consequences, are not the cause of them.”
Abigail and Raelle shared a confused glance, but Scylla quirked an eyebrow.
“You think we should rip the band aid.”
Khalida nodded solemnly.
“A wound needs air to heal. This you know.”
Scylla sighed long and deep. Raelle turned to her, eyebrows scrunched in confusion.
“Wait, you wanna do what?”
Scylla was already moving to grab her coat once more.
“She deserves the truth, Rae.” She pulled up short as the healer moved to intercept and turned to face her. Raelle stopped short at the look.
“All of it.”
Raelle’s eyes searched her own in a silent conversation. When she bobbed her head in acquiescence, Scylla reached forward and grasped her arm once again.
“I’ll be back soon, ok.”
Scylla shrugged into her jacket easily, reaching up to pull her hair free. When she turned, her eyes held nothing but sadness.
“She’s coming with me. She needs something to do and there are truths she needs to see. Then? It's up to you two."
She pushed out of the door before Raelle could do more than nod her head in agreement.
“Do you have a knife?”
Tally froze for a moment at the simple question. Her eyes darted around the old barn they stood in as the memory of the diner from so long ago pushed its way to the forefront of her mind.
She refused to meet Scylla’s eyes as she shook her head.
If Scylla had any indication that she knew what was going on in Tally’s mind, she didn’t make it known. Instead, she made a noise of recognition and reached into the inside of her jacket without a word. When she pulled back a butterfly blade in her palm, she twirled her wrist and danced the blade open and closed once again.
She shrugged one shoulder and held it outstretched. “Should never be unprepared.”
Tally stared at the outstretched blade for a solid ten seconds before she reached forward and took it. She hadn’t touched a blade since that moment weeks ago. The weight was unfamiliar in her hand, and she bounced it a few times for something to ground herself in.
Scylla turned, picking up a bottle of water from the nearest hay bale and shoving it into one of the backpacks they would be taking with them.
Tally cleared her throat as she kept her eyes on the dagger.
“You uh, you didn’t tell anyone about the diner.”
It was a simple statement. No one had said a word to her after she had gotten back on the bus, and it hadn’t been mentioned since. No one had looked at her any differently. She knew her sisters loved her, but Raelle was a terrible liar. If she knew what had happened, she would have been unable to keep it in.
Scylla swept a final item in the bag and swung it back over her shoulder as she turned to examine Tally. Tally felt hot discomfort settle into the pit of her stomach at the look. She hadn’t spent a lot of time alone with Scylla, but she had the uncanny ability to hold a silence for a moment too long. Hell, she didn’t even know if the woman knew it had been her once upon a time that had been the cause of her detainment and separation from Raelle.
By her own logic, though, Tally knew that Raelle knew, so Scylla had to know. Still, she’d never been anything but nice to Tally.
Another thing Tally felt like she hadn’t earned.
Scylla merely raised an eyebrow and tightened the strap on the bag. She glanced up at Tally briefly through the curtain of her hair before looking back to fix the strap.
“I didn’t think I needed to. You didn’t do anything to him.”
Tally scoffed lightly, “No, but I was going to. If you hadn’t stopped me…”
Tally intentionally let the words trail away as she finally looked at the woman her sister loved. Scylla stared right back, raised an eyebrow, and bobbed her head before shrugging one shoulder.
“He’d have probably deserved whatever you did to him. Besides, I was more worried about what would happen to you than whatever you did to them.”
Tally’s eyes snapped up.
“What do you mean?”
Scylla paused for a few seconds, her hands halting against the straps of the bag. She stood taller, task forgotten before she took a step forward into Tally’s personal space. The close proximity made Tally’s skin itch, but she shoved it down hard. She needed to get used to people again.
Scylla’s eyes danced across her face for a moment. She swiped her tongue across her lips and took a deep breath. Tally could feel the discomfort rolling off of her.
“Have you ever killed a civilian, Tally?”
Tally froze once again, eyes locked on the blue of Scylla’s own. The color tremored something inside of her and she swallowed against the sudden dryness in her throat.
The truck. Her first devastating fight with Sarah Alder that had been the foundation of their tumultuousness.
Caused by the Spree using them as bait.
Tally straightened a bit, hardened by the memory and the wound it still tore at. Scylla must have had the same thought because Tally watched as she cleared her throat and looked away.
“With intention. Have you ever looked a civilian in the eye and chose to end their life?”
Tally blinked hard a few times as her thoughts danced all around. Finally, she shook her head.
Scylla merely nodded her head softly and turned her gaze to sweep across the empty barn.
“Taking the life of someone who is truly powerless against you… there’s something inside that just… changes.”
Tally’s gaze drifted up again, but Scylla’s eyes were unfocused, mind seeing something even Tally’s Sight was not privy to.
“The terror in their eyes? It makes all the worst things they have always said about us seem suddenly true and that burden can do a lot to a soul.”
Tally could hear the regret thick in Scylla’s voice. She wondered for the first time what burdens this woman carried on her own shoulders. Perhaps none of them were without guilt.
Scylla blinked back into focus with a shake of her head. With another glance at Tally, she shrugged.
“I didn’t have to think too hard about stopping you from feeling that, too.”
Tally was surprised to feel her eyes well with tears.
She hadn’t been able to cry in weeks now, broken only when she had jerked herself awake from such a realistic dream of Sarah Alder tumbling onto the stone floor of the Necro labs that she had sobbed into her pillow until Raelle had gently tapped on her door to offer coffee. She hadn’t told anyone about the dream or the emotions it had evoked, but the succinct description of the reasoning for her own worst action - the one she could not rectify within herself - was too much. An unnamed understanding that had eluded her since she had stepped forward in the hangar so long ago clicked silently into place.
Tally swallowed against the lump in her throat.
Scylla stepped forward then and placed a hand hesitantly on her shoulder and Tally felt her grip tighten into surety.
“I imagine you may know a thing or two about choices like that.”
Tally closed her eyes against the pressure building there.
Oh, did she know.
With a shuddering breath, and an all too familiar push of something long buried, Tally surged forward and threw her arms around Scylla.
Scylla made a brief noise of surprise and then quietly engulfed Tally’s trembling frame.
She hadn’t hugged someone in so long she couldn’t remember the last time it had happened. The urge to touch and be touched, once so ingrained in her, had simply vanished as she watched Sarah disappear into the Mother…after the numbness of Penelope.
Raelle and Abigail, who had adjusted to her physical demonstrations of emotions over their time together, hadn’t received so much as a shoulder bump from her. In her desperation after the dream, things with Nicte had crossed a line into something she didn’t have want to name and that she hadn’t addressed.
This moment, blessedly, was different. This was like a dulled part of her that she couldn’t reconcile had finally opened its eyes. The ache in her chest eased its tight knot around her heart. She couldn’t articulate what was happening in her at the moment, but as Scylla rubbed circles across her back, Tally realized that maybe she didn’t have to know.
Maybe there was more value in merely sharing the silence.
She shuddered a deep breath and stepped back hesitantly, embarrassed for the first time at her once standard display of affection.
She swiped at her eyes as she glanced up and was surprised to find Scylla’s eyes wet as she smiled.
“Don’t mention it. Besides…”
Scylla stepped away and tugged the bag higher up her shoulder once more. All traces of the discomfort of the previous moments had vanished.
“Raelle swears by my hugs. You can’t be faulted for being drawn in, too. I’m magnetic.”
Tally felt the tiniest flicker of a smile pull at her lips. When Scylla merely raised a brow at her, she couldn’t hold the chuckle in. Scylla smiled at the sound and stepped round her towards the barn door. She pointed back at her as she pushed it open.
“Don’t forget your knife.”
Tally watched as she stepped out and then glanced down at the knife in her hand. With a heavy sigh, she pushed it deep into her pocket. She reached back for the backpack still there for her and heaved it onto her back.
Sarah Alder’s forehead pressed to her own.
Nicte’s dark laugh in her ear.
Tally shook her head hard to dispel the images. She couldn’t allow herself to sink into any of those thoughts right now. There were things to do.
With a deep sigh, she shifted the bag higher onto her shoulder and headed for the door.
She’d have to revisit her choices later.
Sarah Alder gasped and her hand clutched at her chest before she could stop it.
Petra froze mid-sentence and stared wide eyed at her. Izadora was already out of her chair and moving.
“Sarah, what is it?”
Sarah blinked slowly; hand still pressed to her chest. She breathed a sudden heavy sigh and closed her eyes tight. Her head thudded softly against her regular examination chair as she let it drop backwards. The Biddies’ chairs still encircled her own, but now Anacostia and Magda sat resting against two of them.
It was Petra’s no nonsense voice that grounded her.
“I felt something.”
Izadora was over her at once, hand already tilting the bright bulb of the examination light from above her.
“Was it a pain? An ache of some sort?”
Sarah shook her head and pressed herself up. Izadora stepped back immediately, reaching to pull the light out of the way as she did so. Sarah swung her legs from the side of her chair, but her hand never stopped rubbing a small patch across her chest.
Anacostia’s eyes narrowed a bit at the action.
Sarah shook her head again. “No, it was a feeling… strong and not my own.”
Silence descended upon the room. Magda and Izadora shared a knowing look before Izadora was moving to grab instruments from the desk in the corner. Petra rounded the chair she was standing behind and looked round at the others.
“How is that possible? The Biddies…”
Izadora shook her head, turning with a tray grasped tightly in her hands. She rounded the corner of the desk as Magda stood.
“The Biddy connection would have been severed at the moment of death.”
Anacostia flinched at the words even as her eyes landed on Sarah’s shaken face.
The tray rattled as Izadora sat it down.
“We didn’t examine it because it seemed obvious, but…”
Sarah’s voice trembled as she sat up straighter. Anacostia watched recognition cross her features before Sarah turned her gaze up and locked it with her own.
“Izadora,” Sarah paused and lowered the hand she had pressed against her chest slowly back into her lap. “My connection with Tally Craven.”
Izadora scrunched her brows in confusion for a moment. “The one we attempted to dissolve?”
Anacostia felt a wave of realization as Sarah swallowed hard and nodded once.
“You need to examine that.”