Ill Met by Moonlight
Ill Met by Moonlight was written aaaaages ago for the long-defunct, but much-beloved Harlequin Luna forums, may they rest in peace. It was a work for hire piece, which means I own absolutely nothing about it and can't sell it, but I did get permission to post it on my website as a promotional piece, and am entirely delighted to be able to do that.
I have not, it appears, written 'back cover' copy for it, and I may need to do that, but it is, in essence, a little gothic-y story about a 1940s Hollywood starlet who gets trapped in a mirror and emerges to the modern world...but at what cost to others? DUN DUN DUUUUNNNNNN!
I hope you enjoy it! 😀
ILL MET BY MOONLIGHT
I'M THE THING you think is watching you in the mirror.
I can see you all the time. When you brush your hair, when you change your clothes, when you climb into bed with a lover.
When moonlight falls on the mirror, I can whisper secrets from the future into your ear.
And sometimes, when the time is right, I can step through and rejoin the world for a single day.
* * *READ MORE
Sophia turned her back on the mirror frame, leaning against it with a soft, shuddering sigh. "Or I could," she whispered, putting a trembling dip and flutter into the words, "until someone put my mirror in a closet." The voice she'd once nurtured and cared for so magazine articles would refer to it as dulcet no longer carried sweet bell-like tones. It had recovered from the screaming some decades ago, but there would always be a rough burr left in it.
Her voice was almost all that had changed. The years had taken no toll on her figure or her face, and her wheat-blonde hair had gotten no longer. She still wore it coiffed, permanent waves that fell around her shoulders in a deliberate homage to the great Veronica Lake.
The late, great Veronica Lake, Sophie corrected herself. She'd watched the blonde siryn pass through the valley of death, just as every other giant of her time had done. All of them. Bette Davis, Katharine Hepburn, Marlene Deitrich. Everyone but Sophia Robinson, whose disappearance had been the topic of brief, titillating gossip and speculation, and who had then been forgotten as quickly as any starlet whose first film failed.
Ironically, of course, the film hadn't failed at all. It had done spectacularly well, thanks to Sophia's disappearance. It was the stuff of legends. It was the stuff, better yet, of movies. But after a month or two, the parties on the other side of the mirror ceased talking about her, and Hollywood soldiered on, brave and lonely, without its brightest rising star.
Sophia tipped her head back against the mirror frame, tracing the fine line of her jaw with her fingertips. Slow, elegant movements, the kind that she'd studied and learned in order to impress upon her public that she was more than just a flash in the pan. She was Sophia Robinson, Movie Star. Her hair brushed along her spine, soft reminder that the glittering, backless gown she wore was for a premiere party. It was to have been her first great moment in the public eye.
She had, as they said, been unavoidably detained.
I'm the thing you think is watching you in the mirror, she began again. In sixty-some years, she'd pared down the script to its essentials, leaving it cool and, she thought, ever so slightly dangerous. She would, of course, star in the movie. It was, as it had always been, all about her. The rougher voice she'd acquired would carry a vocal overlay well. It would tell the audience that the woman who spoke those words had been through something. Been through a certain kind of hell, and come through again, braver, more beautiful, and full of an untouchable light. The woman who spoke those lines would be an icon.
Sophia shook her hair over her shoulders again and gave the silent shadowlands a coy, sideways smile, careful to not let it crease deep lines in her still-supple skin. Youth was beauty, and beauty was power. She'd been a little girl the first time she'd seen a film with Jean Harlow, and she'd understood in one glorious moment what youth and beauty could bring a woman.
"I'm the thing you think is watching you in the mirror," she purred, and for the first time in years, light flooded a rectangle in the plainscape. Sophie lurched around, forgetting elegance and grace, and slapped her hands against her side of the mirror. "Hey!" she bellowed. "Let me out!"
A voice from the other side of the mirror said, "Holy shit, look at this."
* * *
The light was far too bright. Sunlight, pouring in blindingly, not moonlight's pale, freeing touch. Sixty years of familiarity reasserted themselves and Sophie lifted a hand to her brow, palm out and fingers curled delicately to shade away the worst of the light without forcing her to resort to squinting. The light had a purity she barely remembered, molten gold pouring in without warming her, the mirror's silver backing keeping anything that smacked of life just beyond reach.
A figure separated itself out of the astounding light, black and slender, shadow cutting through gold. The block of torso came first, then sunlight winked around shoulder-length hair and gave the figure a head. Finer details, the arms and legs, blurred into visibility an instant later, until a silhouette stood between Sophie and the world outside.
"Holy shit," the voice said again, and the figure put his hand on the mirror, fingertips pressing against metal that Sophia knew from experience was cool to the touch, even after long days under stage lights. "Hey, Terry! C'mere and check this out!"
"What?" A woman, impatient, appeared in the filtered light, and her presence was enough to change everything. Shadows sprang fully-formed into shapes and forms, so much to look at that Sophia suddenly couldn't choose where to look. Sunlight behind the pair flooded in from a picture window so broad and bright Sophia couldn't see its frame.
The sun itself flared red even as she watched, half astonished she could still remember what colors looked like. Sunset. She put her hands against the mirror again, matching her fingertips to the man's, and whispered, "Put me in the moonlight." He wouldn't hear her, couldn't, unless the mirror was placed in moonlight, but she whispered it with all her heart anyway. The tremble in her voice bespoke of desperation and loneliness. That was perfect, she thought; she would have to remember it for her movie.
"Arright, that's pretty damned cool," the woman—Terry; what a ridiculous name for a woman—agreed. She was pretty, in a pixieish way, with short cropped brown hair and wide green eyes, but her shoulders were much too broad. She would never be a Hollywood glamour puss. Sophia indulged in a disdainful sniff and turned her attention back to the man, who flashed a grin over his shoulder at the ill-named Terry.
His hair was as ridiculous as the woman's name. Shoulder-length and wavy, practically feminine, though the still-grinning face he turned back to the mirror was strong-jawed and indisputably masculine. He had dark eyes and a sensual mouth, the sort that every leading lady hoped her leading man would possess.
Sophia leaned against the glass, lower lip caught winsomely in her teeth as she studied his mouth. If something could be done about his hair, he might just do. It would help, of course, if he Was Somebody, but the eerie story of her life would bring in the fans even if her hero was an unknown.
"What do you think?" he asked. "Center stage behind us? C'mon, give me a hand with it." He moved to the side, wrapping beautifully shaped fingers around the mirror's frame. Terry groaned and came forward.
"How do I end up being the one helping with the heavy lifting?"
"You're always around. Ready? One, two, three—!" They hefted and Sophia leaned forward, pressed against the inside of the mirror as they staggered out of the closet bearing her prison.
Hard glass turned to the viscosity of quicksilver. Sophia tumbled forward with a shriek, wincing even as the raucous tone escaped her throat. Dulcet, my dear, dulcet. The reminder, spoken in a man's voice in her memory, scolded her even as she somersaulted across a marble floor. She landed entangled in her skirts, hands spread before her face, fingers spread so she might look through them with an ingenue's wide-eyed distress.
The man lurched forward, trying to catch her, leaving the mirror's weight largely in Terry's hands. Sophia's distress turned sharply real, panic sending a cold knife through her belly. "Don't drop it!"
* * *
"Holy—Jesus—what the—?!" Nonsensical curses burst from both Terry and the nameless man, the latter wrenching himself back to re-catch the mirror's weight. They both stumbled, then set it against the floor with a resounding clang, letting its weight pull it forward so they could rest it face-down on the floor.
"No!" Sophia surged from her faint, deftly rolling her hip under so she might support herself on one hand, the other stretched forward in desperate supplication. "The surface must face the sky!" Oh, yes, she thought: that would do nicely as well. She cast a searching glance upward, as if the stars might provide the answer she sought.
Not the stars, but rather the moon. In defiance of the still-blazing sunset, its pale form shone through skylights as encompassing as the picture windows that surrounded the room. Sophie brought her outstretched hand back in, delicately resting it against her breastbone as she breathed, "It's Halloween," in understanding.
She brought her gaze back down to the mirror, for a moment ignoring the bewildered pair who propped it up in favor of studying the reflective surface that had become both prison and preserver. Its ornate gilt frame hid secrets she'd learned to unlock. Even now she could see the crimson incantations written into the intricate swirls and whorls, and found herself mouthing them despite knowing the dangers. It had been a prop in the single film she had ever made, but there had been whispers that it'd been spirited out of Germany, from Hitler's own occult collection.
The Occult. Sophia pressed her eyelashes shut, feeling them flutter against her cheeks. "I remember..." The words drifted out in a whisper and she gave a tiny shudder. You ought not trifle with such things, Sophia. They're dangerous and beyond your knowledge. Her director, Jeremy Claussen, had warned her time and again. These are dangerous days to express interest in things beyond this world. Be careful, my darling Sophia. Be cautious. He had been so many things that a young woman wanted. Handsome, in a hawkish, dangerous way, his appeal from his presence as much as his looks. And, yes, mysterious: how could she resist eyes that glittered so knowingly about dark secrets? She had been drawn in, and in, and in, until she awakened one day trapped like a fly in amber.
"Alan," Terry was saying, her voice growing louder with each repetition. "Alan, is this some kind of insane practical joke?"
"Ter, I'm not cool enough to come up with something like this. Help me put it down."
"Please." Sophie's voice was a trembling whisper again. "Put it down face up. As soon as the moonlight no longer touches it I'll be pulled back in." She lifted her eyes, beseeching, to meet Alan's.
Blackness ensnared him, thin wisps of darkness whipping out of the sunset to wrap him in their embrace. He gave no notice, smiling at her with open fascination as he and the woman gently set the mirror on the floor, its surface reflecting the distant moon. Sophia's vision tunneled, spirits darting and dancing around Alan. Spirits, but not the dead: Sophia knew them well after sixty years on the mirror's cold side, and these were specters of life and the future.
Alan's future. A thousand reflections of him, toned with sepia and leaping in the narrow field that Sophia could still see. It was the mirror's gift, the exchange given for holding her hostage behind it for decades on end: precognition. It had not at all been the gift she sought when she crossed through the looking glass, but at least it had given her something in return.
More than something, Sophia Robinson, she whispered to herself. Death has passed you by.
But it would not pass Alan. A schism lay before him, deep void that on one side held a world Sophie both could barely recognize and at the same time knew and coveted in a place beyond words inside herself. Brilliant lights shone down on him and swept over a crowd of unimaginable size. They raised their hands, holding fire and swirling sticks of neon into the air, and they screamed his name. Terry, with her pixie-cut hair and a guitar, stood behind him, one of four who supported Alan as he sang. All of them filled with passion so bright it burned in their smiles and in the way they threw themselves around the stage. Variations played on that future as quickly as the music Alan made changed, but all of them were lifetimes of glory, and lasted beyond the mere span of years a man could claim.
And the other side of that chasm was as unrecognizeable and as easily known as its antithesis. Weak lights and a noisy bar, beer bottles thrown at the cage surrounding the band. Alan's long hair no longer healthy and styled, but lanky with grease, and the light in his eyes burned out. Only Terry was still with him, from the band Sophia had seen in the first vision, and she was as weak and haggard as Alan. Passion no longer drove them; not even desperation. It was habit, bleak and dulled with time. Those futures shattered into darker and darker places, drugs and drink and a life that had ended years ago, without the body catching on.
Sophie's breath caught and she pressed her fingertips to her lips. Alan and Terry finished putting the mirror on the floor and he turned, still in a crouch, to give her a smile filled with fascination and confusion. Even his question, "What the hell is going on here?" held no rejection, only the impulse to delve into Sophie's story, and learn the answers. He put his hands on his thighs and stood, stepping toward her and offering a gallant hand.
Oh, yes. He would do. He would do perfectly. He Was Somebody, or would be, just as Sophia had hoped. A hero to star in her story, strong and silent and stalwart. Together they would rise out of the obscurity of garage bands—the phrase filtered up from her consciousness, a term learned while the mirror had been in a television room during the MTV years—and B-films, making the bright future she'd seen for him come true.
"Sophia." She put her hand into Alan's. "Sophia Robinson." He drew her up, bringing her in close with his warm grip, and slipped a hand into the small of her back to steady her. She smiled through her lashes, feeling outrage pour off Terry as Alan's smile deepened. She whispered, "Sophie," like it was a gift, and his smile turned fatuous.
"Jesus Christ, Alan," Terry said, voice strained with a combination of disbelief and confidence. "That's the chick who disappeared from the film set in like nineteen-forty-two."
* * *
"She's a forties movie star?" Alan's hand curled a little more tightly at the small of Sophia's back, bringing her in against him even as he glanced toward Terry, who stood arms akimbo. "That's impossible, Terry. Besides, how do you know?"
"She just fell out of a mirror and you're telling me it's impossible?" Terry asked, exasperated. "Haven't you ever watched any of your grandpa's movies? It's her. She disappeared the night the movie opened. It was a big scandal. For about five minutes," she added, pointedly.
"She's right," Sophia cooed, ignoring the dig. She could afford that, with Alan's arms around her. She tilted her head up, pressing herself against his chest. "I was the star of "The Maiden in the Mirror". I've been trapped in the mirror all this time, by—" Her head snapped around, gaze suddenly fixed hard on Terry as the woman's words caught up to her. "His grandfather? Jeremy Claussen?"
"Ya-aah." Terry interjected the word violently, accompanying it with a head waggle. "They say he never got over it and that's why he married five times. Alan, she's simpering on you. Ew."
Sophia fought the impulse to thrust Alan away, though she could see the drama of the gesture in her mind's eye: the dark-haired hero at arm's length, the heroine's fingertips outstretched, barely touching his chest. Quivering with rejection that was only meant to be denied as he caught her in his arms again and crushed her against his chest. It would be a wonderful moment in the film.
But in a film he would have direction to return to her, whereas if she pushed him away violently in real life he might become more aware of Terry's objections. Sophia clung to him, a-tremble in his arms, and whispered, "Then you may be the only one who can break the spell that holds me."
"Spell? Like magic?" Alan laughed. "There's no such thing."
Sophia arched a rounded eyebrow at the mirror, then looked back up at Alan, who twisted his mouth in acknowledgement. "Okay. It's totally impossible, but okay." He set her back a few centimeters, looking down at her. "How the hell did you get trapped in a mirror?"
Sophia trailed her fingers down Alan's chest. "You have magic in your blood, Alan. Whether you know it or not."
"Oh, for God's sake," Terry said. "How gross can you get? Alan, you're not seriously falling for this, are you?"
Alan blinked at her, a sheepish grin starting to form. Sophie set her teeth together, abandoning theatrics for direct action. "Jeremy Claussen asked me to marry him the night the film opened and when I said no trapped me in the mirror so no one would ever have me. I've been stuck there for—what year is it?"
"Two thousand five," Alan said.
"God." For a moment the vapors Sophia suffered from were real. "For sixty-three years. I can be heard when moonlight falls on the mirror, and I can be free of it on Halloween while a half moon is reflected in the glass. If you're Jeremy's grandson, you really are my only hope."
"Help me, Obi-Wan Kenobi," Terry muttered. Alan shot her a glare over Sophia's head, sending a quick thrill of triumph through the starlet.
"What do you want me to do, Teresa? Turn my back on her?"
"How about we put the mirror up on the roof where the moon'll be on it all night, and then get ready for our gig?" Terry demanded. "You remember the gig? Biggest break yet? Make or break moment? Any of that ring a bell? Cinderella here can join the party and we'll see if we can figure out how to keep her from turning into a pumpkin after the gig."
"You're a mercenary bitch, Terry." Alan said the words easily, as if they were oft-repeated, but there was a coolness to them that Sophia sensed wasn't usually there. Cords stood out in Terry's throat.
"Fine." Her voice was thready with hurt. "The guys and I will set up. You have a good time with your fairy-tale girlfriend, Alan. Try to get your head in the game to perform, though, huh? The rest of us kind of need you." She turned on her heel and stalked away, hissing, "At least for tonight," under her breath.
"I'm sorry." Sophia gave Alan her most sincere, sad-eyed smile. "I didn't mean to cause you and your girlfriend distress. Maybe you should just—" She drew a quavering breath. "Just forget about me, and go on. I'll be fine," she added bravely.
"Girlfriend? Terry? No way, it's not like that."
Images cascaded through Sophia's vision, the breach of Alan's future. Some of the brighter possibilities faded away, leaving cold nights and too much alcohol raining down in their place. She shivered, wrapping her arms around herself, and Alan stepped forward to put his hands on her shoulders. "It'll be all right," he promised. "How did this happen? I'm sure we can find a way to undo it."
The urge to slip into drama, to turn away and whisper, hopelessly, "You wouldn't believe me," siphoned through her. Alan would capture her in his arms and promise that no matter how terrible it was, how unlikely, he would believe her—but no: it could be saved for the movie of her life. In sixty-three years there'd been no chance at freedom like this one, and the minutes were too precious to waste in pageantry.
Besides, such protestations might send her dark-eyed hero back to his own pixie-like lead guitarist, even if it wasn't like that, and that would never do.
"The mirror spoke to me," she said instead, abruptly. "During filming." She stepped away from Alan, crouching to put her fingers against the mirror's heavy frame. "Every time I looked at it, it promised me my reflection would always be the same. Eternally young, always beautiful. It was like prophecy whispered in my ear." Sophia laughed, soft humorless sound as she watched her image in the mirror. "And it was."
She traced the ornate border, not quite touching the faint red lines deep in the heart of gold. "It told me how to read the grimore in the frame, and said that if I spoke them under the light of a full moon shining on the mirror, I would be able to pass into the land of the dead and bargain for eternity with the Lord of the Dead."
"And you believed it?" Alan's voice was strangled. Sophia looked over her shoulder at him, arranging her skirt to fall more artfully against the floor.
"I was young, and vain, and brash." Confessing the sins went against her nature. A film star was meant to be mysterious and remote, not brutally honest about her flaws. "People believed Hitler's obsession with the Occult meant there must be a little truth to it." She smiled, feeling an ache of years in the expression, making it far more real she was accustomed to presenting. "And the mirror was talking to me," she added quietly. "That made it easy to believe.
"There was a full moon the night of the premiere, and I thought that night, of all nights, I was at the height of my perfection. The mirror was part of the decorations for the party afterward. I slipped away early. Jeremy followed me."
"Yes. He proposed, and when I said no he seemed so angry. I ran into the mirror. When I turned back, his face was full of outrage, and he was shouting. There was a flash, and when it faded...I was forever captured." Sophia lifted her chin, eyes moist with tears. Alan stepped forward to offer her a hand up again, and she slipped her fingers into his, smiling gratefully. She drew a shuddering little breath to speak—
—and metal crashed against stone, making shrieks of sound that drowned out anything Sophia might say. Cursing erupted. Alan swore, dropped her hand, and bolted out of the room.
* * *
"Don't panic! Nothing's broken. Holy Christ, mate." A burly bald man appeared in the ballroom doorway, hands lifted in supplication, though they dropped as he saw Sophia. "I thought nobody was here yet."
"Nobody was," Terry said from behind him. "She fell out of the mirror."
"Of course she did. Alan, give us a hand here, mate. You can flirt with your bird later." The big man jerked a thumb over his shoulder and disappeared back out the door. Alan shot Sophia an apologetic look and ran after him, leaving Sophia alone and stunned.
White light shattered through her vision, the intense heat of spotlights warming her skin. The adoring crowds were spread before her again, this time as if she stood on the stage beside Alan herself. She could hear his name chanted, lifting him to the skies as if he were a god, and then the brilliance faded.
Sophia pressed her lips out, aware it made her look like a duck, but allowing herself to revel in the unattractive expression for just a moment before she squared her shoulders and marched after the men.
Equipment she could only recognize as industry-related littered the marble-floored lobby she entered. Lights, enormous black boxes, musical instruments—she cast an overwhelmed gaze around at them before flexing her arms, reminiscent of Rosie the Riveter, and smiled at Alan. "Well, I'm here early. I might as well help out."
"In that outfit?" the bald man asked dubiously. Sophia glanced down at her chiffon gown, then spread her fingers dismissively.
"Never mind that. It'll be fine." She put pluckiness into her voice, a don't you mind me Pollyannaism meant to make the menfolk insist she sit down and be decorative.
"Okay. Help Terry with the speakers."
Sophie blinked, completely taken aback as the large man turned to his own task. Terry gave her a sharp, knowing grin and lifted an eyebrow in challenge. Sophia narrowed her eyes and rose to the occasion, clicking across the marble floor in her heels to lend a hand.
Within moments, her hair fell out of its permanent waves, sweat sticking it to her forehead as she put herself to utterly unaccustomed physical labor. To her surprise, she found herself smiling even when they hefted a speaker and she knocked herself on the chin with it. For a few minutes there was camaraderie in doing heavy work, and Terry's smile turned briefly approving. Sophia returned the smile, fully aware she'd been out-played. Before either could acknowledge it aloud, the bald man dragged a dolly into the ballroom after him, narrowly missing the mirror. Sophia gasped in horror, leaping forward to rescue it as he did an awkward dance around it.
"Why's there a mirror in the middle of the fecking floor?!"
"It's Sophia's," Alan mumbled. "Look, Terry, maybe you were right. We should put it on the roof."
"You want to put a mirror on the roof," the big man said. Sophia found herself exchanging glances with Terry and Alan, none of them quite willing to explain.
"Please," Sophia said after a moment, and the big man sighed.
"Have it your way, then. Alan, grab the other side." They hefted the mirror, turning its face away from the skylights.
Sophia yelped and slid inside.
* * *
She exited on the roof with considerably more dignity than her first appearance had gone with. Alan waited for her, grinning lopsidedly. "Rick bolted. He's kind of freaked out now." Something happened to his smile, making it more wistful. "You really did come from the mirror."
Sophia sighed and pushed her hair back over her shoulders. It had reverted to its former perfection the moment she was caught in the mirror again, as had the dress. Beauty in stasis, she thought. The price of immortality. "Yes. And you're the only one who can help me break the spell."
"The way you say that makes it sound like a fairy tale." Alan offered his hand. Sophie took it delicately, gathering her skirts as she stepped forward.
"I hope so. Fairy tales have happy endings." That would make another fine line. Spoken with sadness and regret, as if her belief in fairy tales had died long ago. Sophia looked across the rooftop at the Los Angeles plains, so much busier and brighter in the early stages of evening than she remembered, and thought the sorrow wouldn't take much acting.
"So what am I supposed to do?" Alan drew her closer, smiling. "Does true love's first kiss awaken the princess in the mirror?"
Sophia softened, turning a limpid gaze back up to the dark-haired musician. Stars in her eyes, she whispered, "We can only see," and let her lashes tangle together.
Premonition, the mirror's gift, crashed into her again. Demons scoured her eyelids, black and red streaks of shaking death, as if a movie camera were being yanked back and forth violently. Alan's face appeared in the discolored streaks, gaunt, haggard, his eyes bloodshot. The hands he lifted to cover his face with were all bone, and shook with effort. Sophie jolted back, breaking the kiss before it began, and stared wide-eyed up at the startled man who held her.
"Let's..." Her eyebrows drew down, a perfect tiny frown making a wrinkle between them. "Let's go back downstairs. They—they'll need you."
"...okay." Alan's own frown was deeper, more confused, but he stepped back and led Sophia across the rooftop, their fingertips still tangled together as she struggled to erase the line that creased her brow.
* * *
Being useful was slightly better than being ignored. Sophia plugged things in where she was told, and climbed a ladder despite her skirts to adjust a spotlight's fall. The room below was both so familiar and so alien she hesitated there a few moments, watching the band setting up.
Sunlight had faded, leaving electric lights blazing, cutting out the view of the city beyond the windows. The last time she'd seen the room so clearly was the night of the premiere; since then, she had been shifted from one room in the mansion to another. She thought it'd been sold; Jeremy Claussen hadn't been there in decades, and new people had come in and out through the years. But now a Claussen was in the house again.
Sophia found herself watching Alan, trying to see the grandfather in the grandson. Jeremy's intensity seemed to have faded into a lower-key charisma of potential smoldering glances and sly smiles.
"Cute, isn't he?"
Sophie tightened her hands around the ladder to keep herself from falling, looking down at Teresa, whose gaze was very deliberately on Alan. "Kind of a space cadet, but he's cute," she went on. "A real romantic, too."
"The kind to be besotted with women caught in mirrors?" Sophia asked. Terry's mouth thinned.
"I just don't want him to get hurt."
"I don't want to hurt him," Sophia answered. "I only want out of the mirror. Why did you know who I was, Teresa?"
"I watched all of the old man's films when I found out who he was a couple years ago. I liked "The Maiden in the Mirror" enough to check IMDB to see what else you'd been in."
Teresa cast a glance up at her. "...never mind. The point is I found out it was just the one movie, and all the stories about you disappearing. I thought it was kind of cool, but Alan's not into old movies, and Mr. Claussen wouldn't talk about it."
"Mister—he's still alive?" Sophia took two steps down the ladder, clutching a rung with white-knuckled fingers. "Jeremy Claussen still lives?"
* * *
Sophia's heart hammered in her throat, making her too dizzy to dare stepping further into the ballroom. Her every breath seemed too short, the fingers of one hand fluttering at the hollow of her throat. "The man who trapped me in that mirror is still alive?"
"Sure," Terry said, oblivious to the impact of her words. "He's ancient, and he hasn't been near this place in sixty years, but he's still alive." She shrugged. "Maybe when he kicks off it'll break the spell you're under." She curled a lip and shoved her hands into her jeans pockets, destroying her pixieish projection. "Spell. Man. That's just not cool. I mean, you see a lot of weird shit when you're playing small concert halls and venues, but magic just isn't part of the gig."
"Are you certain?" Sophie breathed. Her focus was on Alan, but she looked beyond the young musician, seeing his grandfather's angry face as she rejected him and ran for safety inside a mirror whose gateway had been opened through the reading of the spell worked into its frame. The mirror that had become her prison and her protection for more than six decades. "You live in Hollywood," she went on, still softly. "Wouldn't it make more sense, sometimes, if some of the things you saw here were simply...magic?"
"Are you serious?"
Sophia finally dared unlock her fingers from around the ladder rung and climb all the way down to the ballroom floor. The spotlight she'd adjusted fell perfectly on center stage now, where Alan would be performing. She stopped shoulder to shoulder with Terry, finding herself equal in height to her. "I've been locked in a mirror for sixty years. Of all things I wouldn't joke about, magic is foremost."
"Yeah." Terry's reply came over the click of Sophia's heels against the marble floor as she walked away. "...right."
* * *
The script had failed her.
Sophia stood against a window in the round ballroom, not quite letting her shoulder press against the cool glass. Her fingers were gathered in her skirt, body turned away from the business behind her; it would make her look frail and waifish to anyone who glanced her way. A lost soul, in need of saving.
In sixty years of rehearsing and repeating, she had never clearly envisioned how it was her dark-eyed hero would rescue her from the glass. It would be—and she lifted her hand in a delicate flutter—magic. The same magic that had trapped her, incantations read beneath the light of the moon, but she'd never had the chance to teach anyone to read the frame's grimore as she'd been taught. Perhaps she'd expected her hero to simply know what to do: that was how it worked in the movies. There were no questions, no uncertainties, only a preordained happy ending, the curtains closing on a kiss.
And that was all the stuff of dreams. Sophie curled her fingers against her breastbone, soft clutching motion as if she caught sorrow and held it still. She had wanted the mirror's magic to be true, had thrown herself into studying what it offered. She had dared the realm of the dead for an eternal future, and had come to believe in a quiet magic that lay beneath the surface of the everyday world. Alan, for all his heritage, had no reason to believe in that magic himself.
"Figure it out yet?" His voice, a smooth warm tenor, startled her. Sophia's fingers tightened at her breastbone before she lifted her head and turned gracefully, offering a smile to the leader of the band. He stepped closer, his body heat warming her after her sojourn by the window.
"You're done setting up?" she asked, rather than answer his question. Alan shrugged a glance over his shoulder.
"They can handle the rest without me. I want to help you. What can I do?"
Sophia smiled without humor and turned her gaze back out the window. Her reflection was mussed, delicate tendrils making ringlets at her temples. They highlighted her heart-shaped face and full mouth, and for a brief moment Sophia wished she could wear her hair that way, with a nod toward the twenty-first century world she found herself in for a few hours. "I suppose you could telephone your grandfather and ask him to come over here and break the spell."
Alan chuckled, quiet sound. "Grandfather hasn't been near this place in sixty years. He met my grandmother here." He broke off, frowning at Sophia. "The night of the premiere for "The Maiden in the Mirror", in fact. She used to tell me about it."
Sophie looked back at him, catching the line of her cheekbone in the reflection as she did so. Fragile, delicate, ethereal: another excellent shot. "Who was she?"
"Her name was Lenora Quinn. She did a lot of movies with Grandfather in the forties and early fifties, before they got divorced."
Sophia's eyebrows drew down. "I didn't know her. Why was she at the premiere?"
Alan flashed a grin. "Isn't that what people do, turn up at premieres for the party? She used to tell me she was new in town just that day. Grandfather said once she was really old-fashioned."
A trickle of misplaced familiarity slid down Sophia's throat and she put her hand against the window. "Old-fashioned?"
"Yeah, like she'd walked out of the nineteenth century. He said she wore her hair in one of those pompador things." He made a vague round gesture around his head. Sophia's eyebrows rose.
"A Gibson girl?"
Alan snapped his fingers. "Gibson girl, that's it. Grandfather said that was what caught his eye about her in the first place."
Sophia wet her bottom lip, drawing it into her mouth. "Do you have a picture of her?"
"Sure, I carry one around all the time." Alan pulled his chin in, one eyebrow shooting up. "Doesn't everybody haul around pictures of their grandparents?
"Of course not." Sophia felt her shoulders drop and gave a little sigh, turning her gaze down. "It was a silly question."
"Look, hey." Alan touched her shoulder apologetically, then wheeled on his heel to call, "Hey, Rick, you got your laptop? Can you get a signal up here?"
The burly man looked up with a flinch, eyes skittering off Sophia. "It's in the foyer, mate. All set up."
Alan slipped his hand down to Sophia's. "Come on. I can get a picture."
* * *
"This is the Internet Movie Database." Alan crouched in front of Rick's laptop, which was a flat box with a screen and keyboard, not a lap at all. Sophia touched the screen.
"IMDB. Teresa told me about it. She said I was in it."
"Yeah, I'll pull you up in a second, but...here." The screen changed again, bringing up a page with the name Lorena Quinn printed in bold letters, and a photograph of an austere, dark-haired woman who looked not in the least old-fashioned. She was broad-cheeked with handsome eyes and a proud expression. She would be well-cast as a villainess, Sophia thought.
"I don't think I know her." She shook her head. "I don't know why I thought I might."
Alan heard the discouragement and gave her a regretful smile that was temporarily banished by hope. "Maybe this'll help. There are a couple film clips linked in." He clicked on an underlined set of words and the screen changed again, becoming a shot from a film. The dark-haired woman flowed into action, hurrying across a set to catch a man's arm.
"Donald, no. You mustn't go. This war—it'll be the death of you. It'll be the death of all of us."
Ice shivered over Sophia's arms, recognition making her cold. "Alan, that's the mirror's voice. That's the woman who taught me how to read the grimore."
* * *
Sophia swayed, clutching Alan's shoulder for support. "I'm sure it's her," she whispered. "I listened to that voice for hours, Alan." She watched the movie clip unfurl on the laptop screen, no longer hearing the words the dark-haired beauty on the screen spoke, only the rise and fall of her voice. "How could the mirror be a living, breathing—"
She caught her breath, stepping back with her hand pressed against the hollow of her throat, eyes wide. "It was a trap. A trap!" Outrage mixed with humiliation in her voice: sixty years a prisoner inside a mirrored shadowland, and never once had it struck her that the gambit to have her enter the mirror's scape might have been trickery.
"Sophie." Alan got to his feet, leaving the laptop behind as he gave her an uncomfortable smile. "You can't be serious. That's Lorena Quinn. She's my grandmother. You can't really think she stuck you in a mirror somehow. Look, I'll stick with you and we'll find a way to undo this, but—" He pushed his hair back, the shoulder-length waves settling into place again as if he hadn't touched it. Sophia could see the strength of jaw and the line of brow that Lorena Quinn had lent him across a generation as easily as she could see his grandfather in the shape of his nose and mouth. They had conspired, however unwittingly, to make a movie-star handsome grandchild.
A chill swept Sophia again, wrenching away her own thoughts in favor of the mirror's gift: premonition. Premonition and eternity, paired together at the cost of an immortality spent hidden on the wrong side of life, watching it from beyond death's gate.
Movie-star handsome. Those were her terms, Sophia's way of seeing the world. Rock-star handsome fought its way into her mind, a by-now familiar vista cropping up in her vision. Alan on stage, hands lifted in the air as he grinned and accepted adulation from the masses.
But black rain began to fall down around him like acid melting rice paper, until his good looks were streaked with ill health and the weight of poverty. Misery washed off him in waves, sucking everything it touched down with him, until it created a whirlpool of malevolent emotion that seemed to grasp at Sophia's feet, trying to drown her in it.
Sophia gasped and staggered back, putting a hand out for a wall to support herself with. Alan surged forward, catching her around the waist, eyebrows crinkled with concern. "Are you all right? That's the second time you've gone all pale and freaky."
"I—" Sophia turned her gaze away, afraid to meet Alan's worried eyes. "I'm all right. You should get ready for your show," she added in a whisper. "I just need some time to think."
"Are you sure?" Alan demanded. "You look sick, Sophie. I don't want to leave you alone."
Sophia closed her eyes against another onslaught of dark images, ink staining cracks into the marble floor beneath her feet. "I'm sure." She put determination into her voice and dredged up a smile. Not a brave smile, designed to tell her hero that she was terrified and desperate for his reassurance but unwilling to hold him back. She knew that smile, had it in her repertoire, and the leading man would recognize it and refuse to go on his mission. No: Sophia's smile had to be a genuine one, soft and brief. "I'm sure," she murmured again. "Go, Alan." Her smile grew stronger for a moment and she put her hand against his arm. "The show must go on. No matter what else, the show must go on. Do they still say that?"
As if despite himself, Alan cracked a wry grin back. "Of course they do. Freddie Mercury even wrote a kick-ass song titled that. I'll sing it for you later." His grin faded into anxiety again. "Look, Sophie, if you need anything...."
"I know." She put her hand on his arm and smiled again. "Let me just think a while, all right?"
"Okay." He touched her chin briefly, like he might steal a kiss, but then turned and jogged back into the ballroom where the evening's performance would be held. A shower of starlight followed him, bright promise for a future that changed every few moments, and that only Sophia could see.
She sank back down next to the laptop, hesitantly brushing a finger over the pad Alan had used to navigate it with. Lorena Quinn's film clip began to play again, and Sophia folded an arm around her own ribs, lifting the other hand to bite her knuckle, a habit she'd deliberately ousted from her quirks as a young woman. There was nothing elegant or movie-star about gnawing on her own hands, though even as she noticed it she didn't stop. It was old comfort.
Old-fashioned, she thought, and played the clip a third time, though she no longer saw it at all.
Instead she saw the script of her own life in a way she'd never envisioned it. The story of another woman captured in a mirror beyond death's door, caught for—
—decades. Not centuries, despite the inherent drama in the lengthier time span. Sophia closed her eyes, seeing beautiful, youthful Lorena Quinn standing before the gilt-framed mirror, hearing another woman's voice promise her immortality and eternal youth just by reading the spell worked into the heavy frame. That Lorena Quinn would be corseted, with her thick dark hair worn in a Gibson girl pompador, the sleeves of her dress fashionably puffed. She would be at the height of her beauty and her vanity, things Sophia Robinson knew all too well, and she would chant out the spell under the light of a full moon.
And find herself trapped forever, as the mirror's voice was finally freed to live her life again, years or decades or even centuries removed from when she'd begun.
Sophia lowered her head, eyelashes pressed together against tears. Sixty ageless years of blaming Jeremy Claussen had been time wasted. Worse still, if her one-time director hadn't captured her, then it was unlikely that Alan Claussen, his grandson, would have the power to free her at all. One trap after another, Sophia thought, reveling briefly in bitterness. There was no way out.
"Sophie?" Teresa—Terry, pixie-like despite her broad shoulders, and the girl Alan said it's not like that about—appeared in the ballroom doorway. "Look, I know it's Halloween and you look pretty much totally in costume to us, but I thought maybe since you'd been stuck in that dress for pretty much forever, you might want to borrow some jeans and a shirt or something and be in costume for yourself. I could do something with your hair," she offered.
Sophia lifted her gaze slowly, unshed tears making the light around Terry glitter until she might well have been the pixie Sophia was reminded of. It refracted into spotlights, and the rush of voices cheering filled Sophia's ears as it had with Alan when visions of his future came over her.
A future that Sophia saw Terry sharing with him.
A future that could be Sophia's own.
Sophia pushed to her feet very slowly, focusing on the other woman. "Terry?" She put light curiosity in her voice, like the cat eyeing the cream. "Would you like to learn how to read the mirror's grimore?"
* * *
Terry laughed, startled and uncomfortable. "What, you want to teach me magic?"
Sophia smiled again, feeling like the milk was curdling. "I don't know very much," she said lightly, "but it seems like a shame to let it disappear back into the mirror."
Terry's smile went more strained. "I don't think Alan's going to let that happen anyway, Sophia." She shoved her hands in her pockets and looked away, shrugging. "He's in there jabbering about you like you're a muse or an angel or something."
"Then why are you being nice and offering to lend me clothes and do my hair?" The question was too blunt, carrying no refinement, but for an instant Sophia's desire to know overrode her usual flair for drama. Whether Alan thought it was or not, Sophia could see clearly that it was "like that", at least from Terry's side.
Teresa gave her a sharp look, then knotted her fists in her pockets. "Because there's no point in rocking the boat. Alan's a rock star, or he's going to be, and women already throw themselves at him. Being nasty about it hardly stops them, and just makes me look like the big B."
"The big B?"
Terry sighed, exasperated. "Bitch. The big bitch. You really are from a different time period, aren't you?"
Sophia glanced down at herself, at the backless chiffon gown and the wheat-pale permanent waves that fell over her shoulders, all precisely chosen to make her look like the model of an era. A distinctly non-modern era, one sixty years gone, now. "What," she said, more to herself than Teresa, "it shows?" The humor of the question was self-deprecating, a wry acknowledgment that would play beautifully to the cameras.
The script that played in her mind, the one that had told the story of her life for six decades, knew exactly what lines she should say. They would speak to Terry's vanity, even play into the feelings she obviously had for Alan, and would lead to the pixie-haired woman reading the mirror's spell aloud under the moonlight, and being caught inside the mirror while Sophia finally, after a lifetime of stasis, went free.
A camera would pick up—she hoped—the subtle play of emotions across her face as she, the heroine of her own story, struggled with the choices she had to make. The price of betraying another innocent against the cost of her own freedom. The acknowledgment that stealing one life to permit another to exist ranged from the utterly understandable to the morally despicable. The sorrow of sixty years spent alone with almost no contact with the world beyond the mirror. A thousand thoughts played across her expression inside a moment, and then Sophia drew herself up as if girding herself for battle, and looked at Terry again.
"Do you really think you have clothes that would fit me?"
* * *
Jeans. Sophia had never worn jeans before. They were cut lower than anything she'd worn in her life, even accounting for three inches difference in height between herself and Terry, once Sophia took her high heels off. Most of that had been in the leg of the pants, which Terry had ruthlessly taken off at the hem. The extra curve of hip that Sophia had over Terry took care of the waistline issues, and the jeans rode a noticeable distance below her bellybutton, while the spandex shirt Terry offered rode considerably above it. The shirt said, in sparkling rhinestones, MOVIE STAR, and Sophie found herself torn between horror and delight at wearing it.
She had to wear her own shoes. Terry had been astonished at Sophia's tiny feet and hadn't even tried coming up with a pair, but the strappy, sparkly forties sandals, she assured Sophia, were perfect with the outfit. They pulled her hair into a sleek, high ponytail, leaving it otherwise unadorned, and when they made their entrance before the performance Alan said, "Holy sweet shit," which made Terry flash Sophie a grin that was both smug and resigned.
That had been hours earlier. There were two opening acts before the main event, and the mansion that Sophia had once known as a Hollywood glamour home seemed to fill that role again, vampires and ghosts, witches and warlocks and an endless variety of other costumed party-goers flooding in the doors to drink and dance and play. An ape wearing a name tag that said "You can call me King" asked what she was, and Sophia shrugged, yelling, "I'm a forties movie star wearing modern-day clothes," in return. The ape gave a thumbs-up and disappeared into the party.
Alan appeared at her side to join her for a series of spasmodic dances as the opening bands played, their music piped through the entire house. As they closed, he took her hand to pull her toward the ballroom. "C'mon, you should watch us play!"
Sophia laughed, allowing herself to be dragged through the rooms. This wasn't a movie she was familiar with: it was modern and quick-paced, frenetic instead of deliberate, and to her surprise it was every bit as enjoyable as the more stylized manner of production that she tended to view her life in.
Alan left her on the dance floor, making his way up to the stage, where the rest of the band already waited. He had no opening comments, no method of drawing attention to himself or the band. They merely went from silent preparation into sudden pure music, literally stopping the crowd around Sophia with their first notes. Then voices raised in screams and shouts of appreciation and the entire mob surged forward, getting closer to the young gods on stage.
Sophia lost track of time and of songs, wholly caught up in dancing and the purity of music as it pounded through the mansion. Even without much knowledge of modern music, she could tell the band was good, maybe better than good. A flash of brilliance, spotlights and dreams, washed over her, and she knew they were better than good: the futures she could see told her.
Abruptly and for the first time since he'd taken the stage, Alan lifted his hands, leaning into the microphone to speak instead of sing. "All right, y'all listen up now. I've got a friend in town, one night only, and I want her to come up here with us. Sophie? Sophia Robinson, you're the next contestant on the stage of life!"
Dismay and excitement swept Sophia as she elbowed her way through the crowd, laughing, and then yelped as she was simply lifted up and passed forward toward the stage. The sheer tactile sensation was overwhelming and thrilling at once, her heart hammering as she trusted strangers to not drop her to the floor. Then she was tilted forward and Alan offered his hand, pulling her on stage. "I can't sing!"
Alan laughed. "You don't need to." he promised as he returned to the microphone. "This song's for Sophie," he told the crowd. "I just didn't know it when I wrote it." He stepped back, pulling the microphone free of its stand and raising his hands above his head to clap out a rhythm. Sophia found herself glancing toward Terry, who gave her a brief, tight smile before striking the opening chord.
All alone, I walk along an empty shore
Friends wave me down, but I'm looking for something more
Haunted steps pull me to the sea
And all I need is one chance to set me free
'cause we were
Ill met by moonlight
First kiss, stolen late at night
Captured hero, and you, my fairy queen
Dreams and dancers with nothing in between
The battle's over, and no one really won
The gods are waiting until we know it's done
But I can't stop searching for the world I knew
The one that started and ended all with you
'cause we were
Ill met by moonlight
Can't give up, not without a fight
And you, Titania, you're my fairy queen
Dreams and dancers, with nothing in between
Dreams and dancers, with nothing in between
In Sophie's eyes, black rain fell down around him as he sang.
* * *
She'd come off stage with spotlights and the premonition of death blurring her vision, and put her hand into the first one that was offered, allowing someone to help her down. Now her name was spoken in a voice that was at once familiar and utterly strange. Sophia blinked away the shimmering remains of her gift of magic and looked up, eyebrows drawn down in a deep enough line to mar her skin.
The man holding her hand was gaunt, ancient, white-haired and hawk-visaged, but his eyes were clear and dark and unmistakably those of a man she'd known six decades earlier. "Jeremy?" She barely breathed the name, staring wide-eyed up at the old man before shooting a disbelieving glance over her shoulder, where his grandson played to an adoring throng. "Alan said you never came here!"
"He called me." Age had added a rougher edge to Jeremy Claussens's once-smooth director's voice, but the sonorous tones were still his to command. "He told me you were here. I could not...believe it. After so long, Sophia. After so long. You haven't changed at all." The briefest smile quirked his mouth, and he allowed, "Except your fashion sense, it seems."
Sophie wet her lips and looked back at Alan once more before tilting her head toward the nearest door. "It's quieter out there."
* * *
The comparative silence of the mansion patio was broken by Jeremy's immediate comment. "I saw you disappear into the mirror. "I never understood. I was angry. Frightened," he admitted.
"And then you met Lorena Quinn." Sophia walked to the patio railing, placing her fingertips on it and lifting her chin, utterly forgetting for a moment that she'd foregone her sweeping gown in favor of modern clothing. Then she relaxed the overbearing pose with a quick laugh. "An old-fashioned woman who soothed the confusion of my disappearance."
Jeremy came forward to meet her, leaning a hip against the railing and folding his arms across his chest as if he were a much younger man. "How do you know about Lorena? She insisted we leave this place. She wanted me to destroy the mirror. She said she thought it was bad luck."
Sophia shivered. "Alan mentioned her. Why didn't you destroy it?"
Jeremy hesitated, then spread the fingers of one hand, long fluid movement. "I convinced myself I'd drunk too much, too early. It was the only explanation I could find for your disappearance. But as hard as I tried to forget, the memory of you...stepping through it...seemed so vivid. Destroying it...felt like doing murder."
"It would have been." Sophia wrapped her arms around herself, shivering again. The moonlight made blue-edged shadows of herself and Jeremy against the railing, and she tilted her chin up, looking toward the half-disc as it slid toward the horizon. "I was inside the mirror. You were so angry—shouting. I thought you'd cast a spell to keep me inside it because—"
"Because you refused me?" Jeremy smiled, hatchet-sharp in the moonlight. "How very dramatic, Sophia."
Sophie put her fingertips back on the railing and smiled a little. "It is," she confessed, "a failing of mine."
Jeremy, dryly, said, "It always was. You would have outgrown it," he added. "You had the makings of a star."
"And Lorena became one instead," Sophia said quietly. There was no bitterness in her voice, to her own surprise. Jeremy dropped his chin in a nod.
"She became my leading lady. She...came from the mirror, didn't she? She would never talk about her past. I indulged her," he said. "It was so very movie star of her."
"She came from the mirror," Sophia agreed. "By trapping me there instead. And now I'm caught, with no way out unless I catch someone else there."
"The guitarist is a pretty girl," Jeremy said with utter neutrality. Sophia thought of the shocked, high laugh she should give, and shrugged it off instead.
"I decided I wasn't that much of the big B."
Starlight cascaded through her, the strength of a thousand suns buoying her up with an irrevocable sense of rightness. The chorus Alan had written for her sang through her veins, making her feel as though his lyrics might carry her to millions. She tightened her fingers around the railing, tethering herself before she turned to look back into the ballroom.
No chasm of choices lay before Alan any longer, no desperate struggle for recognition on one side wrestling for dominance against a world where his music and his band made him the world's most popular rock star. There was only one clear path lying before him now, a road of glory and life well-lived. Quick snatches of a future even further down the road showed Sophia that Terry walked hand in hand with Alan on that path, the two of them each other's anchor in a slightly mad life.
Sophia laughed, soft sound, and turned her gaze back out over the city. "Besides," she said lightly, "I like Alan, and he needs Teresa, not me. They're going to be somebodies."
"You sound sure of that." Jeremy's voice was curious. Sophia gave him a quick smile, no longer caring whether it delved lines into her cheeks.
"Being stuck in a mirror has some benefits," she said. "Sometimes I can see very clearly."
"And you're still young," Jeremy murmured. "And beautiful."
Sophia put her hand against her cheek, then reached up to put it against Jeremy's instead. "But think of all the things I've missed. No children, no grandchildren." Her eyebrows rose. "No career. All the things that really make for immortality are things I haven't got." She glanced up at the moon again, then smiled. "Will you walk me up to the roof? The mirror's up there."
Jeremy inclined his head, but looked toward the ballroom. "Don't you want to say goodbye?"
Sophia pursed her lips, then shook her head. "Alan wouldn't understand."
"As you will." Jeremy offered his arm, and together they left the party to find Sophia's mirror.
* * *
She barely recognized her own reflection, hair back in a ponytail and makeup subtle in the manner of the day's youth. Tendrils of curls stuck around her forehead as she and Jeremy lifted the mirror, letting moonlight barely reflect off it. "I'll disappear inside once the moon's not shining on it," Sophia said. "Would you ask them to put it somewhere that I'll be able to talk to people on moonlit nights, at least?"
"I'll make sure of it," Jeremy promised. Sophia smiled, then nodded at the mirror.
"Tilt it forward, then."
He did, and Sophia caught her breath, waiting for the familiar plainscape, all grays and gloom, inside the mirror.
Nothing changed. She and Jeremy exchanged startled glances and Sophia glanced at the roof, half expecting to see moonlight reflecting back at the mirror, preventing her from entering it. There was nothing, and slow astonishment turned into a laugh. "It doesn't want me anymore."
Relief and delight leaped into Jeremy's expression. "Then you'll stay."
Thunderbolts cracked through her vision of Alan's future, darkening it with rain and danger, and Sophia shook her head. "No. Fickle thing," she murmured to the mirror. "You only want the very vain and very beautiful, don't you? The entirely self-centered." She shook her head again, touching the frame with its spell written into the sworls. "Which means you can't hold me unless I want you to. But if I stay here, it'll hurt Alan's career, and I won't do that."
Smiling, she stepped back and stood on her toes to kiss Jeremy's cheek. "Tilt it to the moonlight," she said. "I'll see you someday again, Jeremy Claussen."
Even after sixty years, the words came easily, chanted out to the moon and the mirror. Faint red fire flared in the frame's crevasses, and a path shimmered, drawing Sophia Robinson in.
* * *
I'm the thing you think is watching you in the mirror.
I can see you all the time. When you brush your hair, when you change your clothes, when you climb into bed with a lover.
When moonlight falls on the mirror, I can whisper secrets from the future into your ear.
And someday, when the time is right, I'll step through and rejoin the world again for...