The road slithered through the hillside, a serpentine maze of curves and drop-offs creating a backroad through the hustle and bustle. Tall wildflowers hugged the shoulders while tree limbs reached themselves leisurely across the expanse of pavement. They made it easy to forget about the traffic and the orange glow of big box parking lots when you were out there.
The darkness that crept in at night ate the ambient light from suburbia like a yawning mouth and the field of stars overhead could almost hide the way the blood stained the median.
But, she knew it was there.
Knew if she held her hand close enough, the remaining warmth would press against it, a cat back arched in greeting.
Knew if she inhaled through her nose, she'd catch the scent of pennies and musk, of woodsmoke and rain.
Knew if she stared at him long enough she might be able to will him to move again.
To breathe again.
She fixed her eyes on his sternum, avoiding his unseeing gaze as best as she could. The rich, chocolate with pinpricks of honeyed constellations no longer aglow.
"One two. One two. One two." Her steady cadence mimicked the lost heartbeat she knew so well, but inside her thoughts were pleading just breath just breathe please just breathe in an unfamiliar staccato. She'd never felt this panicked before, never felt this desperate.
Every other time before she could disconnect, step out of her head and her heart, block out the bile rising in her throat, and do the work.
We are those who walk with Death.
Hell, she'd learned the family credo before she even learned how to spell her own name.
And now, when she needed her training most, she couldn't access it. For the first time since she learned she could bring back the dead, she was afraid.
What if she couldn't bring him back?
What if she could?