I Should Die - By Amy Plum


IN THE DEAD OF NIGHT I SAT ON A BRIDGE SPANNING the Seine, watching a bouquet of crushed white lilies float toward the spotlit Eiffel Tower. I strained to listen for the words I thought I’d just heard. The words of a dead boy—of my boyfriend’s ghost. I could have sworn he spoke to me a second ago. Which was impossible.

But there they were again—his words appearing once more in my mind, the two syllables cutting me as sharply as a whip crack.

Mon ange.

My heart hammered. “Vincent? Is that really you?” I asked with a trembling voice.

Kate, can you hear me?

“Vincent, you’re volant. Violette hasn’t destroyed you!” I leapt to my feet and spun around, searching anxiously for a glimpse of him, though I knew there would be nothing to see. I stood alone on the Pont des Arts. The surface of the water rippled and moved beneath me like the back of a great, dark serpent—the twinkling lights on the riverbanks reflected in its writhing smoothness. I shivered and pulled my coat tighter around myself.

No. She hasn’t destroyed my corpse . . . yet.

“Oh my God, Vincent, I was sure she had done it.” I wiped a tear from my cheek before a flood of others followed. Just moments earlier, I had given up all hope of ever hearing from him again. I had been positive that he was gone forever, his body burned by his enemy. But here he was. I didn’t understand. I choked back tears.

Kate. Breathe, Vincent insisted.

I exhaled slowly. “I can’t believe you’re here, talking to me. Where are you? Where did she take your body?”

I’m lying dormant in Violette’s castle in the Loire Valley. I only became conscious a few minutes ago. As soon as I figured out what she was doing, I came to you. Vincent’s words sounded bleak. Hopeless.

My hands shook as I whipped my phone out of my pocket. “Tell me exactly where you are. I’m calling Ambrose—he’ll get a group together and we’ll be right there.”

It’s too late for a rescue, Kate. Violette has been waiting for my mind to awake, and now that I’m volant, she will burn my body. When I left, some of her henchmen were stoking a fire while she performed some kind of ancient ritual she claimed would bind my spirit to her once I’m reduced to ashes. I only have a few minutes, and I want to spend them with you.

“It’s never too late,” I insisted. “We could try to stop whatever it is that Violette’s doing. I’m sure your kindred could come up with some kind of distraction. We have to try.” Why was Vincent giving up so easily?

Kate. Stop, he pleaded. Please don’t waste the little time I have trying to call Ambrose when there is no way that you can reach me in time. There is no way, believe me.

The force in his voice made me hesitate, but I kept staring at my phone as a lump formed in my throat. If I couldn’t do anything, it meant that all was lost. My initial shock was being overtaken by an icy shawl of realization: The boy I loved was minutes away from being burned on a pyre. “No!” I cried, willing the horror to go away.

Vincent was silent, allowing the truth to sink in. I was losing my love—forever. If Vincent’s body was destroyed, I would never touch him again. Never feel his mouth against mine. Never hold him in my arms.

But he won’t be completely gone. Will he? I had to make sure. My voice came out in a strangled croak. “At least you’re volant, right? If Violette had burned you before your mind awoke, you would be gone forever—body and spirit.”

I wish she had. Vincent’s words were bitter. She said she needed my spirit present in order to perform the power transfer. A few seconds passed before I heard his voice again. I think I’d rather be nonexistent than help Violette become powerful enough to destroy my kindred.

I didn’t agree. Vincent still existed, even if his body didn’t. The boy I loved so desperately hadn’t completely disappeared. That’s something, I thought, feeling a glimmer of hope. And then I remembered, I will never see him. Or feel his skin against mine as we touch hands. Lips. Never again. And the hope disappeared.

Fury fought despair inside me. “Why did it have to be you?” I asked. “Why are you the one with the power she’s ready to kill for?”

If it wasn’t