New York, 1899, and the police department’s best ally is the secret Ghost Precinct, where spirits and psychics help solve the city’s most perplexing crimes . . .
There’s more than one way to catch a killer—though the methods employed by the NYPD’s Ghost Precinct, an all-female team of psychics and spiritualists led by gifted young medium Eve Whitby, are unconventional to say the least. Eve is concerned by the backlash that threatens the department—and by the discovery of an otherworldly realm, the Ghost Sanctuary, where the dead can provide answers. But is there a price to be paid for Eve and her colleagues venturing beyond the land of the living?
Searching for clues about a mortician’s disappearance, Eve encounters a charismatic magician and mesmerist whose abilities are unlike any she’s seen. Is he a link to mysterious deaths around the city, or to the Ghost Sanctuary? Torn between the bonds of her team and her growing relationship with the dashing Detective Horowitz, Eve must discern truth from illusion and friend from foe, before another soul vanishes into the ether . . .
“There is something truly magical about Leanna Renee Hieber’s writing.”
—Shana DuBois Barnes & Noble Sci-Fi/Fantasy Blog on Perilous Prophecy
“Smart, boundlessly creative gaslamp fantasy.”
—RT Book Reviews on Eterna and Omega
“Will have readers chomping at the bit for more.”
—Suspense Magazine on Eterna and Omega
Release date: November 12, 2019
Publisher: Rebel Base Books
Print pages: 368
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A Sanctuary of Spirits
Leanna Renee Hieber
Monsieur Dupont, career undertaker and director of a Manhattan viewing parlor for the dead, considered a postmortem body the most beautiful treasure. For him, the tired cliché of an undertaker being obsessed with death was transcended; he rejoiced that the dead made him feel so alive.
The dead were the key to the kingdom of heaven.
His craft had started innocently enough. Locks of hair. The obsession progressed. Other tokens and trinkets were next, taken and procured with exquisite care. Subtle trophies.
No one would know or see. No one could. Grief was such a strange, ever-changing beast, but one constant remained: no one ever noticed all the details of a corpse. No one would notice if some small thing wasn’t exactly as it had been, as death had already made the familiar strange.
Memory rewrote itself. He’d seen the proof of it time and again. The dead were transformed and made perfect by their loved ones. In that perfection it was just so lovely, so sacred, so beautiful to take a small scrap of that elevated, exalted existence…
So, he began. Tokens of his little saints made into sacred objects. Tiny souvenirs from the world’s most innocent: children. Taking something from a child was the most sacred of all transactions. Procured and placed into sacred vessels. Surely no one would mind. Their bodies were photographed for posterity, and a souvenir was taken in private just before the body was taken to the grave.
No one but the ghosts, that is. Spirits of children noticed what was gone but didn’t understand.
Then there was Ingrid. His Ingrid. The child that by all rights should have been his if fate hadn’t been so cruel. Heinrich Schwerin, thinking the girl was actually his, had interfered and ruined everything. He took the little girl’s body, presenting her dressed and anointed as a saint and giving it as a gift to an orphanage when worship of her should have been done in private. A promising apprentice gone mad. None of it had gone to the grand design. As a divine architect, Dupont had lost control of the lamb that wandered from the flock and had to be fed to the wolves, never knowing the child he’d gone mad over wasn’t even his.
He stared out the third-floor window of his viewing parlor and watched as boisterous theatre folk tumbled from their boarding house. There was such life in this city, and to juxtapose it with constant death was high art. He took on the sorrows of those who did not wish to, or could not, greet death in their own homes. He took it on for them, an extension of his undertaker role. Wakes were usually done in the home, in the downstairs parlor, but for those who couldn’t bear it or didn’t have a suitable place to host an entourage for days, his viewing parlor stood in for home. Families could consider calling their parlor instead a “living room” because he was displacing death for them, banishing it from their doorstep.
Thankfully, the spirits had been banished from his.
The best thing about meeting his business partner Montmartre at a lecture about the mapping of the human mind three years prior was that the man had devised a way to keep out the ghosts. The children floating outside the window, pointing at what had been left behind in Dupont’s cabinet of treasures, simply didn’t understand. He’d tried to explain it to them, but if children had a hard time grasping divine mystery in life, it was even more hopeless after death. He wished he, like most people, didn’t see ghosts. He supposed his ability was an unfortunate symptom of a profession in death.
Montmartre had devised the ghost barricade, but out of the corner of Dupont’s eye, he could see them marching around the exterior of the building like striking workers on the line. He couldn’t allow their constant parade to distract him, so he stared at a fresh child laid out on the slab and dabbed rouge on cold blue cheeks.
He feared his careful enterprise would be revealed after all the nonsense with Ingrid. Part of him relished the edge of danger. Part of him wrestled to regain a simpler life he’d left behind once his mind had been opened to the grander possibilities of his artistic rituals. What was it his friends would say? Arte Uber Alles. Art above everything.
Turning to another work in progress, a waxen sculpture standing against the wall, he affixed a hint of color to the lips of the new seraph that adorned a pedestal of the stage set. So very realistic. He stared at his work and swelled in pride. No amount of danger could dull this rush.
He stared at the lovely little faces. He would make saints of them all.
There was a knock at the door. He scowled, put down his tools, and went to answer it. His stomach twisted with dread when he saw the tired face he’d once found sweet, years ago, when she’d worked as his maid. But now she was a troublesome card he had to strategize how to play.
“What did you do to my daughter?” the mousy-haired woman demanded, barging past him into the entrance foyer, her wide eyes full of rage. “And why?” She shrieked. Whatever beauty she’d once had was now sunken by grief and pierced by the sharp knife of poverty.
“Shhh, my Greta, my love,” he murmured. “You’ve come back to me. Now we can grieve, together…”
He clutched her passionately, forced her to acknowledge him. Their past. Their little Ingrid. Their illicit child. He held Greta as she cried and tried to soothe the wildness of her sorrow with sweet nothings.
The thought occurred to him that they could try again. She could be his Eve and he could build something new, with all of his prizes collected in an Eden of his design. Perhaps, finally, he could feast with all the saints…
Montmartre wouldn’t like it. But that man had his own agenda, and Dupont planned on leaving him to it.
Dupont seized Greta roughly. “Come with me, and we’ll make hell a heaven.”
“Maggie.” Eve Whitby waved at the distracted ghost who floated before her, a transparent, greyscale and luminous form. “Answer me. How could you, of all spirits, simply disappear? And what brought you back?”
“I am dead; we do that sometimes, you know. Vanish,” Maggie said with a laugh. She turned and began floating north, in the direction of the train depot where they were headed. The wraith was a visual echo of the lovely young lady she’d been in life, dressed in a fine gown of the early eighties.
“Don’t you be flippant, my dear,” Eve chided, lifting her skirts and hurrying after the specter, running directly into the cold chill of her wake. “We’ve been distraught for weeks,” she continued with a shiver. “We knew you’d never leave without telling us! We couldn’t even catch a trace of you during our séances!”
The dark-haired man taking long strides to keep up beside Eve cleared his throat.
The generally drawn pallor of Eve’s cheek colored. “I’m sorry, Detective.” She turned to him without breaking her pace. “I forget you can’t completely hear or see our subject here.”
Tall and lithe, with a neatly trimmed mop of dark brown curls that bounced in the breeze, dressed in a simple black suit with a white cravat, Detective Horowitz, in his midtwenties, was as sharp in wit and mind as he was in features. The angles of his face curved and softened as he smiled. His ability to shift from serious to amused was as swift as it was attractive.
“I’m catching pieces here and there,” he replied, “but to be honest, I’m more enjoying the looks you’re getting from passersby, averting wary, disdainful eyes behind hat brims and parasols.”
“Oh.” Eve batted an ungloved hand, caring not a whit for the fine details of sartorial propriety, as gloves often got in her way of tactile experience important to her work. “Mad folk walk New York streets daily and no one stops them; it’s one of the glories of the city—minding one’s own business!”
Horowitz laughed and kept pace.
The three angled along bustling Broadway as it slanted up ahead of them, the ghost at the fore, dodging passersby with parasols and weaving past horse-carts, careful to mind their droppings. Eve grumbled as the stray foot of a businessman’s cigar was lifted by the wind onto her shoulder, and she brushed off the embers before they caught the thin wool on fire. She wore an adaptation of a police matron’s uniform: a simple dress with buttons down the front, but in black, having donned constant mourning in honor of those she worked with and for, the spirits of New York.
The detective didn’t seem to hold Maggie’s interruption against her, despite the fact that he’d been leaning toward Eve in a near-kiss when the spirit’s incorporeal form had appeared between them. That the detective even entertained the idea of a ghost was a blessing. That he could slightly see and barely hear fragments from Maggie was incredible progress. Just weeks before he’d been a confirmed skeptic. Perhaps Eve’s Sensitivities were rubbing off on the practical, level-headed detective. The idea that she might be able to draw this man further into her world was an equally thrilling and cautionary prospect. Eve reeled in more directions than one.
Maggie Hathorn had been Eve’s dearest friend since childhood, the most trusted spectral asset in her Ghost Precinct since its recent inception, and the spirit didn’t seem to be taking her own disappearance seriously. Yes, ghosts often came and went as they pleased. But they were generally creatures of habit with particular patterns of haunt. Eve’s Ghost Precinct of four mediums relied on the constancy of their stable of specters, Maggie at the core. Until she’d vanished with no word.
“If the Summerland draws you and you wish to go, Maggie,” Eve said earnestly, reaching out to the floating figure and touching chilled air, “just tell us. I love and need you, but I know I mustn’t keep my dear friend from her well-earned peace.”
“Oh, my dearest friend.” Maggie turned and reached out. A transparent, icy hand brushed across Eve’s cheek. “None of this was about wanting to go but wanting to stay, to help. But come, there are details I can’t trust myself to remember. I’ll take you to where the Sanctuary left me. You can’t go in, but you of all people should know where I came out.” She turned and resumed her float. Eve and the detective tried again to keep up.
The spirits that pledged themselves to Eve’s Ghost Precinct promised they wouldn’t go on to the Sweet Summerland, as the Spiritualists called their idea of a heavenly plane, without telling their coworkers. It was a way of ensuring that the delicate channel between the precinct Mediums and the spirits did not tear itself into injurious pieces. An open, psychic channel to the spirit world hurt if torn away and not properly shut. A wounded third eye could never properly heal. It had injured Eve when Maggie had been ripped away. It seemed the spirit hadn’t thought of that. Eve swallowed back a reprimand that would seem ungrateful considering how glad she was to see her dead friend.
“Eve, who is this gentleman trailing you?” Maggie waved an incorporeal hand toward the detective. “Have you started hiring men since I’ve been gone?”
Eve shook her head. “Detective Horowitz and I have been consulting on strange cases that have unexpected, intersecting patterns. He’s been a critical liaison for the department and a valuable friend.”
“To be clear,” the detective added, looking vaguely in Maggie’s direction as they continued uptown, his gaze focusing and losing focus as if he faintly caught sight of her spectral person then lost her again. “I do support Miss Whitby and her precinct, even if I don’t always understand it.”
The public at large didn’t know about the existence of the small Ghost Precinct, technically part of the New York Police Department. The few lieutenants and sergeants who did know thought the whole thing preposterous. “Full of hogwash,” Eve had overheard one day in Mulberry Headquarters. The fact that the Ghost Precinct was made up of women didn’t help the force’s estimation, and it had been Eve’s hope that Horowitz championing them would help win over some colleagues. The ones who didn’t similarly judge him for being Jewish, that is.
The unlikely trio made the last fifteen blocks to Grand Central quicker by jogging over an avenue to catch an uptown trolley line, hopping on the next car that clanged its bell at the stop.
Maggie looked around with fierce interest in every sensory detail as the trolley dinged along, her luminous eyes taking in every storefront and theatre. The venues grew grander as the blocks ticked up their numbers. The ghost seemed to study every horse and cart, carriage or hack; every passerby, be they elegant or ragged, watching the shifting sea of hats along the sidewalk, from silk top to tattered caps, feathered millinery to threadbare scarves, forms dodging and darting like fish in a narrow stream. Eve saw it all pass around and through the ghost, her transparent image superimposed over the tumult of midday Manhattan.
“I’ve missed you,” the specter murmured to the metropolis. Eve didn’t hear New York reply, but she felt it in her heart. When one genuinely loved the city, the soul of New York took note.
Watching Maggie watch New York was a study in eternal eagerness. Love kept the good spirits tethered to the tactile world. Moments like this were Eve’s lesson about life taught by the dead: drink it all in, the chaos, the tumult, the bustle of existence and its myriad details as much as possible, as one’s relationship to it all could change at any moment.
Once inside Grand Central Depot, a noisy, dark, crowded place filled with glass and trestles, soot and steam, a building dearly overdue for an upgrade to a full station, Maggie gestured toward a particular platform.
“Transit is with us, and if we’re quick, you can be back within the two hours I quoted,” the ghost exclaimed, wafting up train-car steps on the northern line. With a screeching rumble and a billowing burst of steam, they were off. Eve and the detective took a small bench at the rear of a car before pausing to consider whether it was wise to trust the demands of an excitable ghost.
Greenwich Village, Manhattan
Three mediums of the Ghost Precinct waited for their manager to return, sitting primly at their séance table on a crisp late autumn day. Hands clasped together, they were ready to begin. The lancet windows of their rear office had been cranked wide open to hear the clamor of New York City meld with the rustle of falling leaves and the constant whispers of the dead.
Cora Dupris, Antonia Morelli, and Jenny Friel had been left alone at the Ghost Precinct offices after having given their leader, Eve, a bit of a hard time about leaving again on a whim with the detective to whom she seemed to have a growing attraction. They knew that to wait for her to begin their séance would waste a precious opportunity for new information regarding the many loose ends of their cases. The three young mediums came from vastly different backgrounds and circumstance but were brought together by their gifts and calmly began their ritual of communing with the dead.
Cora, Eve’s second-in-command, a year behind her at age eighteen, struck the match.
“Good spirits, come and speak with us, in the respect of your life and your cares in this world. Is there a spirit who would like our attention? We still seek our friend Maggie. We still seek answers for that which remains unsolved.”
Two ghosts appeared, their transparent, greyscale forms fully manifest on either side of the table. The two girls, little Zofia and the elder Olga, were immigrants from Poland and the Ukraine who had died in the same garment district fire years prior. Their spirits, most keen on keeping other young people from similar fates or myriad abuses in the vast, churning, industrial behemoth city, quietly stood watch over the proceedings as devoted spectral assets to the Ghost Precinct. Zofia chose to remain a consistent haunt; Olga chose to manifest only during séances. Both girls were silvery, luminous, with dark charcoal hair pulled back from their sharp-featured faces. The darkened, singed hem of their simple dresses was the only reminder of how they’d died.
The appearance of these precinct assets—ghostly, serene faces staring at their living friends—heralded the opening of the spirit realm to mortal ears.
There was a rushing sound through the room, in an ethereal echo, as if a great door had been opened.
“There’s a host of children,” Zofia said, uneasy. “And they’ve been wronged somehow.”
“We are listening,” Cora responded, speaking loudly to the spirit world as a whole but nodding at Zofia to make sure the girl knew she was heard and understood. So often spirits spoke, trying to help the living, and were ignored.
A thousand whispers crested around the mediums like a tidal wave, a jumble of woe, impossible to make out one word over the next. Little Jenny clapped her hands over her ears. Antonia, her tall, wide-shouldered body sitting starkly still and bolt straight, winced. Cora released a held breath carefully, slowly, as if she were lowering a great weight onto her delicate shoulders, untucking a handkerchief from her lace cuff to dab at the moisture that had sprung up on her light brown brow.
There was another sound, a scuttling behind them, though they could see nothing. They felt presences they could not see. Ghosts were unpredictable in the ways in which they manifested. The scurrying sound, accompanied by the same wash of urgent whispers, swept over to the locked file cabinets against their rear wall.
The young women turned their heads very slowly.
Just because one worked with the dead didn’t mean they couldn’t be frightening. Spirits were often creatures of startle and shock.
The precinct file cabinets flew open.
All of the women jumped.
“But we don’t even have all the keys,” Cora said, wondering how the ghosts could possibly have unlocked the dusty old wooden cabinets filled with incomplete and shoddily taken case notes from earlier decades of corruption and disarray.
Below one of the four desks scattered about the long room, the center drawer creaked open of its own accord. Then another desk’s drawer. Then a third. Papers rustled, and a few flew out. Then a few more.
Jenny edged over to the seventeen-year-old Antonia, who held her long arm out for the little girl who had become a surrogate sister, and the child tucked in against her. Antonia kept herself calm and collected, for Jenny’s sake if nothing else. The little girl didn’t need to sign, or write a note to be understood, her small form shook, making Antonia hold her all the tighter. The child didn’t need to have any further traumas added to her condition of selective mutism.
“Spirits, what do you wish to tell us?” Cora demanded, finding her voice.
“And why this display? You’ve never been the sort to give us poltergeists!” Antonia exclaimed.
“Find us…” came a murmur that consolidated from the voices, the words racing around the room in a freezing chill, though no spirits could be seen to have made the declaration. It came from the fabric of the air itself, repeating again, in aching earnest. “Come find what we’ve lost!”
As the train rumbled away from the depot, heading north, Eve felt driven by something beyond her control. The spirit world was like that, a runaway train, but so too was flirtation, and she was driven by another excuse for she and the detective to be together. Alone. Without a chaperone. For an extended period of time.
For a moment back at the park she and the detective had leaned in, so close, intimate. She wasn’t sure how she felt about their near kiss, but she wanted more time to sort it out. The detective wore a pensive, faraway look, his elegant angles turned toward patches of dappled sun blinking through trees as the train gained ground level again. Perhaps he was as dazed as she felt about what was happening.
She and the detective had agreed to “court” on the pretense of averting their parents’ mutual pressures about finding someone to marry. A convenient ruse. Whether the courtship was a mere act anymore wasn’t something Eve dared ask.
“You know, there’s so much…” Maggie began, taking on a thoughtful gaze as the city rolled away, opening to patches of green and less dense buildings.
“So much what, dear?” Eve asked, accustomed to reminding a ghost to make its point. Sometimes spirits were just as distracted as a young person trying very hard not to fall in love.
“How much there is in the city to block us out,” Maggie said. “So much noise. It’s a wonder you and the girls can ever hear us. We’re going somewhere quieter.”
“Can you hear her now?” Eve asked the detective. “Maggie?”
He turned away from the window, looking at Eve and then off just behind her, near to where Maggie floated but not exactly. “Bits and pieces.”
“Take his hand, Eve; if you want him to hear, you know that will strengthen the channel,” Maggie said. Eve tried to cool her blush, but it bloomed on her cheeks regardless. “And it seems to me you want to hold his hand, so…” Maggie murmured, a draft against Eve’s ear.
“I do not—” Eve said to Maggie through clenched teeth.
“What? What’s wrong?” the detective asked. His brown eyes ringed with striking blue pierced her, searching.
“Nothing,” both Eve and Maggie said quickly.
Eve did not take his hand, and they returned to their pensiveness as the Hudson Valley came into full and glorious view. The scenes of bridges, sweeping vistas, grand mansions and dramatic tree lines in full autumnal glory along a glittering, wending river rendered them reverently quiet.
It occurred to Eve after taking in the picturesque scenery that she didn’t know what had happened to Maggie in the first place. “Maggie, tell me what happened the night you disappeared. Before you show me what saved you, what threatened you? Where were you?”
“The Prenze mansion.”
Eve shot a wide-eyed look at the detective.
He cocked his head to the side. “Did I just hear the name Prenze?”
“You did,” Eve said in an undertone, careful to check her surroundings. Other passengers, in a mixture of simple business wear or more elegant finery, seemed preoccupied with the view, newspapers, or books. Caution was wise, as the Prenze clan was prominent and powerful. The patriarchs were twins, one alive and one presumed dead, and they cherished their younger sister. None had children that Eve knew of. The Prenze family had made their fortune off dubiously healthful tonics, and the family name kept circling in Eve’s precinct for reasons she hadn’t yet determined. Because of their prominence, she didn’t want any gossip to escape via eavesdroppers. She didn’t need more detractors.
“What about them?” Eve whispered.
“There’s something wrong in that house, with that family,” Maggie stated, caring not a whit for the passengers who could neither see nor hear her, save perhaps for one wide-eyed child in a pinafore and straw hat staring all the way across the train car, but that couldn’t be helped. “I was drawn into the mansion by a child,” Maggie continued, “who wanted me to launch something off the mantel. Turns out the box was full of postmortem photographs. Caused quite the scene.”
In a murmur, Eve repeated what Maggie had said, realized a parallel to another case, and explained it to Horowitz.
“Vera, another of my valuable spirit operatives, was drawn in by a similar instance and asked to do a similar thing,” Eve explained. “But in the Dupont house. The complaint filed against my department for interference regarding the Prenze family must have come from Maggie’s experience, right before she disappeared.”
“Odd that there’s a connection with the postmortem photographs,” Horowitz mused. “That seems too specific to be coincidence.”
“Agreed,” Eve replied before gesturing that her floating colleague continue.
“The man of the house ushered everyone out of the room,” Maggie explained, “after I’d launched the box of photographs. Cruel, he turned to me and raised the dial of the electric lights to a blinding, painful level. I blinked out as if there were a spectral knife in those lights. I was cast into a nothingness, thrown into utter darkness. Aware, and yet lost. It was hell.”
“How, then, did you escape?” Eve asked in a breathless murmur.
“Why, I begged for sanctuary, and I was granted it,” the ghost replied as if that were the only sensible answer. “Bless an express line, we’re nearly here!”
The train squealed to a stop at Tarrytown.
“The Sanctuary is in Sleepy Hollow? Really?” Eve asked, cocking an eyebrow.
Maggie just laughed and wafted through the train wall. Horowitz stepped into the aisle and gestured for Eve to go ahead.
On the train platform, Eve took a moment to get her bearings. A change of light sometimes meant spirits’ incorporeal forms were hard for her sensitive eyes to see. Donning her dark glasses was a help, as too bright a light was painful. Maggie floated at the less crowded end of the platform, leading away from the crowd, gesturing to them.
“This way,” Eve said quietly to the detective.
“Lead on, ladies,” he said amiably.
Descending onto a gravel path, Maggie turned away from what would have led to the village’s main thoroughfare and headed instead toward a copse of trees that were darker and denser than one would expect. They walked along a shaded, gravel lane.
“Washington Irving knew there was something odd and important about this whole area; he just didn’t know just how spiritually charged it all is,” Maggie stated.
The gravel gave way simply to a footpath through close pines, and they followed that for countless yards, into a pine barren where the path gave way to a spongy floor of brown needles.
“Are we…trespassing?” Eve asked the ghost hesitantly.
“No, this is public land, an extension of a park along the riverside; it’s just that this specific parcel of land hasn’t been cleared.”
They mounted a small incline and came to a place where pines and beech trees, intermixed in a strange assortment of dark and luminous barks, growing in patterns that weren’t usually so intermingled, opened to a little circle. A pile of stones sported tendrils of ivy across its cairn, and from this pyramid rose one stone-hewn side of a Gothic arch the size of an average person.
It didn’t appear ancient or worn but was instead modern masonry, the ghost of a window whose chapel had never been finished beyond these initial stones.
“What’s this?” Eve asked, gesturing to the unfinished monument.
“It’s one of the living world’s few anchors to Sanctuary,” Maggie explained. “I was told a devout young Episcopalian woman wanted to build a chapel here for travelers’ rest and meditation. She had the support of local deacons but was foiled by her family after these first stones were set. Nothing else was done.
“The church owned this part of the land and asked that it be added as a quiet addendum to the park,” the spirit continued, “to honor the young woman’s idea. It’s said the trees grew immediately thicker and denser, as if to hide this sliver of sacred stones. The spirits say that woman’s heart created a doorway even she couldn’t have known would open and that the unnamed woman lives still, perhaps never knowing the seed her heart planted. It’s the thinnest part of the veil between mortal and spirit world. It’s here where I tumbled out when I came through, when I asked the Sanctuary to return.”
Eve turned and shared with the detective the things he hadn’t picked up on his own.
“But you didn’t enter Sanctuary here,” Horowitz clarified. “You were ejected here?”
“Correct.” Maggie nodded. “After the lights blinded me in the Prenze mansion, when I regained a sense of myself in the darkness, I could hear a few other whimpering souls but nothing else. I was there what may have been hours, but it felt like days.”
“It was nearly a month,” Eve reminded her.
The spirit wafted between pine branches that rustled in an autumn breeze as she related her trauma and in turn Eve shared with the detective; while it was clear from the turn of his head and the focus of his eyes he was picking up a few words, it wasn’t a connected narrative for him as it was for Eve.
“I prayed and prayed, so very hard!” Maggie pressed her luminous hands together. “I tried reaching out to you, Eve, to the strong bond all our séances have built. I felt you close to me a few times, as I thought you and the girls might be reaching out for me too—”
“We were, please believe us, Maggie,” Eve assured. “We tried everythin. . .
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