THE young man helped Lily catch Finn and lower her onto the weathered wood of the veranda. Lily shivered. "What's wrong with her?"
His brows knit as he gazed down at Finn. Her tangled hair was flung over her face. "She'll be fine. She'll wake in a minute."
"The monster." Lily cast a fearful glance at the door.
"Is gone." He picked up the camera Finn had dropped, glanced at it, handed it to Lily. "It's a Leica. Keep that. It's worth something."
His next breath was so sharp, it made Lily tear her gaze from the door to narrow her eyes at him. As he sat back on his heels, looking almost afraid, Lily became worried.
"Hey." She caught his attention by snapping her fingers at him. She was still trembling. "She said something. The monster. Like a curse . . ."
He began to rise. "Blodeuedd didn't finish the hex. What is your real name, Snow White?"
"Lily. What hex?"
"It won't hold. What is your sister's name?"
He was moving backward, away from them.
"Wait." Lily rose. "Why were you here?"
He was at the steps. He turned away from her and shadows seemed to ribbon from his hair. "I had business with the flower girl." Street light flashed silver across his eyes.
Lily realized with a fear that clutched at her insides that he was a monster, too. "Why did you help us?"
He turned his head slightly. "Because I wanted to. I probably would have done her in her anyway." He began moving down the steps.
"Are there more of you?"
"Unfortunately, yes." He was on the paved walk now.
"What's your name?"
He vanished into a night that had become familiar with Trick-or-Treaters, cricket sounds, and the murmur of TVs.
Then his answer drifted back. "Jack."
"Lily?" Finn's eyes opened. A gentle, shimmering wind swept over the sisters.
A voice whispered, Forget.
"Why should I? You made me go up to that house. It's your fault I fell. I hope I don't get tetanus."
"That's why we should pinkie swear. I don't want you tattling to Dad. Here. Want this cool old camera?"
"I...that looks familiar."
"It was on the porch of that creepy old house."
Finn sat with Lily in the gazebo behind their apartment building. Their candy was scattered around them. Finn had washed her cut knee and put an Adventure Time Band-Aid on it. She was examining the Leica camera Lily was attempting to bribe her with.
"C'mon." Lily extended one hand.
Finn reached out to touch Lily's ripped corset. "I can't believe you jumped over that gate."
"Well, it was stuck. When you fell, I freaked out."
Finn frowned and rubbed her temples. A shiver shook her when she thought she heard an owl in the trees nearby. "We don't ever go to that house again. Okay?"
Lily shrugged. Her lip was swollen from when she'd fallen and bitten into it. "Okay. You're right. It was a bad house. Now, pinkie swear."
Finn grudgingly twined one pinkie around her sister's. The plastic beads on Finn's bracelet and the silver charms on Lily's sparkled in the light from the Chinese lanterns strung around the gazebo. "I'm glad there was no one home."
"Me, too. No more scary houses, okay?"