Palmer Watts knows there are no miracles. Accidents that leave unlikely survivors usually mean Lucifer’s involved, and someone who should be dead is walking the streets.
Until Palmer burns them.
That’s the job, and she’s the best. But when she grows too close to her newest assignment, Palmer must decide whether to strike the match or spare a life—even if it means sacrificing her own.
The flames come first. My ears strain for the crackle of wood, but it’s the soft orange glow behind the cottage windows that tells me the burning is underway. Growing flames lick the night, and smoke oozes through cracks in the house’s walls. I lean forward in the passenger seat of the car, and the charred air hits me.
The screams begin.
They rip the darkness like machetes, carving memories that will never fade. Yet each jagged wail hides a lie. The real Mrs. Polly is already gone, her soul scraped away in the months leading to this moment. All that burns in her bed tonight is the dry husk that remains after Lucifer ate her from the inside out.
But it’s still her voice, and every shriek sends an ice bath over my bones.
I squint through the ash-covered windshield at the empty road. I’m just the lookout, but I know our plan for tonight so well I can almost see it happening through those singed stucco walls: the smoldering cigarette igniting the couch, those burning cushions torching the rug and curtains. The ribbons she once braided through my hair are now cinders, and the cozy kitchen table is nothing more than kindling.
Trapped in the bedroom, Mrs. Polly’s windows won’t save her. The glue I used to seal them shut had three days to dry.