Ancient magic and the Internet weave a spell together, in the latest Newford novel from urban fantasy master Charles de Lint. At the publisher's request, this title is being sold without Digital Rights Management software (DRM) applied.
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July 31, 2003
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Excerpt from Spirits in the Wires by Charles de Lint
"I feel as if I should know you," Saskia Madding says as she approaches my chair.
She's been darting glances in my direction from across the caf ' for about fifteen minutes now and I was wondering when she'd finally come over.
I saw her when I first came in, sitting to the right of the door at a window table, nursing a tall cup of chai tea. She'd been writing in a small, leather-bound book, fountain pen in one hand, the other holding back the spill of blonde hair that would otherwise fall into her eyes. She looked up when I came in and showed no sign of recognition, but since then she's been studying me whenever she thinks I'm not paying attention to her.
"You do know me," I tell her. "I'm pieces of your boyfriend -- the ones he didn't want when he was a kid."
She gives me a puzzled look, though I can see a kind of understanding start up in the back of those pretty, sea-blue eyes of hers.
"You -- are you the woman in his journals " she asks. "The one he calls Mystery "
I smile. "That's me. The shadow of himself."
"Know I was real " I finish for her when her voice trails off.
She shakes her head. "No. I just didn't expect to ever see you in a place like this."
"I like coffee."
"I meant someplace so mundane."
"Ah. So you've made note of all those romantic flights of fancy he puts in those journals of his." I close my eyes, shuffling through pages of memory until I find one of them. "'I can see her standing among the brambles and thorns of some half-forgotten hedgerow in a green bridal dress, her red hair set aflame by the setting sun, her eyes dark with mysteries and stories, a wooden hare's mask dangling from one languid hand. This is how I always see her. In the hidden and secret places, her business there incomprehensible yet obviously perfectly suited to her curious, evasive nature.'"
I get a smile from Saskia, but I don't know if it's from the passage I've quoted, or because I'm mimicking Christy's voice as I repeat the words.
"That's a new one," she says. "He hasn't read it to me yet."
"You wait for him to read them to you "
"Of course. I would never go prying..." She pauses and gives me a considering look. "When do you read them "
I shrug. "Oh, you know. Whenever. I don't really sleep, so sometimes when I get bored late at night I come by and sit in his study for awhile to read what he's been thinking about lately."
"You're as bad as the crow girls."
"I'll take that as a compliment."
"Mmm." She studies me for a moment before adding, "You don't read my journals do you "
I muster a properly offended look, though it's not that I wouldn't. I just haven't. Yet.
"I'm sorry," she says. "Of course you wouldn't. We don't have the same connection as you and Christy do."
"Does that connection bother you "
She shakes her head. "That would be like being bothered by his having Geordie for a brother. You're more like family -- albeit the twin sister who only comes creeping by to visit in the middle of the night when we're both asleep."
I shrug, but I don't apologize.
"I'm only his shadow," I say.
She studies me again, those sea-blue eyes of hers looking deep into mine.
"I don't think so," she says. "You're real now."
That makes me smile.
"As real as I am, anyway," she adds.
My smile fades as I see the troubled look that comes over her. I forget that her own exotic origins are no more than a dream to her most of the time -- a dream that makes her uncomfortable, uneasy in her skin. I wish I hadn't reminded her of it, but she puts it away and brings the conversation back to me.