“So that’s why they called him the Devil’s Executioner. When he disappeared they said he had ‘gone back to hell’ or something like that.”

Ivy wished she could shut herself up as she started rambling away about murders and mysteries. Usually she could see the interest leave people’s eyes almost the moment she started talking. It always made her feel quite terrible. Flynn, however, seemed interested. He didn’t know quite as much about the subject, but he was intently listening. Ivy wasn’t sure how much time had gone by, but both their plates were clean and they were sitting on the couch, with Ivy having taken her pinchy shoes off and sitting cross-legged in a very unladylike way.

She had hardly noticed how she must have looked, but it didn’t seem like he noticed either. Or he did, and he simply didn’t care. Either way, Ivy felt she could have gone years on that couch. She hadn’t been able to talk to someone like that since her mother passed. Not to mention, he wasn’t bad to look at. There were a lot of handsome young men in the community, but Ivy rarely got any attention from them. She hardly ever met their standards.

“I’ve known a few people like that,” he chuckled. “Though, they seemed more like the devil’s pets than an executioner. I’m sure they would eat kibble too, if it were served on a silver platter.”

“There’s no gold in hell.”

“What makes you say that?”

“It would melt too fast,” she said. “They’d use steel. Or copper.”

“So you know science, too?” he asked, amused.

“Not really,” she shrugged. “I just pretend to know what I’m talking about.”

He chuckled again, and Ivy felt her face turn bright red. She looked down at her hands to hide it, hoping he hadn’t noticed.

“So, where are you from?” she asked.


“You’re not from around here,” she said. “I’ve known these circles my whole life. I would’ve seen you before.”

“Ah, I’m just visiting family,” he said, shifting a little uncomfortably.

She was about to ask who he was visiting when two others joined them, who were also unfamiliar faces to her. Another young man and woman, who seemed to have been looking for Flynn.

“Hey, we should head out,” the man said. “It’s starting to get a little crowded here, you know?”

Flynn gave the man a look and cleared her throat, and only then did they seem to notice Ivy sitting there.

“Oh,” he said. “Hello. Sorry, didn’t see you there.”

“I have that effect on people,” she said dully.

“Just give me a minute,” Flynn said. “I’ll meet you outside.”

The two nodded and gave Ivy a smile before leaving.

“Sorry about that,” Flynn said, once they were gone.

“It’s okay, really,” she said. “I’m used to it. I kind of blend into the background. You didn’t notice me when you came in, either. If you forget me the second you leave, I wouldn’t blame you.”

“How could I ever forget you?” he asked.

Ivy turned bright red again. She felt like a bit of a moron, the way all the thoughts suddenly left her head.

“How long are you visiting for?” she blurted.

“Not sure,” he said, putting his jacket back on. “But we’ll see each other again soon. I’m sure of it.”

Ivy felt like he was dodging giving a real answer, but smiled and nodded. He gave her a nod back, then left to catch up to his friends. Ivy sat there for a few minutes, then sighed and straightened herself out, heading back out to the party. She weaved through the crowds to find Genevieve, spotting her by the fire with her crowd of friends. Or rather, her “friends”. Most of them just wanted to be associated with her. There was a woman in a dark dress sitting next to her, enthusiastically talking about something that Genevieve politely listened to. Ivy knew that her sister didn’t care much about what she was hearing. There were certain ticks Ginny had that Ivy knew well. She was frequently reaching up to scratch her ear, which was one of those ticks.

Ivy walked up and started to speak, and the woman in the dark dress cut her off before she said anything, hardly looking at her.

“This seat is taken,” she said, gesturing to the empty spot next to her.

Genevieve touched her hand gently.

“Violetta, this is my sister, Ivy,” she said softly.

The woman suddenly looked mortified, giggling uncomfortably.

“Oh of course,” she said. “Ivy. Yes. I’ve heard so much about you.”

Ivy wasn’t fooled, her expression remaining blank.

“How do you spell that?” Ivy asked.

“Uh, with two t’s,” she said with a frown. “Why do you ask.”

“It’s going on my list.”

Genevieve quickly stood up, cutting off the interaction there and putting her hands on Ivy’s shoulders.

“My goodness, it’s getting late!” she exclaimed. “This has been lovely, but Ivy and I really should be going.”

A few people protested, but Ginny insisted that they had to leave. Ivy was quiet as she wrapped her shawl around her shoulders and headed out in front of Ginny, not bothering to say goodbye to anyone. No one had noticed her come in, and no one would notice her leave. Yet Ivy couldn’t be upset. It had been one of the best parties she’d ever been to, and she was hardly at the party itself.

That night she found herself tossing and turning in bed all night, feeling a strange and bubbly sensation in her stomach. No position seemed comfortable and she felt too energized to sleep, even into the wee hours of the night. Eventually she gave up, climbing out of bed and shuffling out into the hall. It was quiet, and she took care to make sure that she didn’t wake her father up as she slowly opened the door to the room next to hers.

Ginny was sound asleep, curled up under the covers. Ivy shuffled to the bed, staring at her sister’s sleeping form for a few moments before crawling into her bed with her. Ginny yawned and rolled over, but didn’t wake up.

“Ginny,” Ivy whispered. “Are you awake?”


“Hey, Ginny,” Ivy whispered again, poking her. “Hey. Ginny. Hey.”

“Ivy?” Genevieve grumbled. “Gosh, Ivy. Go away. Go back to bed.”

“I can’t,” Ivy said. “I’m dying.”


“Yeah,” Ivy said. “My stomach feels funny. I think someone poisoned me. Or maybe I accidentally ate a spider in my sleep and it was poisonous.”

“Ew,” she said, yawning and sitting up.

“You know you swallow bugs in your sleep,” Ivy said. “It’s a fact.”

“You’re not dying,” Genevieve sighed. “Your stomach feels fuzzy. Your body feels warm, and your head feels light. And your thoughts are all scrambled.”

“How’d you know?”

“It’s obvious, Ivy,” she said. “You have a bug bite.”

“I knew it was poison,” Ivy said.

“No,” Ginny laughed. “The love bug. You have a crush, Ivy. Who is it? The boy you met at the party?”

Ivy just stared at her, blinking.

“What was his name?” Ginny asked.

“Flynn,” Ivy said, her voice hardly even a whisper. “He was nice to me.”

“Where’s he from?”

“I’m not sure.”

“Which family does he come from?”

“I don’t know.”

“What’s his last name?”

Ivy was quiet, and Ginny gave her a concerned look.

“You didn’t even ask him for his last name?” she asked. “Ivy, are you sure this man was even a guest there?”

“Of course he was,” Ivy said defensively.

“You talk about how much you love detective work,” she said. “Use your detective reasoning. He didn’t tell you anything about himself. Maybe he-“

“He wouldn’t lie to me,” Ivy said, cutting her off.

Ginny backed off, holding her hands up, then stroked Ivy’s hair gently.

“You’re my baby sister,” she said. “I’m just being protective, that’s all. If this boy is the reason you can’t sleep at night, then maybe it’s worth getting to know him a little better. But that has to wait until the morning.”

“Okay,” Ivy sighed. “Can I sleep here? Just in case it really was a poisonous spider and I never wake up again? I’ve thought about it and I think you would handle finding my cold, dead body a lot better than Daddy or Darla would. And you would know to bury me rather than cremate me. Or throw me in the ocean. Whatever you feel is right.”

Genevieve rolled her eyes, flopping back down in bed and rolling over. Ivy wasn’t sure what that meant, but she got under the covers and tried going to sleep. Ginny was right. She had detective work to do in the morning.