After a few hours, Chloe excused herself to grab some lunch. Harper hadn't realized how hungry she was until Chloe returned with burgers and fries. The morning had flown by in conversations about the hidden parts of Vegas.

Harper learned more from Afterlife than she had on the internet, and the members fascinated her. They were all happy to share more about their abilities and talents — all but Alec. He sat in his chair, only butting into correct facts.

Chloe could do far more than levitate. Harper discovered she was a talented grifter who used the fey's natural charm to amplify whatever persona she was using. She could also run fast and had a genuine connection to nature. Meanwhile, Sarah was proud to show her wolf form, which presented with a white coat and black snout. Her fur was soft and her teeth sharp.

Conner didn't show off his powers, but he entertained Harper with stories about the trouble he'd gotten himself out of over the years — and into, of course. He told her about his third-grade teacher, who never made him turn in his assignments. She didn't know how to tell which stories were real and which were false.

Almost despite herself, Harper warmed to the group. They weren't the frightening people she'd imagined. They weren't much different from any other friends she'd had over the years. She felt a certain kinship toward them, a camaraderie. They had a secret, and secrets bound people.

As she swirled a fry in ketchup, she glanced up at the monitor watching the dance floor. "What time does the club open?"

"We'll start letting people in around seven," Conner said. "But it won't get packed until ten."

Harper nodded. She ate the fry, then got up and threw away her trash. "Is that job offer still open?"

Chloe blinked. "I mean, you're joking, right? Harper, we own the club, the four of us. There's plenty of money in nightclubs, and that's without counting the cash that our side work brings in."

"We've got dinero, is what she means," Conner said, grinning. "You don't have to go sling drinks to pay rent."

Harper lifted her chin. "I'm not interested in taking your money. I like earning my money."

Sarah leaned forward, her voice low. "I understand, Harper. I never wanted charity, not ever. But that's not what this is. Assuming you're willing to help us with the nexus, you'll be earning any money you take home."

Harper considered, then looked at Alec. "So who tells you who the bad guys are?"

"That's my business," he told her.

"Well, I imagine it's all of ours," Harper countered.

Alec shook his head. "No, it's not. You'll get any information you need to do a job and stay safe. That's how it is. Either deal with it or walk."

Harper glared at him, but none of the others spoke up. She finally shrugged, deciding she could push the issue later. "Fine, okay."

"So let's talk about Patrick's," Chloe said.

Harper hesitated. "Any chance the fire was an accident? I know you said that man was after me, and I believe you, but that doesn't mean that he burned it down. Coincidences happen."

Conner shook his head, smiling. It didn't quite meet his eyes this time, though. He retrieved a remote and gestured at a monitor. Harper watched as he flicked through some footage, returning to the frames where the bar burned.

The video was a different angle than what she'd seen on the news, and it hurt to watch the way the flames leaped up, eating the place she'd worked with Ruby. Conner zoomed-in after a moment, though, focusing on the road. "See him?"

"What — oh shit!" Harper leaned forward, eyes widening. "That's him, that's Scotch, Neat. I knew he was there; I saw him on the news, but look at him. He's smiling. He did it, you're right."

Conner nodded. "I know."

"So what is he?" Harper asked. "You said he wasn't human, so what? Is he an incubus like you, Conner?"

"No," Sarah said, speaking up. "If he was, he would have just taken you from the bar. It's impossible to tell without more information, but with the rapid spreading of fire, I'd guess he's hot."

The others nodded.

"Is he a leader, though?" Chloe asked. When Harper looked at her, she shrugged. "I'm just saying, he comes across very hired goon to me. Think about it. If you were the head of the operation, would you let yourself be seen on live television? No way."

Alec said, "He's help, that's all. I don't know who the actual ring leader is, but there were a dozen or more demons present when I went to the funeral. Any of them could have put a team together."

"Harper needs to work on her Sight," Sarah said. "Both to find the nexus and in case someone comes after her."

"I don't know where to start," Harper said.

"We'll help," Chloe promised, smiling at her. "We can start in the club tonight."

"I'll take you home first," Alec said. "It's fine in the evenings, but during the day, if the demons see you here, they'll know you're with us."

"Wouldn't that be good?" Harper asked.

Sarah was the one to answer. "Right now, they're wary of attacking you head on and risking your power. They see you here, they might know we're protecting you. They'll make assumptions, and we want to hold off on that. Alec, you're not taking her. It's sunny out — the risk of getting attacked while at lowered strength is too high."

Alec looked mutinous but gave in. "Fine, you take her then. Harper, you'll come back here tonight to work on your Sight. You'll spend time in the club, focusing on finding supernatural people. That's your first goal: just recognizing when someone isn't human."

"All right," Harper agreed. She frowned. "But what if they attack, anyway? Here at the club?"

"It wouldn't be the first time," Chloe said. "Remember those fire things? They burned my favorite shirt! The one with the little red bow in front? God, that was cute…"

Conner interrupted. "They might, but it won't be a full assault. A lower demon might not care about the publicity that would get, but any with half a brain wouldn't risk the damage from an entire club being privy to the demonic world."

Harper opened her mouth, decided not to comment after all, and looked at Sarah. "So I'm riding with you then."

"You don't have your car?" Sarah asked, surprised.

"No, I rode with Alec."

Alec scowled when the rest of the group exchanged smirks.

"What?" she asked.

"Nothing," Alec snapped. "Go on, ride with Sarah."

Harper raised her eyebrows, then shrugged. "I'm going to use the bathroom first."

"Sure," Sarah said, smiling. They walked out together, and Harper left her sitting on a stood. The bathroom was empty, but she found herself in the same stall as the night before. She tried to wipe the scribbles she'd made over the heart off, but it was no good.

She finished, flushed, and went to wash her hands. There was a woman there already, wearing a maintenance uniform. After she said a quick hello and smiled, the woman turned toward her, smiling in return. Harper stumbled backward, disturbed. The woman's face was covered in bugs.

"What the—"

But the bugs weren't real, Harper realized. They had a faint aura, like the ones she'd seen around the green man and Alec.

"Do I have something in my teeth?" the woman asked, still smiling, though she looked a little hesitant now.

"Who are you?" Harper asked. Her breath was coming out fast, and she realized she was looking at a dead woman. "What's wrong with you?"

"Excuse me?" the woman said.

"You're — no, nothing, I thought…" Harper shook her head. She stepped back further. "Sorry, nevermind."

She tried to concentrate, to see more, but there were just those bugs lingering on her face.

The woman shook her head and grabbed a paper towel. She dried her hands and left. As the door shut behind her, Harper's vision filled with images. They flashed one after another, quick, vibrant. The woman standing on a curb. A girl in the street. A green car, roaring down the road. A shot of the man at the wheel, looking at the phone. The girl, still in the street.

The woman screamed a warning, though Harper couldn't hear it. Images, no sound. She ran. The girl looked up. The man looked too. He slammed on his brakes. The woman slammed into the girl. People running. The car skidding. The woman crumpled on the ground. The child safe. The woman broken. Dead.

Then Harper was back in the bathroom. She slumped against the wall, trying to calm down. Then she went back to find Sarah. Before Sarah could speak, she said, "I saw something in the bathroom."

"What was it?" Sarah asked, touching Harper's arm reassuringly.

Harper thought about what she'd seen. "A woman's going to die."

"How do you know?"

"I saw it," Harper said. In a few quick sentences, she told Sarah everything. Then she asked, "What do we do?"

"Do?" Sarah frowned. "Harper, there's nothing we can do."

"I don't understand."

"People die," Sarah said, her voice low. "Sometimes sooner than we'd like, but it's inevitable. For all of us. We can't stop that from happening."

"But you do," Harper said. "All of you. You help people."

"That's different," Sarah said. "When it's natural like that, an accident that's—"

"I got that vision for a reason," Harper said, hearing the plaintive note in her voice. She didn't like it, but she didn't like the idea of the woman dying either.

Sarah squeezed her arm, her face apologetic. "You got that vision because you haven't learned control yet. That's going to happen, Harper. Until you have a more firm grip on your abilities, they'll surprise you like this. It's not fun, but it's good. It means you can learn."

Harper thought about the flies. "I understand."

"Are you all right?"

"I'm all right."

Sarah nodded, and the two of them left the club. Harper turned toward the parking garage, but Sarah didn't. "I'm on the street over there."

Harper looked over, seeing the spot where the girl would run out, where the woman would save her. "Can I drive?"


"It helps calm my nerves," Harper said.

Sarah shrugged and took her keys from her pocket. She beeped her car, then handed them over. Harper slid behind the wheel of a powder-blue sedan and put her seatbelt on. She waited to start the car until Sarah had put hers on as well.

"If you take a left up there, you can skip a lot of the right turn traffic," Sarah told her.

Harper wasn't listening, though. She pulled forward, looking at the street. There was the usual crowd, most of them tourists. Someone honked at her slow speed, but she ignored this.

"Harper, what are you doing?" Sarah asked.

"Brace yourself," Harper warned. Then she hit the gas, cutting off a car that was trying to pull out. She sped up, weaved around a second one, then a third, switched lanes, glanced at her mirror to confirm she was in front of the green car from her vision. Then she slammed on her brakes.

She and Sarah were thrown forward as the car slammed into them and their airbags deployed. She could hear yelling from outside the vehicle and from beside her. She looked over and saw that Sarah's nose was bleeding. She almost laughed.

"What the hell, Harper?" Sarah asked.

"Look," She told her. She fumbled in her purse, her head hurting, her fingers shaking. The girl from her vision was running into the street, the woman following her a moment later. They should have been hit. They should have died. Her hand closed around a tissue, and she tossed it at Sarah, still staring at them.

"Harper," Sarah whispered, taking it. She wiped at her nose. "You did it."

Harper nodded. Then she found the door handle and got out. Sarah did the same.

The driver who'd rear-ended them strode up. "What the hell?"

"Shouldn't have been watching your phone," Harper told him.

"How dare you!"

Harper just smiled. She wouldn't let him ruin this moment, this feeling in her stomach. "You'll live, so will your car. Here, I'll give you my insurance information."

They exchanged information, though he glared the entire while. Sarah, meanwhile, went to look at the damage to her car. She sighed. "I've only owned this car for two months, Harper."

From across the street, the girl laughed.

Harper and Sarah looked at each other. Then they both laughed too.


Support "Afterlife"

About the author

Kaitlyn Meyers

Bio: Kaitlyn Meyers lives in the western United States near Lake Tahoe, CA. You can find her on the shores of the lake anytime of the year.

Log in to comment
Log In