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A smirk played over his lips, and I had never seen anything sexier in my life, dead or not dead.

“Do you want me that much?”

“Yes,” I said shamelessly.

Hadrian glanced at me. Just one swift glance, lasting no longer than a second, but the smoldering heat in it…mm, well, let’s just say it was hotter than Hell, enough to make me clear my throat and start fanning my face. Phew.

“You’re looking a little red,” Hadrian murmured.

“Am I? It’s getting a little hot. Must be your air-conditioning,” I quipped.

“Or I’m just too hot.”

I couldn’t help laughing even though we both knew it was true. “That should’ve made you sound like a butthole,” I said with a sigh, “but it didn’t.” I tugged his sleeve again, asking hopefully, “Are you really sure you can’t spare even just five minutes?”

“Unfortunately, no…since we’re already here.” Hadrian switched his engine off as he spoke, and I realized with a start that he had already backed his car into a parking slot. I got out of the car and looked around me, unnerved by the thickness of the fog around us.

Hadrian frowned when he saw me already out of the car. “You should’ve waited for me to open the door for you,” he admonished gently.

“You can’t open a door for a ghost,” I teased.

But he only shrugged this off, saying, “Just wait for me to open it next time.”

“Is that something you do for all women or just me?”

“Just you.”


But Hadrian didn’t even answer, busy as he was taking my hand to snap a plain gold band around my wrist.

“Uh. What’s this?” And was it normal for him to carry around women’s bracelets with him all the time, like a serial killer always needing to have something to lure college co-eds…

Hadrian rolled his eyes. “Whatever it is you’re thinking, I promise it’s not that.” He ran his fingers over the bracelet, and I gasped in surprise when I saw brightly glowing symbols materialize on his surface.

“Is this battery-operated or solar powered?”

“Neither,” Hadrian answered with a smile.


“Because it’s magical.”

“Uh huh.” He had to be kidding.

“And the place we’re about to enter is spell-protected.”

“I see.”

“Without this bracelet, you won’t be able to enter the place.”

“Even if I’m a ghost?”

“Even if you’re a ghost.”

Hadrian took my hand, and the fog began to thin as we started walking. I had no idea how Hadrian could see where we’re going, but we eventually arrived at the front steps of…


Silver Mist Hospital, the panel signage read, and that was not a good thing. Ghosts loved hanging out at hospitals, which of course made it one of my top places to avoid.

“Why are we in a hospital?” Was he a doctor? Did he know someone who was ill? Or—-

“Someone escaped from Tartarus, and I mean to find out who.”

Chapter Two


Here are my new rules of survival: don’t go where it’s quiet and empty, don’t float, and above all else, do not ever make eye contact with any one of them. The moment they see you, and you see them, they’ll know: you’re a ghost, too.



1. At 0409H, a rupture with a diameter of 3.5 feet occurred at the southwest border of Tartarus.

I clicked on the link below, which turned out to be a virtual 365-degree tour of what I assumed was Hell’s most terrifying region. The skies seemed like an endless ocean of darkness, and the ground so impossibly dry and hot that steam streamed out from every fissure and crack.

I swiped my finger on the screen until I had moved to the furthest edge of the photo.


Imagine a paper with a circle cut out in its center, and imagine what the outline of that circle would look like if it were set on fire. That picture in your mind was what the rupture looked like: a burning hole in the wall, made by magic.

2. Above incident enabled an unidentified woman (UW) to gain unauthorized entry into the area, and with various witnesses (Attachment 1.1 – 1.3) stating that they saw UW talking to unidentified missing subject (MS). According to the same witnesses, the conversation between both parties lasted anywhere between one to three minutes.

3. UW was able to leave the area through the same access point.

4. At approximately, 0418H, roving sentries and other subjects saw MS jump into the river of Phlegethon.

I clicked on Phlegethon’s hyperlink and gulped when I saw what it looked like. It was a river of fire, literally, and I couldn’t imagine what would drive a person to even dip a toe in its waters.

Actions Taken:

1. Sentries immediately attempted rescue and retrieval but were only able to retrieve several pieces of human bones.

2. Alarm was sounded off at 0420H.

3. Remains were sent to NSA for autopsy.

4. Additional evidence collected from areas of interest revealed use of a swapping spell.

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