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Another blast of frigid air whistled around the front doors of Morrigan’s Cauldron, seeking and finding any egress into the store. The windowpanes rattled their displeasure at the late January storm trying to force its way past their guard. Even with the heat turned up, the draft raised gooseflesh along Tom Laoch’s forearms.

Outside, a few pedestrians bent against the wind as they hurried to their destinations. It would be a quiet night if most of the street traffic consisted of the delivery kids from Wongs’ Restaurant across the way.

Tom dipped his attention from the view as he cut open the box in front of him. With two blackouts hampering the city so far this winter, they couldn’t seem to keep any candles in stock, much less the red and white tapers for Imbolc in two days.

“This doesn’t feel right.”

Tom looked up from where he knelt. Rain Bean, the owner of the Greenwich Village shop, watched as the wind dragged trash in its wake outside. “What do you mean?”

She rubbed her upper arms despite the heavy navy sweater she wore. “It doesn’t feel natural.”

“Winter rarely does.”

Rain looked down at him. “Did you just make a joke?”

He couldn’t resist a smile. “It’s known to happen occasionally.”

One of her fine silver eyebrows arched upward. “Be careful. You might hurt yourself. You’ll definitely scare the children.”

He placed the first box of votives on their display shelf. “They’re not children any more, Rain,” he said softly.

She made a disgusted noise in her throat and walked away.

His good humor faded. She couldn’t see how much things had changed in the world. If they had lived centuries ago, Adrian and Phylicia would have been elders of their clan. At eighteen, Jamal was older than Tom had been in his first battle. Rain was simply too old to comprehend being young anymore, and despite his own centuries, he was a squawking infant himself in comparison.

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