He found her sitting on the bench by the green where Catherine had been burned, shivering, a screwed up piece of tissue in her hand. He draped the coat he’d brought for her round her shoulders and sat down next to her.
“It wasn’t you, it was Isabel,” he said.
Kate knew he was right, but some part of her had wanted to kiss him too and he would know that. She had bolted because he had rejected her, not Isabel.
“I won’t read anymore if you don’t want me to,” she said, keeping her eyes on the church across from them.
“You can read it. You found the book for a reason and you were right, you do need to know. All I ask is that you pace yourself and let me watch over you while the memories emerge.”
She was still too hurt to answer him. He wished he could tell her how he truly felt, but he daren’t. Instead they sat in silence watching the drizzle of rain, a fine mist that coated their hair and stuck to Kate’s eyelashes in little spheres of moisture. She didn’t seem ready to leave yet. That was fine, he would wait as long as it took. He longed to put his arm around her, but he resisted, content with the contact their bodies shared as they sat side by side.
A couple of cars drove past, the occupants turning to stare at them. He supposed they would look a little strange, sitting in the rain on a bitter cold day, but they weren’t the only ones out in it.
A man walked down the road towards them, his German Shepherd straining at the leash. When it saw Ash it pulled towards him, barking and dragging its owner closer. Then it sat down and held out its paw. Ash shook it in the same way he would a man’s hand.
“Pleased to meet you, Samson,” he said.
Kate and the dog’s owner looked at him as if he’d gone crazy.
“How did you know his name?” asked the man, puffing and panting.
“He told me.”
The man pulled the dog away with an effort of will and crossed to the opposite side of the road. He looked back over his shoulder several times before disappearing from view round the back of the church. Ash put his hand over his head and felt the air behind him.
“What are you doing?” Kate asked.
“From the way that guy kept looking at me and the expression on your face I thought I’d better check I wasn’t sitting here with my wings on show.”
Kate burst out laughing.
“You told him his dog told you his name.”
“Hey, I told you, I can’t lie.”
They both laughed and Kate linked her arm through his, laying her head on his shoulder. Ash smiled at the gesture of forgiveness and leaned back on the bench.
“What made you come here?” he asked.
“I don’t know. I felt – drawn.”
It was the only word that seemed appropriate. She pushed her arms into the sleeves of the coat and buttoned it up.
“Me too. Whenever I lose you I come back here.”
And then the thought occurred to him that if they were drawn here, then so could be whoever had the dagger. He would have more reason than anyone to come here. He suddenly realised how vulnerable they were. He tensed, more alert to their surroundings and Kate, sensing the change in him, raised her head.
“What is it?” she said.
“Nothing, let’s get back to the car.”
He couldn’t sense any immediate danger, but he didn’t want to take any chances. He needed to get Kate home, get her out of the open where anyone could be a threat. It had been a mistake to let her out of the house. What on earth had he been thinking? Why did he always make these stupid mistakes?
He put his hand on the small of Kate’s back and steered her back to the car. They walked past a middle aged couple and he searched their faces for any sign of a soul he knew.
“What’s wrong?” she asked again.
“Get in the car,” he ordered.
Kate frowned at him. Had he flipped again? Then realisation dawned on her. Her body went rigid, unable to obey him, and she was rooted to the spot.
“It’s here, isn’t it? The dagger and the man that wants to kill you?”
Ash nodded. Kate’s head swivelled from side to side, her eyes raking the surroundings, expecting to see some horrific monster coming for them. She searched the shadows of the yew tree especially. Someone grabbed her by the arms and spun her around. It was Ash.
“He’s here in York and he knows we are too, that’s all I know. Now get in the car.”
He opened the door and waited for her to get in.
“But I’m not ready. I still don’t know what I’m supposed to do.”
“You’ll be fine,” he said, trying his best to smile.
“But I thought we’d have more time,” she said as he shut the car door.
He took a deep breath and closed his eyes.
“Time is the one thing we never have enough of.”
Kate was too stunned to speak on the journey home and Ash concentrated hard on trying not to break the speed limit. She stumbled into the house in a daze and dropped onto a chair at the kitchen table. Her mind was whirling; no matter how hard she tried she couldn’t think of anything that she could do that would end the curse and send Ash home. If neither her death nor the death of the man who threatened them was the answer then what was?