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Belladonna by Adalyn Grace

Everyone at the party coos and fawns over baby Signa swaddled in crimson and being held by her mother, Rima Farrow. Signa is an unusual baby, she knows that death is at the party and Death makes his way through the throng of guests and the halls of the opulent Farrow estate, the poison in the wine taking everyone except one. Despite her mother's milk being infected with the poison, Death's touch does not affect Signa. Death's cold touch doesn’t give him flashes of her life but glimpses of her future, so he declares it is not her time and leaves with Rima’s spirit and the many, many others he took that night. 

Signa keeps trying to draw Death from the shadows. She remembers seeing him when her grandmother died, ferrying her soul. Anytime someone dies she sees him and now she is trying to draw him out with increasingly and supposedly deadly undertakings. Signa’s bones break but heal quickly, thorns pierce her skin but the wounds soon vanish and five belladonna berries squashed in her tea only take her breath away for just the right amount of time for her to see Death in his shadows. Her latest guardian, the terrible Aunt Magda, believes Signa is a witch with her belladonna tea and her string of dead guardians in her wake. As Magda is wracked with a rattling cough and spitting abuse at her, Signa retreats to her attic room, secures the door and eats the five belladonna berries she had secreted in her pocket. Her intention is to stop Death from ruining her life, and when he comes to her, she reaches for a knife and plunges it into his chest. 

The only thing stabbing Death does is make him laugh. Meanwhile, Aunt Magda comes storming in and grabs Signa. As Magda goes to strike her, Signa pushes her away, which somehow kills her aunt. Signa blames Death for the deaths of all her family and guardians, for putting her in squalor and misery, even for her nonexistent prospects at marriage. Death will prove he isn’t Signa’s enemy and asks her to wait for him for two days. Later, the coroner takes Magda’s body away as her spirit constantly spits insults at Signa, calling her WITCH! and worse. After her body is taken, Signa sees a dying hatchling. She strokes it, sure her touch will kill it, however it isn’t until she eats the five belladonna berries in her pocket and is watched by Death in the shadows that her touch takes the hatchling’s life. 

Two days later, a carriage comes for Signa. She has been invited to stay with Mr. Elijah Hawthorne at Thorn Grove Estate. Mr. Hawthorne is the husband of Magda’s granddaughter, Lillian. As the driver collects Signa’s belongings, a young man who has come to escort her, Sylas Thorly, steps out of the carriage. Sylas is eager to leave the hovel and, on the way to Thorn Grove, he explains that Lillian is dead and Elijah is busy with his sickly child, Blythe. Because Magda’s spirit is tethered to the grounds where she died, her screams of abuse slowly fade as Signa travels further away. 

Eventually they arrive at a train station and Signa watches all the grandeur surrounding her as they board a train. To her amazement, a cart of sweets and cakes are delivered to their private carriage and she’s able to indulge to her heart's content. She draws conversation from Sylas as they partake, and he’s able to give her some information about Mr. Hawthorne and Thorn Grove. 

Hours later they arrive at Thorn Grove and it’s a showcase of wealth, and apparently a soiree is taking place. Sylas leaves Signa to return to the stables as apparently he isn’t the gentleman he appears to be but merely a stablehand. Three people are waiting for Signa’s arrival at the door: Charles Warwick the butler, her cousin Percy, and Marjorie Hargreaves, the governess to Mr. Hawthorne's daughter who shall also be her instructor. Marjorie escorts Signa to her room and is accosted on the way by a slimy man called Byron who Marjorie threatens to push over the banister. 

When Marjorie leaves Signa to settle in, she wastes no time and goes to watch the party below from the landing. It’s far from a polite society gathering (it’s scandalous!) though Percy seems to look displeased at the antics, as does the slimy Byron, his uncle. Signa watches Percy make a mocking, angry speech clearly directed at his father about how he continues to celebrate his wife though she is dead in her grave and leave the family business, Grey’s Gentleman’s Club, to run into the ground. Elijah Hawthorne doesn’t care and stuffs a cake in his son's mouth. 

Percy catches Signa watching the party and the display with his father. She tries to return to her room but gets lost and can feel spirits around her, watching her and confusing her. Turning into a room, Signa finds a sickly girl in bed, Elijah’s daughter, Blythe. Thankfully, there are no signs of Death and though Blythe looks like she will meet him soon, she doesn’t smell like rot and there is a light in her eyes. Blythe isn’t welcoming and they get off on the wrong foot. Blythe throws Signa out of her room and when Signa touches her, she feels the chill of Death, but Death doesn’t come. 

Later, while servants nurse Blythe after a coughing fit, Signa meets Mr. Hawthorne and he's a bit of an arsehole. Signa has heterochromia, the visible leftovers from when she was a baby and was touched by Death, and this shocks Mr. Hawthorne because Lillian had the same eyes. Later that night, Signa wakes up and sees a spirit from earlier in her vanity mirror. This scares Signa causing her to dramatically run outside into the night, but it’s creepy and she can hear crying. Eventually she finds the source of the cries, it’s the spirit of Lillian Hawthorne and, though she looks beautiful, her lips are black and her mouth is filled with pus, bleeding sores and meaty mush. Signa demands to know what Lillian wants and Lillian points to her mouth. Lillian uses a branch to write on the ground, COME TO MY GARDEN AND SAVE HER. Lillian must mean Blythe. 

The next day brings a visit from the modiste and lessons with Marjorie. Percy and Blythe are taking tea in the parlor when Signa and Marjorie enter. As they talk, Signa hears the cries of Lillian’s spirit, but so do the others. Marjorie dismisses it as the wind but Percy has to take a shaken Blythe back to her room. As Signa takes her seat at the piano for her instruction, mud and worms seep and crawl through the keys. Lillian’s message is loud and clear. 

After lessons, Signa ventures outside to look for Lillian’s garden. With no clue where to start, Signa heads to the stables to recruit Sylas. Sylas agrees to accompany and offers to let Signa ride a horse. She is immediately drawn to a golden mare who turns out to be Lillian’s horse. Together, along with Sylas’s dog, Gundry, they head out but Signa feels a pull and Lillian’s urgency and gallops ahead. She reaches Lillian’s garden that is enclosed behind a locked gate. Lillian watches from the shadows and gestures to a belladonna plant ripe with berries. Signa plucks the berries and fills her pockets, and though she doesn’t want to call Death, she knows she needs his powers, so she eats five berries. 

Death surrounds Signa and she demands to know if she can use his powers. Death doesn’t know the extent she is able to use his powers, but in this veil of half-life half-death, her abilities are limitless. Death explains that he has put off taking the lives of others for her and tells her she has only taken one life, Magda’s, however, a price must be paid when a life is unexpectedly taken: someone who should have died is given life, so when Signa killed Magda, Blythe was saved. Suddenly Signa doesn’t feel so guilty and actually seems to relish her access to Death’s powers. Signa figures she must be able to run through the garden wall if she has Death’s power. Turning, she flings herself through the gate, gets stuck and quickly eats more belladonna berries in case the powers dissipate before she is free. Death, finding the whole thing amusing, helps her through. 

The garden is beautiful, wild but not unkempt. Together they head to Lillian’s grave. Signa lays a lily on Lillian’s grave and the spirit appears with stabbing needles of pain and cold. When Lillian smiles at Signa, the sores around her mouth crack and bleed. Signa tries to get answers from Lillian about how she died, but Lillian only tears at the ivy on her grave and uses a stone to write KILL. Lillian was killed, poisoned, and Blythe is the next victim. The questions pain Lillian who shakes and shudders, her body contorting, neck snapping, tearing at her tongue and flesh. Death warns Signa not to question the dead about their death because they might not deal well with reliving it. They leave Lillian’s garden.

Sylas rides up and sees Signa is out of sorts. Together they ride back to Thorn Grove, Sylas warning Signa that the servants whisper about a ghost and that everyone at Thorn Grove has heard the cries. Signa confesses her suspicion that Lillian was murdered and Blythe will be next, and as they reach the stables, Signa begs for his help to investigate. Sylas agrees and shows Signa the entrance to a secret tunnel into the kitchens. As they walk through, Signa asks Sylas about the residents of the house to better understand the dynamics and possibly figure out a suspect. When Signa enters the house, she is caught by Mr. Hawthorne who entreats her to a game of chess. He distracts her with talk of ghosts and Lillian until he wins and sends her to bed. On her way, she stumbles across Percy who was eavesdropping. Signa tries to comfort him in his grief for his dead mother and distant father. 

The next day Marjorie delivers an armful of new dresses and an invitation to tea with some young ladies of society who are Blythe's friends. The young ladies include a childhood friend of Signa’s, Charlotte Killinger, who she hasn’t spoken to in years as well as Lady Eliza Wakefield and Lady Diana Blackwater who are terrible gossips. Signa drinks her tea, eats the scones and tries desperately to learn all she can. Death joins the ladies, though obviously Signa’s guests can’t see him. She hasn’t taken any belladonna so how can she see him? Death hasn’t come to take someone, he’s simply come for gossip. It’s not a comfortable visit in any sense of the word. Once the ladies are gone, Death offers to teach Signa how to use his powers. Signa and Death argue for a while, but really, Signa has no choice. First, Signa must complete her lessons with Marjorie which Percy comes to watch and both have Marjorie on her last tether so she sends them to visit Blythe. 

Blythe is a lot more accommodating to Signa and invites her to visit. Signa asks when she fell ill, and is told it was a month after Lillian died. Signa spies chocolates and tea next to Blythe’s bed, she tastes the chocolate and it’s fine, but the tea has been laced with belladonna. Signa throws it out the window to the siblings' shock. Apparently it is a prescribed tea from the doctor, brought every day by her maid Elaine. Signa tells Blythe she is being poisoned and warns the siblings to be careful with what they eat and drink until they find out who is doing it. 

That night the maid Elaine is waiting to help Signa get ready for bed and Signa has no idea how to tease information out of her. Nothing in their conversation makes Signa think she is talking with a murderer but Signa does have a new lead to follow with a potential haunting in the library. When Signa is finally ready for bed, a black envelope is slid under her door. Once Elaine leaves, Signa opens the missive, it’s from Sylas asking her to meet him at 11 in the stables. 

Signa catches glimpses of the party as she makes her way to meet Sylas. She bumps into Byron and thankfully Marjorie catches his attention and he dismisses her. Sylas is waiting for her, horses ready for them to go and investigate Grey’s Gentleman’s Club. After a vigorous ride they reach Grey’s, as they are breaking in, they are interrupted, forcing them to hide in a coat closet very close together (dang, the hardship). Through a crack, Signa and Sylas watch Byron and Marjorie. Byron is complaining about Elijah neglecting the finances, his ennui since Lillian’s death, and the mess he’s creating for Percy and Blythe, then he tells her to seduce Elijah. Marjorie refuses, despite any past relations they may have had, so Byron threatens Percy. They fight and Byron slaps Marjorie who spits at him as she storms out. Once Byron leaves, Signa and Sylas escape the closet, they both are a little hot and aware after the closeness. For now though, they need to continue their investigation of Elijah’s office. They find photographs of happier, healthier and more alive times, and a note from Lillian to Elijah about not letting his selfishness take him away from Percy. They leave Grey’s and head back to Thorn Grove. 

The secret tunnel back to Thorn Grove is longer than before and seems to wind on and on. Death appears, expecting Signa to use his powers to travel through the tunnel walls. Death tells her he has never met another being able to use his powers. Signa realizes she has started to crave the feel of his powers… and him… Death wants to show Signa how to access the power without eating the belladonna but she is reluctant and tries to get Death to promise not to take anyone else from her, but all Death has wanted is for Signa to find a safe home; her previous guardians proved to be liars, cheats, swindlers, schemers, and abusers. Death took them to try and help her. With this realization, Signa accepts Death's help and he curls his shadows around her and infuses her with his power. They make their way through the tunnels, into Thorn Grove and up into her room, all the while little playful glowing orbs of lights, souls, follow them, waiting for Death to reap them. 

The next day Signa heads down to the kitchen to test and taste everything in there, trying to find the poison before heading to breakfast and lessons. Today’s is dancing and Percy has been roped in as her partner. Lessons go well until Elijah comes in followed by an irate Byron. It’s an uncomfortable and awkward confrontation with Elijah continuing to ignore his duties and ending with ordering Signa and Percy to continue dancing. Afterwards, Signa visits Blythe in her room. They talk about their future plans, how Signa always sees marriage in her future and craves a place in society, but Blythe wants independence and freedom. Signa also tries to figure out what is going on with Elijah and Byron and Blythe admits that it seems like her father is driving Grey’s into the ground and no longer wants Percy to take over the family business. Blythe falls asleep while they speak and Death comes, not to reap her, but to warn Signa that if the poison is not purged from Blythe by the end of the week, she will die and it will be unpleasant. 

So far, Signa’s searches have proven fruitless, and while she’s pacing her room, Sylas comes for a visit through her balcony window. Sylas’s searches have also come up empty, but when asked, he reveals he knows where the library is, so they go there to search. The library is huge and when Signa notes how dark it is, a candle suddenly lights. When Sylas remarks they need a book on botany to research poisons and antidotes, Signa sees the books move, making themselves known. Signa and Sylas head further in and find the spirit of Thaddeus Kipling, a scholar who died in the library who is spending his afterlife trying to read all the books. Thaddeus is a wonderful recruit to their investigation and directs Signa to a helpful book and the solution it contains: the Calavar bean, when ground into liquid, is an antidote to belladonna poisoning. Signa must get to the apothecary in town. 

The next morning, Signa finds out Blythe’s condition is worse; the same sores that afflicted her mother are now appearing in her mouth. Where is the source of the poison? Signa asks to go into town to buy Blythe a gift and Elijah capitulates, ordering Percy to accompany her, but forbidding him to go to Grey’s. It doesn’t take long for Signa to get what she needs from the apothecary, but unfortunately they are spotted by Charlotte and Eliza, the terrible gossip, and Eliza’s handsome single cousin Lord Everett Wakefield. Signa and Percy, mainly Percy, are extended an invitation to take tea, which they try and refuse, but eligible young ladies in want of a rich husband have a way of winning the conversation. 

Finally the tea is over and the cousins are in the carriage home. Percy shares his hesitancy over Signa’s supposed help and his lack of trust, especially since Blythe has gotten worse since Signa’s arrival. Signa offers to try anything before giving it to Blythe which placates him. When they enter Blythe’s room, Death is hanging in the air. Quickly, Signa mixes the Calavar bean, tries it, then gives it to Blythe. It takes hours for Blythe to calm and rest, and as Signa tends to her, Marjorie comes in and notices a slight difference in Blythe. 

Sylas is waiting for Signa in her room, and he’s brought the logs of the Thorn Grove staff from over the last year. An hour later, Death comes. He has a theory about her, that when she eventually dies she will become a Reaper, and so they need to test the limits of her powers. Death touches Signa and it’s cold, but when she concentrates, she can feel life, hear final words, and see tethers to the dying. The experience changes Signa’s perspective of Death. Signa has been slowly thinking about Death differently, but now her attraction to him is burning. Despite societal dictates about virtue, Signa is nearly ready to relinquish it. 

The next day, Blythe’s recovery is declared a miracle by the doctor. As Signa readies for the day, determined to find the poisoner, she receives a note from Lord Wakefield delivered by Marjorie along with a warning for her to be careful and proceed slowly. Lord Wakefield it seems can wait no longer to see her and wants to call upon her today. Signa hasn’t given him a second thought though, so he can wait to see her until the Christmas masquerade ball.

Signa ventures to the library and as she greets Thaddeus, she notices smoke. A pile of the botany books is on fire and Thaddeus isn’t the jovial old spirit he was before, he’s vicious and he possesses Signa, urging her to throw more books in the flames. A tiny part of him wants to stop and Signa clings to that when Death arrives, forcing Thaddeus out of Signa. Thaddeus is back to himself, upset at what has happened but doesn’t know who did it. Signa runs out of the library to get help and finds Sylas who will take care of the fire and tells Signa to stay in her suite. Later that night, Signa tries to contact Death mentally and after a few tries, it works and she thanks Death for helping her. It takes a lot of effort for Signa not to call Death to her and welcome him into her bed, but she doesn’t think she will wait to do that much longer. 

Signa hasn’t celebrated Christmas since her grandmother was alive, and Thorn Grove seems to relish the celebration. The first snow will arrive soon and Signa can’t wait for the chill. Blythe is also on the mend though she is still weak and won’t be able to attend the Christmas masquerade ball this year, she gives her cousin a beautiful mask covered in gilded branches, petals and ivy to wear as a gift. Blythe tells Signa she likes her because she doesn’t fit society's norms and says the gift will mean a piece of her can attend the ball. 

Elaine brings Signa a red ball gown to wear for the masquerade and Percy, in a fox mask, escorts her to the festivities. When they reach the ball, Elijah compliments Signa, saying she looks just like her mother before instructing her to enjoy the evening. On the outskirts, Signa spots Sylas in a well-fitted onyx suit and an intricately decorated mask that looks crafted from fine metal. Eliza and Diana interrupt Signa and Sylas’s conversation, and are joined soon after by Everett who asks Signa to dance. Signa’s dance card is soon filled and the evening is enjoyable, though she wishes she could escape to the shadows. Late in the evening, as Signa tries to make her retreat back to her suite, a man enters. He has hair as silver as starlight, is dressed entirely in black, and wears a mask of pure gold, more gruesome than anyone else’s, with two horns coming from the base of the skull. The room is buzzing as Death walks to Signa and asks her to dance. 

As they dance, the ballroom fades away leaving Signa and Death standing in a snowy starlit garden. The dance turns to kissing and the kissing grows stronger, but it’s nearly midnight and Signa needs to return to the ball. Death tells her he can come to her later, she needs only to leave her window open. Signa is returned to the ball in time for the toast, but unfortunately the well wishes are cut short when Percy crashes unconscious from the balcony into the tree, covered in blood and vomit. Signa has one dose of Calabar bean left, and gives it to Elijah and Marjorie to administer to Percy as Death watches on. Thankfully he gives her a nod and leaves once Percy is given the antidote. Signa suggests Byron may have seen something because he was talking to Percy, and Elijah finally realizes his family is being targeted. 

Signa holds ten dried belladonna berries in her hand and presses some to her tongue, letting herself fall into the veil. She is swathed in shadows like Death and able to move without notice. Death’s voice rings in her head, he is worried as she’s not breathing, but Signa dismisses him. She is intent on putting a stop to the terror with her fatal touch. Signa ghosts through the house until she reaches Marjorie’s room and stops to read her journals which show that there was no love lost between Marjorie and Lillian, and though it’s circumstantial evidence, she takes it anyway. In the room across from Blythe’s, Signa finds Marjorie looking at an old photograph of a young Percy with his parents before ripping it and throwing the scraps out the window. Marjorie’s hands are bare and her fingers stained deep purple, the same deep purple that stains Signa’s from the belladonna berries. Signa flees the room back to her own where Death is waiting for her. He tells her there is a problem with Blythe.

Yellow bile is pouring from Blythe’s mouth and Death is waiting to reap her. Marjorie tears into Blythe’s room and Signa stops her, confronting her as the poisoner. Signa begs Death not to take Blythe, willing to pay the price that someone else will die in her place even though Blythe whispers that she is ready. Once Blythe is breathing easier, Elijah demands to see Marjorie’s hands. At the evidence, Elijah kicks Marjorie out of Thorn Grove. 

Death is waiting for Signa in her suite, he needs to show her what he does. Death takes her to a place where time seems to stand still and a beautiful blue and white bridge across an endless lake is covered with souls. Death is able to tell her about her parents, and Signa learns she isn’t too different from her mother who wasn’t the proper lady Signa always imagined. Death then points out the soul she reaped instead of Blythe, an old man who would have had another ten years but would have spent it in pain. When she questions why he did it, Death admits he has waited an eternity for her. When Signa confesses her feelings, Death takes Signa into the woods and they enjoy each other, society’s dictates be damned. 

At breakfast, Signa and Elijah decide that the evidence points to Marjorie but she couldn’t be working alone, and Byron is their prime suspect. Byron storms angrily into the breakfast room, furious because Elijah has commissioned a broker to sell the family business. Byron offers to purchase Elijah’s portion, however Elijah doesn’t want to talk about Grey’s but rather the attacks on his family. Byron finds the accusations ridiculous, he loves them as if they were his own. When the brothers’ bickering gets to be too much, Signa tells them to stop, they must find Marjorie’s accomplice. When Signa recounts what she read in Marjorie’s diary, she realizes Marjorie had a child out of wedlock with Elijah. Percy. 

Lillian agreed to raise Percy as her own when Marjorie delivered him to Elijah begging for help because they had been struggling to have a child for a little while. Marjorie stayed to watch her son grow up but Percy was never to find out the truth. Elijah loves his son and wants rid of Grey’s because he became consumed with work and neglected his family. He doesn’t want the same to happen to Percy or Byron, hence why he is selling Grey’s. Signa can understand why Marjorie may have poisoned Blythe, she doesn’t fit her idea of family, but Percy? Suddenly Death whispers to Signa that something has happened to Percy, so they run to Percy’s room where they find him looking sallow and gaunt. Death didn’t see what happened but he felt a spirit and found Percy looking out the window. Percy whispers that he saw his mother. 

Signa is left with little supervision with Marjorie gone. Blythe will only let her father visit her, but he has started drinking again. Percy has started walking without assistance, but is still ill, though he ventures out for hours at a time during the night, returning with dirt on his hands. Despite Sylas’s entreaty that she take care of herself, Signa is determined to follow Percy and get answers. 

In the forest, they find strange, small prints, and Signa tells Sylas to follow Percy while she will follow the new tracks. Instead of finding Marjorie as expected, Signa comes across Charlotte, her basket filled with items she has foraged from the forest. Signa asks if Charlotte has seen Percy, and she says she has, but only in passing, probably visiting Lillian’s grave. Blythe used to visit too before she took ill, however she was always escorted. Signa’s mind whirls, and all her suspicions point to Sylas. Suddenly, Charlotte points out gray smoke. Signa tells Charlotte to fetch Elijah before she hurries to the smoke. 

Lillian’s garden is open and being consumed by a raging fire. Sylas intercepts Signa, stopping her from going in. Lillian’s spirit is floating around when Percy emerges holding a tinderbox. He confesses that Lillian won’t leave him alone and that she wasn’t his mother, his mother is a ruined woman who worked as a Governess. Suddenly, the puzzle pieces snap together. Percy is a murderer, he poisoned himself knowing Signa would save him and he set the fire in the library. Lillian’s ghost is raging and looks at Signa asking permission to possess her. With Signa’s body, Lillian asks Percy why?, demanding the truth and what she did to hurt him. He didn't mean to poison her, he meant to poison Marjorie.

Lillian defends Marjorie, she only wanted the best for Percy which he disputes. He didn’t want a relationship with the Governess, what if someone found out the truth?! As for Blythe, Percy used her to try and bring Elijah back to his senses. Now he blames Signa because Elijah looks to her for help and advice. Percy doesn’t see or understand his father's love. Percy draws a knife and lunges to slit her throat, but Sylas appears and shoves Signa away, though the knife goes into her shoulder. Lillian drops her hold on Signa’s body, saying to Sylas “he is yours to do with as you will. I cannot protect him anymore.” Percy brings the knife down and Sylas catches it with his hand. There is no blood, only shadows, because Sylas is Death. 

Death tells Signa this is where she must decide what world she is made for. Does she let Percy go to trial and be hanged or does she claim Percy’s life as her own and give it to Blythe? Signa chooses to be a reaper and lets her powers consume her. She raises the dead garden like a cage around Percy before letting Gundry, whose true form is a hellhound, have him. It is over. As Signa sits against a tree, Lillian appears and thanks her. Death emerges from the garden, a mix of Death and Sylas, and he asks if Lillian is ready just as Elijah arrives on horseback. Elijah sees Lillian and they are able to say their goodbyes. 

Signa and Elijah return to the house. Death, looking like Sylas, comes to her room with Gundry who climbs into her bed. He tells her that no one at Thorn Grove has seen him, and Signa thinks back to all the help Sylas gave her and all those instances Sylas conveniently got lost and Death appeared. His help was given freely, he didn’t know what had happened to Lillian or Blythe, he selfishly wanted to learn about her, to spend time with her, she would never have wanted to if he had stayed in his shadow form. Signa can appreciate that. Signa knows and accepts who and what she is now, a reaper, and she takes Death’s hand. 

It is a long, painful process to get Blythe better again, but Signa and Elijah share the duty. The parties at Thorn Grove stop, father and daughter spend time together arguing over their favorite scones and walking in the garden. One afternoon Marjorie returns to Thorn Grove and Elijah privately talks to her before she collects her belongings. Marjorie and Signa also talk, and Signa apologizes for her not-quite-baseless accusations. Marjorie reveals she found the belladonna berries just before Signa made her accusation. Percy’s reputation is unmarred and everyone believes he ran away in anger and an unnamed servant who has fled was responsible for everything that happened. Marjorie knows the truth though. 

With everything wrapped up, it’s time for Signa to leave. She has finally reached her majority and gained her inheritance from her mother. Death comes to tell her that with Blythe healing, they won’t be able to see each other, and he doesn’t want her to use the belladonna berries to seek him out. They will be together later, but for now, he wants her to be part of the world of the living and not just focus on the dead. Before he leaves, they manage to spend their remaining time together wisely. 

Signa keeps searching for Death. He isn’t in the shadows, the stables, or in her bedroom at night. They can still communicate, thankfully, and he offers to bring about a plague so they could see each other all the time. She laughs and tells Death he should not promise her a good time. At a gathering being held at Thorn Grove to celebrate the sale of Grey’s, Everett introduces Signa to his father, Julius, who is also Elijah and Byron’s new business partner. Julius embarrasses both Signa and Everett by mentioning that Everett is quite taken with Signa and has not stopped talking about her despite not seeing each other for four months since the Christmas ball. Signa reluctantly gives Everett two pity dances on her card. When Blythe makes her grand entrance to the ball, Signa would never regret what she did to save her cousin. Elijah gives a stirring speech and as Byron raises his glass for a toast, three things happen. Julius starts clutching at this throat as his eyes bulge, Eliza screams as blood pools in Julius’s mouth, and Signa feels the chill of Death as he plucks Julius’s soul. A young man picks up Julius’s fallen champagne flute, noting the remains of the poison inside it. With a rumbling voice he says, “Fate is a funny thing, isn’t it.” before looking at Signa. It’s Fate and Signa has another murder to solve. 

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