They paused at the door, sweetly reticent and appropriately formal after these years (Javier was nothing if not courtly).

Tevet asked to see the owner.

The woman was mad as the wife of a sea captain. She was all done up in a black lace mantilla and her eyes flashed white as new stars. He recognized her well.

"Senor Stanko is indisposed," she said.

Javier eased his daughter toward the door, his hip pressing against hers, his eyes locked upon the mad stars beneath the black lace.

Tevet...Beth couldn't hear what the madwoman said.

"Burning...Oh my darling, he's burning in hell by now," the woman said, letting the mantilla slip from her head to show a sad smile.

Her cheeks were streaked with bloody tracks like warpaint. Her lips were painted black. It was something he was used to from Beth (from his daughter, from Tevet, not the blood but the lipstick, young girls wore it).

"Another time then," Javier said, still easing his daughter toward the door, this time taking her arm.

"Daddy," she said, "her face... she­"

"I need your help, little one," the madwoman said. Her eyes were painted with dark blue eyeshadow, dark as plums. She hissed her request like an asp, though softly, forlorn.

Black lips against pale white flesh.