“Yep,” I said, scanning the area for Cal. That morning I’d noticed the Explorer was gone from my block, but I didn’t know if he’d be back at school today.
“I’m guessing it’ll cost at least five hundred bucks,” Robbie said.
We walked toward the old, redbrick former courthouse that was now Widow’s Vale High. I was striving for normalcy, trying to be old reliable Morgan. “I wanted to ask you—did you go to Bree’s coven’s circle on Saturday?” Bree Warren had been my other best friend since childhood—my closest friend—until we fought over Cal. Now she hated me. And I . . . I didn’t know what I felt about her. I was furious at her. I didn’t trust her. I missed her fiercely.
“I did go.” Robbie held the door open for me. “It was small and kind of lame. But that English witch, Sky Eventide, the one who leads their circles . . .” He whistled. “She had power coming off her in waves.”
“I know Sky,” I said stiffly. “I met her at Cal’s. What did you guys do? Did Sky mention me or Cal?”
He looked at me. “No. We just did a circle. It was interesting because Sky does it slightly differently than Cal. Why would she mention you or Cal?”
“Different how?” I pressed, ignoring his question. “You guys didn’t, um, do anything scary, did you? Like call on spirits or anything?”
Robbie stopped walking. “No. It was just a circle, Morgan. I think we can safely say that Bree and Raven are not having their souls sucked out by the devil.”
I gave him an exasperated look. “Wiccans don’t believe in the devil,” I reminded him. “I just want to make sure that Bree isn’t getting into anything dangerous or bad.”
Like I did.
We walked to the basement stairs, where our coven, Cirrus, usually hung out in the morning. Ethan Sharp was already there, doing his English homework. Jenna Ruiz sat across from him, reading, her fair, straight hair falling like a curtain across her cheek.They both looked up and greeted us.
“Bad?” Robbie repeated. “No. Sky didn’t strike me as bad. Powerful, yes. Sexy—absolutely.” He grinned.
“Who’s this?” Jenna asked.
“Sky Eventide,” Robbie reported. “She’s the blood witch that Bree and Raven have in their new coven. Oh, guess their coven’s name.” He laughed. “Kithic. It means ‘left-handed’ in Gaelic. Raven picked out that name from something she read, without knowing what it meant.”
The rest of us smiled. After our fight, Bree had split off from Cirrus to start her own coven with Raven. To me it seemed both of them were just playing at being Wiccan, doing it to look cool, to get back at me for winning Cal, or just to do something different. Widow’s Vale is a small town, and there aren’t that many entertainment opportunities.
Or maybe I was selling them short. Maybe they were really sincere in their commitment. I sighed and rubbed my forehead, feeling like I didn’t know anything anymore.
In homeroom people were already planning their Thanksgiving holidays, which would start at noon on Wednesday. It would be a relief not to have to go to school for a few days. I’ve always been an A student (well, mostly), but it was getting harder and harder to keep my mind on schoolwork when so many more compelling things were taking up my time and energy. Nowadays I just flashed through my physics and trig homework and did the bare minimum in other classes so I would have more time to study spells, plan my future magickal herb garden, and read about Wicca. Not only that, but just reading the Book of Shadows written by my birth mother, which I’d found in Selene’s library over a week ago, was like a college course in itself. I was stretched very thin these days.
In homeroom I opened my book
Essential Oils and Their Charms
under my desk and started reading. In the spring I would try to make some of my own, the way Selene did.
When Bree came into class, I couldn’t help looking up. Her face was as familiar as my own, but nowadays she had another layer to her, a layer that didn’t include me. She wore mostly black, like Raven did, and although she hadn’t adopted any of Raven’s gothy piercings or tattoos, I wondered if it was just a matter of time.
Bree had always been the beautiful one, the one boys flocked around, the life of the party. I had been the plain friend that people put up with because Bree loved me and was my best friend, but then Cal had come between us. Bree had even lied and told me they’d slept together. We’d quit speaking, and then Cal and I started going out.
After being like conjoined twins for eleven years, I’d found the last few Breeless weeks bizarre and uncomfortable. She still didn’t know I was adopted, that I was a blood witch. She didn’t know about what had happened with Hunter. At one time she had been the only person in the world I might have told.
I couldn’t resist looking at her face, her eyes the color of coffee. For just a second she met my gaze, and I was startled by the mix of emotions there. We both looked away at the same time. Did she miss me? Did she hate me? What was she doing with Sky?
The bell rang, and we all stood. Bree’s dark, shiny hair disappeared through the doorway, and I followed her. When she turned the corner to go to her first class, I was seized by a spontaneous desire to talk to her.
She turned, and when she saw it was me, she looked surprised.
“Listen—I know that Sky is leading your coven,” I found myself saying.
“So?” No one looked imperious like Bree looked imperious.
“I just—it’s just that Sky is dangerous,” I said quickly. “She’s dangerous, and you shouldn’t hang out with her.”
Her perfect eyebrows rose. “Do tell,” she drawled.
“She has this whole dark agenda; she’s caught up in this whole program that I bet she hasn’t told you about. She’s—she’s evil, she’s bad, and dangerous.” I realized in despair that I sounded melodramatic and muddled.
“Really.” Bree shook her head, looking like she was trying not to laugh. “You are too much, Morgan. It’s like you get off on lying, raining on people’s parades.”
“Look, I heard you and Raven last week in the bathroom,” I admitted. “You were talking about how Sky was teaching you about the dark side. That’s dangerous! And I heard you saying you gave Sky some of my hair! What was that about? Is she putting spells on me?”
Bree’s eyes narrowed. “You mean you were spying on me?” she exclaimed. “You’re pathetic! And you have no idea what you’re talking about. Cal is filling your head with ridiculous crap, and you’re just sucking it up! He could be the devil himself, and you wouldn’t care because he’s the only boy who ever asked you out!”
Before I realized what was happening, my hand had shot out and smacked Bree hard across the face. Her head snapped sideways, and within seconds the pink outline of my palm appeared on her cheek. I gasped and stared at her as her face twisted into anger.
“You bitch!” she snarled.
Out of lifelong habit, I started to feel remorseful, and then I thought, Screw that. I took a deep breath and called on my own anger, narrowing my eyes. “You’re the bitch,” I snapped. “You can’t stand the fact that I’m not your puppet anymore, that I’m not your charity case, your permanent audience. You’re jealous of
for once, and it’s eating you up. I have a fantastic boyfriend, I have more magickal power than you’ll ever dream about, and you can’t stand it. Finally I’m better than you. I’m amazed your head doesn’t explode!”
Bree gaped at me, her eyes wide, her mouth open. “What are you talking about?” she practically shrieked. “You were never my audience! You make it sound like I was using you! This is what I’m talking about! Cal is brainwashing you!”
“Actually, Bree,” I said coldly, “you’d be amazed at how little we talk about you. In fact, your name hardly comes up.”
With that, I swept off, my teeth clenched so tight, I could feel them grinding together. I didn’t think I’d ever had the last word in an argument with Bree before. But the thought didn’t make me feel any better. Why had I talked to her? I had just made everything worse.
After my fight with Bree, I was so upset that I couldn’t concentrate on anything. My math teacher had to call my name three times before I responded, and then I answered his question incorrectly—which almost never happened to me under normal circumstances. During lunch period I sneaked off to Cirrus’s hangout spot to be by myself. I scarfed down my sandwich and a Diet Coke, then meditated for half an hour. Finally I felt calm enough to deal with the rest of my day.
I slogged through my afternoon classes. When the last bell rang, I went to my locker, then followed the crush of students outside. The snow was turning rapidly to slush, and the sun flowed down with an Indian-summerish warmth. After weeks of freezing weather, it felt wonderful. I raised my face to the sun, hoping it would help heal the pain I carried inside, the guilt over what I’d done to Hunter, the terror of being found out.
“I’m getting a ride home with Bakker, okay?” Mary K. bounced up to me as I took out my car keys, her cheeks flushed pink, her eyes clear and shining.
I looked at her. “Are you going home, or . . .” Don’t go anywhere with him alone, I thought. I didn’t trust Bakker—not since I’d caught him pinning Mary K. down on her bed and practically forcing himself on her two weeks earlier. I couldn’t believe she’d forgiven him.
“We’re going to get a latte first, then home,” she said, her eyes daring me to say something.
“All right. Well, see you later,” I said lamely. I watched her climb into Bakker’s car and knew that if he hurt her, I would have no problem doing to him what I had done to Hunter. And in Bakker’s case I wouldn’t feel guilty.
“Whoa. I’m glad you’re not looking at me like that,” said Robbie, loping up to me. I shook my head.
“Yeah, just watch your step.” I tried to sound light and teasing.
“Is Cal sick? I didn’t see him all day,” said Robbie. He smiled absentmindedly at a sophomore who was sending flirtatious looks his way.
“Morgan?” he prompted.
“Oh! Um, yes, Cal is sick,” I said. I felt a sudden jangle of nerves. Robbie was a close friend, and I had told him about being adopted and a blood witch. He knew more about me than Bree did now. But I could never tell him about all that had happened on Saturday night. It was too horrible to share, even with him. “I’m going to call him right now—maybe go see him.”
Robbie nodded. “I’m on my way to Bree’s. Who knows, today might be the day I go for it.” He wiggled his eyebrows suggestively, and I smiled. Robbie had recently admitted to me that he was totally in love with Bree and had been for years. I hoped she wouldn’t break his heart the way she did with most of the guys she got involved with.
“Good luck,” I said. He walked off, and I dumped my backpack in Das Boot and headed back to the pay phone in the school lunchroom.
Cal answered after four rings. His voice sounded better than it had the night before.
“Hi,” I said, comforted just to talk to him.
“I knew it was you,” he said, sounding glad.
“Of course you did,” I said. “You’re a witch.”
“Where are you?”
“School. Can I come see you? I just really need to talk to you.”
Groaning, he said, “I would love that. But some people just came in from Europe, and I’ve got to meet with them.”
“Selene’s been having people over a lot lately, it seems.”
Cal paused, and when he spoke, his voice had a slightly different tone to it. “Yeah, she has. She’s kind of been working on a big project, and it’s starting to come together. I’ll tell you about it later.”
“Okay. How are your wrists?”
“They look pretty bad. But they’ll be okay. I really wish I could see you,” Cal said.
“Me too.” I lowered my voice. “I
need to talk to you. About what happened.”
“I know,” he said quietly. “I know, Morgan.”
In the background on Cal’s end I heard voices, and Cal covered his mouthpiece and responded to them. When he came back on, I said, “I won’t keep you. Call me later if you can, okay?”