“What?” said Selene, her eyes wide.
“I bound the tools to me,” I said, wondering if I had acted too hastily. But Alyce had seemed so certain.
“What do you mean, you bound the tools to you?” Cal asked carefully.
I swallowed. I felt suddenly like a kid called in front of the principal. “I did a spell and bound the tools to me, sending my vibrations through them.They’re part of me now.”
“Whoa. How come?” Cal said.
“Well,” I said, “you know, to make it harder for others to use them.And to increase my power when I use them.”
“Heavens,” said Selene. “Who told you how to do that?”
I opened my mouth to say, “Alyce,” but instead, to my surprise, what came out was, “I read about it.”
“Hmmm,” she said thoughtfully. “Well, there are ways to unbind tools.”
“Oh,” I said, feeling uncertain.Why would she want me to unbind them?
“I would love to show you some hands-on ways to use them.” Selene smiled. “You can’t get everything from books.”
“No,” I agreed. I still felt uncertain and indefinably uneasy. “Well, I’d better get going.”
“All right,” said Selene. “Congratulations again on finding the tools. I’m so proud of you.”
Her words warmed me, and I got out of the car feeling better.
I looked at Cal. “You coming?”
“Yeah,” he said. He hesitated as if he were about to say something else, then seemed to change his mind, calling merely, “Talk to you later, Mom.”
“Right,” she said, and the window rolled up.
Cal set off for school. His strides were so long that I practically had to run to keep up. When I glanced at his profile, I could see that his jaw was set. “What’s wrong?” I asked breathlessly. “Are you upset about something?”
He glanced at me.“No,” he said.“Just don’t want to be late.”
But I didn’t need my witch senses to see that he was lying. Was he angry at me because I’d bound the tools to me and now no one else could use them?
Or was he angry with Selene? It had almost seemed like he was. But why?
My day went downhill from there. While I was changing classes at fourth period, I accidentally walked in on Matt Adler and Raven Meltzer making out in an empty chem lab. When our eyes met, Matt looked like he wanted to vaporize himself, and Raven looked even more smug than usual. Ugh, I thought. Then it occurred to me that I could never judge anyone again about anything because what I had done was so terrible, so unnatural. And as soon as I thought that, I went into the girls’ bathroom and cried.
At lunchtime Cal and I sat with Cirrus at our usual table. The group was quiet today. Robbie was tight-faced, and I wondered how it had gone at Bree’s house yesterday. Probably not well since Bree was across the lunchroom sitting on Chip Newton’s lap and laughing. Great.
Jenna was even paler than usual. When Cal asked her where Matt was, she said, “I wouldn’t know.We broke up last night.” She shrugged, and that was that. I was surprised and impressed by how calm she seemed. She was stronger than she looked.
Ethan Sharp and Sharon Goodfine were sitting next to each other.After months of flirting, they were looking into each other’s eyes as if they’d finally realized the other was a real person and not just a clever simulation. Sharon shared her bagel with him. It was the only cheerful thing that happened.
Somehow I slogged through the afternoon. I kept thinking about Selene teaching me to use Maeve’s tools. One minute I would want to do it, and the next minute I would remember Alyce’s warning and decide to keep them to myself. I couldn’t make up my mind.
When the final bell rang, I gathered up my things with relief. Only half a day tomorrow, thank the Goddess, and then a four-day weekend. I walked outside, looking for Mary K.
“Hey,” said my sister, coming up. “Cold enough for you?” We glanced up at the striated clouds that scudded slowly across the sky.
“Yeah,” I said, hitching up my backpack. “Come on. I’m parked over in the side lot.”
Just as I turned, Cal came up. “Hey, Mary K.,” he said. Then he ducked his head and spoke only to me. “Is it okay if I come over this afternoon?” There was an unspoken message—we had tons to talk about—and I nodded at once.
“I’ll meet you there.”
He touched my cheek briefly, smiled at Mary K., then walked beside us to his own car. My sister raised an eyebrow at me, and I shot her a glance.
Once we were in Das Boot and I was cranking the engine, Mary K. said, “So, have you done it yet?”
I almost punched the gas, which would have slammed us right into a tree.
“Good God, Mary K.!” I cried, staring at her.
She giggled, then tried to look defiant. “Well? You’ve been going out a month, and he’s gorgeous, and you can tell
not a virgin. You’re my sister. If I don’t ask you, who can I ask?”
“Ask about what?” I said irritably, backing out.
“About sex,” she said.
I rested my head for a second against the steering wheel. “Mary K., this may surprise you, but you’re only fourteen years old. You’re a high school freshman. Don’t you think you’re too young to worry about this?”
As soon as the words were out of my mouth, I wished I could take them back. I sounded just like my mom. I wasn’t surprised when my sister’s face closed.
“I’m sorry,” I said. “You just . . . took me by surprise. Give me a second.” I tried to think quickly and drive at the same time.“Sex.” I blew out my breath.“No, I haven’t done it yet.”
Mary K. looked surprised.
I sighed. “Yes, Cal wants to. And I want to. But it hasn’t seemed exactly right yet. I mean, I love Cal. He makes me feel unbelievable. And he’s totally sexy and all that.” My cheeks heated. “But still, it’s only been a month, and there’s a lot of other stuff going on, and it just . . . hasn’t seemed right.” I frowned at her pointedly. “And I think it’s really important to wait until it
exactly right, and you’re totally comfortable and sure and crazy in love. Otherwise it’s no good.” Said the incredibly experienced Morgan Rowlands.
Mary K. looked at me. “What if the other person
sure and you just want to trust them?”
Note to self: Do a castration spell on Bakker Blackburn. I breathed in, turned onto our street, and saw Cal in back of us. I pulled into our driveway and turned off the engine but stayed in the car. Cal parked and walked up to the house, waiting for us on the porch.
“I think you know enough to be sure for yourself,” I said quietly. “You’re not an idiot. You know how you feel. Some people date for years before they’re both ready to have sex.” Where was I getting this stuff? Years of reading teen magazines?
“The important thing,” I went on, “is that you make your own decisions and don’t give in to pressure. I told Cal I wasn’t ready, and he was majorly disappointed.” I lowered my voice as if he could hear us from twenty feet away, outside the car. “I mean,
But he accepted my decision and is waiting until I’m ready.”
Mary K. looked at her lap.
“However, if for some reason you think it might happen, for God’s sake use nine kinds of birth control and check out his health and be careful and don’t get hurt. Okay?”
My sister blushed and nodded. On the porch I saw Cal shifting his feet in the cold.
“Do you want me to send Cal home so we can talk some more?” Please say no.
“No, that’s okay,” said Mary K. “I think I get it.”
“Okay. I’m always here. I mean, if you can’t ask your sister, who can you ask?”
She grinned, and we hugged each other. Then we hurried inside.Twenty minutes later Mary K. was doing her homework upstairs and Cal and I were drinking hot tea in the kitchen. And I hoped my sister had taken my words to heart.
Our kitchen was about one-sixth the size of Cal’s kitchen, and instead of granite counters and custom country French cabinets, we had worn Formica and cabinets from about 1983. But our kitchen felt homier.
I rested my legs over Cal’s knees under the table and we leaned toward each other, talking. The idea that maybe someday we would have our very own house, just us two, made me shiver. I looked up at Cal’s smooth tan skin, his perfect nose, his strong eyebrows, and sighed. We needed to talk about Hunter.
“I’m really shaken up,” I said quietly.
“I know. I am, too. I never thought it would come to that.” He gave a dry laugh. “Actually, I thought we would just beat each other up a bit, and the whole thing would blow over. But when Hunter pulled out the
“The silver chain he was using?”
Cal shuddered. “Yes,” he said, his voice rough. “It was spelled. Once it was on me, I was powerless.”
“Cal, I just can’t believe what happened,” I said, my eyes filling with tears. I brushed them away with one hand. “I can’t think about anything else. And why hasn’t anyone found the body yet? What are we going to do when they do find it? I swear, every time the phone rings, I think it’s going to be the police, asking me to come down to the station and answer some questions.” A tear overflowed and ran down my cheek. “I just can’t get over this.”
“I’m so sorry.” Cal pushed his chair closer to mine and put his arms around me. “I wish we were at my house,” he said quietly. “I just want to hold you without worrying about your folks coming in.”
I nodded, sniffling. “What are we going to do?”
“There’s nothing we can do, Morgan,” Cal said, kissing my temple. “It was horrible, and I’ve cursed myself a thousand times for involving you in it. But it happened, and we can’t take it back. And never forget that we acted in self-defense. Hunter was trying to kill me. You were trying to protect me.What else could we have done?”
I shook my head.
“I’ve never been through anything like this before,” Cal said softly against my hair. “It’s the worst thing in my life. But you know what? I’m glad I’m going through it with you. I mean, I’m sorry you were involved. I wish to the Goddess that you weren’t. But since we were in it together, I’m so glad I have you.” He shook his head. “This isn’t making sense. I’m just trying to say that in an awful way, this has made me feel closer to you.”
I looked up into his eyes. “Yeah, I know what you mean.”
We stayed like that, sitting at the table, our arms around each other, until my shoulder blades began to ache from the angle and I reluctantly pulled away. I had to change the subject.
“Your mom seemed really excited about my tools,” I said, taking a sip of my tea.
Cal pushed his hands through his raggedy dark hair. “Yeah. She’s like a little kid—she wants to get her hands on every new thing. Especially something like Belwicket’s tools.”
“Is there something special about Belwicket in particular?”
Cal shrugged, looking thoughtful. He sipped his tea and said, “I guess just the mystery of it—how it was destroyed, and how old the coven was and how powerful. It’s a blessing the tools weren’t lost. Oh, and they were Woodbane,” he added as an afterthought.
“Does it matter that they were Woodbane since Belwicket had renounced evil?”
“I don’t know,” said Cal. “Probably not. I think it probably matters more what you
with your magick.”
I breathed in the steam from my tea. “Maybe I bound the tools to me without thinking it through too well,” I said.“What would happen if another witch tried to use them now?”
Cal shrugged. “It’s not predictable. Another witch might subvert the tools’ power in an unexpected way. Actually, it’s pretty unusual for someone to bind a coven’s tools only to themselves.” He looked up and met my glance.
“I just felt they were mine,” I said lamely. “Mine, my birth mother’s, her mother’s. I wanted them to be all mine.”
Nodding, Cal patted my leg, across his knee. “I’d probably do the same thing if they were mine,” he said, and I adored him for his support.