Authors: Kasi Blake
Tags: #Teen & Young Adult, #Romance, #Paranormal, #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Fantasy, #Paranormal & Fantasy, #Paranormal & Urban
Cyndi giggled. “I feel like I already know you. Kristen has told me a lot about you. I guess you know stuff about me, too.”
Before Zach could respond, the sound of an accelerating car reached their ears. The three of them turned their heads at the same time. The car was coming straight at them. The driver hit the accelerator, and the car zoomed across the parking lot. It was going to hit them head-on. Kristen froze in the headlights.
Zach’s strong arms wrapped around her from behind and swung her off her feet. He threw her. With a painful grunt, she landed on the hood of a parked car and rolled across it. Cyndi’s frightened shriek filled Kristen’s ears. Fear caused Kristen’s entire body to go numb as she imagined Cyndi getting hit by the car. What if Zach hadn’t had time to save her, too?
Kristen tried to grab onto the car’s hood so she wouldn’t continue over the side, but it happened too fast. As she tumbled off the edge, the hard tarmac rushed up to meet her.
! She hit the ground. The impact rattled her bones and her teeth.
Metal crunched against metal. A car alarm went off. Kristen raised her head slowly. The car that had almost killed them had barreled into a parked vehicle in the next row. Groaning, she placed her scraped palms on the asphalt and pushed up. Every inch of her body ached. It was then she glanced under the parked car and saw her sister on the other side.
Eyes closed, head bleeding, Cyndi wasn’t moving.
Kristen forced her body to obey the command to move. Standing on shaking legs, her knees threatened to collapse. She wanted to run to her sister, but she had to take it one painful step at a time. Her body refused to cooperate and go faster. Holding onto her thighs with trembling hands, she pushed herself to keep going.
Zach was on the ground a few feet away, trying to sit up. He touched his side and winced as if he had a hurt rib. Kristen wanted to go to him and help him, but first she had to make sure her sister was okay. At least Zach was conscious. She hobbled around the car and knelt next to Cyndi.
There was blood on the side of Cyndi’s head. The girl was breathing, but she was out cold. Tears flooded Kristen’s gaze as a cold fear filled her heart. What if Cyndi died? She couldn’t stand the thought of losing one of her sisters. She gently brushed hair from Cyndi’s face and begged her to wake up. Her voice sounded strange to her own ears, raw with emotion and high-pitched with a slight quiver.
Legs moved past them. Kristen glanced up to see Zach heading for the crashed car. He pulled at the car door, struggling with it for several seconds before it popped open. Reaching in, he grabbed the driver by the arm and dragged them out.
Kristen expected to see a stranger… or Morgan. When she saw the driver’s face, she lost every ounce of control that she had.
It was Brittany. Her own sister had tried to kill them.
Kristen leaped to her feet, oblivious of the pain, and ran at Brittany with clenched fists. This time her crazy, neurotic sister had gone too far, and she wasn’t going to get away with it.
Brittany wobbled. Her dazed eyes looked around as if she had no idea what had just happened. Maybe she was stoned or drunk. Kristen didn’t care. She was going to rip the other girl apart with her bare hands.
“You!” Kristen shouted, “You did this? What is
Zach purposely stood between Kristen and Brittany. Hands up, he kept them away from each other. Brittany was screaming back, hysterical, but Kristen couldn’t understand a word the girl was saying, not that she cared. There was no excuse for what she’d done.
Kristen screamed, “You killed Cyndi! Are you happy now?”
Loud sobs shook Brittany’s entire body. “
I didn’t. It wasn’t me!”
“You were driving the car.”
“No!” Brittany tried to run to her twin.
Kristen shoved Brittany backwards. She hadn’t meant to hit Brittany so hard, but the other girl fell back against the car. Kristen struggled to control her temper. She saw herself hit Brittany and heard the horrible things that came out of her mouth, but she couldn’t stop it. It was like she was watching the whole ordeal from above.
“Stay away from her! If she dies, I hope you die, too.”
Streetlights exploded, sending a shower of sparks down on their heads. Kristen tried hard to control her raging fury, but there wasn’t much she could do about it. She wanted to rip Brittany’s head off. The stupid, manipulative, insane girl had probably killed their other sister. She deserved to die.
Kristen reached for the screaming Brittany again, but Zach pushed her back.
“Enough!” he shouted.
Brittany turned away and started beating the top of the car with her fists, sobbing uncontrollably. She yelled unintelligible words.
“You were right,” Kristen told Zach, throwing up her arms in surrender. She could barely speak through the tears. “I guess I owe you an apology. My sister is the crazy one.”
He sighed wearily. “No. I don’t think she is.” He took Brittany gently by the shoulders as if he cared about her and turned her in his direction before saying, “Pat yourself on the head and rub your stomach.”
With one hand on her stomach and one on the top of her head, Brittany performed the kid game, no questions asked. Her tears stopped instantly. She performed the task in robotic fashion.
Kristen gasped. “She’s been crushed? You? Did you crush my sister?”
He shook his head and told Brittany to stop what she was doing. Then he asked her a simple question. “How do you feel about Morgan?”
Brittany’s expression immediately changed. A blissful smile stretched her lips, and her eyes took on an excited glow. “Morgan is soooo wonderful. We’re going to be sisters as soon as Kristen and Cyndi are out of the way. I love her. She’s my angel.”
Head down and shoulders slumped, Zach admitted, “I made a vial of love potion last year. Morgan told me she’d dumped it at the beach, and I believed her. I am so stupid.”
“You didn’t want to lose her. I get it.” Kristen’s eyes drifted to the unconscious Cyndi, and she sobbed. “We need to get an ambulance. Cyndi won’t wake up, and I need her to wake up. I can’t lose her.”
“I’m not going to let that happen.” Zach waved a hand in Cyndi’s direction.
She immediately sat up. Her head was healed, and there was a stunned expression on her face. “Hey, what’s going on? Why is everyone staring at me? Brittany, where were you? We’ve been looking everywhere for you.”
Zach asked Brittany for her cell phone. She handed it to him before running to her twin. The two girls hugged while Brittany cried, and Cyndi demanded to know what was going on.
“What are you thinking?” Kristen asked Zach.
“Morgan has to call Brittany to give her an order, and now we have the phone. When my sister calls, I’m going to talk to her. Now that I know she understands me, there are a few things I need to say to her. Then, I’m going to do what I should have done a long time ago. I’m going to destroy her.”
Kristen gazed out the kitchen window as raindrops pelted the glass. It seemed like the storm would never pass. It was dark outside, but she could still see Zach pacing in front of her house. His rigid body passed from the light of one streetlamp to the next and back again. Hands shoved deep into his pockets, head down, and shoulders slumped, he looked defeated. It was all Morgan’s fault. Kristen wanted to break the girl’s neck for hurting Zach.
He had been outside, alone for over an hour, refusing to come inside. He’d said he was too upset to be decent company. Confusion and anger had him on the brink of murder. It was understandable. Kristen hoped he would focus that anger in the right direction, which was his sister.
With a sigh, she turned away from the window and returned to the living room.
“Here is another pillow for you,” Brittany told her twin.
Kristen joined her sisters in the sitting area of the large room. She sat on the sofa and put her feet on the coffee table. It had been a long and terrible night, and she had the feeling it wasn’t over yet. She was worried about Zach and her sisters. Morgan had an abundance of dark power, and she was smart enough to have fooled Zach into thinking she was a sweet innocent for years. What would she do next?
Brittany had been waiting on Cyndi like an indentured servant, taking care of her every need since they got home. Every five minutes, she issued another apology. At least she’d stopped crying; although, her eyes were still red-rimmed and puffy. After fluffing the pillow and pushing it behind Cyndi’s back in the plush chair, she sat on the ottoman next to her twin’s feet.
“I’ve been wondering about something,” Cyndi said. Brittany sat up straighter, eyes wide and attentive. Cyndi asked, “I’ve always wondered what the boys we crush feel like. So what’s it like? What is it like to be crushed?”
Kristen’s gaze swung to Brittany. She had wondered the same thing more than once. She removed her feet from the table, set them on the floor, and leaned forward, eager to hear Brittany’s response. It was probably something they should have considered years ago—what was going on in the boys’ heads—but they had been too young when they’d started the game to even care. As they’d matured, they had been more concerned with winning and claiming their prizes than with the boys.
Brittany’s eyes flooded with tears again. She grabbed another tissue and blew her nose before answering. “I don’t know how to describe it. Morgan, she told me to do bad things, and I…”
“You didn’t want—” Cyndi tried to finish the sentence.
want to. The way she talked about it, she made it seem logical. She wanted to be my sister, and I wanted that, too, more than anything. I wanted it more than anything I’ve ever wanted in my entire life.”
“It’s okay. That was just the spell.”
“She told me I had to get rid of you to make room for her. She complained that Zach wouldn’t let her be herself, wouldn’t let her do magic, so we were going to get rid of him, too. She told me we would be better off without any of you.”
Cyndi shivered. “That’s awful.”
“When I did something bad to Kristen, it felt good. I wanted to do it. I hated her for being with Zach, and I wanted to destroy her, but afterwards I always felt sick to my stomach. I tried to be nice and make up for it. Then that witch would give me another order, and I would follow it without even thinking.”
Cyndi said, “Those poor guys we crushed will never know why they followed us around like puppies and carried our books and stuff. I feel so guilty now.”
Kristen nodded in agreement. She thought back to the times she’d seen the boys after un-crushing them. One of the boys had given her dirty looks. Another had run in the opposite direction every time he saw her coming, and a third had watched her with longing. Their reactions made perfect sense now. She said, more to herself than to her sisters, “I am not going to crush anyone ever again.”
“Me neither,” Brittany said, ripping another tissue from the box. “Game over. Nobody wins this year.”
Kristen asked, “When did it happen? Exactly when did Morgan get to you?”
“She found me right after I had that kid at school stand up and almost accuse you. I went out that night, walked on the beach, and that’s where I met Morgan. She came straight up to me and asked if I was your sister. Before I could even think of a sarcastic comment, she blew dust into my face.”
“Makes sense.” Kristen nodded. “You were messing with me before then, but after that you started acting nuts. I even thought you sent the owl after me, but the owl was Morgan. Zach changes into a wolf, and she turns into an owl. That’s why he was so freaked over the owl having yellow eyes—he suspected it was her.”
Cyndi began to giggle, and once she started, she wasn’t able to stop. Holding her stomach, she laughed and laughed until tears rolled down her face and she was gasping for breath. Kristen and Brittany exchanged amused, yet puzzled, glances.
“Are you okay over there?” Kristen finally asked.
Cyndi vacated the chair and crossed the room to plop down next to Kristen on the sofa. She hugged one of Kristen’s arms and announced with glee, “I just realized something. Brittany was crushed by a girl.”
“Shut up,” Brittany said, lips twitching.
“Brittany is in love with a girl.”
Brittany threw a pillow at Cyndi, but her twin easily smacked it out of the air. It landed near her feet. Brittany mumbled, “Bitch.”
“You know I don’t play that game.” Cyndi tried to look stern but failed miserably. “Say you’re sorry.”
Kristen groaned. “No, please don’t start her with the apologizing again. I’ll blow my brains out and save Morgan the trouble.”
Soft laughter followed the statement.
The door shut behind them, and instant silence filled the room. Three sets of eyes snapped up to find Zach in the entryway, dripping wet. Grief-stricken, he looked like a man returning from a long war after watching his best friend die. Had he heard Kristen’s insensitive comment about his sister?
She jumped off the sofa and hurried to his side, while Brittany rushed upstairs to get some towels. “Are you okay?” Kristen asked.
It was a dumb question, and she regretted it the second it left her mouth. He must have thought it was a dumb question, too, because he didn’t bother to reply. She stepped closer, wrapped her arms around him, and held him tight. The side of her face pressed against his soaked shirt. For a second, he didn’t return the embrace. His indifference scared her more than a flash of anger would have. She hugged him tighter.
After a short time, his hands came up to rest on her back.
Brittany returned with three towels. She gave the smallest one to Zach and used the other two to mop the floor. She didn’t even complain about doing manual labor, leaving Kristen to think the girl was feeling ultra-guilty. Kristen opened her mouth to reassure Brittany, but then she clamped her lips shut. Until Morgan was dead, it would probably be good to have Brittany quietly compliant.
Zach dried himself off with slow movements, sleepwalking through the task. His eyes were blank and almost as cold as Morgan’s. It sent a shiver up Kristen’s spine. She hoped he’d never get that angry at her. If looks could kill, Morgan would already be dead.
He shook his head. “I can’t figure out how she did it. How did she fool me for so long?”
“You wanted to believe her,” Kristen said. “Your parents were gone, and she was all you had left, so naturally you put your faith in her.”
“She goofed up once in a while, dropped the act for just a second, but I didn’t want to see it.”
“She was your sister, and you loved her.”
“I don’t understand how she did it. I made the love-spell dust, not her. Brittany should have been under my control.” He made a face at Brittany who was still pushing towels around the wet floor. “No offense.”
“None taken.” Brittany glanced up with a strained smile.
“Maybe it has something to do with her being a familiar,” Kristen suggested.
He groaned and rubbed the spot between his eyes while squeezing them shut. “I don’t understand any of this. I want to know how she did it and why. I want the answers now. If I don’t get them soon, I think I’ll go insane.”
Cyndi piped in. “Ask Grandma. She knows everything.”
Brittany finished what she was doing, strolled over to the sofa, and wrapped her arms around Cyndi from behind. “That is genius. Pure genius. Of course Grandma will know.”
Kristen nodded at Zach. “If anyone can explain it to us, Grandma Noah can, but it’s so far away, and Cyndi needs to rest.”
“I’ll stay with her,” Brittany said. “You two go ahead.”
“It’s a long drive,” Kristen repeated.
Zach grinned, almost looking like his old self again. “Close your eyes and picture your grandmother’s house.”
Kristen shut her eyes and concentrated on the inside of Grandma Noah’s house.
Before anyone could guess his intentions, he grabbed Kristen’s wrist and they disappeared. They were gone before Cyndi gasped, gone before Brittany shook her head in wonder.
This was Kristen’s third trip, so she knew what to expect and steeled herself for impact. She managed to spread her legs wide while in transition, arms out for balance. When she reappeared in her grandmother’s living room, she landed on her feet for a change, but she forgot to bend her knees. Pain shot up her legs. She winced while turning to look at Zach, but he wasn’t there. She was alone.
Grandma Noah let out a surprised shriek and dropped the pot of tea she’d been carrying to the coffee table. The ancient pot broke, smashing into a million pieces against the brown carpet. Her hands went to her chest, and she shouted, “Oh! Where did you come from?”
Kristen was still trying to figure out why Zach wasn’t with her. Panicking, she raced to her grandmother and grabbed the elderly woman by both arms. “Where is Zach? He was with me, and now he isn’t.”
“Zach?” Her grandmother’s shrewd eyes narrowed. “Are you talking about the boy with the dark power, the one I warned you to stay away from? Well, if he tried to pop into my house, then he’s caught between this place and that, wherever it was he came from. He’s in limbo.
“As a security precaution, I installed a protective spell around this house years ago. The only reason you managed to pop in is because the house knows you are my granddaughter, but an intruder gets stuck between times. We won’t have to worry about him again.”
Kristen shook her head hard. “Grandma, no! You have to help him.”
“And why would I do that when the world is better off with him right where he is?” She bent over and waved a hand over the broken pot. The pieces reunited instantly. “I spoke to the council about him, and they had no idea about his powers. They’re investigating it.”
“Grandma, you don’t understand. It wasn’t him.”
As fast as she could, because she was worried about Zach, she explained everything. She explained about Morgan, told her about Brittany being crushed, and counted the number of times Zach had come through for her. She ended with, “I love him.”
I love him!
” she shouted, and the walls shook. Taking a deep breath to calm down the way Zach had taught her, she lowered her voice and said, “I didn’t think it would ever happen to me, not after the way Mom and Dad talked about it, but I love him. Please bring him back.”
Grandma Noah shook her head. “This goes against my grain.” She waved her arms in the air and said, “This is Evelyn Noah speaking, and I command the protection spell over this house to be lifted as of fifteen minutes ago.”
Kristen rushed forward, jumped on him, and squeezed his neck. She knocked him back a few inches, but he managed to stay on his feet.
Confused, he put his hands on her back and said, “Uh… I’m happy to see you, too.”
She cried, “You were stuck in limbo because Grandma put a protection spell on her house. I didn’t know about it, and I had to tell her everything before she would release you.”
“And I’m warning you,” Grandma Noah said, wagging a finger at him, “you might be powerful, but I know a trick or two. Don’t make me regret bringing you back. You do anything to harm my granddaughter, and I’ll turn you into something nasty, like a dog with a bad case of worms.”