Read Crushed Online

Authors: Kasi Blake

Tags: #Teen & Young Adult, #Romance, #Paranormal, #Science Fiction & Fantasy, #Fantasy, #Paranormal & Fantasy, #Paranormal & Urban

Crushed (6 page)

BOOK: Crushed
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“I know,” he said, cutting her off.

It was true. According to the notebook, she had decided to rest after eating the unfortunate lunch and hadn’t gotten up to write in her journal since. So, who had conjured an owl to attack Kristen? Was there another witch in the vicinity, one with a nasty disposition, or had one of Kristen’s own sisters sent the owl as a warning to her?

And why an owl?

It was possible there was an outsider with information on his sister, information they should not have. If that were true, both girls were in danger.

“Did you have a good day?” Morgan asked. “This morning was bad. You had pink crap blown into your face.” She turned back one page in her notebook and showed him a new entry. “See? It says Zach had pink crap blown in his face.”

Indeed it did. “I had a much better afternoon, thank you,” he said, trying hard not to smile.

“Why were you late?”

Should he tell her that Kristen Noah wasn’t an evil witch after all? He decided against it. Morgan could be weird when it came to new people, especially if it was someone he was spending time with.

“I had to talk to somebody after school. I’m sorry. I promise not to be late again.”

“That’s okay. I didn’t want an afternoon snack anyway. My stomach hurts because of lunch.”

Zach interrupted her before she could list off the foods again. “I know. But you feel better now, right?”

A surprised smile took over her face. “Yes. I do feel better.”

Morgan plopped down next to him and wound her arms around his middle. It was okay for her to touch him, but she didn’t like him touching her. Hugging him tightly, she added, “I always feel better when you’re here. I wish you didn’t have to go to school. You could stay home with me. We could watch television.”

It was too bad he couldn’t spend more time with her. School wasn’t just an option for him. He had to go. Otherwise, someone might get suspicious. If the council found out Morgan was with him, they’d both be in trouble.

“I can’t drop out of school, Morgan, but I’m here now. We can watch a movie if you want.”

Her face brightened. “I’ll find one.”

“Okay. I’ll be back in a minute.”

Zach went out the back door. The moon shed enough light to make the search for a piece of wood easy. A variety of wood—every shape and size imaginable—formed a short pyramid on the other side of the gray, stone terrace. He chose a small piece and went back inside.

While Morgan curled up on the other side of the couch to watch the movie she’d selected, he took out his knife and started whittling the wood. It took a ton of concentration to make an angel out of nothing. His father had taught him how to do it. In a few minutes, he was totally relaxed.

###

Kristen walked quickly down the long hallway with endless lockers on both sides. Since starting school at Titan, she’d always had a locker on the top row. She felt kind of bad for the kids with lockers on the bottom because they either had to bend down or squat to turn the dial. She hadn’t asked for special treatment, but somehow she always seemed to get it. The principal and teachers loved her. Sometimes being a good girl worked in her favor.

She was on her way to the gymnasium for cheerleading practice, and she was already late. Students stopped to stare. Fingers pointed at her. Because of the mist-covered floor, the students seemed to be floating instead of walking.

A cold, wet fear seeped into Kristen’s bones.

“Stop looking at me!” she shouted.

Her heartbeat quickened.

She didn’t fully understand what was going on, but she knew she had to get away from them. She began to run. Instead of getting closer, the end of the hallway stretched until it was miles away. Her heart thumped painfully against her ribs. Escape. She had to find a way out before it was too late.

There was Brittany, surrounded by a bunch of boys, talking and laughing. Kristen ran to her.

Brittany turned. Her eyes were big, black holes, nothing but empty voids. With her usual attitude, she said, “What’s wrong with you?”

“Show me the way out!”

“There is no way out. You’re trapped.”

“No!” Kristen grabbed her sister’s arm. The appendage fell off in her hands. No blood. No mess. Just a lifeless limb. She screamed.

“Look what you did!” Brittany tore her dead arm out of Kristen’s trembling grasp. “What am I supposed to do with this now?”

Kristen couldn’t breathe properly. Hands on her throat, she backed away from her sister before spinning around and running for the elusive exit. There was something she had to do, something important, but she couldn’t remember what. Why wouldn’t the other students tell her?

Why did they keep staring and pointing?

Cyndi waited for her at the end of the hallway, a smug smile on her lips. She lifted a finger and wagged it. “Naughty, naughty. You can’t leave school until you finish all of your homework.”

“What are you talking about?” Kristen tried to rush past her to get to the doors.

Cyndi stepped to the side, blocking Kristen’s way. The other girl started out looking normal, but then she changed. Her hair turned into green slime. It dripped onto her shoulders. “You brought this on yourself, you know.”

Kristen backed away as Cyndi reached for her with a slime-covered hand. “Don’t touch me.”


Don’t touch me
.” The mocking voice belonged to a boy she’d refused to date last year. He appeared at Cyndi’s side. The skin on his face began to flake away, revealing the bloody tissue beneath, but he didn’t seem to notice. “Don’t touch me. That should be your middle name. Kristen Don’t-Touch-Me Noah. You are such a frigid witch.”

Witch.

The last word reverberated through her brain and echoed down the Titan High hallways. A chorus line of heads snapped up at the same time like a well-executed, musical slash-dance number. The word spread in low whispers.

She cried, “No! Don’t say that.”

“Don’t say what? Witch?”

Witch
. Some of the students turned in their direction.

“Please stop! They might hear you.”

A whispered mantra began in the background, softly at first. “Witch. Witch. Witch.”

The students formed a circle around her. Books fell from their hands. They lifted their arms and pointed their fingers as the chant grew louder. “Witch. Witch. Witch.”

“No! Stop it!”

A new figure emerged from the shadows. She couldn’t see the face, just a basic outline, but deep down she knew she should recognize this person. They lifted an arm and pointed at her. “Kristen Noah is a witch.”

“Witch!” they screamed now, in earnest. “Witch! Witch!”

She cowered in the corner as the powers drained from her quaking body.

Kristen bolted up from her bed, a scream dying on her stiff lips. She pinched her arm to make sure she was awake. Relief at finding she was still in her bedroom didn’t last long, because she realized what the dream meant for her. It had been the third dream.

It was going to come true, and there wasn’t anything she could do to stop it.

 

Torn. After a restless night of chasing elusive sleep, Zach went to school with a dull headache sawing on a nerve just behind his eyes. He was torn between contempt for Kristen and an unreasonable urge to protect the girl. There was something different about her. He didn’t fully understand why, but he wanted to get to know her better. Maybe he wanted the information so he could use it against her later, or maybe he genuinely liked her.

He waited next to her locker and tried hard to ignore the curious stares, quiet giggles, and whispered innuendos. How had he gotten himself into this mess? He had adapted after the explosion, learned to keep a low profile, but Kristen had ruined everything in less than five seconds. Now what? If he were smart, he would run in the opposite direction. Kristen was more dangerous than his sister… dangerous to his peace of mind.

That was his last coherent thought. Then, he saw her. She appeared at the end of the hallway in the center of chaos, definitely in her element. She was with her own kind—cheerleaders. They were dressed in their red-and-white uniforms, but the short skirts and tight sweaters looked ridiculous on everyone except Kristen. He hated to admit it, but she was incredibly hot.

Her eyes met his, and she stumbled.

Bending his head slightly, he bit his lower lip to keep from laughing.

Blood rushed to her face, staining her cheeks nearly the same red as her lips. Her brows drew together in a frown. Lifting her chin high, she continued on as if nothing had happened. Obviously, she hadn’t been expecting to see him waiting for her, and Zach wondered if he’d given himself away already. It was possible that enchanted boys didn’t normally seek her out. Maybe they waited for her to call for them.

Kristen gave the girls a warning look, and they drifted away. A few watched with knowing smiles in place. They thought he was Kristen’s boyfriend—they had no idea what was really going on beneath the surface. They didn’t know he was supposed to be under a spell.

Tearing his gaze from her, Zach grabbed the locker dial between his thumb and two fingers. He needed time to mentally regroup before facing her again. He rotated the dial this way and that, hitting each number just right until it clicked. Pulling the metal door open, he smiled at her. She stared at him in stunned amazement, and he shrugged. “You’d be surprised at what I know.”

A flicker of fear darkened her eyes.

He could read her like a first-grade textbook. She was wondering if he’d discovered her secret. Good. Let her sweat it out a bit. She had an important lesson to learn. Boys weren’t puppets to be used for her amusement.

Kristen slapped her forehead, startling him. “Oh no! I forgot your jacket. I was going to return it to you. Every night, I choose my clothes for the next day and get them ready. I would have put your jacket with them, but I was afraid my dad would see it.”

“If you don’t mind, it’s a bit early in the day to talk about your obsessive-compulsive behavior.” His voice sounded raw, as if he hadn’t used it in days. He cleared his throat before adding, “I only had one cup of coffee this morning, and I’m not totally awake yet.”

“Here.” She lifted a large paper cup he’d somehow missed while appraising her. It had an expensive label on it that he immediately recognized, although he’d never purchased anything from that particular establishment.

She added, “I don’t mind sharing.”

Dying for caffeine, he took a huge mouthful before realizing there was something wrong with it. He swung his body to the right, swung around to the left, desperately searching for a place to spit it out, and found nothing handy. No water fountain. No trash can. He was forced to swallow the nasty concoction. Was it a witch’s brew? Was she trying to put another spell on him?

He screwed his face up for a moment, and Kristen laughed.

“That’s not coffee,” he complained.

“Sorry.” She rolled her eyes, soft gray today. “I should have known you were a straight-from-the-pot, strongly brewed, black-with-no-sugar kind of guy.”

“Oh yeah?” He leaned back against the locker next to hers. At least things were a bit less awkward between them today. Since he’d saved her life, she was different, less guarded. He liked it. “And what kind of girl are you?”

“I’m a white-chocolate and raspberry soy latté.”

He shook his head and handed the nasty thing back to her. That explained the horrible taste in his mouth. “I’d rather drink water from a dog’s bowl.”

“Stop making fun of my coffee.”

“That’s not coffee. Someday, I’m going to introduce you to the real thing, and you won’t want to drink this girly stuff again.”

Her lips twitched as she tried hard not to smile. She probably didn’t want to fall for him any more than he wanted to fall for her. He needed to pour on the charm today and make it happen. If she told him to pat his head and rub his stomach one more time, he was going to do something drastic. But if she fell for him, she would want to remove the spell. He was almost one-hundred-percent sure.

Drawn in by her incredible smile, Zach’s body moved closer to hers of its own volition. Her eyes crinkled a bit at the sides when she laughed. She was more beautiful than any girl had a right to be.
Damn
. He was supposed to be getting under her skin, not the other way around.

“Hey,” he said. His palms began to sweat, so he wiped them on his jeans while talking. “Do you want to see a movie with me this weekend?”

She froze, and her eyes widened by slow fractions. “Are you asking me out on a date?”

“I’m trying to.”

“Oh.” She turned her face and looked at passing students.

The Noah girls probably had a rule against dating people they had put their little spells on. She had no way of knowing he couldn’t be enchanted. He certainly wasn’t going to tell her. For his plan to work, he needed to get her alone for a while and romance her. If it was the last thing he did, he was going to get Kristen Noah to fall for him.

She stood straighter and nodded once. “I guess that would be okay.”

“Great. I’ll pick you up Saturday at four o’clock.”

“Sounds like fun.” She stared at her fingernails, her gaze on them instead of him. They were painted soft pink now. She said, “Pick me up at the library, not my house. Okay?”

The softly spoken demand didn’t surprise him. She didn’t want her father to know she was dating and especially not that she was dating someone with a bad reputation. He casually shrugged, even though every fiber of his being was on red alert. She was good at playing games. If he didn’t watch himself, she would have him under her spell instead of the other way around.

Spell
? He froze, and the bottom dropped out of his world. The little witch might actually have more power than he’d given her credit for. He couldn’t breathe. Was he under a spell after all? His feelings had developed awfully fast. Yesterday morning, he’d wanted to kill her. By afternoon, he had saved her life and almost accused his own sister of knocking her off a cliff. Now he wanted to hook up with her?

Either he was enchanted, or he’d lost his mind.

Zach quickly went over every single command she’d given him. He had followed them to the letter, but he’d had his reasons. He’d been pretending to be under the spell. Right?
Just
pretending
.
But what if that was how the spell worked? What if the enchanted guy always rationalized why he obeyed? It could be part of the magic.

He had given her his jacket so she wouldn’t figure out he was onto her. Later, he had patted his head and rubbed his stomach. Then, he’d played basketball for her. The question was—could he have stopped himself? Or was she
that
powerful?

Zach stared at Kristen, jaw tight. Truly scared, his life flashed before his eyes, his life
and
Morgan’s. They were both at risk. In a flash, the warm, protective feeling he’d had for Kristen died a quick death. Pure hatred replaced it. If it were the last thing he ever did, he would make her pay for blowing that pink crap into his face.

Cyndi walked by with boyfriend Jake Petrie dogging her footsteps. It was clear to everyone except Jake that he was annoying her. He was babbling like an idiot, asking her all sorts of questions. “Do you like Coke or Pepsi? What about singing in the shower? Do you do that? I like to ice skate. Maybe I can take you with me next time. Do you like to ice skate? If you don’t, then I don’t like it, either. I would give up anything for you, Cyn.”

Cyndi shot him a sideways glare but said nothing. She grabbed the dial on her locker and spun it around. Jake dropped to his knees next to her and cried, “I love you! I love everything about you.”


Stop it!
” she hissed. “Everyone is looking. What is
wrong
with you today?”

“I want the whole world to know how much I love you.”

“Well, I want to be alone for a while. I can’t think when you’re constantly talking.”

“Please, tell me something I can do for you. Anything. I would do absolutely anything to make you happy.”

Cyndi turned on him, smoke practically shooting from her nostrils. “You want to do something for me? Go jump off a bridge.”


No!

Kristen screamed the word and dropped her coffee cup on the floor. The lid flew off, and lukewarm liquid splashed Zach’s boots. Leaving him standing at her locker alone, she rushed over to her sister and dragged her to an empty corner, where she whispered feverish words in the other girl’s ear. Since Zach couldn’t hear what was going on, he studied their expressions. Cyndi’s went from shock to anger in a split second.

After sharing a vicious glare with Kristen, she went to Jake and asked him to join her outside for a quick chat. Happy to comply, he followed her like a puppy about to get a treat, and that was when the truth hit Zach square between the eyes. Jake Petrie had been enchanted, but not by Cyndi. Kristen had done the dirty deed.

Zach leaned against Kristen’s locker, arms folded over his chest. Kristen’s unhappy gaze followed her sister. Wrapped up in her own drama, she didn’t notice him watching her. He didn’t know what to think about this latest development. Once again, Kristen had used her powers to play God, but she’d done it to save her sister from being hurt. As much as he wanted to hate her for it, he understood why she’d done it. He understood crossing the line to protect a sibling.

Brittany strutted up to Kristen with a freshman in tow and a sour expression on her face as if she’d been sucking on lemons. The boy gazed at her with open adoration. Feeling trouble coming, Zach moved closer so he could hear what was going on.

“Tell my sister what you just did for me,” Brittany said.

The boy obeyed immediately. “Car-surfing in the parking lot.”

Kristen frowned. “You can’t ask him to do something dangerous like that, Britt. He could have gotten hurt. What is wrong with you?”

“OMG! Turn the drama-dial down a notch! He’s fine. Anyway,” she shrugged, “you broke a rule first. What goes around comes around. I’m going to win this year, and there’s nothing you can do about it. Marc here just risked his life and pumped up my power. I haven’t seen you ask Bevian to do anything lately. What’s wrong? Losing your touch?”

“Don’t worry about me. Everything is going according to plan.”

“Right. If the plan is for you to lose, excellent job.”

Kristen’s mouth tightened. “I won’t lose. I never lose. You know why I don’t lose? Because I know how to groom the guy. Slow and steady wins the race.”

Brittany chuckled. “Whatever.”

“Hey, you were supposed to crush Bobby Heckler. That was our deal.”

“I couldn’t. FYI, he has the measles and won’t be back to school for a while.”

Kristen folded arms over her chest. “Measles? I don’t believe you. If he has the measles, I know where he got them.”

“Prove it.” Brittany’s eyes widened in feigned innocence. “Anyway, I didn’t have a choice. I had to crush someone because you cheated and started the game early.”

“What about our side bet?”

“It’s still on.”

“That isn’t fair. You give me an impossible challenge, but you do one of the easiest marks in school?”

Smug smile, Brittany shrugged. “I guess you shouldn’t have cheated. Maybe if you had followed the rules, you would have found out I was joking. Now you’re screwed. Deal with it.”

BOOK: Crushed
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