The Secret Life of a Witch, Page 5Jessica Sorensen
She nods, zipping up her hoodie. “It’s happened a few times. And there has even been a couple of times when someone forced a fey to let them touch their wings so they could go to the fey realm.”
“Why would anyone want to go there if they aren’t fey?” I ask as I swipe my finger across the screen of my phone.
“To steal power,” she says, causing me to glance up at her. “It grows all over the trees. And anyone who goes there can take it.”
The craziest thought crosses my mind in that moment. There’s extra power in the fey realm that anyone can just take? If I took it, would I become more powerful?
I quickly dropkick the ludicrous thought from my mind. Seriously, Eva? You’re getting so desperate now that you’re thinking about stealing power from a different species?
Witches of all witches, what the hell is wrong with me?
“That’s crazy.” I redirect my focus back to the phone. Three missed messages? “That power just grows on trees.”
“Well, the fey realm is a magical, magical place,” she singsongs through a laugh. “I wish you could see it.”
“Me, too …” The words taper off from my lips as I read the missed messages. One is from my mom, reminding me to check on the house while they’re on vacation, but the second sends a chill up my spine.
Unknown: Time to play a little game with my favorite archenemy. It’s called: payback is a witch in the ass.
At first, I think the text is from whoever took my sister’s body, but then I read the third message and become aware that I have other problems on top of finding the body snatcher.
Unknown: Remember that day you told my longtime crush that I liked him and he never spoke to me again? And then I got teased so badly at school I had to be sent away to boarding school across Mystic Willow Lake? Well, I’m back now, and I’m seeking revenge. I’m going to be real nice about it, though, and give you a hint. An eye for an eye. Or, in our case, a lost crush for a lost crush.
I press my fingers to the brim of my nose.
Great. Now, on top of finding my sister’s body, I have to worry about a crazy witch hopped up on revenge.
Okay, so let me explain myself before you start thinking I’m a terrible person who outed another witch’s crush.
Claire, aka my unknown texter, is a witch I befriended during my freshman year when we were partnered up for a project. We were both little weirdoes and instantly hit it off enough that we shared some of our most private secrets, like the wizards we had a crush on. The problem with our friendship was that we were both clumsy in the magical department, and during Practicing Wand Twirling for Amateurs class, she accidentally set off her wand and blasted me with a spilling secrets spell.
It wouldn’t have been too terrible—at least for her—if the spell didn’t reflect off my wand, causing a magical reflection, which basically means that, instead of me spilling my own secrets, I spilled hers. Then, it might not have been too bad if she hadn’t had a crush on Troy, the most stuck-up, douchey wizard in school—aka Hunter’s older brother—and who a lot of people thought was completely out of Claire’s league.
Needless to say, after I spilled the beans, she became the laughing joke of the school and was constantly tormented. I tried to stick to her side and stand up for her, but she refused to have anything to do with me. Then, about two weeks after the incident, her parents decided to ship her off to boarding school where she could have a fresh start.
I always hoped that, if I ever saw her again, she’d finally forgive me. Apparently, quite the opposite has happened.
“What’s wrong?” Opal asks worriedly. “You look like you’re about to be sick.”
I release an exasperated exhale as I stuff my phone into my back pocket. “Do you remember that thing that happened between Claire and me in high school?”
“You mean, when you told everyone in school that she was crushing on Troy,” she says, nodding. “Of course I remember. I felt so sorry for her. Kids can be such asshats. So a girl has a crush on you? So what? It’s no excuse to treat a person like crap and act like a total douchebag.”
“Yeah, I know,” I agree. “For the record, Troy was a douchebag way before that.”
She flicks a piece of silver glitter over her shoulder, and for the craziest, stupidest moment, I question if Opal took my sister. Then I mentally kick myself in the ass.
Seriously, Opal? She’s like the nicest fey—no scratch that—person ever. What would she even want with a dead body?
“You know, I’ve always wondered how someone as sweet as Hunter could be related to someone as stuck-up and kind of stupid as Troy,” Opal states, slipping her hands into the front pockets of her hoodie.
I chuckle. “He definitely isn’t the nicest and brightest bulb in town, is he?”
“Not at all.” She gives me a knowing smile. “You definitely picked the better brother to get a crush—”
I clap my hands together, cutting her off as Hunter materializes at the top of the stairs.
He startles at the sound and presses his hand to his chest. “What the hell is up with the clapping? Wait. You’re not thinking about going out for the Mystic Willow Bay Star Wizard Cheerleading team again, are you?”
I give him a quick once-over to assess what kind of mood he is in, attempting to see if Claire has divulged that I’m all goo-goo eyes for him or not.
His brows are knit, and his eyes spin with confusion, but I can’t detect an ounce of horror or irritation, so that’s a good sign, right?
“What do you mean again?” I play dumb. “I’ve never thought about being a cheerleader.”
Hunter looks strangely annoyed. “You’re such a little liar. I saw the brochure in your room.”
Crap. I’m so busted.
“That was an old brochure.” I nervously scratch the side of my neck. “From, like, five summers ago.”
He cocks a brow. “Then why was it dated this year?”
“Umm …” I shrug. “Maybe that one belonged to Ry?”
“Ry wasn’t a cheerleading sort of girl.” He gives a long pause, his brows knitting. “Then again, I thought you weren’t, either.”
“So, you weren’t thinking about trying out, then?”
“No … Yes … I mean, no …” Motherload of all babbling witches, what is wrong with me today! I’m usually a pro at lying when I need to. Maybe the stress is messing with my head or something. “Okay, fine, you caught me. Earlier this year, I briefly—and I stress the briefly part—lost my damn mind and considered trying out for the cheerleading team. But after thinking about it for, like, a second, I realized how sucky it would be.”
“Why?” Opal intervenes. “You’re a really good dancer. I’m sure you’d …” She smashes her lips together as I sneak a please-be-quiet look. “Never mind.”
Hunter stares at me like I’m some foreign creature who just sprouted a unicorn horn out of her butt. “Since when do you know how to dance? Last time I checked, you could barely do the chicken dance.”
“She took a bunch of classes throughout high school,” Opal announces then pulls a whoops face as I glare at her. “Sorry, I forgot it was supposed to be a secret. Although, I still don’t know why you don’t want anyone knowing you’re badass at shaking your ass.”
Because I don’t want to be a badass dancer. I want to be a badass witch like my parents, sister, and even my grandparents.
The only reason I even started taking dance classes was because my mom wanted me to have a hobby outside of magic. While she never flat out said it, I think she hoped that by pushing me away from magic, I’d find something I was actually good at. I guess she was right. I just wish that something else was much cooler.
“It’s not a big deal.” I act all casual and smooth. “And while I’d love to stay here and chat about this some more, I’ve got places to go and a mystery to solve.”
“A mystery to solve?” Opal blinks at me. “Huh?”
> “I’ll explain later,” I tell her, though I won’t. How can I when she doesn’t know I’ve been keeping my sister’s dead body in the basement? I’m sure that conversation would go over fantastically. Can you imagine?
Hey, Opal, remember the other day when you said you thought you smelled the stench of rotting eggs and dirty socks flowing through the vents. Well, that was my sister’s rotting body that I’ve been hiding in the basement for a couple of weeks now. But you didn’t know that because I charmed the basement so you can’t ever find it.
Yep, I’m sure she’d be thrilled to hear that.
Throwing a wave over my shoulder, I start down the stairs and toward the front door. Hunter follows, keeping close to my heels.
“So, a cheerleader, huh?” he mutters. “Who would’ve thought?”
“It’s not that big of a deal.” When I’m at the front door, I reach for the doorknob but pause. “Although, I gotta say, your shock over the idea makes me feel super awesome about myself.” I begin to pull the door open, but he holds it closed.
“I’m not shocked at the idea of you being a cheerleader so much as the idea of you wanting to be one.” He studies me. “It’s just something I can’t picture you wanting to do. And the whole being able to dance thing … How did I not know about this?”
I shrug. “Probably the same way I didn’t know you went to that illuminating/horror/desires place with my sister.” When guilt consumes his eyes, I add, “I’m not saying this to make you feel guilty. I’m just pointing out that maybe we don’t know each other as well as we thought.”
“I don’t think that’s it at all. We know each other. We just have a few secrets, which I’m sure is normal for friends. And—at least for me—I have really good reasons when I decide not to tell you something.”
I become greatly curious what his good reasons are. “I guess you might be right.”
A grin spreads across his face. “Might be? Try always.”
I roll my eyes. “Now you’re starting to sound just like your brother.” When his expression falls, I feel like a jerk. “I’m sorry. I was kidding. You know that, right? You are, in no magical way, shapeshifter, or form like your brother.”
He nods, but his smile doesn’t reappear as he moves away to let me open the door.
“Can I ask you something?” he asks as we step outside, underneath the cloudy sky.
The nervous edge in his tone makes me nervous, but still I nod. “Sure.”
“It’s about the cheerleading tryout thing,” he says with reluctance as we start down the path toward his truck parked in the driveway. “And why you ever considered trying out. I know Opal said you are a good dancer, but was that the only reason?”
I wish I could truthfully say yes, but the truth is, I only ever considered putting on a skirt and shamefully shaking my ass after I found out he was in line to become the next Mystic Willow Bay Star Wizard. It was my way of staying close to him if—when—he got selected for the position. But after I picked up the brochure and saw what being a cheerleader for the Mystic Willow Bay Star Wizard entitled, not to mention the ridiculously frilly skirts they had to wear, I quickly shut down what might have been one of my stupidest plans ever.
Telling Hunter all of this isn’t an option.
Unfortunately, conjuring up a good lie takes me way too long and Hunter catches on.
“If you don’t want to tell me, that’s fine.” He looks disappointed as he opens the passenger door for me.
As I hoist myself into his lifted truck, I consider telling him the partial truth. I mean, would it sound so bad if I confessed I wanted to remain close to him after he becomes the next Mystic Willow Bay Star Wizard?
However, before I can get the words out, a shadowy figure wearing a cloak darts out from behind the house and runs across the front lawn, moving so swiftly I can’t make out any features, other than red eyes.
A demon that was just hiding out behind my house.
Shit! Is that what took my sister’s body?
Without even thinking, I dive out of the truck to chase it.
Hunter’s arm comes down in front of me like a barricade. “Stay here.”
“Why? What are you …?”
He takes off without warning. I reach out to stop him, but he moves too fast, sprinting across the street before I can even blink an eye.
“Hunter, wait!” I shout, but he’s already rounding the corner where the demon disappeared.
Letting out a string of curses, I jog across the front lawn and haul ass after him. When I reach the corner, I slow down to draw out my wand.
“Energize,” I whisper then breathe in relief when the tip of my wand sparks with pink magic. I kiss the shimmering pale purple base of the stick. “Thank you for listening to me for once. Now, if you could work perfectly if I have to cast a protection spell, that would be fabulous.” Sucking in a deep breath, I steer around the corner.
My heart rate quickens as I note the bareness of the sidewalk. Not a single person in sight, not even in the yards of the two-story Victorian homes along the street. Then again, it is eleven o’clock in the morning, so most of the community is either at work or school. Still, the emptiness is unnerving. And where the hell did Hunter go?
“Hunter?” I whisper as I tiptoe up the sidewalk, moving my wand from side to side, preparing to throw a spell if needed. “Hunter, where the heck are you?”
When I stumble across Hunter’s wand lying on the sidewalk, my worry soars all the way to the cloudy grey sky.
Never ever have I seen Hunter leave his wand unattended. Most witches and wizards don’t, since it leaves their magic vulnerable to thievery.
Even worse, surrounding his wand is a trail of ash, remnants of curses thrown by a demon.
Images of Hunter cursed with two heads and frog eyes race through my mind, but I stifle the images and focus on the problem at hand.
My hands tremble as I scoop up his wand and tuck it into the pocket of the jacket tied around my waist. Then I follow the trail of ashes up the sidewalk and to the small, grassy park at the end of the subdivision.
My gaze skims the dry, fall-kissed trees, the swing set, slide, and merry-go-round before landing on two figures; one with blond hair and the other wearing a cloak. They’re rolling around on a shallow hill near the back fence line, sparks of blue magic and ashes of curses flying through the air like a wildly crazy firework show.
“Shit.” I take off in a mad sprint, my mind racing with what spell I could use to deflate the not-so-great situation.
I could try to throw the demon off Hunter, or blast him across the park. Better yet, I could freeze him. That way, we could tie him up and try to find out why he was creeping around our house in the middle of the afternoon, thirty minutes after my sister’s body was stolen.
Yes, definitely the freeze spell.
I point my wand at the demon as I near him. “Ubi sunt—”
The demon turns and fires a series of curses at me before I can finish. I try to duck out of the way, but the funnel of ashes leaps through the air and slams straight into my chest. I fall to the ground on my back, my heart thrashing.
“Don’t you dare—” Hunter starts to yell, but he’s cut off by a soft swoosh.
The air grows quiet except for my gasping breaths. I try to move, but my body won’t budge. I try to scream, and nothing.
What in the wild, wild evil demons did he curse me with?
“Don’t worry; it’ll wear off in a few minutes. Although, the delayed effects can be petrifyingly intense.” The demon’s face appears above me, all gross and evil and snarly.
Okay, okay, that part might be a lie. Demons aren’t necessarily ugly, and this one for sure isn’t. But this would be easier to handle if he looked like an evil villain instead of a twenty-year-old, tall, lean, black-haired, decked out in facial piercings Gothic prince.
The only dead giveaway of his pure evil blood are his glowing red eyes. Yet, eve
n those are lined with long, black eyelashes that most girls would envy.
His lips pull to a crooked smile as if he knows exactly what I’m thinking.
I mentally roll my eyes at myself. Jeez, Eva, get your hormones in check.
“You’re not the first, and definitely not the last to look at me like that.” He swooshes the tail of his cloak aside and crouches down beside me. “However, you are the first of your kind. Though I haven’t ever really met any of your kind.”
He hasn’t met a witch before? WTF? That doesn’t make sense. Unless he’s been living in a crypt or sewer or something, which perhaps he has—demons have strange living places.
He assesses my eyes. “You’re a very interesting looking species. Strange, but beautiful in a weird way.” When I glare at him, his red eyes glimmer with elation. “Yes, definitely weirdly beautiful.”
Weirdly beautiful? Why is it always weird? And why does he keep acting like I’m some bizarre species when witches are super common in Mystic Willow Bay?
Why do I even care! He’s a freakin’ demon, for crying out loud.
“It’s okay to be flattered.” His lips span into a sinister, yet somehow charming smile. “And as much as I’d love to stand around and flatter you more, I need to take off.” He glances at his bare wrist, as if checking the time on an invisible watch. “I’ve got places to go and people to torment.” He lowers his wrist and looks at me. “Just one more thing before I leave. And please keep in mind that I don’t particularly like this part, but it is part of my job, so there’s not much I can do. Unless I want to get fired.”
With a flash of his eyes, his body begins to shapeshift, horns sprouting from his forehead and fangs poking out from his mouth. Red tinted scales sprout across his flesh and smoke puffs out of his nose as he rises to his feet.
“Now, I’m only going to say this warning once.” Smoke leaves his blackened lips as he enunciates each word. “Stay away from The Illuminating Horror House of Truth. Nothing good can come from you going there. And if you do go there, you won’t be leaving. Just like your sister.” He winks. “If you get my meaning.”