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Revealed, Page 2

P. C. Cast

Page 2


  “Come on,” I hooked my arm through Aphrodite’s and started to pull her to the Street Cats tent. “You haven’t been good enough to watch. ”

  Before Aphrodite could argue, we were at the Street Cats booth, facing a beaming Sister Mary Angela. “Oh, good, Zoey and Aphrodite. I need the both of you. ” The nun made a gracious gesture to the young family standing beside one of the kitten cages. “This is the Cronley family. They have decided to adopt both of the calico kittens. It’s so lovely that the two of them have found their forever homes together—they are unusually close, even for littermates. ”

  “That’s great,” I said. “I’ll start on their paperwork. ”

  “I’ll help you. Two cats—two sets of paperwork,” Aphrodite said.

  “We came with a note from our veterinarian,” the mom said. “I just knew we’d find our kitten tonight. ”

  “Even though we didn’t expect to find two of them,” her husband added. He squeezed his wife’s shoulder and smiled down at her with obvious affection.

  “Well, we didn’t expect the twins, either,” his wife said, glancing over at the two girls who were still looking in the kitten cage and giggling at the fluffy calicos that would be joining their family.

  “That surprise turned out great, which is why I think the two kittens will be perfect as well,” said the dad.

  Like seeing Lenobia and Travis together—this family made my heart feel good.

  I had started to move to the makeshift desk with Aphrodite when one of the little girls asked, “Hey mommy, what are those black things?”

  Something in the child’s voice had me pausing, changing direction, and heading to the kitten cage.

  When I got there I instantly knew why. Within the cage the two calico kittens were hissing and batting at several large, black spiders.

  “Oh, yuck!” the mom said. “Looks like your school might have a spider problem. ”

  “I know a good exterminator if you need a recommendation,” the dad said.

  “We’re gonna need a shit ton more than a good exterminator,” Aphrodite whispered as we stared into the kitten cage.

  “Yeah, uh, well, we don’t usually have bug issues here,” I babbled as disgust shivered up my back.

  “Eesh, Daddy! There are lots more of them. ”

  The little blond girl was pointing at the back of the cage. It was so completely covered with spiders that it seemed to be alive with their seething movements.

  “Oh, my goodness!” Sister Mary Angela looked pale as she stared at the spiders that appeared to be multiplying. “Those things weren’t there moments ago. ”

  “Sister, why don’t you take this nice family into the tent and get their paperwork started,” I said quickly, meeting the nun’s sharp gaze with my own steady one. “And send Damien out here to me. I can use his help to take care of this silly spider problem. ”

  “Yes, yes, of course. ” The nun didn’t hesitate.

  “Get Shaunee, Shaylin, and Stevie Rae,” I told Aphrodite, keeping my voice low.

  “You’re going to cast a circle in front of all of these humans?” Aphrodite whispered at me.

  “Would you rather have her do that, or have Neferet start eating all these humans?” Suddenly Stark was there, beside me. I could feel his strength and his concern. “It is Neferet, isn’t it?”

  “It’s spiders. Lots of spiders. ” I pointed at the cages.

  “Sounds like Neferet to me,” Damien said quietly as he joined us.

  “I’ll get the rest of the circle. ” Aphrodite dropped her cup and started jogging back to the bakery tent.

  “What’s the plan?” Stark asked, his eyes not leaving the ever-growing nest of spiders.

  “We protect what is ours,” I said. Then I pulled my cell phone out of my pocket and tapped the name thanatos. She answered on the first ring.

  “Something has changed here. I can feel the approach of death. ” The High Priestess didn’t raise her voice, but I could hear the tension thrumming through it.

  “Spiders are materializing in the Street Cats booth. Lots of them. I’ve called my circle to me. ”

  “Neferet. ” She spoke the name solemnly, confirming my gut reaction. “Invoke the protection of the elements. Whatever the Tsi Sgili is materializing, we know it isn’t natural—so use nature to expel it. ”

  “Will do,” I said.

  “I’ll begin the raffle—call the attention of the humans to the Warrior tent. They’ll be safest there. Zoey, be as discreet as you can be. It only serves Neferet’s purposes if today ends in panic and chaos. ”

  “Got it. ” I hung up.

  “Are we circling?” Damien asked.

  “Yep. We’re using our elements to get rid of this bug problem. ” I didn’t hesitate, nor did I wait for the rest of my circle. While Stark looked on protectively, I took Damien’s hand. He and I faced the kittens’ cages.

  “Air, please come to me,” Damien said.

  I felt the response of his element instantly. “Focus it,” I told him.

  He nodded. “Air, blow this Darkness away. ”

  The wind, that had been almost teasingly lifting Damien’s hair, rushed from him, swirling around the nest of spiders and making them writhe angrily.

  “Ladies and gentlemen, fledglings, and vampyres, this is Thanatos, High Priestess of Tulsa’s House of Night, and your hostess this evening. I ask that everyone please make their way to the center of the campus and the silver and white Warrior tent, our raffle is beginning and you must be present to win. ”

  Thanatos’s voice over the loudspeaker sounded so normal, so principal-like, that it made the skittering nest of spiders seem even more abhorrent.

  “Oh, no, you don’t need to worry about the details. ” Sister Mary Angela was herding the young couple and their twin girls from the booth. “My assistants will have the kittens all ready for you to pick up after the raffle. ”

  “Why are the kids holding hands like that?” I heard one of the little girls ask.

  “Oh, I’m sure they’re just praying,” Sister Mary Angela said smoothly. Then, over her shoulder, she told the half dozen or so nuns who had been running the booth, “Sisters, be sure the young people have the privacy they need for their prayers. ”

  “Of course, Sister,” the women murmured. Without question or hesitation, they spread out, creating a semi-circle around their tent, the cat cages, and the rest of the campus, effectively forming a nun curtain between possible gawkers and us.

  Then Shaunee and Stevie Rae were sprinting up with Aphrodite, bursting through the nun barrier, and skidding to a halt, eyes bugging wide at the seething mass of insects.

  “Ah, shit!” Shaunee said.

  “Ohmygoodness!” Stevie Rae pressed her hand over her mouth in distaste.

  “Neferet seriously makes my ass hurt,” Aphrodite said, grimacing at the spiders.

  “We need to get all the elements here and have them kick these spiders off campus,” I said. “But we can’t make a scene. ”

  “Yeah, ’cause Neferet would want to F everything up by causing a big ol’ scary scene and freaking out the humans,” Shaunee said. “No worries, Z. I’ll keep it on the back burner. ” She walked purposefully over to Damien, who held his hand out to her. She took it and, staring at the mass of dark legs and pulsing bodies, “Fire, come to me. ” The air around us warmed. The beautiful black girl smiled and continued, “Heat ’em up, but don’t make ’em fry. ”

  Fire did exactly as she asked. There was no smoke or flames or fireworks, but the air around us got really warm and the mass of spiders twitched in obvious discomfort.

  I looked around, just then noticing that Shaylin hadn’t joined us. “Where’s water? We need Shaylin for the circle. ”

  “She’s not back from the parking lot,” Stevie Rae said. “I called her phone, but she’s not answering. ”

bly can’t hear it,” Damien said. “There’s a lot going on out there. ”

  “Okay, no problem. I’ll stand in for water,” Aphrodite said. “It won’t be as strong, but at least it’ll be a complete circle. ”

  Aphrodite started to move to take Shaunee’s hand when Erin stepped through the nun barrier.

  “I knew a circle was going on! I could feel it,” Erin said, then she curled her lip at Aphrodite. “You’re going to call water? Ha! You’re a piss poor substitute for me—the real deal. ”

  “You’re a real something, that’s for sure,” Aphrodite told her. “But a deal isn’t it. ”

  “I told you not to have anything to do with these pussies,” Dallas said, sneering at a nun who tried to keep him outside their barrier.

  “I know what you said, baby. ” Erin sent him a flirty smile. “But you know I gotta do what I gotta do. And I’m not cool with water being left out of a circle. ”