While Breyona finished getting ready, Giovanni pulled me aside. The leatherbound book sat on the table between us. On its cover was a triangle with a circle inside. Inside the circle were different symbols, none of which I knew the names to.
I couldn’t detect a trace of suspicion in his voice, only his usual amount of severity. “Your father deemed this important enough to have it locked in a vault. He wasn’t the kind person who passed up power, so if he kept it from the witches then it might be a good idea if you did the same.”
Before heading to Cordelia’s for the séance, the three of us stopped by the hotel we had dropped Clara off at. Since it was on the way, it gave us the perfect opportunity to ask about the nightclub, which was now nothing more than a pile of rubble.
I wasn’t surprised to find that Brandon had vanished early in the morning, never to return. Mason looked a bit disgruntled, his hair a mess and his face twisted into a scowl.
Clara on the other hand was draped over a chaise lounge, an arm behind her head as she smirked and looked at her manicured nails. Her bouncy curls were twisted into a quick updo, but some strands were already falling from the clip.
She looked smug and cat-like, which ended the moment I pulled out Holly’s drawing and told her what it meant. I locked eyes with Mason and nodded towards the door, letting him know he was free to go. Without glancing at Clara, he turned on his heel and stalked out of the room.
“Am I no longer important enough for a guard?” Clara pouted, but it didn’t cover up the fear I heard bleeding into her voice.
Asher’s voice was flat and unimpressed, “we’re assigning you a new guard.”
“You weren’t surprised when I showed you the picture.” I stated the obvious, holding her stare long enough to make her squirm. “If anything you look like you want to throw up.”
“It’s obvious what it means…the witches are covering their tracks. The fact that they don’t want you to find out what they’re doing more than they want to get their hands on you is terrifying…” Her smug exterior dropped, revealing the girl I had met just last night.
The confident and sensual dancer turned magical fugitive, afraid of what lurked in the night. “A lot of witches worked at that club, and I’ll bet anything that none of them made it home last night…”
Once a replacement showed up, we were able to leave. We gave Mason a ride back to the house, but the entire drive I couldn’t get his grimace out of my head. He sat in the back seat, his cheek against the window and his warm eyes halfway closed.
His light brown hair was sun bleached from how much time he spent training or on patrol and was beginning to grow past his jawline.
“Mason?” I called out and heard him grunt in response.
Breyona snickered, “he’s been hanging around Tristan too much.”
“Funny.” Mason said sarcastically, cracking an eye open just to narrow it at her.
“Are you alright?” I asked Mason, turning to look at the two of them. “You look a little worse for wear.”
“You can thank Asher’s brother for that.” Mason grumbled, “…real stand-up guy.”
“This is the second complaint about your brother.” I said to Asher, pressing my lips together to keep from laughing.
My forced trip with Brandon hadn’t softened me to him in the slightest. If anything, I found it both sad and amusing how often he got into trouble.
Claire and Killian didn’t appear to favor one of their sons over the other, so I wasn’t sure why Brandon felt the need to constantly raise h**l.
Against my better judgement, I asked Mason what happened.
“Mm, did you know there was a bar in that hotel?” Mason asked, and when I shook my head he let out a dry laugh. “Well, you will when she checks out. I’d have to sell my tail on the black market to pay that tab. The little witch isn’t any better…” His voice dropped into a low grumble, “…went to the bar with him, made me play babysitter.
Your brother doesn’t know how to keep his mouth shut. I had to drag him from the bar before he got us all thrown out, which pissed him off enough to start throwing punches. I managed to get him into the parking lot before he tore down the hotel. Luckily, he’s got p**s-poor fighting skills when he’s drunk.”
“That doesn’t explain why you look like you’ve been hit by a car.” Breyona added helpfully. At times I didn’t understand the strange relationship between my two best-friends, but I was slowly learning that insults were their love language.
“No, it doesn’t.” Mason smirked, his mood already lightening even though his eyes held traces of exhaustion. “Brandon got me to the ground, and we were going back and forth.
Clara was shouting and waving her hands, but I couldn’t make out what she was saying in between taking your brother’s punches. Turns out she was warning us to stop before she used her magic on us.”
“She didn’t.” Breyona gasped, a hand over her mouth. “…wait, what did she do to you?”
“She’s like a witchy stun-gun…for the most part, anyway.” I told her, “I’m sure there’s more she can do that she hasn’t mentioned.”
“Yeah, she also sucks at descriptions.” Mason’s voice was dry and a little bit pained. “It’s not like any stun-gun I’ve ever felt, that’s for d**n sure. Felt like I got struck by lightning, then I was out cold…Brandon too.”
“She knocked you both out in the middle of the parking lot?” It was my turn to stare open mouthed.
“She dragged us back inside and spent the better half of the morning complaining about how long it took her, and how she broke a nail.
Of course your brother woke up early and ran.” His grimace returned the more we talked about Clara. “All I know is I won’t complain if I never have to see her again. I’d say the same for your brother, but I know that’s too much to ask for.”
“I’m surprised the town hasn’t rallied against him.” Breyona’s good mood was infectious and had Mason lifting the corners of his lips in a small smile.
We pulled into the driveway, and Mason hopped out of the car. He hesitated, lingering by the passenger door.
“I know you’re doing that séance thing for your mom today…I just want you to know that I hope you get answers.” The wistful edge to his smile made the air in my lungs thin until I was desperate for a deep breath.
“I hope you understand why I can’t be there…to see an actual spirit, to know talking to someone after their gone is real…it would just make things harder.”
“Of course I understand.” The knot in my throat was painful to s*w and sat in my stomach like a chunk of lead. My face burned as I let out a weak laugh and said, “…come to the bake sale afterwards, I’m sure I can convince grandma to give you the family discount.”
“Family discount?” His smile widened. It was a shadow of that goofy lop-sided grin I had memorized inside and out, but it was the brightest I’d seen him look in weeks. “Alright, you convinced me. I’ll be there.”
Rowena had beaten us to the house for the séance and was inside helping Cordelia finish setting up.
We walked to the very back of the house. Past the living room and kitchen, was a long hallway that led to the den. The furniture was shoved back towards the walls, leaving a wide-open floor space for us to work with.
On the wooden floor in thick, bold lines was a sigil. A small bowl of white paint sat off to the side, it’s paint brush currently in Cordelia’s hand.
With long, steady strokes she hovered around the outside of her painted circle and put down the last slashes and dots of her masterpiece.
The magical trunk she used that held all of her spell books and trinkets was propped open against the far wall.
“Welcome, welcome.” Cordelia smiled warmly at the three of us, but it was me she approached. Her eyes crinkled around the corners as she looked down at me, “I hear you had an eventful night yourself.”
“That’s a nice way of putting it.” I chuckled lightly, “…what better way to turn things around than a good old séance?”
“I couldn’t have said it better myself.” Her smile widened. She turned towards Breyona and said, “…would you mind closing the cs for me, dear?”
“I’m on it!” She chirped, racing away before Cordelia had the chance to say anything more. “Consider me your witchy assistant.”
“We didn’t go over this yet, but there are seven different types of magic a witch has in her arsenal. Most of the time we’re only successful at one or two of those types, but that doesn’t mean we can’t try.” Rowena glided forwards and her glossy red sandals caught the light as she moved.
“The séance Cordelia is about to preform is actually a summoning spell, which stems from spirit magic.”
“Can you do more than just call on ghosts?” Breyona cooed, yanking the last of the cs shut.
Cordelia laughed at her excitement and said, “Spirit magic isn’t my strong suit, but I also get feelings or hear whispers if the place I’m visiting has seen d***h. It’s a powerful form of magic, I just have limited access.”
As Rowena placed seven thick candles on the floor all at various points inside the circle, I knew the time for questions had passed. Cordelia flicked the lights off, plunging the room into darkness. Achill passed through me as I felt the curious eyes of the shadows lingering in the air.
“The sigil that surrounds us is to keep us protected, while the smaller ones inside are to thin the veil between the living and the d**d.
The ring of candles is to keep the spirit called on contained. It’s crucial we all remain seated and inside the circle until the summoning is finished and the spirit is dismissed.” Cordelia explained as she and Rowena lit the candles one by one.
The pale blue of her eyes caught the glow of the candlelight, making them dance like threads of flame. “Did you bring what I asked?”
“Sure did.” I nodded and pulled the old photograph of my mom out of my pocket.
Cordelia needed a picture, but one that meant something-one that showed the heart of the person we were summoning.
This had been after she had the binding spell placed on me, but years before she and I began butting heads. Mom stood with her arms wrapped around Dad’s waist, wearing of her rare but dazzling smiles.
It lit up her face and made you notice how the sunlight brought out the caramel tones in her hair. Sean and I stood in front of them, his hair a mess and my wide grin missing a tooth. After a good look, it was obvious we couldn’t sit still long enough for the picture to be taken.
Cordelia placed the picture of Mom inside the ring of candles, closed her eyes, and took a deep breath.
When she opened her eyes, they were clear and serene.
Her voice was strong, but there was something haunting about the way it echoed, and how that whispered voice sounded different than Cordelia’s.
Each word spoken charged the air with what felt like electricity, until my skin was flushed and the hairs along my arms raised.
“Spirits from the other side…
…hear my words, hear my cry…
Only one of you we do seek…
…a mother of two, whose secrets still sleep…
We ask you to cross the great divide…
…to share the truth you chose to hide.