The feeling as if someone was squeezing her heart vanished, and instead was replaced by the feeling of it being ripped out altogether. Blood roared in her ears.
It was impossible. Matt couldn’t be alive.
But somehow, she heard his voice and she managed to lift her head. Her heart was tossed back into her chest, and then it leapt as her face blossomed with pure, unadulterated love. She gathered her feet beneath her and stood.
He looked exactly the same as he stepped out from behind a tree. Same sweep of the golden blonde hair, same sparkling green eyes. But somehow, he was different. There was a glint in his eyes that hadn’t been there before. It was cold, hateful, even. And his voice . . . It was scornful. As if he were making fun of her. As if her reaction, her joy, at seeing him was amusing.
“Matt . . .” she whispered, and the tears that sprang from her eyes were no longer created by sorrow. “You’re alive . . .”
“Yes,” he said, crossing his arms over his chest and lounging against the tree Rowan was perched. “No thanks to you, that is.”
“But . . . How?”
“Well, let me think,” he said. “That arrow that I jumped in front of to save you—you do remember that, don’t you?—it missed my heart by an inch. Your magic could have saved me, but you chose him instead. You left me, just like you left Rowan. And Kendall . . . She saved me. She removed the arrow and healed me, just like you could have.”
“I wanted to save you,” Shay blurted out desperately. “But the others—the Daughters of Hecate—they took me because the castle was burning. I would have stayed with you,” she insisted. “I wanted to stay with you.”
“You’re a liar, Shay,” Matt said softly, shaking his head.
Shay fell back as if he had slapped her. “No!”
“You chose Jack!” He spat the name as if it was an obscenity.
Shay faltered. “But . . . I loved you. I told you that.”
“But you left me—”
“No!” Shay exploded, and the happy tears turned angry and frightened. Her body shook. “You left me! You died! You said you loved me! You told me to remember that! And I did! I remembered that, and I loved you, too, and the guilt gnawed at me every day that passed that you weren’t with me! There was not one day that went by that I didn’t miss you!”
Matt narrowed his eyes. “No,” he said, but his voice sounded skeptical. “You left me.”
“Don’t listen to her,” Rowan snarled from her branch. “She’s a liar.”
Shay’s head whipped up to meet Rowan’s eyes, and Rowan flinched away from the contact. “No! Kendall’s the liar! I would never leave you! Either of you! And I’ve never forgiven myself for not fighting harder for you! Because I thought it was my fault you were dead! And you weren’t dead!” She screamed accusingly at them. “You let me walk around, thinking you were dead! I cried over you! I woke up from my nightmares screaming for the both of you, and you weren’t dead! How could you do that to me?”
“You left us!” Rowan screamed again, and her fingers dug viciously into the bark of the tree she was leaning against.
“Shay,” Isobel whispered in her ear. “Their minds are twisted with Kendall’s lies. She’s done something to them.”
Shay looked over at her. She could feel something in her gut telling her that Isobel was right. Angry words weren’t enough to compete with a spell strong enough to manipulate their memories. She needed herbs, she needed crystals, she needed all of things that she didn’t have.
Shay glanced sadly back at Rowan and Matt. “You’re wrong,” she told them in a choked whisper, and then she gathered all of her strength and hit them with a binding spell. “And I’m going to find a way to save you both. I’m sorry,” she added.
And then a wave of dizziness overcame her, and she fainted.
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