Kendall and Anna were in the library, and every book that had once been neatly organized by last name and genre were now scattered along the floor.
Shay peeked through the crack in the open door that led up onto the loft.
She didn’t know where the others were, but she knew Matt could take care of himself. She’d been hoping—or rather, praying—that she wouldn’t run into Rowan, and after all of the bad things that had already happened, Hecate had granted her that one favor.
Shay ran her fingers over the sword of dark wood that hung from her waist, and then glanced down to make sure the gun was still strapped into the holster on her thigh. Her other hand tightened around the bundle of mugwort it was holding.
She needed to draw Kendall out of the house, or at least away from everyone else.
Shay eased the door shut. She wasn’t sure how far she’d be able to lead Kendall before Kendall realized what was going on, and so when she crept back down the main stairs, she chose a place in a room off the hallway and around the corner to hide as far away from Matt as possible. She leaned back against the wall next to a small wooden table with a blue and white decorative vase resting on it.
She unclenched her hand around the mugwort, letting it rest in her open palm, and lifted it towards her face. A flame burst along the dried leaves of the herb, and she could feel the smokes effects almost immediately.
Shay had never astral projected before, but it was quite the experience.
She was acutely aware of the feeling of her physical body as the spiritual form of her stepped forward out of it. She looked down at the ghostly appearance of her skin, and then glanced back up at her body.
Oh, wow. She thought for an instant. She was as tiny as everyone always said.
Then she shook herself and went on with the plan.
She passed right through the wall in front of her as if it were made of nothing, but rather, she was the one made of nothing.
She ran to the library, and paused in the open doorway, wondering briefly for a moment how to get Kendall’s attention. She would have thrown a book, but when she bent to pick one up, her hand moved through it.
So instead, she crept over to the end of one bookcase and peered around it.
Kendall spotted her instantly, almost as if she had thrown a book.
“You!” She shrieked, and Shay’s body went rigid for a moment, even though she knew that Kendall could not hurt the astral projection form of her. “What are you doing free?”
Shay turned and ran.
“Get her!” Kendall screamed at Anna, even as she herself started after Shay.
Shay’s legs pumped beneath her as she rounded the corner into the hallway. Anna was right at her heels, and Shay pushed herself to go faster. Her feet made no noise as they connected with the hard wood floor, nor did the breaths that came in short gasps.
Shay’s image was beginning to fade; she could see it with each swing of her arms and when she looked down at her legs.
She glanced back over her shoulder in time to see Anna grab for her. Shay ducked out of the way instinctively, and Anna’s hands passed through empty air.
Something like a rush of cool air hit Shay from behind, and her legs almost stalled for moment beneath her. Kendall must have tried to hit her with a binding spell.
Shay swung around the next corner, bringing them closer to where her physical body was hiding. She could hear Kendall’s boots pounding on the floor not far behind them.
And then Shay suddenly snapped back into her own body.
Everything was dark for a moment, and when she opened her eyes, she was back in the room where she’d been hiding. The ashes of the mugwort fell from her fingers.
“What the—?” Shay heard Anna’s voice from the hallway, where they’d both pulled to a stop.
“That little *****. It was an astral projection,” Kendall said. “She could be hiding anywhere, dammit. Get Macon and search the . . .”
Shay had to keep them there. She acted quickly, grabbing the vase from the table beside her and rushing out into the hallway. She swung the vase at the first girl she saw—Anna—and it shattered against the back of her head.
Anna stumbled forward, and then her legs crumpled beneath her as she fell to the ground.
Shay unclipped the gun from her thigh with clumsy fingers and aimed.
A shot rang out as she was thrown sideways against the wall, the bullet zipping off down the hallway. The gun fell from her fingers and slid across the hardwood floor.
Shay’s shoulder hit the wall hard, and her feet almost slipped out from beneath her.
She straightened in time to see Kendall’s fist coming towards her. It was uncoordinated, and Shay could tell Kendall had never thrown a punch before in her life as she blocked it easily. She drew back her leg and brought her knee up hard into Kendall’s stomach.
Kendall doubled over, falling back several steps as the wind was knocked out of her.
There was a satisfying crunch as Shay’s fist connected with the side of Kendall’s face, and Kendall fell to the ground.
Shay drew her leg back, but then a hand clamped down on her shoulder. Anna spun her around, and the heel of her hand knocked Shay’s head back, exposing her throat.
Shay felt a double sting on her neck where Anna bit down, and she screamed.
Shay lashed out with her arms, squirming beneath Anna’s grip. She was like the gazelle caught in the jaws of the lioness. She got hold of Anna’s short hair and pulled as hard as she could.
Shay felt Anna’s fangs slip away as she cried out. Shay shoved her back as soon as she was free, and several strands of brown hair fluttered to the ground.
Shay pulled the wooden sword free from its hilt and slashed out with it, opening a gash across Anna’s thigh. Anna hissed, glancing down at the line in her jeans where Shay could see the blood beading up along her skin.
Shay took the opportunity of her distraction to open another gash on her chest.
Anna caught the edge of the sword the next time Shay swung out with it, and she tore it from Shay’s grip. It clattered against the floor as she tossed it away.
She smacked Shay across the face, and Shay was thrown against the wall.
Shay crumpled to the ground and lifted her head, spots dancing across her vision. She spotted the gun several inches away from her on the floor, but before she could grab for it, she was suddenly being flipped onto her back.
Anna straddled Shay’s abdomen, and Shay tried to buck her off to no avail.
Anna’s hand closed on Shay’s throat, and Shay found her lips parting as they sought the air that had abruptly been cut off. Anna’s fingers pressed into Shay’s skin, digging deeper as she tried to pry them away. Shay’s lungs burned, and her mouth moved though no sound came out. Her vision went black for a moment.
Then she remembered the gun.
With the last of her strength, she groped out behind her, but all she found was empty air. Shay’s hands fell down limply beside her. She could feel the life leaving her.
A streak of black flew at Anna, and there was a wild, menacing hiss as Anna screamed. Her fingers slipped from Shay’s throat, and Shay gasped, drawing in a lungful of air.
She flipped over, and her hands found something cool and metal. Anna knocked Juniper away, and the cat slid along the floor, unharmed, as Shay brought the gun in front of her in line with Anna’s heart.
The shot echoed through the house. And then another, and another.
Anna’s eyes went wide. She looked down at the three holes that formed an irregular triangle on her chest and touched her fingers to them. They came away bloodstained, and then she lifted her eyes back to meet Shay’s.
Her lips parted in shock, and she dropped lifelessly to the floor.
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