“ . . . And when I woke up, she was gone.”
“The crystal just shattered?”
“I believe it was at the same moment you got your powers back. Daughter of Hecate contain a substantially greater amount of power than normal witches. The crystal wasn’t able to hold it all.”
“Is your house alright? Was anything broken? Are you alright?”
“I’m fine. The house is fine. It’s you I’m worried about. I’m afraid of what Kendall might do.”
“I can take care of myself,” Shay said, but there was a part of her that was worried, too.
“Shay, what’s going on?” Mother Lilura asked. “I’m getting the feeling there’s something you’re not telling me.”
“It’s nothing. At least, I hope it’s nothing.” She hadn’t meant to say the last part aloud, and it had slipped out before she knew it.
“Shay . . .” the mistress warned.
“Alright. There have been a lot of vampire attacks in the area lately, and we caught up with one of them last night. She seemed really new, and she said that she was living with Kendall and other vampires,” Shay told her. “She said she doesn’t remember anything before that, and Phoenix thinks it was a memory erasing potion. She got away before we could find out anything else.”
“Oh, Hecate.” Shay could imagine Mother Lilura pinching the bridge of her nose.
“We’ll handle it.”
“Black magic is not something to be taken lightly. If Kendall is planning something, and it sounds like she is, you need to be careful. She is not one to give up easily. Do not underestimate her.”
“Is there anything else you can tell me that might help us?”
“Black magic doesn’t always . . . cooperate with the witches who practice it.” Mother Lilura struggled for the words to express what she was thinking. “The darkness will grow on its own, feeding on a witch’s hate and anger like a parasite. It will take over, and any sort of reason or sense of remorse that they might have had before, will be gone.”
“I’ll stop her before it gets that far. I don’t believe anyone is all bad by choice.”
“I hope you’re right, Shay,” Mother Lilura murmured. “If it’s not too much trouble, may I speak with Grandmother Clarissa?”
“Of course. I’ll have to find her first, and then I’ll have her call you back.”
“No, thank you. I don’t think you realize how much you’ve done for me, and I don’t think I’ve ever thanked you for it before.”
“Shay, does a child thank a mother for her care? It was, and always will be, my pleasure. Goodbye, my dear. I’ll speak to you soon.”
Shay disconnected and placed the phone back down, a smile tugging at the corner of her lips. She put the notepad back into the drawer and slid it closed.
She had been telling the truth when she had said she needed to find Grandmother Clarissa, and so she decided to start by looking in the training room. Sometimes she went to watch the girls, and to make sure Ace wasn’t pushing them too hard.
She headed back down the stairs to the training room, and she could hear the loud pounding bass music before she even reached the double doors.
Vivienne and Chalice were at the bench press, and Sienna was at the bicep curl. Lacey was doing pull ups on a bar that was screwed to the wall. Ace and Phoenix had on the kickboxing gloves and were wailing away at each other on a large bare spot of the padded floor that was away from the equipment.
Grandmother Clarissa was seated on the vertical row and was watching Phoenix and Ace with her chin propped on her fist. Each time a punch or a kick connected with a glove with a thud, she winced.
Grandmother Clarissa looked up, startled but relieved that she was able to take her eyes off the vicious girls. “Shay? What is it?”
“Mother Lilura wants to talk to you. I wasn’t sure where you were, so I told her I’d find you and that you could call her back.”
“Alright.” Grandmother Clarissa stood, and then looked back at the girls. “Ace, please try not to break Phoenix.”
“Hey!” Phoenix said, and during that moment of distraction, Ace swiped her legs out from under her. She landed with a grunt on her back.
Ace lent her a hand and pulled her back to her feet as Grandmother Clarissa left the training room. Shay went over to sit on the stationary bike beside Sienna and peddled lightly with her bruised arm draped across her lap.
Sienna sat back and took a swig from the half empty water bottle beside her. She plucked at the front of her tank top, breathing heavy.
“Is that the best you can do, soldier?”
Sienna rolled her head to look at her and just blinked. “I’m too tired to be nice, so shush.”
Shay laughed, and Sienna cracked a smile.
“I think you were smart to jump out of the car. Maybe next time I’ll do it with you.”
“And maybe next time I’ll sleep through a mission.”
“Excuse me for not being awake at eleven at night.”
“What’s the point of going to bed early if you’re not going to get much sleep anyway?”
“I thought you just bought some mullein,” Sienna said, her eyebrows drawing together in concern. “Is it not working?”
Shay shrugged. “I haven’t had the chance to use it yet.”
“Well, tonight you’re going to go to bed nice and early, and I’m going to help you prepare everything just right and—”
The double doors opened again and Grandmother Clarissa entered. A packed suitcase rolled along behind her and a pair of sunglasses were perched on top of her head.
Ace and Phoenix paused in their fighting, and Vivienne and Chalice both dropped their weights down with metal clangs before sitting up. Shay’s legs stopped working the pedals of the bike and she narrowed her eyes. Lacey was facing the wall and didn’t stop and look over until Ace spoke.
“Going somewhere?” Ace asked.
“I’m going out to see Mother Lilura. I know this is short notice, but it’s nothing to fret over,” Grandmother Clarissa assured them. “I’m not sure when I’ll be back, but it won’t be more than two or three days.”
“You’re leaving us alone?” Sienna asked.
“I trust that you girls will take good care of the house. Ace, you’re in charge.”
Ace nodded. “I’ll look after things while you’re gone.”
“Alright, then. I better be going. Remember to practice and train and eat your vegetables. Don’t play too many video games. What else am I forgetting? There’s something . . . But, oh, I’m sure it’s nothing. Stay safe and no missions until I get back. Blessed be.”
“Blessed be,” the girls chimed.
The doors closed behind her once more, and they all stared after her. No one seemed to know what to say. They’d been left alone before, but only for a few hours. Never a few days.
“Well, you know what that means,” Chalice said.
“What?” Sienna asked.
A grin split Chalice’s tan, glistening face. “Party.”
Looks like I’m not going to bed early tonight after all, Shay thought bleakly.
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