The Indigo Spell Chapter Twenty-Two

The Indigo Spell Chapter Twenty-Two

I OPENED MY EYES, groggy from the sudden shock of being pulled out of the dream. My body felt sluggish, and I squinted against the light. The lamp I’d left on last night was joined by sunlight streaming in through the window, but my phone’s display still showed a freakishly early hour. Someone knocked at my door, and I realized that was what had woken me up. I ran a hand through my disheveled hair and rose unsteadily from the bed.

“If she needs a geography tutor now, I really am going to Mexico,” I muttered. But when I opened the door, it wasn’t Angeline standing outside my door. It was Jill.

“Something big just happened,” she said, hurrying in.

“Not to me it didn’t.”

If she noticed my annoyance, she didn’t show it. In fact, as I studied her more closely, I realized she probably had no idea (yet) about what had happened between Adrian and me. From what I’d learned, spirit dreams weren’t shared through the bond unless the shadow-kissed person was directly brought into it.

I sighed and sat down on my bed again, wishing I could go back to sleep. The heat and excitement of the dream was fading, and mostly I felt tired now. “What’s wrong?”

“Angeline and Trey.”

I groaned. “Oh, lord. What’s she done to him now?”

Jill settled into my desk chair and put on a steely look of resolve. Whatever was coming was bad. “She tried to get him to sneak into our dorm last night.”

“What?” I really did need more sleep because my brain was having trouble understanding the reasoning behind that. “She’s not that dedicated to her math grade . . . is she?”

Jill gave me a wry look. “Sydney, they weren’t working on math.”

“Then why were they – oh. Oh no.” I fell backward onto the bed and stared up at the ceiling. “No. This can’t be happening.”

“I already tried saying that to myself,” she told me. “It doesn’t help.”

I rolled over to my side so that I could look at her again. “Okay, assuming this is true, how long has it been going on?”

“I don’t know.” Jill sounded as tired as me – and a lot more exasperated. “You know how she is. I tried to get answers out of her, but she kept going on about how it wasn’t her fault and how it just happened.”

“What’d Trey say?” I asked.

“I never got a chance to talk to him. He got hauled away as soon as they were caught.” She smiled, but there wasn’t much humor in it. “On the bright side, he got in a lot more trouble than she did, so we don’t have to worry about her getting expelled.”

Oh no. “Do we have to worry about him getting expelled?”

“I don’t think so. I heard about other people trying this, and they just get detention for life. Or something.”

Small blessing. Angeline was in detention so much that they’d at least have bonding time. “Well, then I guess there isn’t much to be done. I mean, the emotional fallout’s going to be a mess, of course.”

“Well . . .” Jill shifted nervously. “That’s just it. You see, first Eddie needs to be told – “

I shot up out of my bed. “I am not doing that.”

“Oh, of course not. No one would ever expect you to do that.” I wasn’t so sure but let her continue. “Angeline’s going to. It’s the right thing to do.”

“Yes. . . .” I still wasn’t letting down my guard.

“But someone still needs to talk to Eddie afterward,” she explained. “It’s going to be hard on him, you know? He shouldn’t be left alone. He needs a friend.”

“Aren’t you his friend?” I asked.

She flushed. “Well, yeah, of course. But I don’t know that it’d be right since . . . well, you know how I feel about him. Better to have someone more reasonable and objective. Besides, I don’t know if I’d do a good job or not.”

“Probably better than me.”

“You’re better at that stuff than you think. You’re able to make things clear and – “

Jill suddenly froze. Her eyes widened a little, and for a moment, it was like she was watching something I couldn’t see. No, I realized a moment later. There was no “like” about it. That was exactly what she was doing. She was having one of those moments where she was in sync with Adrian’s mind. I saw her blink and slowly tune back into my room. Her eyes focused on me, and she paled. Just like that, I knew that she knew.

Rose had said that sometimes in the bond, you could sift through someone’s recent memories even if you hadn’t actually been tuned into the bond at that moment. As Jill looked at me, I could tell she’d seen it all, everything that had happened with Adrian last night. It was hard to say which of us was more horrified. I replayed everything I’d done and said, every compromising position I’d literally and figuratively put myself in. Jill had just “seen” me do things no one else ever had – well, except for Adrian, of course. And what had she actually felt? What it was like to kiss me? To run her – his? – hands over my body?

It was a situation I had in no way prepared for. My occasional indiscretions with Adrian had come through to Jill as well, but we’d all brushed those off – me in particular. Last night, however, had taken things to a whole new level, one that left both Jill and me stunned and speechless. I was mortified that she’d seen me so weak and exposed, and the protective part of me was worried that she’d seen anything like that at all, period.

She and I stared at each other, lost in our own thoughts, but Jill recovered first. She turned even redder than when she’d mentioned Eddie and practically leapt out of the chair. Turning her eyes away from mine, she hurried to the door. “Um, I should go, Sydney. Sorry to bother you so early. It probably could’ve waited. Angeline’s going to talk to Eddie this morning, so whenever you get a chance to find him, you know, that’d be great.” She took a deep breath and opened the door, still refusing to make eye contact. “I’ve gotta go. See you later. Sorry again.”

“Jill – “

She shut the door, and I sank back into the bed, unable to stand. It was official. Whatever residual heat and lust I’d felt from being with Adrian last night had completely vanished in the wake of Jill’s expression. Until that moment, I hadn’t really and truly understood what it meant to be involved with someone who was bonded. Everything Adrian said to me, she heard. Every emotion he had for me, she experienced. Every time he kissed me, she felt it. . . .

I thought I might be sick. How had Rose and Lissa handled this? Somewhere in my addled mind, I recalled Rose saying she’d learned to block out a lot of Lissa’s experiences – but it had taken a few years to figure it out. Adrian and Jill had only been bonded for a few months.

The shock of understanding what Jill had seen cast a shadow over everything that had been sensual and thrilling last night. I felt like I had been on display. I felt cheap and dirty, especially as I remembered my own role in instigating things. That sickening feeling in my stomach increased, and there was no stopping the avalanche of thoughts that soon followed.

I’d let myself spin out of control last night, carried away by desire. I shouldn’t have done any of that – and not just because Adrian was a Moroi (though that was certainly problematic too). My life was about reason and logic, and I’d thrown all of that out the window. They were my strengths, and in casting them aside, I’d become weak. I’d been high on the freedom and risks I’d experienced last night, not to mention intoxicated by Adrian and how he’d said I was beautiful and brave and “ridiculously smart.” I’d melted when he’d looked at me in that absurd dress. Knowing he’d wanted me had muddled my thoughts, making me want him too. . . .

There was no part of this that was okay.

With great effort, I dragged myself from the bed and managed to pick out some clothes for the day. I staggered to the shower like a zombie and stayed in for so long that I missed breakfast. It didn’t matter. I couldn’t have eaten anything anyway not with all the emotions that were churning inside me. I barely spoke to anyone as I walked through the halls, and it wasn’t until I sat down in Ms. Terwilliger’s class that I finally remembered there were other people in the world with their own problems.

Specifically, Eddie and Trey.

I was certain there was no way they could be as traumatized as Jill and I were by last night’s events. But it was obvious both guys had had a rough morning. Neither one spoke or made eye contact with others. I think it was the first time I’d ever seen Eddie neglect his surroundings. The bell cut me off before I had a chance to say anything, and I spent the rest of class watching them with concern. They didn’t look like they were going to engage in any testosterone-driven madness, so that was a good sign. I felt bad for both of them – especially Eddie, who’d been wronged the most – and worrying on their behalf helped distract me from my own woes. A little.

When class ended, I wanted to talk to Eddie first, but Ms. Terwilliger intercepted me. She handed me a large yellow envelope that felt like it had a book inside. There was no end to the spells I had to learn. “Some of the things we discussed,” she told me. “Tend to them as soon as you get the chance.”

“I will, ma’am.” I slipped the envelope into my bag and glanced around for Eddie. He was gone.

Trey was in my next class, and I took my usual seat beside him. He gave me a sidelong look and then turned away.

“So,” I said.

He shook his head. “Don’t start.”

“I’m not starting anything.”

He stayed silent a few moments and then turned back to me, a frantic look in his eyes. “I didn’t know, I swear. About her and Eddie. She never mentioned it, and obviously, they don’t talk about it around here. I never would’ve done that to him. You have to believe that.”

I did. No matter what Trey’s other faults were, he was good-hearted and honest. If anyone was at fault for bad behavior here, it was Angeline.

“I’m actually more surprised that you’d get involved with someone like her, period.” I didn’t need to elaborate that “someone like her” referred to her being a dhampir.

Trey put his head on his desk. “I know, I know. It all just happened so fast. One day she’s throwing a book at me. The next, we’re making out behind the library.”

“Ugh. That’s a little more information than I needed.” Glancing up, I saw that our chemistry teacher was still getting organized, giving Trey and me a little more time. “What are you going to do now?”

“What do you think? I have to end it. I shouldn’t have let it get this far.”

The Sydney from three months ago would have said of course he needed to end it. This one said, “Do you like her?”

“Yes, I – ” He paused and then lowered his voice. “I think I love her. Is that nuts? After only a few weeks?”

“No – I don’t know. I’m not really good at understanding that stuff.” And by not really good, I actually meant terrible. “But if you feel like that . . . maybe . . . maybe you shouldn’t throw it away.”

Trey’s eyes widened, and surprise completely replaced his blue mood. “Are you serious? How can you say that? Especially you of all people. You know how it is. You’ve got the same rules as us.”

I could hardly believe what I was saying. “Her people don’t, and they seem to be fine.”

For a moment, I thought I saw a flicker of hope in his eyes, but then he shook his head again. “I can’t, Sydney. You know I can’t. It would eventually end in disaster. There’s a reason our kinds don’t mix. And if my family ever found out . . . God. I can’t even imagine. There’d be no way I’d ever get back in.”

“Do you really want to?”

He didn’t answer that. Instead, he just told me, “It can’t work. It’s over.” I’d never seen him look so miserable.

Class started, and that ended the discussion.

Eddie wasn’t in our cafeteria at lunch. Jill sat with Angeline at a corner table and looked as though she was delivering a stern lecture. Maybe Jill hadn’t felt comfortable consoling Eddie, but she certainly had no problem speaking out on his behalf. I didn’t really want to hear Angeline’s excuses or meet Jill’s eyes, so I grabbed a sandwich and ate outside. I didn’t have enough time to check Eddie’s cafeteria, so I sent him a text.

Want to go out for coffee later?

Don’t feel sorry for me, he responded. I hadn’t known if he’d answer at all, so that was something.

I just want to talk. Please.

His next text wasn’t nearly so fast, and I could almost imagine his mental battle. Okay, but after dinner. I have a study group. A moment later, he added, Not Spencer’s. Trey worked at Spencer’s.

Now that the Angeline drama was on hold, I was able to return to my own messed-up love life. I couldn’t shake that image of Jill’s expression. I couldn’t forgive myself for losing control. And now, I had Trey’s words bouncing around my head. It would eventually end in disaster. There’s a reason our kinds don’t mix.

As though summoned by my thoughts, Adrian texted me. You want to get the dragon today?

I’d forgotten all about the callistana. He’d stayed with Adrian during my St. Louis trip, and now it was my turn. Since Adrian couldn’t transform him back into quartz, the dragon had been in his true form all weekend.

Sure, I wrote back.

My stomach was in knots when I drove to Adrian’s place later. I’d had the rest of the day to think about my options, and I’d finally reached an extreme one.

When he opened the door, his face was aglow – until he saw mine. His expression transformed to equal parts exasperation and sadness. “Oh no. Here it comes,” he said.

I stepped inside. “Here what comes?”

“The part where you tell me last night was a mistake and that we can’t ever do it again.”

I looked away. That was exactly what I’d been going to say. “Adrian, you know this can’t work.”

“Because Moroi and humans can’t be together? Because you don’t feel the same way about me?”

“No,” I said. “Well, not entirely. Adrian . . . Jill saw it all.”

For a moment, he didn’t seem to understand. “What do you – oh. Shit.”

“Exactly.”

“I never even think of that anymore.” He sat down on the couch and stared off into space. The callistana came scurrying into the room and perched on the arm of the couch. “I mean, I know it happens. We even talked about it with other girls. She understands.”

“Understands?” I exclaimed. “She’s fifteen! You can’t subject her to that.”

“Maybe you were an innocent at fifteen, but Jill’s not. She knows how the world works.”

I couldn’t believe what I was hearing. “Well, I’m not one of your other girls! I see her every day. Do you know how hard it was to face her? Do you know what it feels like to know she saw me doing that? And, God, what if there’d been more?”

“So, what’s this mean exactly?” he asked. “You finally come around, and now you’re going to just end things because of her?”

“Kissing you isn’t exactly ‘coming around.'”

He gave me a long, level look. “There was a lot more than kissing, Miss ‘I’m a Quick Study'”

I tried not to show how embarrassed I was about that now. “And that’s exactly why this is all over. I’m not going to let Jill see that again.”

“So you admit it could happen again?”

“Theoretically, yes. But I’m not going to give us the chance.”

“You’re going to avoid ever being alone with me again?”

“I’m going to avoid you, period.” I took a deep breath. “I’m going to go with Marcus to Mexico.”

“What?” Adrian jumped up and strode over to me. I immediately backed up. “What happened to you working undercover?”

“That only works if I can stay undercover! You think I can pull that off if I’m sneaking around with you?”

“You’re with me half the time already!” I couldn’t tell if he was angry or not, but he was clearly upset. “Nobody notices. We’ll be careful.”

“All it takes is one slipup,” I said. “And I don’t know if I can trust myself anymore. I can’t risk the Alchemists finding out about you and me. I can’t risk exposing Jill to what we’d do together. They’ll send another Alchemist to look after her, and hopefully Stanton will take precautions against the Warriors.”

“Jill knows I can’t put my life on hold.”

“You should,” I snapped.

Now he was angry. “Well, you’d know all about that since you’re an expert in denying yourself the things you want. And now you’re going to leave the country to make sure you can deprive yourself even more.”

“Yes, exactly.” I walked over to the callistana and spoke the incantation that turned him back into his inert form. I put the crystal into my purse and summoned all my will to give Adrian the coldest look I could manage. It must have been a powerful one because he looked as though I’d slapped him. Seeing that pain on his face made my heart break. I didn’t want to hurt him. I didn’t want to leave him! But what choice did I have? There was too much at stake.

“This is done. I’ve made my choice, Adrian,” I said. “I’m leaving this weekend, so please don’t make it any more difficult than it has to be. I’d like us to be friends.” The way I spoke made it sound like we were closing a business arrangement.

I walked toward the door, and Adrian hurried after me. I couldn’t bear to face the agony in his eyes, and it took all my resolve not to avert my gaze. “Sydney, don’t do this. You know it’s wrong. Deep inside, you know it is.”

I didn’t answer. I couldn’t answer. I walked away, forcing myself not to look back. I was too afraid my resolve would falter – and that was exactly why I needed to leave Palm Springs. I wasn’t safe around him anymore. No one could be allowed to have that kind of power over me.

All I wanted to do after that was hide in my room and cry. For a week. But there was never any rest for me. It was always about others, with my feelings and dreams shoved off to the side. Consequently, I wasn’t in the best position to give Eddie romantic advice when we met up that night. Fortunately, he was too caught up in his own emotions to notice mine.

“I should never have gotten involved with Angeline,” he told me. We were at a coffee shop across town that was called Bean There, Done That. He’d ordered hot chocolate and had been stirring it for almost an hour.

“You didn’t know,” I said. It was hard maintaining my half of the conversation when I kept seeing the pain in Adrian’s eyes. “You couldn’t have known – especially with her. She’s unpredictable.”

“And that’s why I shouldn’t have done it.” He finally set the spoon down on the table. “Relationships are dangerous enough without getting involved with someone like her. And I don’t have time for that kind of distraction! I’m here for Jill, not me. I should never have let myself get caught up in this.”

“There’s nothing wrong with wanting to be with someone,” I said diplomatically. Unless that person turns your world upside down and makes you lose all self-control.

“Maybe when I’ve retired, I’ll have the time.” I couldn’t tell if he was serious or not. “But not right now. Jill’s my priority.”

I had no business playing matchmaker, but I had to try. “Have you ever thought about seriously being with Jill? I know you used to like her.” And I was absolutely certain he still did.

“That’s out of the question,” he said fiercely. “And you know it. I can’t think of her like that.”

“She thinks about you like that.” The words slipped out before I could stop them. After my own romantic disaster today, a part of me longed for at least someone to be happy. I didn’t want anyone else hurting the way I did.

He froze. “She . . . no. There’s no way.”

“She does.”

A whole range of emotions played through Eddie’s eyes. Disbelief. Hope. Joy. And then . . . resignation. He picked up the spoon again and returned to his compulsive stirring.

“Sydney, you know I can’t. You of all people know what it’s like to have to focus on your work.” This was the second time today someone had said “you of all people” to me. I guess everyone had a preconceived idea of who I was.

“You should at least think about it,” I said. “Watch her the next time you’re together. See how she reacts.”

He looked as though he might consider it, which I took as a small victory. Suddenly, alarm flashed on his face. “Whatever happened with you and Marcus? The St. Louis trip? Did you find out anything about Jill?”

I chose my next words very carefully, both because I didn’t want to alarm him and because I didn’t want him taking some drastic action that could accidentally reveal my dealings with Marcus. “We found some evidence that the Warriors have talked to the Alchemists, but nothing that shows they’re working together or have actual plans for her. I’ve also taken some steps to make sure she’s protected.”

I hadn’t heard anything from Stanton today and wasn’t sure if that last part would actually pan out. Eddie looked relieved, though, and I couldn’t bear to stress him out any further today. His gaze shifted to something behind me, and he pushed the untouched hot chocolate away. “Time for us to go.”

I looked back at a clock and saw he was right. We still had a comfortable window before curfew, but I didn’t want to push it. I finished off the last of my coffee and followed him out. The sun was sinking into the horizon, coloring the sky red and purple. The temperature had finally cooled off to normal levels, but it still didn’t feel like winter to me. There’d been a bunch of badly parked cars in the front of the lot, so I’d parked Latte in the back in case some careless person opened a door too fast.

“Thanks for the moral support,” Eddie told me. “Sometimes it feels like you really are a sister – “

That was when my car exploded. Sort of.

I have to admit Eddie’s response time was amazing. He threw me to the ground, shielding my body with his. The boom had been deafening, and I cried out as some sort of foam landed on the side of my face.

Foam?

Cautiously, Eddie rose, and I followed. My car hadn’t exploded in flames or anything like that. Instead, it was filled with some sort of white substance that had blasted out with such force that it had blown the doors off and broken the windows. We both approached the mess, and behind us, I heard people coming out of the coffee shop.

“What the hell?” asked Eddie.

I touched some of the foam on my face and rubbed my fingertips together. “It’s sort of like the stuff you’d find in a fire extinguisher,” I said.

“How did it get in your car?” he asked. “And how did it get there so fast? I glanced over at it when we first walked out. You’re the chemical expert. Could some reaction have happened that fast?”

“Maybe,” I admitted. At the moment, I was too shocked to really run any formulas. I rested a hand against Latte’s hood and wanted to burst into tears. My emotions were at a breaking point. “My poor car. First Adrian’s, now mine. Why do people do stuff like this?”

“Vandals don’t care,” said a voice beside me. I glanced over and saw one of the baristas, an older man who I believed was the owner. “I’ve seen stuff like this before. Damn kids. I’ll call the police for you.” He took out his cell phone and backed away.

“I don’t know if we’ll make curfew now,” I told Eddie.

He gave me a sympathetic pat on the back. “I think if you show a police report at the dorm, they’ll be lenient with you.”

“Yeah, I hope that – ugh. The police.” I hurried over to the passenger side and stared bleakly at the wall of foam.

“What’s wrong?” Eddie asked. “I mean, aside from the obvious.”

“I have to get to the glove compartment.” I lowered my voice. “There’s a gun in there.”

He did a double take. “A what?”

I said no more, and he helped me dig through the foam. Both of us ended up covered in it by the time I reached the compartment. Making sure no one was behind us, I quickly retrieved the gun and slipped it into my messenger bag. I was about to shut the lid when something shiny caught my eye.

“That’s impossible,” I said.

It was my cross, the gold one I’d lost. I grabbed it and then immediately dropped it, yelping in pain. The metal had burned me. Considering the foamy substance was cool, it didn’t seem likely it had heated up the cross. I wrapped my sleeve around my hand and gingerly picked up the cross again.

Eddie peered over my shoulder. “You wear that all the time.”

I nodded and continued staring at the cross. A terrible feeling began to spread over me. I found a tissue in my purse and wrapped the cross up before adding it to the bag. Then I retrieved my cell phone and dialed Ms. Terwilliger. Voice mail. I hung up without leaving a message.

“What’s going on?” asked Eddie.

“I’m not sure,” I said. “But I think it’s bad.”

I hadn’t yet developed the ability to sense magical residue, but I was almost certain something had been done to the cross, something that had resulted in Latte’s foamy demise. Alicia hadn’t been able to find the cross. Had Veronica doubled back and taken it? If so, how had she located me? I knew personal items could be used to track back to a person, though the most common ones were hair and nails. As advanced as Veronica was, it was very likely an object – like this cross – would serve just as well.

Veronica might very well have found me. But if so, why vandalize my car instead of sucking out my life?

The police came soon thereafter and took our statements. They were followed by a tow truck. I could tell from the driver’s face that it wasn’t looking good for Latte. He hauled my poor car away, and then one of the officers was nice enough to return Eddie and me to Amberwood. Against all odds, we made it back just in time.

As soon as I got to my room, I tried Ms. Terwilliger again. Still no answer.

I emptied out my bag onto my bed and found it had gathered a number of items today. One of them was a donut I’d picked up at the coffee shop. I put it and the quartz crystal into the aquarium and summoned the callistana. He immediately went after the donut.

I found the cross and discovered it was now cool. Whatever spell it had been used in was gone. The gun was near it, and I quickly hid that back in the bag. That left Ms. Terwilliger’s envelope, which I’d neglected all day. Maybe if I hadn’t been so distracted by personal matters, I could have saved Latte.

I pulled the latest spell book out of the envelope and heard something jangle. I removed the book and then saw another, smaller envelope inside. I pulled it out and read a message Ms. Terwilliger had written on the side: Here’s another charm to mask your magical ability, just in case. It’s one of the most powerful out there and took a lot of work, so be careful with it.

That same guilt I always felt about her helping me returned. I opened the small envelope and found a silver star pendant set with peridots. I gasped.

I had seen this charm before, this powerful and painstakingly made charm that could allegedly hide strong magical ability.

I had seen it around Alicia’s neck.