The Secret Circle: The Divide Chapter 13

The Secret Circle: The Divide Chapter 13

Cassie and Nick heard fire trucks in the distance as they walked toward Cassie’s house. To extinguish the burning trees, Cassie figured. They sped up their pace to be safely out of the line of suspicion for arson. There was no telling what angle the hunters would take in order to destroy them.

Once they were safely shut into Cassie’s house, Nick went into overdrive. “We should tell the others,” he said.

“We should get them all over here right now.” His clothes were soaked through from the rain, and his hair dripped down in front of his face.

“Wait,” Cassie said, moving from the kitchen to the living room. “There’s time for that.” She retrieved two large bath towels from the linen closet and tossed one at Nick. “Dry yourself off,” she said.

He laughed. “I guess we are a little wet.” In one swift motion, he pulled his T-shirt over his head and wrung it out over the kitchen sink.

Cassie caught herself gaping at his muscular torso and quickly turned away. “I’m going to go change,” she said, running off to her bedroom. “I’ll be right back.” When she returned, Nick appeared mostly dry, and his shirt was thankfully back on. But so were his shoes, and Cassie knew Nick was about to bolt.

“You know what?” Nick said, moving toward the door.

“I’m going to go home and take a hot shower. Then I’ll let

“I’m going to go home and take a hot shower. Then I’ll let the others know what happened.”

As much as Cassie wanted Nick to stay there with her, she knew she had to let him go. “A hot shower does sound nice,” she said.

Nick paused with his hand on the doorknob. “I assume you’ll take care of telling Adam.”

Cassie nodded. But once Nick was gone, all she could do was sink into the couch.

She lost track of how long she was sitting there, but it was long enough that when her mother came home, she startled as if woken from a dream.

“It’s such a nice day outside,” her mother said. “You should be out by the water.”

“No, I shouldn’t.”

Her mother had just been to the farmer’s market. She hauled overstuffed bags of fruits and vegetables onto the kitchen countertop, oblivious to Cassie’s mood. “Are you hungry?” she asked. “I’ll make some lunch.”

“Mom,” Cassie said, and the way she said it finally captured her mother’s attention.

“What is it?” she asked, and joined Cassie on the couch.

“What happened?”

“Just a scare. But I’m pretty sure it was the hunters.” Her mother’s face paled. “So they’re not stopping with Constance.”

Cassie shook her head. “I’m afraid not. I need you to tell me what you know about them.” Cassie could hear the pleading in her own voice.

Her mother was visibly uneasy. “I don’t know much,” she Her mother was visibly uneasy. “I don’t know much,” she said. “But there is one story from when I was much younger.”

Cassie drew in her breath as quietly as possible. “Go on.”

“Back when I was with your dad.”

Cassie tried to remain perfectly still, to not make the slightest sound, nothing that could disturb the delicate balance of this moment – a story about her father.

“We were on a road trip,” her mother said, staring straight ahead. “With some friends. And we had a run-in with a hunter family. One of our friends was marked with an ancient hunter symbol.”

Cassie thought back to the symbol she saw on Constance’s forehead. “The W inside the hexagon,” Cassie said.

“Yes.” Her mother swallowed hard. “It’s the way the hunters determine their victims. Once you’ve been marked, it’s nearly impossible to escape ultimate death.” Cassie made no reaction. She let her mother continue.

“But your father saved my friend. And we all escaped.”

“So he wasn’t all bad,” Cassie said.

Her mother tried to smile. “He was powerful. People were afraid of his intensity, but when he cared about something, he was fiercely loyal to it.” Her voice quivered. “And he was charming. I couldn’t resist him, and I loved that I was all his, and he was all mine.

I was special in his eyes. That’s how I got him to save my friend from the witch hunters. He did it all for me. He would have done anything for me.”

A single tear fled down her cheek like a winding river.

She quickly wiped it away with the top of her finger.

“Ultimately, he put his desires in front of everyone else’s, but there was a reason I was with him in the first place.” This was a totally new side of Cassie’s father, a side she had never known, never even considered. And she suddenly realized something. Her mother had genuinely loved John Blake. Real love. The way Cassie loved Adam.

The kind of love that doesn’t go away just because the person turns out to be different than you thought.

When Cassie reflected on this, she understood why it was so difficult for her mother to talk about him. It wasn’t that she was being distant or secretive; she was still hurting.

Cassie threw her arms around her mother and squeezed her too hard. “Thank you for telling me,” she said. “About him.”

Cassie sat thinking, trying to process all she’d just learned. She tried to picture what her mother was like when she was happy and in love. And she imagined what it would be like now if her parents were still together. But in this mental picture her father was a regular man, a husband, and a father – not a force of evil. It was wishful thinking, in no way useful to Cassie now. Whether or not he was ever good, Cassie had to remind herself of what her father had done.

“I wish I knew more about the hunters that would be helpful,” her mother said.

Her eyes glazed over for a moment, and Cassie assumed their conversation was over. But then her mother said, “We can leave, you know, if you want to. We don’t have to stay in this town.”

“I can’t leave,” Cassie said, taken aback. “And you know that.”

“I thought that once, too,” her mother said. “But it isn’t true. You can always leave.”

Cassie moved carefully toward her mother. “You’re the one who brought me here, remember?”

“And I can be the one to take you away.” Her mother met her eyes sharply now.

“I won’t run away,” Cassie said, her voice cracking with emotion.

“You won’t run away because of Adam.” Her mother said it as a statement rather than a question. As if it were a weakness that she knew too well.

“I won’t run away because I took an oath,” Cassie said.

Her mother started crying again, not just one single tear this time but many, as if a dam had broken inside her.

“I never wanted this for you,” she said. “This is exactly what I’ve spent my entire life trying to protect you from.”

“I know.” Cassie strived to sound unafraid. “But the best way you can protect me now is to keep talking to me, keep telling me things I need to know from the past, even if they’re hard to talk about. Because I don’t have anyone else to tell me these things but you.”

Her mother opened her arms, and Cassie let herself be held.

“I promise you, Cassie,” her mother said. “All I want is for you to be safe.”

They cried together for a little while, holding each other. It felt to Cassie like they were in mourning, grieving a death, and perhaps in a way they were. The death of the protective silence between them, and of their secrets and lies. The death of normalcy. Her mother rubbed soft circles into her back and told her everything would be okay, that they were in this together. For the first time, Cassie felt like a daughter.

Later that night, Cassie went to Adam’s to tell him about the hunter’s attack on the beach. They rarely hung out at his house, and she was happy for the change of scenery. She loved being in his bedroom. Lying on his bed, she couldn’t help but imagine him sleeping there, wrapped in those same sheets, with his features softening innocently as he dreamed. She gazed around the room and observed his things, everyday items that would have no meaning to her if they didn’t belong to him – his schoolbooks stacked on his desk, his sneakers piled haphazardly in the closet, and a pair of jeans strewn on the floor. She could almost see him coming home from school, tossing the books down, kicking off his shoes, and stepping out of his jeans into something more comfortable. She felt an affection for the whole scene as she imagined it, and for every object he touched – by extension, it was all a part of him.

Adam returned to the room with some snacks and drinks in hand. He closed the door behind him.

“Sorry it’s a little messy in here,” he said. “I tried to clean it up, but . . .”

“It’s perfect just like this,” Cassie said.

He joined her on the bed, and she had the sudden urge to start rubbing his shoulders, to kiss his face and his neck

– to forget all about the awful storm on the beach.

Adam’s breathing slowed, and Cassie could sense he was thinking the same thing. He swept his fingers suggestively across her thigh.

“You look beautiful tonight,” he said. “But I’ve been worried about you. What happened today?” His hand slid from her thigh up to her hipbone, which was his favorite place to touch her.

Cassie took a deep breath and sat up. “I went for a walk on the beach, and I ran into Nick,” she said. Cassie paused to read Adam’s expression, but his face remained neutral.

“And I was glad to see him,” she continued, “because you know I’ve been trying to repair my friendship with him any way I can. But we’d just got to talking when the sky turned black and this awful storm started. We knew immediately by the looks of it that it was something supernatural.”

“The hunters,” Adam said.

Cassie nodded. “We couldn’t get away fast enough.

Lightning bolts were flying straight for us. One would have . . .”

Cassie felt herself get choked up. She struggled to swallow down the knot that had formed in her throat. “Nick risked his life to save me, Adam. I would have been hit if he hadn’t acted so quickly to push me out of the way.” Lines formed on Adam’s forehead, but he stared straight down at the bedspread.

“He proved himself a real friend in that moment,” Cassie said. “To both of us. Don’t you think?”

Adam continued looking down for a moment before raising his eyes to meet hers. “Yes, you’re right,” he said, and then shifted uncomfortably.

Cassie could see by the way he tightened his jaw that he was bothered it was Nick who had saved her, but he would never say that. “I wish I’d been there, but I’m glad you’re okay.” Adam took her hands and massaged them in his own. He brought them to his lips and kissed them. “I don’t know what I would have done if you’d been hurt.” He kissed the inside of her wrist and up her forearm.

Cassie knew where this was leading. As difficult as it was, she forced herself to remove her arm from his grasp.

“There’s more,” she said. “I talked to my mom. Really talked to her.”

Adam refocused his attention and sat up straight. “And?”

“She told me about my father. You know he wasn’t all bad, Adam. She really loved him.”

Adam seemed unsure of how to react. Black John was always a touchy subject between them.

“I know how that sounds,” Cassie said. “But try to imagine it. Being in love with someone the way we are, truly in love, and then losing that person to the dark side.” Adam shook his head. “I don’t want to imagine that.”

“Neither do I, so think about how awful it must have been for my poor mother.” Cassie could feel her emotions getting the best of her, and she fought the urge to start crying.

Adam reached for her hands again. “I can hardly think of anything worse,” he said. “But it’s good that you can understand it now. I’m glad you had this breakthrough with your mom.”

Cassie let her eyes wander around Adam’s room. For some reason it was difficult to look at him just then. Instead, she focused on the poster taped to his wall, of some band she’d never heard of.

“I’m sure your father was easy to fall in love with,” Adam said. “He was a charismatic man, a natural leader. Your mother’s smart – she wouldn’t have been with him otherwise. It wasn’t her fault, what happened.” Sometimes Adam knew just what to say. It was a subtle shift in Cassie’s mind, but all of a sudden she felt at ease. If Adam didn’t blame her mother, in a way that meant he didn’t blame Cassie either. She locked eyes with his and reached for him.

“The important thing is that you’re okay,” Adam said, allowing himself to be drawn in. “And that we’re together.” Cassie lay back, and Adam curled up next to her, pulling her close. She loved him so much, it almost ached. She felt she could never get enough of him.

Adam kissed her passionately and then paused for a moment. “With everything going on,” he said. “I’m just relieved – “

Cassie put her fingers over his mouth to quiet him.

“Enough talking,” she said, and pulled him closer.