The Secret Circle: The Divide Chapter 14
“Okay,” Diana said. “We don’t have much time. Who has something to report?”
The Circle was eating lunch in their new spot, a small patch of woods up one of the narrow paths on the edge of school grounds – a green grass hideaway beneath the cover of high birches and leafy apple blossoms. Adam suggested it as their new lunchtime turf for the warm-weather months.
All eyes turned to the Henderson brothers. They’d had a mission this morning: to set off a stink bomb in third-period math. The plan was to be sent to the new principal’s office together, where they could then tag team and look for evidence. The Circle was looking into anyone new in town, but the principal was number one on their list of potential hunters.
“Shouldn’t we wait for Faye?” Deborah asked as she unpacked her lunch.
“Lately all we do is wait for Faye,” Melanie said. “If she’s got better places to be, then we should go on without her.”
“I can hear you,” Faye called out from the top of the path.
She made her way down slowly.
“As I was saying.” Diana raised her voice. “Chris, Doug, did you find anything?”
Faye made it down the path just in time to nudge Doug in the ribs with her pointy black boot. “Go ahead, say it. You came up with nothing.”
“We came up with nothing,” Chris said while Doug remained silent. “But not due to lack of trying. Mr. Boylan seems like a pretty straight-up guy.”
“I don’t buy it,” Nick said. “He comes into town, and everything blows up. It’s too much of a coincidence. We should question him, push the investigation further.” Cassie noticed Nick was looking at her when he said it.
“There’s no need to be reckless,” Diana said.
Nick guffawed. “Yeah there is.”
Nick was immeasurably different from Adam, who was so righteous, always. Even his adventure-seeking was based in devotion; never for a moment was it a form of revolt.
As Cassie watched Adam now, she observed how he scrambled around the group, always the mediator, trying to keep the peace above all else. The unity of the Circle meant more to him than anything.
That was it. That was the thing rolling around in the back of her mind since they’d argued the other night, the thing she couldn’t quite put her finger on. But now that it occurred to her, it rang out with indisputable truth: Nothing came before the Circle to Adam. Not even her.
As if her discreet competition with Diana weren’t enough, Cassie realized she would also be eternally pitted against the Circle as if it were another woman – a woman with greater hold over Adam’s loyalty. How could she have not realized this sooner?
Diana, who’d barely touched her salad, glanced at Adam now, and then cleared her throat. “And has everyone been avoiding Outsiders, like we discussed?”
Cassie threw her peanut butter and jelly down onto her napkin. “You don’t have to be so vague, Diana, everyone knows which Outsiders you mean.”
Melanie and Laurel looked down at their lunches.
Cassie’s sudden and uncharacteristic insolence obviously made them uncomfortable. Suzan and Sean glanced at each other with widened eyes, and Deborah’s face tightened. But Nick, Cassie noticed, was grinning, amused by her outburst.
“Catfight,” Faye called out, rubbing her palms together.
“Now remember, ladies, no hair pulling.” But Diana remained poised as always and revealed no defensiveness in her reply. “That rule applies to all Outsiders equally, Cassie. It’s not just about you being friends with Scarlett.”
Cassie felt her cheeks redden and her neck heat up.
“You have to believe me,” she said with a shaky voice.
“There’s nothing sketchy about Scarlett. Just because she’s an Outsider doesn’t make her against us.”
“It doesn’t?” Faye said sardonically.
“You can’t say that for sure,” Diana insisted. “We barely know anything about Scarlett.”
“Yes, I can.” Cassie was yelling now. “I know what I see when I look at her. And I trust my sight.” It was a low blow for Cassie to mention her sight – a reminder to Diana that it was Cassie alone who had the gift of psychic visions.
“Look out,” Faye said. “Cassie’s bringing out the big guns.”
“Your sight may be clouded,” Diana said rigidly.
But Cassie shot right back. “Clouded by what?”
“By the fact that you’ve been obsessed with her since the second you met.” Diana snapped at last, losing her cool.
“Aha.” Faye clapped her hands together. “Finally the truth comes out. Diana’s jealous Cassie found a new best friend!”
A round of snickering passed through the group. Suzan and Deborah both nodded approvingly.
“A fault in the flawless marble that is our precious Diana,” Faye said. “I love it.”
“I’m not jealous.” Diana settled her green eyes directly on Cassie.
“Yes, you are,” Cassie said.
Diana was rendered speechless by this final attack, but she refused to take her eyes away from Cassie’s. Cassie wouldn’t look away either. All the frustration and confusion and anger she’d felt over Diana’s rejection of Scarlett and her going to Adam behind her back seemed to be flowing out of her now. And right back at her came Diana’s disappointment and outrage over Cassie’s audacity to defy her and the group. It was a standoff of wills. Was this what they had resorted to? This petty face-off? Nobody moved or said a word, and for a second Cassie thought it could go on forever.
But then, of course, Adam got between them. “Let’s move on,” he said. “We don’t have much time and we still have lots to discuss. Diana, Deborah, tell us what happened when you followed Max.”
At the mention of Max’s name, Faye lashed out, immediately furious. “You did what?”
Diana had a new argument to deal with now, so she reharnessed all of her energy toward Faye. “We haven’t even accused Max of anything yet. No need to overreact.”
“I have every reason to overreact. You went behind my back.”
“He’s an Outsider, and he’s new in town,” Deborah said.
“You knew he was on our list.”
“And we followed him straight to your house,” Diana said as calmly as still water.
Shock broke through the surface of the group, cracking them apart into a fissured hysteria. This meeting was turning out to be much more volatile than anyone anticipated.
“He was at your house?” Melanie’s gray eyes flared.
“So that makes two people who’ve been breaking the no-Outsider rule,” Laurel said with a tinge of antagonism in her usually peaceful voice.
Suzan blurted out with her mouth half full of Twinkie, “But Max wanted nothing to do with Faye. He’s been avoiding her for weeks.”
Deborah shook her head, disbelieving, “Well, something changed. He’s into her now. He dropped his whole I’m too good for everyone thing and was pawing after Faye like a needy puppy. He even ditched lacrosse practice to be with her. It was almost like he was under a spell . . .” her. It was almost like he was under a spell . . .” As soon as Deborah uttered the word spell it dawned on her and everyone.
Adam wielded his electric-blue eyes at Faye. “You didn’t,” he said. “Tell me you didn’t.”
But they all knew. That’s what Faye had been up to all this time, making her late to meetings and secretive about plans. Faye did a love spell to get her crush.
“You swore,” Adam said. “We all swore not to practice any magic.”
Faye waved Adam off with her long red nails as if to wipe him away from her sight. “It was nothing. A simple love spell is hardly magic at all.”
Melanie went to Adam’s side. She was angrier than Cassie had ever seen her. “They’ll find us now, you know.
“Relax.” Faye laughed. “They’re not cupid hunters. No one noticed. And no one will.”
“But any slip could mean we’re outed,” Nick said. His hands were balled into fists, and his breathing was heavy.
“We can’t afford to make mistakes.”
Faye whipped around and rushed at Nick. “Why don’t you tell that to Cassie?”
“Cassie hasn’t done anything wrong. You have.” Nick squeezed his fists tighter.
“Are you sure?” Faye shoved Nick forcefully in the chest.
“That’s enough,” Diana screamed out. “This discussion is getting us nowhere, and we all have to get back to class.
We’ll pick this up later.”
But how? Cassie thought. How could they possibly pick up all these broken pieces? Everyone gathered their trash slowly and began making their way back to the school building, but Faye stayed put. “Seriously? You’re all leaving? The fun was just getting started.” Melanie elbow checked her on her way back to the path, but Faye remained unfazed. She called out to Cassie, amused, “I like the new angry version of Melanie so much better than the boring old reasonable one, don’t you?” Cassie ignored her, stuffing the remaining bread from her sandwich back into its paper bag.
“The new jealous version of Diana isn’t bad, either,” Faye continued. “And the lying version of Cassie, well, that’s not so new.”
It was what Faye wanted, to draw her into a fight, but Cassie couldn’t ignore her any longer. She met Faye eye to eye. “I don’t know what you’re talking about,” she said. “And I don’t care, either.”
Faye reached out and caught Cassie’s chin with her strong fingers. “You should care.”
Cassie resisted the urge to pull away. The red stone Faye wore around her throat reflected the sunlight into Cassie’s eyes, burning them, but she held her gaze. “I’m not afraid of you,” she said through Faye’s grip.
“One more of your many stupid mistakes.” Faye squeezed her fingers tighter around Cassie’s chin.
“Hey! Let her go.” It was Nick at the top of the path.
Laughing, Faye released her. “This one can take care of herself, Nicholas. She doesn’t need you saving her. Isn’t that right, Cassie?”
Cassie climbed up the path to Nick’s side as Faye shouted, “You’ll never be Adam, Nicholas. No matter how hard you try.”
Cassie looked down the path at Faye, feeling the fire in her gut rise to her throat. “Faye, you’re pathetic. And deep inside, you’re weak, far weaker than me. Don’t push me to prove it.”
Faye licked her bloodred lips and then slid her tongue seductively across her teeth. “That’s more like it,” she said.
“Give me more of that dark side, Cassandra. That’s what I want to see.”