The Secret Circle: The Divide Chapter 15
It was a good ten-minute walk to the lighthouse, plenty of time for Cassie to work up her heart rate and fill her lungs with cold, fresh air. Some of the tension among the group from earlier had dissipated. Cassie thought Faye was being let off a little too easily after performing the love spell, but she was too relieved to see everyone getting along again to mention it. Besides, Cassie had also been forgiven for hanging out with Scarlett.
It was Diana who suggested the twelve of them walk to the lighthouse together in one large group, but they all wanted to do it. Driving was cool, Cassie thought, but there was nothing like sauntering up the street on a moonlit night in a huge pack of your closest friends. It made her feel invincible, and part of something so much bigger and more important than herself.
It was a full moon, and Laurel brought along a bag of fresh-baked cookies. It was an old family recipe of Laurel’s that required the crushed leaves of an herb called mugwort, which had to be picked and ingested during a full moon.
Laurel claimed the cookies improved divination, clairvoyance, and psychic powers, but Cassie and the others stuffed their mouths full of them as they walked because they were delicious. All those other things were just bonuses.
Adam felt for Cassie’s hand, and when he found it, she Adam felt for Cassie’s hand, and when he found it, she didn’t pull away. Cassie had been on edge lately for sure, but for the moment everything felt fine and her connection to Adam was strong. His fingers wrapped around hers reassured her that in spite of all they had to fear, she wasn’t in this alone, and together they could overcome anything.
The night was invigorating. The trees overhead smelled of sweet flowers, and the ground beneath Cassie’s shoes was moist with dew. A rare carelessness came over them as they walked. Not just Cassie and Adam but the whole group. They holl ered up the street, goofing on one another and banging on garbage cans. Chris challenged Doug to race him the rest of the way, and they all started running in order to judge the winner. They stopped short when they saw it and collectively gasped.
It seemed impossible. The lighthouse had been burned to the ground. In its place was a pile of soot and ash.
Irrationally, Cassie thought they must’ve arrived at the wrong location. How could a structure so sturdy and steadfast, so permanent in its vigilance, have melted down to this? But the anger in Adam’s eyes forced Cassie to accept the harder truth. Not only was the lighthouse gone, but someone had destroyed it on purpose.
Melanie spoke first. “That was a historical landmark,” she said. “It’s been there for, like, three hundred years.”
“That’s what you’re thinking about right now?” Nick said.
“How about how the hunters knew exactly where to find us?” Diana placed her hand gently on Nick’s shoulder. “Hold on, we shouldn’t jump to conclusions. We don’t know for sure it was the hunters.”
sure it was the hunters.”
Nick shrugged off Diana’s hand. “This was a message, loud and clear. How much clearer would you like them to be?”
Diana turned to Melanie and Laurel. “You two were the last ones here, weren’t you? Are you sure you didn’t accidentally leave any candles burning?” Melanie’s eyes widened. “Are you accusing us of burning down the lighthouse?”
“I’m not accusing,” Diana said. “Just asking.” Cassie couldn’t stand to listen to any more arguing. She made her way over the grass, toward the edge of where the entrance to the cottage once stood.
Cassie heard Adam come to Diana’s defense against Melanie and Laurel. “It would be better for all of us if you had been the ones to burn it down,” he said. “Then at least we’d know for sure it was an accident and not an act of – “
“It wasn’t an accident,” Cassie called out to them. Her voice echoed over the space between them like an ocean wave. Right where the entrance to the light keeper’s cottage once stood was a symbol burnt in ash on the ground. It was the same symbol that appeared on Constance’s forehead.
Adam was the first to reach her. “The hunter symbol,” he said, just in time for the others to fall in line behind him.
They saw it now, too. They couldn’t not see it.
“The coven has been marked,” Cassie said.
“Faye, this is all your fault,” Nick shouted out. “Because you had to do magic.”
For once Adam agreed with Nick. “They tracked your love spell.”
“I told you,” Melanie said. “I told you this would happen.”
“That’s enough!” Faye’s eyes flamed with rage. “What makes you all so sure it was my fault?”
She pointed her longest red fingernail at Diana. “You’re always so careful not to jump to conclusions. Stop for a moment, call off the dogs, and think of who could have actually done this.”
Then Faye twisted her neck around to glare at Cassie while keeping her shoulders squared to Diana. “I think Scarlett would be a reasonable suspect,” she said.
“Especially since Cassie brought her here just the other day.”
Cassie remained silent.
“I saw you,” Faye said.
“Don’t try to turn this on me,” Cassie said, but that was all she could say. She couldn’t deny it.
Adam and Diana stared at Cassie with identical expressions of disbelief.
“Is that true?” Adam asked. “You brought Scarlett to the lighthouse?
Cassie looked down at the horrible symbol burned into the ground, with its serpentine W and satanic-looking hexagon. This wasn’t the work of Scarlett. She was sure of that.
“Cassie, how could you?” Diana couldn’t contain her exasperation.
Cassie looked pleadingly into Diana’s infuriated eyes.
“She was with me when I dropped off some herbs for Melanie and Laurel,” Cassie said. “But I didn’t let her inside and I didn’t tell her anything. I swear to you, she had nothing to do with this.”
“You weren’t supposed to be seeing Scarlett at all,” Melanie said. “And you brought her to our sacred space.” Faye was thoroughly enjoying the bloodbath she started.
How easy it had been to divert the attention away from her forbidden love spell. Faye addressed the group. “What Cassie has done is unforgivable,” she said malevolently.
“She betrayed us.”
“You betrayed us, too, Faye,” Cassie said. “And how would you even know I brought Scarlett to the lighthouse unless you were spying on me?”
“That’s not really the point,” Diana interjected. “I agree with Faye on this. Bringing Scarlett to the lighthouse was a betrayal. And we need to unify now more than ever. No Outsiders can be trusted, no matter what.” Cassie lost the little bit of control she’d had left. “So let me get this straight,” she said. “Your idea of unification is siding with Faye?”
Adam replied on Diana’s behalf. “It’s for your own safety, Cassie. Scarlett isn’t one of us. And under no circumstances did she belong anywhere near our meeting place.”
“Maybe it’s me who isn’t one of you,” Cassie blurted out before she could stop herself.
That was the last straw for Diana. She screamed then like Cassie had never imagined she could. “Of course you’re one of us, Cassie. You’re more crucial to this Circle than any of us. Don’t you think we all realize that?” Then Diana turned to Faye. “And you’re not off the hook either. Cassie’s right that you also betrayed the group. Max is off limits, and so is your magic.”
“Or else what?” Faye said.
Diana didn’t even blink. “Or else you forfeit your privileges as a leader of this Circle.”
A few seconds passed before Adam broke the deathly silence. “The coven has been marked,” he said. “But do the hunters know who we are, individually?”
“Good question,” Melanie said. “But either way, we have to figure out a way to fight them.”
“That’s right,” Diana said. Her voice regained its angelic timbre. “And I wanted to share something very important with you all tonight. Before all these surprises.” She looked at Cassie and then at Faye, scolding them each individually with her eyes. Then she dug through her bag and pulled out her Book of Shadows.
“I found a spell,” she said. “A spell to destroy witch hunters.”
“What?” Adam asked, sounding outraged Diana had kept this discovery from him. “Why didn’t you say anything sooner?”
“I wasn’t sure if it was what I thought it was,” Diana said in her defense. “The text was mostly in Latin and needed to be translated. But now I’m sure. That’s why I wanted to meet tonight, to tell you all at once.”
“Let’s perform the spell right now,” Melanie said, sounding hopeful for the first time in days.
Diana shook her head. “First we have to know for sure who the hunters are.”
Nick shot a look to Chris and Doug. “Let’s do it on the principal. We’re sure enough.”
“No.” Diana’s green eyes flared. “The spell will only work on a real hunter. If we try it on someone who isn’t one of them, we’ll only be exposing ourselves as witches. Not to mention hurting someone innocent.”
“Wow, that’s big news,” Faye said. “We have a spell we can’t use.”
“We will use it.” Adam gave one last look at the symbol burnt on the ground. “When they strike again. At this point, I think we can count on that happening.”
“But what happens then?” Melanie asked. “If we do this spell. Will the hunters die?”
Diana hesitated. “It’s a little unclear. The translation left a lot to interpretation, but it seems like the effect of the spell depends on the hunter.”
“So they might die,” Melanie said.
“Let me have a look at this.” Faye grabbed Diana’s Book of Shadows from her hands and scanned the page. As her eyes moved back and forth across the ancient script, she appeared to be drawing in her breath and backing away from the words in disbelief.
“This isn’t a spell,” Faye said. “It’s a curse.” Diana stared at the ground. “Yes,” she said. “Technically it is a curse.”
Faye was suddenly roiling with excitement. “It’s similar to a deflection spell by turning the hunter’s power back on them, but it calls on Hecate. This could be . . .” She couldn’t find the right word.
“Dangerous,” Diana said. “We’ll only use it as a last resort.”