The Secret Circle: The Divide Chapter 27
“Come have a seat by the fire,” Scarlett said. She was smiling, in a twisted kind of way.
Cassie tried to run back out the door, but she found her feet planted in place once again, just as they had been outside on the perimeter of the property. “What’s going on?” she asked.
“You can come in closer, you just can’t leave.” Scarlett’s smile brightened.
“Where are the hunters?” Cassie asked.
Scarlett shrugged her shoulders. “Don’t know.”
“Are they even real?”
“Oh, the hunters are very real,” Scarlett said. “They killed my mother and they followed me here. They just never caught me.”
She tapped the empty space on the sofa beside her, indicating Cassie to sit. “Your Circle has no idea what they’re in for with the hunters. But they offered the perfect setup while I practiced my mind-invasion spells.” So all this time Cassie thought she was having visions, communicating across space and time to her sister, it was all just a trick. The Circle had been right all along. Cassie hadn’t been thinking clearly.
Cassie couldn’t turn around and run away, but she still had the Tools, and they were quivering with energy. She could protect herself.
could protect herself.
She touched each relic and called on their power.
Immediately, the Tools became hot – this time, too hot.
They singed her skin like they’d turned against her.
“Feel the burn?” Scarlett asked.
She had somehow gotten the Tools to backfire on Cassie. They became angry and restless, sizzling with torment.
“I’ll take them off your hands,” Scarlett said.
Effortlessly, with one snap of her finger, the Master Tools obeyed her call. Like metal to a magnet, they unhinged themselves from Cassie’s body and flew at Scarlett’s outstretched hands.
But how? How did Scarlett have so much influence over the Tools that she could beckon them? She must have been a more powerful witch than Cassie could have ever imagined.
“It really is a shame you’ve never dabbled in the dark arts,” Scarlett said, sensing Cassie’s amazement at her abilities.
Suddenly Cassie felt cold and naked, wearing nothing but the white shift. Powerless and bewildered, she shivered.
“Who are you?” she asked.
“I’m Black John’s daughter. Isn’t that obvious?” Scarlett said, gesturing at the Master Tools.
“So we really are sisters.”
“Oh yeah,” Scarlett said. “That part was real.” Scarlett, now wearing the Master Tools over her black T-shirt and jeans, reached for a poker from the fireplace.
shirt and jeans, reached for a poker from the fireplace.
Cassie stiffened, but then relaxed when Scarlett leaned over the side of the couch to an open bag of marshmal ows.
She skewered one with the black metal poker and held it over the fire.
“These Tools were meant for me,” Scarlett said. “Your whole life was meant for me.”
“I don’t believe you,” Cassie said, trying her best to come off sounding strong and controlled. “I have no reason to believe anything you say.”
Scarlett laughed. “You have every reason to.” She watched the marshmal ow reluctantly brown over the flame.
She seemed to enjoy the way it struggled to maintain its exterior before succumbing to the heat.
“I was the one he intended to be in the Circle with the rest of them,” she said. “I was born in November, like the others.
Not you. Everything you’ve enjoyed since you arrived in New Salem – all of it rightfully belongs to me.”
“No,” Cassie said. It couldn’t be true.
“Yup. You were just an afterthought, a backup plan.” Cassie felt sick. And the sugary scent of burning marshmal ow wasn’t helping.
Scarlett rotated the pointer in her hand like a rotisserie.
“And now I’m here to claim my rightful spot in the Circle. But I’m going to have to kill you to get it.” She turned her shining black eyes onto Cassie. “Isn’t that a bummer, sis?”
Scarlett gripped the metal poker with both hands, and Cassie realized just how much danger she was in. Scarlett did seem just crazy enough to kill her. She had to try to talk did seem just crazy enough to kill her. She had to try to talk her way out of this.
“Why kill me,” Cassie asked, “when we could lead the Circle together?”
Scarlett widened her eyes. “Really?” Her voice came out sounding childlike. “You’d be willing to do that?” Cassie nodded energetically. “Of course,” she said, trying to sound believable. “We’ll kick someone else out to make room for you as the twelfth member. Trust me, there are plenty of weak links.”
Scarlett’s dark red lips curled into a vicious smile, and she laughed with her whole body. “You really are pathetic,” she said. “You don’t know much, but even you know it doesn’t work that way.”
She pulled the pointer out of the flames. The burnt marshmal ow on its tip was now on fire, burning red like a hot coal.
“Someone has to die to break the Circle’s bond,” Scarlett said. “And whichever member dies, they’re immediately replaced with someone of their own bloodline.” She shoved the flaming tip of the pointer under Cassie’s nose. “Didn’t you know that? Or had you and your little friends not gotten to that lesson in witch school?
“You made for mostly an easy target,” Scarlett continued.
“Until that protection spell made it impossible to kill you in New Salem.”
“You were the one who cut my brakes,” Cassie said. It had finally all began making sense.
Scarlett ignored the accusation. “But now you’re vulnerable,” she said. “No protection spell. And without even your precious Circle to save you.”
Cassie tried to think of a spell, any spell, to help her out of this situation, but none came to mind. It was like her brain had reset to a blank page. Scarlett had somehow rendered her completely powerless.
“And since you brought the Master Tools right to me, killing you should be easy.” Scarlett urged the fireball-
tipped poker a centimeter away from Cassie’s face.
She’s going to burn me, Cassie thought. She’s going to set me on fire.
“Don’t waste your energy trying to do a spell,” Scarlett said. “Only black magic works in this house.” Black magic. That explained it, all of it.
Cassie may have lacked the words to call on the element of Water, but she had to do something. With no other options, she took a swing at the pointer, knowing full well she’d burn her hand doing so, but it worked. She knocked the weapon from Scarlett’s grasp across the room. It landed with a thump onto the thick throw rug.
Cassie was mildly proud of herself, but Scarlett didn’t seem the least bit rattled that she’d deflected the burning pointer from her grasp.
“Nice work,” Scarlett said. “I couldn’t have done that better myself.” She directed Cassie’s attention to the smoke rising up from the rug where the pointer had landed.
Then the smoke gave way to a small, newly born flame.
Scarlett’s dark eyes sparkled, reflecting the silver of the diadem and bracelet, and the buckles of the garter. With a single wave of her hand, she fanned the small fire across the entire floor and up all four walls of the cottage, surrounding Cassie in a sweltering tent of heat and flames.
I’m a fool, Cassie thought, a fool for being so trusting.
Cassie cowered at the sight of the fire. There was no escaping a blaze of this size.
“You’ve gone too far,” Cassie cried out. “You’ll burn in here with me.”
Scarlett stood up and calmly began walking through the flames to gather her things. “Another thing you don’t know,” she said, yanking her clothes out of the closet and stuffing them into a large duffel bag. “The fire protection spell. It was one of Daddy’s favorites.”
Smoke filled the room. It caught Cassie in the throat and brought stinging tears to her eyes, but Scarlett remained unbothered by it.
“No!” Cassie screamed, crawling across the floor toward Scarlett, but she could only move a few inches in any direction. The flames were blocking her every exit. Within minutes the fire would consume her. “Please, Scarlett, we’re sisters. Please don’t do this!”
Scarlett stood still with her bags in hand. Angry flames danced and cracked all around her, and black smoke encircled her body like a sinister tornado. “At least go with a little dignity, Cassie.”
She dropped her bags in place and took a few deliberate steps closer. She leaned down slowly, like a serpent, to look Cassie in the eyes. “Did our father scream for mercy when you killed him, Cassie? I bet not.” Scarlett had his eyes, Cassie realized. Those pitch-black marbles that were cold as death, just like Black John’s. She was more his daughter than Cassie was. How could Cassie have been so fooled by her before?
And then Cassie remembered her mother’s words about Black John. He wasn’t all bad, she’d said.
“You don’t have to do this,” Cassie cried, trying to soften Scarlett’s cold hard stare with her own. “There’s good inside you, even now. You can choose to not be like him.”
“I know.” Scarlett kicked Cassie away with the heel of her black boot. “But where’s the fun in that?”