The Secret Circle: The Hunt Chapter 11
Normally Cassie would have called Adam before showing up at his house first thing in the morning, but she was too anxious to bother with that today. Adam answered his door wearing only striped pajama bottoms. He was surprised to see her, but he appeared pleased as he crossed his arms over his chest in embarrassment and invited her in.
Adam pulled out a kitchen chair for her. There was a half-eaten bowl of cereal on the table – she’d obviously caught him in the middle of breakfast.
“I hope you don’t mind me barging in on you like this,” Cassie said. “I wanted to say that I’m sorry about my behavior last night.”
Adam’s posture softened at her apology. “It’s okay. We’re all under a lot of stress, and emotions are running high.”
“It’s still no excuse for what I said about Scarlett.”
Adam turned away and Cassie felt vaguely uncomfortable. She couldn’t tell what he was thinking.
“I brought you something.” Cassie reached into her bag to pull out the pages she had transcribed. “I copied the first two pages of my father’s book for you.”
Adam took the papers and set them down flat on the kitchen table. “You copied these exactly?”
He quietly inspected each line, taking long enough that Cassie began to worry, but before he could say anything negative, she reached out to run her fingers through his unkempt hair.
“You know I can’t do this research without you,” she said. “That’s why I want you to have your own copy.”
Adam warmed to her touch. “Thank you for trusting me,” he said.
She wished she could be totally honest with him and tell him the book no longer burned her hands, but Adam wouldn’t view her ability to handle the book as a necessary evil like she did. He would be too concerned for her safety. Cassie was confident that if dark magic was allowing her to read the book, then she must be stronger now, strong enough to control it.
Adam was silent for a moment, and then he gave Cassie’s arm a light stroke. It was a small gesture, but it brought a murmur of release to her lips.
“Just to be extra cautious,” he said, “I want you to leave the book alone until I can get to work translating these pages. Can you do that?”
“Of course,” Cassie replied, hoping more than anything that she could.
The smell of garlic filled Cassie’s nose when she arrived home for dinner. Her mom was in the kitchen stirring a pot with a wooden spoon.
“Let me guess,” Cassie said as she hung up her jacket. “Italian?”
“Spaghetti and meatballs,” her mother said, from over the stove.
Cassie noticed a new energy in her mother’s voice and a freshness to her face. Maybe it was having three more kids to keep an eye on that had given her a renewed sense of purpose. Not that Faye, Laurel, and Nick weren’t a handful, but it was clear her mother enjoyed having them around the house and playing a role in protecting them from the hunters, and she was flattered they hung around the secret room even more than they had to.
Cassie gave her mother a kiss on the cheek.
“What was that for?”
“Can’t I kiss my own mom without having a reason?” Cassie said.
“Of course you can. You just never do.” Her mother grinned and handed Cassie an onion and a knife. “But since you love me so much tonight, you can be my sous-chef.”
Cassie put on an apron and began chopping while her mother asked her questions about what was going on with her friends and at school. For a moment, Cassie feared her mother’s interrogation was trying to get her to admit she’d taken Black John’s book from the secret room, but as their small talk progressed, she realized her mother had no idea the book was missing. Cassie told her about what had happened at the dance and about the protection spell being broken. She told her about Diana agreeing to spend more time with Max in spite of the risk it posed. And then she thought about Adam. So much was happening with him, Cassie hardly knew where to begin.
“Scarlett is getting closer,” Cassie said. “And I’m a little worried she could be after more in my life than just my Circle, if you catch my drift.”
“You don’t mean Adam, do you?”
Cassie nodded and her mother shook her head sympathetically. “Cassie, I’m sorry. I’ve been through that and I know how it can turn your whole world upside down.”
This was the first time Cassie’s mom had ever alluded to what had happened with Black John and Scarlett’s mother. Cassie made no reaction, hoping her mother would say more.
“And when it’s not a Circle member,” her mother continued, “but someone close enough to the Circle, that’s even worse. Outsiders are always the most difficult to deal with.”
Cassie wiped a few onion tears from her eyes with her forearm. Did that mean Scarlett’s mother hadn’t been a Circle member? Cassie had always assumed she was.
“The tensions that kind of thing can cause within a Circle can be brutal,” her mother said. “No matter how strong that Circle is. Our Circle was strong, but it still tore us all apart.”
Then she put down her wooden spoon and her face became tender. “I’m sorry,” she said. “Pay no attention to me when I carry on like that. It’s just that sometimes old hurts are hard to shake.”
“It’s okay,” Cassie said. “It’s good for me to hear it. I can handle it.”
“I know you can, honey. But that doesn’t mean you should have to deal with my jaded past. My experiences aren’t yours, and they don’t have to be.”
Her mother rested her hands on Cassie’s shoulders. “Adam is a good boy,” she said. “He’s worth fighting for.”
“But what if I lose?” Cassie asked.
Her mother looked at her lovingly. “All that’s in your power is to try. The outcome will be what it’ll be. But ultimately, Cassie, the people who are meant to be together will end up together.”
In spite of all the heartbreak her mother had endured, Cassie could see she truly believed those words. But her mother had ended up alone after all. And Scarlett’s mother had ended up dead. Cassie wasn’t sure if her mother’s indestructible faith inspired her or filled her with sadness.
“So don’t you worry,” her mother said. “You just focus on figuring out what to do with your father’s book – figure out how to break that spell so you can open it safely, without getting burned. The rest will all fall into place.”
Cassie felt a twinge of guilt for not telling her mother that she’d already been studying the book. But she couldn’t bring herself to confess. There still had to be some secrets, even between them.
Her mom was right about one thing, though: The book was the only thing capable of getting Cassie out of this mess.