The Secret Circle: The Hunt Chapter 15

The Secret Circle: The Hunt Chapter 15

The next morning, guilt and shame were consuming Cassie from the inside out. It was only a kiss, but it shouldn’t have happened. How could she have let it happen? Before she even kicked off the covers and got out of bed she tried calling Adam. She had to set things right.

He answered right away but sounded distracted. Or was he annoyed?

“Is this a bad time?” Cassie asked.

“It’s fine,” Adam said abruptly. “What’s up?”

“I was hoping we could talk,” Cassie said. “Will you meet me out on the bluff?”

“I can’t.”

“It’s kind of important.”

Adam nervously cleared his throat. “I wish I could, but I have to study for a history test.”

He was so obviously lying that it was almost insulting. “Since when are you so concerned about studying?” Cassie said.

“What are you talking about? Since always.”

Cassie knew something was wrong. Adam’s voice sounded agitated and higher-pitched than usual. He was hiding something.

“Can I talk to you now then, for a few minutes?” Cassie asked. “There’s something I’d like to say and I don’t want to put it off.”

“You know, now really isn’t such a good time. I’m kind of in the middle of something.”

Cassie could hardly believe her ears. Adam must be angry with her or he would never behave this way. But it didn’t make sense. Just last night he had told her he loved her.

“I really do want to talk,” Adam said. “But it’ll have to wait. I’m sorry, Cassie, but I’ve got to go. I’ll call you later.”

Cassie said good-bye and then listened to the silence on Adam’s end of the line for a few seconds after he hung up. The rift between them must be bigger than she had thought. And Adam didn’t even know the worst of it yet. If he was this upset with her now, what would his reaction be when he found out she had kissed Nick?

Hours passed, and Cassie still couldn’t get the phone call with Adam out of her head. It wasn’t only the fact that he had lied that was upsetting her. It was that she deserved it. He was right to not even want to hear her pathetic apology. If she were him, she wouldn’t want to talk to her either.

But there was someone else Cassie should apologize to, and she hoped he would at least hear her out. She filled up a few plates with some chicken and vegetables and brought them downstairs, just as an excuse to seek out Nick.

When she stepped inside the secret room, Nick was hunkered on the couch watching a bad horror movie with Deborah and Suzan. They were munching on popcorn and laughing. None of them turned to look at her, but the moment Cassie laid eyes on Nick she was overcome with shame. She couldn’t even bear the sight of him. She set the food she’d brought on the kitchen table and turned to run back upstairs as fast as she could.

Nick noticed her and bolted up to catch her by the arm. “Hey,” he said. “Where are you going?”

Cassie glanced at Faye and Laurel, but neither of them noticed the commotion. They were both at their computers wearing headphones. And Deborah and Suzan were too engrossed in the blood and guts of their movie to care about what Nick and Cassie had going on. They turned up the volume on the TV to drown their voices out.

Nick pulled Cassie aside. “You’re avoiding me. There’s no reason for that. If we have to talk about it, we should talk about it.”

Cassie’s mind began swimming too fast to complete a coherent sentence. “I don’t know what happened last night,” she said. “I’m sorry, I haven’t been myself lately.”

“Take it easy,” Nick said. “Nothing catastrophic happened.”

“Nick, I kissed you. I practically jumped your bones. Adam would think it was pretty catastrophic.”

Nick smirked. “True. But I kind of understand why it happened.”

“I wish I understood. I’ve been working so hard to get you to be my friend again, and then I go and …” Cassie couldn’t finish the sentence.

“Look, it was just a fleeting moment,” Nick said dismissively. “I’ve had a million moments where I wanted to do something like that.”

“You have?” Cassie took a deep breath. “I don’t want this to mean – “

“It doesn’t mean we should be anything more again,” Nick said. “Or that you should jeopardize what you have with Adam. I get that.”

This cool reaction from Nick didn’t exactly match their heated exchange yesterday, but Cassie would take what she could get. “You forgive me then,” she said.

Nick shook his head. “Stuff happens sometimes, Cassie. Especially between good friends. Wires get crossed; things get confused.”

“So that’s what we are?” Cassie asked. “Good friends? Still?”

Nick avoided the question by glancing at the movie he was missing. “Although it was a pretty hot kiss, if I do say so myself.” He smiled, and Cassie tried to ignore the slightly condescending note in his voice.

The fact was, she was lucky enough to have not one but two guys in her life who really cared about her. If only she felt worthy of either of them right now.

She thought back to her tense conversation with Adam. If they were drifting apart, she wasn’t going to let their relationship end without a fight. Refusing to let Scarlett, or Nick, or anyone get between them was the only way to prove to Adam that she loved him – and proving it was more important now than ever.

“I’m glad we’ve cleared the air,” Cassie said. “Now I should probably go do damage control with my boyfriend.”

“I guess that means you’re going to tell him,” Nick said.

“I have to. I know it won’t help your friendship, but I can’t keep it from him.”

“Maybe you should remind him that this room is spelled for protection. So he’ll have to drag me out of it if he wants to kill me.”

“Let’s hope it won’t come to that. Besides, I think this time I’ll be the one taking the blame.” Cassie gave Nick a peck on the cheek. “Wish me luck.”

“You don’t need luck,” Nick said. “Adam’s not going to let you go that easily.”

Cassie ran back upstairs and out of the house, sprinting down the sun-drenched block while practicing her apology to Adam in her head. She found herself at the wooden threshold of his front door within minutes. Adam’s Mustang, she noticed, was absent from the driveway, but he often parked it inside the garage, so that didn’t mean much. First Cassie knocked on the heavy oak door, and then she rang the bell. But all she could hear on the other side was Raj’s incessant barking. Adam wasn’t home. Nobody was, it seemed. But ever since their conversation that morning, Cassie had known something was off. She suddenly imagined Adam hiding inside, waiting for her to give up and leave him alone.

Would he really pretend to not be home?

Cassie looked to her left and right; there was no one in sight except for a blue uniformed mailman wearing giant headphones and bobbing to music only he could hear. Cassie hastily used a spell to unlock the door. It unlatched with a click, and she squeaked it open. Inside Raj was jumping and barking anxiously, as if he knew something was wrong. She gave the dog a pat to quiet him and scanned the shadowy living room and den.

Where could Adam be? Wherever he was, he clearly didn’t want her to know, or he wouldn’t have sounded so strange on the phone earlier.

Cassie crept into Adam’s bedroom to have a quick look around. His bed was an unmade mountain of blankets, and his history books were lying unopened on his nightstand. He obviously wasn’t studying for a history test. At least now she had proof he’d been lying.

She searched his desk for some clue as to where he might have gone, or what he was up to. As she shifted a few papers to the side, her finger accidentally brushed against the mouse to his computer and the monitor came to life. A gray image of an old house filled the screen. It was the Stockbridge Mission House, Cassie was sure of it. It was the very same house that had appeared during the locator spell. And below its ghostly image were step-by-step driving directions to get there from New Salem.

He didn’t, Cassie thought.

But as she clicked through the information on Adam’s computer, it became more and more clear that he had. It was the only logical explanation, and it suddenly all made sense – his lies and anxious tone on the phone, and how at their meeting he’d reluctantly agreed to do more research when only a moment before he’d been itching to go after Scarlett immediately. Do-or-die time, he’d called it.

Adam had gone after Scarlett. Alone.