The Secret Circle: The Hunt Chapter 21

The Secret Circle: The Hunt Chapter 21

A warm breeze rustled the graveyard’s foliage as the Circle and Suzan’s father gathered for her burial. It was an impossibly sunny day, which only made Cassie feel guilty that she could enjoy it when Suzan couldn’t. Suzan had been such a lighthearted person, always able to find the fun in any situation. How was it possible that they could all be standing here now beneath the bright sun, while Suzan would be buried beneath heavy black dirt? It wasn’t fair, and nothing anyone said would make sense of it.

The graveyard was mostly flat, comprised of a few small ponds and crooked streams. The jagged coastline was visible in the distance to the east. To the west were wooded, rolling hills. And prevailing over all of it were the granite cliffs in the far north. This was a beautiful place. Why were such wonders made so much more visible by death and loss? Was that why tragedies happened? To open our eyes to the miraculous, to force us to appreciate joy?

Only Deborah had the courage to say a brief eulogy over Suzan’s casket, to reach for a few words that might capture what the whole Circle was feeling. She cleared her throat and looked affectionately at Suzan’s father.

“Suzan was easy to underestimate,” she said, and a few people giggled. “In fact, Suzan wanted you to underestimate her, so she could later surprise you with her wit and intelligence, her goodness, her generosity, and let’s not forget, her sarcasm. Beneath all her fancy clothes and makeup, Suzan was a pure soul.” Deborah was choking back tears now. “She was pure through and through. And we’re all going to miss her very much.”

They all began to cry, but Faye was the most distraught of all. She could barely keep herself upright, she was so overcome with grief. To keep her sobbing from disrupting the ceremony, she staggered off to the side to lean against a barren tree.

Cassie went to her. She approached her the way she would have approached an injured street cat, with carefulness and caution, fully prepared to back off if necessary. She tried putting her arm around her, but Faye immediately pushed her away. “I don’t want your pity. Just leave me alone.”

“Faye,” Cassie said. “None of this is your fault. You can’t be blaming yourself.”

Faye stared viciously at the ground. “It should have been me. I wish it was me in that box right now.”

“Faye.”

“No, Cassie. It’s easy for you to say it’s nobody’s fault. You saved the day. You’re the hero. But I’m the reason Suzan was on that roof to begin with. And then she threw herself in front of the killing curse to save me. So don’t stand there and try to make me feel better. I don’t deserve it.”

Cassie could understand the sentiment. She didn’t want to feel better either. And if Faye wished to punish herself, there was nothing Cassie could do to convince her otherwise. She took a step closer to Faye but didn’t attempt to touch her this time. She just stood near her quietly and respectfully, hoping at the very least to make Faye feel less alone in her remorse.

They watched the remainder of the service together from afar. After the casket was lowered into the ground, there was nothing left for anyone to do but file back to their cars.

Cassie took Faye’s hand and guided her across the grass to the rest of the group. With her other hand, she reached for Adam. Together, the eleven of them walked solemnly across the graveyard, but Cassie felt as if each step took them further away from one another. This devastation had broken their bond and weakened their allegiance.

Then Cassie looked down at her and Adam’s intertwined fingers. She willed it to be there. The silver cord. But nothing appeared.

The town of New Salem oddly came to life around funerals. People Cassie had never even seen before poured into Suzan’s house with flowers and food for Suzan’s dad. He was polite, but dazed. It might take weeks for the reality of Suzan’s death to actually hit him. Cassie wished she could go to him now and offer him some kind of explanation for what had happened to his little girl. He must have so many questions. But Cassie restrained herself. It was probably better to leave those things unsaid. None of it really added up to an explanation anyhow.

Diana huddled close to Cassie and whispered in her ear. “See those?” she said, pointing to a bouquet of lilies. “They’re from Max.”

Cassie could see Diana was hurting. Not having Max nearby when she needed him the most couldn’t have been easy. This day would have been impossible for Cassie to endure without Adam. But then again, Adam wasn’t the Circle’s sworn enemy.

Diana touched one of the lilies longingly. “I broke it off with him, you know.”

Cassie tried not to appear relieved.

“After what happened with Suzan, I realized how dangerous it really was,” Diana continued. “I told him I needed to stand with my Circle.”

“And he’s okay with that?”

“He doesn’t have a choice,” Diana said, but she gazed around the room as if she were still hoping Max might step inside at any moment.

Cassie could relate. She had given up Adam once for the good of the Circle and her friendship with Diana. She searched her mind for the right thing to say. Max hadn’t been on the roof the night of their battle, so maybe he wasn’t so bad after all – maybe he was having second thoughts about being a hunter. But Cassie still couldn’t ignore the facts: It was Max who’d marked Faye. It was Max’s father who’d killed Suzan – Suzan, who they’d just buried less than an hour before. Cassie couldn’t help but be glad Diana had broken up with him, at least for the time being.

“Look, Diana,” Cassie said. “None of us knows what the future holds. What’s going to happen between you and Max down the road isn’t something we can predict. But today, you have your friends. And we’re here for you – we have to be, now more than ever.”

“You’re right. And I’m grateful. Believe me, I am.” Diana paused. “It’s just that sometimes I wish everything could just be normal. Do you know what I mean?”

“Well,” Cassie said, looking over at Adam. He was greeting strangers at the door, thanking them for their casseroles and flowers, directing them toward the sitting room. He was always the helper, always the gentle knight. How could Cassie judge Diana harshly for choosing a complicated person to love, when she knew it was hardly a choice at all?

“You know what I think?” Cassie put her arm around Diana and brought her in for a hug. “I think sometimes, normal is overrated.”