The Secret Circle: The Hunt Chapter 27
“What did Scarlett say to you last night?” Adam asked. He and Cassie were taking an early morning walk out on the bluff before the others woke up.
“A lot.” Cassie stared off at the horizon as she spoke, imagining herself getting lost somewhere in that line between the ocean and the sky. She didn’t have the heart to tell Adam that Scarlett knew about the cord between them.
“She got me thinking about my power,” Cassie said. “I don’t want to live in fear anymore. In fear of myself and what I’m capable of.”
“You shouldn’t have to.” Adam was trying to be supportive, even though Cassie’s dark powers were far beyond his realm of understanding. He was afraid for her and she knew it. In his eyes she could see how much he wished he could take on the burden himself.
“So what does Scarlett suggest you do?” Adam asked.
“She said if I embrace my dark magic I can learn to control it. Which has obviously been my problem lately. Controlling it.”
Adam stepped around Cassie to face her, blocking her view over the bluff. “Do you think you can learn to do that?”
“I don’t know what I think. I’m not sure if I can even trust my own thoughts.”
Adam wrapped his arms around Cassie and pulled her in. She could smell the salt water drifting in the air and off his skin. “Well, I’ll tell you what I think. I think we won’t know until you try. And I will stand by you every step of the way, no matter what.”
“But what if it goes badly? What if it changes me, more than it already has?”
“None of us knows what the future holds or who we’ll become, Cassie. But I do know that we can be true to who we are right now. And that applies to me loving you, and you loving me, and to you being able to connect to the light inside of you. That’s not going anywhere.”
Adam kissed the top of Cassie’s head and then let her go. “But you also have to trust yourself. You have to have faith in your own fundamental goodness.”
Cassie nodded. “I think I’m ready to.”
Without another word, Adam swooped in and kissed her. She almost laughed – it was the last thing she expected him to do at that moment. She had been on the verge of asking him about the brief look he had exchanged with Scarlett the night before, the one that had set her off in an internal jealous rage.
But as she leaned in to kiss him back, she forgot all about that. She could feel the sun on her back and hear the ocean in the distance. Sometimes Adam knew just what to do to make everything all right.
Everyone was groggy from sleep and clinging to coffee mugs when Cassie announced a Circle meeting in the secret room. Faye sat with her bedspread still wrapped around her and even Diana looked like she could have used another hour of rest, but Cassie’s news was sure to wake them right up.
“I’ve done some thinking since yesterday,” she said to the group as they gathered round. “And I’ve decided that Diana should bring my father’s book here for Scarlett to take a look at.”
Scarlett met Cassie’s eyes and something passed between them, a beat of understanding. But Cassie quickly looked away, breaking the moment. She didn’t want to feel like she had too much in common with her sister.
“I know the spell my father used will work to defeat the hunters.” Cassie had everyone’s full attention now. “And Scarlett can translate it for us. She understands the book’s language.”
All attention spun to Scarlett’s direction. Faye tossed her blanket off like a cape.
Diana’s mouth dropped open. “Scarlett can translate it for us?” she repeated. Her green eyes flashed at Cassie. “That’s a huge responsibility for Scarlett to take on alone.”
Faye smirked. “What Diana means is, how do we know we can trust her? If none of us know the difference. She can tell us to do anything she wants.”
“Because I’m trusting her,” Cassie said.
“That’s it?” Faye was expecting more.
Cassie’s heart thumped and thrashed within her chest, but she maintained her strength and composure. “And because it’s time to end this, once and for all. Scarlett has no reason to mislead us. She wants to be rid of the hunters just as much as we do.”
“Hear, hear,” Nick said from his sleeping bag. “So when and where do we go after them?”
“I can help with that.” Diana shook off the surprise of the prior moment and spoke up. “Max knows where the hunters assemble. I bet we can infiltrate one of their meetings.”
“We can ambush them,” Nick said. “When they least expect it.”
“But in exchange,” Diana deferred to Cassie, “I ask that the Circle spare Max from whatever the curse will do.”
“No way,” Faye shouted. “There’s no reason to believe Max’s puppy-dog love for Diana is any more real than his feelings for me were.”
“Faye, we’ve been through this already,” Melanie said. “You have to let it go.”
“I’m not going to let it go,” Faye insisted. “Because it was the same thing – “
“It wasn’t the same thing.” Diana’s cheeks were flushed and her eyes were sharp. “It wasn’t even close to the same thing. I’ve tried to be nice about this, Faye, but you’re making that impossible. Do you need me to break it down for you? You were using magic to mess with Max’s mind. I have found my soul mate. Do you get the difference?”
Faye defied Diana with a fixed stare. “As a leader of this Circle I hereby raise the issue of Diana’s inability to be impartial when considering Max’s trustworthiness.”
“Oh shut up, Faye,” Melanie said.
“Melanie!” Cassie shouted. “You’re out of line. Faye has the floor and she’s raised a legitimate issue to the Circle.”
Diana swung around to look at Cassie. “Seriously? You’re going to let her go with this?”
“She has a right to voice her concern,” Cassie said apologetically.
“Thank you, Cassie.” Faye stood up to better command the space. She eyed Diana, Melanie, and Laurel, who were clustered on top of Laurel’s bed. Then she turned to Chris, Doug, and Deborah scattered around Nick’s sleeping bag on the floor. And finally she rested her eyes on Scarlett, who was seated off to the side with only Sean nearby.
“I know what you all saw in the woods,” Faye said. “I was there. I know Max stood up to his father to protect Diana. But I also saw Max leave with his father, as you all did. Not with us. With him.”
Faye paused to glare specifically at Melanie before continuing. “Yet now we’re going to trust Max to tell us where to find the hunters, where to find his father, so we can attack them on their own turf. Do I have to be the one to say it? Am I the only one who thinks this sounds like a trap?”
Melanie was quiet. They all were. Even Cassie had to admit Faye had a valid argument.
“Faye?” Diana said. “You’re right.” She took control of the floor. “I am partial. I do believe Max will truthfully lead us to the hunters, and in good faith I believe he should be spared from whatever negative effects the curse will have. But the rest of you are free to decide for yourselves.”
Diana turned to Cassie. “I propose a vote to declare the Circle’s decision, and I will abstain from that vote.”
After a few more seconds of tense quiet, Cassie called on Melanie. “Will you do the honors, please?”
Melanie rose, cleared her throat, and said in her cool, authoritative tone: “All in favor of sparing Max if he leads us to the hunters, raise your hands.”
To Cassie’s surprise, enough hands shot immediately up to decide the vote without counting. Even at a time like this there still seemed to be an inclination among the group to align themselves with Diana.
Melanie beamed with satisfaction. “The majority of the Circle believes Max can be trusted. And we promise to spare him.”
“Thank you,” Diana said. Cassie wasn’t sure she’d ever seen Diana more sincere, and that was saying something.
Faye shook her head and sneered at her. “Cry your tears of joy now. But if Max betrays us, neither of you will be spared. I’ll see to that myself.”
Cassie parted her lips to speak but instead found herself looking at Faye, whose eyes reflected a concentrated power. Then she quickly turned her attention to Diana and said, “I’m sure it won’t come to that.”
But Cassie wasn’t really sure. Maybe Diana was being naive. Maybe she was, too.
Scarlett whispered something into Adam’s ear and he nodded. It was getting more and more difficult to determine who was trustworthy anymore.