Suffice it to say that I was less than happy with the turn of events. Cherina wouldn’t listen to me. The Man Upstairs determined that the Celestials should not join the battle. So, we had to deal with the mess on our own.
We had two witches who sold out their brethren—along with all the other supernaturals in existence—for artificial gains. One thought she’d finally get longevity while the other was after who knew what. Knowing Maeve Highmore the way that I did, I could only assume that the witch-hunters promised her power, and she jumped on the opportunity like an addict in need of his or her drug of choice.
Making matters worse, however, were the missing kids and whatever the hunters supposedly did to them. Children should have been taboo, but youth didn’t escape the witch craze centuries ago. Why should they fare better in modern times?
I’d admit to anyone that I was one selfish bitch. Up until I let Claudius Najex out of the attic, I only did what was best for me. Frankly, doing shit for others hadn’t gotten me too far in life. It took the Plague and the Falls Creek Massacre to mellow my heart. After those tragedies, I decided that hurting children was off-limits.
But those self-serving humans had crossed the line. It was bad enough that the hunters had turned into kidnappers. They’d allowed Maeve or Rose or maybe even the Merciers to enhance them—making it possible for a normal human to possess the body of a supernatural. Unheard of and plain fucking dangerous.
If that shit got out around town or the rest of the world, it would rain down undue havoc for humanity and otherworld creatures. When it came to supernaturals, the ones who were born were the easiest to contend with. They could be properly trained in what they could and couldn’t do. Those who were intentionally made—whether through an act of vengeance or through battle—became rogues. And, roguish types couldn’t be dealt with or reasoned with. At that very moment, the BlackGuard Society was battling a slew of rogues that descended upon New Orleans when Deianira’s reckless daughter killed Tavi Mercier. The only good rogue was a dead one.
Someone rapped on the door, disrupting my thoughts. I assumed Claudius was in the bathroom, so I made sure my robe was closed and went to answer it.
Cailin stood on the other side, looking like a drowned mouse despite the lack of rain. “Did I wake you? May we speak?”
I leaned against the doorframe. “I was just… Never mind. Come in.”
The girl looked around the room before perching on the edge of the sofa cushion and then folding her hands in her lap.
“I won’t bite,” I said, taking the seat beside her. “What did you want to talk about?”
She cleared her throat. “I may have found a loophole for the rite.”
“Good.” From the grave expression on Cailin’s face, I couldn’t help but ask, “Is it safe?”
“That’s the problem.”
I shook my head vehemently. “The children mustn’t be hurt.”
“We either risk their lives performing the loophole or lose them forever to the hunters. Personally, I would rather risk it all than play it safe. That is, if I were in their shoes.”
You do realize that in the grand scheme of things those children are already lost, witch. Don’t act, and they won’t return to their families. Act and they have a chance.
I hated when Mariah was right. It was a damned-if-you-do, damned-if-you-don’t situation. I squeezed my eyes shut and hoped I was choosing right. When I looked up, Cailin was smiling at me.
“People were wrong about you, Red Witch.” Cailin’s eyes sparkled. “You care about those kids.”
Flustered, I said, “N-nonsense.”
“A lot of us in this town fear you, but I suspect that’s not what you honestly want,” Cailin said with a bit of confidence.
I scoffed and folded my arms. “And, what is it that you think you know?”
Cailin’s gaze widened slightly. She was possibly surprised that I asked her a personal question. She blinked and pushed her glasses up on her nose. “You’re lonely. You made a lot of bad choices over the decades and never admitted your regret. Even though you realize how wrong you were back then, you’re still not ready to acknowledge it. Thankfully, you have the incubus. He’s helping you discover what makes you human. Maybe one day, he’ll hear your confession.”
I rolled my eyes.
Click Follow to receive emails when this author adds content on Bublish