Tuesday, September 17, 2019

The Indigo Spell Chapter Eight

I THINK ADRIAN WOULD'VE gone hunting Ms. Terwilliger's sister with me then and there. Amberwood's curfew wouldn't allow it, and besides, it was something I wanted to do in daylight. To his credit, he did heal Marcus without them getting into a fistfight, so that was progress. Marcus lost a little of his animosity and tried to engage Adrian in conversation about what spirit could do. Adrian gave wary responses and looked relieved when Sabrina showed up to take Marcus away. He gave me a mysterious farewell, simply saying he'd text me soon about the â€Å"next stage.† I was too tired to ask for more details and headed back to my dorm to sleep off what had been a pretty crazy day. I was awakened at the crack of dawn by heavy pounding at my door. I squinted at the clock, grimacing when I saw that it was an hour earlier than I usually got up. I stayed in bed, hoping whoever it was would go away. If there was something really urgent happening, someone would've called me on my cell phone. The display showed no missed calls, however. Unfortunately, the knocking didn't stop. With a feeling of dread, I finally dragged myself up, half-afraid of what I'd find outside my door. It was Angeline. â€Å"Finally,† she said, inviting herself into my room. â€Å"I thought you'd never answer.† â€Å"Sorry,† I said, shutting the door behind her. â€Å"I was busy sleeping.† She walked right up to my bed and sat down like she owned it. I really didn't know her schedule, but she always struck me as a late riser. Apparently not today. She was dressed in a school uniform, with her brilliant red hair pulled back in what was, for her, a rather tidy ponytail. â€Å"I have a problem,† she said. My feeling of dread grew. I turned on my coffeemaker, which I always had ready with fresh grounds and water. Something told me I was going to need a cup to get through this. â€Å"What's going on?† I asked, settling into my desk chair. I made no attempt at even guessing. When it came to Angeline, her problems could range from throwing a desk in rage or accidentally spilling hydrochloric acid on another student. Both had happened recently. â€Å"I'm failing math,† she said. This was unwelcome but not unexpected news. Angeline's mountain community, while still educating its children, didn't quite match the standards of Amberwood's elite curriculum. She struggled in a number of her classes but had managed to scrape by so far. â€Å"I'm already in trouble in my Spanish class,† she added. â€Å"But that pinata I made got me some extra credit, so I'm hanging in there okay for now.† I'd heard about the pinata. It had been for her class's cultural day, and she'd been so thorough with her papier-mache that none of her classmates had been able to open it through normal means. Angeline had ended up beating it against a wall and had to be stopped by her teacher when she'd produced a lighter. â€Å"But if I slip there and in math, I could get expelled.† That dragged me away from the flammable pinata and back to the present. â€Å"Ugh,† I said, having no better way to articulate my thoughts. The problem with a school that had high standards was . . . well, it had high standards. Trouble in one class might be tolerated, but not two. And if Angeline got kicked out, we'd be down one level of security for Jill – not to mention the fact that I'd probably get blamed for it all. â€Å"Ms. Hayward told me I need to get a tutor. She says I either need to get better or at least show I'm trying.† That was promising, I supposed. Even if a tutor couldn't help, hopefully the school would be lenient with her good faith effort. â€Å"Okay,† I said. â€Å"We'll get you a tutor.† She frowned. â€Å"Why can't you do it? You're smart. You're good at math.† Why couldn't I? Well, first I had to stop an evil sorceress from sucking the youth and power from innocent girls. Then I had to crack the secrets and lies that the organization I'd been born into was telling me. Instead I said, â€Å"I'm busy.† â€Å"You have to do it. It'd be easy for you,† she protested. â€Å"Really busy,† I said. â€Å"I'm surprised Eddie can't do it.† His name brought a smile to her face. â€Å"He offered, but his grades are just average. I need someone really good.† â€Å"Then I'll get you someone really good. I just can't do it myself right now.† Angeline didn't like that answer, but at least she didn't flip over my desk. â€Å"Okay. Fine. Just hurry up.† â€Å"Yes, your majesty,† I muttered, watching her strut out of my room in a huff. At least Angeline's academic problems were something a little easier to deal with than the other supernatural intrigues occupying my time. Since I was already awake and had coffee, I decided there was no point in going back to sleep. I showered and dressed, then caught up on some extra homework while I waited for breakfast. When the serving time started in our cafeteria, I headed downstairs and lingered near the entrance. It only took about five minutes before my friend Kristin Sawyer came by. She always went running before class started and was usually one of the first in line for breakfast afterward. She was also in AP calculus with me. â€Å"Hey,† I said, falling in step with her. â€Å"Good run?† â€Å"Great run,† she said. There was still a little sweat on her dark skin. â€Å"A lot nicer now that the weather's cooler.† She eyed me curiously. â€Å"I don't usually see you here this early. I don't usually see you eat breakfast.† â€Å"It's the most important meal of the day, right?† I selected oatmeal and an apple. â€Å"Besides, I have a favor to ask you.† Kristin nearly dropped the plate of scrambled eggs one of the servers handed to her. Her brown eyes widened. â€Å"You have a favor to ask me?† While I wasn't responsible for my human friends in the same way I was the Moroi and dhampirs, I still had a tendency to look after them. I'd helped Kristin a number of times. â€Å"Yeah . . . my cousin Angeline needs a math tutor.† There was an expectant look on Kristin's face, like she was waiting for me to finish my story. Then understanding hit. â€Å"Who, me? No. No way.† â€Å"Oh, come on. It'd be easy.† I followed her to a table, having to hurry to catch up. I think she thought that if she walked quickly enough, she might be able to escape my request. â€Å"She's in remedial math. You could tutor her in your sleep.† Kristin sat down and gave me a long, level look. â€Å"Sydney, I saw your cousin punch a grown man and throw a speaker at someone. Do you really think I'm going to sign on for a job that makes her do work she doesn't want to do? What if she gets frustrated at what I'm telling her? How do I know she won't stab me with a compass?† â€Å"You don't,† I admitted. â€Å"But I think it's unlikely. Probably. She really wants to improve her grade. Otherwise, she could get kicked out.† â€Å"Sorry.† Kristin actually did look legitimately apologetic. â€Å"You know I'd do almost anything for you – but not this. You're going to have to find someone who's not afraid of her.† I thought about her words over and over as I headed off to history class. She was right. But the only people completely at ease around her were Eddie and Jill, and they were off the list as tutors. I wondered if maybe I should offer up money to someone when I went to calculus later. â€Å"Miss Melbourne.† Ms. Terwilliger was back in her classroom, no doubt to the relief of yesterday's sub. She waved me up to her messy desk and handed me a single sheet of paper. â€Å"Here's the list we discussed.† I scanned it. It contained the names of six girls as well as their addresses. These must be the ones she'd mentioned, girls with known magical aptitude but no coven or teacher to look out for them. All the addresses were in the Los Angeles metropolitan area. â€Å"I trust Mrs. Santos got you the other information you needed for your project?† â€Å"Yes.† Mrs. Santos had emailed me the historical neighborhoods she knew about, and I'd narrowed them down to a couple likely candidates. â€Å"I'll start working on the, uh, project this weekend.† Ms. Terwilliger arched an eyebrow. â€Å"Why are you putting it off? I've never known you to procrastinate on an assignment.† I was a little startled. â€Å"Well . . . normally I don't, ma'am. But this is going to take some extra time – travel time – and I don't have enough of it on school days.† â€Å"Ah,† she said, realization hitting her. â€Å"Well, then, you may use your independent study for it. That'll give you extra time. And I'll tell Mrs. Weathers you may be coming in after curfew. I'll make sure that she's accommodating. This project is of the utmost importance.† There was no protest I could make. â€Å"I'll start today, then.† As I was walking back to my desk, a voice said, â€Å"Jeez, Melbourne. Just when I thought that independent study you had with her couldn't get any easier . . . now you don't even have to show up for class?† I paused to give Trey a smile. He was Ms. Terwilliger's assistant during this class period, meaning he did a lot of filing and photocopying. â€Å"It's a very important assignment,† I said. â€Å"I guess. What is it?† â€Å"It'd bore you.† I did a double take as I looked him over. I didn't even have to grope for a change in conversation. â€Å"What happened to you?† His eyes were bloodshot, and the unkempt state of his black hair suggested he hadn't had a shower this morning. There was a sallow, almost sickly hue to his normally tan skin. He gave me a weak smile and lowered his voice. â€Å"Craig Lo's brother scored us some beer last night. It was from some microbrewery I guess that's good.† I groaned. â€Å"Trey, I thought you were better than that.† Trey managed as much of an indignant look as he could in his hungover state. â€Å"Hey, some of us like to have a little fun now and then. You should give it a shot sometime. I already tried to help you with Brayden, but you messed that up.† â€Å"I didn't mess anything up!† Brayden was a barista who worked with Trey, one who rivaled me when it came to a love of academia and random knowledge. Our brief relationship had been full of facts and low on passion. â€Å"He broke up with me.† â€Å"You wouldn't guess it. Did you know he writes all this lovesick poetry about you on his breaks?† I was taken aback. â€Å"He . . . he does?† The reason Brayden had broken up with me was because my various duties to my vampire family had constantly interfered with the two of us, forcing me to neglect him and cancel a lot. â€Å"I feel kind of bad he took it that hard. I'm surprised he'd have such a, I don't know, outburst of passion.† Trey snorted. â€Å"I don't know that it's that passionate. He's more concerned about form and sits around with books detailing iambic pentameter and sonnet analysis.† â€Å"Okay, that sounds more like him.† The bell was about to ring, so I had started to return to my seat when I noticed something on Trey's desk. â€Å"You're not done with that?† It was a big homework assignment we had for our chemistry class, involving a number of complicated acid and base problems. It was due in our next period, and it seemed unlikely Trey would finish in time since all he had on the paper so far was his name. â€Å"Yeah . . . I was going to finish it last night, but . . .† â€Å"Right. The beer. Having fun.† I didn't even bother to hide my disapproval. â€Å"That's a huge part of our grade.† â€Å"I know, I know.† He looked down at the papers with a sigh. â€Å"I'll finish as much as I can before then. Partial credit's better than no credit.† I studied him for a moment and then made a decision that went against many of my basic principles. I reached into my messenger bag and handed him my completed homework. â€Å"Here,† I said. He took the pages with a frown. â€Å"Here what?† â€Å"It's the assignment. Use my answers.† â€Å"I. . . .† His jaw dropped. â€Å"Do you know what you're doing?† â€Å"Yes.† â€Å"I don't think you do. You're giving me your homework.† â€Å"Yes.† â€Å"And telling me to pass it off as my homework.† â€Å"Yes.† â€Å"But I didn't actually do the work.† â€Å"Do you want them or not?† I asked in frustration. I started to take the papers back, but he pulled them close. â€Å"Oh, I want them,† he said. â€Å"I just want to know what you want in return. Because this doesn't really make up for getting me ostracized from my family and friends.† He kept his tone light, but I heard the edge of bitterness. There it was. No matter how friendly he and I were, our respective allegiances to the Warriors and the Alchemists would always be between us. Maybe it was a joke now . . . but someday it wouldn't be. â€Å"I need a favor,† I explained. â€Å"A small one, really. Has nothing to do with any of that . . . stuff.† Trey looked understandably wary. â€Å"Which is?† The bell rang, so I spoke quickly. â€Å"Angeline needs a math tutor or else she'll fail. And if she fails, she'll get kicked out of school. It wouldn't be hard for you at all. And it'd look good on your college applications.† â€Å"Your cousin's a little unstable,† he said. But he didn't say no, so I thought that was a good sign. â€Å"You used to think she was hot,† I reminded him. â€Å"Yeah, that was before. . . .† He didn't finish, but I knew. Before he found out she was a dhampir. The Warriors had the same taboos the Alchemists did about relationships between the races. â€Å"Okay,† I said. â€Å"I understand. I'll just take my homework and go.† I held out my hand, but he didn't give the papers back. â€Å"Wait, I'll do it. But if she injures me, I hope you'll feel really bad. Basketball season just started, and the team will fall apart if I'm sidelined because of her.† I grinned. â€Å"I'll be devastated.† Angeline was not so thrilled when I told her at lunch. She flushed with rage and looked like she was about ready to throw her tray across the cafeteria. â€Å"You expect me to work with that . . . that . . . vampire hunter?† she demanded. I wondered if she'd had another name in mind but had held back in some remarkable show of restraint. â€Å"Especially after what they tried to do to Sonya?† â€Å"Trey's not like the rest of them,† I said defensively. â€Å"He refused to kill her and even went through the trouble of getting me in to help her – which ended up severely messing up his life, I might add.† Eddie looked amused, despite the grim subject. â€Å"You should also add that he wants very, very badly to get back to that old life.† I pointed at Eddie with my fork. â€Å"Don't tell me you think Trey's a bad choice too.† â€Å"For tutoring?† He shook his head. â€Å"Nah, he's fine. I'm just saying you shouldn't be so quick to assume everything's happy and bright with him. It seems pretty likely his group's working against us.† â€Å"He's my friend,† I said, hoping my firm tone would put an end to the discussion. After a few more assurances, Eddie convinced Angeline to work with Trey, reminding her she needed to keep her grades up. Still, Eddie's words haunted me. I believed absolutely that Trey was my friend but again wondered when that rift between us would rear its ugly head. When Eddie and Angeline left to go to their afternoon classes, I asked Jill to hang back at the table for a minute. â€Å"What's Adrian doing right now?† â€Å"He's in his painting class,† she said promptly. â€Å"The bond must be running strong today, huh?† I asked. Sometimes her view of his mind and experiences was clearer than others. She shrugged. â€Å"No, but it's eleven on Tuesday.† â€Å"Right,† I said, feeling foolish. I knew everyone's schedules; it was necessary for my job. â€Å"I should've realized that. Do you think he'd be able to meet up with me after school?† â€Å"To go on that witch hunt? Yeah, he'd probably leave right now.† Jill knew what Adrian knew, so she'd also been briefed about my search for Veronica. While I'd learned to accept Jill's knowledge as part of confiding in Adrian, it was still a little shocking for me to hear these forbidden topics discussed openly. Seeing my stunned reaction, Jill smiled a little. â€Å"Don't worry,† she said. â€Å"I keep Adrian's secrets. And yours.† The bitterness in her voice also caught me off guard. â€Å"Are you mad at me?† I asked, puzzled. â€Å"You're not . . . you're not still upset about what happened between Adrian and me, are you? I thought you'd eased up on that.† Although Adrian's proclamation of loving me against the odds had been unsettling, his more relaxed attitude had come through in her until now. â€Å"Adrian has,† she said. â€Å"He doesn't see the danger of you running around with another guy.† I was lost. â€Å"Another guy? You don't mean . . . Marcus? That's crazy.† â€Å"Is it?† asked Jill. The bond was so strange at times. Jill was jealous on Adrian's behalf. â€Å"He's human, you're human. You've both got this rebel Alchemist thing going on. And I saw him. He's pretty cute. There's no telling what could happen.† â€Å"Well, I know what could happen: nothing,† I said. Even through a psychic bond, Marcus could win over girls. â€Å"I just met him. I don't even know if I can entirely trust him, and I certainly don't have any feelings for him. Look, I get that you want to help Adrian, but you can't be mad at me about what happened. You know why I turned him down – especially after Micah.† Micah was Eddie's human roommate, and even though she knew human-vampire relationships couldn't get serious, she'd still been surprised at just how complex and difficult the situation had been. â€Å"Yeah. . . .† She frowned, no doubt conflicted over Adrian's feelings and what she knew was true. â€Å"But maybe with Adrian, I don't know. Maybe things could be different. Or maybe there's at least a way to make them less painful for him.† I looked away, unable to meet her eyes. I didn't like to think of Adrian in pain, but what else could I do? What did either of them expect me to do? We all knew the rules. â€Å"I'm sorry,† I said, picking up my tray and standing. â€Å"I never asked for any of this. Adrian will get over me.† â€Å"Do you really want him to get over you?† she asked. â€Å"What? Why would you even ask something like that?† She didn't answer and instead made a great show of stirring around her mashed potatoes. When I realized she wasn't going to elaborate, I shook my head and walked off toward the exit. All the while, I could feel her watching me as that question echoed in my mind: Do you really want him to get over you?

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