“Are you sure you’re doing it right?” I stared at the crystal pendulum Garrett dangled over the map of Michigan. In his other hand, he held my eighteenth birthday present from my wolf shapeshifter boyfriend, Kaleb—a black bracelet with a silver wolf charm.
“Sienna, I’m a powerful warlock,” Garrett replied, rolling his eyes. “I know what I’m doing.”
We were sitting at the palm reading table in Magickal Dreams, a new age store in Dover. At my request, Garrett had cast a locator spell to search for Kaleb.
But something had gone wrong. The pendulum wasn’t moving.
“Let me try.” I reached across the table, determined to cast the spell myself. Although I had no powers yet, I’d read plenty of witchcraft books and even memorized several spells. How hard could it be?
“Are you crazy?” He snatched the pendulum out of my reach and tucked it into his shirt pocket. “You’ve had no formal training. What if something goes wrong?”
I glared at him as he handed back my wolf bracelet. It wasn’t my fault I’d had no witchcraft training, and Garrett knew that. He also knew I didn’t want to be here, stuck in this strange place where I had no contact with the outside world.
Three days ago, the witches had brought me to Magickal Dreams, and I’d lived in the tiny one-bedroom apartment above the store since then. Calandra, one of the High Council witches, had cast a barrier spell. Anyone entering the store couldn’t harm me, but it also meant I couldn’t leave without her permission. Since the Rocklin wolves had declared me a marked witch, it was the only way to keep me safe.
“It’s a simple locator spell. Nothing bad can happen.” Folding my arms, I gazed into his bright blue eyes and frowned. Dressed in a pair of jeans and a white polo shirt, and with his perfectly styled black hair, Garrett looked well-groomed as always.
I looked down at my brown braid and sensible outfit of blue summer dress and sandals, wishing that my jeans and T-shirt were clean. The store clerk had been kind enough to give me several outfits, as I had no other clothes, and it was too hot to wear my black knee-high boots.
Lowering my gaze to Norwood Isle on the map, I wondered if Garrett even knew what he was doing. I’d only known him for a few weeks, so I had no idea whether he was the powerful warlock he claimed to be.
“Maybe we need a map of North America?” I finally asked as I slipped my wolf bracelet back onto my wrist.
“It’s not the map,” he insisted. “Even if Kaleb was in another state, the pendulum would still move. It’s like I said, if the pendulum doesn’t move…”
“Then it’s the pendulum. We need a better one.”
“It’s not the pendulum.” He covered my hand with his. “Sienna, you need to accept the truth.”
I quickly looked away, my heart twisting at the words I didn’t want to hear. Not today. Not tomorrow. Not ever. Fighting back tears, I shook my head. “He’s not dead.”
“I’m sorry. But there’s no way Kaleb could’ve—”
“No. We’re not discussing this.” I pulled my hand away and got to my feet. Tears trickling down my face, I hurried toward the store’s book section.
So what if Kaleb had broken the spell barrier Calandra created using dark magic? So what if she’d said any wolf who broke it would die an agonizing death within the hour?
When I’d left, Kaleb hadn’t been in agony. He’d just been resting on the ground, exhausted after fighting the vampire who’d tried to bite me.
No. Kaleb was not dead.
As the tears continued to spill down my cheeks, I choked back a sob. I hadn’t cried since my first night in Dover. I’d been too busy reading every witchcraft book in the store. Anything to keep my mind occupied and off that dreadful night in Woodlake—the last time I’d seen Kaleb and kissed him goodbye.
He’d promised we’d be together. He’d said he’d come for me when things settled down. All I had to do was wait, and when he showed up, we’d run away to start a new life. Away from the witches, wolves, and vampires.
But what if Garrett was right? What if Kaleb was dead?
No! I refused to entertain such thoughts. I needed to stay positive. Sometimes locator spells didn’t work, and this had to be one of those times.
After wiping my face, I grabbed a book off the shelf and walked back to the table. As I sat down, Garrett leaned back in his chair and studied me. Probably trying to figure out if he should push the topic of Kaleb further, which, of course, would be a bad idea.
The bell above the door rang as more customers entered the store. For a Thursday afternoon, things seemed much busier than when I first arrived. The store clerk had mentioned an important harvest feast at the beginning of August, so perhaps everyone was buying the necessary supplies.
“Sienna…” Garrett cleared his throat. “I’m sorry. I didn’t mean to upset you. I know how much Kaleb means to you. How about we try a different pendulum tomorrow?”
“Okay,” I mumbled, grateful he’d decided to not push it. He was the only friend I had in Dover. No one else came by Magickal Dreams to check on me—just Garrett with his bags of takeout meals and movies.
He was the one who’d stopped me from jumping out of the van and walking back to Woodlake when I’d learned they’d left Kaleb in the woods. And when I couldn’t stop crying, Garrett had consoled me and convinced me everything would be okay.
Except he didn’t know the whole truth.
I’d told him I hadn’t cast a love spell on Kaleb. That we’d fallen in love with each other, and when Kaleb had found out I was a witch, he hadn’t cared. He’d still loved me.
But I hadn’t told Garrett how I’d healed Kaleb using my own blood when he’d been shot with an arrow laced with wolfsbane. That was one secret I couldn’t tell anyone. Not when it meant I’d tainted Kaleb’s blood so he could never be the Norwood pack’s alpha.
“Have you heard from your mom?” he asked.
“No.” I glanced at the store’s phone, willing it to ring. “But I called the hospital again and left another message.”
Mom had checked into the Dover Hospital almost two weeks ago, and we had no way of contacting each other. I didn’t have a cell phone or even know what her phone number was. When they’d banished me from the Romani community in Woodlake, the Elders had cut off all communications with me. If anyone tried to contact me, they risked being banished.
Garrett glanced at the nearest customer—a woman holding a pink candle in one hand and a red candle in the other. She and her friend were chatting about a love spell, trying to decide which candle they needed.
Rubbing my temples, I closed my eyes briefly, then opened the book to the table of contents.
“Are you still getting headaches?” Garrett asked.
“Yes.” I’d also told Garrett about how Marie had bound my powers when I was a baby. He’d confirmed what I’d already known. The frequent headaches were a sign the spell was wearing off, and soon I’d have my powers. What kind? I had no idea.
“We should take it easy today if you’re still getting them.”
“I’ll be fine.” I turned to the chapter on locator spells and pendulums. Taking it easy sounded like a horrible idea, especially when I wanted to try the locator spell on my own.
“You look exhausted, and you should rest for your big day. Why don’t we chill and watch a movie?”
My gaze lowered to the red ring around my index finger—a reminder of the blood oath I’d made with Calandra. I still had to present myself to the High Council, and tomorrow was the big day. It was all I’d been able to think about last night and the reason I’d had very little sleep.
“I have a better idea.” I closed the book and eyed Garrett. He looked exhausted too, but I wasn’t about to tell him that. “Why don’t we talk?”
“Sure. What do you want to talk about?”
“Vampires,” I whispered. “I can’t find any books on them.” A warlock had sent two vampires to Woodlake to find me, and I wanted to know why.
“Of course not.” He chuckled. “It would be admitting to the outside world that monsters like vampires and wolf shapeshifters exist. What do you want to know?”
“Are they allies with the witches?”
“I wouldn’t say that. A handful of witches think they’re allies, including the High Council, but the majority don’t consider vampires friendly. We make deals when there’s a mutual benefit, and we tolerate them when we have to.” He fiddled with the family crest ring on his finger. “They’re nocturnal, immortal, and need blood to survive. Their eyes flicker red, and they can compel you to do anything they want. Not that you need to worry about that. We have ways to protect ourselves against their compulsion.”
“That’s good,” I mumbled, a chill running down my spine. One of the vampires had tried to use compulsion on me, but it hadn’t worked. “Are there vampires in Dover?”
“No. Dover’s too close to the wolves. Unlike witches, they prefer to be farther from their enemy. We like to keep our enemies close.”
I folded my arms, unhappy that he’d said the wolves were our enemies. “Is killing them really as simple as a wooden stake through their heart or exposing them to sunlight?”
“Yes, but they’re strong, so killing them isn’t easy. If you can rip off their heads, they die, but like I said, it’s not easy. You’re better off staying away.” He looked at me. “I know what you’re thinking, and it’s a bad idea. You can’t go after that vampire.”
“Don’t be silly.” I laughed, hoping to put Garrett at ease even though he was right. The vampire that had tried to bite me was responsible for Kaleb crossing the spell barrier. Going after that vampire was exactly what I wanted, but I wasn’t a fool. I was no match for a vampire. Not yet. Not until I had my powers and knew how to cast spells.
“I’m serious. The High Council would be pissed.”
“I don’t want to kill him. I just have a few questions. That’s all,” I replied. “What about tatcho vampires? I know they can shift into a bat or a wolf. What else should I know?”
He leaned toward me as several customers stopped nearby to browse the crystals and amulets. “From what the High Council’s told us, they’re family and considered royalty among the vampires. They have heightened powers and can survive a few hours in sunlight without dying.”
My eyes widened. Vampires walking around in daylight? That sounded impossible. “How many are there?”
“I don’t know.” His cell phone chimed, and he pulled it out of his pants pocket. “Sorry. I have to take this.”
I crossed my legs as Garrett walked away, holding his phone to his ear. Running my hand across the tree etched on the front of the book, I took a deep breath and closed my eyes. Had I seen a tatcho vampire during the day and not known it? How could they possibly survive in sunlight?
I opened my eyes and looked up at Garrett, who now stood in front of me. “Yes?”
“The High Council wants us to get to the coven.” He tugged at his shirt collar. “They insist on meeting you immediately.”
“What’s wrong?” I touched his arm, not liking how nervous he looked. “Who was that on the phone?”
“It was Calandra. She’s removed the barrier spell on the store and insists we get to the coven straight away.” His gaze lowered to my hand. “They’ve spotted wolves near the coven.”
“Do they know which pack?” I grabbed the book off the table, hoping the wolves were from Norwood Isle. Maybe Kaleb had come for me.
“She didn’t say.” He shoved his cell phone into his pocket as we walked over to the book section, and I returned the book to the shelf. “Grab your stuff and stay inside until I get back. I’ll pull my car around in front of the store.”
“Okay.” As an uneasiness settled over me, I ran upstairs to pack.
Had the Rocklin wolves found out where I was?
A warm summer breeze touched my face as I followed Garrett out of Magickal Dreams, carrying a plastic bag. I stopped in the middle of the sidewalk, and looked around at the people shopping in the nearby stores. It was hard to believe I hadn’t been outside in three days. Just breathing fresh air made everything better, even with the threat of wolves looming over me.
“We should hurry. If we’re not at the coven in thirty minutes, the High Council will come looking for us.” Garrett walked to his car, unlocking the doors with his key fob.
I opened the passenger door and sat down, then turned to place my plastic bag on the back seat. How sad that everything I owned fit into a plastic bag. If it hadn’t been for my black boots, the bag would be half empty.
“Don’t forget your seatbelt.” He started the car and lowered the volume on the radio. “I’ve put a spell on my car, so there’s no need to worry about the wolves. They won’t be able to catch our scent.”
“Cool. You’ll have to teach me that spell one day.” I buckled my seatbelt and stared out the window.
Garrett pulled the car onto the road and drove away from Magickal Dreams. As we passed store after store, I realized Dover was a lot bigger than Woodlake and wished I’d had a chance to see more of the city. Maybe once things settled and Kaleb came for me, I’d be able to see what the city offered.
If he came for me.
I swallowed hard and shook away that negative thought. Just because Garrett had no information on Kaleb didn’t mean the High Council wouldn’t. If Calandra had made a deal with Kaleb, she must know where he was.
“Are you hungry?” Garrett pointed to a paper bag on the car’s floorboard, next to my leg. “I bought your favorite cookies from the bakery. They’re a welcome gift along with the other stuff in the bag. Thought you could use a few things, seeing as how you didn’t have time to pack before you left Woodlake.”
“Thanks.” Grateful for his kind gesture, I peered into the bag. He’d bought me hair pins, lip gloss, nail polish, and perfume. “I’m still full after the fried rice we ate for lunch. Do you want a cookie?”
“No, thanks.” He glanced at me sideways. “Are you okay?”
“I don’t know.” In an attempt to calm my nerves, I took a deep breath. I didn’t feel okay, and I certainly wasn’t ready to meet the High Council. “I’m nervous. I’ve never met a group of powerful witches before. What am I supposed to do?”
“Just be yourself and answer their questions.”
“What kind of questions?” I folded my arms, wishing I’d never made the blood oath. Of course, Calandra had left me no choice. She’d refused to help Mom unless I agreed.
“Well, they might ask you about the love spell you put on Kaleb. If they do, just recite that complicated love spell I gave you. They’ll believe it worked.” He glanced in the rearview mirror and switched lanes. “They’ll ask about your powers too.”
“You know I don’t have any powers. Didn’t you tell them that?”
“It doesn’t matter what I say. They want to hear it from you. The best advice I can give you is not to trust any of them. Answer their questions directly, but don’t offer any more information.”
Garrett’s advice surprised me. He’d spent his entire life around these witches. If he didn’t trust them, that couldn’t be good.
“What can you tell me about the High Council witches? I know there’s five, and they’re the only ones who can control all five elements,” I said.
“That’s not true. There are other witches who can control the five elements. They’re usually in charge of covens. Some of them were on the High Council, but their positions were challenged, so they stepped down.” He cleared his throat. “You’re right though. There are five High Council witches, and they’re chosen by the previous council witches, but having a pure bloodline is what matters the most. Half-witches aren’t very powerful, so you’ll never see one on the High Council.”
“But half-witches have powers, right?”
“Usually, but it’s rare for them to control all five elements.” He looked away. “The High Council’s made up of three witches and two warlocks. You’ve already met Grace Minea. She’s the one who was at the meeting in Woodlake and couldn’t read your mind. You’ll like her. She’s quiet, keeps to herself, and won’t ask too many questions. Then there’s Boris Kreanga. He can see auras and has visions. You’ll recognize him by his wild red hair, and he wears a necklace of teeth from the wolves he’s killed.”
“Great,” I muttered, shaking my head. The witches and wolves didn’t get along, so a High Council warlock who killed wolves didn’t surprise me. But the idea of some idiotic warlock walking around with a tooth necklace disgusted me.
“Julius Draper’s the warlock who was there that night we rescued you. He’s very popular among the younger witches. I’m sure you’ll think he’s hot and drool all over him. He has the power to communicate with the dead.” Garrett glanced at his cell phone when it chimed, then tucked it back into his shirt pocket. “Ava Sherrard’s—”
“Sherrard?” I glanced at him, remembering what he’d told me when we had our heart-to-heart two weeks ago. “I forgot your mom was a High Council witch.”
“Actually, Ava’s my stepmother. She’s telekinetic and has a strong affinity for air. Unfortunately, she probably won’t like you, but don’t take it personally. She and Calandra don’t get along, but maybe she’ll be nice. I’ve told her how great you are.”
“Being telekinetic sounds pretty cool.” I couldn’t help but notice he’d referred to his stepmother by her first name.
“I guess. It’s a common power among the witches. You have to channel your inner energy and direct the force outward. I bet it’s one of your powers.”
“I doubt it.”
“It’s possible. Powers are passed down through bloodlines. Calandra Leonte, your birth mother, has telekinetic powers too. Didn’t she tell you? She can also see the past when she touches people. It’s a rare power, and very few witches have it.” He patted my hand and gave me a gentle smile. “You have nothing to worry about. You’ll get your powers soon.”
“It’s not that.” I bit my lower lip, hating I hadn’t yet told Garrett the truth. Calandra wasn’t my birth mother; Marie Dinescu was. She was a High Council witch who’d died over eighteen years ago. “There’s something I have to tell you.”
“Don’t tell me you’ve been holding out on me,” he teased, moving his hand off mine. “Have you seen something naughty in my past?”
“No.” I laughed, loving how Garrett always put me at ease. “Nothing like that. It’s about my birth mother. Calandra’s—”
“What the hell?” He pressed the horn several times and slowed the car before stopping in the middle of the road.
A black SUV with its hood open sat sideways in front of us, blocking the road. Next to it stood a small red car with its hood raised too. Jumper cables connected the two vehicles, and three men dressed in jeans and black T-shirts leaned under the SUV’s hood, facing away from us.
“Looks like the SUV’s broken down.” I looked around, not liking how isolated we were. No houses. No people. No other cars in sight. We’d passed Dover’s city limits ten minutes ago, and I could see nothing but grass and pine trees. “Can’t you go around?”
“I’m not sure if I can see around the red car, but I’ll try.” He put the car in reverse and glanced in the rearview mirror. “Damn. Now there’s a car behind us.”
I glanced over my shoulder and was shocked to see another black SUV behind us. This one sat close to Garrett’s car, leaving no room for him to maneuver.
Garrett rolled down his window and turned his head toward the SUV. “Back up! I need to get around!”
“Um…looks like we’re boxed in. Why don’t you…” Grabbing Garrett’s arm, I pointed to what had caught my attention. The three men now stood with their arms folded, leaning against the red car. Their eyes flickering yellow as they stared at us. “They’re wolf shapeshifters.”
“Great. And the guy behind us just shifted into a wolf.” Garrett rolled up his window and opened his glove compartment. He pulled out a gun. “Any chance you recognize them?”
“No,” I replied, glancing over my shoulder again. That wolf’s eyes flickered yellow too.
The back door of the SUV in front of us opened, and as the person stepped out, I breathed a sigh of relief.