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Black Magic Sanction

Black Magic Sanction: Page 24

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"I made you two," she said, her gray-silk voice carrying soft compassion as she looked up from shutting the door with a foot. "You look hungry."

I eyed the tuna sandwiches warily. "No Brimstone?"

Her placid brown eyes met mine, the barest hint of dry amusement in them. "No. But I can make you some cookies if you want."

Shaking my head, I dropped the socks and reached for the plate. I'd eaten Ivy's cookies before. Laced with medicinal-grade Brimstone, they simultaneously made me hungry and boosted my metabolism. Just what you need when recovering from blood loss, but I was bruised, not anemic. "No thanks," I said wryly. "I want to sleep tonight."

But when she sat on the end of my bed, I blinked. She's staying?

Matalina rose up, her dragonflylike wings unusually loud. "Ivy, if you're going to talk to Rachel for a while, I'll just pop out and see if Jenks needs anything."

Oh. I get it.

Ivy smiled a closed-lipped smile and slid the crackers onto my dresser beside the box from my mom. "He's in the kitchen with Jax."

"Thank you." Matalina left her knitting behind as she darted under the door.

I wasn't keen on everyone thinking I needed watching, but if it gave Matalina a chance to talk to Jax, then I'd deal with it. Scooting back to the headboard, I stretched my legs out and balanced the plate on my lap. "Nick still here?" I asked as I took a bite out of the first sandwich. The tang of the mayonnaise hit the sides of my tongue, and I suddenly couldn't shovel in food fast enough. "Oh, this is good," I mumbled around my full mouth. "Thank you."

"Pierce is talking to him." Her gaze was on my perfumes. She'd given most of them to me in our chemical warfare against her instincts. "He told me to leave. Said they had a gentleman matter to discuss."

"Oh really?" The sandwich was fabulous, and I forced myself to slow down.

"I think Pierce is trying to find out if you two are really over or not," Ivy said.

My eyes rolled and I swallowed. "Over? Does he need it in neon?" I said, but inside, I was cringing. Being over with Nick did not translate into being available for Pierce.

"You're sure you're okay?" Ivy asked, and I nodded, mouth full again.

"Until they find someone else who knows Al's summoning name," I amended, wiggling my fingers for the bowl of crackers. My thoughts shifted to Al telling me he'd finish the deal - even teach me how to jump the lines - if I told him who sold me out to the coven. Funny how things had changed when I'd brought up my ovaries. Lots of people knew Al's summoning name, and what demon summoner wouldn't trade an hour's work for amnesty? But if I gave Nick to Al, then the council was right and I was a demon, trafficking in human flesh.

Ivy passed the bowl, and grabbing a handful of crackers, I tilted my head back and dropped them in, sneaking a glance at her and wondering if she was in here trying to convince me to give Nick to the demon and be done with it.
"I've always wanted to get to the West Coast," I said around my chewing, not wanting her to bring it up. "Hey, did I tell you I got a ride on a boat? I saw the bridge and everything. It's way smaller than the one in Mackinaw. There's a big chocolate factory right across from Alcatraz. Talk about cruel and unusual punishment."

Ivy wasn't listening, her eyes on that box my mother had sent. "When did that get here?" I asked as I worked a bit of cracker out from between my teeth.

Shifting position on my bed, she flushed, putting her eyes everywhere but on it. "When you were gone."

Gone, not prison. I appreciated that. Brushing crumbs from myself, I reached for the last half of my sandwich. Ivy was silent, then, "Are you going to open it?"

I smiled, my mouth full as I wiggled my fingers. She was worse than Jenks.

Ivy got to her feet with unusual quickness, and I set the last half of my sandwich back down to pull my knee up as tight as I could comfortably get it. A muffled masculine argument filtered through the wall, and we ignored it as Ivy sat close, like it was Christmas.

The box was light and kind of dusty, as if it had gone from my mom's attic, to the moving van going out west, and then right back in a mail truck to me. The last two boxes had been the same way. "I really doubt it's more Nancy Drew," I told her as I took the knife she handed me. Good grief, she'd brought a knife in for the tape.

"It might be," Ivy said. "Volume fifty-two is missing."

Oh, my God. Ivy is a closet Nancy Drew fan! Those books hadn't gone to the brat pack - they were probably under her bed! Amused, I set the knife on the dresser table and smiled at her eager expression. Her hands were carefully in her lap, anxious. I could have teased her about it, but seeing any happy emotion on her was precious. She actually sighed when I opened up the box and leaned to look in.

"It's my camp stuff!" I exclaimed, taking out my mom's handwritten note to see the accumulated bric-a-brac underneath.

"Oh look!" Ivy said brightly. "There is a book!"

My gaze lifted from my mom's letter, and I smirked at her as she reached for Nancy Drew, volume 52. "You opened it up already, didn't you!

Ivy wouldn't look at me. "Don't be ridiculous. Why would I open your mail?"

"Mmmm-hmmm." HI, RACHEL, I read as she flipped through the dog-eared pages as if it were a lost book from the Bible. I FOUND THIS WHILE MOVING IN WITH DONALD. IT WAS EITHER THROW IT AWAY OR SEND IT TO YOU. MISS YOU, MOM.

Setting the letter aside, I smiled. Most of what she'd been sending me had been junk, but this... I gazed into the box. Okay, this was junk, too, but it was my junk.

"Look at this," I said, bringing out a lopsided clay bowl painted in garish colors. "I made this for my dad. It's a pipe holder."

Ivy looked up from the book. "If you say so."

My fingers pressed into the dents that I'd made when I was twelve. They were really small. "I think it was the only reason he had a pipe," I said, setting it back in the box. The pressed-flower album I didn't even remember, but it was my scrawl on the pages. There was a badge from the cabin I was in, dated and covered in rainbow stickers. The pair of dusty sandals on top of it were so small it was scary.

"How old were you?" Ivy asked when I held them up.

"They kicked me out when I was twelve," I said, flushing. It hadn't been fun. I'd thrown Trent into a tree with a blast of ley-line energy because he'd been teasing Jasmine. I guess they figured if I was well enough to do that, then I wasn't dying anymore and should make room for someone who was. Trent had deserved it. I think. They had long-term memory blockers in the water and nothing was certain.

I smiled at the pair of freshwater clam shells Jasmine and I were going to make into earrings. A blue jay feather. Things that meant nothing to anyone but me.

"What is this?"

She was holding an antique-looking curved metal hook, and I reached for it as I warmed. "Uh, a hoof pick," I said, feeling the weight of it in my palm, heavy with the sensation of anxious excitement and guilt. Ivy's eyebrows rose, and I added, "They had horses, and you had to clean their hooves before you took them out. That's a hoof pick." A really fancy hoof pick, with an inlaid wooden handle and a silver hook, of all things.

Head cocked, Ivy leaned back and eyed me. "And your pulse just skyrocketed why?"

Grimacing, I set the pick back in the box. "It's Trent's. At least I think it is.

"And your pulse just skyrocketed why?" she asked again.

"I stole it!" I said, feeling myself become breathless. "At least I think I did. I'm pretty sure I meant to give it back..." I hesitated, confused. "Crap, I don't even remember why I have it."

Ivy had a weird smile on her face. I think Nancy Drew had reminded her of her own innocence. "You stole Trent's hoof pick? What is that, some witch-camp tradition?"

"Maybe I just borrowed it and forgot to give it back," I said, guilt coming from nowhere. I remember shoving it in my pocket with a feeling of vindication. Trent had been there... and I hadn't liked him. He was snotty.

Ivy picked up the book again. "No wonder he doesn't like you. You stole his hoof pick."

Exasperated, and trying to ignore the guilt coming from a memory I didn't entirely have, I closed the box and pushed it away. "The feeling is mutual," I said, tugging on my socks. "Trent is a lying, manipulative brat, and always has been."

She handed me the Nancy Drew, exhaling slowly. "So... you think this entire situation with the coven is one of his scams? That Trent told them about you?"

I looked at the cover and the furtive posture of Nancy as she held a tablet engraved with ley-line glyphs, treasure hunting. Oh, when it had looked that easy. "I don't know," I said, miserable with confusion as I handed the book back to her to keep.

Ivy held it possessively as I looked at the closed box of memories. I wanted to be pissed at Trent about the coven, but something in my gut said no.

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