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Black Magic Sanction

Black Magic Sanction: Page 25

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Seeing the stuff from camp... things had happened there that I couldn't remember. Memory blockers were like that, clouding events but leaving emotions intact, and as the collective mementos touched on half memories, I couldn't tell if my anger at Trent was because he was a camp brat or if he was truly bad.

"I just don't know anymore," I finally said. "He is in jeopardy, too, now, and there are easier ways for him to make my life miserable."

Ivy made a soft sound and set the dog-eared Nancy Drew carefully beside her. Much as I'd like to believe he hadn't told the coven I could invoke demon magic, I was done with being stupid. It was far easier to believe this was one of his elaborate schemes. Easier, yes, but smart? Because if Trent hadn't told them, then someone else had, and I didn't have a clue as to who. Logic said he had done it, but if I was logical, I'd have made the familiar bond active between us and forced him to be nice to me. Instead I had rescued him at great cost to myself because of a freaking gut feeling. And I still didn't know why. My eyes strayed to the box, feeling as if the answer was in there somewhere.

"Why don't you use the Pandora charm and find out?"

I stared at Ivy - I'd forgotten that I even had it. "You think it's something from the camp?"

"He did say he might make you one if the memory you wanted was of camp or your dad. Well, he made you one."

"You're nuts!" I exclaimed, but she was shaking her head, smiling.

Her eyes touched on the closed box. "Whether you remember it or not, you and Trent go back a long way. I'd think it worth finding out if your gut feelings about him are based on something real or a childhood argument over a hoof pick. Don't you?"

Well, when she put it like that... From the back living room came a masculine voice raised in anger. My gaze went to my top drawer, where I had stashed Trent's charm, and I stifled a shiver. I needed to know if I could trust him, and not just with surface stuff, but really trust him. I needed to know why I disliked him yet would risk my life to save his worthless skin. I needed to use his Pandora charm.

My pulse quickened, and I swung my feet to the floor, wincing when my knees protested. If I was going to do this, I'd rather do it when all the pixies were spying on Nick and Pierce, arguing. "Okay, but if it kills me, it's your fault." Shuffling to my top dresser drawer, I yanked it open. Maybe it was a memory of my dad.

"Uh... ," Ivy stammered, and I glanced up to see her eyes wide in consideration.

"I'm kidding," I said. "It passed the lethal-amulet test, remember?"

"Not that. You keep it in your underwear drawer?"

I hesitated, wondering why I was embarrassed. "Well, where do you put your elven magic?" I asked, and then my fingers touched the smooth, knotty bump of the bracelet-size length of knotted horsehair. A surge of excitement went through me, and I brought the charm out.

Together Ivy and I looked at the innocuous-seeming thing. The knots were hard under my fingertips, the hair they were made from silver and black. It tingled as if the power was leaking out. Elven magic. Wild. Unpredictable. God, I hoped I wasn't making a mistake. Trent had made it, and I didn't know how good - or evil - he was. Knowledge is power. Frowning, I fingered the first knot. Ignorance is bliss.

But curiosity - even if it had killed the cat - was king, and heart pounding, I moved the box from the bed and sat down. "You won't leave?" I asked, feeling like a chicken, and Ivy shook her head. And with that reassurance, I worked the first of the three knots free.

My damp hair seemed to crinkle, and my face warmed as the elven magic rose through me, tasting of oak leaves and chill autumn air.

"You okay?"

I nodded. "The magic feels funny. Like tinfoil."

She exhaled, and the bed shifted as she stood, arms crossed over her middle. It was an unusual show of worry I totally understood.
Steeling myself, I undid the second knot. My thoughts seemed to jump, and my breath quickened. To stop now would ruin the charm, and I undid the third knot, an unusual fatigue making my fingers fumble. I hope this isn't a mistake.

My breath came in as I looked at Ivy, and it was as if I fell into myself, like Alice down the rabbit hole. I knew I was sitting on my bed, but there were birds and the soft snuffling of horses. The twin sensations of reality and memory were eerie, but the charmed ones were becoming dominant.

"My God, Ivy. It's warm," I whispered, eyes closing as I gave myself to the dream that wasn't a dream, but a memory. I felt small, the softness of my bed becoming a hard wood floor. Fatigue crept up, familiar and hated, stealing into my bones like poison. My memories were halved, and seemingly forgetting everything I knew, I... remembered.

My pulse quickened to the pace of childhood, racing, and I opened my eyes to the dim light of the camp's stables.

Sniffing, I curled up tighter, bringing the cloying scent of damp straw, horse dung, and sweaty leather deep into me, trying not to cry. This sucked. This sucked big-time. Here I thought that Jasmine hated Trent, and it turned out she liked him. Liked him! How was I to know? She complained about him enough.

The horse stomped, and I burrowed deeper into the corner, pulling the blue blanket up and around me, hiding. I'd never seen anyone ride this monster of a horse, and he hadn't minded me slipping in. I was so mad. Jasmine and I never fought, but when I found out she'd lied to me about where she'd been, I lost it. She'd gone for a moonlight walk with little richy rich boy, leaving me alone in the bottom half of our bunk bed to listen to everyone else tell stories of their first kiss when she knew I didn't have one. She was supposed to be my friend!

I held my breath to keep from crying, my arms clasped around my knees. It was all Trent's fault, the snot. Miserable, I picked at my shoelaces, cringing when a set of boots echoed at the wide stable doors. I froze as two people went by, talking in low voices, their identities hidden by the tall walls of the box stall I was in, but I could tell it was kids, not lab techs disguised as counselors or stable hands looking for me.

The horse above me nickered. Ears pricked, he shifted to hang his head over the gate.

Crapy I thought, recognizing a voice. Stanley had been here for three days, hanging with Trent as usual. The guy had been here last year, too, managing to twist Trent's ankle in a footrace his second day. This year he'd broken Trent's hand in a canoe race. Stanley's paddle had come down right on the back of it, and snap, no more contest. Stanley didn't like to lose. And if Stanley was in the stables, then that was Trent with him.

His voice going faint, Stanley started singing "Love Song for a Vampire," changing the lyrics to something suitably rude, and my breath eased out as they went into the other wing of the stables - but the horse above me still had his ears pricked.

"Hoy, hoy, Mr. T.," came a soft voice, and the jingling of a bridle, and I froze. Trent? Trent was here? Panicking, I put a hand to my hot face and stared, seeing nothing but the top of his head. The horse blew his breath out, and Trent's voice shifted, the words slurring into a hummed pattern of crooning. It was beautiful, and I strained for more, trying to understand. It sounded like another language, and though I hated him because Jasmine liked him, I couldn't help but think it beautiful.

His tawny head flashed over the walls of the stall, giving me a glimpse of his fair skin and green eyes. He hadn't seen me, and I watched his face, empty of the scorn he usually heaped on me. Trent's eyes were full and shining, and he was smiling. His white hair was messy, and his ears showed. Trent never let his ears show, always combing his fine hair over them. He was skinny, lanky, and almost singing to the horse as he fondled his ears and fed him a treat.

Feeling my eyes on him, his gaze flicked to me.

Immediately his wonderful voice ceased. His lips pressed together, and his eyes took on a hard slant. Snorting, the horse drew back from him. "What are you doing in there?" he said, voice cracking and face going red. "Get out. You're not even supposed to be here when the stable hands are gone."

"Neither are you," I said, scrambling up and clutching the horse blanket to me as I backed to the wall. My heart pounded when he opened the gate, sliding in and latching it behind him, fumbling the first time because of his cast. I'd be willing to bet Stanley had broken Trent's hand to put him at a disadvantage for the rest of the summer. What a goober.

Trent was in new jeans and brand-new riding boots. I thought of my own nasty sneakers, and I flushed. Trent was rich. His dad owned the camp. Everyone knew it.

"They're looking for you," he said, mocking me. "You are in so much trouble."

The horse tossed his head, feet moving restlessly between us, and I put a hand on him to remind him not to step on me.

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