So instead of worrying about what we don’t know, we’re going after what we do. We’re going to find my athame. We’re going to track it magically, which Thomas assures me can be done, with Morfran’s help.
Anna insisted that she come along, because for all her talk of me being King Arthur, I think she knows I’m pretty much defenseless. And I don’t know how well she knows her legends, but Arthur was killed by a ghost from his past that he didn’t see coming. Not exactly the best comparison. Before we left the house, there was a brief discussion about trying to fudge ourselves some alibis for when the police discover Will and Chase. But that was quickly abandoned. Because really, when you may or may not be eaten in the next few days, who the hell cares about alibis?
I’ve got this weird, springy feeling in my muscles. Despite everything that’s happened—Mike’s death, seeing Anna’s murder, Will and Chase’s murder, and the knowledge that whatever killed my father is now here, possibly trying to kill me—I feel, okay. It doesn’t make sense, I know. Everything is messed up. And I still feel okay. I feel almost safe, with Thomas and Carmel and Anna.
When we get to the shop, it occurs to me that I should tell my mother. If it really is the thing that killed my dad, she should know.
“Wait,” I say after we all get out. “I should call my mom.”
“Why don’t you just go get her,” Thomas says, handing me the keys. “She might be able to help. We can get started without you.”
“Thanks,” I say, and get into the driver’s seat. “I’ll be back as soon as I can.” Anna snakes her pale leg over the front seat and drops herself down shotgun.
“I’m going with you.”
I’m not going to argue. I could use the company. I start the car back up and drive. Anna does nothing but watch the trees and buildings go by. I suppose the change of scenery must be interesting to her, but I wish she would say something.
“Did Carmel hurt you, back there?” I ask just for noise.
She smiles. “Don’t be silly.”
“Have you been okay, at the house?”
There’s a stillness on her face that has to be deliberate. She’s always so still, but I get the feeling that her mind is sort of like a shark, twisting and swimming, and all I’ve ever seen is a glimpse of dorsal fin.
“They keep on showing me,” she says carefully. “But they’re still weak. Other than that, I’ve just been waiting.”
“Waiting for what?” I ask. Don’t judge me. Sometimes playing dumb is the only move you’ve got. Unfortunately, Anna doesn’t chase the ball. So we sit, and I drive, and on the tip of my tongue are the words to tell her that I don’t have to do it. I have a very strange life and she’d fit into it. Instead I say, “You didn’t have a choice.”
“It doesn’t matter.”
“How can it not?”
“I don’t know, but it doesn’t,” she replies. I catch her smile in the corner of my eye. “I wish it didn’t have to hurt you,” she says.
“Of course. Believe me, Cassio. I never wanted to be this tragic.”
My house is cresting over the hill. To my relief, my mom’s car is parked out front. I could continue this conversation. I could get in a jab, and we could argue. But I don’t want to. I want to put this down and focus on the problem at hand. Maybe I’ll never have to deal with this. Maybe something will change.
I pull into my driveway and we get out, but as we walk up the porch steps, Anna starts to sniff. She’s squinting like her head hurts.
“Oh,” I say. “Right. I’m sorry. I forgot about the spell.” I shrug weakly. “You know, a few herbs and chants and then nothing dead comes through the door. It’s safer.”
Anna crosses her arms and leans against the railing. “I understand,” she says. “Go and get your mother.”
Inside, I hear my mom humming some little tune I don’t know, probably something she made up. I see her pass by the archway in the kitchen, her socks sliding across the hardwood and the tie from her sweater dragging behind on the ground. I walk up and grab it.
“Hey!” she says with an irritated look. “Shouldn’t you be in school?”
“You’re lucky it was me and not Tybalt,” I say. “Or this sweater thing would be in shreds.”
She sort of huffs at me and ties it around her waist where it belongs. The kitchen smells like flowers and persimmon. It’s a warm, wintry smell. She’s making a new batch of her Blessed Be Potpourri, just like she does every year. It’s a big seller on the website. But I’m procrastinating.