The next day, Nico and I shadow travelled to my mom and Bob’s house. We rang the doorbell and I crossed my fingers that Bob wouldn’t answer the door. The door swung open, and Jacob smiled at me.
“What, I don’t get a hug?” I teased.
He jumped on me, and I hugged him tight. “You never told us you were coming,” he said, letting go.
“I didn’t know when I would be,” I said. “Where’s Mom?”
“Upstairs,” Jacob said. “Dad is at his school.”
“Not your dad,” I said, but what he said made sense. Bob was a high school teacher, and school was probably starting within the next week.
“Mom says he’s my dad now,” Jacob said, starting up the stairs.
Nico and I stepped inside, Nico shutting the door behind us.
“He’s our step-dad,” I said. “Not our dad. There’s a difference.”
Nico and I followed Jacob to his room, me arguing with him about Bob the whole way. We stopped in the doorway of his bedroom, where we spotted my mom taking clothes out of his dresser.
“Katelyn?” she said, putting the shirt down. She came over and hugged me. When she let me go, she gave Nico a quick side hug. “I didn’t know you were coming.”
“I’m answering your letter,” I said. “You know how you didn’t want to send Jacob to camp but were worried about his safety?”
My mom nodded, biting her lip.
“Well, I learned a spell that will let him stay here and put him in less danger.”
My mom sighed and smiled. “Really?”
I nodded. “Nico is here to spot me. The spell takes everything I have. I haven’t flexed my gifts from Hecate in a long time.” I looked back at Nico, who held out his arms, ready to catch me, and smiled reassuringly.
I turned to Jacob and began the incantation for the charm. I nearly blacked out in the last line, but I fought to finish the charm, because if I didn’t complete it or enunciate the words clearly, Jacob could die from the unintended side effects. When I got the last word out, the world faded and I felt like gravity abandoned me.
I woke up in my own bed with Nico snuggled up next to me, breathing softly on my neck. I turned slowly so that I faced him and kissed his forehead. He stirred, his eyelids flickering.
“Shadow traveling wear you out?” I asked quietly, smiling.
Nico smiled, his eyes only half open. “And worrying about you doing that charm. And catching you.”
I hugged him to my chest. “I love you. Thanks for coming with me.”
“Wouldn’t miss it,” Nico said, hugging me with the arm that wasn’t pinned under his body.
I let him go, and we both sat up. I held my head as dizziness set in and slumped against Nico, who helped me lower my head into his lap. He stroked my hair until I didn’t feel like puking anymore. “I need to do magic more often,” I said.
“Or not at all,” Nico said, smiling.
“It comes in so handy, though,” I said, laughing, and Nico shook his head, still smiling.
We couldn’t stay for dinner, as Bob could come home any minute, so my mom gave me one last hug and kiss and Jacob gave me a hug. I promised that I would see them before a year went by, and then Nico and I found a shadow and pooled our energy to get back home.