Nail in Her Coffin (Devil's Witch Book 1)

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Chapter 16-Freedom

After Will reported about Darren summoning a demon by way of the other realm, he was brought into trial.

He did end up testifying and pleading guilty to the coven. After they announced his punishment was death though, like any smart vampire, he used his powers to disappear and avoid his punishment. During his trial, they never got the chance to ask him if he caused the fires in town. Most of the coven suspects he was responsible for them.

Now, no one knows where he is.

Not even his family and that was the first place the coven and police went to, his house.

They sent search teams up the entire mountain for days and still, no sign of Darren Silvet anywhere. Will thinks Crystal knows where he is, the day Darren disappeared she was gone for a couple hours and although she was invited to his trial, she didn’t go. She thinks he’s innocent.

Will’s parents are pretty confident Crystal knows where Darren is too, they even put me up to getting the truth out of her. Her parents are out working in the lodge right now, leaving her and I home alone. It’s been over two weeks since Darren up and vanished into thin air.

She sits in the living room, texting someone on her phone. Maybe I could talk to her about it now...no one has brought up Darren in a while to her and maybe she will be ready to talk about him.

“Hey,” I say casually, sitting down beside her and sipping a glass of water.

Her eyes flick up at me and she puts her phone on sleep mode.

“Do you think they’ll let you move out?”

I hope I'm right, but I haven't heard from Stella or her mother. “Well, I’m expecting a call from Patty or Stella any day now."

Who am I kidding? They probably think I’m the white witch. Stella already offered to let me live with her, but I don’t know if I should live with her knowing Darren is still on the loose.

I rather live on my own to protect everyone else from the trouble that seems to follow me around.

Crystal looks down at her worn pink slippers. “Darren isn’t guilty."

Brushing her brown hair out of the way, she reveals to me not just one, but several bite marks lined up against her throat. The trail of bites leads down to her collarbone and her pajama shirt covers probably where the rest of the bites lead.

My face pales. “Crystal...” I murmur.

Her eyes start to water and she looks away from me in shame, pulling her hair back over her shoulder and tightening her bathrobe back around herself.

“He’s doing it for me! He tried to turn me, but no matter how many times we tried...my blood wouldn’t accept his. I drank his blood Val, I wanted to be like him! My body couldn’t take it though, I’d always throw up. I don’t want to be a witch, I want to be a strong vampire like him. Otherwise...his family won’t accept me. Now, I now I have to watch him go into hiding. I promised him I’d never tell a soul who bit me, but he didn’t want to risk anything. If the coven sees this, I’ll be sentenced to death too!” she cries out.

Water streams down her face and she clenches onto my arms crying against me. Her body shakes and trembles as her fears begin to twist her reason.

I don’t know if Darren is solely going into hiding for her. She must realize he is also doing it for himself. After all, he was sentenced to death. Can’t she see him for what he is? He made me awaken from death and tore me away from the afterlife. All probably for some hoax that ultimately leads to the downfall of our kind! I hate to agree with the coven, but I think he also probably killed Will’s friend too.

I want to reason with her and prove to her Darren isn’t who she thinks he is, yet all I end up doing is patting her back and whispering promises that he’ll be okay and that she doesn’t need to worry.

“Everything’s going to be fine,” I whisper. When Crystal pulls away from me she wipes her tear-soaked face with the back of her hands.

“D-don’t tell my parents or Will.”

“I won’t. You need to promise me though, that Darren Silvet didn’t revive me,” I say gently, holding back my own panic when I see her face darken.

“No. He’s not the necromancer, but,” she begins to say in a choked sob. I nod my head for her to continue. “His family...they don’t want our family’s land for their business. They know about the portal, Valerie. I told Darren all about it, I couldn’t help myself. It’s like I have no filter around him, I just feel I can open up to him. He may not look it, but he’s easy to talk to,” she admits in a dreamy voice.

Meanwhile, my mind is screaming.

I dare not ask her what they want the portal for, I rather not think about the white witch myth now.

“C-Crystal, I cannot promise you this will stay between you and me. This endangers the entire town if they have other plans for the portal. They may not be a bad family, but we know Darren is dealing with demons. I won’t tell a soul unless I’m asked by the coven. In return, I have a favor to ask,” I tell her nervously. For a brief moment, a sour look crosses her face. However, she covers it up with a tight-lipped smile.

She can’t expect me to keep this from the coven forever and risk putting my own freedom in jeopardy. I’m done playing games with Patricia, as soon as I get the call I’m out of here.

“Favor?” she echoes in a hollow voice and I nod my head. She sniffles and blows her nose with a tissue.

“After your parents go to the coven meeting tonight, I need you to invite Jackson over here. Will and I think he may be possessed by a demon. Even if you think he was lying about being the necromancer, Darren is involved in some dangerous things, Crystal. He isn’t telling you everything. Will and I witnessed him talking to a demon,” I warn her, trying not to come off as if I’m scolding her.

With a solemn gaze, she sits up and pulls out her phone already dialing the number. Her sharp trimmed nails tap rather violently against the glass screen.

“I’m only doing this to prove to you Darren isn’t some evil necromancer like you all think,” she sighs in defeat, putting the phone up to her ear.

Will and I already made a pentagram in the backyard with stones. Will told the coven everything, including one of the Silvet brothers being possibly possessed. They then made it his job to figure out the truth and exorcise the demon if needed. I guess the coven is too busy on pinning down where Darren is to do it themselves.

I sincerely hope we’re wrong though, exorcisms are known to be painful for those who go through them. Jackson shouldn’t have to suffer over something he wanted no part in. I don’t think he’s anything like Darren.

***

Jackson showed up about an hour ago. Since he stepped foot in the house, Will has been interrogating him about his brother and the demon summoning we witnessed.

“No. I told you I’m not possessed, please. You have to believe me,” Jackson pleads, looking between Will and I. Crystal sits across from us on the couch beside him. Will is standing by the tv and I’m seated on the lazy boy chair next to him.

Crystal rests a hand of comfort on Jackson’s shoulder. He looks tired, dark circles rest under his eyes. His black hair is messy and he looks like he’s sweating pretty bad. I’d be nervous too in his situation, but at least he doesn’t have to go through this with Patty.

“Are you possessed?” Will finally asks him, his arms crossed and eyes already shooting him a glare.

“No!” Jackson shouts incredulously. He has to be telling the truth, he already is a hybrid and has enough trouble with the coven. He wouldn’t willingly become a demon’s host when he already has strikes against him with the coven.

He just seems too naive and gentle.

“I don’t believe him. If what he says is true, then he won’t mind stepping into our prepared circle,” Will tells me flatly as if Jackson isn’t sitting in the same room as us.

“No, that is not necessary. William, leave him alone. He already confessed to you he is innocent,” Crystal retorts angrily while standing up and walking towards her brother briskly.

“I’ll do it,” Jackson chirps quietly behind her and Crystal turns around looking startled.

“Good, come with us,” Will announces suddenly, he walks by us and out the back door.

He’s right, if Jackson is telling the truth, nothing will happen.

Still, I think it is a bit extreme. He needs to have more faith in Jackson, he isn’t like Darren. With a casual stride, Jackson steps into the stone patterned hex sign and stands in the center of the star.

Crystal, Will and I stand outside. Will mutters a spell under his breath, I’m surprised he has it memorized because it is quite a long one. When he finishes speaking, he tosses something from a red pouch around the ring circling Jackson. The aroma of incense fills the air as fog raises off the ground around Jackson. We wait a long minute, Jackson remains silent staring not at us, but the woods behind our backs.

“It is good to know you’re no liar,” Will says coldly.

He walks back into the house.

Since Jackson had no reaction to the spell, a demon ward Will made, we won’t have to perform an exorcism after all. Thank goodness. If there was a demon in him, it would have reacted or fought against the ward.

I know he blames Darren for his friend’s death, he wanted to see him punished. Maybe he thinks the same of all the Silvets now, but their family denied knowing Darren used necromancy on me.

And even more shocking, the coven believed them. Will’s whole family still suspects they know though.

“Why do you think it was me?” Jackson asks me in a soft voice, a maple leaf picks up off the ground when a breeze drifts by. He catches the golden leaf in his hand, inspecting it closely.

“They heard Darren and the demon talking. It said it was possessing his brother,” Crystal says for me and he lets go of the leaf. His eyes harden.

“Which one?” he says sounding bitter, facing Crystal. We all stop walking and stand on the porch.

“You of course,” Crystal laughs uneasily, but Darren remains silent as if waiting for her to elaborate.

“I have two brothers. Why did you think it was me?” he tells her sounding disappointed. He has another brother?

Crystal gasps, “You what? Darren never told me that!”

Jackson makes a scoffing noise and rolls his eyes, then it’s my turn to be surprised. He must not like this other brother. Maybe none of the Silvets do. After all, when Patty interviewed Mr. Silvet, I don’t remember him bringing up this other son.

“He’s older than Darren and I. Probably around your brother’s age. Maybe older,” he says while watching Crystal.

“Continue,” Crystal encourages him.

“To be upfront, I don’t know much about him. My parents threw him out of the house a long time ago. He wasn’t like us, he was more interested in disowning his heritage. So I guess my parents disowned him,” Jackson shrugs carelessly as if talking about a sports game.

“I’m sorry, but I have to go now,” Jackson says quickly, vanishing into thin air.

“I told you Darren is innocent. It must have been this other brother,” Crystal says defensively.

To think one of his brothers is evil enough to murder innocent people when Jackson just seems so...normal.

Will comes out of the house and Crystal tells him about the disowned Silvet son.

“Do you believe him, Valerie? Where is Jackson now anyway, let me guess. He ran off before sparing any details,” Will asks me while leaning against the railing of the porch.

“Just because he had to leave doesn’t mean he’s lying. I believe him,” I sigh.

For a moment, he’s quiet as if having some kind of internal debate. He zips up his navy blue jacket and then peers down at his sister and then me.

“The headmistress talked to me just now. She says you’re free to go. If you need a place to stay until you can earn enough, you’re welcome to live with me,” he offers and I’m thankful it’s too dark out so he can’t see my face flame.

“Oh, that’s very kind of you. Stella already offered to take me in though, I think I’m going to stay with her,” I say, cringing at how I talk about myself as if I’m some kind of lost puppy.

At any rate, happiness still soars within me at finally being granted what I should have been given upon being awakened from death, freedom.

“That’s good! I was having a hard time convincing my girlfriend about your situation. Now, I won’t have to worry about it,” he laughs heartily. Meanwhile, it feels like my own heart is being stabbed. How long has he had a girlfriend for? Maybe it was that mermaid Stella and I saw at the bar weeks ago.

I should have known better than to let myself fall for him when I didn’t even know what his relationship status was. I was too nervous to even ask Crystal.

“Oh hahaha!” I force myself to laugh along, but I think Crystal can see right through me.

Maybe she always has, Will and I were hanging out a lot up until this week. It’s hard to pretend to not be excited when someone you like frequently visits you, even if the coven put him up to it. He’s been the one helping me with my magic, but maybe what he’s really doing is making sure nothing out of the ordinary is happening to my craft.

Crystal shakes her head then elbows me lightly.

“You could always change your mind,” she whispers in my ear loudly and Will looks at the two of us confused.

“What?” he asks, laughter all gone. I look at Crystal with panic.

“Nothing,” Crystal sings and Will shakes his head, still lost.

He walks back inside and out through the front door to his truck. Crystal shuts the door behind him, her back resting against it. She then slides down to the floor in a heap, looking up at me under dark lashes.

“I can’t pretend I’m not angry at him, I don’t know if I can keep hiding my feelings. How can he hate Darren so much?” she yells suddenly. I jump back, startled by her sudden outburst. She starts crying again and I rush to her side, however, she pushes me away. A little too hard too because I end up flying backwards and falling onto my back with a holler.

“You all hate them! I love him, and you all hate his family! You hate me too, don’t you?” Crystal adds with a wild scream and I widen my eyes, terrified at her dramatic shift in emotions and the amount of accusation in her eyes. I never said I hated anyone, Darren confessed he was the necromancer though. She has to accept that people are not going to take it well.

Especially since most of the coven thinks he started the fires.

A silver shimmer of her magic trembles around her as it stirs to life -- unsteady as her mental state.

“No, no one hates you. Crystal, you need to calm down,” I tell her carefully, putting my arms up in my own defense.

“No!” she screams while covering her ears like a child who doesn’t want to listen.

The floorboards below us creak as the magic in her aura shifts, growing more powerful with her surge of emotional outcries.

"Relinquo, ut ex via exitus,” she whispers heavily sounding furious. I only recognize a couple words in the spell, mainly what I gather is that it’s a banishment spell.

Suddenly, the door behind her is thrown open and my body moves against its will as her magic pushes me out. It’s quite terrifying really, to have someone else’s magic touch you in such a forceful manner even if for a short period of time.

The door slams shut behind me and I land on my butt, on the grass below the front porch.

After dialing Stella’s number, I’m beyond relieved when she picks up on the first ring.

“Stella-” I begin to say, but she speaks over me in excitement.

“Already on my way, Val!” she hollers over the pop music playing on the radio in the background.

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