Twisted Fate

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Chapter 50

By popular vote, I changed the title to this book. :)

Astrid

“Blair?” I knock once. Twice. Three times and she still doesn’t open her bedroom door. Normally, I wouldn’t barge into her house uninvited, but she missed her morning meeting with a client, and now she’s missing a class with the warlocks and witches in training.

I walk down the hall and check the rooms next to hers. Empty. Worry settles in the pit of my stomach. This isn’t Blair. She wouldn’t ditch her responsibilities like this. I clench my fist and start pounding on the door. “Blair!”

Silence.

At this point, I don’t give a rat’s ass about being mannerly because the next thing I know; I march right into her bedroom. I’m half expecting to see her sleeping, but I’m surprised to find her hunched over the toilet, panting, with the bathroom door wide open.

A gasp slips from my lips when she slightly turns her head in my direction. Her tanned skin has turned a ghostly white and her eyes resemble the shade of blood. Suddenly, Blair returns to her position and vomits.

I rush to her side and my hands come up to catch her face. She can’t even properly hold her head up. “Blair, what happened to you?” My voice is frantic as I balance between supporting her head and holding her hair back.

“Hurts,” Blair groans, gripping the edge of the bowl. “Tt-towel… pp-please,” she gestures to the cabinets. I take two cloths and run them under cold water, one for her forehead and one for her mouth. Her limbs move like jelly when she tries reaching for the cloths. She’s too weak. I help clean her face and wrap her hair in a bun while she sits on the floor.

“Blair, I can feel the heat radiating off your body. We need to get you in the bathtub to lower your fever.”

She shakes her head to the best of her ability. “No. hhh-hurts. Bad.”

“What hurts, Blair? Tell me what I can do to help you.”

She slowly lifts her trembling hand and points to her temple. “Feels…like…exploding,” she whispers. Well, that’s one hell of a headache.

“Can you stand up?” I ask, wrapping both arms around her tiny figure before she gets the chance to respond. At first, she seems hesitant, but after I rub her back soothingly for a few minutes, she allows me to guide her upward.

The soiled t-shirt is the first thing to go, and then we take a solid five minutes to get her bottoms down before she’s naked and shivering. Another five minutes and she’s fully submerged into the bath water.

“Lay your head back and put this on your forehead,” I say, placing the damp cloth on her forehead. “I’ll give you a few minutes to adjust to the water and then I’ll help you bathe.”

Blair doesn’t argue with my demands. She just lays her head against the tub and closes her eyes. She’s too weak and exhausted to care about anything right now.

Witches don’t get this ill unless something is seriously wrong.

My conscious is screaming at me. I waste no time and call Ms. Hattie for help. My words come out so rushed, I barely have the chance to breathe. She tells me to keep calm and asks me a few questions about Blair’s symptoms. Within minutes, Ms. Hattie and Carson show up with a basket full of witch medicines.

Carson moves fast at stripping the bed sheets and replacing them with clean ones while I help Ms. Hattie bathe Blair.

“Astrid, take these ingredients back to the shop,” Ms. Hattie says, handing me her pouch, “Nicolas is waiting in the study with the students. He’ll have to teach the class himself today.”

“I can help him.”

Ms. Hattie eyes me dubiously. “Are you sure? The kids can be a handful and the spells are quite complicated for first timers.

I shrug. “How hard can it be?”

I regret those words the moment I walk into the study and Nicolas asks me to assist in the making of a “simple” spell. It’s not simple at all. At least for someone who’s never studied an ounce of witchcraft in her life. By the time I add the fresh plant to the boiling pot, there are liquids running all over the floor and I splatter my shirt with black… whatever is in this pot. The room bursts with laughter.

“Who hired the she-wolf to be our teacher?” A warlock says dryly as he puts his hands behind his head and props his feet on the table.

The witch sitting next to him laughs. “Maybe our parents stopped paying Blair, so she went on strike and left us with her. She doesn’t even know how to create a simple healing potion.”

“That is enough!” Nicolas snaps, “I expect all of you to show Astrid some respect when you walk into this class. Otherwise, I’d be happy to give everyone a failing grade. Bet that’ll look real pretty on your transcripts.”

No one comments on my mistakes after that. In fact, the mood changes throughout the room and I see a lot more helping hands and determined faces.

Salem has one of the best colleges for witches in the nation. They don’t take applications lightly and you certainly won’t get a free pass for being a resident. These kids need to be prepared, which is why Nicolas has us clearing the tables thirty minutes later and moving on to a new subject- dark magic.

At first, it’s just a brief lesson on satanic cults, and then we dive deep into the kingdoms of hell. Nicolas pulls out the same tricks as last time, the holographic demons and devils crowding the room. I get the same feeling I did seeing them the first time because they’re holograms look so realistic.

“And we’re out of time,” Nicolas later announces as he looks at his watch. It’s Friday and the students jolt out of their seats before Nicolas can get another word out.

He rubs his temples repeatedly, his hooded eyes screaming with exhaustion. Despite Evelyn’s story and the creeps this place has been giving me lately, I feel compelled to relieve Nicolas from his duties. It’s the least I could for making an enormous mess earlier. Besides, I have nothing better to do. So, I offer to stay behind and tidy the place up a bit.

Just close the door and avoid that room at all costs.

“Leave it,” I say before Nicolas can turn off his record player on the way out. It will keep my mind off the ghosts and goddess knows what other creepy shit lingers here in the shop.

He peers over his shoulder, arching a brow. “This is way before your time youngster.”

“My father played old music all the time when I was little, and I love Brenton Wood.”

He grins, pointing his index finger at me. “I knew Arlo picked a good one.”

I get busy as soon as Nicolas leaves. The room is a lot messier than I expected because of our potion making. I clean tables, gather ingredients, sweep the floor and wash essential tools for the next day. I’m too busy singing and dancing with the broom to notice it’s past 5 o’clock.

I flinch and drop the broom. The record player suddenly goes haywire, raising the volume full blast. The record skips and Brenton’s voice sounds distorted and then it goes slow.

“Piece of shit,” I curse out the record player as I turn the knob. The volume rises even higher as if telling me, “Touché bitch.” I take the needle off the record, and it stops. Wait… it hasn’t stopped.

My eyebrows crease as I stare at the record in bewilderment, the dial still spinning. I’ve listened to this record plenty of times to know there is no whistling. Why does it sound like someone is whistling on this record?

A creak in the floorboard sends my animal instincts on edge. With my claws elongated, I whip around to find the storage closet open with red eyes staring back at me and a glowing blue light inside. It takes me a moment to realize that it’s not a light, but flames. I relax instantly. This demon should have been a part of our lesson today, but we couldn’t find him among the others. Nicolas must’ve messed up the spell. It’s known to glitch sometimes.

Call me stupid or ballsy, but I walk to the closet doorway and flip the light switch on. It doesn’t work and now I’m left staring at the holographic demon of Prince Azazel of the ninth kingdom. Not creepy at all.

I giggle and do a quick curtsy in front of the prince. If weird things happen like this all the time, might as well have some fun with it. And then there’s that striking resemblance.

“You remind me so much of him, Prince Azazel,” I talk to the hologram as I move my hands through the hellfire. The fire is slightly warm, making the illusion seem more realistic than ever. Gosh, these things are so lifelike. “Arlo Blackburn could be your mortal twin.”

Great. I’m now comfortable talking to a freaking statue.

“So, tell me Azazel, prince of the ninth, what is hell really like?” I continue to talk to the hologram like a crazy person. It’s all fun and games until I notice the blinking of his eyes. My hands fall away from the fire.

“Did you just…” It happens again. The demon blinks and then looks right into my eyes, moving his lips. Whistling. The holographic demon whistles a song.

I take one large step back, and the demon takes one large step forward. My throat tightens and my skin feels itchy. Each step I take, he follows with me. Don’t freak out. Don’t freak out. Don’t freak out. Don’t freak out.

My back hits the table and I strike him with my claws when he invades my personal space. My blood runs cold the minute flesh touches flesh, a firm grasp of my wrist. He stares me down with his demonic red eyes and squeezes my wrist with abnormal strength.

Suddenly, his face morphs into something that could only be seen in my worst nightmares, his true demon form. He bears his freakishly long teeth at me and comes closer to my face. I’m too terrified to defend myself, so I scream as loud as my lungs will allow it.

Two hands come down on my shoulders. “Astrid, what happened? Why are you screaming?” Carson shakes me out of terror, and I look up into his worried eyes.

I tremble in his arms and scan the room. The closet door is open with the light turned on and there is no demon in sight. “Where did he go?” My voice cracks.

“Who?” Carson looks utterly clueless.

Without another word, I walk out of the shop and get inside the car. Carson tries to ask me questions as he drives us to the house, but I remain silent. I don’t want to talk about it. I want to erase that image of his face from my mind completely, but it follows me to my dreams that night. I make a decision.

I hear you loud and clear, old souls.

The next morning Blair is still sick. I help her do a few things around the house before I visit Ms. Hattie. She is sitting at her desk with Nicolas when I come marching in her office, determined.

“I want the keys to the red door.”

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