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Wrong Choices


My heart clenches agonizingly as I spot them.

Grace has her hands tentatively pressed against August’s stomach, and his lips find hers in the darkness.

This shouldn’t bother you.

But it does. God, it does.

I work to make myself move, get out of my frozen trance. I can tell Gabe is nervous, worried about my reaction, and when he looks back at me I try to give him an encouraging smile. He uneasily pulls me towards them, clearing his throat.

Auggie and Grace jump apart, both pairs of eyes finding mine. I look away from them.

Don’t let this bother you.

“Holly!” Grace exclaims. “I was so worried about you!” She throws her arms around me.

“Sure looked like it,” I mumble under my breath, unable to stop myself. She looks away guiltily.

“I’m sorry, Hol,” she whispers, looking at Auggie for confirmation. He steps forward and takes her hand. It takes every ounce of strength I have not to cringe. “It’s just... I came over here looking for help... and it just clicked for us. I was hoping you’d be happy.”

All three of them are looking at me now. It feels wrong to do it, but I grab Gabe’s hand back in mine. He squeezes it before pulling me into his side, wrapping his arm around my shoulders.

“Of course, I am.” I force a smile. My mind is spinning.

“Where were the two of you?” Auggie asks, not a single ounce of jealousy in his voice.

My heart aches.

“Holly summoned a test. Trial by fire.” Gabe presses a kiss to my temple and I shiver.

“So... you two are...” Grace let’s the question drop, looking at the ground. I think I see a hint of sadness but it disappears just as quickly as it came.

“Together,” I say, trying to sound firm. Trying to sound happy about it.

I shake my head to myself. I thought that after the test, and how good it felt with Gabe on my bedroom floor, that these intrusive thoughts would go away—that I wouldn’t have any doubts left—but here they are, as obnoxious as ever.

“Great!” She says, a little too happily. August pulls her closer, his arm sliding around her waist.


I fight it back, feeling a control over my powers that I never noticed before. If I’m not careful, I could do something stupid, like light Grace up like a candle.

“What about Elliot?” I ask suddenly, only now remembering that she has a long term boyfriend that she lives with.

She shifts uncomfortably. “About that... I caught him cheating and I may have put him under some sort of spell... and panicked and had an ambulance take him to the hospital.”

Gabe gasps. “You did what?

“It was an accident,” she defends herself. “I didn’t believe at all that any of this could be real when I called for ambulance. “What happened to him?” August asks her, with a little gentler tone than Gabe had used.

I seeth silently. Wasn’t it just a few hours ago that he was losing his patience with her?

“He tried to touch me and I yelled at him and he just... froze.”

Gabe’s jaw is clenched.

“He cheated on you?” I ask her, horrified for her.

She won’t meet my eyes, embarrassed. If she wasn’t still pressed up against Auggie, I’d hug her. She nods. “I walked in and there they were on the couch.”

“I don’t want to defend the guy,” August says slowly, “but he probably had no control over it. It most likely had something to do with magic... with putting you on the path towards who you’re meant to be with.”

“The guy was probably just an asshole,” Gabe snaps. “Magic manifests differently in different people and it was probably just something he’d at least been thinking about and she doesn’t deserve that—or you rationalizing it.”

August smirks. I know I didn’t imagine it, but I can’t see any reason why he’d be smiling after his brother tried to reprimand him.

“Or that,” Auggie agrees easily. “We can go to the hospital and take care of it,” he tells her, his mouth at her ear, pressing a kiss to her temple before looking back up at us.

“Where were the two of you headed?” He asks, looking at me.

“To get coffee,” Gabe answers for me. “You ready to get out of here?” He asks me, seeming irritated.

August smiles even bigger.

I stare at him, trying to figure out what he’s doing. His eye catches mine and his smile falters.

“Yeah,” I answer Gabe softly. “I’m ready.”

He leads me to his car as I stumble along behind him, trying to get Auggie out of my head. I want so badly to turn around, to go back to him... but it looks like he and Grace had their... moment. I should be happy. Gabe and I passed our test and they passed one of their own.

But why do I feel this way?

After coffee with Gabe and just riding around, talking about nothing in particular, he brought me home.

I went straight to my room and fell asleep for a solid thirteen hours. Talk about exhaustion. I was dead to the world, now laying in bed catching up on numerous texts.

One of which is from Lacey, Brian’s almost wife. She says she’d like to come over to talk if I’m free. Something feels odd about it, but I did tell her I’d like to hang out with her...

I tell her to come by.

I get up, stretching. I hop in the shower quickly. She’ll be over soon so I towel-dry my hair and then throw it into a loose French-braid. I do my makeup quickly and simply, and then dress in a pair of denim shorts and a cropped hoodie.

My phone vibrates on the nightstand.

Hey beautiful. You up yet?

I stare at the message from Gabe for longer than I should, my mind stuck on his brother once again. Let him go.

Yes. Lacey is coming over. Come see me soon?

There’s a knock on the door downstairs.

Of course, he responds.

I leave my phone on my bed and head down to greet Lacey. I pull the door open to find her standing there, a sickeningly sweet smile plastered on her face.

“Holly!” She squeals uncharacteristically, enveloping me in a hug.

“Lacey. How are you?” I extract myself from her awkward hug, taking a step back to let her inside. She sits on the couch, still smiling at me. Something is wrong. “Are you okay?” I ask her.

“Perfect!” She croons. “I’m absolutely perfect!”

“Oh... okay. So... what’s up?” I’m confused about what she’s doing here, acting so weird.

“I have an offer for you,” she tells me. When I just look at her, she continues. “Join us.”

I shake my head, confused. “Join you? For what?”

“Well, the greater good, of course. We need someone like you on our side. We believe in a ‘brighter’ world.”

“What the hell are you talking about?” I’m still standing in the foyer, about ready to ask her to leave if she’s going to be acting this strange.

“Maybe I’m not being clear enough.” She stands from the couch and takes a step towards me. I get an uneasy feeling in the pit of my stomach. “Join us and help us obliterate anyone we deem unworthy of magic or we’ll kill you. Simple. You’re either for us, or you’re against us. Which side do you choose, Hol?”

My heart is racing, panic making me feel queasy. I take a hesitant step backwards, towards the front door.

“Wrong choice,” she growls, lunging for me.

I duck past her, taking off towards the kitchen but I feel her hands grasp me by my hair, pulling me back. I fall to the floor but manage to scramble back up as she comes for me, a blade appearing in her hand. Shit. I try running again but she materializes in front of me. Disoriented, I fall backwards. She’s on top of me in an instant, trying to press her blade against my throat. I feel it slicing into my skin and I cry out, grabbing her arm and pushing. Why is she so strong? I manage to get a leg around her waist, kicking her off of me. I try to stand but she catches me by my ankle. I catch myself before I crash into the coffee table, but then I feel her hand on the back of my neck. My head cracks against the table and pain shoots through the right side of my face. I taste blood. I twist around, grabbing her and pushing her with all of my strength and watch as she stumbles backwards. I take off through the kitchen, almost to the back door when I hear her.

“This is for the greater good, Holly.”

I look back right as she bursts into blue flames that engulf the living room before my eyes. This isn’t a test. I didn’t do this. I know it’s up to me to get out of here alive, and I fight back the fear gripping my heart and make a dash for the door. I’m so, so close when everything goes eerily silent and I feel myself flying through the air as I’m catapulted through the glass door. I land on the deck with a heavy thud, feeling glass shards slice though my skin painfully. I cry out in pain, and then I feel nothing. I force myself to my feet, staggering towards the beach. I feel blood running down my arms and legs, and I can see it as it trickles down from my head.

I’m about to collapse when two strong arms catch me. I press my face into his chest and let my eyes finally close.
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