“I should head inside,” I mumble, stumbling a few more steps backwards.
“Holly,” he says softly, coaxing me to calm down, but it isn’t working. I’m freaked out.
“What was that?” I demand, my head spinning. “How come whenever I’m around you, something weird happens?”
He opens his mouth like he’s going to explain and then he snaps it shut, casting his eyes to the sandy ground.
I swirl the neglected coffee around in my mug nervously. Why is this happening?
“Is there something wrong with me? With you?” I ask, my voice shaky. Maybe I don’t want to know. Maybe we’re both freaks.
“No,” he whispers kindly. “There’s nothing wrong with us.” He takes a deep breath, seeming to steady himself. “There’s things about yourself that you don’t know. You’ve been sheltered—all three of you have—but that was stupid, and dangerous. It doesn’t matter anyway, because now that Brian is gone, prophecy will be fulfilled. You would’ve found out sooner or later.”
What? What is he saying? Prophecy will be fulfilled? Like he’s some sort of fortune teller.
“Brian found your mothers spellbook,” he continues. “He told me about it, and shortly after that, he died. Your mother was never supposed to have a boy, only three girls. Where Brian came from? We don’t know. He was the only piece of the puzzle that didn’t fit. He started seeing these signs that maybe his time was up. I had really hoped he was wrong... but he asked me to keep you safe... I don’t intend to let him down.”
I’m frozen in place, undeniably shocked. Is he crazy?
Brian knew he was going to die?
Do I run? Do I scream? Do I get Auggie? He obviously needs some sort of help...
He takes a step closer to me, noticing my contempt. He’s holding his hands up in surrender. “When I touch you...” he starts softly, almost whispering. “What do you feel? What happens to you? I feel sparks and heat. I feel like I’m flying and I can hear my heart bearing. Tell me you don’t feel that.”
I shake my head. I’ve got to get inside, I’ve got to get Grace. I’ve got to do something.
This is terribly wrong.
“That’s insane,” I say inconsiderately, fear bubbling to the surface. “So what if I feel that? That doesn’t mean anything. It’s just some-some-some kind of weird abnormality!” I stutter. “What are you even talking about? A spellbook? Like my mom is some sort of witch or something? That’s crazy.”
I’m taunting him, but I can’t help it. If he really is crazy then he’ll get mad about my implications. Terror has me gripped by my throat and I can’t breathe.
“You mother isn’t some sort of witch,” he says. “Your mother is a witch. My guess is, she stopped practicing magic to keep you hidden. If that’s correct, then you’ve probably noticed some erratic behavior. She more than likely hasn’t been herself for a while.”
I laugh. “What is this?” I ask, still laughing, but there’s no humor in the sound. “Is this some sort of joke? Do you think this is funny? My brother just died and you’re trying to play some morbid prank?!” I demand, raising my voice, my blood practically boiling. All I see is red, and suddenly I’m so angry at him that I could scream.
“Holly.” Gabe says sternly, but I’m so caught up in my anger that I can’t control myself.
“And how dare you imply that my brother was some sort of cosmic mistake! That the universe had to get rid of him or some shit because of prophecy. You are completely insane!” I scream at him, feeling something in me surge. As though something in my life has finally clicked into place.
“Holly!” Gabe shouts now, and I realize I can barely hear him. “Do you see this?!” He demands, gesturing to the sudden torrential downpour. Thunder claps, shaking the ground, and lighting flickers through the sky at a pace I’ve never seen before. “This is you!” He shouts, pointing up at the storm. “You’re doing all of this! If you would just calm down this would all go away!”
My brows furrow in confusion, but I can feel myself calming down, despite the fear remaining. As I calm, so does the storm. I feel awed and sick at the same time.
Did I really just do that?
Is that even possible?
Am I crazy for wondering if Gabe could be right?
And most importantly, if my mom is a witch, and I just created a storm out of my anger, does that mean that I’m a witch too?
When I look back up at Gabe he seems relieved. What emotion did he see in my face? Did he see the uneasy acceptance? The apprehension at even considering that witches could be real? That I, myself could be supernatural?
“Where’s my coffee?” I ask, the most random thing I could possibly say.
Gabe smirks and looks down at my feet. I follow his eyes and find that I’ve crushed the cup, the fragments laying in the sand.
That was my favorite coffee cup.
“Well that’s just great,” I sigh, sarcasm dripping from every word. “That was my dad’s cup.”
Everything goes black then.
My head hurts.
I press my palms against my eyes, trying to ease the pain.
There’s so much pressure in my head.
Wha happened to me?
Everything rushes back to me then. Witches. I must’ve passed out. I guess it was too much for me to handle. I’m not ready to face the world yet. I don’t know what to think. I don’t know how to handle it.
Where do we go from here?
What is Gabe?
Is he a witch too?
“She just passed out?” I can hear Grace ask. “The two of you were just talking on the beach and she fell over? You’re sure?” She’s skeptical.
“I guess it was just from the stress of the funeral, and everything that’s been going on. She’s going through a lot right now.”
Grace sighs. “I know,” she says softly, seeming to accept what he says as the truth. “Should we have called an ambulance?”
“No,” he assures her. “She’ll be fine. It’s just her body’s way of getting a break.”
“She didn’t sleep much last night,” she says, and I feel her sit next to me where I’m lying on what I’m assuming is our couch. “She tossed and turned all night. She eventually kicked Emma off the couch by accident.”
Then Grace starts laughing too.
“It was pretty funny,” she giggles. Giggles.
I don’t think I’ve ever heard her laugh like that... Or maybe I have. When her and Elliot first started dating.
Is Grace interested in Gabe?
How does that make me feel?
With this weird connection we seem to have, the thought of Grace liking Gabe has my stomach in knots.
She can’t have him.
I have a... an outing with Auggie, so why should it even bother me?
Grace isn’t for ME. You are MINE. The words are echoing through my head, intensifying the pain, making me nauseous. My heart is racing.
I am not yours.
My eyes snap open and instantly connect with Grace’s.
“Holly!” She gasps, relieved. “Thank God you’re okay!”
She runs her hand across my forehead.
“Are you okay? Do you need anything? Medicine? I can get you Tylenol? A cold rag?”
I laugh a little. “No thanks. I’m good.”
“What happened?!” She exclaims. “I was so worried about you!”
“I’m fine,” I tell her, desperately wanting to spill everything that Gabe had told me on the beach, needing confirmation that he is, in fact, batshit crazy. I look at Gabe now. “Thank you for bringing me home, but I think I’m going to go take a shower.”
“You’re very welcome,” he says, his eyes worried. “We’ll talk later, right?”
I look down, not wanting to make promises. I’m still not ready to believe any of it.
He nods knowingly, and then retreats through the front door.
“I have so much to tell you.”