I’m still present within my own mind, but at this point the darkness has completely taken over. Déjà vu in the most unpleasant of ways. I’m back to being a helpless passenger, along for the ride as my body destroys everything I love. My mother is nowhere to be seen, and I pray to Bastianna that she’s okay… but I could really use her help right now.
The darkness knows me, my innermost sinful desires—and it’s makes damn sure that I get what I want. This mission is about anger, and about revenge, it’s not just blindly hurting people. The mission is to kill my father. Obviously , I have no idea if that’s even possible. He’s the strongest witch in the world.
But even as I make my way to him, I know that he deserves everything he gets—and if I die in the process, that’s what I deserve as well. I don’t know where he lives, but I know that I’m headed in the right direction, led by hatred and anger.
“Salem!” Someone calls after me, running after me down the dark cobblestone streets late at night, but I don’t care to see who it is or hear what they have to say.
I keep walking, my determination pulling my feet one in front of the other, my hands burning with magic.
“Salem, stop,” he says, suddenly in front of me. He’s nervous. He saw what I did to Nathan and I won’t hesitate to do the same to him. “You have no reason to trust me,” he starts.
I walk past him and he grabs my arm. I turn on him, ready to burn him alive when he screams at me.
“You didn’t kill those people in Hollowbrook!”
I freeze, my cold eyes watching him, deciphering what his motives are.
“Speak, Ezra. Make it fast. I’ve got murdering to do.”
“Your father already knew about you then,” he says quickly, the words jumbled together. “He made you do it—he set you off to see how powerful you are. You weren’t in control of yourself then, but you can be in control now.”
“You’re lying,” I say, feeling hope rise in my chest.
“I’m not! He needed to know what you can do. Now we know—you need to stop and think about this. If you go to him now, without a plan, you’re going to die. Then your magic is useless,” he says.
I can tell he’s trying to appeal to the evil in me with the threat of losing my magic, but I can already feel myself slowly returning to normal.
“Now!” He screams, jumping back.
I’m about to lunge for him, angry that I’ve been deceived, when something connects with the back of my head. I fall to my knees, the world turning black.
“I’m sorry,” I hear Leo whisper as I drift into oblivion.
She still hasn’t budged and I’m nervous that I’ve seriously hurt her, but I don’t dare approach her.
“You did the right thing,” her mother assures me, sitting in a folding chair next to me.
The only thing I knew to do was to knock Salem out. It was Ezra’s idea to distract her so that I could do it. Once we had accomplished that difficult challenge, I was at a loss with what to do with her, though. That’s when Ezra informed me that her mom was at the hospital, spelled into an endless loop of working, sleeping in a staff room, and then working again, never knowing that her life had ever been any different.
We retrieved her mom, who informed us that she had been the one to pull Salem from the darkness after Hollowbrook. She led us to an empty room in the basement of the hospital and had me lay her on the floor. She circled her with salt and placed different gems around her.
Now we wait.
“The right thing feels terrible,” I tell her.
She places a hand on my shoulder. “Salem is a good girl—an amazing girl—she deserves someone to fight for her.”
“She is amazing,” I agree, watching the steady rise and fall of her chest as she lays on the floor. She looks peaceful.
“What are we going to do?” Her mother muses aloud.
“I don’t know,” I admit, sighing. “I’m sure Nathan has picked himself up by now and run to her father. He’ll be looking for us soon enough.”
“Well you know my plan,” Ezra’s voice echoes through the room as he enters, startling Salem’s mother. He walks around the circle, eyeing Salem distrustfully. “Finish this sober circle and have her prepare her demands. She helps Vincent, we all get to live.”
“Who is this guy?” Salem’s mom asks, unamused.
“Ezra,” he answers for me. “Leopold’s favorite brother… and you are?”
She narrows her eyes at him. “Salem’s mother. You can call me Elle.”
“Beautiful name. Beautiful woman. Be smart about this,” he urges. “We’ve exposed ourselves, so to speak. We have no other options but to bargain. He needs your daughter’s help—so much so that he would allow us to live just to get it. Sounds like a good plan to me… especially when the alternative is death.”
“Do you really think there are no other options?” Elle asks me glumly.
I learn forward, putting my face in my hands and sighing.
“I don’t know,” I tell her honestly. “I don’t want to put her in any more danger than she already is in. Maybe it’s the only way to keep her safe. She can’t use her magic without it taking over… Ezra may be right. We’re out of options.”
“I’m always right, brother,” Ezra sneers. “I’ll get in touch with Vinny to let him know she’s working on her demands. Don’t take too long rehabilitating our star player,” he says and then walks back out of the room, leaving Elle and I to sit in silence and fear over what our futures hold.
“What if Salem could learn to control her powers?” She asks doubtfully.
“You don’t sound convinced of that possibility.”
“I’m not… but are we just supposed to aid Vincent in his quest for world domination to save our own asses? You seem to be a smart man—how long after he takes over do you think it will take him to get rid of all of us?”
I get up, pacing the floor around Salem. I hate this. I hate everything about this. Why couldn’t Salem have just been a normal girl? Why couldn’t we just have gone on normal dates? Fallen in love the normal way and lived our normal lives together?
I look at her again—at her pale skin and dark hair, and her full pink lips; at the gentle curves of her body—and I know that I could never walk away from her. This girl that I barely know, and also know better than anyone in the world, has suddenly become the center of mine.
“I’d do anything to keep her safe,” I tell Elle now, my voice full of conviction.
She smiles softly at me. “I think you’re lucky to have her,” she tells me. “But I also think she’s lucky to have you.”
We stare at each other for a long moment, the seriousness of the situation hanging over us. We could lose everything.
“We need a plan,” she says now. “One that your brother knows nothing about.”
“If you’re right about Vincent spelling Salem into a murderous stupor that day, then it is possible to think that she may can control her powers.”
“She only has access to dark magic?” I ask.
“Yes. I agree with Vincent that dark magic isn’t inherently bad, but I think you’d have to be very determined to stay in control of yourself when you use it.”
“And you think Salem is determined enough?”
“You don’t?” She challenges.
“Maybe? Black magic is no joke. It’s controlled her before. She almost killed Nathan, and she wasn’t spelled into doing that.”
“All dark arts thrive on anger, pain, sadness, and jealousy. Salem needs to learn to let herself feel all of those things, and use them to her advantage, rather than letting them use her to wreak havoc. She just has to try. We have to try.”
“Okay,” I say simply. “When she wakes up, we’ll begin practicing.”
Salem smiles in her sleep and it gives me hope that this can all work out… but I have the sinking feeling that Salem’s magic is stronger than anything I’ve ever seen before.