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The energy in the room has shifted. We’re getting closer together on the blanket, and everything feels right in the world. Except it’s not. I never should have came with him today. I should have said no. I never should’ve talked to him in the first place.

But no one else had ever tried.

My whole time at Hallewell I blended in, just like I had intended to. I was invisible. No one tried to talk to me, no one even seemed to notice I was there. Expect Leo. Now things have gone too far. His face is so close to mine I can feel his breath on my lips, and I want so badly to close the distance. Doing that would be wrong. I can really see myself liking him, and if he ever found out about my past... he wouldn’t be looking at me with the same, awestruck expression on his face. I can picture the disgust, and the hatred, and worst of all—the fear. I couldn’t take it if he were scared of me.

His hand softly grazes my neck, his fingers at my collarbone. I shiver under his touch. I feel emotions stirring in me that I’ve been avoiding for the past year of my life.

I don’t deserve him.

“Leo,” I whisper, a quiet warning.

“Salem,” he whispers back, seeming to challenge me.

His head moves closer, his lips so close to mine. My heart aches. I place a hand on his chest, and enjoy the warmth I find there. My hand slides up to his shoulder, and wants to continue up still, to his face, but I stop. I press gently against him, pushing him away.

“Leo... we can’t do this,” I tell him regretfully.

He looks at me, something in his eyes I’ve never seen before from anyone in my life.

“I think we can,” he quips before quickly closing the distance I’ve tried so hard to maintain. All of my willpower evaporates then. His lips are on mine and my arms wrap around his neck. His hands grab my hips and pull me close. We’re both breathing hard, and one hand moves from my hip to my face, caressing my cheek. I feel his tongue on my bottom lip and I grant him entrance, lips parting with a gasping breath as he deepens the kiss. A small moan escapes from deep within his chest, sending pleasant chills up my spine.

He moves, pulling me into his lap as I straddle his hips. His hands quickly remove my coat, and then I feel his fingers tracing their way up and down my forearm. It’s not a very sensual touch, but at the same time it’s so intimate that it snaps me out of my lust-filled trance, and I pull away suddenly, looking at him with big eyes.

We’re both breathing hard, both frozen in place. I’m about to panic when he places his hand on my face, his thumb brushing against my throbbing lips. His other arm winds around my waist and pulls me tightly against his chest. He’s looking at me seriously, as though I’m fragile, or maybe even as though I’m a caged animal. I can tell he wants to placate me, to soothe my rising anxiety.

“Don’t say anything,” he says. “Not yet. Just... take your time. Think about it. I think I’ve made my intent quite clear... about what I want from you. I know that you don’t feel you should have friends, but just consider this.” He presses his lips softly against mine, just a short, sweet kiss. I want it to last forever. He pulls away, smiling at me. “Think about it?” He asks.


You don’t deserve him.

Get out of here and STAY AWAY FROM HIM.

I nod, unable to speak—or follow my own rules apparently. He smiles eagerly and gives me one final peck before we untangle ourselves and pack up the basket and blanket to leave. I slide back into my coat as rain pelts down on the roof above us.

This afternoon went far differently than I had planned. There’s a hope building in me that I’m struggling to squash. Even if my mother was right—even if it were safer for me to have friends when I’m not practicing magic—if Leo ever found out the secrets I’m keeping, he would leave me. He would regret ever having met me. I need to convince him of that.

I just don’t want to.

I spend Sunday wondering what Leo is doing. My fingers itch to text him, but I refuse to let myself. After our kiss, we met Ezra at the car and he drove me home. He told me he’d text me when he got home and drove away.

I never received a text.

I waited up half the night, feeling rejected and desperate. I made up excuses for him—maybe he went out with Ezra, maybe he’s busy grading papers. It didn’t make me feel any better.

So now I’m curled up on the couch, staring dejectedly at the TV, feeling like the worlds biggest idiot. I can feel dark magic stirring, rallied by my bad mood. I shove it back, sighing. Will I always have to battle myself this way? I pick at the lint on the blanket I have draped over myself, a cup of herbal tea next to me, but it’s not enough. I really wish my mother wasn’t so against having caffeine in the house—then maybe an opportunity to woo me never would have presented itself to Leo.

The old me never would have felt this helpless. The old me would have had another guy on standby.

It’s not so much that I was a bad person, but I was young and high-strung. I had my whole life ahead of me—and a really long one, at that—and I was beautiful. Being pretty really does open up a lot of doors in this world. I was really smart, but I hid it well. Guys don’t want girls smarter than them. I realize now how shallow I was. I realize now, now that it’s too late, that I had so much potential. If only I’d never started using magic. I didn’t know what dark magic felt like. I didn’t know how it could affect your personality, how it could change you. Now I know.

It feels like anger, for no good reason. It feels like frustration—nothing is ever good enough. It feels like strength, like you can do anything you want. And it feels like power. So much power. The power to control people, to get them to do whatever you desire. It’s the power to make people fall at your feet, the power to take over whole towns, the whole world. It feels like you have more power than anyone in the universe.

It feels good.

It’s a cold, tingling sensation, that sneaks it’s way through your body and winds itself into your mind. It ingrains itself in your very being, in your soul. It makes you think it was always meant to be there.

It’s all a lie.

Dark magic is unnecessary, and evil. It corrupts you, usually to the point of no return.

I was lucky enough to have my mom to pull me out of it. She used a powerful spell to knock me unconscious and then placed me in a cellar circled with black parisian salt so that I couldn’t get out. Inside the circle she placed citrine for promotion of positive energy, black tourmaline to cleanse me of darkness, and black onyx to block negative thoughts.

It took ten days to cleanse my soul, my heart, and my mind, all while my mother sat hopelessly outside of the salt circle, waiting for a miracle.

When I came to, I was sick for days. The guilt and shame of what I’d done ate me alive. It still does.

To this day my mother blames herself. When my mother met my father, he kept a lot of secrets from her. She knew him only as Vic and they had a whirlwind affair, which ultimately resulted in me. Little did she know that he was actually Vincent St. Clair, the worlds most notoriously evil warlock. He, too, was born with dark magic in his blood. But we weren’t born evil. No, evil is made through actions and choices. When I realized the effects magic had on me, I stopped using it. He didn’t.

I’ve never met my father—only heard the lore and horror surrounding his name. Hopefully, I never will meet him.

It’s not my mothers fault, though, and I wish she didn’t have to be afraid of me, but when she looks at me, she doesn’t only see her eyes and her nose and her mouth reflected back at her... she also sees him.

I fall asleep reflecting on my past, only to be awoken by the alarms on my phone at 5 AM. Still no text from Leo. My heart sinks, but I make my way to my room to get dressed. Today I wear black leggings, my FOB concert tee, and a pair of slide on sneakers. I tie my wavy hair into a high pony and slap some mascara on my lashes. I look tired.

It’ll have to do.

I grab my bag and head to the coffee shops, ordering in a blur, hoping beyond hope that Leo will show. He doesn’t.

Disappointed, I walk, coffee in hand, to class. When I sit down at the back, like always, I see that Leo isn’t here and neither is professor Hawkes. There’s a man standing at his podium, though, back to us. I glance at the other students but they seem as confused as I am.

He clears his throat and turns around. He is breathtakingly handsome, his piercing eyes the color of the night sky, his hair jet black and perfectly coiffed.

“Class,” he drawls. “I am professor Marcus. I will be replacing professor Hawkes indefinitely. This class will no longer be an easy A, and no one will be allowed to skip out on presentation of skills, am I clear?”

His eyes bore into mine as he speaks and I feel uneasy. Is it too late to drop this class?

“And for anyone wondering, yes, it is too late to drop this class. I expect everyone to study, silently, on the effects of magic on the mindset. You will present your skills to the class on Thursday. No exceptions. Salem Miller, would you please see me at my desk?”

It’s not a question. It’s a command.

Anxious, I make my way to his desk. What does he want with me?

“Professor Hawkes kept some notes on you, miss Miller. He did not believe you to be a good fit for introduction to magic, despite the fact that you apparently don’t practice. Any idea why that may be? What would possess him to think you’re far more advanced than the rest of the students?”

“I-I don’t know,” I stumble. Professor Hawkes was suspicious of me. My blood turns cold. “I don’t practice magic, no one in my family does.”

“Then why are you here? To socialize?” He looks at me disdainfully.

“No,” I answer, offended by his assumption. “Just because we don’t practice doesn’t mean that I should be ignorant of my powers, does it?”

He smiles but it isn’t friendly. “No. I suppose not. You will present your skills to the class on Thursday. No exceptions. Maybe we’ll see if your former professor’s suspicions were warranted.”

I can’t hide my irritation. I turn from him and March back to my seat. What am I going to do now?

For the rest of class I doodle in my notebook, feeling Marcus’ cold eyes on me. I ignore him. I’ve got to speak to my mother and find a way out of this.

When I leave class my heart stops, because leaning against the wall, seemingly waiting on me, is Ezra.

“Little witch,” he purrs. “Nice to see you.” His eyes roam my body and I shift uncomfortably

“Nice to see you, too.” I begin walking away from him but he follows.

“How was class?” He asks, pretending not to notice my discomfort.

“Fine,” I lie.

“You aren’t going to ask me where Leopold is?” He questions me. “He was very quiet on the ride home Saturday night. Something happen? The two of you fight?”

I stop and look at him, surprised. “No, we didn’t fight.”

“You’re not the least bit curious where he is?” He smiles innocently.

“No,” I lie again. “If he wanted me to know where he was, he would tell me.”

“I suppose you’re right—he must not care for you to know.” I flinch, but he continues. “Dinner tonight. I’ll pick you up at seven. Be ready.”

He doesn’t give me a chance to respond before he darts off back towards the classroom.

I know two things for sure.

Leopold does not want to talk to me...

And I do not want to have dinner with Ezra.
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