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Rising Darkness(Rylee Adamson #9)(12) by Shannon Mayer

“Who is this person who can train you? I thought the druids were the only ones left capable? I thought you were like the last witch alive or something like that.” Frank stepped into the imprint of a large foot. I followed him, not worried. It was an old print from months ago, its edges blurred and fuzzy from rain and wind.

I thought about my answer for a good minute before giving it to him. “Another witch contacted me. Someone who understands what I’m going through.”

That made Frank stop. “Going through? Who could possibly understand what we’re dealing with?”

It was my turn to be confused. “Excuse me?”

Frank gave a short sigh. “Look, who could understand what it is to be either of us, right now? We’ve seen and done things no other teens ever will, and on top of that, both of us are trying to learn how to control our own magic. There isn’t anyone out there who could possibly understand what we’re going through. And if they say they do, I’d call them a liar to their face.”

We stared at each other, and for just a split second I thought he might be right. I pushed that away, though. “Okay, perhaps that is too much, but my point is, it’s someone who can train me better than Deanna can.”

He shrugged and tugged me forward so we were walking side by side. “I’m trusting you, Pamela.”

My heart warmed again and I thought about all the times I’d wanted Rylee to trust me. “Why do you think Rylee didn’t take all of us with her?”

That seemed to slow him down. “I don’t know. I just know that if she didn’t, there was a reason.”

“Like maybe she doesn’t trust us,” I snapped, unable to keep the bitterness from my voice.

“Maybe she had cause to.”

I sucked in a sharp gasp as if he’d slapped me. “You don’t think she should trust me?”

“No, no, I meant—”

I hit him, punching him in the arm as I yanked my fingers from his. “That is an awful thing to say!”

“I didn’t mean it like that! I’m sure she trusts you. But she has no reason to really trust me. She hardly knows me. And we don’t know why she left. Maybe she was trying to kill Orion on her own so we wouldn’t get hurt.” He was talking fast, trying to get me to believe him. I stalked ahead, arms swinging and bag banging against my back. Peta glanced back, a glitter of her eyes in the dark night air and the white tip of her tail the only thing visible. I waved her forward.

“She should have trusted us. All of us. She says we’re family, but that’s not true if she doesn’t trust us.” Tears trickled out of my eyes but I dashed them away. I was done crying over Rylee, over the one person who said she’d look out for me.

No, that wasn’t true, she wasn’t the only one. I stumbled as the trees gave way to the open plain. Ahead of me was the still burning castle. I put a hand to my chest, the air in my lungs suddenly gone.

“Wow, I didn’t think it would still be burning.” Frank came up beside me, his fingers brushing against mine. I clutched at them and threw myself into his arms, sobbing. He held me tightly, but all I could see was Liam, the copper knife, and his blood on the floor. I’d killed him, my friend, a man I thought of as a brother. I couldn’t control the sobs, and my legs went out from under me.

“Easy, easy,” Frank whispered, lowering me to the ground. We sat until the sky lightened and my crying eased off. Hiccupping, I wiped at my face.

“I’m sorry.”

“It’s okay, I miss him too. He saved me, remember?”

I blinked at him. That was right. Liam had gotten Frank away from the crazy Arcane Arts division of the FBI who had been trying to kill him. It seemed like so long ago, and yet it had been less than a year. A lifetime had passed since then.

“He saved me, more than once. And I helped him get past his hang-ups with witches.” I stared at the castle, thinking of all the moments I’d had with Liam. Of watching him smile at Rylee, or laugh when Alex did something goofy. Which only started the tears again.

“Come on,” Frank helped me stand. “If we’re going to meet this mysterious person, we should do it quickly so we can get back.”

I didn’t correct him. My heart didn’t have the strength at that moment to do anything but walk forward. Milly had given me explicit instructions when it came to this particular spell. We got to the middle of the open plain and I stopped. “Here, I have to call her.”

Frank let go of me and I crouched, then pulled out a few clumps of grass so I had a bare patch of ground. Quickly, I drew a pentagram in the loose dirt, and then in the middle of it, I placed a small brown curl. It had shown up in my tent the morning after I first spoke with Milly through a dream. I probably would never know how it got there. But that didn’t matter as long as I could call on her.

“Millicent, I bring thee to me,” I spoke softly, but I heard Frank’s gasp. I pressed my fingers to four tips of the pentagram and allowed a pulse of magic to slide through me, into it. “Millicent, I bring thee to me.”

Standing, I stepped back from the pentagram.

“Please tell me you don’t mean Milly, the one Orion owns.”

“Orion doesn’t own her,” I snapped. “And she’s free of him, she told me.”

He grabbed my arms and spun me to face him. “You believed her?”

I stared into his handsome face, and saw he didn’t believe me, didn’t think I could make a good decision. “I trust her. She cares for me. Just go, I don’t need you here.” I shoved at him and there was a “tsk” behind me.