We’ve got the great J. Elizabeth Hill today with this awesome story. I so love it. Magic…. and tattoos, I want one like this. I’ll let you all read it. As always her links are at the bottom.
Thank you, J. Elizabeth for being here and sharing this wonderful story with us today.
Allia felt warmth spread through her shoulder and down her arm to the elbow, a warning she didn’t need as she crouched behind the dumpster. Following Samuel wasn’t safe, but she had to know what he was up to. The idea of asking him where he slipped off to every Thursday near dawn was ridiculous. He’d gone to great lengths to keep from being spotted leaving the large house the coven shared. Besides, he was their leader. He’d tell her he didn’t have to explain himself to such a junior member.
The smell permeating the metal at her back was rank enough that she wondered if someone had thrown a dead body in. It wouldn’t have been the first time, not from the stories Derek liked to tell. She wasn’t sure she believed half of what he said, but the intricate nature of his tattoo kept her from dismissing it all out of hand as an old man telling exaggerated stories. Clearly he’d been around and seen a lot.
Her tattoo, still warm and growing hotter, was simple by comparison. Only a few whorls and extra lines added to the basic frame. Kavisadre writhed within those borders. Her familiar wanted out of the tattoo, so he could help and protect her, as always.
A door slammed nearby and Allia brought her hands up, one with the palm out, one palm up. They glowed softly with power, though she hadn’t formed a spell yet. This was only her innate magic, rather than the blazing energy she could have tapped through Kavisadre. Samuel would have noticed if she’d drawn that much. As it was, when she saw no movement in the back street, she released all but the smallest trickle. She didn’t want to confront him until she had some idea of what was going on. All she knew so far was that he kept sneaking out of the house and was gone for most of the day. Kavisadre had said there was something odd about Samuel’s familiar, Hesilint, these days, though he’d refused to elaborate when she’d asked.
She peeked around the dumpster. The street was empty. No one guarded the door Samuel had stopped beside. Kavisadre whispered again.
Let me out. I’ll make sure no one’s around. Only the most powerful of your kind would be able to detect me..
The only problem with this idea was that Samuel was one of the most powerful living witches. It was why she’d refused Kavisadre’s original plan for him to tail Samuel alone. Allia walked casually down the street, drifting closer to the door.
I don’t like this.
You’re not required too. Either he or Hesilint will sense you if you step out of the tattoo.
Bah. Hesilint is too busy worrying about Samuel to notice much. And he’s tired. Those two have been together long years, too long. Hesilint needs to rest. He needs Samuel to pass on and release him.
That shocked Allia. At twenty-three, there was a lot she still had to learn about Vasheta, both as familiars and in that state where they were separate spirits. She’d never thought their symbiosis with witches had any effect on them in the long run. No member of the coven had ever mentioned this.
Forget I said anything, Allia. We do not speak of these things with your kind. It is not for you to know our inner workings, only to work with us for our mutual goals.
Mutual goals? Are you saying you have your own?
I’ve said too much. This night has me uneasy. Something is not right in the world here.
She knew that tone. He’d tell her no more, not right now at least, no matter how much she pushed, so she focused on Samuel. The only reason he’d have come to such a run down, out of the way neighbourhood as this was to hide what he was up to. She had to catch him at it, or she’d never be able to convince the others.
When she reached the door, she cast out her senses. Faint flickers of living things came from deep inside the building, but that was all. The door opened easily and she slipped inside. She tried to quell both her nerves and those of her familiar as she glanced around again, which was a new experience. Never once had she sensed more than a faint hint of emotion from him. What could be going on that had Kavisadre so unnerved?
I cannot explain it to you. This is why I need you to release me. There are things going on in this place, or that I fear are happening, that you don’t understand. I need the freedom to protect you and stop them.
The vehemence of his tone almost pushed her into doing as he asked. But the thought of spooking Samuel worried her more.
I can force my way out.
Is that a threat? She stopped in the dark hallway.
No, of course not. You know me better than that, Allia. It’s a warning. I will not let them harm you, but there may be some damage if I’m required to break out of the tattoo. Please, let me out. I can cloak myself if I remain close enough to you. They will not know we’re here. I could even cloak you.
Again, she considered. Are you sure?
Have I ever let you down in the years since you became my host?
This didn’t answer her question and they both knew it, but she trusted him. Their symbiosis demanded it.
She stretched her senses out even further, until she could feel pain start to radiate from the base of her skull down her neck. Nothing. No sense of anyone even searching. This made her more uneasy still. It might just be Samuel’s usual arrogance, but there were other possibilities. Like a trap, in case anyone followed him.
She wished briefly that she’d brought someone else with her, but who would have believed her based on what she little she could explain about her concerns? Besides, she hadn’t wanted to put anyone in danger. So it was just her and Kavisadre. With a sigh, she gave in and called him forth from his ink home on her left upper arm, using the least amount of energy she could. No sense giving them a beacon to see.
She watched as the tattoo changed within the frame. The thrill of this hadn’t yet dimmed for her. The swirl of symbols and shapes shifted. They spun within the borders and as they moved, a thousand unseen fingertips dragged lightly across her skin.
At last, the shimmer coalesced into a shape that was translucent, a faint glowing giving him away in the dark. Even witches couldn’t clearly see the form of a Vasheta, only tracings and pieces. Kavisadre had large horns on either side of what she thought was his head. Limbs reached out from his torso, but they faded and brightened with such randomness that she could never be certain how many he had. And he loomed over her, at least a foot and a half taller than her. Size wasn’t supposed to mean anything to these spirits, yet she was always comforted by his.
“They’ll see that glow, you know.”
The area of his face that must be his mouth brightened and he grinned at her. His voice was rough, scrapped thin as it was whenever he tried to be quiet. “That I do for your benefit.”
The glow vanished, but she could still feel him nearby through their connection. She reached out to where he’d been, but her fingers found nothing, not even the heat that travelled up them when she tried to touch him.
“Did you think I was just going to stand there?”
She jumped and whirled. His voice had come from beside her left ear.
“I assure you, Allia, I have tricks you know nothing about.” This time it was from her right side. When she turned that way, only his grin appeared. It reminded her of a story she’d read as a child with a disappearing cat. “There hasn’t been enough time yet to teach you everything. Now, let’s go. I too wish to know what Samuel is up to, what Hesilint is trying to hide for him.”
She nodded and continued following the hall into the darkness. She thought about creating a light, since the growing daylight outside didn’t penetrate very far down from the window in the door she’d come through, but decided against. Her vision was adjusting and a light would be as likely to give her away as help her.
The corridor widened abruptly into a room big enough to eat the last wisps of weak sunlight that had tried to illuminate the hall. She drew together the energy needed for a light of her own, but before she could cast it, Kavisadre brightened a few feet ahead of her. In the dim light, she saw that the space wasn’t as large as the darkness had made it seem. Equipment covered in dusty clothes stood about the room. Boards covered part of one wall, likely where there had once been windows.
“This is a strange place. What are these devices?”
Allia shrugged. “Junk now. We don’t have time to worry about them.”
Two doors confronted her. One was marked Employees Only. She listened at each, but no sound came. The sense of living things deeper in the building came from somewhere between the two doors. “Any thoughts, Kav?”
“I believe we discussed your habit of shortening my name. Specifically, I asked you not to.”
“Right. Forgot. Backslid.”
She flashed him a smile and was sure he’d be rolling his eyes if he were human. She restrained the urge to giggle.
“So, the answer to my question is?”
“I cannot be certain which way they went. There is no trail.”
“Really?” Kavisadre always found a trail, especially when another Vasheta was involved.
Instead of answering, he went very still.
“We must move quickly and carefully.”
“You know something.”
“No, I fear it. That is an entirely different matter. I hope to be proven wrong. Let us pick a door and be on our way, Allia. There is no time for us to dither.”
When neither door offered her any more information than she already knew, she picked the unmarked door, thinking the other seemed too obvious. Behind it, she found a short corridor, a door, then another corridor. A few doors appeared as they went, but none showed signs of use. Finally, they came to a T-junction, where the living things were definitely somewhere down the right arm. She took it without hesitation. Behind her, Kavisadre spoke.
“Are you sure?”
Not wanting to be overheard, she switched to thought communication. Yes, I am.
Yet you are worried. I will protect you, Allia. You know this.
Let’s get this over with. I almost hope we don’t find anything. Not that she believed that was likely. Samuel wasn’t there to do nothing.
The hallway went down two flights of stairs, doubling back on itself. As she reached the bottom of the second one, she paused. The sense of living things in the building was now behind them.
Tell me you’ve got their trail now.
No. There is no evidence one of my kind came this way. Ever.
Allia looked back up the stairs, then continued on. She’d wasn’t ready to give up on this direction. Still, she walked as quickly as she could without making too much noise.
A minute later, the corridor dead-ended in a locked door. The chain looped around the handles gleamed in the dim light from her familiar. That has to be a sign.
Perhaps. But of what? No one is behind that door.
The others I’ve sensed might be a decoy. I remember Samuel mentioning once it was possible to shield your presence from others. They could still be here.
But to shield a Vasheta-
Surely it’s not impossible. You said yourself they wouldn’t know you were here.
He hesitated. It is, but we rarely do that, or allow our witch to know it can be done. There are… consequences to it, ones that are uncomfortable and border on dangerous for both of us.
You were going to do that without telling me the risks?
He tried to soothe her, but she noticed the effect, which only worried her more. He never played with her moods, had in fact promised he wouldn’t. I’m sure I can do it without any adverse effects. I’ve done so before, in times of great need and we agreed that whatever Samuel is up to needs to be uncovered.
There wasn’t time to argue, so she gathered energy and used it to work the padlock on the chain, trying to tip the tumblers into the right places. Kavisadre’s disapproval was palpable.
Sometimes I wonder if you were a thief before becoming a witch.
Allia chuckled. No, just curious about family secrets and magic. My aunt, my grandmother. My father, before his accident. They were all witches. I knew it and that I was one young, but they kept locking away all the things I wanted to know about and touch, so I solved the problem.
Did they ever find out?
My father did. Tanned my ass good too. Then he warded the locks. Kept me out for almost a month before I learned to unravel those. After that, they gave up and started teaching me, even though technically I wasn’t old enough yet.
The lock popped open. She removed it and unwound the chain. After a deep breath to calm herself, they went through the door.
Absolute blackness greeted her. Kavisadre’s light vanished the moment she stepped across the threshold. The air around her was suddenly full of energy. It shot through her head, and her last thought before losing consciousness was that they must have known she was there all along.
Pain radiated through Allia’s skull. It was the first sign she was awake. She let her other senses explore the room, not wanting to give this away. A scent filled the air, a combination of smells really, both familiar and alien. Sweet Flag, she was sure, but what was the other herb, the one that lingered in her nose and dove deep into her lungs? A soft shushing sound nearby, but not close enough for her to reach out and touch the source. Something stirred the air in the room, causing a puff of a breeze to cross her face. A regular puff. A fan. She was at least indoors. That offered a less horrifying range of possibilities than an outdoor location would have, where energy was less constrained by the patterns of human civilization.
She tried to sense other things about her in the room, to use her training and energy to bring her more knowledge that her normal senses alone could provide, only to find nothing there. Her breathing paused. She tried again, still nothing. Panic tugged at the edges of her thoughts and wound into her emotions.
She focused on learning as much as she could about her surroundings. She lay on something hard, and a band of pressure across her chest and elbows bound her to it. Someone had to be around then, and they wouldn’t have gone too far. She listened hard, seeking any noise suggesting someone was in the room. There was nothing, but that didn’t mean she was alone. She tried to move her fingers. No one came running over, but that might have only been because the fingers didn’t actually move.
She could feel them, but no command she sent them caused any response. That could be a very bad sign, depending on the cause. Her toes also refused to move in her boots. Her chances of escape were now slim, but she did her best to hold the panic at bay. There had to be something she could do.
Silence, both in her mind and in the unseen room around her. She could feel him there in her tattoo, but for the first time in their three years together, he didn’t respond to her. Her sense of him in his proper place should have reassured her, but his continued silence when she called to him again worried her more than her inability to access her own powers.
A boot scuffed. She managed to choke back the scream that rose in her throat.
“I know you’re awake. You can’t fool me, and pretending won’t cause anyone here to release the restraints I’ve placed on you.”
She opened her eyes and found him standing next to her. Shadows lurked everywhere in the room and there were things in them. She couldn’t see them, and with her magic unresponsive she shouldn’t have been able to sense them, but she did. Their malevolence was too intense to miss. She suspected a mundane in her position would have been aware of something hiding in the darker corners of the room too.
“The others will wonder where I am. When I don’t come home, they’ll insist on looking for me, Aunt Giselle especially. And when they find me, do you think they won’t sense all of this, that they won’t figure out you killed me?”
He shook his head, the corners of his mouth twitching up into the almost-there smile that never touched his eyes. Allia had always been creeped out by that smile.
“Your life isn’t what I’m interested in.”
Another scraping sound nearby and this time she jumped within her restraints. Hands grasped her head and held it firm. The skin was rough, calloused and hotter than it should have been. What was it? Whatever Samuel was doing here, it was worse even than she’d thought.
“It’s funny. I wasn’t sure if you’d take the bait.”
She stared at him as he turned his back on her. Whatever he did made clinking noises, metal on metal but from the sound, it wasn’t all the same kind of metal. Then his words sunk in. No. He was lying. He was trying to make her think she was trapped, that she couldn’t win.
A whispering sound reached her. She thought there were words in it, because she could almost make out some sort of pattern to it.
“Yes, of course. You don’t really believe I’m that clumsy at hiding things, do you? Your aunt could tell you stories about how well I’ve kept us safe and hidden over the years.”
He meant to kill her, no matter what he said. Or worse.
The whispers coming from the shadows were slowly growing louder. The words continued to elude her, but she wasn’t sure she wanted to know what they were saying. Some things could drive you mad if you listened too closely. Her father’s first lesson on witchcraft to her.
All she could see of the person holding her was a deep hood pulled forward enough to leave their face in shadows. Even their hands weren’t clear. Dark skin and the edge of rough thumb nails were all she could make out. Or at least she thought it was just nail.
“My friends are the least of your concerns, Allia. And I need you to focus. Fighting me won’t help you. This is inevitable. You have what I require. It was a stroke of luck when Kavisadre responded to your entreaty. I hadn’t expected that. I thought you were just an overambitious pup who needed to learn to accept that some things were beyond your grasp, no matter how fast you progressed.”
Her alarm deepened, then further still when he walked around the table to the shoulder and arm bearing her tattoo. Stay hidden, Kavisadre. Stay safe.
He didn’t respond and she wasn’t sure he could even hear her. What had Samuel done to her, to both of them? It must have something to do with that strange scent she still couldn’t identify. Or perhaps the creature that still held her head in its firm grasp.
“Call him forth,” Samuel demanded.
Irritation edged his voice, as if he thought she were being stupid. “Summon Kavisadre from the tattoo.”
“You want me to unleash him on you? Have you lost your mind? Or suddenly become suicidal? Because he’ll take one look at what you’re doing to me and destroy you.” The words sounded good, felt good even, but she wasn’t sure there was anything to them. Kavisadre hadn’t stirred, hadn’t responded to her in any way. Worse, for the first time ever, she was in obvious danger and he wasn’t straining at the tattoo’s magic to be released.
“I have nothing to fear. Now, do as I say. Resistance will only cause you pain. I’ll get what I want either way.”
Something hard and cold touched her arm. Unable to turn her head, she couldn’t see what it was. She didn’t feel anything sharp at least. Stretching for senses that had refused to do her bidding since waking, she was able to gain one piece of information. It was copper. She could taste it. That was one of the odd things she’d found about witchcraft, how it fed into her other senses in unexpected and sometimes slightly disgusting ways. But why use copper? And what other metals would he mix it with? Anything else would only mess up the one useful property of copper for witchcraft: conducting and amplifying energy.
Then Samuel’s energy flared. For the briefest second, she was reassured by her ability to sense this, then the metal touching her tattoo dug into her flesh. She bit her lip to stifle her cry, tasting blood almost at once. The immediate agony ebbed into a throb around the metal almost at once.
“You have this one final chance to call him forth or I will take him from you by force.”
It was no choice though. She wouldn’t give up her familiar, not to this man or anyone else.
You must, Allia. He will only hurt you worse if you fight him on my behalf.
Kavisadre’s voice at last. But these weren’t the words she wanted to hear. No! I can withstand him. We’ve already been through too much together, Kav. That beast those kids summoned from the underworld. The mad vampire. Dad’s death. We can do anything together.
It was as if he didn’t hear her words though. I’m sorry I didn’t protect you better. I should’ve taken us away from this place the moment I suspected this.
Our time has come to a close, little Allia. I will break your bonds at least. Run. The moment you can, run far from this place and never think to challenge Samuel again. It will not be possible, especially not once you’re alone. Run away. Live. Never look back.
This wasn’t happening. It wasn’t possible. He couldn’t do this to her. Kavisadre had promised her the length of her life together, and Vasheta always kept their promises. He couldn’t mean to abandon her.
Sharp pain pierced her arm, possibly a knife cutting into her tattoo. Above her, Samuel was saying something as she felt liquid trickle down her arm, but the words were lost as a new source of pain ignited. Something was tearing loose inside her.
The skin on her upper arm and shoulder grew warm, then hot. The ink must be on fire, her skin blistering and melting off. She screamed, unable to stop herself.
The ripping sensation grew worse, equal to the agony in her arm now. She realized what was causing it. This was the end of the one thing she’d never thought she could lose. Kavisadre wasn’t just forcing his way out of the tattoo. He was burning it off her. Their partnership was over.
The yell that split the air wasn’t hers and through the pain, she realized she was no longer immobile. The hands on her head were gone and she wasn’t lashed to the table anymore. But she didn’t move, couldn’t flee as Kavisadre had asked. The pain in her arm worsened until she was sure it must fall off in ashes soon. It spread quickly across her chest, and her heart raced.
She stared at her arm, surprised to see it only glowed faintly. A chain of alternating copper and aluminum links ran from the end still buried in her flesh all the way to Samuel, who had a link sticking out just beside his navel. The link was surrounded by a tattoo. A frame tattoo. An empty home awaiting a familiar. That hadn’t been there before, had it?
Had something happened to Hesilint, that Samuel had an empty frame? Then she remembered that tattoo had been on the other side of Samuel’s torso, almost on his back. Then what was he doing with another frame? It wasn’t possible to have a second familiar for any reason.
Her tattoo erupted then, the central part that was Kavisadre boiling up out of her skin. She screamed again at the red hot claws that ripped at her nerves without tearing her skin, yet she couldn’t take her eyes from her arm. The room hummed with energy. The chain crackled with it.
The mist of ink bubbling out of her skin tried to escape but was pulled back to the chain, then flowed down and around it toward Samuel. Naked greed danced in his eyes and maybe madness too. In her mind, Kavisadre shrieked, but the sound was distant and growing dimmer with every link he passed. When her tattoo was empty of him, the sound stopped. The agony in her arm shrunk back down to just the place where the chain was embedded.
She should run. Kavisadre had tried to give her this chance, but she couldn’t look away from her former familiar as he was drawn along the chain. Again the thought occurred to her that Samuel wouldn’t be able to house a second familiar. Vasheta were territorial about their witches. They drove off any others who even tried to get too close in a certain way. Two within the same practitioner would tear their host apart from the inside out. Her father had told her that once, when she’d asked as a child why witches only had one. She waited, willing this to happen.
“Kill her once it’s done.”
Samuel’s voice broke not only the silence, but her own horrified fascination. One of the hooded figures approached her. They pulled a knife from their sleeve as they came. She shifted backward on the table and tensed to fight, unwilling to abandon Kavisadre.
The movement caused the chain between them to sway slightly and Allia had an idea. She didn’t dare pull it out of herself, and not just because it would likely take a chunk of flesh with it and leave her bleeding. What if Kavisadre needed to travel back up the chain to return to her? He hadn’t needed any such thing when he’d taken up residence in her tattoo, but who knew how anything would work in this mad situation?
She grabbed it at the furthest point she could reach, planning to pull it out of Samuel. A hand grabbed her hair and yanked her head back. She cried out, and released the chain. The hand pulled down on her hair harder still, ripping some out. Her throat. Oh god, they were going to cut her throat. She squirmed, trying to twist at least enough to protect her throat. A hand grasped the back of her neck, thick fingers digging into her flesh.
“No! You can’t!” The words were stupid, but she refused to go down silent or whimpering.
At last I see why he chose you. Freeze.
Tears of joy filled her eyes at the voice in her thoughts. Only it wasn’t Kavisadre. The timbre of the voice was totally wrong. Still male, but not her familiar. She looked around wildly, trying to see where the sudden sense of presence, stronger than any Vasheta she’d ever known came from, but her head had been pulled back too far to see.
Laughter, from Samuel she thought, rang out. It was cut off by a harsh, animal scream from behind her. A metallic clatter echoed through the room. The hand in her hair let go and she brought her head back down, coughing hard.
The single word thundered through her head, and she couldn’t ignore it. The command pushed her, pulled her, continued to beat in her mind after the word had faded. But to leave, she’d have to pull the chain out and then her familiar would be lost to her. She was sure of it. And then she would be lost. She needed Kavisadre.
Through her still-watering eyes, she saw the chain and realized it wasn’t attached to anything anymore. The other end lay on the ground and Samuel was gone. Nothing remained of Kavisadre anywhere in the room. Or within her heart and mind.
Another of those hooded creatures came into the room, then two more. Allia grabbed the chain and yanked it from her arm. Blood flowed immediately from the wound left behind. She rolled off the table and bolted for the nearest door. It wasn’t the one she’d entered before blacking out, but she didn’t slow down to figure out where she was.
She didn’t know how long she ran through the maze of hallways before pushing through a door and falling out into the morning sun. Her arm had bled so much her pant leg was soaked with it. Crawling away from the door, she hid behind the dumpster, dimly aware she was leaving an easy trail of blood for those things to follow, but unable to help it. Her strength gave out then and darkness took her.
Allia woke in her bed. The comfortable feel of its covers and the familiar mattress dips told her that without her needing to open her eyes, and it gave her the illusion that everything was all right. Only it wasn’t. It couldn’t be, now or ever. Kavisadre was gone. She hadn’t seen the second tattoo frame full, but she didn’t doubt Samuel had Kavisadre, one way or another. What would happen to him after he and Hesilint tore Samuel apart in the inevitable struggle? Would he return to the home of the Vasheta? What if he was harmed in that fight?
These questions were only a way to distract herself from more immediate things, yet she couldn’t ignore them. Her familiar was gone. She was alone with the silence that filled her and at last she understood how much she’d gained from Kavisadre’s presence. A million things too subtle for her to notice before leapt out at her now, each one a sharp pain in her heart. It was more than the way he’d amplified her ability to practice magic and the energy she drew on to power it. His presence had given her someone to count on. His perceptions had colored her own somewhat, but also extended them. The world felt flat, textureless now. Her eyes stung and the tears overflowed. She curled into a ball and sobbed quietly.
The knob on her door squeaked as someone turned it. She looked up in time to see Aunt Giselle sweep in, black pencil skirt, crisp blouse and spike heels making her look like the most unlikely witch ever, as always. To Allia’s surprise, the only expression on her aunt’s usually severe face was concern. She came to the bedside, taking Allia’s hand.
“You’re awake. I was so worried you wouldn’t.”
Before Allia could respond, Samuel came in and stopped just inside the door. That answered the question of how she’d gotten back to the coven’s house, though it raised others, like why he hadn’t killed her or left her to die.
“What do you remember,” Samuel asked. Giselle glared at him.
Allia opened her mouth, ready to out him then and there, wisdom be damned, but no words came. Every time she tried form a sentence, it would unravel before reaching her lips. She could think of what happened, but not speak of it.
“It’s okay if you don’t remember. You’ve been through something traumatic and you were injured.” Giselle’s eyes dropped to Allia’s arm, which had been bandaged while she was unconscious. Giselle went on. “Samuel sensed the fight you and Kavisadre were having, though he didn’t see what you were fighting. You’re lucky he was nearby, really. What on earth possessed you to take on, well, whatever it was on your own?”
“I’m strong enough to fight my own battles. I’m not a child anymore!”
The words sounded petulant, but they were a deep relief to her. She could speak after all! She wasn’t mute suddenly, except on the subject of what Samuel was up to. He must have done something to her.
“No, but there are things in the world none of us should even consider going up against alone. It’s neither safe nor wise. Now, is there anything you remember?”
Allia tried even harder to speak, to say something, anything, but still the words refused to form. She punched the mattress beside her.
Her aunt took her hand and held it firm. The next question was gentle. “What about Kavisadre?”
The tears began again. Allia touched her fingers to the empty frame still tattooed on her shoulder. Would it remain forever to remind her? She wasn’t sure if it was possible to remove a magical tattoo. Or if she wanted to.
She cried harder.
Giselle leaned forward and pulled Allia awkwardly into her arms. The fabric of her blouse scratched at Allia’s skin, then grew soft as her tears soaked into it. Giselle patted her back. “It’ll be okay. We’ll get you through this. The coven will bring you through this horror. I’ll look into what happens when a familiar is destroyed, so we’ll know, but I want you to concentrate on getting better and on processing this grief.”
Destroyed. Of course that’s what Samuel would have told them. What else would he have said? The truth? He smiled, and it was probably supposed to look concerned and comforting, but to her it was pure smugness. She wanted to hit him.
Then he winked at her and left the room. If her aunt hadn’t been sitting next to her, she’d have screamed after him, even if there were no words in it. Giselle squeezed her hand.
“I know you feel alone right now, but you’re not.”
Giselle couldn’t understand. She still had her familiar. They all did. None of them would be able to understand Allia’s loneliness. It threatened to swallow her and put out all possible light. Only one thing held it at bay. The idea of getting back at Samuel. She wanted to expose him so badly. And she would. Somehow, some day, she’d prove to the others what he’d done and how awful and crazy he was. He clearly thought he’d won. She would shove that assumption down his throat and make him pay for all of it.