Authors: Michelle Krys
Also by Michelle Krys
This is a work of fiction. Names, characters, places, and incidents either are the product of the author’s imagination or are used fictitiously. Any resemblance to actual persons, living or dead, events, or locales is entirely coincidental.
Text copyright © 2015 by Michelle Krys
Cover photograph (girl) copyright © 2015 Dennis Galante/Getty Images
Cover photograph (background) copyright © 2015 Tony Watson/Arcangel Images
All rights reserved. Published in the United States by Delacorte Press, an imprint of Random House Children’s Books, a division of Random House LLC, a Penguin Random House Company, New York.
Delacorte Press is a registered trademark and the colophon is a trademark of Random House LLC.
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Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication Data
Charmed / Michelle Krys. — First edition.
Sequel to: Hexed.
Summary: Searching for her missing best friend, sixteen-year-old Indigo, a newly discovered witch, practices her magic skills, as the centuries-old war between the witches and sorcerers continues.
ISBN 978-0-385-74339-6 (hc : alk. paper) — ISBN 978-0-449-81312-6 (ebook)
[1. Supernatural—Fiction. 2. Witches—Fiction. 3. Magic—Fiction.] I. Title.
eBook ISBN 9780449813126
Random House Children’s Books supports the First Amendment and celebrates the right to read.
For Ben and Logan
ou have one new message, left yesterday at nine-forty-five p.m.”
Static plays through the speaker, and then…
“I’m here with your friend Paige, and you know, even though you and I have had our problems in the past, I can agree with you on this one thing: she is an absolute doll.”
There are muffled moans in the background. Someone grunts, and the sound of china shattering pierces through
the phone. When Leo speaks again, his cool confidence is gone, and his voice is cut with an edge of hostility. “I was really hoping you’d come by and join us, but since you’re not answering your phone, I think we’ll just have to come to you.”
Two Weeks Later
n medieval times, people were tortured with head crushers and limb-stretching devices. More recently, my ex-friend Bianca Cavanaugh tortured the fifteen members of our cheerleading squad with her brutal drills. And now? My aunt Penny is torturing me. Forcing me to have “a nice family dinner” with her—the very person who betrayed me—while my best friend, Paige, is missing, possibly dead.
I think I’d prefer the limb stretcher.
Aunt Penny sits across the dining room table from me, sawing into her dry pork chop. Cutlery scrapes against china. The grandfather clock ticks away the seconds, and I stare at her through eyes narrowed to slits, clutching my fork
so hard my hand trembles in my effort not to leap across the table and go zombie-apocalypse on her.
She sighs heavily. “Indie—”
“It’s Indigo,” I interrupt.
She tenses at the venom in my voice.
“Okay…Indigo,” she corrects herself. “I know you’re very mad at me right now, but as your legal guardian, I couldn’t let you keep living at your boyfriend’s house.”
I bark a laugh. “You
think I’m mad about that?”
Okay, so I
mad about that—after what my aunt did to me, she’s the last person who should be telling me what to do, legal guardian status or no. But her barging into Bishop’s house and demanding I come home or she’ll call the cops to haul me back doesn’t even crack the top ten list of the reasons I hate her. (Yes, I said hate. And yes, I know it’s a strong word.)
“Oh,” she replies.
And then it’s back to the soul-sucking silence. It used to be that whenever Aunt Penny and I got together, we’d talk for hours about everything from boys to nail polish to our favorite movies. There was never a moment of quiet, and if there was, it was never awkward. But right now a conversation with a gynecologist while in stirrups seems comfortable by comparison.
you mad about, then?” she finally asks.
The heat grows in my core quickly, swirling and spitting like a ball of lava. Before I know what’s happened, it’s surged up and spread down my arms, stinging my fingertips like I’ve just come inside from the cold.
I lay my fork down and draw my hands into my lap.
Aunt Penny knows
what I’m mad about. But as completely frustrating as her fake ignorance is, unleashing magic right now will just make everything worse. And so I close my eyes and take measured breaths until the heat sucks back into my core.
“You know who had to tell me?” I raise my eyebrows, challenging her to answer. “The Priory—one of the sorcerers who kidnapped Mom was the one to tell me my own aunt is a witch.”
For a second it seems like Penny’s going to cry, but then she closes her eyes, and when she opens them again, she levels me with a look more mom than aunt. “Listen, Indie, you don’t know everything. Yes, I’m a witch.”
My stomach does a little flip at hearing her admit the truth, but I try not to let it show on my face.
“But I can’t use my magic,” she adds.
I blink at her, trying to make sense of her words. In the sixteen days I’ve spent living at Bishop’s house, I must have run through every possible reason, every possible scenario that could have led to my aunt’s failure to help me when she
knew my life was in danger. Every single one of them re-suited in me cheerfully beating her to death. But this? This, I didn’t think of.
She gets up and starts pacing behind her chair, twining her hands together. “See, a long time ago, when I was maybe a year older than you are now, I was well on my way to being a very, very powerful witch. I’d advanced so quickly with your grandma’s training that I’d caught the Family’s attention.”
“You?” I blurt out.
“Yes, me,” she says.
I can’t hide my surprise. You’d have to be pretty damn great at magic to catch the attention of the leaders of witches and warlocks everywhere, and the only thing I’ve known Aunt Penny to be damn great at is body shots and being known by her first name at every club in Los Angeles County.
“They wanted me to work for them,” she says. “Which was, like, this huge honor.”
Honor, my ass. If the Family hadn’t created fake copies of
The Witch Hunter’s Bible
to divert the Priory’s attention from the location of the real Bible—which contains a spell that allows a sorcerer to kill a witch without draining them of their powers—then Mom would be here right now, instead of six feet under. And Paige wouldn’t be missing.
“I was the youngest witch ever to have an offer like that,” she continues. “So I went to work for them. I started out doing small jobs, but I moved up quickly. And it was great for a while. I mean, there were some people who didn’t
like me, but Damien—he was the leader—he said it was natural, that they were just jealous of my talent. Truthfully, I think they were jealous that Damien treated me like his little pet.”
“And then?” I prompt impatiently. Because I know how Aunt Penny’s stories go, and they usually involve a lot of superfluous details and a lot of people having crushes on her. To think I used to love her stories.
“And then…I did something bad. Something very bad.”
“Bad?” I repeat before I can stop myself. To say Aunt Penny isn’t the most mature twenty-eight-year-old is like saying Lindsay Lohan has had a bit of trouble with the law. But Aunt Penny’s always been the first one to brush off her problems. Like the time she was fired from a bistro for putting Tabasco sauce in an ex-boyfriend’s drink—the tips were crappy anyway. If Aunt Penny thinks what she did was very bad, I’m willing to bet it’s
Aunt Penny’s face flushes, and she bites a corner of one manicured nail. “It was years ago, Ind. I was stupid, stupider than I am now. I wasn’t really thinking. I mean, I knew I shouldn’t have done it, but I was blinded. I just loved him so much, and—”
“Oh God,” I say. “This is about a boy, isn’t it?”
“It wasn’t just any boy,” she pleads. “I was in love with him! His name was Nate. God, he was so cute. The bluest blue eyes and the darkest hair. And he had these dimples.”
I wave my hand impatiently.
“He was a sorcerer,” she blurts out, then buries her face in her hands. “From the Priory.”
“Oh, Penny.” I mash my own palms into my eyes. “What were you thinking?” Hooking up with a member of the governing body of sorcerers everywhere? Sorcerers whose sole mission in life for centuries has been to maim and kill witches?
“I wasn’t thinking, obviously. But you know how it is—I was in love! It could have worked out too if that wench Kendra hadn’t followed me.” She mutters swearwords under her breath, her brows drawn down over angry eyes.
I shake my head, my own anger boiling my blood. Right now, best-case scenario, Paige is somewhere scared for her life, and I’m sitting here listening to Aunt Penny’s sexcapades.
“You know what?” I stand up so quickly the chair topples back. “This is too much. I really don’t have time for this crap.”
I storm up the stairs and slam my bedroom door so hard it’s a miracle it doesn’t come off the hinges. And then I fall facedown on my bed.
I won’t cry.
I won’t cry.
I will. Not. Cry.
My eyes sting with the threat of tears, so I think of everything that makes me mad—Mom’s death; the fact that the Family used us as bait and didn’t care if we all died; that Paige was kidnapped by Leo, the vilest sorcerer I can
imagine, after our friendship had only just begun; that we killed Leo without knowing he’d kidnapped Paige, leaving us no way of finding her or even knowing if she’s alive or dead somewhere. That I can’t just be a normal sixteen-year-old girl whose biggest problem is a zit on prom night. Who answers
magazine quizzes to find out if my crush really likes me, and who drinks too much and regrets it the next day.
I don’t want to cry—it’s just so much easier to be mad.
But all my tricks don’t work this time, and a tiny gasp escapes me.
So I’m going to cry.
As soon as I give myself permission, the ragged hole in my chest opens up, and I sob. I bury my face in my pillow to muffle the sound, but I’m sure I can be heard blocks away.
God, I’m so mad at her.
When Mom died, I felt like I’d been tossed into a raging sea in the middle of a storm, struggling to stay above water and losing strength by the second. But then Aunt Penny moved in, and between her and Paige, I felt like I’d been thrown a life preserver. Penny’s the only family I have left with Mom gone, and to discover she lied to me, didn’t help me when my life was on the line, made me feel like that life preserver had been violently ripped away.
By the time a few minutes have passed, my pillow is warm and damp, my eyes are hot and puffy, and my head pulses with the promise of a whopping headache.
I hear the door creak open, but I don’t have the energy to get up and tell Aunt Penny to go away. She doesn’t say a word, but I can feel her lingering in the doorway. Finally, her footsteps pad across the carpet and her weight sinks onto the end of my bed. A long minute passes in silence, save for my raspy breath.
I speak without turning to face her, finally asking the question that’s been plaguing me since it all happened. “Why?”
I don’t have to explain—she knows what I’m asking her. I’ve thought about this every day since that night at that swamp, and I’ve come to the conclusion that Aunt Penny might not have known about the trouble I was in before Mom died. But sometime between her death and the night of homecoming, Penny knew. Instead of helping me, she waved me out of the door in my crystal and taffeta gown, giving me some cryptic message that only by sheer luck I figured out was the key to saving our lives. I was chased by a fire-breathing dragon through the sewers of Los Angeles, starved, nearly drowned in a marsh in the middle of nowhere, and barely escaped being stabbed to death by the same sorcerers who killed my mom, all while I had a powerful witch living right under my nose. I want—no, I
—to know why she didn’t help me. Even without using magic—why she didn’t do anything at all. Call the cops, for God’s sake. Do something!
She sucks in a shuddery breath as if holding back tears of her own.
“I think about it all the time,” she says, her voice high and tight. “There’s no good excuse. There isn’t. There’s nothing I can say that will make my actions okay.”
It’s not like Aunt Penny to admit she’s wrong. And it’s so surprising, I’m glad I’m not facing her so she can’t see the tears that brim suddenly in my eyes.
“All I can do is tell you what went through my mind and hope”—she presses her hand against my calf tentatively, but when I tense, she draws it away—“hope you can understand, even in some small way, why I did what I did.”
I say nothing.
“Getting together with Nate—that was considered treason by the Family. The last witch punished for treason was burned at the stake, and the one before was sent to the most god-awful place full of murderers—just a really bad place.” She shudders. “So when the Family found out what I’d done I thought I was a goner. But I guess because Damien liked me so much he slapped me with an AMO instead.”
I raise my eyebrows.
“An Anti-Magic Order,” she clarifies.
She lifts the hem of her pants to reveal a thin silver bracelet around her ankle. A tiny round charm hangs off the chain. What looks like a family crest is stamped into the delicate metal.
“It’s basically a magic tracker. If you use magic while you’re wearing one of these, the Family will find out. I was ordered to wear one for the rest of my life, and Damien said if they
discovered I’d used my magic he’d make me wish I was dead. And you don’t understand—Damien, the Family—they’re not nice people, Indie. If he threatens you, he
follow through.” She lets go of her pant leg. “Anyway, that’s why I didn’t help you. But, Indie, you have no idea how hard it was for me to sit back when I knew something big was going on. I wanted to help. Really, I did. I was just so scared. I know now that’s not good enough. I know I was wrong.”