Sisters of Midnight:Dark Moon
Author: Kimberly Diaz

Chapter 9
Chapter 9

Chapter 9

He could be waiting to get me alone again. The thought just popped into my head. “He’s going to try to get back at us,” I said out loud as Nick drove. “He was so angry tonight Nick. You should have seen his face when he told me he’d been following us. He saw us at the library, and in the history room. Last night at halftime, I’d felt almost as if he were testing us, baiting us. And he was. He was just…toying with us; he knew what he was going to do tonight. He said I owed him; for being a tease, not giving him what he wanted and because he paid for a room. I thought if I ended things with him while we were at school, I’d be safe. But it’s like he went crazy.”

I got angrier the more I talked. “I have to turn him in. If he does that to anyone else, I’ll never be able to forgive myself.”

“Do you want to call your mom and have her meet us at the police station?”

I shook my head, knowing he hoped I’d abandon tonight’s plans. “Tomorrow, I promise.”

He slowed down in front of my house. “Did I ever tell you how stubborn you are,” he joked, half seriously.

I smiled my first real smile since dancing with him earlier. “I know.”

“You’ve also got more guts than most guys I know. I’m sorry you had to deal with Cyndi right after what happened with Tony, but you were great, the way you gave it right back to her.” He gripped the steering wheel so tightly his knuckles turned white. “I just wish I’d gotten there sooner. I’d seen him grab you before in the gym, I almost went after you then but I was trying to tell Cyndi we were over and then I saw you get away to talk with Emily. I should’ve kept you safe!”

I touched his shoulder. “I am safe, because of you Nick. I thought-” My voice broke as I remembered what he’d almost done to me.

“I know, me too,” he said. I was touched at the concern he showed. “When I found you, I saw him pull you down as you tried to run. It looked like the SOB was going to hit you and I just lost it. I didn’t think, I just acted. I told you last night I wouldn’t let him hurt you but he managed to do it anyhow.”

“Don’t blame yourself Nick. It could’ve been much worse.”

He hugged me close to him. “I’m glad it wasn’t.”

I kissed him then, desperately wanting to rid myself of the feeling of Tony’s hands and mouth all over me. He kissed me back, helping me in my need to make things right again and finally just held me against him as he spoke.

“When we started school this year, I had given up thinking we’d ever be together. Now that we are, if anything happens to take you away from me, I’d be lost. Please be careful tonight. I know I can’t change your mind, but Tony is out there somewhere. And if he stupidly decides to come after you again… If I hear anything that sounds like you’re in trouble, I’m coming out.”

I nodded. “Ok. You know, there’s one good thing that happened tonight,” I tried to sound positive. “Cyndi and Tony know the truth now, no more sneaking around. And I swear, first thing tomorrow, I’ll report him. If I don’t, my mom will drag me down there anyways after she sees all the bruises. Will you go with us?”

“As long as you want me, I’ll be there for you.”

I looked at my face in the rearview mirror. It was a long way from the glamorous Homecoming Queen of a few hours ago. I had several cuts and bruises along with smudges of dirt. My fingernails still felt like they had skin underneath from when I had clawed Tony and my new dress was ruined, unfixable because of the way it tore. I was only too happy to go inside and clean up.

Nick waited downstairs while I tried to get prepared for the ceremony. I was slightly self-conscious coming downstairs in the outfit I usually wore, this was the first time someone would witness one of our ceremonies. We dressed for comfort, in a white lightweight sleeveless shift and goal specific jewelry, a garter around one bared thigh with a pouch for holding crystals, herbs and a dagger. I could see obvious desire on his face when I reappeared and he saw what I had on.

He stood up, speechless. “Faith, you look…” he couldn’t finish.

“White attracts positive energy. And too much or too heavy of a material can hinder our powers.”

The shift revealed more than it concealed and I knew from the heated look in his eyes that he didn’t care about the explanation of why I wore it. He held out a hand and I placed my hand in his, enjoying the coolness of his fingers. He looked deep into my eyes as he spoke sincerely.

“You were beautiful out there tonight. When they put the crown on your head, you owned that room.” He continued. “You know, Cyndi and Tony only acted out of spite and jealousy. They can’t deal with someone as selfless and honest as you, Faith.”

“Yeah, well if I‘m so honest, why was Tony convinced I was into him?” I asked softly.

“Because you worry so much about other people’s feelings, you don’t like to hurt them, even when it can’t be helped. Tony would have done what he did no matter what. He’s a spineless jerk. You didn’t know how messed up he was.”

“I did know,” I argued. “You tried to tell me yesterday how he really was, but I insisted everything would be fine. I should have listened to my gut. I usually don’t go against what feels right.”

“And that‘s what I love about you. You have this amazing inner fire I‘ve never seen before in other girls; like last year when you refused to do that cheer you didn’t agree with. You stand up for what you believe in. I was so proud to have you next to me tonight. All that matters is that we’re together now. Monday, when we go back to school, everyone will know how real what we have is. I could care less what Cyndi says or does to me. I’ve never been happier than when I‘m with you, Faith.”

Happiness bubbled up inside me with the words he spoke, letting them wrap themselves around my heart, feeling the love radiating from him. I touched his cheek lightly, as if he might immaterialize any second. “How did I go this long without you? It’s been less than a week, but I already can’t remember what it felt like before.”

“I can’t explain it either. With anyone else, there was always something that wasn’t quite right, that didn’t fit. I think it was because no one ever came close to the girl I was already in love with.”

“Be careful,” I warned. “You might give me an ego that won’t go away.”

He just laughed. “Don’t worry, I’ll keep you in check.”

“How do you expect to do that?” I teased.

He rewarded my question with a warm, salty kiss.

“I love being able to do this with you,” I breathed. “There were so many times I wondered what you would do if I just went out on the field and threw myself on you?”

His dimple appeared as he smiled effortlessly. “I probably would have done this…”

I squealed as he lifted me up gently until my face was higher than his.

“Ugh,” a voice groaned. “Get a room.” We both looked up surprised as Emily came in through the front door. “So are you guys going to be one of those annoying lovey-dovey couples that make the rest of us want to hurl?”

I smiled, telling her, “Hey, we have a lot of time to make up for.” Nick kissed me again and released me back onto the ground.

“But seriously,” she said solemnly, “I could’ve been Tony. You didn’t have the door locked.” She was a good friend. I choked up, remembering the part she played in saving me.

“Emily, thank you for making sure Nick found me. I know you hadn’t wanted to leave the dance.”

“That was before I realized you were in trouble.”

“Could you really detect my fear?” She had never shown that power before. “It’s weird, isn’t it? Is that how your premonitions feel? Because it scared the hell out of me.”

“Something like that. But mine come out of nowhere. It sounds like you’re an empath; you can sense the emotions of others. I was just lucky it kicked in tonight.”

A knock at the door signaled Rachel’s arrival. Tracey appeared right behind her. Rachel immediately looked nervous, uncomfortable because of the way she was dressed in Nick’s presence.

“It’s Ok, he’s here for protection.”

“Why don’t we get going. You and Nick in his car and the others with me.” Tracey prided herself on being organized for these kinds of ceremonies.

Nick kept one hand on mine while he drove, quiet as I gave him directions to the abandoned house in the woods. We had all decided to skip the Mabon celebration and go right into the protection ceremony and summoning. “We’re here.” I announced as I pointed out the narrow dirt road for him to turn and park on.

“Are you sure you have to do this?” he asked.

I told him what Grandma Romelli had said to us before the dance, that we had to. Most of the kids at school knew and respected her. “She predicted Tony might hurt me tonight.” I lowered my eyes. “She told me I should have been going with you.”

“A mistake we’ll make up for by going to the Halloween dance together next month.” His eyes held mine. “If anything goes wrong out there…” He didn’t finish but I knew what he was going to say.

“Then we’ll stop or I’ll yell for you. Nick, I know you’re worried, but there’s no other way.”

Tracey was parked behind us now, both cars hidden in shadow on the narrow dirt road. Apprehension began to fill me but I forced it away; now was not the time for doubts or second thoughts. I kissed Nick and got out of his car.

This is for real, I thought. After tonight, things were going to change-we would be changed. I hoped the four of us were prepared to accept any consequences our actions might cause. By now, I trusted my feelings and intuition enough to know that we needed to do this summoning to prevent something even worse from happening.

The full moon above us was a perfect yellow sphere shining brightly through the thick branches surrounding us. The house that once stood in this very place had been destroyed in a fire years ago. Only the cement floor and part of the foundation were still intact.

“We need a fire,” Emily read from our book where we had scripted the ceremony.

“It’s too bad that we don’t have time for a proper Mabon ceremony.” Rachel mused.

Tracey built the fire and I began to create the circle of protection with water, sea salt, and incense. We recited the protection spell and took our places to call the four corners-earth, air, fire and water. As we did, I could almost see the elements come to life around us. The wind picked up, the fire flared and clouds began to move in a circular motion.

Quickly, I looked past the burnt brick and trees yards away to where Nick’s car was, hidden in shadows. I felt self-conscious for a split second then closed my eyes and focused, feeling the power generated by the four of us. A blurry glow came out of the fire as we continued the spell. A shape began to appear out of the smoke as I spoke the words meant to summon a spirit for answers. It was not threatening like the figure in my premonition and didn’t look like a male figure. I let out the breath I had been holding in unknowingly and continued speaking.

I heard a faint sound come from the smoky figure. It reminded me of a voice being carried on the wind. Sand began to swirl gently around our ankles and lightening flashed in the distance as the voice became coherent.

“Speak,” the voice demanded softly. It sounded clear but came from the fire. “What would you wish to know?”

I froze. What were we supposed to say? My widened eyes met each of the other girls. We had really summoned a spirit! We were real witches with true power! The realization was almost too much.

Emily recovered from her shock first. “Thank you for accepting our offerings and speaking with us. There have been strange things happening around us. First, can you tell us who has been terrorizing Faith with the break-in at her house and the pranks?”

“Dark magick is at work against you. There is a man full of poisoned love and hate.”

“Tony!”

“No!” the voice rose sharply. The wind pushed harder against the trees. I trembled. I hadn’t meant to say his name out loud. “He wants you, wants the power you possess, and wants to possess you as well.” The voice seemed to be speaking in my direction, reminding me of Grandma Romelli before the dance tonight. I found my voice at last, reminding myself that this spirit was called to help us.

“Who was in my house Wednesday and what were they looking for?”

“Someone out for revenge. They were after the book and will use it to take their anger out on you. But that is not the thing you must concern yourself with.”

“Is the break-in tied to my premonitions?”

“The two are not linked. The one who causes these premonitions is full of hate. He will use the others to hurt you and those you love. He wants the one you love dead.”

“Nick, why?” My breath was coming hard and fast. “No! I won’t let anyone hurt him!”

The voice didn’t respond to my distress. “Listen now, we are running out of time.” The voice was urgent. “He is trying to stop me.”

“Are we all in danger?” Tracey asked.

“Yes. Mostly the one whose power is strongest. She must remain strong and face him or he win, killing many innocent lives along the way.”

I had never been so terrified in my life. The voice didn’t appear to be talking about Tony or harmless pranks. “How do we stop this person? Should we go to the police?”

“They are powerless against him. It is your own fight. I will find a way to come to you again.”

“No!” Tracey and I yelled out in unison. It sounded like the spirit was dismissing us, leaving. It was starting to fade, covered up by the increasing wind.

“Go now,” it warned us, “he is almost here. He will hurt those you love most.”

“Who is he and why does he want me?” I shouted.

Faith-” I screamed as I heard the evil hiss from the flames of the fire. A tall figure was forming.

The figure from my nightmare! The one who would hurt Nick!

“Leave! Leave now!” That was the only warning we received from the helpful spirit before chaos took over.

I was frozen, held powerless to move as the shape culminated into a menacing male figure.

“Close the circle!” Rachel shouted. “We have to close the circle to send it back!”

“Faith, say the spell!” That was Tracey.

Noticing my paralysis, one of them grabbed the book quickly from out of my hands. My eyes were locked unmoving on the man coming out of the fire. The windstorm around us went from gentle to threatening in seconds. I could hear the others reciting the closing spell and my voice caught in my throat when the figure reached a flaming hand out in my direction. I was snapped out of my trance and took a step back, sure that the shape was going to lunge at me. The fire flared up.

I did scream then; the last thing I recalled before blacking out.

***

The man in front of me had no face. It was shrouded in darkness by the black cloak he wore. He reached out one black-gloved hand to grasp my arm roughly. “You can’t escape me again!”

I screamed and opened my eyes, awakening from my nightmare.

The first thing I saw was Nick.

“She’s awake,” he shouted over his shoulder to the others. To me, he said relieved, “Thank God you’re Ok. You’ve been out for half an hour.”

I looked around slowly, disoriented. We weren’t in the woods anymore and I sighed, glad to be surrounded by the familiar things in my bedroom. “What happened?”

“That’s what I’d like to know!” My mom had come home from work. “It’s almost two in the morning Faith! Why am I coming home to find a bunch of people in your room?”

She stopped short when she saw my bruised face. “Oh my god, what happened to you honey?”

I looked down at the terrycloth robe someone must have put around me. The others remained quiet, leaving me to decide what explanation I would give my mom about the events from this evening. I dreaded telling her, knowing she’d overreact.

“Tony attacked me right outside the school tonight. Nick showed up just in time, before he did anything other than rough me up.”

“Yeah, Nick saved her and beat the crap out of him,” Emily supplied the information proudly. “It was great!”

My mom sat down on the bed next to me, brows drawn together. “Why didn’t you call me at the hospital immediately, any of you? This certainly counts as an emergency. Did you already go to the police?”

I shook my head. “Not yet, I-”

She cut me off before I could finish. “Faith, we have to report this. I know you might be scared-”

“It’s not that,” I interjected.

“Tony shouldn’t be allowed to get away with this. I knew there was something I didn’t like about him.”

“Mom, I agree. I just wanted to come home and relax first, to clear my head and get cleaned up. He spiked my drink and ruined the dress I was wearing, I had to change. He disappeared right after, left his SUV at the school. I was planning to tell you first thing this morning so we could go to the police.”

She stroked my cheek. “I’m sorry this happened to you sweetheart, but you should have gone right to the police station, before getting rid of any evidence. You shouldn’t have changed your clothes. I know you’re exhausted, but we need to go now.”

I opened my mouth to protest, anxious to find out what had happened in the woods instead, but Nick spoke up. “Your mom is right. I’ll go with you.”

I was outnumbered.

“I’ll meet you downstairs in ten minutes.” I sighed as she stood up to leave.

She turned to Nick. “I’m grateful to you for looking after my daughter. Faith is lucky to have such good friends around her.”

She closed the door behind her, my friends’ presence making her not worry about Nick being in my bedroom.

“Now tell me what happened after I blacked out. Did you guys see that thing try to grab me? Was it a dream or did it really happen?”

“I’d like to know what happened before she blacked out.” Nick spoke to all of them, still upset. “I knew I shouldn’t have let you do something so dangerous!”

“It was more dangerous not to have any answers.” I swallowed hard, trying to make him understand. I knew he was beating himself up over me getting hurt twice in one night. “The spirit who appeared said the break-in and my premonitions were not connected. I think it was Tony in my house on Wednesday. He already admitted to following us and taking that picture.” I told Nick what Tracey’s grandma had told us and how the spirit was being as cryptic as the old woman had been.

“Look, from what they told me,” Nick explained, gesturing to my friends, “when the second spirit took over, you were almost hurt again. They heard it call your name and then it reached out for you. I heard you scream. I jumped out of my car as fast as I could, only to find you unconscious.”

“Something out there wanted to hurt me. I felt exactly the same as I did Friday night when I sensed someone following me. It was even worse than my premonition yesterday.”

I stopped talking, remembering that I hadn’t told anyone about it yet. “Nick, this summoning confirmed what I’ve been feeling for days. We’re in danger.” I looked at Rachel, Tracey and Emily who had all been pretty quiet since my mom left the room. Were they more frightened than they were letting on? “You all heard what I did tonight, right?”

They nodded.

“She’s right,” Rachel said softly. “The first spirit warned us that something wanted to hurt you and Faith out of revenge before she got chased away by that evil thing in the fire. We were just able to send it back; it almost escaped.”

“I heard it call out to me. That’s when I screamed. I couldn’t move. The voice that was helping us, she said it was our fight, that the police were powerless and unless we stopped him…”

Him.

“Tracey, your grandma kept saying that too! Him. We have to talk to her, see what else she knows that could help us.”

“It sounds like we’re up against something supernatural,” Emily remarked. “The last thing I remember that spirit telling us is that we need to be strong and fight whatever this is, or innocent people will die.”

Nick, looking puzzled, shook his head. “I don’t understand. Why would some spirit be after us? Why me and Faith?”

I studied his confused face. “Do you believe me, Nick? I know this all sounds crazy, but all four of us heard the same thing. I wish there were some way I could show you…what?”

My friends were trading uneasy glances with Nick, like they all had a secret they didn’t want to share with me.

“What aren’t you guys telling me?”

“She’s gonna see it sooner or later,” Tracey reasoned.

“See what?” I said angrily.

Rachel, with her soft voice, tried to be as comforting as possible. “Faith, when you screamed and the fire flared up, the evil figure reached out at you, but somehow you were protected. Nick came running from past the trees and found us freaking out and you passed out on the ground. When he picked you up and took you to his car, we found something that proved what we all heard tonight.”

I let out a sigh of relief. “That’s great! That proves we’re not crazy.” I jumped up and tossed off my robe, preparing to go into the bathroom and change out of my shift. I snuck a look in the vanity mirror first to see how bad my face looked.

“Faith wait! There’s more,” Rachel tried to warn me but it was too late.

I gasped as I saw what she meant. On my bare skin, right above what my shift covered, there was a mark that hadn’t been there before. It resembled a burn but no fire could have caused it to look the way it did. It was purplish-red and shaped like an ankh, the Egyptian symbol of eternal life. I brought my fingers up to touch it. It wasn’t sore like a new burn should be, but soft and raised, like it had always been there.

“H-how did it get there? What happened to me?” I stammered terrified.

“It’s where that thing touched you right before you screamed and we closed the circle.” Rachel sounded as scared as I was.

“Is it just me?” I know it was messed up, but I wasn’t sure if it would make me feel better or worse if the others had a mark like mine too. Their nods confirmed it. I couldn’t, didn’t know how to respond. I grabbed a t-shirt and jeans.

“I have to change, my mom’s waiting for us.” I went into the adjoining bathroom and shut the door, taking several deep breaths as I took a step forward and inspected the mark in the mirror as I changed. “What have we done,” I whispered.

It was too much; the dance, Tony’s attack and now this. I broke down, sobbing quietly into my hands so the others couldn’t hear. A quiet knock forced me to pull myself together. I rinsed my face and opened the door, finding myself face to face with Nick.

“I bet Cyndi’s looking pretty good right now.” I was only half joking.

Nick saw through my false humor. “Don’t even say that.”

“Why not?” I laughed bitterly. “I wouldn’t blame you at all if you didn’t want to be with me after tonight. Now I put you in danger too. I should have never told you about this.”

He waited in silence until I was done with my rant. “Faith,” he ordered gently. “Stop saying what you should or shouldn’t do and come here. Please.”

I stepped forward into his out-stretched arms. When I did, they closed around me in a relieved hug.

“I could care less about being in danger. What I care about is you. You were hurt tonight. Twice. I’ve never felt so scared and helpless before in my life. Do you know what that made me realize?”

“What?”

“That I need you. I will do anything to protect you. From Tony or anything else that wants to hurt you. When I’m with you, nothing else matters and everything’s right in my life.” His hands moved soothingly up and down my back and I pressed even closer to him, wishing the outside world would just disappear and that he could shield me from all the bad things I had seen tonight.

“Nick, I’m scared out of my mind. I have no right to expect you to save me, especially when I have no idea what from. I’ll never be able to forgive myself if you get hurt.”

“Then think of it this way; you don’t have a choice. I want to be with you no matter what danger we’re up against.”

“What about whatever did this?” I pulled down the neck of my shirt to reveal the mark on my skin. He bend his head down and kissed the mark gently, his lips shockingly cool. I closed my eyes and took a deep breath. I knew I should probably make him get as far away from me as possible, but feeling the love in his heart, I couldn’t find it in myself to let him go.

“We’ll deal with whatever did that together,” he said, “but for now, let’s go deal with Tony, make sure he pays for what he did to you.”

“Thank you,” I whispered. My eyes filled with tears of pride, that Nick would stand by me no matter what.

“It’ll be alright, you’ll see.” He placed a soft kiss on my mouth, giving me the strength I needed.

“I’m ready. Let’s go make Tony sorry he ever laid a hand on me and that he never touches another girl like that again.”

He grinned at me. “See, I knew you were still in there, the girl who fights for what’s right. How about next weekend, we keep things simple and just go out on a date like real couples.

“Agreed.”

We went down to where my mom was, my friends joining us.

This time, the police were on my side. Tony had been in trouble for drinking before, but never for anything so gutsy as attacking a girl, especially not in front of a bunch of witnesses. Tony’s SUV still had not been found and he hadn’t been seen either. Nick told them about the fight and how he’d pulled Tony off me. I was glad he was seen as acting in self defense. My friends gave their statements too before they were asked to go and someone took pictures of all my bruises. I was careful not to let them see the ankh. Next, I had to go to the hospital to be tested for any drugs he might have given me. My mom let Nick drive me, but insisted on taking me home herself so I could rest, no visitors aloud. I promised to call him when I woke the next day before getting in my mom’s car where I could finally give in to the exhaustion.

 

 

 

 

 

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