Authors: Lauren Barnholdt,Aaron Gorvine
Tags: #Teen & Young Adult, #Literature & Fiction, #Girls & Women, #Romance, #Paranormal, #One Hour (33-43 Pages), #Paranormal & Fantasy, #(¯`'•.¸//(*_*)\\¸.•'´¯)
(The Witches of Santa Anna, Book Nine) by Lauren Barnholdt & Aaron Gorvine
Copyright 2011, Lauren Barnholdt and Aaron Gorvine, all rights reserved This book is a work of fiction, and any resemblance to any persons, living or dead, is entirely coincidental
My face is buried in Cam‘s neck, and I‘m shaking real y hard because holy crap that was scary. I reach up and touch my necklace, making sure it‘s still there. It is, but the chain must have weakened, because the necklace breaks in my hand, and the charm falls onto the pavement.
Aiden leaps for it, picking it up and handing it to me wordlessly.
―Thanks.‖ I wrap my hand around the white stone, the weight of it instantly calming me down and making me feel better.
―How did those guys know your name?‖ Cam asks Hadley again. His tone is accusing,
and I squeeze his shoulder, trying to send him a signal that he shouldn‘t push it too far. Those guys were after my necklace, and if Hadley had something to do with it, the last thing we want to do is tip her off. Or worse, agitate her.
―I don‘t know,‖ she says. She looks shaken. Her face is pale, and her eyes are wide.
―Should we call the police?‖
―The police?‖ Cam asks. He and Aiden exchange a nervous glance.
―Nah,‖ Aiden says. He laughs and shoves his hands in his pockets. ―Those assholes just wanted Natalia‘s necklace.‖ He rolls his eyes. ―Probably thought it was worth something.‖
He looks at Cam again, and I watch as the two of them have a conversation with their
eyes. Aiden‘s trying to tell Cam exactly what I was thinking – not to push it. That if Hadley
have something to do with all of this, we shouldn‘t let her know we‘re on to her. And if she doesn‘t, the last thing we want to do is get someone else involved.
Cam seems to understand, because he just shrugs.
―Yeah,‖ he says, ―Probably just some kids from school, being jerks.‖
―But how did they know my name?‖ Hadley asks.
She‘s hopping back and forth, shifting her weight from foot to foot. She keeps looking over her shoulder, like she‘s afraid the guys are going to come back. If she‘s pretending to be scared, she‘s a real y good actress. But still . They knew her name.
And I don‘t trust anyone anymore, least of all a new girl who spent the night flirting with my boyfriend.
―Cam and Aiden are right,‖ I say, pulling away from Cam and looking at Hadley.
I wipe my watery eyes with the back of my hand and force myself to sound calm. ―They
probably know your name because they go to our school. They were just trying to scare us.‖ I roll my eyes, like I can‘t believe the kind of Neanderthals that go to our school.
Which isn‘t a stretch. I real y can‘t believe the kind of Neanderthals that go to our school.
―But don‘t you guys know everyone who goes to our school?‖ Hadley asks.
―Wouldn‘t you have recognized them?‖
―I think that one dude is in my gym class,‖ Aiden says. ―Josh Grisham, I think his name is.‖
Hadley frowns, her perfectly plucked eyebrows making a v in the middle of her forehead.
She definitely doesn‘t look convinced, probably because Aiden just made up a name that sounds exactly like John Grisham.
―I still think we should call the police,‖ she says.
She‘s in her purse now, rummaging around, maybe for her phone. ―I mean, what if they
try to do it to someone else? Someone could real y get hurt.‖
―No,‖ I say, ―Seriously. It‘s fine. The police are going to ask all kinds of questions, and then they‘ll cal our parents. Plus Cam and Aiden might get in trouble for-
--‖ I try to think of a word that will make what Cam and Aiden did seem a little less
worse than what it real y was – ―scrapping with them.‖
―Good point,‖ Cam says. ―The last thing I need is the police asking all kinds of
Hadley hesitates. And I don‘t know if it‘s the part about her parents getting called, or about Cam getting in trouble, but final y she nods. ―I guess you‘re right.‖
She‘s putting her phone back in her bag.
―Let‘s go,‖ I say, brightly. I slip my butterfly charm into the inside pocket of my purse.
And we all troop toward the car in silence.
The ride home is total y awkward. Even more awkward than the ride there when Aiden kept using all those weird British terms. No one real y knows what to say, and so we all attempt to make stilted conversation. I‘m actual y wishing Aiden will start using his fake British accent again and screaming out ―crikey‖ at random times just to, you know, lighten the mood. But he doesn‘t.
We drop Hadley off first, and then Cam and I are going to drop Aiden off before
Cam drives me home.
―What the fuck was that about?‖ Aiden asks as soon as Hadley‘s out of the car.
―I have no idea,‖ Cam says. He‘s not driving yet, watching as Hadley makes her way to
her front porch. She pulls her key out of her bag and unlocks the door. She turns around and gives us a wave, then disappears inside.
―You think she‘s like Raine?‖ Aiden asks.
―I don‘t know.‖
―You think she‘s something else?‖ Aiden asks.
―I don‘t know.‖
―Do you think she – ‖
Cam sounds harsh, and like he doesn‘t want to talk about it.
Aiden shuts up, and the car is silent for the rest of the ride to Aiden‘s house.
―I‘ll see you at the game tomorrow?‖ Cam asks Aiden as we pull into Aiden‘s driveway.
―Yeah.‖ Aiden hesitates, his hand on the car door handle. ―We‘ll talk after?‖
―So what are we going to do?‖ I ask as Cam pull s out of the driveway and starts driving toward my house.
―About the fact that some guys assaulted us and were obviously after my necklace.‖
―I don‘t know.‖ He‘s looking straight ahead, his jaw set in a straight line. The streetlights pass over him, illuminating his face. There‘s a bruise starting to form on his right cheek, where he must have gotten hit during the scuffle.
I reach out and running my index finger lightly over his skin. ―Does it hurt?‖
―Nah,‖ he says. He looks at me, forcing a smile. ―You know I‘m tough. You think three
dudes can take down the Camster?‖
―The Camster?‖ I grin. ―Since when are you the Camster?‖
―Since Lancaster called me that at practice,‖ he says. ―And in case you were wondering, word on the street is that you can‘t get enough of the Camster.‖
―Real y?‖ I say. We‘re pulling into my driveway now, and I unbuckle my seatbelt and
move closer to him.
―That‘s the word on the street?‖
―Yeah,‖ he says. He looks at me and pushes my hair off my face. ―Is it true?
Instead of answering, I move my lips toward his, and he kisses me. A slow, soft kiss that makes me feel like I‘m melting. His hands are in my hair and on my face, and he pulls away to look into my eyes for a second. Then his lips are back on mine, a little more insistent this time.
I lean into him, and he runs his hands over my body, down over my back. I feel his
fingers slide up and under the back of my shirt. I shiver, and then climb over the gearshift and onto his lap.
―Whoa,‖ he says, grinning. He kisses my neck lightly.
―What if your mom looks out the window? Isn‘t she already suspicious of me?‖
already suspicious of you,‖ I agree, ―So it doesn‘t matter if she sees us.
She already thinks you‘re corrupting me.‖
―Good,‖ he says. His mouth is back on mine, and heat is rushing through my body. He
pulls me close, our chests pushed together, and his hands are under the back of my shirt again, moving higher, and up over the top of my shoulders.
I pull back and look into his eyes.
―Natalia,‖ he whispers, and I bury my head into his shoulder. We stay like that for a few minutes, and I can feel his heart beating against mine.
―Cam?‖ I say, not wanting to break the spell , but not being able to help myself.
―Do you think Hadley knew those guys from tonight?‖
It‘s a rhetorical question, because obviously she knew them. They said her name.
I want him to tell me that of course she knew them, but it‘s going to be okay, that he‘ll take care of it. The same stuff he was telling me over the weekend, after all the crazy stuff that went on at the dance. But instead, I feel his body stiffen against mine.
I pull back and look at him. ―What?‖
―Nothing,‖ he says. ―It‘s just a little weird that you would bring that up now.‖
―Well , it just happened,‖ I say. ―So when else would I bring it up?‖
―Um, when we‘re not making out?‖
I climb off him and back into the passenger seat, a little annoyed now. ―So that‘s what this is about? That you wanted to make out some more?‖
―No,‖ he says, sighing. ―Look, I‘m sorry. It‘s just… I thought all this shit was over, and I hate thinking about it.‖
―You hate thinking about it?‖ I ask. ―Or you hate thinking that Hadley might be
―What‘s that supposed to mean?‖
―Nothing.‖ I stare out the window.
He runs his hands over the steering wheel and looks thoughtful. ―Look, I‘m not saying
she‘s not involved.
But we should be careful about jumping to conclusions until we have all the facts. I
mean, if she‘s involved in all this, then why did she want to call the police so bad?‖
―Because she knew we wouldn‘t, and she was trying to cover her ass?‖ I can‘t believe
this. How can he be defending her?
―Hey.‖ He reaches over and takes my hand.
I don‘t want to look at him, but I know that‘s not fair.
I‘m having a hard time separating what I‘m upset about it. Am I mad because he‘s being naïve about Hadley possibly being involved in all this stuff? Or am I upset that he‘s defending a girl that was flirting with him all night? It‘s like a big tangle of emotions and I‘m having trouble picking out the threads.
―Look, I don‘t want to fight with you,‖ he says.
―I don‘t want to fight either,‖ I say honestly.
―It‘s been a bad night,‖ he says. ―We‘re both tired.‖
―I‘m not tired.‖
He sighs. ―Natalia…‖
We don‘t say anything for a moment. I wait for him to break the silence, and when it
becomes apparent that he‘s not going to, I reach out and open the door.
―I guess I‘ll see you tomorrow at the game.‖ I step out of the car. ―Thanks for a great night.‖
And then I slam the door and walk inside.
He doesn‘t text me. I thought he would, at least to apologize for upsetting me, or to say he was sorry that we fought, but he doesn‘t. I toss and turn all night, my phone on the pillow beside me, hoping I‘ll hear from him, and so when my alarm goes off at nine the next morning, I‘m already awake.
I reach over and turn it off, then snuggle back down into my covers. I think about
not going to his game.
Let Hadley go and cheer him on. But then I figure that might be going a little too far. I mean, if I don‘t go, I could take a pretty minor fight and turn it into something major. And besides, I‘m supposed to be going to the game with Adrianna, and after I ditched her at the dance last weekend, I real y don‘t want to bail on her.
Sighing, I throw off the covers, and hop out of bed. I take a long, hot, shower, then dry my hair, gloss my lips, and slide into jeans and the navy blue Santa Anna Trojans hoodie that they gave me when I transferred.
Adrianna pull s into my driveway at ten to pick me up, and she raises her eyebrows when she sees my hoodie.
―Wow,‖ she says, ―I didn‘t know you were so school spirity.‖
―Yeah, well , when your boyfriend‘s a football star, isn‘t this what‘s expected?‖ I slide the seatbelt across my lap and buckle it. ―I was considering painting my nails blue, but I ran out of time.‖
―Next time we‘ll have to go all out, and paint ‗go trojans‘ on our faces.‖ She grins. ―So how was last night?‖