Authors: Erika McGann
Copyright Â© 2012, 2014 by Erika McGann
Cover and internal design Â© 2014 by Sourcebooks, Inc.
Cover illustration Â© Zdenko Basic
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All rights reserved. No part of this book may be reproduced in any form or by any electronic or mechanical means including information storage and retrieval systemsâexcept in the case of brief quotations embodied in critical articles or reviewsâwithout permission in writing from its publisher, Sourcebooks, Inc.
The characters and events portrayed in this book are fictitious or are used fictitiously. Any similarity to real persons, living or dead, is purely coincidental and not intended by the author.
Published by Sourcebooks Jabberwocky, an imprint of Sourcebooks, Inc.
P.O. Box 4410, Naperville, Illinois 60567-4410
Fax: (630) 961-2168
Originally published in 2012 in Ireland by The O'Brien Press Ltd.
Library of Congress Cataloging-in-Publication data is on file with the publisher.
Source of Production: Versa Press, East Peoria, Illinois, USA
Date of Production: April 2014
Run Number: 5001365
For my dad, who would be proud
“Two minutes!” whispered Grace Brennan, cradling her watch in her hand.
“Quiet, Grace!” said Ms. Lemon, whipping around to point at her with a marker.
Grace kept her eyes down until she was sure the teacher had returned to the whiteboard. When the coast was clear, she quickly mouthed “one minute” to her friends and they all turned their attention to the boy sitting third from the left in the front row. Grace kept her eyes on his back, trying to picture him leaping out of his chair and bounding out of the room. Glancing back at her watch, she held out her fingers to count down from five, four, three, two, oneâ¦
The girls held their concentration for a few more moments.
Andrew Wallace hadn't budged. Grace flipped open her notebook, ran her finger down the list to spell number eight, “Make Andrew Wallace pee his pants in French,” and marked it with a big
. She sighed, flipped the notebook closed as she exchanged looks with the others, and turned her attention back to the irregular verbs scrawled across the board at the front of the room.
When the bell finally rang, signaling the end of class, Jenny tightened the laces on her purple boots and carelessly pulled a loose thread out of one woolly sock.
“I'm disappointed,” she said, shaking the thread from her fingers. “That would've been worth seeing.”
“And he totally deserved it as well,” said Adie. “That time he pulled your chair out from under you, and you sprained your elbow. And that ârat-tail hair' thing he said to Grace in front of everybody. What does that even mean, anyway?”
“It means,” answered Grace, “that my hair's horrible and greasy and looks like rats' tails.”
She tugged at a few dull, split-end strands. To others, she'd call her hair kind of sandy-colored, but it was more like mousy brown. And it never shone, no matter how much conditioner she used.
“That's so stupid,” said Adie, pushing her own tightly curled dark locks out of her brown eyes. “I'd kill for your hair. You don't even have to use a flatiron. It's poker-straight all the time.”
“I don't care what he says, anyway,” said Grace. “Just thought he needed a short, sharp shock. How cool would it have been if it had actually worked?”
She looked up at Jenny, who was a little taller and the only athletic one in the bunch.
“How many spells is that now?” Jenny asked.
“Eight,” said Grace.
“Well,” sighed Adie, “ninth one's a charm. Wait and see.”
“I won't hold my breath,” Grace said, fixing her uniform tie so it sat neatly into her pressed collar. She slipped her schoolbag onto her shoulder and followed the other two out into the hallway. Halfway down the corridor, she felt the heavy weight of a body landing on her from behind.
“Ow! Knock it off, Una! You caught my hair!”
rat-taily,” Adie said quickly, catching Grace's bag as it dropped to the ground.
Grace shrugged her friend off her back and sighed as Una threw her arms around the other two. Her short, black bob framed her pretty elfin features as she gazed up at them eagerly.
“So did it work?” she said. “Did Andrew Wallace get his just reward?” Her gray eyes were lit up with excitement.
“Nope,” said Jenny.
“Aw, fudge,” said Una, slumping between them and sliding her arms from their shoulders. She shook her head and gave a very loud and exaggerated sigh. “Had my fingers and toes crossed all the way through Spanish and everything. Why didn't it work?!”
“Maybe you have to use a more personal object,” offered Jenny. “I mean something that the person really cares about. I'm pretty sure Andrew's not missing his math notebook right now.”
“Come to think of it,” said Grace, “I'm not sure I've ever seen him open that notebook.”
“Oh God! Don't look now!” hissed Adie. “
The Beast was Tracy Murphy. Five foot ten inches of pure evil. Tracy wasn't overweight, but her solid mass was at least triple the width of any other girl at Saint John's. It was as if a professional football player had been packed into a schoolgirl's body, bulging with rippling muscle that threatened to burst at the seams. The intimidating look was topped off with dark red curls slicked back into a high ponytail and a thick layer of blue eyeliner beneath each dark, soulless eye. Tracy was the stuff of nightmaresâand Una was her victim of choice.
“Hey, freak,” Tracy snapped, giving Una's elbow a sharp dig, “I told you you're not allowed in this block.”
Una's mouth opened and closed like a goldfishâbut no sound came out.
“Leave her alone,” said Jenny. With occult symbols and names of heavy metal bands Wite-Outed all over her schoolbag, Jenny looked a little tougher than the other girls. But though she was tall and always stood her ground, when it came to sheer size, she couldn't compete with the Beast.
“You'll be left alone,” said Tracy, not taking her eyes off Una, “when you get out of my block. The D block's mine, and I don't like looking at your ugly
. So take it somewhere else.”
“Yeah,” a voice behind them snickered, “we don't like looking at your ugly face.”
Grace glanced back at Bev, the larger of Tracy's devoted henchmen, and fought the urge to comment on the girl's ridiculously oversprayed hairdo. But Bev was never without Trish, who stood nearby, sporting an equally comical hairstyle, and if she dared insult either of them, their boss would surely intervene.
“Our lunchroom's in this block,” Adie squeaked, “so she has to come through here.”
“Then you'd better get into your
,” Tracy sneered, leaning menacingly toward Adie, “before I lose my temper.”
“Come on,” Una whispered, grabbing Adie's hand. The four girls hurried to the safety of the room, trying not to run as Trish's and Bev's wicked laughter filled the hallway. They piled into the room, slamming the door and pressing themselves against it.
“So,” said a musical voice. “You ran into her then?”
Startled, they turned together to see Rachel sitting on a table, with her feet on a chair. She was gazing into a small compact mirror as she swept some powder across her porcelain cheeks. Her pale blue eyes were already perfectly lined with black pencil, and her lips glistened with pink gloss. Glancing up, she snapped the compact shut and swung her legs onto the floor. Grace felt a pang of envy as Rachel's chestnut hair spilled over her shoulders in stylish, glossy layers.
“Yeah.” Grace sighed and pulled her bag off her shoulders. “She's there every day now. It's getting worse.”
“You okay?” Rachel asked, tipping her head toward Una.
“Yeah, I'm fine,” Una mumbled, still blushing from the encounter.
“I don't get why she picks on you,” said Rachel. “It's like she just chooses people at random.”
“Just forget about it,” said Una. “Let's talk about something else.”
“Like a certain not-very-nice person peeing his pants in class?” said Rachel with a hopeful smile.
“Didn't work,” said Grace, wiping the smile off her friend's face. “We think we're not picking personal enough items or something. Maybe we need his watch or his pen.”
“Or his old gym shorts!” squealed Una.
“Speaking of gross, are you
putting M&Ms on that sandwich?” Rachel looked in horror at Jenny, who was perched with her lunch box and a bag of candy on her knees.
“Honestly,” said Jenny, “it's delicious.”
“But there's coleslaw in there!”
“Trust me,” Jenny said, gently sprinkling more M&Ms into her open sandwich, “my mom used to eat this all the time when she was pregnant with my little sister, and I thought it was the grossest thing ever. But then I tried it, and I swear I couldn't eat a sandwich without them now. Yum, yummedy-yum!”
The girls groaned in unison as Jenny took a great big bite and crunched loudly on the salad and sugar-coated chocolate mix.
“That'll do terrible things to your skin,” said Rachel. She turned to Grace. “So more
personal items then?”
“Maybe,” said Grace, “but I'm just not sure we're going about this the right way. We've tried a bunch of spells, and not one of them has even slightly worked.”
“What about that time we tried to get Mr. McQuaid to talk gobbledygook in history,” said Adie, “and the next day he said âFrench
Grace raised an unconvinced eyebrow.
“I don't think that
“It might have been us,” Adie reasoned.
“If that was us,” said Rachel, “it was pretty lame.”
“Yeah,” said Jenny with her mouth full. “What's the point of trying if
all we can manage?”
“Ooh ooh ohh!” Una exclaimed suddenly. “I have the best idea. Let's do a love spell. That would be totally
“On whom?” asked Grace.
“What about James O'Connor?” said Rachel. “You like him.”
“No, I don't!” cried Grace.
“Yes, you do. You blushed when he sat beside you in geography the other day.”
“How would you know?” said Grace. “You were sitting
“Your ears went pink.” Rachel grinned.
“Whatever,” said Grace, her cheeks coloring. “I don't like him.”
“Well, let's try it anyway,” said Una, eyeing her friend with a smile. “It probably won't work, so it doesn't really matter, does it?”
They all looked toward Grace.
“We can do it if you want,” she said at last, sweeping her mousy brown hair out of her eyes and feigning a lack of interest. “I don't care.”
“I'm taking that as a yes. Woo-hoo!” Una bounced to her feet, giving a little dancing wriggle. “This is gonna be so much fun.”
“Will you sit down, Una?” Rachel said, cringing. “People can see in the window.”
“Can't sit down,” Una said, shaking her butt at Rachel as if she couldn't help it. “Too excited.”
“Please knock it off, I'm begging you.”
Una wriggled even more as a few students passing by outside pointed and laughed. Rachel hid her face in her hands.
“We're going to need something personal of James's,” Jenny said.
“I'm in his English class after lunch.” Una finally sat down, a little out of breath. “So I'll steal something out of his pencil case.”
“Anyone else worried that people might start to notice we're stealing their stuff?” asked Adie.
,” corrected Una. “
their stuff. And we'll give it back. You know, unless we can't or we forget.”
That Saturday night, at Rachel's house, the girls gathered together and watched eagerly as Jenny opened the huge leather-bound book on the floor. She flicked through the pages to the one marked “Love Spell.”
,” she said grandly, as the others giggled and settled themselves in a circle on the carpet, “suggests the following procedure for âawakening love in a reluctant other.'”
Jenny looked around and started to read.
“First, light one red candle and one white candle.”
The candles were lit.
“Second, write the name of your intended love on a piece of parchment and repeat the following words:
Oh, Spirits, grant me love divine,
I wish his soul and heart be mine,
Though love, at first, may not be true,
Please make it so, I ask of you!
“Then there's an asterisk and this little note at the bottom of the page,” Jenny said, turning the book so the others could read.
*Spells are performed at one's own risk. Neither the publisher nor the author is responsible for any injury/damage caused during the application of any procedures described in this publication.
The girls shrugged, then carried on chorusing the verse.
“Third and last,” said Jenny, “dip the edge of the parchment into both flames and place in fireproof container.”
Grace watched the smoldering paper shrink in the small bucket of sand until only a few charred pieces remained under a wisp of smoke.
“Well, that's that,” said Jenny, closing the book with a snap.
“This one's going to work!” Adie's pretty olive complexion was glowing with excitement. “Grace, you'll probably have a love letter tucked into your locker door on Monday!”
“It's not going to work,” said Grace. To hide her blushes, she picked up the bucket and tipped the sand into the wastepaper basket Rachel had taken from the bathroom. “And I don't care if it doesn't. Who wants to have someone sticking love letters in their locker?