The hour was late, but The Boathouse Bar and Grill was filled with customers. Teenagers crowded in booths, families were seated around tables, and a couple of patrons warmed the stools at the end of the bar.
Dawn Chamberlain made her way through the patrons and approached her target. “Ethan, we need to talk.”
Ethan Conant glanced across the bar at her, his hands busy drying shot glasses. “We don’t have anything to talk about, Dawn.”
“Yes, we do.” Dawn insisted. “It involves Adam and Cassie Blake.”
“What about my son and Amelia’s girl?” Dawn had Ethan’s full attention now. ”Did something happen to them?”
“Yes.” Dawn admitted, but at the sudden look of panic on Ethan’s face, she added hastily, “They aren’t hurt…at least not physically.”
“What does that mean?” Ethan was out from behind the bar and standing in front of her. He wanted to grab her by the arms and demand she tell him what was going on, but he resisted the urge. He couldn’t afford to spark any more rumors.
Adam already had to contend with the rumors of his drunken escapades, and he didn’t want to cause his son more embarrassment. Already Adam was avoiding him because of his interference with his son’s relationship with Diana Meade, and he didn’t want to drive him further away.
“We can’t talk here.” Dawn said.
“Come with me.” Ethan spoke a few words to his bartender, before moving back around the bar. Dawn followed him.
He entered his office/supply room and waited for Dawn to join him. He closed the door behind him and folded his arms. “Now tell me what’s going on.”
Dawn walked over to the ratty couch patting the worn cushion. “Let’s sit down.”
Ethan reluctantly joined her.
“Our children know they are witches and they have bound their Circle.” Dawn stated.
“What?” Ethan paled. “How did they find out? When did they bind their Circle?”
“I’m not sure when they found out they were witches. I’m guessing not more than a year or two at most. I know that at least Diana has found her family’s Book of Shadows, but maybe someone else has too. Not Faye though. I don’t keep ours in the house.”
“Adam couldn’t have found ours either.” Ethan said. “Everything about that time I packed up and gave to my father to hold onto.”
“As you are aware, Cassie only arrived back in Chance Harbor a few months ago. I’m guessing they bound their Circle a short time after she arrived in town.” Dawn paused, searching her thoughts, wanting to tell Ethan as much as possible, without revealing too much of her and Charles’ involvement before that night. “ Since binding their Circle, our kids have attracted the attention of witch hunters and demons...”
“Demons?” Ethan swore, then said suddenly, “Nick’s death wasn’t an accidental drowning was it?”
“No…well yes, technically, “ Dawn said, “But I’m thinking he went into the water because he knew he was infested with demons.”
“Oh my God!” *How could I have not known about any of this?* Ethan thought. “Why didn’t Adam tell me?” Ethan ran an agitated hand over his head.
*Maybe because you have been out of touch with reality for a while now?* Dawn wanted to say but wisely kept her tongue. There was no sense making Ethan feel more guilty than she assumed he already felt.
“Don’t be too hard on yourself.” She said instead. “Faye wasn’t exactly forthcoming to me either. And they’ve acted exactly like we did when we first discovered we were hereditary witches. We didn’t tell our parents either.”
“And look where that got us.” Ethan spat out.
Silence fell between them as both were momentarily swept back to that day sixteen years ago when half the members of their own Circle died tragically, and their lives were forever changed.
“Tell me the rest Dawn.”
So Dawn told him everything she had been able to piece together with Charles’ help, ending with her and Charles’ rescue of Faye, Jake, and Melissa from the witch hunters on the very boat where their own Circle members, including their spouses, had died.
“You mentioned you and Charles saved Faye, Melissa, and Jake. Where was Adam, Cassie, and Diana?” Ethan asked when she was finished.
“John Blackwell convinced them that the only way to protect themselves from their enemies was to collect our families’ crystals so they could do the Crystal Skull ritual.”
Ethan swore again.
“Supposedly he needed both Cassie and Diana to make the ritual work. They both have Balcoin blood in them.”
Ethan’s eyes widened. “Diana is Blackwell’s too?”
“Yes.” Diana said. “Apparently he and Elizabeth were together during that time she and Charles were separated.”
“Damn. That must have gutted Charles.”
Ethan and Charles Meade had never been friends but he couldn’t imagine finding out that Adam wasn’t his, especially if it meant he was actually the blood of his arch enemy.
“There’s more Ethan.” Dawn said. “Blackwell had no intention of helping their Circle, he planned to kill all of us, and replace the other members of Diana and Cassie’s Circle with four more kids with Balcoin blood, so he could have a Circle to control.”
“That explains the half hour of writhing on the floor in excruciating pain I went through earlier.” Ethan commented.
“Yes.” Dawn shuddered as she remembered how her own body had felt like it was burning up from the inside out. “We don’t have to worry about John anymore. Cassie and Diana combined their powers with that of the Crystal Skull and destroyed him.”
“Good riddance.” Ethan sighed. “Poor Cassie…she is all alone now.”
“No, she’s not Ethan. She will forever have her Circle...especially Adam..” Dawn reminded him.
“What do you mean she has Adam? I thought she and Adam decided to just be friends?”
“No. John convinced them that if they got together that someone in their Circle would die. He told me that he killed some crows, put a spell on Jake Armstrong to make it look like the curse was activated, and he even spelled Jane when she was in the care facility to say it was true. He made them drink an elixir he concocted to make them forget how they felt about each other.”
“Damn him!” Anger flooded through Ethan as he remembered how Blackwell had come between him and Amelia, and now he had done something similar to Adam and Cassie. “If he wasn’t already dead, I’d kill him!”
“I’d help you too.” Dawn meant it. John Blackwell had done too much damage to all of them. “We can fix what John has done to Adam and Cassie. All we have to do is create an elixir to cancel out the one John made them drink and their feelings for each will return to them.”
“Why would you do that?” Ethan wanted to know. He was wary of her good intentions.
“Because it’s the right thing to do.” Dawn told him. “Your families were written in the stars. It’s too late for you and Amelia, but not for Adam and Cassie. They deserve to be happy.”
“What do you want me to do?” Ethan asked.
“Find Adam and bring him to the abandoned house. We’ll find what we’ll need there. “ Dawn stood up and headed toward the door. “Together the three of us will go to Cassie’s and talk to her.”
“I’ll meet you there within the hour.” Ethan promised.
Ethan left the closing of the Boathouse in his employees' capable hands and went in search of his son. He hit the boat first, to see if Adam was there, but the boat was empty. Ethan jogged over to his jeep and climbed in. He cruised by Cassie’s house first but didn’t see Adam’s car outside. Next, he went by Diana’s, but all the lights were off at the Meade home. Ethan turned his jeep in the direction that would lead him to the abandoned house. Adam’s car was parked alongside the dirt path which led into the woods that surrounded the abandoned house that once belonged to John Blackwell.
Ethan got out of his vehicle and headed down the dirt path with mixed feelings. This was the first time he had been at the abandoned house in sixteen years, and his mind was flooded with unwanted memories. He fought against the urge to turn around and flee back to his car, and continued walking through the woods toward the house.
After leaving Cassie’s, Adam decided to go back to the abandoned house. As emotionally and physically drained as he was over the events of the day, he knew it was imperative that he claim the Crystal Skull before either Faye or Jake decided they wanted it for themselves.
Faye was unpredictable as she was with her own powers, who knew what kind of mischief she would get up to if she was in control of the Crystal Skull. And while he was slowly coming to trust that Jake was fully on the side of their Circle, he didn’t want Armstrong in control of the Crystal Skull either.
He cautiously entered the abandoned house, warily glancing around, just on the odd chance Cassie and Diana hadn’t killed Blackwell like they thought they had. After all, he had been believed dead once before, but somehow managed to deceive everyone.
It didn’t matter that he had personally witnessed Blackwell’s demise this time. Or that he had helped Cassie bury her father’s body behind the abandoned house, while Diana kept watch.
There was also the very real possibility that one or more of Blackwell’s ‘other’ children could have already arrived in Chance Harbor. They sure didn’t need one of them getting possession of the Crystal Skull either.
He crept cautiously upstairs to their meeting room. It was here where they had all first met two years ago to talk about Diana’s discovery of her family’s Book of Shadows, and what it meant to all of them.
By that time each of them had discovered they were already capable of using magic. Some of them had dreams, could make things move by a wave of their hands, think things into occurring, etc.
So all of them had been excited to learn why they were able to do the things they could do. They were also eager to learn more about their craft too and began meeting at the abandoned house several times a week to practice some of the rituals in Diana’s Book of Shadows.
They had even dived into learning about all the tools of the craft that a witch needed to know how to perform spells. They learned how to plant and grow magical herbs, studied stones and crystals magical principles, gathered an assortment of colored candles, athames, and other ritual paraphernalia.
He stepped into the room and peered cautiously around the dark room. He paid careful attention to the darker areas of the room, waiting to see if anyone was hidden in them, before deciding the room was empty of anyone other than himself.
With a flick of his hand, he ignited the lanterns and candles in the room. He crossed carefully through the deactivated circle on the floor where Blackwell had imprisoned Cassie and Diana, and over to the table upon which the Crystal Skull sat.
It was inky black in coloration, something it hadn’t been when it was first formed. The ritual to kill him and the others who did not have Balcoin blood had changed it from its original translucent coloring to its current shade.
As he reached the table, he felt oddly drawn to the Crystal Skull. It was an ugly, dark thing, yet it held an eerie beauty as well. Slowly he reached out a hand to touch it. A spark of electricity shot out from its surface as his fingers connected with it.
Adam jerked his hand back in surprise. It hadn’t hurt exactly, just startled him. Now knowing what to expect, he reached out to touch it again. As his hand connected fully with it, Adam felt a surge of dark power shoot through him from within it.
It was an exhilarating sensation to feel the surge of dark energy course through his body like an electrical current plugged into a socket. The power was amazing! It made him feel as if he was the most powerful witch of all time, and he almost let the dark power suck him over entirely.
The scrape of the door below him creaking open, then the scuff of a shoe on the floor, brought Adam instantly out of the seductive draw of the skull. He jerked his hand back and glanced anxiously around, his eyes falling on a cardboard box filled with scraps of cloth, crinkled newspaper, and other odds and end shoved under one of the worktables.
He moved quickly, grabbing the box, and bringing it over to the table. He pulled a scrap of red cloth out of it and draped it over the Crystal Skull. Being careful not to touch it with his bare hands, Adam tucked it into the box of cloth, newspapers, and other items. He had just enough time to hide the box under the table, wave his hand to extinguish the lamps and candles, and duck into one of the darkened corners of the room before someone stepped cautiously into the room he was in.
Adam held his breath and waited. It could very well be another member of his Circle, but it could also be someone else. Like another witch hunter seeking revenge against him and the others for killing their leader Eben. Or it could be one or more of the other Balcoin children Blackwell had sired.
His mouth dropped open in surprise when he saw it was his dad.
Trepidation filled Ethan as he entered the house. Adam’s car was outside, but there was no sign of life in the darkened, dilapidated house. He listened quietly to the darkness, as he moved cautiously toward the staircase, and ascended to the second floor.
He turned to step immediately into the room on his right. It was the largest of the rooms on this floor and was where he and his Circle members had gathered to have meetings and perform their rituals. It made sense to him that his son’s Circle would do likewise. Just like the rooms below, this room was shrouded in total darkness and silence.
“Dad? What are you doing here?”
Adam’s question startled Ethan. He could just make out his son standing before him in the darkened room. He wondered if his son’s face held as suspicious a look upon it, as the tone he detected in Adam’s voice.
“I was looking for you.”
“Why would you come out here to look for me? I didn’t know you knew about this place, let alone knew where it was?” Adam questioned
“I know a lot more than you think I do.” Ethan told him. “I am aware that you know you are a witch. I also know you have bound your Circle.”
“How?” Adam asked. ”I never said anything to you.”
“I’m not so lost in my own world that I haven’t kept tabs on you.” Ethan said, then sighed. “That’s not true. I haven’t paid as close attention to you as I should have lately, but that’s going to change. And I didn’t figure out you knew about your heritage by myself. Dawn Chamberlain filled me in on a few of your recent escapades this evening.”
“How does she know? We haven’t done anything in front of her either.” Adam wanted to know. "And Faye sure and the hell didn’t tell her anything. Well, at least not until tonight when she was trapped on the boat and afraid for her life.”
“I’m not sure, but does it matter?” Ethan said. “What is important is that I know.”
“Are you going to have the Elders strip us of our powers?” Adam queried.
“What? No!” Ethan said firmly. “I would never want any of you powerless like we’ve been since our parents took ours away. Especially now that you’ve attracted demons and witch hunters.”
“You know about the demons and witch hunters too?” Adam was stunned by his father’s words.
“Yes.” Ethan said. “Not specific details, just that you’ve already had run-ins with them. I’m going to teach you everything I know about fighting demons and witch hunters.”
“How? You don’t have your powers anymore.”
“My powers might be gone, but my knowledge isn’t.” Ethan said. “First though, there’s something else we need to talk about.”
“You and Cassie.”
“There is no me and Cassie anymore.”
The words hurt Adam just to say them.
“I know about Blackwell telling you that there was a curse on our two families.” Ethan shared. “Blackwell lied to you about everything. There is no curse. He made Jake sick, killed the crows, spelled Jane into backing him up about the curse...all of it. He told Dawn, and though I’ve had ample reason in the past to not trust her honesty, on this I believe her.”
“A lie?” Adam’s head swam. ”Why? Why would he do that to his own daughter?”
”Because Blackwell is a sadistic S.O.B who didn’t care about anyone other than himself.” Ethan snapped. “Sorry, Blackwell has never been on my list of ‘favorite’ people.”
“Because he stole Cassie’s mom from you?” Adam asked.
“Yes.” Ethan admitted. “Our union was written in the stars. Our two families have been intermingled for nearly one thousand years. Throughout the centuries the Conants and Blakes have been close allies and Circle members. When Amelia and I were born, hours apart on the same June night, our families celebrated the arrival of the ‘Geminis’. It was a sign to both families that we were destined to be together always. Amelia and I were raised to believe the same thing, and honestly, I never doubted for a moment that it was true. My very first memories of life always included Amelia. And she thought the same way. We were happy. We were in love. And then Blackwell arrived in Chance Harbor and destroyed everything.”
“How?” Adam asked. “If you and Cassie’s mom were destined to be together, how could Blackwell stop that?”
“He used his Dark magic to change the course of our destiny.” Ethan said. “He was only a year or two older than our Circle, but he was already so powerful and skilled in many things, including manipulation and deception. We had only just discovered that we were hereditary witches…”
“Wait…you knew about your ‘destiny’ but not that you came from a long line of ‘witches’? How is that possible?” Adam interrupted, trying to understand what his dad was telling him.
“Throughout the history of our families, and their Circles, we have faced many persecutions, and so each new Circle has had to determine how best to protect their Circles and families. So by the time Amelia and I, and the rest of the members in our Circle came of age, we knew only about our connected history, but nothing about us being witches.
Everything our parents did in their Circle was done in secret. Their meetings, rituals, everything. The only holidays I remember celebrating growing up were ones that most folks celebrated: Christmas, Thanksgiving, Easter.
Amelia was the first to find her family’s Book of Shadows, in a box of her father’s belongings, and showed it to me. It held an accounting of our true history, along with so much more. And it also gave us a list of the members of each Circle before us, and mentioned in several of them were the familiar names of Glaser, Chamberlain, Meade, and Armstrong.”
Adam sucked in a breath at this new revelation. “So all of our families have been connected for a very long time. That’s why Diana, Faye, Melissa, Nick and I sort of gravitated toward each other throughout elementary school into high school…because unconsciously we felt the connection with one another even if we didn’t know the true reason behind it until now?”
“Yes.” Ethan said. “Some of the Circles were larger than the others, but a descendant of our six families, have always been core members of each one.”
Adam was stunned. “That still doesn’t explain how Blackwell was able to come between you and Cassie’s mom.”
“We were all so young. Untrained. Angry at our parents for keeping our joined history from us. We were eager to learn from someone who knew what they were doing. Blackwell was that person. He blew into town at a time when our world was in chaos.
Blackwell became a mentor to us all. He bought this place and gave it over to us as a safe place for us all to practice our craft, learn the art of growing the herbs and plants we needed, etc. We held parties here, and soon it became obvious to me that Blackwell was attracted to Amelia.
Amelia didn’t pay any attention to John’s attraction to her. If she thought it was flattering to her, she never let on to me. We had never had any interest in anyone else other than each other. We were as much in love as we ever were.
Little by little, over time, Amelia began to change. The signs were so subtle, I didn’t realize it until too late that Blackwell had been using his dark magic to lure her away from me. By the time I realized what was going on, the damage was done. Her feelings for me were completely stripped away as if she had never loved me at all.
When she announced to our Circle members and families that she and Blackwell were going to be married, they were stunned. I was devastated.
I realize now that Blackwell must have slipped something into her food or drink during the times we gathered here for a ritual because no one loses their feelings for another person like that all at once.”
Silence fell as Adam absorbed everything his father had just told him. He understood completely what his dad meant. He remembered that he and Cassie had been in love, but he didn’t understand why. He didn’t ‘feel’ like he had ever been in love with her, not in the same way he remembered loving Diana.
“Did you ever love my mother?”
It was a question Adam had wanted to ask for a very long time but hadn’t been ready to hear the answer until now.
“Yes.” Ethan said with conviction.
He placed his hands on Adam’s shoulders. “I am sorry if I ever made you doubt that. Your Mom was everything to me. She healed the wound in my heart that Amelia ripped open when she left me for Blackwell. She taught me how to be open to love again after having mine broken, and she never made me regret it. She was an amazing woman who made my life better, and best of all, she gave me you.”
Adam blinked back the sudden rush of tears that flooded his eyes at his dad’s words. He swiped a hand across his eyes to brush the moisture away and wiped it on his pants. “You really believe that this elixir Mrs. Chamberlain knows will make Cassie and I remember what we felt for one another?”
“Yes I do.” Ethan told him. “But the decision to drink it has to be yours. I’m not going to force you into anything you don’t want to do.”
“The attraction I have had for Cassie from the very start is still there, as well as the knowledge that I loved her once. But I don’t ‘feel’ anything, and that’s just wrong. I should feel ‘something’, like I do in regards to my ex-relationship with Diana.” Adam admitted. “I want what I felt for Cassie back. If this elixir is going to do that, then I have no problems drinking it.”
A female voice said from behind Ethan.
Both Conant men turned to see Dawn standing in the doorway with a small box in her hands. They had been so caught up in their conversation that neither of them was aware of her arrival at the abandoned house.
“Someone get the lights so we can get started on the elixir.” Dawn said as she moved into the room.
Adam gave a wave of his hand and saw his dad’s eyes widen as the wicks of every lantern and candle ignited, flooding the room with a flickering glow of light.
“Hydrokinesis.” Dawn said approvingly. “Apple doesn’t fall far from the tree, does it, Ethan?”
“ Nope.” Ethan grinned proudly at Adam, who flushed at their words.
“Is that what it is called?” Adam asked his dad.
“All Conants are gifted in Hydrokinesis.“ Ethan explained. “The level differs between each individual. Just like each member brings their own unique gifts to their Circle.”
“Night’s getting later, and my bed is calling my name," Dawn said as she moved over to a worktable crowded with an assortment of bottles, tins, and other kinds of containers in varying shapes and sizes. She set the box she carried into an empty area, murmured something, and snapped the fingers of her right hand.
Adam and Ethan both watched with fascination as every bottle, tin, and container crowding the table, shuffled into organized rows on one side of it.
“Pick your jaws up and let’s get to it.” Dawn said. “Adam, do you have any idea about what ingredients John used in his elixir?”:
“I know all of them.” Adam said. “Cassie, Melissa, and I all helped him gather the ingredients, and make the elixir. Melissa has a gift for remembering everything she reads and hears. After Blackwell finished the elixir and left, she wrote everything down so we could keep it.”
He stopped himself from telling his Dad and Dawn that their Circle was writing their own Book of Shadows. A joint Book of Shadows for all of the members to use. Each spell they had used out of Diana’s family’s Book of Shadows was already written in it.
He walked over to the corner where a cupboard stood, opened the doors, and sifted through the pages of their joint Book of Shadows until he found the spell with the recipe for the elixir written on it.
“Here it is.” Adam handed the spell to his father, who moved to stand on one side of Dawn.
Adam joined them at the worktable. While Dawn pulled out the items she had brought with her, Adam began searching through their own cache of ingredients his Circle had, looking for the items Blackwell had used for his elixir.
Ethan helped with measuring out the ingredients, which included clipping herbs, shaving roots, and pouring liquids and powders into empty bowls and cups. Adam watched his dad and Dawn work efficiently together as they readied everything for the ritual.
“Adam change places with me.” Ethan stepped back so Adam could stand beside Dawn. “Your power joined with Dawn’s will make the elixir more powerful.”
Adam took his dad’s place. He followed Dawn’s instructions as they did the ritual, repeating her words, adding ingredients in as she directed until a foamy liquid had formed in the bottom of the small bowl.
Ethan carefully filled two bottles with the dark pink liquid. Adam gazed at the bottles and felt hope stir within him. He knew he wanted to drink the elixir. Now they needed to find out if Cassie wanted to as well.
“Let’s head to Cassie’s.” He told his dad and Dawn. He picked up the two bottles of elixir and headed toward the door.
He waited until they had exited the room, before waving his hand to extinguish all the lanterns and candles. The last thing they needed was for the abandoned house to burn down because they were careless. He followed his father and Dawn downstairs, out of the house, through the woods where their cars were parked. As he slid behind the wheel of his vehicle, started the engine, and followed his dad and Dawn’s cars down the dirt road, the flicker of hope he had felt ignite when they finished the elixir, grew stronger by the time they arrived at Cassie’s house.
He parked his car in front of Cassie’s house, got out, and waited on the sidewalk for his dad and Dawn to join him. Together they started up the walkway to her front door.
*I’m all alone.* Cassie thought, glancing around the empty living room of the Blake house.
Her fellow Circle members had all filed out nearly an hour earlier. Everyone was worn out from the emotionally and physically exhausting day they had just experienced.
Erase day and put weeks, and that would be more accurate. The past couple of months had been hell. First, her mom had died. Cassie felt tears well up in her eyes. There wasn’t a day that she didn’t miss her mom. Her mom had been her best friend, her confidant, her protector, and even her warden at times. There had been the usual teenager-mother moments between them, but nothing ever truly hurtful or serious. She had always thought her mom would be there, but she wasn’t. Not anymore.
And in her passing, Cassie had discovered a whole secret life she had never known about. Coming to live with her grandmother in Chance Harbor had changed her life forever. She had met Diana and Adam, Faye and Melissa, and the Armstrong brothers, Nick and Jake. It was they who first told her that she was a witch. She had thought they were all crazy. That they were all a part of a cult or something and wanted to recruit her to join them.
At least that was what she had thought until she had found her family’s Book of Shadows in a secret compartment in the fireplace in her mom’s room, which she now called her own.
Inside the worn leather cover was an envelope with her name on it. The letter was from her mom and confirmed everything that the other teenagers had told her. She was a witch. A hereditary witch. And guessing by the long list of names written in order of generation, on the first few worn pages of her family’s Book of Shadows, she came from a very long line of witches. One other thing was clear to her as well. She was the last Blake witch in existence.
If she hadn’t already decided not to start using the Blackwell name, she would have refused it now. The name meant nothing to her. There was no way she wanted to be associated with Blackwell or the Balcoin blood. Both names, and the lineage represented everything that was evil and wrong in the world.
She had been a Blake all her life so there was no reason to change who she was now. She had always been proud to be a Blake, and especially her mother’s daughter. She considered it a compliment every time someone told her how much looked like her mom. While she wasn’t a carbon copy of her mom, there were several things they had in common. Both had blonde hair and blue eyes. They were both emotional creatures who made decisions from the heart in any given situation. Sometimes their very similar personalities clashed, but they never quarreled for long or over anything too serious.
She hoped that she was still like her mom. Because she didn’t want anything from her father or his line of ancestors. It was bad enough that she had his dark magic. If it was at all possible to permanently extricate it from her body she would. Nothing good would ever come of having it.
So a Blake is who she would always be. If she ever married she would make sure her future husband understood that she planned to retain her maiden name. She owed it to her mom and grandma to see to it that their family name was carried on in future generations.
She made a sound that was halfway between a laugh and a sob. Who was she kidding? How was she ever going to be able to trust a man enough to confide in him about the fact that she was a witch? That any children they might have would be hereditary witches as well? Especially if she told him that she carried dark magic within her?
Adam was the only man who knew everything about her and loved her anyway. Another sound escaped, and this one was more a sob than anything else. Adam had loved and accepted her, but he was forever lost to her now. Because of their families’ joint curse, there was no way that the two of them could ever be together. They couldn’t ever risk someone else in their Circle dying because of them.
Hell, she was surprised that any of her Circle members still wanted to have anything to do with her after everything they had been through since she met her father. She had practically forced them into trusting Blackwell because she so desperately wanted to believe that he was worthy of their trust. She was so naive to think he had really come back to Chance Harbor to be with her at last. That he would be the kind of father who watched over and protected his daughter from anyone that wanted to do her harm.
What a laugh that was! The only reason her father had come back was to manipulate her and the rest of her Circle into doing whatever he wanted. And she had pretty much led her Circle to the slaughter, unaware that he planned to use the Crystal Skull to kill Adam, Faye, Melissa, and Jake to form his own Circle of Balcoin blood.
A Circle made up of all the Balcoin/Blackwell children he had sired for that very purpose. I had been stunned by his revelation. Just as I had been stunned when I had discovered that Diana, my first friend in Chance Harbor, the very person who had brought me to the rest of our Circle, was actually my sister too.
She and Diana had combined their powers to kill Blackwell to save the others. They had drawn on their dark magic to do it, as well as the power of the Crystal Skull, and it had been difficult. Their father was more powerful than she had ever imagined. If she had tried it on her own, she knew she wouldn’t have succeeded. She was too untrained and her magic was undisciplined at best, and out of control at its worse.
Triggering Diana’s dark magic, and drawing on the Crystal Skull was the only way they had defeated him and saved Adam, Faye, Jake, and Melissa. She was so glad her friends were okay, at least physically. She knew it was going to take all of them a long time to process everything that had happened.
She hoped that they would forgive her. She had never meant for anyone to get hurt. She had only wanted to make their Circle as strong as it possibly could be. She realized now that she was going to have to more careful with not only how she used her dark magic, but how she interacted with other people. Especially, anyone, she didn’t know very well.
She was also going to have to rely on all her powers, instead of her dark magic. She didn’t want to be evil like her father. Yet, she knew deep down inside, she would use it in a heartbeat to protect her Circle members if anyone threatened or harmed then again.
Certainly those consequences couldn’t be any worse than what she was experiencing now. She had lost the two women who meant the world to her. She had killed her father. Adam didn’t love her anymore, and Diana didn’t want to have anything to do with anyone with Balcoin blood, including her.
She couldn’t blame Diana. After all, Diana had grown up believing that she was Charles Meade’s daughter. Diana was especially close to her dad, and the news that he wasn’t her biological father had devastated her. Add to it learning that your real father was evil incarnate was equally as devastating.
After their meeting tonight, Diana had left town with her new boyfriend Grant Everest. Her life was in turmoil and she needed time away from Chance Harbor, their Circle, and everything to do with John Blackwell and his Balcoin blood, and that included Cassie.
*My sister doesn’t want to have anything to do with me.*
The dam on her emotions broke finally and Cassie sank onto the couch. She placed her head in her hands and wept. Sobs tore from her throat and shook her slender frame as she cried. Finally, after being strong for too long, she let out everything she had been keeping locked up inside of her since the night her mom had died.
Cassie didn’t know how long she had been crying before her tears finally dried up. Her head ached. Her eyes were swollen, and her chest hurt. She wiped the tears from her face and stood up. She was going to take some aspirin and go to bed. She was exhausted, and sleep sounded really good right then.
She moved through the downstairs rooms, checking doors and windows to make sure they were locked, and turning off lights. She had just turned off the porch light and checked to make sure the front door was locked when she heard what sounded like multiple cars pulling up outside her house. She heard at least three car doors slam too.
Cassie froze, fear flooding momentarily over her before she stubbornly shoved it aside. Now that the Circle was broken, everyone had their individual magic back. Warily she squared her shoulders and faced the door, as she heard footsteps approaching it. She didn’t know if it was friend or foe outside, so she prepared herself to do battle if necessary.
She jumped when someone knocked on her door. Once. Twice. Three times. Certainly, witch hunters or anyone else wanting to do her harm wouldn’t announce their arrival first?
“Cassie, it’s me.”
Cassie’s heart skipped a beat at hearing Adam’s voice on the other side of the door. She hurried to unlock it, her mind racing for reasons why he had returned to her house. She opened the door and was surprised to find that Adam wasn’t alone. His dad and Faye’s mom were standing on the porch with him. All three wore solemn expressions on their faces.
“What’s going on?” She asked.
“We have something important to tell you.” Dawn said.”Can we come in?”
“Sure.” Cassie was puzzled by Mrs. Chamberlain’s words but nevertheless opened the door to allow them entrance into her house.
She led the way into the living room and sat down on the couch. Adam sat down beside her, while his dad and Dawn settled into chairs across from them.
“You’ve been crying.” Adam stated, concern in his voice, as he studied her face.
“It’s been a rough day.” Cassie said softly, touched by the concern she saw written on his face.
“Yeah, it has.” Adam agreed.
“We know it’s late and we’ve all been through hell today.” Dawn said. “But I think what we have to tell you will make you feel a little better.”
“What do you mean?” Cassie asked. She couldn’t see how anything could make her feel better right at that moment.
“I know about the elixir John made you and Adam drink to ‘forget’ how you feel about each other.” Dawn shared. ”I know he made you believe that there was a curse on the Conants and the Blakes, and I am telling you it was all a lie.”
“How do you know that?” Cassie asked. She turned to Adam. “Did you tell her that?”
“No.” Adam was quick to deny. “ I didn’t.”
“I am the one who told Ethan about the elixir.” Dawn revealed. “I know about it because John told me he made the whole curse up. He killed all the crows that showed up in your yard. He made Jake sick, and he spelled Jane so she would confirm what he was saying about there being a curse to you when you went to see her. He wanted you and Adam to believe the curse was real so that you would agree to drink the elixir.”
Anger flooded through Cassie at her words. Even though she had begun to suspect that maybe the curse never existed, hearing that what she had been thinking was right, only made her feel worse than she already felt, not better. Her father had destroyed her relationship with Adam just to keep them apart.
“If you came over here just to clue me in on the fact that my father was a despicable man who cared about no one but himself.” Cassie said bitterly. “Too late, I already know that.”
“Cassie.” Adam slid closer to her on the couch. He reached out and took one of her hands in his. He knew that out of all of them, the day had been especially hard on her. Hell, the last couple of months really. In that time she had lost her mom, her grandmother, and now her father. His heart ached for her. “Listen to what Mrs. Chamberlain has to say, please. It’s important.”
Cassie gazed up into his handsome face and felt a flicker of hope fill her at the pleading look in his green eyes. She hadn’t seen such a look in his eyes since the day they drank her father’s elixir. “Okay.”
“I have an elixir that will counteract the components in the one that John made you and Adam drink. It will make you and Adam remember everything you felt for one another before you drank the first one.”
“What?” Cassie’s heart pounded as she thought about the possibility of Adam not only remembering that he once loved her, but that he would actually feel everything he once felt for her again.
“It’s true.” Ethan assured her. “Adam and I helped her make the elixir tonight. Dawn and I were the best at making potions and elixirs out of our Circle. I know that we’re heaping this on you after you’ve had one hell of a day, but we all felt it was best not to delay in telling you about Dawn’s elixir until tomorrow. I want you to know that I 100 percent believe that this elixir will reverse the effects of your father’s elixir on you and Adam. But it is your choice whether or not you drink it, Cassie.”
“Why are you doing this?” Cassie asked, turning to look from him to Dawn, then back to Ethan again.
“Because it’s the right thing to do.” Dawn told her.
“Blackwell destroyed my relationship with your mother.” Ethan said. “I don’t want him to get away with doing the same thing to you and Adam. You both deserve to decide for yourselves whether you are meant to be together or not.”
Cassie nodded and turned to face Adam. “What do you want to do Adam? Do you want to drink it?”
“Yes.” Adam said without hesitation. "These last few weeks have been so hard. I’ve felt I’ve been walking around without my heart. Every time I saw you, I would feel a fleeting flicker of something, but just like that…” He snapped his fingers to emphasize what he was saying, “It would be gone. I don’t want to feel like that anymore. I want to remember what we once meant to each other.”
Fresh tears welled up in Cassie’s eyes at his words. She hadn’t been walking around without her heart. It had been ripped out of her chest and shattered onto the ground in millions of jagged shards. Every second of every day, after they drank the ‘forget me’ elixir, she remembered how much she loved him, and that he no longer felt anything for her.
“I want to drink it too.” She whispered hoarsely, blinking away the tears in her eyes.
Adam drew the two bottles of pinkish liquid out of his pocket. He handed one to Cassie and uncorked the other. Cassie did the same thing. She watched as he tossed the liquid down his throat, and saw him grimace as if it tasted awful. It probably did. The first elixir had tasted like castor oil and oyster sauce mixed together.
Cassie waited with baited breath as Adam slowly focused his attention on her. “I remember everything. How I felt when I first saw you. What it felt like to do magic with you. Our first kiss. The first time we told each other that we loved one another. I remember everything, Cassie.”
The love shining in Adam’s eyes for her again, after seeing none for so long, was Cassie’s undoing. She lowered her head and sobbed.
Adam’s heart constricted as he watched Cassie dissolve into tears again. Without hesitation, he gathered her up in his arms, being careful not to spill the open bottle of elixir she held in her right hand. He crooned words of love and comfort to her, not caring that his dad or Dawn were watching them. All that mattered to him was that Cassie heard how much he loved her, even if she didn’t feel the same way about him yet.
Cassie worked desperately to gain control of her emotions. Adam’s words of love washed over her. They were a soothing balm to her battered heart. She had lost so much in such a short time and had been drowning in a wave of emotional turmoil for days.
“I’m okay…I’m okay..”She gasped out, drawing back enough to look up into his face. “I never thought I would ever see you look at me with love in your eyes again. Or that you would ever hold me close like you are right now. I feared I would never hear you tell me that you loved me either.”
“It’s true. All of it Cassie. “Adam swore. “I love you.”
“I know. I believe you.” Cassie told him. “I never stopped loving you. The elixir didn’t work on me. My dark magic was too strong and prevented it from making me forget how I felt about you.”
“What?” Adam exclaimed, a look of horrified realization on his face as he gazed at her. “On top of everything you’ve been through lately, you had to suffer from the added pain of knowing that there was a very real possibility that I would never love you again?”
Cassie nodded, not trusting herself to speak. She was still battling her emotions, feeling as if she was swimming with them at the moment.
“You will never go through that again.” Adam vowed. “I’m going to spend the rest of our lives telling you every day how much I love you.”
“I’ll never grow tired of hearing them either.” Cassie smiled at him. “Or stop telling you how much I love you too.”
Adam wanted to show Cassie just how much he loved her right then, but not while his dad and Dawn were still there.
He glanced over Cassie’s head at his dad and gave a slight nod toward the door. Ethan caught the subtle hint from his son and rose from his chair. “Let’s give Adam and Cassie some time alone to talk Dawn.”
Dawn had caught the hint Adam had thrown his dad and had risen from her chair at the same time Ethan rose from his. “This has been a trying day for all of us and I’m ready for the night to end too.”
“Night Dad. Night Mrs. Chamberlain.” Adam said.
Cassie echoed his ‘good nights’ and added,”Thank you, Mrs. Chamberlain, for everything.”
“You are very welcome.” Dawn told her as she followed Ethan to the door.
“Pinch me.” Cassie whispered to Adam after his dad and Dawn had left. “Am I dreaming? Are you really here with me? Do you really remember loving me again?”
“If you are dreaming, so am I, Cassie.” Adam whispered back. “This is real. I am here with you. I love you and I don’t want to be anywhere else but with you…always.”
“I love you, Adam.” Cassie blinked back tears. “Have from the moment you rescued me from my burning car.”
Adam smiled in remembrance of the memory she had just mentioned. “I was a goner the moment I first saw you. I fought it though because I was with Diana, and I didn’t want to hurt her.”
“I know. She was the first person to befriend me and I didn’t want to do anything to jeopardize our friendship or hurt her either.” Cassie said.
“We don’t have to fight what we feel for each other anymore.” Adam cupped her face with his hands.”There’s no curse stopping us from being together. Diana has moved on with Grant. Jake and Faye seemed to be even closer now than they were before, and we don’t have your father getting in our way either. All we have to do is decide if this is what we really want.”
“I don’t want anyone else.” Cassie swore. “You are everything I’ve ever wanted in a boyfriend, and more.”
“I don’t want anyone but you.” Adam told her. “The first time I saw you, I felt something awaken inside of me that I never knew I was missing.”
“I know it is late, and you must be tired, “ Cassie said, “But will you stay here with me? I want to fall asleep with your arms wrapped around me. Maybe by tomorrow morning, I will finally begin to believe that we are together again.”
“It is real.” Adam ran a hand down her arm. “ I am here with you. We are together. When you wake up tomorrow, I’ll still be here.”
Cassie smiled and took his hand. She led him toward the staircase, stopping in the entrance way to lock the front door and turn off the interior and exterior lights. Then they proceeded up the stairs to Cassie’s bedroom.
Once inside Cassie’s room, Adam closed the door, then leaned against it and studied her. Her sun-kissed blonde hair and blue eyes made him think of the brilliance of the sun shining in the depths of a clear summer sky. Her flawless face was beautiful despite her red-rimmed eyes and tear streaked cheeks. He remembered how warm and silky soft her skin was and felt desire stir within him.
“Adam?” Cassie’s voice was soft, hesitant.
Adam broke out of his reverie to meet her gaze. Cassie sucked in a breath as she saw the desire and love shining in his green eyes for her. She felt an answering heat flood over her as she ran her eyes appreciatively over him.
She loved everything about him. From his spiky dark hair to his sea green eyes, chiseled features, broad shoulders, lithe waist, and long legs. She remembered the feel and touch of his experienced hands caressing her body and swallowed hard.
Adam closed the short distance between them. He reached for her and Cassie went willingly into his arms. Adam lowered his head and pressed his lips against hers. Cassie sighed, slipping her arms around his neck, as she felt him tighten his hold on her waist.
The kiss turned from sweet and tender to hot and urgent. Adam parted Cassie’s lips with his tongue, running it along her bottom lip, and eliciting a moan from Cassie that made him shudder. He ran his hands over her body, feeling her press closer against him, as her fingers combed gently through his hair at the nape of her neck.
With trembling hands he slid his fingers under the hem of her blouse, stroking across silky skin along her waistline. Slowly he lifted his hands, raising her blouse in the process until he had bared her blue bra-clad breasts to his view. Eyes locked with Cassie’s, Adam slipped his hands under the cotton bra to gently cup her breasts in each hand.
Cassie let out another moan as Adam’s warm palms made contact with her bare skin. She moved restlessly against him as he began to knead them, sending shivers of desire coursing through her, as goose pimples skittered across her flesh. With her assistance, Cassie discarded her blouse onto the floor, before Adam reached around her and expertly unfastened the clasp on her bra.
He peeled the cotton from her body, baring her breasts to his view. Adam lowered his head to suckle at one breast while kneading the other with his hand. Cassie arched against him, running her hands over his shoulders and back, as he paid tribute to her breasts.
Wanting to touch him as much as he was touching her, Cassie slipped her hands between their bodies to palm the bulge straining against his jeans. She worked the button and fly of his jeans, slipping her hand inside his boxers to gently touch his engorged member. It was Adam’s turn to moan as her fingers alternated between skimming feather light touches over his bare skin to her hand completely encircling his shaft and stroking lightly.
Tender caresses transitioned into fevered touches. Clothing was quickly discarded as their passion intensified until both stood naked before the other.
“You are so beautiful.” Adam said hoarsely, his eyes skimming over her body, taking in every beautiful curve and angle of her body.
She was too moved by his words to utter anything but his name in response. She could see the evidence of his words written in the love shining in his eyes and the way his body revealed his desire for her.
Adam captured her mouth with his again for another searing kiss, before lifting her up in his arms and carrying her over to her bed. He laid her gently on top of it, before joining her on it. He covered her with his much larger frame, using his knees and elbows to keep his full weight off of her.
He peppered feather soft kisses along her jawline down her neck and onto her breasts. He spent some time there, alternating between suckling and kneading them, before continuing to trail kisses down her body. When he lowered his head to her moist center to first taste her, then suckle her, Cassie arched off the bed, crying out his name as she climaxed.
When he thought he could stand it no longer, Adam reached across her body to open the slender drawer in her bedside table. His fingers fumbled around until he found what he wanted. A condom.
He closed the drawer and then brought the foil package to his mouth so that he could use his teeth to tear it open.
He sat back on his knees as he removed the condom from the foil package and lowered his hand over his erect staff. Slender fingers gently pulled it out of his hand as Cassie whispered huskily, “Let me.”
Adam nodded, not trusting himself to speak. He was barely hanging onto his control as it was. He moaned as Cassie’s fingers brushed against the side of him as he unrolled the condom over his penis in excruciating slowness.
When he could not hold himself in check any longer, Cassie reached up to pull him down over her. Adam positioned himself between her legs and capturing her mouth once again with his own, he thrust forward, sealing them together.
Adam froze as Cassie stilled beneath him.”What’s wrong?”
“Nothing.” She assured him. “I just want to hold this moment in my mind in case…”
She broke off, averting her gaze from his. Adam cocked his head so that he could capture her gaze with his own.
“I’m not going anywhere.” He swore.”I know it’s going to take some time for you to believe that, but it’s true. No matter what anyone else says, and that includes the rest of our Circle members, you are mine and I am yours forever.”
Tears swam in Cassie’s eyes as she let his words sink in. “I love you, Adam.”
“I love you too Cassie.” Adam moved then and soon both were caught up in their passion once again.
Between one heartbeat and the next, their love for one another exploded, careening them over the edge into mind-numbing, and body shuddering blissfulness. When they could breathe and move again, they settled into sleep, Cassie tucked close under Adam’s right arm, and her head resting on his shoulder.
They fell asleep basking in the glow of their lovemaking, knowing that even though the future was uncertain, that they would face it together nevertheless.