The Indigo Spell

Page 81

"Yes, exactly." I walked over to the callistana and spoke the incantation that turned him back into his inert form. I put the crystal into my purse and summoned all my will to give Adrian the coldest look I could manage. It must have been a powerful one because he looked as though I'd slapped him. Seeing that pain on his face made my heart break. I didn't want to hurt him. I didn't want to leave him! But what choice did I have? There was too much at stake.

"This is done. I've made my choice, Adrian," I said. "I'm leaving this weekend, so please don't make it any more difficult than it has to be. I'd like us to be friends." The way I spoke made it sound like we were closing a business arrangement.

I walked toward the door, and Adrian hurried after me. I couldn't bear to face the agony in his eyes, and it took all my resolve not to avert my gaze. "Sydney, don't do this. You know it's wrong. Deep inside, you know it is."

I didn't answer. I couldn't answer. I walked away, forcing myself not to look back. I was too afraid my resolve would falter - and that was exactly why I needed to leave Palm Springs. I wasn't safe around him anymore. No one could be allowed to have that kind of power over me.

All I wanted to do after that was hide in my room and cry. For a week. But there was never any rest for me. It was always about others, with my feelings and dreams shoved off to the side. Consequently, I wasn't in the best position to give Eddie romantic advice when we met up that night. Fortunately, he was too caught up in his own emotions to notice mine.

"I should never have gotten involved with Angeline," he told me. We were at a coffee shop across town that was called Bean There, Done That. He'd ordered hot chocolate and had been stirring it for almost an hour.

"You didn't know," I said. It was hard maintaining my half of the conversation when I kept seeing the pain in Adrian's eyes. "You couldn't have known - especially with her. She's unpredictable."

"And that's why I shouldn't have done it." He finally set the spoon down on the table. "Relationships are dangerous enough without getting involved with someone like her. And I don't have time for that kind of distraction! I'm here for Jill, not me. I should never have let myself get caught up in this."

"There's nothing wrong with wanting to be with someone," I said diplomatically. Unless that person turns your world upside down and makes you lose all self-control.

"Maybe when I've retired, I'll have the time." I couldn't tell if he was serious or not. "But not right now. Jill's my priority."

I had no business playing matchmaker, but I had to try. "Have you ever thought about seriously being with Jill? I know you used to like her." And I was absolutely certain he still did.

"That's out of the question," he said fiercely. "And you know it. I can't think of her like that."

"She thinks about you like that." The words slipped out before I could stop them. After my own romantic disaster today, a part of me longed for at least someone to be happy. I didn't want anyone else hurting the way I did.

He froze. "She . . . no. There's no way."

"She does."

A whole range of emotions played through Eddie's eyes. Disbelief. Hope. Joy. And then . . . resignation. He picked up the spoon again and returned to his compulsive stirring.

"Sydney, you know I can't. You of all people know what it's like to have to focus on your work." This was the second time today someone had said "you of all people" to me. I guess everyone had a preconceived idea of who I was.

"You should at least think about it," I said. "Watch her the next time you're together. See how she reacts."

He looked as though he might consider it, which I took as a small victory. Suddenly, alarm flashed on his face. "Whatever happened with you and Marcus? The St. Louis trip? Did you find out anything about Jill?"

I chose my next words very carefully, both because I didn't want to alarm him and because I didn't want him taking some drastic action that could accidentally reveal my dealings with Marcus. "We found some evidence that the Warriors have talked to the Alchemists, but nothing that shows they're working together or have actual plans for her. I've also taken some steps to make sure she's protected."

I hadn't heard anything from Stanton today and wasn't sure if that last part would actually pan out. Eddie looked relieved, though, and I couldn't bear to stress him out any further today. His gaze shifted to something behind me, and he pushed the untouched hot chocolate away. "Time for us to go."

I looked back at a clock and saw he was right. We still had a comfortable window before curfew, but I didn't want to push it. I finished off the last of my coffee and followed him out. The sun was sinking into the horizon, coloring the sky red and purple. The temperature had finally cooled off to normal levels, but it still didn't feel like winter to me. There'd been a bunch of badly parked cars in the front of the lot, so I'd parked Latte in the back in case some careless person opened a door too fast.

"Thanks for the moral support," Eddie told me. "Sometimes it feels like you really are a sister - "

That was when my car exploded. Sort of.

I have to admit Eddie's response time was amazing. He threw me to the ground, shielding my body with his. The boom had been deafening, and I cried out as some sort of foam landed on the side of my face.


Cautiously, Eddie rose, and I followed. My car hadn't exploded in flames or anything like that. Instead, it was filled with some sort of white substance that had blasted out with such force that it had blown the doors off and broken the windows. We both approached the mess, and behind us, I heard people coming out of the coffee shop.

"What the hell?" asked Eddie.

I touched some of the foam on my face and rubbed my fingertips together. "It's sort of like the stuff you'd find in a fire extinguisher," I said.

"How did it get in your car?" he asked. "And how did it get there so fast? I glanced over at it when we first walked out. You're the chemical expert. Could some reaction have happened that fast?"

"Maybe," I admitted. At the moment, I was too shocked to really run any formulas. I rested a hand against Latte's hood and wanted to burst into tears. My emotions were at a breaking point. "My poor car. First Adrian's, now mine. Why do people do stuff like this?"

"Vandals don't care," said a voice beside me. I glanced over and saw one of the baristas, an older man who I believed was the owner. "I've seen stuff like this before. Damn kids. I'll call the police for you." He took out his cell phone and backed away.

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