Home > Crush (Crave #2)(15)

Crush (Crave #2)(15)
Author: Tracy Wolff

For me to try to believe that I had nothing to do with what happened to Cole—when even Macy says things like this don’t happen at Katmere Academy—involves telling myself a lie of massive proportions.

And I’m a terrible liar.

“We need to call your dad,” I whisper. “We need to tell him everything.”

Macy hesitates, then says on a breath, “I know.” She makes no move to call her dad or anyone else, though. “But what are we going to say to him? This is serious, Grace.”

“I know it is! That’s why we have to tell him.” My mind is racing from one possible scenario to another as I pace the room.

“You can’t beat an alpha werewolf,” Macy says. “That’s why this doesn’t make any sense.”

“I know it doesn’t. Why would I hurt Cole in the first place? And if I did, why can’t I remember anything?” I walk to the sink. Evidence or no evidence, now that I know for sure that this isn’t my blood, I can’t stand having it on me for one more second.

“Okay, so let’s be logical about this,” Macy says, coming up behind me cautiously. “What do you remember about last night? Do you even remember leaving the room?”

“Yeah, of course,” I answer as I douse myself in soap and water. “I couldn’t sleep, so I left the room around two.”

I glance in the mirror and realize that there are a couple of drops of blood on my cheek as well. And that’s when I almost lose it. That’s when I almost forget about trying to be calm and am tempted to just scream my goddamn head off.

But screaming will only draw attention to the mess I’m in, attention neither Macy, nor I, is currently equipped to deal with. So I force myself to swallow down my horror as I scrub my face over and over. I have this sick feeling I’m never going to feel clean again.

I continue rinsing the rest of my body as I tell an impatient Macy about my trip down through the tunnels to the art cottage.

“But I swear, Mace, the last thing I remember is gathering up paint to work on my project. I was in the art supply closet, and I had a really strong vision of what I wanted to do on my canvas, so I picked up gray and green and blue paint and then went into the art room and started painting, for what felt like hours.”

An idea suddenly comes to me.

“Wait a minute.” I turn to Macy as I try to puzzle this out. “Did Jaxon say where Cole was attacked?” If this happened because he saw me go into the art room and came after me, then maybe it wasn’t the cold-blooded attack it looks like.

Maybe it really was self-defense.

Please, please let it have been self-defense.

Then again, how on earth could I actually defend myself against a werewolf? Or end up without a scratch, for that matter? My only power right now is the ability to turn to stone, and though I can see that as a benefit when actually being attacked—as long as my attacker doesn’t also have a sledgehammer—I have no idea how it works in an offensive situation.

Like, how could I possibly have drawn this much blood from anyone while doing my best impersonation of a garden gnome?

“He didn’t say.” Macy hands me my phone. “Maybe you should ask him.”

“I’ll ask him when I see him.” I shudder as I reach for a pair of sweats and a T-shirt. “I have to go talk to your dad anyway. But first I need a shower.”

Macy looks grim even as she nods. “Okay, you shower and I’ll brush my teeth. Then we’ll go see my dad together. “

“You don’t have to do that,” I tell her, though I’ll admit that I really, really don’t want to face this alone.

She rolls her eyes. “What’s that old saying? One for all and all for one?” She plants her hands on her hips. “You’re not going down to my father’s office and confessing to whatever the hell this is without me.”

I start to argue, but she shoots me a death glare so intense that I end up just snapping my mouth shut. Macy may be the most easygoing person I’ve ever met, but she definitely has a spine made of steel under all that fun exterior.

Macy is still getting ready when I finish my shower, so I grab the bloody clothes off the floor and shove them in an empty bag I have lying around. It’s one thing to tell Uncle Finn what I think happened. It’s another to parade what looks an awful lot like evidence of my guilt in front of the entire school. I also grab my notebook, just in case, and shove it into my backpack as well before slinging it over my shoulder.

Once we leave the room, I expect Macy to head for the main stairs that deposit us close to her dad’s office. But she turns left instead, winding her way through two separate hallways filled with dorm rooms before finally stopping in front of one of my least-favorite paintings in the school—a dramatic rendition of the Salem Witch Trials, which shows all nineteen victims hung at once while flames engulf the village behind them.

Still, the last thing I’m expecting is for Macy to whisper a few words and then wave a hand that makes the painting vanish entirely.

She turns to me, her expression grim again. “Things are going to be in an uproar in the main rooms.” Then she does the unexpected. She smiles. “So let’s take a shortcut.”

Seconds later, a door appears out of nowhere.

20

Karma’s a

Witch’s Cousin

Unlike the other doors at Katmere, this one is bright yellow and has rainbow stickers all over it—which says everything it needs to about who has claimed ownership of it.

Macy puts her hand on the door and whispers something that sounds like “locks” and “doors” in an almost melodic cadence. And then the door opens.

“Come on,” she entreats, beckoning urgently with her hand as the door swings farther inward. “Before anyone sees.”

She doesn’t have to tell me twice. I follow her through the door, and I don’t even squeak as it shuts itself behind us with a quiet swish.

Of course, once the door closes, we’re standing in total darkness, which freaks me out for a whole bunch of other reasons. With my heart beating unsteadily, I fumble for my phone to turn on my flashlight app.

But Macy is on it, and before I can so much as get the cell out of my pocket, she murmurs something about “light” and “life,” and a line of candles along the left side of the passage flares to life.

It’s the coolest thing ever, and the more of Macy’s powers I see, the more impressed I get. But as my eyes adjust to the soft light and I finally see our surroundings, I can’t help but grin.

Because of course Macy’s secret passage is nothing like every other secret passage in the history of castles and secret passages and scary books. It’s not musty, it’s not overly narrow, and it’s definitely not creepy. In fact, the whole thing is pretty much the antithesis of creepy. And also, it’s totally kick-ass.

Just like the dungeons downstairs, the walls here are made of large and craggy black stones. But randomly placed amid the rocks are beautiful crystals and jewels in all the shades of the rainbow and then some. Polished pink quartz glitters next to sky-blue aquamarines, while a large citrine glints just above a gorgeous rectangular moonstone.

And those aren’t the only gems. As far as the eye can see, the passage is lined with them. Emeralds and opals and sunstones and tourmalines… The list goes on and on. And so does the secret passageway.

Who makes a hidden corridor like this? I wonder as we start down the hall. Filled with all these jewels and crystals that will never see the light of day? I remember that dragons are known for their love of treasure, but this takes it to a whole new level.

There are stickers here, too, just like in the library. Big ones, small ones, colorful ones, black-and-white ones, and for the first time, I wonder if Macy is the one responsible for the decorations in the library that I liked so much. Or if she and the librarian, Amka, just happen to have the same aesthetic.

On a different day—if I’m not kicked out of Katmere and thrown in some paranormal prison somewhere for attempted murder—I want to come back and read every single one of these stickers.

But for now, I settle for reading the few that are right at face level as we continue along the shadowy passageway.

Why, yes, I can drive a stick, with a picture of a witch’s hat and broom.

Karma’s a witch, with a crystal ball in the background.

And my personal favorite, 100% that witch, surrounded by a bed of flowers and sage.

I can’t help laughing at that last one, and Macy shoots me a grin as she reaches over and squeezes my hand. “It’s going to be okay, Grace,” she tells me as we go around a curve. “My dad will figure out what happened.”

“I hope so,” I tell her, because being a gargoyle is one thing. Being a violent monster who blacks out and then tries to murder people in the bloodiest way possible is something else entirely.

For the first time, I really wonder if Hudson is actually dead. More, I start to wonder if maybe I killed him. Everyone seems so sure that I wouldn’t have returned to Katmere if I thought Hudson was still a threat, so I’ve been operating under the assumption that either I left him locked up in some between space, unable to get out, or he figured a way to get free and I came back to help find him.

But if I can half drain an alpha werewolf of blood without having a clue I’ve done it—although I still have absolutely no idea how that could be possible—what makes me think I didn’t do the same to the guy who tried to murder my mate?

Is that why I have no memory of the last four months? Because being a murderer was so traumatic to me that my mind blocked it out? And now it’s blocking it out again?

Macy steers me down another long corridor and then a long set of narrow but winding stairs, then whispers, “We’re almost there.”

Fantastic.

“Almost there” means it’s time to face the consequences of what happened to Cole.

“Almost there” means it’s time to find out if I really have become the monster I’m afraid I have.

   
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