Home > The Initiation (The Secret Circle #1)(4)

The Initiation (The Secret Circle #1)(4)
Author: L.J. Smith

“I don't care,” Cassie said, and she almost pushed him toward the dock. Hurry, hurry, hurry, something in her brain was urging. Her shyness had vanished. All that mattered was that he got out of sight. “What are they going to do to me, beat me up? I'm an innocent bystander,” she said.

“But-“

“Oh, please. Don't argue. Just do it!”

He stared at her one last instant, then turned, slapping his thigh for the dog. “C'mon, boy!” He ran down the dock and jumped easily into the powerboat, disappearing as he ducked into the cabin. The dog followed him in one powerful spring and barked.

Sh! thought Cassie. The two in the boat were hidden now, but if anyone went up the dock, they would be plainly visible. She hooked the loop of frayed rope over the top of the last pier, screening off the dock.

Then she cast a frantic glance around and headed for the water, splashing in. Bending down, she dug up a handful of wet sand and shells. She let the water wash the sand out of the loose cage of her fingers and held on to the two or three small shells that remained. She reached for another handful.

She heard shouting from the dunes.

I'm gathering shells, I'm only gathering shells, she thought. I don't need to look up yet. I'm not concerned.

“Hey!”

Cassie looked up.

There were four of them, and the two in front were Portia's brothers. Jordan was the one on the debate team and Logan was the one in the Pistol Club. Or was it the other way around?

“Hey, did you see a guy come running this way?” Jordan asked. They were looking in all directions, excited like dogs on a scent, and suddenly another line of poetry came to Cassie.

Four lean hounds crouched low and smiling. Except that these guys weren't lean; they were brawny and sweaty. And out of breath, Cassie noticed, vaguely contemptuous.

“It's Portia's friend-Cathy,” said Logan. “Hey, Cathy, did a guy just go running down here?”

Cassie walked toward him slowly, her fists full of shells. Her heart was knocking against her ribs so hard she was sure they could see it, and her tongue was frozen.

“Can't you talk? What're you doing here?”

Mutely, Cassie held out her hands, opening them.

They exchanged glances and snorts, and Cassie realized how she must look to these college-age guys-a slight girl with unremarkable brown hair and ordinary blue eyes. Just a little high-school ditz from California whose idea of a good time was picking up worthless shells.

“Did you see somebody go past here?” Jordan said, impatient but slow, as if she might be hard of hearing.

Dry-mouthed, Cassie nodded, and looked down the beach toward the headland. Jordan was wearing an open windbreaker over his T-shirt, which seemed odd in such warm weather. What was even odder was the bulge beneath it, but when he turned, Cassie saw the glint of metal.

A gun!

Jordan must be the one in the Pistol Club, she thought irrelevantly.

Now that she saw something really to be scared about, she found her voice again and said huskily, “A guy and a dog went that way a few minutes ago.”

“We've got him! He'll be stuck on the rocks!” Logan said. He and the two guys Cassie didn't know started down the beach, but Jordan turned back to Cassie.

“Are you sure?”

Startled, she looked up at him. Why was he asking? She deliberately widened her eyes and tried to look as childish and stupid as possible. “Yes…”

“Because it's important.” And suddenly he was holding her wrist. Cassie looked down at it in amazement, her shells scattering, too surprised at being grabbed to say anything. “It's very important,” Jordan said, and she could feel the tension running through his body, could smell the acridity of his sweat. A wave of revulsion swept through her, and she struggled to keep her face blank and wide-eyed. She was afraid he was going to pull her up against him, but he just twisted her wrist.

She didn't mean to cry out, but she couldn't help it. It was partly pain and partly a reaction to something she saw in his eyes, something fanatical and ugly and hot like fire. She found herself gasping, more afraid than she could remember being since she was a child.

“Yes, I'm sure,” she said, breathless, staring into that ugliness without letting herself look away. “He went down there and around the headland.”

“Come on, Jordan, leave her alone!” Logan shouted. “She's just a kid. Let's go!”

Jordan hesitated. He knows I'm lying, Cassie thought, with a curious fascination. He knows, but he's afraid to trust what he knows because he doesn't know how he knows it.

Believe me, she thought, gazing straight back at him, willing him to do it. Believe me and go away. Believe me. Believe me.

He let go of her wrist.

“Sorry,” he muttered ungraciously, and he turned and loped off with the others.

“Sure,” Cassie whispered, standing very still.

Tingling, she watched them jog across the wet sand, elbows and knees pumping, Jordan's wind-breaker flapping loose behind him. The weakness spread from her stomach to her legs, and her knees suddenly felt like Silly Putty.

She was aware, all at once, of the sound of the ocean again. A comforting sound that seemed to enfold her. When the four running figures turned the corner and disappeared from her sight, she turned back to the dock, meaning to tell the red-haired guy that he could come out now.

He already had.

Slowly, she made her jellied legs carry her to the dock. He was just standing there, and the look on his face made her feel strange.

“You'd better get out of here-or maybe hide again,” she said hesitantly. “They might come right back…”

“I don't think so.”

“Well…” Cassie faltered, looking at him, feeling almost frightened. “Your dog was very good,” she offered uncertainly, at last. “I mean, not barking or anything.”

“He knows better.”

“Oh.” Cassie looked down the beach, trying to think of something else to say. His voice was gentle, not harsh, but that keen look never left his eyes and his mouth was grim. “I guess they really are gone now,” she said.

“Thanks to you,” he said. He turned to her, and their eyes met. “I don't know how to thank you,” he added, “for putting up with that for me. You don't even know me.”

   
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