I was victorious! Vic-ficken-torious. I had tested out of Advanced Potions 101, which meant I was only six classifications short of certification. Certification was a big deal for a magic user, you’d get your classification and finally be considered an adult. So, when I walked through the house I jumped up and smacked the top of the archways that lead from room to room.
Mom and Dad were sitting in the great room with grim looks on their faces. Mom had her laptop on her lap as always and Dad had his tablet in his. Something about their silence made my stomach turn with fright.
“Ezzy don’t fret,” My father whispered to my mother placing a kiss on her cheek and smoothing some of her dark hair behind her ear. She had been crying, her makeup ran a little making her look a little older than she really was.
“I just don’t get it,” she growled fiercely in spite of the tears that fell freely.” We didn’t do anything.”
“Mom?” I asked stopping at the railing that separated the kitchen from that living space.
“It’s nothing, sweetpea,” she sighed and wiped her eyes before standing, and wrapping her cardigan tighter around her like she did when worried.
“Is it Nanny?”
“No, Nanny’s fine,” she forced a smile and rubbed the back of her neck.
“C’mere, Violent Violet. Plop a squat,” dad slapped the space on the couch between them.
“I’m going to start packing, no point in waiting,” my mother grumbled before storming off.
“Ezz,” my father called after her, but she didn’t answer.
All of the silence and secrecy made me tense.
“How was school?”
“It was great, I kicked that potion’s test’s ass.”
“Butt, I kicked its butt.”
“I knew you would.” He reached out and tussled my hair.
“What’s wrong with mom? Are we moving? Did I hear that right? Because things are finally working out I’ll have you know!”
“I…” he sighed and looked at his tablet for a few moments sweeping his finger across the screen to pull up an email. “Remember Aunt Iris? You haven’t seen her since you and Evange were kiddos.”
“Yeah, remember Dad there’s this thing called facebook.” I rolled my eyes and he shouldered me a little.
“Well, something…questionable happened and we’re being… removed from Willow Hill.”
“Remember when your friend Trevor had to move away two years ago?”
“Yeah, his mom got some job in New York.”
“No, his father was involved with some questionable activity and the elders cast a vote and decided to distance the community from them.”
“Wait? Is that what they’re doing to us? I thought this was the United States?!”
“Yes, this is the United States but Willow Hill is a closed community, Sweetpea. We abide by the Council Elders the same way that our parents did and their parents.”
“But Nana’s on Council!”
“I know. But there’s nothing that can be done. All she could do is get us an extra day to leave.”
“But why can’t we stay with Nana or Nanny?”
“What the fuck!” My fraternal twin sister squealed as she slammed the door and ran into the kitchen still in her cheerleader uniform, her sandy blonde hair perfectly curled and coiffed.
“Evangelina Willow Wildes!”
“They told me to clean out my locker and leave. I’m head cheerleader, I don’t think you realize what that means!” She pointed at her chest, “I’m a junior and the head varsity cheerleader! I’ve worked for this like my whole life and then they just told me to leave. The game had just started and they told me that I was no longer welcome that I was a traitor.” She was in hysterics; her makeup ran down her face in heavy black lines as her face twisted in agony. We were twins but we weren’t identical.
She was shorter than I was with a slightly bigger nose and paler hair, her eyes were blue and mine were grey, and considered the better looking one. But she was the princess, the varsity cheerleader who dated the quarterback who was prom queen her sophomore year and did everything right like every teenager on television.
“It might not seem like it now, but this is for the best. Nana pulled some strings, we have an extra day to pack and then we’re moving to Hawethorne Grove, which is supposed to be a great area. There’s a nice local music scene from what I remember, and tons of snooty rich kids who wear designer clothes that you’ll fit right in with. And you and Violet will get to go to Ravenwood Academy. Our family helped found the school, so you get to look at an old ass oil painting of an ancestor on the wall. But the community is mostly normal now, minus a few prominent old families. But It’s only two years.”
“I was going to marry Laurent!” My sister shrieked stamping her foot. “And I can’t now! I can’t even say goodbye, he blocked my number!”
“Sweetheart,” he called after Evangelina as she stormed off slamming doors in her wake. “And that’s why you’re my favorite, Violent Violet,” he said to me with a sad smile.
“Are we going to get certified?” That was the only thing that really bothered me. I was sad about losing my friends, but certification was the only thing I really cared about.
“Of course, I wouldn’t do that to you guys. Nana said that the Crowley family runs a society there that will finish your training and it’ll only be a few hours after school. I already e-mailed them about Evange’s cheerleading and I’m sure they’ll work around it since you two are so advanced.” He spoke to the tablet not raising his eyes the entire time. It was clear he was hurting, he would have to leave everything behind his job at the paper, the community he grew up in.
“Aunt Iris wrote an editorial about council that was… condemning. She sent it in anonymously but they found out she sent it. Nana is only saved from everything because of her community ties, but her friends could only do so much. We have to move because they know I’m close with your aunt. There’s nothing to be afraid of, your mom grew up around Normals and you know she goes out and travels to normal towns for her book tours and conventions.”
“I know. I’m bummed but, I’m not going to throw a fit and fall in it like Evange.”
“No, you’ll go and write some damning poetry about it, or a song. All I ask is that you don’t put it on Youtube. My reputation on the indie scene just couldn’t handle it.” He laughed a little and looked up from his tablet looking happy for the first time since I came in.
Two days later we left in the middle of the night, the council sent my father an e-mail saying we had to be out of Willow Hill city limits before sunrise. Evange tapped on the glass as we pulled out of the driveway for the last time. The city was a ghost town as we left, there wasn’t a single soul on the street.
Only the Amish beat us in skillful shunning. To look upon a cast out was culturally taboo, but still as we left the cul da sac I caught Laurent peeking out of the window as we passed his house. Evange gasped and turned around, staring back long after we left town. My mother sighed in the passenger seat, I watched her dark eyes in the mirror as she looked back at my sister. After a few moments she turned those eyes to me.
“Tomorrow night, after we’re settled in, we’ve been invited to a party at Crowley Manor. Nana gave me some money to get you and Evange some new clothes… and your uniforms.” She tried to slip that that one passed her lips quickly but my sister still caught it.
“Uniforms?” Evange shrieked prying her attention from the window.
“It’s a private school, Evange. Small sacrifices. It’s only two years.”
“You don’t get it! Two years is like an eternity of missed opportunities to express myself!”
“Which you’ll get to do after practice when the society meets. And you’ll be expressing yourself with design brands, now. Because heaven forbid a Wildes go before a Crowley in anything but the best.” It was clear from her tone that my mother was annoyed. She stared at my father for a handful of moments, and he glanced to her quickly with a smirk.
“The rivalry between the families is long dead, Ezzy. And I’ll take trying to one up one another in wealth to dueling to the death over side long glances across crowded rooms.”
“I’m going to kill your sister.”
“No, you’re not.” They shared a laugh as we continued down the highway and Evange buried her face in her cellphone leaving me to contemplate doing the same, ultimately I decided to stare out of the window and listen to music instead—I wasn’t the social media type…and I knew that what little friends I did have had probably unfriended and blocked me already.
It was a little after noon the next day when we finally pulled off the interstate and onto a stretch of treelined highway that seemed to never end. Dad and Evange were asleep snoring as mom hummed a Guns N’ Roses song under her breath when we finally passed the ornately carved and painted sign that read, “Welcome to Hawethorne Grove.”
It was a few minutes before there were any signs of life. Then, out of nowhere, houses and shops sprang up like mushrooms after rain, but mostly little boutiques with dazzling modern display windows full of clean glass with hard edges. People walked down the street carrying shopping bags and laughing with coffee cups in hand, in short, it looked Rodeo Drive and Willow Hill had bastard offspring, which made sense because so far Hawethorne Grove looked like Beverly Hills and Willow Hill’s bastard offspring.
As similar as it was to Willow Hill I could feel the lack of magic. Here there were no enchanted displays that hovered at eye level, or expresso machines that worked themselves. I had seen the Normie way of life on television and through the internet but actually seeing it up close and personal was so different. It didn’t feel real to me at all. The lack of magic made everything seem like a bad dream.
“Oh, there’s your new school,” Mom said as she slowed the car in front of a gargantuan ancient stone building. There were a handful of kids about my age hanging around with their faces glued to their cellphones. All of them wore their uniforms. The boy’s had on white shirts with a black tie and black sweater with small embroided crest on the left side, and the girls wore short black plaid skirts with knee socks and a short sleeved white button down shirt. Some of the girls wore a black vest like the boys did, others wore a similar cardigan and some others still only wore the shirt. Their shoes all looked roughly the same too.
“I thought school doesn’t start until next week?” I asked as we continued down the street.
“It doesn’t, but Ravenwood is also a boarding school, which means—”
“God mom! We know what it means. We’re not stupid,” Evange groggily whined cutting mom off. She glanced in the rear view mirror at my sister and then slammed on the brakes—making Evange hit her head on the back of the front seat as the car jerked forward. Dad woke up with a start gasping and looking around almost franticly.
“What was that? Everyone okay?” he asked in a panic.
“Everything’s fine. Little miss princess was just being a little bratty.”
“That’s child abuse!” Evanged shrilly shrieked rubbing the side of her head.
“Nah, you’re sixteen now. It’s technically assault,” Mom giggled as she continued driving through town.
“Can we get some coffee?” Dad inquired as he stretched.
“I thought we weren’t going to be bad parents on the trip up?”
“That ship sailed when you break checked our daughter into your seat.”
“It was a squirrel. That’s my story and I’m sticking to it.”
“Did the girls see the school?”
“Yep.” Mom clipped out as she turned down another street. In the distance, through the trees, a group of old mansions grew out of nowhere. Dad’s phone buzzed and he grumbled under his breath.
“Iris is coming over with Dalilah, and Pax is bringing her kids too.”
“Great, so we have to deal with the brat brigade.”
“Isn’t that a little mean?”
“It’s what Pax calls them so I’m certain it’s well earned.”
“You have to be a little excited to see them. You did have that little triumvirate, pseudo coven thing going on in High School.”
“Don’t remind me.”
“And the band.”
“And two of you had a crush on one’s older brother who if I recall correctly was a very attractive guy with great eyes and an amazing smile. Even though you were the envy of everyone and already dating a certain Chandler Crowley at the time.” Dad laughed a little as mom pulled up to a gate that had a security guard manning it. They smiled at mom and glanced in the car. But when they saw dad they blinked a few times.
“Mr. Wildes, a pleasure to finally have you back in Hawthorne Grove, sir.” The Security guard practically tripped over himself.
“A pleasure to be back,” Dad answered but even I could tell he was tense.
“The De la Bartes and Crowleys are already waiting for you. And your things arrived in the night, the movers are still unpacking the truck to your specifications.”
“Have a wonderful day,” the security guard nodded.
“You too,” dad replied glancing to mom who continued driving again.
“And so it begins,” mom half cackled as we drove down a widing street full of mansions tucked away into a forest. Most of the homes seemed empty. Many of them looked as though they had seen better days, with thick vines wrapped around the gates and grimy windows that were boarded up.
When mom finally stopped the car I thought she had made a mistake. The house we lived in before was nice, not television nice, but nice enough. The house we were stopped outside of was mansion, granted not as big as some of the ones we had passed on the way up, but it was still a mansion.
“Okay. Ground rules, kiddos,” Mom started as she put the car in park. “Don’t use magic in town. When you use magic at the society, use a wand and not a focus. I’m directing this to you specifically, Violet. I know you’re like me and hate wands but…this place is very much about tradition. Specifically, the Wizarding tradition, a focus is…” she sighed. “Well you both passed history and practicum of basic magic.” She took a deep breath before getting out of the car. The moment the door closed she was almost instantly embraced by an immaculately dressed blonde woman.
Evange and I stayed in the car and for the first time in the longest time we sat in silence. We were both afraid, as much as we could get on each other’ nerves we had the bond of being twins—though she was a Wizard and I was a Sorceress.
Magic came in different ways to different people, but Wizards had since they came to the Americas in the 1600s fought to maintain their way as the best way of doing things. The old families were all Wizarding Families, the Wildes, Crowleys De la Bartes, Paxtons, Goodes and Fairchilds were the oldest and most powerful families. I never really thought about what that meant until the security guy had stopped us at the gate.
“You can use a wand. I’ve seen you use a wand,” Evange said after a while giving me a smile.
“I’ll make sure the popular kids leave you alone this time. You’re my little sister and I should watch out for you.”
“By nine minutes.”
“Thanks,” I murmured looking down at the small inconspicuous little black jewel on my charm bracelet.
“Oh my god,” she whispered as she stared out of the window slack jawed. “Whoa, he’s… wow. Violet look.” Evange smacked the pillow between us and pointed out of the window at what I could only see as a nice pair of skinny jeans on some tall probably male figure. I hunkered down a little and peered out of the window.
Standing a few feet away, talking with a brunette in a black hat—that could only be our cousin Dalilah—and a blonde with perfectly highlighted and curled hair was a simply gorgeous boy. He was pale with bright periwinkle eyes and a mop of thick auburn waves expertly tussled to frame his face and a bit of his neck. “See that? That’s my new boyfriend,” Evange giggled out half maniacally. I nodded a little and sighed as she checked her make up.
“What about Laurent?”
“Laurent is in Willow Hill and Laurent wasn’t that hot. I’m going to go say hello, and get him to dump his girlfriend for me.” She carefully checked herself over in the rear view mirror before slipping out of the car. She left me staring after her as she started talking with the group that had gathered off to the side of the adults.
Rolling my eyes, I left the car and walked to stand on the curb away from everyone. The girl in the black hat looked over at me for a handful of moments, watching me carefully before heading over. She was clearly similar in spirit to me than she was the cheer brigade that consisted of my sister and the blonde. I could go either way on the guy, but it was mostly wishful thinking.
“Hey,” Dalilah chirped to me as she made her way over. She was my cousin, and you could tell by looking at her. She had that same hair we did. My mother called it Wildes curls—long, loose, unruly, glossy curls that refused to be tamed by conventional means.
“I don’t think Evange gets it.”
“What’s the it she doesn’t get?”
“The Crowleys are a big deal in town. They own everything, and their mother is a famous designer. They’re popular in spite of the feeling they give the normies because of that. They won’t accept her at Ravenwood, she’ll be an outcast just like us.”
“She’s already assured a spot on the cheerleading squad.”
“Assured by adults doesn’t mean accepted by everyone else. They treat me like shit at Ravenwood, but here… here we’re all supposed to be friends. The De la Bartes and the Crowleys blah, blah, blah.”
“Everyone loves Evange, everyone.”
“Well that’s about to change,” Delilah snorted a little and then snickered.
“And what about us?”
“SSDD. You may or may not end up with pigs’ blood all over you at homecoming.”
“Nah, I’m the scary girl. So you guys really don’t use magic on campus? Not even a charm so the normies don’t freak?”
“It’s not allowed. The Society frowns upon it and makes a huge stink if you do.”
“Of course they do, it’s run by the Crowleys I take it?”
“They run everything here. Mom says it’s almost as bad as Nana and Willow Hill.”
“Oh.” I stared at my sister and the Crowley kids, they seemed like the best of friends already. I really couldn’t see why they wouldn’t accept her. “I thought the popular kids set the rules? They did at Willow.”
“They do… but you can’t have two Queens. I can already tell you what’s going to happen. Your sister is going to hook up with Jude Crowely over there and then everyone’s going to slut shame her. It happened my freshman year and the girl left school because of it.”
“Was she one of us?”
“But was she one of the five?”
“Well, supposedly it’s supposed to mean something because we’re Wildes.”
“I’m a Wildes and a De le Barte but that didn’t save me from their wrath. And I’ve had to deal with it my entire life.”
Sighing I turned from my cousin and started towards the house, the door was open and the movers were still unloading everything.
“Where are you going?”
“To take a nap before this thing tonight,” I called over my shoulder never turning around.
The house was enormous, I felt like I’d never actually find my room, but that didn’t stop me from trying. Four bedrooms and my mother’s office later I finally found my room. The movers had put together my bed already but my furniture was arranged all wrong. My bed wasn’t made and all I wanted to do was rest before having to mingle with the Crowleys. I might not have actually introduced myself to either girl Crowley or boy Crowley but I could tell they would be just like my sister. They all just looked like they were cockier than a bag of dicks.
That jewel on my charm bracelet held my attention for a few moments. I could move everything the normie way, or I could use magic. Before it wouldn’t have even been a question, I would have just used my magic. But I was no longer in Willow Hill, no longer in a place where all magic users were welcome. The Society was clearly all about the Wizards and I was a natural Sorceress—I had trained in wizardry of course, but sorcery simply seemed an extension of myself and Wizadry always seemed forced.
With a sigh I closed the door and flicked my wrist, using my connection to that little jewel to send it flying through the air. It stopped in the middle of the room and hovered there twisting and casting little rainbows on the wall as it began to glow with the light of my power. This focus was ancient, it was my mother’s first and had been her mother’s first and so on and so forth for as long as anyone could remember.
With the focus all I needed to do was think of what I wanted to do and the power within me would attempt to carry out my will. Sorcery was organic and came from within, Wizardry was all about working with the forces already around you, manipulating the natural energies that exist within everything. A Wizard with a wand practicing magic looked like a conductor in front of a symphony as they pushed and pulled the energy around them. A powerful sorcerer didn’t even need a focus. To cast spells Wizards would often need to speak words, to put power behind their voice, but a Sorcerer only needs to think them. It was the internal nature of the Sorcerer that made them suspect to many Wizards. At its core it was jealousy, pure and simple.
Approaching the glowing black gem I cupped the force around the focus with my hands, it was like a warm stream of air only it circled around the gem with no discernable current. With a shaky breath I let my focused power loose. The furniture slid around the floor until it was organized exactly how I wanted it, and then my boxes started to unpack themselves. Within a handful of minutes everything was exactly how I wanted it, even my jewelry was neatly on the little metal tree I used instead of a jewelry box. The posters unrolled themselves, sticking to the walls on their own. And once everything had finished the cardboard boxes rolled themselves up into a little ball and disappeared in a quick flash of flame and puff of smoke, that made me cough.
Meanwhile, as the boxes compressed in on themselves, behind me the door opened and the little stone focus returned to the charm bracelet at my wrist. Turning around I found the Crowley boy holding one of those fancy garment bags.
“Hey, uhh, my mom told me to bring you this,” He said, gesturing to me with the bag.
“What is it?”
“Some dress she made for you. Apparently, because she and your mom were close she expects us to be too, or something.”
“Yeah, I figured,” I scoffed a little and took the garment bag from him letting it fold over my arm.
“Was that sorcery?”
“That’s pretty damn cool, can your sister do it too?”
“You don’t like to really talk much do you?”
“So, did you like… have a boyfriend or something in Willow Hill?”
“Ha. Cute,” I have snorted as I looked around the room.
“What’s that supposed to mean?”
“It means you’re being transparent—glaringly transparent.”
“I’m just trying to get to know you.”
“Okay, well then my office hours are from 8:30 AM to 3:00 PM, Monday through Friday. If you still want to get to know me then, feel free to come up and say hello.”
“It means I talked to Dalilah.”
“Yeah, oh. Now stop wasting my time and yours and get the hell out of my room I’m not my cousin and not my sister, I won’t play your game.”
“It was nice to meet you.”
I pointed to the door, “Out.”
“You know you’re really defensive.”
“No shit Sherlock.”
“Not everyone’s out to get you.”
“Again, if you want to talk to me… school hours. I don’t do the false friend thing.”
“You know you won’t get very far in life with that attitude.”
“I’ll get about as far as you will with your inability to grasp simple social cues. Get out.”
“You know most girls here would die to have me in their rooms.”
“Do I look like most girls?” I arched a brow.
“No, you certainly don’t.”
“Alright…are you a Vi?”
“Nope. It’s Ms. Wildes to you, Mr. Crowley. Now get out before I make you leave.”
“Alright, I can take a hint,” he held up his hands and slowly back out of the room. “See you tonight, Vi.” He yelled as he reached the stairs, leaving me to growl and slam the door to my room utterly exhausted. Collapsing back on the bed I did everything I could think of to forget about the Crowley boy to try and get some sleep. Something twisting deep in the pit of my stomach told me that tonight would be more than a little telling of things to come, and it would be full of entirely too much of the Crowley boy for my liking—no matter how cute he was.
A few hours later my mom came in and woke me up. I was half asleep as I changed and got ready for dinner. The dress Mrs. Crowley had made for me was just perfect. It looked like a biker jacket with a short, fluffy, asymmetrical tulle skirt at the bottom. It was definitely something I’d wear. I loved it. Usually I found myself stuck in the same thing my sister wore, only in a darker color. It was nice to finally have something that was perfectly me.
No matter how amazing the dress was, I still didn’t want to go to the Crowley’s. I got that they thought it’d be good for us to get to know each other but I know enough about girl and boy Crowley already.
Staring out of the car window, I watched as the lights passed along the road. Everyone was quiet and tense as we zipped through the streets towards a large mansion on a hill. The Crowley Manor looked like something out of a gothic novel. Just looking at it brought to mind Thornfield hall from Jane Eyre.
“So we’re rich now, right?” Evange broke the silence, looking up from her phone.
“Well…” mom started but ultimately stopped as she glanced at dad, but he kept his attention fixed on the road. “Not exactly. Nothing’s changed we’re just in a different place now.”
“So I’m just wearing a custom PAX and have a bedroom that can fit my old bedroom inside of it because?”
“I don’t think it matters,” I mumbled.
“It does matter! How can I impress Jude if we’re not rich like they are?”
“By being your wonderful self,” I turned and smirked at her.
“Mom!” Evange whined and I rolled my eyes.
“Violet, stop teasing your sister. Evange, it’ll be fine.”
“You don’t get it!” Evange practically shrieked causing my mom to sigh. Thankfully we were pulling up the drive to that enormous mansion already. Dad parked the car and I was out of the door and on the walk way before he even turned off the engine. Freedom, sweet freedom. I practically wanted to kiss the concrete at my feet because I was no longer held hostage beside my sister. Thankfully, the mansion was big enough that I could probably hide from everyone and not be forced to interact with Boy and Girl Crowley or my evil twin.
Mom was the one who lead the way to the door. She walked with her chin raised and shoulders back like she owned the pavement beneath her feet. I had never seen her walk with such purpose before, it was almost enough to make me want to mimic it.
The door opened just as we reached it, and that pretty blonde woman from before was there. She was model thin with bright green eyes and shampoo commercial hair, in short she looked like she had walked out of a fashion magazine. Again she pulled my mother into a long hug.
“Ezzy! I can’t believe we’re practically neighbors again!” The blonde half squealed into my mother’s ear. “Did the girls like the dresses, I stayed up for two days working with my team on them.”
“You didn’t have to do that, Pax.”
“I know I didn’t have to, but I wanted to. I always thought we’d raise our kids together.”
“Girls say thank you.”
“Wait, you’re PAX?” Evange squeaked in disbelief as she sized up the gorgeous blonde.
“I take it you’re a fan of my designs?”
“More like admirer, mom says your stuff is too expensive,” Evange pouted.
“Well if your mom says it’s okay I’ll send some things over for you tomorrow.”
“Oh my god, mom! Please! Please! Please!” Evange begged and Dad laughed.
“I have room full of designs from the fall collection. Alis, is going through this faze where she won’t wear my lable,” Pax, or Mrs. Crowley as I really should have called her, explained.
“Thank you! Thank you! Thank you!”
Rolling my eyes, I turned from my sister and walked deeper into the house. The halls were filled with murmurs coming from the various rooms. This was clearly more than just an intimate gathering of friends. As I passed a library Dalilah popped out smoothing the wide brim of her sunhat. Since we were little girls Dalilah loved her hats, but the one she was wearing now made me think of the wicked witch of the west.
“Thank god!” She sighed, as she matched my pace as I meandered aimlessly.
“The Crowley twosome are in fine form tonight, especially Jude. Something’s crawled under his skin and made him a real…well you get the idea.”
We continued walking until we reached the massive home theater. On the television that covered the back wall was some old silent film.
“You know you’re going to have to at some point talk to them. I mean, our community here isn’t that big, we’re pretty much the only ones at Ravenwood. I guess there’s that one kid that’s a werewolf but…they’re not quite part of us you know?”
“I guess. So, how bad is Ravenwood.”
“Well, that depends on what you mean by bad.”
“Do you think I’ll end up suspended by the end of the first week?” I beamed up at her.
“Nah. It’s not that bad, but you know, you’ll have me! And… we’ll eventually have Evange too.”
“Yeah, I figured I’ll have to spend the first few days making Boy and Girl Crowely pay.”
“It depends on the situation, but this is going to crush Evange. She’s more than my sister, she’s my twin. If they hurt her, they’ll have to hurt too.”
“Well—” Dalilah stopped mid-thought as Boy and Girl Crowley walked in with Evange, they were giggling and joking like they were the best of friends but I was waiting for the other shoe to drop. Boy Crowley kept glancing over at me as the three of them walked down the stairs. I intentionally shouldered into him as I started for the door.
“Watch it!” he exclaimed, but I ignored him and kept walking.
Dalilah ran after me cackling and squealing.
“Wow! Holy hell! I almost forgot they called you Violent Violet,” she snickered.
“I probably shouldn’t have done that,” I sighed. “So what’s the werewolf like?”
“He’s the greatest. His name is Bleddyn Edwards, like his name literally means wolf. He’s in our grade and I’m kind of the only one who knows what he is… well beside you. Oh, and he’s a lifer.”
“A lifer?” I giggled. “You make it sound like he’s in prison.”
“Well he kind of is. He’s boarding at Ravenwood, we’re kind of like each other’s best friends. The Crowleys like him though, he sometimes does Christmas with us.”
“So he’s like your boyfriend?”
“Kind of, I think… I don’t know. We’re close but we don’t kiss or anything.”
The lights blinked and Dalilah sighed.
“And dinner’s ready.”
“Urgh, do we have to?”
“They’ll come looking for us if we don’t.”
As if on cue Boy Crowley stepped around the corner in that black button-down shirt with the bright pocket square and tie that matched his eyes. The dark colors made his pale skin seem all the paler, and he almost looked like some dead thing. Then I remembered all of the rumors I had heard whispered about the Crowleys—they played with demons and the dead. For a few moments my confidence faltered and I had a fleeting thought that maybe I should have just gone along with him.
“I’ve come to escort you two ladies to dinner.”
“You can escort her, I’m fine,” I grumbled crossing my arms.
“Are you allergic to kindness?”
“Nope, just phonies.” I grinned at him.
“What makes you think I’m a phony?”
“Are you seriously telling me that on Monday if I see you in the cafeteria you’d let me sit at your table?”
“Yeah, see I know how this works. See this black eyeliner? See my bitchin’ dress? That means I’ve been picked on enough to know exactly what to expect from you and the cheer brigade.”
“Not everyone’s the same, Letty.”
“Don’t call me Letty.” I huffed.
“Just go, Jude.” Dalilah sighed.
“Fine.” He held up his hands and backed away. “Dinner’s ready in the main dining hall.”
Dinner was interesting. Evange kept making eyes at Boy Crowley all night—yes I knew his name but I refused to acknowledge it until he acknowledged mine. The large room was next to silent except a quiet murmur of conversation between Boy and Girl Crowley and the clink of glasses and silverware.
“Evange, I don’t think you should trust the Crowley’s,” I whispered between bites of my carrots.
“Look, Violet. I appreciate that you’re looking out for me. But they’re my people, you know? I’ve always been popular and they’re popular so of course we get along. You could be popular too if you toned down the anger and make up a little.”
“If anything happens—and I mean anything—I’ll be there for you and I’m sure Dalilah will be too.” I flashed her a quick smile and her brows furrowed. Doubt read clearly on her face and I nodded slowly, she wasn’t entirely certain she’d be welcomed with open arms on Monday.
“Oh, they’re twins too you know.”
“Jude and Alisson.”
“Oh, and I care because?”
“Because they get us, which is why I think you’re over reacting.”
An elegant, impressively dressed older woman stood from her seat at the head of the table. Confidence just poured off her as she raised her chin high and her eyes danced over the gathered guests. As she lofted her glass high the room fell silent as we all turned our attention to her.
“It warms my heart to see so many of our community gathered together under one roof. Del le Bartes, Paxtons, Wildes, Goodes, Fairchilds and Crowleys all seated at the same table in peace for the first time in fifteen years. We forgive all of you your transgressions against our kind. Be it marrying a null, sequestering yourself away at Willow Hill or even bringing Sorcery into your bloodline. We are all friends here, all passed transgressions are simply that, the past. This is to the future, may it be bright, may our families’ influence further with the new generation.”
Everyone took a sip and the woman sat down.
“Who was that?” I asked mom. She looked angry.
“That was Millicent Crowley, the matriarch of the Crowleys, like how Nana is the matriarch of the Wildes.” Her tone was tense and her full lips were pressed into a firm line, her dark eyes turned to my father and he turned his attention to her. I liked watching them look at each other. You could tell that they loved each other fiercely. It was a fairytale kind of love, which was why he kissed her forehead and crumpled his napkin over his plate.
“Lets go,” he said with a hand at the small of my mother’s back. “I won’t sit here while someone insults my family.” My mother sighed, following my father’s lead.
“C’mon girls, we’re going home,” she spoke as she stood.
Around the table other families and couples did the same until only the Crowleys were left seated at the massive table. As we all filed out of the dining room I paused in the doorway and looked back at the Crowleys. They were all watching us with smug little smiles, with the exception of Boy Crowley and his mother who stared with blank expressions. It was then that I realized we certainly weren’t in Willow Hill anymore and their idea of community here certainly wasn’t the same as it had been there.