spoke quietly to him with her hand on his arm, the fog drifting around her stockinged legs like a caress. Didnât she have any pride? I leaned against Theodoreâs front passenger door, and sent Kevin glowering looks. Not that he noticed.
âEllie,â he said. âReka needs a ride home.â
âSo you can walk,â Reka said, without even looking at me.
My jaw dropped at her rudeness and then I straightened. âActually, I canât.â
Kevin was looking bemused, and Reka stepped closer to him. My skin prickled all the way down my spine. âYouâve walked home from the library by yourself plenty of times,â he said slowly, as if he were talking out one of his trickier Calc problems.
âI promised Chappell,â I said. âItâs nearly time, come on.â
âShe can walk,â Reka said, looking directly at him.
He blinked twice, and then pulled away from her. âWhat? No. I promised Iâd drive her.â
Rekaâs face was blank, but her fingers tightened in Kevinâs coat collar, twisting in the fabric. Then she let him go and stepped back. âAnother time, then,â she said, and smiled. âSometime soon, I think.â
The hairs rose on the back of my neck, but Kevin said goodnight as pleasantly as if sheâd never said a thing out of place, and I couldnât exactly bitch about his new friend without being truthfully accused of envy and spite.
But though I replayed the highlights of the evening in my head, with first Blake and then Mark talking to me like someone theyâd like to know better, I could not recover my previous good mood.
I managed to spend only half an hour reading in the living room before I resolved that I really would honestly and for true write the damn Odyssey essay now.
I went to my room, crammed my knees under the desk, and levered the laptop open.
There was a scrap of paper lying across the keyboard.
M ARK ! B IBLE ! D ONâT F ORGET !
My head cleared as the memories jolted back into it.
âShit,â I whispered, and stared at the letters Iâd inscribed, trying to think it through.
Mark had done something to me, and I couldnât come up with a logical explanation. So I went with the illogical one.
Magic was real .
Humiliation smothered me. All this time Mark had been talking to me like a normal person, like someone who liked me. But it had been an excuse, a way to make me stay in at night, or an opportunity to steal the Bible. Even tonight, at the theatre, he must have been checking to see if his enchantment had held, while I babbled about tae kwon do and eum-yang . And Iâd thought it was a happy coincidence that heâd been passing by. Iâd thought I was lucky.
Iâd told him about my mother.
The rage tasted hot and sour in my mouth. I got up to stalk around the room.
âStupid,â I hissed, clenching the note tight in one hand and pressing the cool palm of the other to my burning cheeks. âEllie, you are so â God .â
We had Classics the next day, which would provide ample opportunities for saying ludicrous things like, âSo, are you a wizard, you unbelievable dick ?â Heâd bewitched me on a bus, which probably meant he wasnât worried about witnesses, but it would make me feel a lot better to be surrounded by curious students before I confronted him. And La Gribaldi would be there. She could probably stop a charging bull with a level look and a raised eyebrow, much less Mark â magic or no magic.
It seemed that if I was reading or touching the paper, I could remember what it said without Markâs damn headaches. I cautiously slipped the scrap into my back pocket and waited. The memories were still there.
It turned out that I could stop procrastinating on essay writing if I was using the essay to avoid thinking about something even more huge and intimidating. I worked steadily, touching the note in my