Haunted
this thing. And most people who know magic like mine probably use it for something other than burning their boyfriends and recharging their phones. Maybe once I figure it out, I’ll write a user’s manual to leave for the next girl who gets chosen for all this craziness. But right now, I just close my eyes and concentrate. The phone warms encouragingly in my hand.
    A minute or two later, the result isn’t much: a couple of bars and a half-charged battery. The head shot of Ben that I’d been using as wallpaper looks dim and foggy. This makes my stomach knot up even more than it already is. I’ll walk back anyway , I think. It’s really what I should do.
    But it isn’t Ben I call as my heart thuds faster than I’d like. I press in the numbers that I’ve memorized, even though I keep telling myself I should forget them.
    “Anne?” Ethan’s voice sounds tired and alert all at once.
    I swallow. No fear. That’s what Baba Yaga keeps telling me. “I need a ride. I hurt Ben. He’s okay. But I need a ride. Please, Ethan. Can you come get me?”
    “On my way. Where are you?”
    I tell him, grateful beyond words that he hasn’t hesitated in offering to come to my rescue.
    ***
    I’m studying the prices on the specials sign at the 7-Eleven on Lake Street when he pulls up fifteen minutes later and gets out of the Mercedes. It’s given me something to do other than obsessing over Ben or watching the various stoners choose their late-night junk food stash.
    “So what do you think? Two ninety-nine a pound for Land O’Lakes American cheese? Or how about a blueberry muffin and a large coffee?”
    “Hazelnut or mocha?” Ethan grins at me, but I can see the worry in those blue eyes. He’s wearing faded jeans and a gray T-shirt, and his hair looks like he’s shoved his hand through a few dozen times. But he’s shaved the stubble from his chin.
    “The muffin or the coffee?”
    “Neither. I’m thinking the cheese.”
    We stand there in the fluorescent glow of the 7-Eleven sign. Two guys reeking heavily of marijuana wander up and begin a discussion about Slushie choices.
    “I need your help, Ethan. I hurt Ben. God. I—the rusalka. I saw her again.”
    “I’m here. Just tell me everything, and we’ll figure it out. No more secrets, okay?”
    I don’t know if I’m ready for that, but I nod my head anyway. I’m pretty sure he’s got some secrets of his own. “Okay.”
    Ethan puts his arm around me. He doesn’t ask me any questions.
    “Raspberry’s better than bubblegum,” I comment to the taller of the two stoned dudes as I let Ethan clasp my hand in his and lead me to the car. “You won’t be sorry.”
    The car still smells like pond, and thus, the rusalka. “Maybe I should just go back to Ben’s,” I say, more to myself than to Ethan. “What if he’s not safe?”
    “Is that what you want?” Ethan glances over at me from the driver’s seat.
    “Yes. No—no. Let’s just go. Are you still in that same loft?” I feel silly that I don’t even know where he’s staying.
    Ethan shakes his head. “I’ve got a flat in Evanston. I really am going to school, Anne. That part’s true.”
    I don’t ask him how long he’s been back or exactly how someone in his position pays for things like rent. When you’ve been around as long as he has, I guess you figure these things out. Who knows? Maybe the Brotherhood had some kind of pension plan.
    “Oh. Well, then. Let’s go.”
    “You sure?”
    “Positive,” I lie. Once again, Baba Yaga’s voice echoes in my head. Embrace your gifts, girl. You must believe in what lies inside you.
    I don’t know what this means or where it will lead or how it connects to the rusalka, but honestly, I don’t see any other choice. Whatever answers I need, I’m not going to find them in the 7-Eleven parking lot.
    I’m embracing , I tell Baba Yaga silently. I just wish I knew what.

Thursday, 11:42 pm
    Ethan
    I brew tea while Anne roams the apartment. She calls Tess, and

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