Recap: Corey’s parents had an argument about her and were found dead the next morning. Corey then meets Detective Skylar Adams. She is later adopted by Helen and Andy. Two years later, Corey is in school and meets a friend, Terese, and the class bully, Sandra. One day, two students are found dead and Corey meets Detective Adams again. Corey starts 2nd grade, which brings her face to face with a terrifying new teacher. As you can expect, her teacher does not last long. And then neither do her adopted parents, but things look up as Corey may have found a forever family. Corey moves in with Detective Adams and his wife and learns Terese lives across the street. One Friday night, Corey has a typical, happy evening with her mom, but seems out of sorts when Skyler comes home looking haggard. One night, Terese is sleeping over, but it doesn’t stop Skyler from working on the strange murder case. Corey and Terese get an interesting ski lesson and Corey provides some important information regarding the murders. Skyler and Dimitra go on an overnight trip, leaving Corey with a babysitter who does not meet with a happy end. School is back in session after winter break and the class gains two new students, twins Aiden and Cate. During recess, Corey is drawn to the twins and starts to get to know them. Then one snowy evening, Corey’s family has the Asphodels over for dinner. Corey has a chance to chat with the twins and learns magic is real, but it’s a secret. Turns out Corey isn’t a great secret keeper and grows suspicious of the twins.
Cate didn’t return to school until the following week. Aiden had returned the following day, but Corey did her best to avoid him. After talking to Mrs. James and learning about bad magic, she wasn’t sure if she wanted to be friends with Aiden and Cate anymore. They might be devil worshippers and Dimitra thought magic was bad like Mrs. James. She felt bad because Aiden didn’t realize what was going on, but she just couldn’t bring herself to talk to him.
“Corey, we need to talk,” Cate said as Corey was about to curl up with a book during recess.
Corey looked up from her seat of pillows and stared up at Aiden and Cate. She immediately wished she had braved the cold and gone out to swing with Terese and Stacy. But after three days of that the past week, she didn’t think she could take the freezing weather anymore. It wasn’t actually that cold out, but, for Corey, it was frigid and she was tired of blue lips and her mother’s lectures.
“No, we don’t,” Corey said, stubbornness on her face.
Aiden and Cate looked at each other and then joined Corey on the floor. Corey scooted back until her back hit the wall. She held up her book and tried to blot out the twins. But they weren’t having any of that.
“We not kidding, Corey,” Cate said. “We need to talk to you. Why have you been avoiding us? Why were you avoiding Aiden last week? I thought we were friends.”
Corey didn’t answer. She just stared with blank eyes at them while Cate held the book down with a heavy hand.
“Corey? Hello? Can we talk to you?” Aiden asked.
“No,” Corey said stubbornly. “I don’t want to talk to you. I don’t ever want to talk to you. Ever.”
“But why?” Cate asked, confusion lacing her voice.
“Lied? About what?”
Aiden and Cate traded confused looks. They shook their heads and then turned back to Corey.
“We don’t understand,” Cate said patiently. “Can you explain it to us?”
Corey looked at them stubbornly. She considered not answering them, but then wondered where that would get her. They likely wouldn’t leave her alone until she told them what was going on.
“Mrs. James said magic is bad and that only bad people called witches used it.”
Fury immediately dropped over Aiden’s face while Cate just sat passively, studying her friend.
“We told you not to tell anyone,” Aiden said, his voice low and angry. “You promised you wouldn’t tell anyone.”
Cate laid a hand on his arm, making him swivel his head to her. “Calm down, Aiden.” She turned back to Corey. “Let’s hear the rest of it, Corey. Why were you talking to Mrs. James about magic?”
“I was cold, so Terese and I came back in from recess. I wanted to read some books about magic. I thought it was really interesting after you told me about it. So, we asked Mrs. James if there were any books on magic here. She said there wasn’t and that the parents wouldn’t be happy if she taught us about it. She told Terese and I about witches and the Salem witch trials where people were hung because they did bad things to people.”
Cate settled back on her heels and Aiden’s face lost its anger. He actually gave her a small smile and chuckled a little bit. Corey gave them a bewildered look.
“Magic is bad,” Corey insisted. “Don’t you see? It does bad things to people.”
“Oh, Corey, not out magic. And those people way back then didn’t have real magic. People made all of that up. Our magic is good and it is very real.”
Corey only gave them a suspicious look. Cate sighed and turned to her brother. She murmured to him so quietly that Corey couldn’t catch her words. But Aiden nodded and got up to leave. Corey watched him walk back to his desk and sit down.
“Corey, listen to me. People don’t want to believe in magic. they think it’s scare and, well, not normal. But for some people, it’s a gift that we have been given. We don’t ever use it to hurt anyone. We use it to protect ourselves and others. Magic is neither good nor bad. It just is. We can use it’s gifts and so can you. That’s why we’re here. We are supposed to teach you, induct you into our ways, so you can learn the good way of using magic.”
Corey was still giving her a suspicious look, but Cate could tell she was getting to her friend.
“You mean you never harm anyone in any way?”
“Absolutely not. We do little things, like the flowers Aiden conjured for you. We do innocent things. And we want to teach you. Will you trust us?”
Corey bit her lip. “I don’t know if I should.”
“Please trust us, Corey. We would never hurt you or lie to you. You’re very important to us. And it’s very important that you learn magic from us. Do you understand?”
Hesitantly, Corey nodded. Cate smiled and patted her hand.
“Okay, good. Can you meet us at midnight in our enclosed gazebo tonight?”
“I’ll be sleeping at midnight. My bed time is eight-thirty. Can we meet before then?”
Cate shook her head. “It has to be midnight. You will have to sneak out.”
Cate nodded. “Yes. Don’t worry. Aiden will help you.”
Corey gave her a dubious look, but agreed. Cate smiled and rose to return to her brother. After a moment, Corey returned to her book, but her eyes wouldn’t focus on the words on the page. All she could think about was being inducted into magic that night. And sneaking out of the house at midnight. She knew that if her parents caught her, she’d be grounded for the rest of the year.
She just hoped Aiden was really good with magic and could help her.
Corey was expecting the light tap on her window that night, but it still startled her. She had gone to bed at her usual time and let her mother read her a book and tuck her in. She had dozed for a couple of hours, until she heard her parents go to bed. Then she had slipped out of bed and changed into warm sweat pants, a turtleneck, and a sweat shirt. She had her coat, scarves, mittens, and ear muffs all ready for when Aiden came knocking. Now she was lying under the covers, just waiting.
At the first tap, Corey was springing out of bed. She rushed over to the window and waved to Aiden. She motioned that she would just be a minute and she could barely see his nod.
Quickly and quietly, she slipped her shoes on and then wound a scarf around her neck, securing it with a knot. Then she drew on her heavy coat, dropped her ear muffs over her head, and pulled the hood of her coat up, tying the drawstrings in a knot under her chin. She walked back over the window as she drew on her mittens.
Aiden was still waiting there. He smiled at her as she nodded that she was ready. He stepped closer to the window and waved a hand over it. Then he stuck a hand in to help her out. Cautiously, Corey stepped onto the window seat and then carefully moved her foot to the sill. She took Aiden’s hand and he helped her down, putting a block of air under her feet and urging her to walk as though going down a couple of stairs. Once her feet were firmly planted on the ground, Aiden turned back to the window. He flung out a hand, sprinkling colorful dust, and then waved his hand over the window again.
“The dust will make sure your parents won’t awaken until the morning,” Aiden whispered as he took her hand. “Are you ready to go?”
Corey nodded and they turned their backs to the house. Corey blinked when she realized she didn’t see any footprints in the snow. She glanced up at Aiden questioningly. He grinned at her and urged her forward.
“Magic is covering our tracks. That’s Cate’s doing. She’s very good at hiding things. Don’t worry. No one will ever see them, not even us.”
Corey nodded and allowed him to lead her over to his home. They slipped in through the back gate and met up with Cate. Quickly, they raced over to the enclosed gazebo. Cate opened up the door and ushered the other two in before closing and locking the door. It was warm inside and Cate helped Corey take off her coverings.
The large windows of the gazebo had been frosted, so no one could see in and it was difficult to see out of it. There were stone benches running along the perimeter and they were all covered with large deep green leaves topped with pomegranates and wildflowers. On the ground in the middle were three red candles, all of the lit. A fluffy burgundy pillow with gold trim sat before each candle.
“This looks pretty,” Corey said, looking around at all the decorations.
“Come, Corey.” Cate held out her hand so she could lead Corey to a pillow. “All of this for the induction ceremony. Have a seat.”
Corey sat cross legged on the pillow before her and warmed her hands over the flame. Cate and Aiden sat likewise on either side of her. Corey glanced from one to the other before slowly withdrawing her hands from the flame. She folded them demurely on her lap and waited for her friends to tell her what to do.
From her pockets, Cate drew out a knife, a deep blue flower, and a pomegranate. She placed them in the space between the candles while Corey eyed the knife dubiously.
“Is this going to hurt?” Corey asked.
“Only minimally, but we’ll heal you right after,” Cate replied.
Cate finished placing the three items, putting one by each candle. Then she held out a hand, palms up, to Corey and Aiden. Corey watched Aiden place his hand in his sister’s and the placed her own in Cate’s. Cate closed her eyes and chanted softly. Corey watched as the candle flames grew brighter and larger until the gazebo was filled with heat and light. Then Cate released their hands.
Corey watched the girl closely. Her face was serene and her eyes were glassy. She looked like she was either staring at something far off or something was possessing her. Suppressing a shiver, Corey turned to look at Aiden. He was sitting with his back straight and his hands resting on his knees. His eyes were focused on the fruit in front of his candle. Corey’s eyes fell to the blue flower in front of her candle as Cate reached forward and picked it up.
“Take this,” Cate said, her voice sounding oddly hollow. “Lay it across your palm.”
Corey did as she was asked, holding her hand out. Cate reached forward and pulled Corey’s hand forward so it was hovering over the fruit and the knife.
“Magic is not something to trifle with,” Aiden said. “Do you agree to learn and use it as we will teach you?”
“Yes,” Corey said, her voice quivering.
Aiden nodded to his sister and she passed her hand over Corey’s. Corey gasped as the flower’s stem grew and twined its way around Corey’s palm and fingers. It was a tight wrap, but not tight enough to leave any marks. The flower bloomed even larger and sparkled in the shimmering light around them.
Cate picked up the knife and fruit. She passed the knife through each candle flame before cutting off a slice of the pomegranant. She placed the slice beside the flower on Corey’s palm and leaves bloomed from the stem to enclose the fruit. Corey had an odd feeling that the flower and fruit slice were a part of her.
Cate cut another slice of fruit and handed it to Aiden. He took a nibble and the held the rest of it to Corey’s lips. Unsure of what to do, she opened her mouth and he popped it in. Slowly, she chewed it and swallowed, looking from one to the other.
“Our blood sings to yours,” Cate said softly, her voice still sounding odd.
“Our magic calls to yours,” Aiden said, just as quietly, but in his normal voice.
“We call to you and welcome you,” Cate intoned.
As she said the last words, she made a small slice across her palm and held her hand over Corey’s until three drops fell on the flower. The flower’s light flickered and the light traveled down the stem and into Corey’s flesh. It felt warm and tingled and all she could do was gape at it.
“My blood strengthens yours,” Aiden murmured as he took the knife and sliced across his palm.
Aiden held his hand over Corey’s. As three drops fell, he quickly lowered the knife and sliced across Corey’s palm, cutting through the flower and the fruit slice. Corey gasped and squinted to keep from crying. It stung as the knife cut into her and as the flower and fruit juices welled into it.
The light in the flower and stem intensified and Corey’s skin began to glow. Slowly, the blood from her palm slowed and she could actually feel it healing. Aiden placed his hand over Corey’s and clasped it tightly. Cate placed her hand lightly atop his, both of their cuts healed. The flower and the fruit slice fell away, leaving only three clasping hands.
“Is that it?” Corey asked, her voice trembling and little more than a whisper.
“That’s it,” Cate said quietly, her voice returned to normal. “You can’t use magic yet without us conducting it for you, but, when you’re ten, you’ll have control of your own reserve.”
“Why ten?” Corey asked as the twins removed their hands. Corey turned her hand over and studied the unblemished flesh.
Aiden shrugged. “It was written a long time ago. Those with magic will only gain access to their reserve when they turn ten.” Aiden sighed and struggled to his feet as the light and heat began to dim. “We should get you back, Corey.”
Corey nodded and Aiden helped her up. Cate began to clean up while Aiden helped Corey bundle up.
“Don’t worry,” Cate said. “The spell has kept.”
Aiden nodded and he escorted Corey out of the gazebo. Quietly, they made their way back to Corey’s home and he helped her back into her room the same way he had helped her out of it.
“Good night,” he whispered as he replaced the window with a wave of his hand. Corey waved to him and watched him vanish into the night.