Chapter Nine

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My feet throb

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My feet throb. Gravel digs into my bare soles and scrapping off the skin. My heels had been rubbing my feet, so I chose the rough road over aching arches. Strangely, there's something soothing about something so typical as sore feet against everything I'd discovered today. My head aches from all the information I'd barely been able to understand, let alone absorb.

Henry and I had left the wedding when only a few sleepy guests remained, with Sophie and Kira swaying sleepily on the dancefloor, long after the band had packed up and the chairs were stacked on tables.

The marquee was half a mile away from the town and its train station. It was basically one long scrap of road, lined with hedges and fields of farmland. Henry's dad had spoken to him briefly, offering me a lift home on the condition Henry stayed with him for the night. One look on Henry's face told me what he wanted to do. Not that I minded. The fresh air was pleasant on my hot skin, and Henry felt like the only thing keeping me calm in the face of all the chaos. I was happy to keep the night going as long as I could.

"So we have a plan?"

"Check on Jensen. Tick off Sophie's shopping list of horror. Conduct ancient magical ritual..."

The paper crunches in my hand as I unfold it and glance down at it again, lighting it with my phone. My eyes narrow.

"Grave soil, a human bone, embalming fluid..." I shiver, and Henry makes a gagging sound. "And the bloodstone. Any idea where we're getting one of those from?"

"No idea, since all Sophie's suggestions seem to require a lot more time than we've got right now."

Frowning, I look again at the scribbled list in my palm, and then I smile up at Henry.

"Yup. Collect the ingredient list from hell. Conduct the ritual. And everything will be fine."

"Yup. And everything will be fine."

We fall into silence as our shoes crunch against the road. The faint sounds of a train passing through the train station up ahead tell me we're close. Our breath dances before our lips as we breathe heavily from the walk. The brisk air carries the scent of the surrounding trees, and the smell of petrol from the road we walk on.

"So... your sister's a witch?"

"Yeah... and I never believed her." His voice is so quiet I barely hear the words. Henry exhales heavily once more. His hand stuffed stubbornly into his pockets, his face serious.

"Henry?"

"She wasn't always this way, and after it happened, I just figured... it was her way of coping. Of making sense of it."

"What happened? You said she came back from death..."

He goes quiet for a moment, his eyes fixed ahead, but I know he's seeing nothing of the road and town growing closer.

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